I'll get the teasing out of the way first... My wife has always wanted to visit Washington. Then lo and behold out of the clear blue, we found ourselves there in 2015 after our 1:00 AM redeye home from Las Vegas was cancelled due to a blizzard in the Midwest. From my trip report... 10:45 PM – I go into the airport while my wife drives rings around the airport campus to avoid paying for parking. In short, we get the very last two seats on a flight to Washington DC with a morning connection to Chicago. The punch line? The flight that was scheduled for 10:30 but was delayed to 12:15. I had 90 minutes to make the flight. We did make it back downtown to pack, then return the rental and back to the airport in time to fly all night to Washington. When we did arrive, we found our outbound gate was right next to the gate from the inbound plane. Now, I love my wife and all, but to this day she STILL does not appreciate that impulse trip to Washington that I provided for her. So for years I have been listening to her bargain to get back there. Along the way there were a couple of false starts... August 2020 - the National Bonsai conference was in Washington. Well, "was supposed to be" to be honest. Stupid COVID. October 29, 2021 - We had a weekender planned until I ended up in the ICU on October 27 with blood clots in both if my lungs. My wife was sure we'd never get there. A significant flare-up of her arthritic knees a couple of weeks ago gave her pause...but not me. My knees were fine and I was going to get her to DC if I had to drag her by a mittfull of hair. Friday, April 8 - Our flight into Baltimore was to leave at a reasonable time, but when Southwest jiggled their schedules last winter, the best nonstop left at (shudder) 5:20 AM. Christ, I am tired just recalling the 2:45 AM alarm going off. Getting to the airport wasn't a problem. Getting Melissa to the gate was a problem. Well in advance, we had set-up an extra seat (for her oxygen concentrator) as well as a wheelchair to get her to the gate. Something went haywire with the ticket, and when the counter person tried to fix it, she ended up cancelling both tickets. When she (finally) got them reinstated, they never put in her Known Traveler Number (for the TSA precheck). While I stand at the counter waiting for this to be completed, she waited for the wheelchair. Both were completed at the same time, 30 minutes after arriving at the airport. But not getting the PreCheck on the ticket, she had to go through the Commoner Line. Worse, because she couldn't stand long enough with her arms over her head, she had to get the full body pat down. Took every bit of her strength to maintain the dignity we all admire from her. We finally did get to the gate just as we started boarding. The flight was on time and uneventful, but when we arrived in Baltimore, there was no wheelchair assistance there, either. After another 30 or so minutes of waiting (and multiple SW employees calling to expedite) I just pushed her my own damn self. Wifey never tipped me, dammit. Then there is the rental counter fiasco. We rented from Thrifty and when we arrive the line is 6 deep... and very shortly after it was 10 deep. As I am working to complete the paperwork multiple customers interrupt, wondering where their car was. "Staffing shortages" is the clever way out of every jam, and apparently "staffing shortages" means that portering the car after the previous rental is taking longer than it normally does. Specific to my rental for an SUV, they told me they had to prep a car and it might be 30 or more minutes to wait. Bottom line is that our flight landed at about 8:10 AM and we weren't on the road until 10:30 or so. After getting driving to the scooter rental agency (and we can't say enough great stuff about Freedom Mobility in Baltimore. They require prepayment for the rental and when we had to cancel in October, they held a "store credit" for us and took no issue in applying it to this rental. They also looked genuinely happy to serve us at pick-up and return.) we had soft plans to drive to Baltimore's harbor and wander around for awhile, but the airport and rental car delays had us wanting to just get to Washington (Side note; of course we had a Matrix for this trip. And, of course, the very first entry was scratched). We finally got to lunch at Ben's Chili Bowl (the original location, to be sure). In the first of many success stories, I found free street parking about a block away. Couldn't go to Ben's without having a half-smoke, could I? I went without the chili on the sausage so that I could taste all half of the smoke, but I wanted to try to the chili so it ended up on the fries. A diet buster, sure, but hell, I was on vacation (not the first time I'd invoke that sentiment). After that was one of the best things we did on the trip... we pre-ordered a tour on the Big Bus. Besides getting a two-hour tour, it gave us the lay of the land... where things were in proximity, how the streets were laid out, etc. We also splurged and got the combo with the night tour... another brilliant move. My wife never noticed the Washington Monument in the background. When I pointed it out, she was tickled. We had scheduled this trip during the Cherry Blossom season, but we were past the peak. I don't think Melissa was aware of this background, either. With her mobility issues, we didn't get off the bus (especially since she insisted on sitting on the top) so this was as close as we got to the Capitol Building all weekend. After the tour, we decided to check into the hotel. I am still not sure if we made a good choice, but we decided to rent at the Candlewood Suites in Fairfax, Virginia. When researching hotels, we wanted a nice enough place, but in no way did we want any luxury or a bunch of amenities we wouldn't use. We also decided that a little drive out of town would save us some money. We did get the Candlewood for about $300 all-in for three nights, but the 20 mile drive each way got a little annoying. Other than not even offering housekeeping (even after we begged) the hotel was certainly all we wanted and needed, but that half-hour drive to recover after each activity... We checked in, each took a nap (remember, 2:45 AM alarm and we're not kids anymore) and prettied ourselves up for Date Night #1. Well, the whole thing was Date Trip, but still. Melissa had scored a reservation at The Prime Rib in Washington. I know that in 2022 America, dressing for anything is pretty much gone by the wayside, but I still love to dress up. I think I was looking a little TOO forward to dining where gentlemen were required to wear a sport coat. And who doesn't love some live music while enjoying dinner? See that garnish above my steak? Don't assume (like I did) that it was cole slaw. The full forkful of fresh horseradish really did clear out the sinuses, though. I was also pleasantly surprised that they were happy to accommodate our request to share the $102 22 oz bone-in ribeye. Look at that perfect cook! Other than that little strip of silver skin on the far left, each bite was an absolute joy. We didn't split the steak due to the cost, just so that we could enjoy other items. I had the crab cake appetizer (sorry, no photo), and we had three sides and apple pie a la mode for dessert (no photo of that, either). The only tiny service hiccough was that my cappuccino that I ordered with dessert came out too early and - because I drank it before it got cold - I finished it before the dessert arrived. I did mention this to the waiter who offered me another one, but did I need that much caffeine at night? I didn't press the issue. Such a wonderful night! Now because I am not time-stamping every event, one might think that after arriving back at the hotel we'd just turn in and call it a night. Not so fast, though... My wife was sound asleep and I was dozing off in the too-comfortable recliner when the fire alarm went off. Though I trained to be a firefighter, my career didn't go that way. But I still remember the first step when an alarm goes off... feel the door. It wasn't hot so I cracked the door ever-so-slightly. No smoke. Made me wonder if this was a malfunction. Our room was by the front desk, so I walked out there and the clerk was panicking. I went back, told Melissa to get dressed and we evacuated. It was chilly and drizzling, so we sat in the car to wait it out. Took about 30 minutes before we got the all-clear. We never asked what "it" was, but it was clearly something as multiple packed firefighters went into the hotel. After that, evening came and morning followed, the First Day.