A recent trip to the nation’s capital (and beyond) wrapped up my planned travel for the year in fine style. Over the course of a week I spent three days in the DC area, explored most of Maryland, stayed 4 different Marriott brands, and had the pleasure of meeting several wonderful Marriott Rewards Insiders.
The drive to Washington was not direct in order to accommodate my need to visit several counties in northern Maryland. Stops in Cumberland, Hagerstown, Frederick, Westminster, and Towson filled the afternoon of the first day. The Towson Marriott Conference Center Hotel upgraded me to a beautiful two-bedroom suite, by far the nicest room I've stayed in all year. Having had a late lunch that included fresh baked apple-pie at Weaver’s Restaurant & Bakery in Hancock, MD (worth the stop if you happen to be near the I-68/I-70 interchange), dinner at the CL was all I needed.
After breakfast (again in the CL) it was off to Bel Air, Baltimore, and Ellicott City before reaching the Arlington Residence Inn around noon. Two of the three nights there were covered by category 1-4 certificates from the spring MegaBonus (had I gotten category 1-5 certs, I would have stayed at the Renaissance next door). The choice of hotel was primarily based on the location of a conference held at another hotel chain just across the street from my preferred hotel chain. The conference was good, but the highlight of the three days in and around DC was the Insider get together with erc, pluto77, and the communitymanager at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel.
Erc began a great discussion of the fabulous event hosted by our own community manager, Nathalie, so I have no need to elaborate on that. See Re: Insiders Get Together - Mayflower Hotel for details.
Since this trip was built around the conference, the Insiders get together, and visiting a couple dozen counties along the east coast, I didn't devote much time to sightseeing, but I took part of Saturday afternoon to explore a little of the area around the National Mall. I stopped briefly at the Air and Space Museum, walked from the Capitol to the Washington Monument to the White House and then back to the Capitol taking a few photos along the way.
(Insert your own joke about who broke the Capitol here).
By Sunday, it was time to get back on the road again. When I visited Virginia back in July, I purposely omitted Virginia Beach so that I would be able to include it on this trip. From DC, I drove to VB and then crossed the Chesapeake Bay to collect the two Virginia ocean counties. I had considered visiting them by coming south from Maryland and skipping the bridges and tunnels crossing the Chesapeake, but that would have involved some backtracking. Besides, having never driven the route across the Bay, I wanted to experience that as well.
Here is picture of the southern approach to the bridge taken from the Buoy 44 restaurant in Chic's Beach, a good lunch stop. (foxglove, I opted for the steamed oysters appetizer followed by excellent fish tacos, though the crab cakes are good too. )
In addition to the 2 Virginia counties, I visited 3 more in Maryland before stopping at the CY Ocean City. While it’s a very nice hotel, I struggle to understand why it is a category 9 property ( know, location, location). Undoubtedly the place is packed during the summer months, and despite the wonderful restaurant (The Captain's Table), it lacks the amenities of the full service brands. I will admit the location can't be beat and getting an ocean view room for less than a quarter of the price during peak season made it worth visiting.
During the final two days of my trip, I visited the remaining 6 counties in Maryland, Loudoun County, Virginia, the 3 counties in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, and Fulton County, Pennsylvania. This last stop was to mail a second postcard from McConnellsburg since the one I mailed back in November 2011 never arrived. Happily this time the postal service delivered all 26 postcards I sent.
The final night on the road was in Hagerstown at the Springhill Suites, a brand which I almost always enjoy. This was no exception.
As has become my custom, here are before and after maps detailing the places I visited (the mid-Atlantic states are filling in nicely).
Over the week, I completed two states, Maryland and West Virginia, bringing my total up to 9 (plus the District of Columbia). I can now also add Maryland to list of states in which I have stayed at a Marriott property (that total is now up to 26 + DC). And most important of all, I have now met 5 MR Insiders, erc, pluto77, Nathalie, and jerrycoin. I'm hopeful that next year or two, I can meet a few more (foxglove, kharada46, and IAHFLYR you are all definitely on my radar based on my projected travels for 2015-2016).
With no more trips planned for 2014, it will soon be time for a year in review blog post. Stay tuned.
Until then ...