Driving All Over Tarnation and Back

It started with the girls begging Chad’s brother for a buck, a quarter, a nickel for doing menial chores around the condo in an effort to raise ice cream money – and now the photo “treasure hunts” have become full-fledged obsessive ways for Bella and Dawkins to raise spare cash. And other people, like my brother and Chad’s sister are thinking of their own photo treasure hunts!

Today, after lunch at the club with my parents (I was full for the rest of the day, having tasted everything on the table: apple date bleu cheese date chicken salad, clam chowder, a reuben, and an oyster po’ boy), my parents, the girls, and I went down nostalgia lane attempting to visit every single site on Songbae’s treasure hunt list. The places, which all involve his and my childhood ranged throughout Fairfax, Virginia; Washington D.C.; and Rockville, Bethesda, and Potomac, Maryland.

As my brother stated in his challenge, the girls get a dollar a piece for taking a picture of the listed location. They get an additional dollar if they are able to coerce somebody from that location (he didn’t make it clear if that somebody could be random person walking by, or if it had to be somebody actually associated with that location) to be in the photo as well.

Here is Songbae’s list and the pics we took today:

1. where i first made pizza in glen echo.

See, in this photo I asked this group of boys to join the photo because they were standing around waiting for something. The actual pizza joint (did it used to be called Good Guys?) looked like it had closed down, but I didn’t check that closely because we were in such a rush to get to our next destination. So, I don’t get it – do Bella and Dawkins each get $1? And then split the third dollar for having “somebody from the location” in the picture?
2. where andrew brady and i pumped gas in potomac.

It’s a different gas station now, but, coincidentally, the guy working there had been there 21 years. He said the name Andrew Brady rang a bell, but not David Lee. He couldn’t leave his computer, so he agreed to an indoor photo.

3. where jeannie, sue and i graduated high school.

Good golly! Walt Whitman High School didn’t look anything like this twenty-one years ago when I graduated. They must’ve razed the old building, because I could not find one damn familiar thing. Well, that’s a lie: there was some great artwork lining the walls of the school’s corridors, which looked very much like the work of Walt Bartman’s art students, and the new stadium is named after our old principal, Dr. Jerome Marcos (with whom my brother had many, many discussions…) The guy standing with us is the basketball coach, Coach Lun, who very agreeably posed with the girls. As my mother pointed out, he doesn’t look old enough to hold a job (she’s always saying something, isn’t she?)

4. drinking slurpees at 7-11 on river road.

I’d like to note, that I was not as familiar with this 7-11 as my brother and sister were, simply because I didn’t cut class as much as they did.
5. 7 dons mill court. if they get someone who lives there in the picture, extra $5.

This is the second home my parents ever owned, the first house – and really the place where I felt I grew up. We used to play flashlight tag HARD all summer night long, and my friend’s dog was named Bo (after Bo Derek). The girls rang and rang the doorbell but nobody was home. They were sorely disappointed as this was their one chance for getting a bonus five dollars.

We did have a chance to drive by the best sledding hill I know, Monument Hill in Rockville. (and Laura, I almost had the car convinced we should stop in on your dad…)

6. park street elementary. Doesn’t exist anymore
7. hungerford park. Doesn’t exist anymore.
8. where jeannie and sue waited tables in white flint mall.

The Perfect Cup closed down long ago and the entire “cafe” alley that used to be paved with bricks on the lower floor of White Flint Mall has been renovated with a Bertucci’s and Cheesecake Factory. I had the girls stand where the entrance of the Perfect Cup used to be – that’s where I brewed many an espresso.

We included a photo with the hostess in case it counted. At this point, we needed a break from the treasure hunt, so my parents napped in the car while I bought a pair of shorts on sale at Banana Republic.

9. our townhouse in perry penny drive.

This is the first home my parents ever owned: a cute little townhouse in Fairfax. We lived there for two years, and I attended first and second grade just across the street at Columbia Elementary. I have great memories of this place as our tiny backyard opened up to a creek full of minnows and crayfish and a large woods, one that I was barely brave enough to cross by the time we moved. The woman who lives there now (in the picture! does this count for the extra $5?) says she doesn’t let her kids go back there. The “worst” thing I ever saw in those woods was a black guy kissing a white girl. I was six years old, had never known a black person, and that scene blew my mind. They must have been teenagers – and they looked like they were in heavenly love. Hey, come to think of it, I only remember knowing white folks in that neighborhood – were there any other minorities besides us?

10. with rob lange and sasha his daughter. Haven’t had the chance for this one yet – maybe this weekend.

The day was bookended by another delicious meal out – this time for chachang myun. For those who aren’t up on their Korean-Chinese cuisine, that’s black bean paste sauce on homemade noodles: a Chinese version of spaghetti my mother always calls it.

And of course, there were all kinds of side trips to places that were completely impromptu – like our visit to my dad’s mother’s grave site.

I call that a full day. Boy, I am pooped. YOU try keeping up with my folks.

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