August 2010 Archives

Cheap Shakespeare

I'm feeling lazy so I'm just going to cut and paste this press release:

New DC Arts Outreach Company, Wandering Souls, Presents 2nd Production and Set to Reach More of DC's Underserved Audiences


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  August  11, 2010           

CONTACT: Becky Peters
(678) 361-1502 ;

Social Media Press Release:

What: Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare 


Who: Wandering Souls


When: Touring September 1 - 30, 2010


Private Performances at Host Venues include:   Closed to public except by invitation; If you would like to join us at one of these closed performances please contact for full calendar


Sasha Bruce, Central Union Mission, St Elizabeth's, N Street Village, Grace's Table, Friendship Terrace, New Endeavors by Women, Washington Center for the Aging, Army Distaff Foundation, Catholic Charities, Christ House, Sitar Center and Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness



Open-to-the-Public Performances:

Friday, September 3 at 7:30 pm  (Bloombars, 3222 11th Street NW)

Friday, September 10 at 7:30 pm (Bloombars, 3222 11th Street NW)

Wednesday, September 22 at 7:00 pm (Edmund Burke School, 4101 Connecticut Avenue, NW)

Friday, September 24 at 7:30 pm (Bloombars, 3222 11th Street NW)

Wednesday, September 29 at 7:00 pm (Church of the Pilgrims, 2201 P Street NW)


Cost of public performances:

All performances are Pay What You Can with a suggested donation of $15.  Although NO ONE will be turned away for lack of funds.   Advance Donations/Reservations can be made online at




Wit, music, romance and revelry are the food of love at this comedic feast of lovers and fools. One of Shakespeare's most famous comedies - Twelfth Night is a play about love in all its excess, the madness it can drive us to, the pain it gives us and finally the ability to heal that pain.  Viola and her twin brother are shipwrecked in the magical land of Illyria, each believing the other has drowned. Disguised as a young man, and entering the service of the lovesick Duke Orsino, Viola woos the wistful lady Olivia for her new master and finds herself in a most unusual and hilarious love triangle. Merry deceptions, mistaken identities and yellow stockings abound in this lilting comedy.




Andrew Wassenich   Fresh from a stunning performance in Genesis at the Capital Fringe Festival: a talented actor, director, librettist, playwright and former Producing Artistic Director of Journeymen Theater, Andy Wassenich joins Wandering Souls to direct Twelfth Night.  A graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts directing program, he was a Kennedy Center/Kenan Fund Director-in-Residence. His directing credits include Either/Or and One Flea Spare (Kennedy Center/Kenan Fund Artists-in-Residence), Belly of The Whale by Scott Organ (New York International Fringe Festival),  Saturday Night at the USO (Imagination Stage), Myth Appropriations I and Fries With That? (Rorschach Theatre) and The Girl in the Iron Mask (Georgetown Theatre Company).  In addition to multiple Assistant Directing credits, Andy has been a directing fellow at the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center, served as the Assistant to the Artistic Director at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey and is a founding member of The Inkwell.

The protest we're all ignoring...

I've noticed that the protest at R and 7th is down to one occupied looking tent. As many of us suspected the population of the tent city would go down after school started.

The Last Roommate

Well this weekend my last roommate moved in. After the Help and I get hitched (when he actually has a legal right to all that equity I've built up) he'll move in and I'll no longer be renting out the extra room. This house is way too small for 3 adults. So in thinking about 9 years worth of roommates and the whole renting your room out, here's what I've learned:

Let the market determine the rent- not your mortgage

I think I charged by first roommate Belinda $500 in 2001. I can't remember if I included utilities. I probably did. My mortgage was a little below $600. This was pre-renovation. I had the kitchen counter-space of a Ouija board and crappy cheap carpet. I also had active drug traffic on my corner and back then Cindy the Crackho was actively working (now it seems she's retired) so I couldn't really demand a high rent. But neither was I going to charge ½ of my mortgage, I had to make it worth my privacy. Then came the kitchen renovation and the whole house renovations and the second mortgages that followed. The kitchen renovation had no impact on what I was charging for rent as it had no impact on having drug dealers on the corner. Strangely, neither does having a new kitchen reduce gunfire heard at night, which really allowed for raising the rent. (more after the jump)

I did increase the rent from the $500-$550 range to $700 and above after the huge renovation in 2007 when my mortgage total went into the land of $1600 a month. I was charging less than ½ my mortgage and including utilities. In 2007-08 a renovation at that time made sense. The drug dealers were decreasing their hours. Other houses on the street were getting renovated so I wouldn't be overbuilding, and I was finally making enough money to support a bigger second mortgage. After the renovation, I checked Craigslist and the City Paper to get a sense of what to charge for a room. Then I would post an ad for a certain amount and depending on if I got any real bites, I found out if I was asking too much.

Do a thorough interview and follow up on references

One reason I hear people say no to roommates is that they've had a bad experience with a past roommate. Of my worst roommates since leaving my parents home they've been people I didn't choose (dorm situations) . It helps to pick people based on something in addition to their ability to pay rent on time. I've always required references and I interview those references, over the phone, before offering the room. I demand an in-person interview with the applicant. In the beginning it was to make sure the person was ok with the neighborhood. It was also to make sure they were the kind of person I could get on well enough with for the next 3 to 6 months. Yes, even though I do short term rentals I did the big interview, check your references, confirm employment dance.

The questions I would ask references were roommate, temperament questions. How are they about cleaning up behind themselves? Does So-in-So smoke? How does s/he handle conflict when a problem arises? Would you describe So-in-So as dependable/responsible? And general descriptions of the person. These interviews have been helpful in adjusting how I related to the roommate and made me aware of things I'd have to be sensitive to as well. And I made sure they were not all email references and I called the employer (or former employer in some cases.)

Know your market, know yourself

As I mentioned, I do short term rentals. Mainly because I get bored with people and sometimes I just want my house back. That was the know yourself part. So, who would I rent to? Well in the summer there are interns. I've had a law firm intern, and international org intern, and some educational non-profit intern. Because of all the non-profit think tanks and other research institutions there are also fellows, who are like interns, but older and definitely paid better. Some fellows I got from friends who were searching for housing for their research fellows who were going to be in DC for 4-6 months. Other types of people who needed the short term stays were people who were hired on a trial basis, a commuter and someone here for a short detail at the home agency.

My preferred roommate was someone with a life elsewhere. My commuter, lived with her partner on weekends. The person on detail had an apartment back on the west coast she was returning to. The law intern was a homeowner in Philly. And to accommodate them I would provide a furnished room, and provide kitchen wares so all they had to bring was their suitcase.


Sometime this year I contacted DCRA about the legality of renting out my extra bedroom and was told by Michael Rupert, Communications Manager, that I could have up to 5 unrelated people living together in a home - as long as they share kitchen and living spaces - without having to get any license and it's perfectly ok in terms of zoning regulations.

I also reported the income on my taxes taking out the expenses associated (utilities, the odd time I paid the WP for an ad) and it has been good income. If you pick the right roommate (lives elsewhere on weekends, workaholic, never cooks) it can be the easiest $600-$700 bucks a month.

Beware of this weekend

Thing #1- UHOP (United House of Prayer) is having an annual 'baptism' by firehose. There will be parking issues around the Mt. Vernon Square area because of the crowd.

Thing #2- There will be a rally/march for DC voting rights and related to this there will be congestion around Dunbar High School about 11AM on the 28th.

That is all.

Fugly popups for sale


I have a theory, ugly is a big enough negative to negate any investment in increasing square footage. The reason behind my theory is that the ugly 2000 sq ft house is competing against the nicer looking 2000 sq ft house, not the surrounding nicer looking 1000 sq ft houses. There are two examples.

Fugly popupFirst is 26 P St NE. If you notice on the Redfin site the complete ugly of it is not revealed. I noticed the exterior photo stops so you don't really see the 3 story popup that the builders threw up on it. The asking price is $799K. I say it is worth $400K on a good day and that's just thinking about how much it is going to cost to hire an architect who can design something that can redeem the property. This has been on the market for nearly a month. I'm guessing it's going to be a long time and several price reductions before this monstrosity sells.

Is next, and the best proof of my theory, 1522 3rd St. NW

 Sitting on Top This puppy has been pretty empty of real tenants for years. That pop up has been on top of that house for at least 3 years if not more. Check out the link above and scroll down to the property history and the number of times it was bought and sold over and over again. It looks fishy, but that's the bank's problem. As I can remember it was never sold to real people, just investors. Also not how the price keeps going down. It began as $349K, then delisted and relisted at $335K, and since then has been slowly going down and is now at $245K.

Let me say that the 1500 block of 3rd St is awesome, minus the feral children at the corner of Bates and 3rd. There are a great set of involved neighbors and somewhere over there I think is where ANC Anita Bonds resides. If the house gets down to say $220K, buy it, redo the popup (move it to the rear, turn it into a covered roof deck, tear it off) and if you plan to stick around for 5-7 years it would be totally worth it.

Monday Ramblings

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I must say I love, love, love the Bloomingdale Farmer's Market. I ran into my ex-roommate who, though lives 2 blocks from me now, I lost contact with. Reunions, yay! Also Painted Hand had bunny rabbit. Add a sticky-bun and a apple danish, good times.

Since I'm in the general area, congrats to the Big Bear for being in a commerical for a cable company and NBC Universal (YouTube). Yes, BBC you are a beautiful indy coffee shop and would make a lovely filming location.

This weekend a family began moving off the block, and I was told it was the schools that did it. We'll miss this family as the mom threw some pretty great neighborhood parties. There was the one they held in the middle of the snowstorm, and one where the back gate was opened and the party got extended down the alley with small children running up and down. Add to this with another family with small and very socialable kids who are also planning on moving this year, our little section of the neighborhood is going to lose some of its character. The good kind of character and I hope whomever takes their place will add to the awesomeness of the block, or at least someone else fill the spot of "cruise director".

Lastly, let's talk sibling rivalry, that is Thai X-ing vs Beau Thai. I like Beau Thai's Pad Thai better than Thai Xing's Pad Thai. However, I like Thai X-ing's Panang a tad bit better than Beau Thai's, mainly because there are some odd veggies thown in (last time I had the Panang Tofu) the Thai X-ing version. Beau Thai's Panang is good, the sauce is good and thick and hangs on to the rice. As a left over for lunch I liked it even more.

Wedding related post

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Well some of you have asked how the wedding planning is going. It's going. Because, according to the glossy Washington Post Wedding Planner dohicky that IT so nicely loaned me, we started late and there is the whole list of to-dos. I'm seeing why eloping to Vegas appears as an attractive option. So far, for the DC wedding (there will be an insanely sane and simple ceremony in CA for his parents) looks like it maybe all in Shaw, because it's going to be in winter, I don't feel like trudging to Maryland afterwards, and well, it is the cheapest option so far.

I am thinking it would be nice to make the ceremony a way to introduce The Help to the community, as we are going to make Shaw our home. But the main goal is to keep the thing as cheap and simple as possible because once it is over, we've got to deal with some house repairs that are long overdue. I'm really more interested in refilling the house repair coffers than fulfilling some princess for a day fantasy that costs as much as a new roof. I don't want a photographer who costs more than it did to replace my stairs and walkway with slate. Seriously, slate stair and walkway, $1,600 that's materials and labor, starting price for some photographers, $3000.

Anyway, regardless what we do or don't do in DC, The Help will be moving from PG Co to DC and is looking forward to becoming part of the Shaw.  He'd known me as a friend when I bought the house and has seen how the neighborhood has changed over the years. Snarky suburban comments that he used to fling have given way to hope of getting to know neighbors better and cleaning up the streets.

Now imagine it with chairs

Intrior view Well after work, went to Beau Thai at 1700 New Jersey Avenue NW and had me some Pad Thai. I'm full. It was good. If you have an early menu the phone number is wrong. It seems the phone number is 205-377-5329. I asked about that 205 bit, but apparently it's 205 and not 202. 202-536-5636 Any way, pad thai. Beau Thai's Pad Thai and Beau Thai owner
The food came fast as she's got a couple of people in the kitchen, so she differs from her brother Taw (Thai X-ing) in that way. When asked about him, she mentions that he doesn't have delivery but she hopes to do delivery soon.

Beau Thai Now Open

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Beau Thai Now Open It's open. R & NJ Ave NW. Yay!

Just Call the Cops

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This weekend I was awoken at 3 in the morning by loud obnoxious drunks who were on the alley side of whichever house they were partying at. Now I went into my back yard to try to tell where exactly the noise was coming from so I could call 911 and tell them which house they need to go to. I like to be accurate and since it is a small alley and a tree blocks my line of sight, so I couldn't tell if it was from the house with the tiny deck or the roof deck house.

On other blogs in comments people suggest going to the neighbor causing the noise and respectfully asking them to turn it down. Reflecting on my actions that night, calling 911 and not engaging with the noisemakers would have been the least risky (to my health and safety) option. Mainly because the phrase, 'I walked alone down a dark alley at 3am, in a bathrobe armed with only an umbrella to talk to an unknown number of drunks yelling profanities and ethnic slurs', seems to be a really bad idea. I would have been armed with a pick-ax if the one I had was near the umbrellas. It was 3am, I don't think straight at that hour. And to give most of that crowd credit they acknowledged that they were loud and needed to be quiet and one guy apologized. However, another guy screamed he was going to "kill your neighbor." Twice. And this boys and girls is the reason why you just call the cops. Even if it was in jest, it was still a death threat.

There are situations where I do talk to (or text or call) some of my neighbors when any of their gatherings get a little loud and interferes with my desire to go to sleep. It's when I know the neighbors already, desire to maintain good relations and know that they are reasonable people. There are neighbors who have exhibited bad behavior in the past and confronting them is just asking to make a bad situation worse. Another thing is if I'm already dressed for bed and don't feel like putting on a robe, shoes, and depending on the weather, a coat I'm more likely to use the phone to resolve my problem. If I have the neighbor's number, I call or text them. If I don't, I'll call the cops.

Beau Thai- Definately Monday

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I saw some movement in Beau Thai on the way back home. I got excited. excited for nothing and yes, guy from the city, I'm blaming you. Guy from the City was excited that we in the neighborhood are all excited but he blames the hold up on some office closing 3 minutes early. So he says, "Definitely, Monday."
The owner, she did not look happy. She looked seriously unhappy. She's got a bunch of food she can't serve because well, it would have helped if Guy from the City had shown up Thursday and gotten her a Certificate of Occupancy or what ever his magic seal of approval. He knows we're all blaming him, but you know the process of what it takes to open a business in DC is cloudy from the standpoint of a citizen. We don't know what all the hoops and hurdles are that stop a business that we're starving for, from opening because one of the city offices closed shop early on a Friday.
So, we'll see, Monday.

Have you paid your property taxes?

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This morning I found in today's Washinton Post the big list of District properties that have failed to pay their property taxes. Check the list here (PDF) to make sure your mortgage company actually paid your taxes. One year I noticed a neighbor's property was listed, mentioned it to him and it seemed to be a snafu on his mortgage company's part.

Now let me head off the usual questions I get regarding the tax sale with telling you what little I know based on my own limited experience and 2nd hand experiences of others who did more follow through.

1. You just can't go to a tax sale and buy a house. All you are buying is the tax lien that gives you the right to foreclose.

2. There is a time limit of when you can and cannot foreclose. The owner has so much time of when they can pay the lien and you'd have to foreclose by a certain time. The details of this I'm fuzzy on.

3. If you foreclose it does not give you a free and clear title. If there is a $300K loan on the property, the bank still has a claim, then there is everyone else with a lein on the property, and any others that would challenge the new ownership. You are responsible for the title search.

4. If you're only interested in the interest, as most property owners pay the tax bill, with interest, keep in mind that the amounts listed are the starting points. You will only earn interest, which last I heard was a sweeet 18%, on the amount listed. If you bid, and most likely you will, over the amount, that extra earns no interest. So get out your spreadsheets factor in actual interest earned, minus $150 Tax Sale Fee the District charges you, and decide before you go what amount you'll stop at.

5. The tax sale is filled with idiots who think they're bidding on a house. They will jack up the bids and make the interest you'd earn pointless. But considering I'm only earning 1% at my bank on a good day, it takes a lot to reach pointless.

6. Before you bid you need at least 20% deposited with the DC Treasurer's Office. Failure to have that will nullify your bid.

Since every single cent I have is going to the weddings, and after that some overdelayed home fixin', I won't be participating in the tax sale. If I were, I'd aim for unimproved land and parking spots in condos in neighborhoods where parking doesn't exist.

Beau Thai Maybe Thursday, Maybe Friday, We'll see

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I ran into the owner of Beau Thai after work. She was waiting for the C of something, I gather the person is the last ok from the city to go ahead and start serving us food.
Anyway I asked for a menu. We'll see how Mr. Scanner is acting later tonight. Hopefully the last inspector will bother to show up this evening and give the go ahead. If he doesn't show up today, then tomorrow, pushing the opening back to Friday.
The menu has two different prices for lunch and dinner one dish meals and entrees. I remember when Thai X-ing opened the lunch service went away due to a lack of people to support it. Anyway it's got some usual favs, Pad Thai, Satay, Panang Curry, Red & Green Curries, Larb Gai, and spring rolls. Appetizers run between $5 and$ 6, one dish meals $8 or $10 and entrees $9 or $11.Beau Thai Door 1

Wedding planning and Shaw


I'd like to announce the engagement of Ms. InShaw (me) to the guy known as The Help. So postings may get a little light as I get distracted with trying to plan two low-cost weddings on two opposite sides of the country.

One of the challenges I'm dealing with is finding a location that has all the things I want that won't mess up the miniscule budget we have. One of those desires is to have a reception in Shaw, if not Shaw Mt. Vernon Square, if not MVSq, NW/NE DC and if not NW/NE DC, PG County... near a metro. I've asked friends and brainstormed with a friend who is also trying to plan an event for him and his partner. But with the budget the way it is, another friend's suggestion of the church basement, an ipod, and a box of doughnuts is looking pretty good.

When looking for places or thinking about places I get a lot of inspiration from the Off-Beat Bride site, which had me considering art galleries, small museums and theaters, but in the brainstorming session I discovered they were outta my price range. Since most of my family members are Baptists, it's more than likely going to be a dry reception so that opens up other places to me like schools, government owned buildings (think National Park Service and Maryland-National Park & Planning Commission opeated buildings), spaces run by non-profits and other organizations, churches with facilities better than my default location, and Shaw is chock full of churches. Shaw is also chock full of empty storefronts which is another idea, but the cost savings might be lost when renting or buying tables, chairs, plates, linens and insurance are factored in.

We're still trying to price out other things but worst comes to worst, church basement, ipod, and we'll splurge for cupcakes instead of the doughnuts.

Soon, as in Monday the 9th

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A neighbor noticed that the "Coming soon" signs were down and I saw on Scott Robert's email thing Beau Thai is supposed to open Monday August 9th for carry out.
Update- I went by after work and the doors are pretty well locked.
Prince of Petworth is reporting a Thursday opening. Since I almost always walk by I'll mention when it's open.beauthai.jpg

First on First or just First on the 7th

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Saturday was the now annual (this is the second go round), neighborhood art thing. I ran into some TC neighbors selling handmade purses and bags. Neighbor IT had an installation of post cards in front of Big Bear. Lots of folks were excited to peak into Rustik, which is not open. When will it open? Soon, the owner says. I'm beginning to hate the word 'soon'. There I ran into his highness the Prince of Petworth, so look for a more in depth an better report than mine. On the political front Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. was working the event at the little pocket park. These things are fun, they aren't horribly crowded, you run into your neighbors and it is a good chance to see what's coming to the hood.

Iras installation

Ira's installation

Rebar ball

Rebar Ball

Rustik 1

Inside Rustik

Rustik 2 Seans art

Sean H's art

Woman in Hat and Harry Thomas Jr 

Woman in hat and Harry Thomas Jr

Busy Weekend

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A lot is happening around this end of the hood this Saturday.

First there is the 1st on First, which last year the title was dead on, so more accurately it is the 7th on First this year, but 1st on First sounds better. Anyway, last year's 1st on First was fun, 1st St NW from Florida Avenue to Rhode Island Avenue with artists and a few businesses opening their doors and letting folks get to know them. Well this year there is  Rustik Tavern and a Child`s Development Center. That's two separate places but a Tavern /Child Development Center would be an awesome and possibly tragic combination, but mostly awesome. I'm sure that Rustik's open house will be the big to do.

Also along 1st St and 3rd and Bates and several other streets in the TC is the 1st of 2 community yard sales that Saturday. It is sponsored by the Bates Area Civic Association and will take place in various yards.

In the mid-Shaw are there is an Arts Festival this and next weekend.

Oh and there's stuff supposed to be happening on the other end of Shaw on 14th St. Dog Days of Summer I believe it is called from August 7th to 8th.

Special Parking

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I got my temporary parking pass in the mail about a week or so ago for Ward 5 and handed it over to my roommate who is only going to be with me for less than a month. After he leaves I'm jacking up the rent. Anyway, when I got that parking pass I felt special. But not as special as a certain neighbor who got their own parking space on the street.

Now first let me say this is not a criticism, just an observation and I was a bit bemused at this neighbor's chutzpah.

There is some history. This neighbor likes to park the car in front of the house they live in. Most people do or try and several years back you could get away with parking in the same space day after day and sort of thinking of it as yours. Like church pews, seats at restaurants or in classrooms, there is this claim of ownership on something you cannot own. But due to always sitting in the same spot over and over, time after time one starts to think of it as theirs. Anyway, there was a battle over the space between neighbor #1 and neighbor #2. Neighbor #2 would park his big SUV thing in neighbor #1's spot. Both are old timers, living here since the crack dealers roamed the land in huge herds and so this passive aggressive fight over the space has been going on for a while. Last week or so, neighbor #1 got a street parking spot for handicap parking for one specifically tagged car. Basically, their own guaranteed parking spot. The handicap? My best guess is age plus walking difficulty due to weight.

It may be more than that because we really don't want people packing on the pounds just so they too can get their own special reserved street parking.

Some PQ observations

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I finally got around to asking the homeless guy who has been around the Archives/Navy Memorial what happened to Manhattan Deli, which closed last month with no announcement or nothin'. He said that one of the vendors around there said that the building owners bumped up the rent and so the Deli decided to pack up and move to Maryland. $6000 was the amount that did it. I don't know if that's $6000 a month or a week. Now where am I going to get slow surly service but cheap eats now?!

Another observation is there is a short cubby African American fellow engaging in some energetic air guitaring/ jogging between Penn Quarter and Gallery Place/Chinablock. He is not to be confused with jog in place guy who is tall and fit. Anyone else notice him? Has the PQ-GP/C corridor become known as the place where a Black brother can express himself freely with exercise and dance-like moves? One more jogging guy with headphones and funky moves and this becomes a trend.

My weekend- Out in the Virginia Mountains

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Mt. Hazel River This post falls under 'it's my personal blog and I'll post what I want' category. For the past two weekends I've taken two mini-vacations out in the Shenandoah mountain area, one in Madison County the other in Rappahannock County. This is about the Rappahannock weekend.
I had booked this months ago and all I was looking for was a cabin, in the woods, in either Maryland, West Virginia or Virginia that wasn't too expensive and something above a camping tent.I found Hazel Mt.Haven and greatly enjoyed my stay. The views from the yard of the mountains were wonderful. What can I say, I'm from Florida, mountains and really big hills wow me.
We were able to pack a lot into a few days. We hiked a NPS trail, visited a winery, poked around Little Washington (didn't eat at the Inn though) and managed to upset Chef Gerard Pangaud (formerly of Gerard's Place) at the Blue Rock Inn. We feel really bad about that last part, as we did not realize that the short ribs were cooked for 72 hours via sous vide because the meat was still reddish.Chef Pangaud came to our table to educate us on this when my cousin sent the dish back to the kitchen for being too red. We really feel terrible, but on the plus side, we got to meet the chef and the food was good.