Washington DC means Kilkenny at the Dubliner
A four hour bus ride landed me in the middle of DC amidst a light rain. Armed with a fist full of tea bags, I went into a starbucks and got a hot water, a free way to take a load off and wait out the rain for a bit. I was waiting for a girl from couchsurfing to get back to me about a place to stay for the night. The rain died down and I aimed myself towards the Dubliner, a pub my friend told me was the only spot in the US to serve Kilkenny on tap. My parents had gone overseas when I was young and brought back a can of this beer as a souvineer for me, because of the name, I'd later tried it in Kamloops on my way from Alaska to Vancouver a summer or two ago.
I walked into the mostly empty bar, the bartender gave me a questioning look, probably because of the backpack, I sat next to a pretty girl and ordered a Kilkenny. We all got to talking, I explained the backpack and some of my travels, along with the draw of the Kilkenny. The bartender was particularly interested in the work I'd done on the pot farms in Northern California, "That's routy man, that beer's on me, he gave me half a plate of food after that too. I talked to him and the girl, along with a few other people working there for a little while, answering some familiar questions and telling some stories from the past couple years. I had some more Kilkennys, the girl took off leaving her name and number on a napkin offering her place to stay if things fell through with my other plans.
Soon a group of three guys came in excited about the football game, a young guy with his dad and uncle. They ordered a round of Kilkennys, I held up my glass and told them it was a great choice. Turns out they were mostly from Connecticut. The bartender, perhaps by accident, but maybe not, gave me one of the three beers, I still had a little less than half a beer in front of me. The mistake was funny enough to the guys that they decided to put it on their tab.
The bartender was replaced by another one, a tall blonde girl with an intriguing smile, she looked at me as if she knew something about me and was waiting for me to recognize it. I carried on with the guys about football, they asked the bartender what her favorite Irish whiskey was an ordered 4 shots for all of us, the Jets game was underway. I grabbed a pint or two more of Kilkenny and started to wonder about where I'd be sleeping. The original couchsurfing girl never got back to me, and the number on the napkin ended in her voicemail. I got in touch with a guy John, a friend of a friend who lived just south of DC down the blue line, he said I could stay with him.
I finished the pint I was working on, ready to go and sure I'd spent a decent chunk of money despite the free drinks thrown in there. The girl behind the bar poured me another one though saying it was on her, that smile never left her face, I couldn't help from smiling myself too, it'd been a great time. I finished the beer while watching the end of the game, the Jets won, my bill was less than I expected, I was off to the subway.
A couple girls with small backpacks smiled near the subway pass machine, they showed me how to get the pass that I needed and were going the same way as I was, or at least decided to at that point. We rode in the same car, after some talking they asked if I wanted to go get a drink with them, they even offered to pay. I had to turn it away though, it was getting a little later and I needed to meet up with John if I was going to have a warm place to sleep for the night. One of the girls took down my number with talk of a tomorrow night that never came, they bailed out at the next stop to transfer to whatever train they were supposed to be on.
John picked me up at the end of the line, he was a laid back programmer of sorts who'd met my friend Larry in Phoenix a little while back. I walked into his home, the aroma of pie and brownies filled the air, his wife Jamie was in the kitchen with a warm and welcoming smile. They were both beer lovers and the contents of their fridge proved it, he mixed a stout and raspberry beer together he'd brought from Oregon, the three of us talked a while over a few beers, ice cream and brownies.
I slept in a bit and had an easy going day relaxing in their house. I thought I may have ended up heading back into DC to meet my cousin, but he hadn't gotten back to me. I took the day to do things like laundry and catch up on some writing. John got back from work that night and Jamie whipped up a great dinner, we followed that with some card game, a mix of uno and rummy, along with another game later before finally getting to sleep. The next day I'd be heading south, sticking my thumb out for the first time in more than two months.