Strange Events in Alexandria

It’s no secret. I love Alexandria, Virginia. The traffic congestion leaves much to be desired. However, knowing what awaits the traveler at the end of these traffic snarls and delays is the pot of gold.IMG_0728

My wife and I have been fortunate enough to have visited Alexandria and in particular Old Town on numerous occasions. We always find a pet-friendly hotel because our dogs (only Dexter is left) have never been put in a kennel. Thankfully this is a pet-friendly area and even the finest of hotels welcome our friends with open arms. The Morrison House ( is one place we have stayed at a few times. It is sophisticated, quaint, upscale, warm and tastefully decorated. Plus, it is only a half block from King Street which is the main thoroughfare. Our other favorite hotel is the Hotel Monaco ( The Monaco has all the attributes of the Morrison House, but is also a tad more updated and is located right in the middle of King Street. Both cater to our four-legged friends with treats and beds and we really enjoy our stays there.

This year I had someone suggest we try the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center ( in Alexandria which also happens to be pet-friendly. Surprisingly, we had no problems driving through Washington, D. C. Our travel delay happened in good old Pennsylvania on Route 81 south that seems to have been under construction my entire life. In their infinite wisdom, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation decided to completely close down a several mile section of highway and have all vehicles exit in a rural area. We ended up with a 2-hour delay, driving on winding country roads for approximately 25 miles, with no services. It proved to be a horrible start to our vacation.

Even though I missed the hotel entrance twice, I kept circling the area until I finally arrived, frustrated and tired. I checked in and got Cathy and Dexter settled into our room and went to find a valet to get the luggage from the car that was in the attached parking garage. Approaching the entrance with a valet filled with bags, luggage and the dog’s bed I was taken aback as I noticed a vehicle parked next to the door with a big sticker that read, “HONK IF YOU LOVE FORESKIN.” “Some people are so weird,” I thought to myself as I entered the hotel. Although I pride myself on my open-mindedness , acceptance of others and flexibility, my next shock came when I walked through the crowd of people who were attending the Sexual Summit Conference ( that was taking place on the main floor of the hotel. Attendees were young and old, large and small, tattooed and pierced, conservatively dressed and provocatively clad. I lived through the era of ‘free love’ and yet, this was certainly a head turner and eye opener for me. I must add that after perusing the cast of characters and if I was young, single, had finished 4 extra dry martinis and it was 2:00 in the morning, chances are I would have still returned to my room with only the hotel’s complimentary USA Today newspaper.

My wife and I had made arrangements to meet her niece and her son who live in Alexandria and  her nephew and girlfriend who reside in Baltimore for dinner at my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant. We had reservations at Austin Grill and Tequila Bar in Old Town ( The following day we were going to meet two of my three daughters and grandson who reside in the Syracuse area at our destination in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. As we were being seated, I sent a text to find out where they were staying for the evening. Strange as it may seem, the three of them informed me they had just checked into their hotel in Old Town!  The trials and tribulations of our 300-mile road trip melted away when I saw my daughters and grandson arriving in the upstairs dining room of the Austin Grill. Our dinner party grew from six to nine within a matter of minutes.

Yes, vacation had officially kicked off with a bang.

Written by Dennis L. Page

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