Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Monumental Moment for DCUE and a Museum for Beer

On Saturday evening, after spending the whole day tucked up on the sofa in front of the wood stove and reading QB VII by Leon Uris, I met up with some fellow urbexers to celebrate 10 years anniversary of DCUE. Andrew's parents live in a cool condo complex which had a rooftop party room, very posh compared to our urbexing standards. I was thinking an abandoned asylum or derelict power station would have been far more appropriate, but it was freezing cold outside, and we all knew how to behave ourselves in more civilized conditions, so party room with granite bar, pool tables and crystal chandeliers it was.
Once  I finally obtained access to the building, elevators and then got through the security glass doors to the said party, (the whole episode had been reminiscent of a James Bond or Mission Impossible dilemma),  the first thing I was confronted with was the hugest and ugliest lamp I had ever had the misfortune to encounter. It was monstrously hideous, a piece of furniture that would never be seen,let alone fit, in a regular house. This gargantuan object of grotesqueness from China could only ever be seen in a huge hotel foyer, a conference suite or in the corner of a condo party room.
But I think I did a pretty good job of enhancing it...
The rest rooms were something to behold too,vast empty rooms with showers and lockers, everything so bright and white and stark that it dazzled me, bringing to mind the movie 2001 Space Odyssey.
Unfortunately we only had about 20 people present, because so many folks were likely already at a holiday function, or busy shopping, or had heard about the lamp, but it was a good crew, and laughs were had, as well as plentiful slices of pizza, there were boxes and boxes of the stuff. A TV on a wall over the kitchen area showcased photos of DCUE members and then Andrew showed off some cool light gadgets.
 Brightly lit fiber optics were swirled between fingers, encouraging some oohs and aahs from people,  but his pride and joy was a banner stick which, when being photographed on a long exposure as he walked across the room, would reveal a photo saved on its drive. He projected an image of Port Richmond and then one of DCUE's group dates. Pretty impressive but I couldn't think of any uses for it during an urbexing trip.
I did venture out on to the roof top, curious to see how the wealthy live, and was impressed to see high end barbecues, a wall mounted TV, plenty of lounge seats and a pool. And a very well lit view of Tysons and the new silver line metro rail. Not many trees but lots of cars and bright lights. One of our group was out there with his tripod taking long exposure shots. He was a lot hardier than me and I soon fled back into the warmth.
Andrew with the DCUE birthday cake, which was chocolate and deliciously scrumptious, or delumptious, a new word I've coined.
We had to be gone from the party room by 11pm and some people had already left, so a group shot was quickly arranged of those remaining, during which Cindy made a valiant attempt at trying to block out the lamp. As we began clearing trash away a group of young guys piled in and sat round a table, then promptly began to wordlessly devour their Chinese takeaway.Time to go home.
 Sunday turned out to be another cold and blustery day, so although I took the coward's way out and balked at hiking, I was determined to at least leave the house. I left Kota next to the fire and wrapped Rosie Lee up in a blanket on the sofa; she loves being tucked up and made cozy. Then just grabbing my G15 because I seriously need to clean the multitude of specks from the Sony's sensor, I opened the front door and scuttled to the car. While trying to find an indoor place to explore, I had come across a place just too good to pass up, a beer museum! It had somehow opened in Front Royal in September without me knowing so I was very anxious to check it out. They don't have an actual website but this is their Facebook page. I made straight for it, barely managing to keep within the speed limits, then scurried across the road, busting through the front door into an old, but newly restored, house from the 1900's. I was a little startled to hear the loud voices of children, a barking dog and I smelled burned popcorn. Was I in the right place? In another room I could hear some men talking about beer so feeling reassured I started exploring. With Virginia opening over 200 hundred craft breweries in the last 20 years, and having the longest beer history in the States, this beloved beverage now has a huge fan base, and a museum with a bar can will surely be just as successful.
The walls were dotted with posters revealing the history of beer in Virginia and also revealing some very interesting tidbits. The children's voices slowly disappeared into the background as I worked my way around the walls, reading every article, which I don't usually do in museums, but well, this one is a bit different, isn't it?
 In one of the rooms there's an outstanding collection of beer steins, which were donated by a local collector, who apparently has a huge collection, worth millions of dollars, of this drink ware, in all shapes and sizes. I'm hoping a few more may find their way into this museum as the ones on display were certainly impressive, especially the vessels with bright glinting jewels in them. My 'jackdaw' eyes were drawn to the ones that glinted and glittered immediately.
 There was an old TV in one of the rooms which really drew me in. It was playing a black and white news reel and I would have loved to have sat there, with a beer in hand, enjoying the show. A wall screen was in another room, explaining about the Prohibition period, and everywhere were old beer bottles and cans. It felt quite homey.
Beer labels and coasters are being mounted on wooden blocks which will later be fixed to the ceiling. Just like my old bedsit when I first left home. There were many entertaining and very interesting snippets of information throughout the house, one board explaining the 'Bland Beer Era' particularly made me chuckle. I've never understood the fascination for a liquid that surely resembles gnats' piss. Prohibition was also a feature and I was actually disappointed when I'd run out of reading material. I was most interested to learn that George Washington's favorite brew was a porter while Thomas Jefferson favored a pale ale.
Of course, being fully aware that there was a bar downstairs with what I was hoping, a superb local craft beer selection, made me a little unable to concentrate fully on taking everything in, so I had to finally succumb to my beer tasting needs, with a promise to myself that I would return and explore more fully. It was quite apparent that the museum was new and still adding pieces of interest and further information, so of course, I'm going to have to return numerous times to check on its progress, as I'll not be wanting to miss out on anything.
I sauntered into the bar and stared at a wall listing the beers on tap. One of the few dark beers that I can drink was there, Dark Hollow by Blue Mountain, so I started with that. And was immediately drawn into the conversation between the guys there, the owner, David Downes, among them. And so I spent a fair chunk of the afternoon there, with the rest of the day's plans having to be discarded. It was nearly dusk when I left and heading towards home I only had the chance to snatch a couple of photos in the gloom.
I loved the old fashioned singers outside a church and the then stopped to admire an old barn. As I looked through the lens a couple of deer leaped out of the undergrowth and bounced to safety, their white tails held high like beacons in the dim light. Driving down country lanes I saw ice already forming on a small pond and shivered despite the heater blowing warm air into the car.

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