Ms. Elliott Goes to Washington DC

Dear Henry,

During the move from Tulsa to Roanoke, I did "something" that caused a red flag in the financial world and required me to make a personal appearance at my bank to "verify my identity." Unfortunately, with so many banks moving to online services, there aren't that many physical branches of my bank left. The closest one is Washington, DC, and, in a great hurry to clear this all up, I began to schedule my very first road trip out of Roanoke. Taking the train to the big city for some banking felt like such an adult adventure, and I felt like I was the heroine of my own children's storybook, even though I knew, deep down, that this was just a pain in the ass.

The train was far less fun than it sounded. The ride started at six in the morning.

After alighting Amtrak's Northeast Regional at the beautiful Union Station, I began the mile or so trek up 2nd Ave to my bank next to Seward Square. A few blocks into the walk, I found myself in front of a small church, St. Joseph's on Capitol Hill, a mere 10 minutes before daily Mass started. I have always subscribed to the theory that if you find yourself right out in front of a church immediately before Mass begins, it's a sign you're supposed to be there.  

Although that is what I thought before I opened the door.

As I walked through a wall of security personnel standing behind the last row of pews, I briefly reconsidered that philosophy before I hurried past everyone to find a seat. I was sure someone was going to ask me to leave.

For some reason, most of the VIPs in Washington would attend daily Mass (if they attended Mass at all) at the National Cathedral. They don't. Instead, two Catholic churches (St. Joseph's and St. Peter's) are on either side of the Capitol grounds. St Joseph's is on the Senate side and is the church that Catholic Senate and staff members attend (the House and their staff attend St. Peter's).   Daily Mass at St. Joseph's was a packed house, and as I tried to nonchalantly look about the sanctuary, I noticed the big drawback of relying on print rather than televised news. With a few exceptions, I have no idea what our nation's VIPs look like, and I couldn't possibly tell you which very important people attended Mass that day. The priest did a great job on the homily and talked about allowing the Holy Spirit to guide our actions without getting the slightest bit political. I was genuinely impressed.

After Mass, I hurried to the bank, got the piece of paper stamped, and put it in the mail; it only took ten minutes or so.

By now, I was starving. I had passed several cafes along the way to the bank, but they were all so crowded. Instead, I circled back to where I started and had the best steak wrap at Bliss Cafe, which was almost next door to St. Joseph's and smelled so good the first time I passed the cafe.  

After lunch, I had a couple of hours to sightsee and wandered around the grounds of the Capitol building and Supreme Court. I had hoped to get a picture of the masses of protestors on which the news keeps reporting, but I only found one. It was a little disappointing, to be honest, and once again, I began to wonder how much of our "news" is true. From there, I went to see Grant's Tomb and then back to the train station for the long ride home. I made it back to Roanoke after 10pm. I was exhausted

It was a long day but a fun little trip, and I'm excited to do it again. I have the opportunity to return to DC at the end of July, and II will take it, although I will definitely spend more than a day.

XOXO a.d. elliott

PS The banking world *still* hasn't given me the clear :( I may need to take another quick day trip.


a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Salem, Virginia. 

In addition to the travel writings at, you can also read her book reviews at and US military biographies at

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