We all have our rituals, our traditions. For some of us it's going home for Thanksgiving. Others will sing the praises of Fourth of July fireworks shows or Memorial Day camping trips. For me, my ritual is to go to the Phish New Years Run, and then post about whatever adventures happened along the way.

In the past years I've nearly gotten mugged in New York and had a travel disaster due to snow and Northwest Airlines. This year was different though. This year was the fun year. No disasters (well maybe a mishap here or there), no near death experiences, just pure bliss. And it started with a pre-show party in Washington DC.

Since the light dusting of snow, and the traditional Baltimore snow panic, cancelled our earlier plans, we decided to hang at a bar. I came for once armed with
amanda with 

Earlier that week, I discovered a cool kite store and the little presents they had. Almost all of the gifts I gave flew or bounced and nearly everything
ellen with 
glowed in the dark.

There was an old Grateful Dead sticker that said, "We are everywhere." Tonight seemed to prove that for Phish fans. Our waiter looked at me and said, "I know you." Sure enough we had hung out in the tapers section before. Eventually that random association gave us an invite into a luxury box for the next night's show (alas we couldn't figure out how to get into there) and a free pitcher of beer.

Now while both Amanda and Ellen live in the DC area, I was not the only transient coming through town.
Chris and Kat were driving through on their way from Lynchburg to New York.

So we
group shot
hung out a bit, scaring the other customers a little
looking a tad embarassed
, and listened to a rather pointless singer cover a rather pointless selection of songs... and I'm not just bitter that they turned off the jukebox in the middle of Lovelight for him.

Eventually it was time for Chris and Kat to leave. After one more
a darker group shot
group photo, Chris and Kat headed north... but the night was still young.
We were thinking about what to do, and I said the magic word, "Diner." Amanda knew of a wonderful diner just across the Virgina state line. So we took I-395 across the Potomac and got some food.

Somewhere in the driving there, Ellen and I started on Amanda. "Hey, Amanda. You should go to the show." It was a joke, a lark. There was no way that she was going to say yes.... unless she did say yes. So, after figuring out a way of getting her a ticket, we were heading for the show.