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Love Letters: Washington, D.C.

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Kassie Rempel is 13-year D.C. resident who lives in Mt. Pleasant, where they close down her block every Halloween to prepare for the onset of zombies, superheroes, and princesses who roam the streets en masse. Last year they saw more than 1,000 trick or treaters - yet one more reason her heart belongs in DC. A mother of two, Rempel started SimplySoles.com and now runs LillyU and KassiesCloset.com.

Dear DC,

You lured me into your protective care back in college. I was seeking refuge from a boy and a broken heart. It was summer and your heat and humidity enveloped me like a warm embrace from a trusted friend. I paddled a boat on the Potomac in the shadow of the Jefferson monument, biked up and down the Mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol, and walked the streets of Georgetown window shopping and noshing my way to back to good health. Thanking you for your solice, I vowed to return.

Years went by--eight to be exact--before I made my way back and here is where I remain.

You have the amenities and arts of a metropolis, but have a "small town feel" thanks in part to the downtown building height limitations.

Lions, Tigers, and Bears - oh my - your Smithsonian Zoo (visitor tip: any Smithsonian establishment = free admission) is a favorite hangout. Where else can you see pandas, in person, for free? Where else can you witness orangutans on a high wire hanging quietly, almost unnoticeably above your head, until you glance up and gasp at the thought of them falling on it (which though they technically could they never do)?

Most importantly though, you gave me true love - where at sweet Georgia Browns restaurant, I bumped into my crush from a summer job a near decade earlier. Several deliciously dangerous lemonade martinis from Duplex Diner later, we met under the summer evening sun at Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. There, with the veil of historic heroes and the canopy of ancient oak trees, in front of several invited guests (friends and family) and several hundred uninvited guest (newly hatched cicadas), we made our mutual crushes official.

Today, we love taking our children on bike rides through Rock Creek parkway (which closes to all car traffic on the weekends to accommodate active cyclists, roller-bladers, and training wheel riders). We are frequent guests of Lauriol Plaza (with kids) and Dickson Wine bar (without), and enjoy romantic date nights at The Grill Room at Capella Hotel.

Oh Dear D.C., you may not be a state...I occasionally cannot check out online because stores forget you exist. I hate your out-of-town drivers who are befuddled by your many European-like traffic circles. But I love you for being the capital of the country, the birthplace of my children, and the city I proudly call home.

Kassie