July 2010 Washington DC #22

The last 2 days of June and the month of July, we spent in Washington DC. We love this city!!!   The Independence Day Parade from the steps of the National Archives was fabulous (and I'm not a parade aficionado). Words fail me in describing the National Fireworks. Can't think of adjectives that would adequately chronicle the view from our fly bridge nor would any photos do justice. Two of our children, Andy and Stephen, and 7 year old granddaughter, Izzi, visited with us that week which intensified the enjoyment.  Being here and seeing constant reminders that "our freedom is not free" makes us billow with pride to be Americans; humbled and grateful for the men and women who've defended our freedom and have given their lives for our independence that we so often take for granted. Our month here has really made us aware that we're favored to be in America, the land of the free.
Stephen, Izzi, Andy, Laura, Bill

Here's a Man Who's Willing to Work!!!
Son, Stephen, played soccer one evening on the National Mall in the shadow of the Washington Monument and that was a significant experience for him. He said it was like playing in America's backyard.


Izzi at the helm


It was sad to say "goodbye"

As a metropolitan area -- city and suburbs -- Washington is without peer. In January, a tax was implemented on plastic shopping bags,in an effort to clean up area waters and already $1M has been generated. Plastic bags make up 47% of the Anacostia River's trash so when you shop, it's an admirable idea to take your bags with you. We're in the Washington Channel and you can bet my kayak's still tucked safely in its cradle. I have seen EVERYTHING in this water except a body and I'm afraid to look too closely.  The District is surrounded by the five best-educated counties in the country, as measured in bachelor's degrees, a necklace of demographic pearls: Arlington, home to the Pentagon; Alexandria, the upscale Colonial city, classified by the census as its own county; Fairfax County, headquarters of Sallie Mae and the CIA; Howard County, with its massive Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory; and Montgomery County, home to the National Institutes of Health. There are Washington suburbs where seemingly every neighbor is a doctor, lawyer, scientist or spy. Washington has no industrial anchor. It is the archetypal professional town, with few jobs in factories or warehouses. It is also a college town. The District has 81 college students for every 1,000 residents, according to a 2009 study, a collegiate concentration comparable to that of Boston.
I'm reluctant to attempt to even hit the high points of what we've done. We saw bridal pictures being taken at the Reflection Pool. The bride wore a very mini-wedding dress and her veil was longer than her hem line! An Asian couple and their wedding party were posing for pictures on the National Mall and the bride was elegant in her native dress. We witnessed a gay wedding on a boat across from us. During our stroll through Arlington National Cemetery, we glimpsed 2 military funerals and later learned that there are about 100 military burials there each week so for us to see 2 wouldn't be unusual. As far as you can see in every direction are white head stones for each of those who gave the last full measure.  This and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers if very emotionally charged!

Air Force Monument

In my very long life I've done triathlons, run 5K and 10K road races, and have competed in US Masters Nationals Swimming but never have I participated in a bicycle ride to raise funds for brain cancer research. On-line, I connected with Charmaine, a DC resident and parent of 5 bicycles (one is a BF), who gave us info on this ride. This would be a new experience for us so we thought "what the heck! Let's do it!" We followed the link http://www.brainsonbikes.org/ and committed to this police escorted ride to the Capitol to celebrate Anne Feeley's survivorship and ride across America. She was diagnosed 4 years ago with glioblastoma multiforme, the same type of brain cancer of which Ted Kennedy died. She was told she had no more than one year to live. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and 4 years later, Anne and her trainer began their cross-country ride in San Francisco in April and we were honored to ride the last 10 miles with her culminating her journey at the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall. 

Although she's an American, Anne lives in London where she had her treatment. Before the final leg, she came around to everyone to thank us for coming and to chat with each participant. Her neurological oncologist came from London and a physician from CA who is active in research and was present when she began this bike trip, was also on the podium at the end of the ride. Anne has raised 1.5 million dollars for brain tumor research. This was a serendipity and certainly an experience we'll always remember.  I highly recommend reading her blog by going to the aforementioned website.

Bill, Laura, Charmaine and our Bike Fridays
3 Bike Fridays
A bit of work has transpired on board but we've worked very hard at cycling and sight seeing. We rode our bikes to Mt. Vernon which cultivated a fresh appreciation for George Washington; cycled to Arlington, Alexandria, National Harbor, Silver Spring, Bethesda, Georgetown---on the WDOD Trail, Capital Crescent Trail, Rock Creek Trail, and the C and O tow path . Our wish list of galleries and museums that we hoped to visit was lengthy but we were successful in checking each one off our lists. Were it not for our bikes we'd have never been able to cover so much ground. We felt sorry for people who were trudging along in this heat and as the day wore on, their expressions looked more bedraggled. Although monuments, museums, etc., are relatively close, a 2-5 mile walk for those unaccustomed to exertion, or their waiting for public transportation could quickly devour their week's vacation and be a source of frustration if they had huge expectations for their stay here.


Rose Window National Cathedral
We'd seen droves of Boy Scouts swarming everywhere. One Sunday morning we went to church at the National Cathedral and spoke with a Scout Master who was also visiting in the congregation. He told us that 40,000 scouts are in DC to celebrate the 100th birthday of BSA. What a treat to see kids using their time constructively and not glued to video games. Can you believe that I saw a 10-ish year old boy walking around in the Museum of Natural History exercising his thumbs with a game!!!! Sadly, a missed opportunity.

We absolutely LOVE it here and except for the winters,  could easily call this home. I love the diversity; educational and cultural opportunities; plentifully accessible cycling/running trails; the melange of languages that fall upon our ears; the friendliness of everyone despite the metropolis; ease of getting anywhere you don't want to cycle via an assortment of public transportation.... Washington DC is an awesome city! When Bill goes for his runs, he always speaks to everyone he sees because "that may be the only time anyone speaks to them all day." Before we got here, told him he may want to consider keeping his eyes on the ground because in this huge city I felt certain everyone would be very aloof. WRONG!!!!! Don't think I've ever been in a more friendly city! Grocery clerks, bus drivers, locals strolling the streets...every one of these folks are more than eager to answer questions and offer directions. Often, we don't even need to ask. If they see us pouring over our map, they'll stop and volunteer their assistance.
"The Awakening"
National Harbor's 5 piece 100 foot cast aluminum statue of a giant emerging from the sand


National Harbor
This has been a great place for friends to come and visit this city.  Our children were our first guests. How wonderful to see Harry and Carla and catch up on their lives. We  visited with Hannah, who's beginning a new and exciting life in Baltimore.   Plex, Denis, Lucy, and Cathy---our old (not in age so much as long-time friends!) and 5:30 A.M. running buds from Greenville were here for a great mini-vacation.  We used to spend much time with them in strange ways--like celebrating someone's birthday, complete with cake and balloons at 6 A.M-- so we considered their visit a real treat.

Denis, Bob, Laura, Bill, Kathy, and Lucy

In our month's stay here, we've met so many superb people--many of whom we've had the opportunity to spend time on several occasions. We're going to miss the profusion of helicopters that pass overhead day and night. We're just off the traffic pattern of Reagan International but have become so accustomed to the roar of their engines that we don't hear it anymore. The proximity to grocery, department stores, music, restaurants is going to leave an empty spot--we love the hub-bub of the city. Probably the largest void will be the absence of exceptional bike paths and the cyclists who populate them. Our need to move on and cruise is intensifying but we also are going to miss Washington DC !
 
Bill and Laura
docked Gangplank Marina
Washington, DC

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