25 August 2013 Washington, DC

At last I’ve finally developed a sense of the layout of this city--and, yet again, Bill was right--the map does make sense.  I’m walking or cycling every day and haven’t gotten lost since we first got here.

Jefferson Memorial, a neoclassical marble monument to the third US president and main author of the Declaration of Independence 

Peppermint Tree East Potomac Park

From atop the Newseum
I thought the Newseum would be a boring commercial museum but it was NOT!!! It’s a 250,000 square foot venue praising the free press.  There are artifacts from the Berlin Wall and Twin Towers, 15 theaters, and 130 interactive stations.  The JFK special exhibits in memory of the 50th anniversary of his assassination was intensely  poignant.  Jackie and President Kennedy’s lives with their children were chronicled through dozens of photographs of an award winning photographer. We spent two days there and still didn’t see it all.  Bill saw things I missed and vice versa.

From Twin Towers

After they ran us out when they closed at 5, we stopped by the sculpture garden to enjoy Friday night jazz.  I love this silver tree but the photo just doesn’t do it justice.
Silver Tree in Sculpture Garden

When they shooed us out at closing on Saturday, we went to Eastern Market, the city’s oldest public market and a very captivating and eclectic venue.

Since we’re together 24/7/365 you’d think that would be a gracious sufficiency but last weekend we had a REAL date---made restaurant reservations, changed out of our grubby “boat wear”/tees and shorts and went to dinner.  That was really fun and we just need to do that more often.
We had a date!!!

We cycled to DuPont Circle, an area filled with galleries, shops, a Daniel Chester French fountain, and mansions built by the Gilded Age nouveau riche.  Another stop was Adams Morgan, an fascinating and funky area that we find intriguing; then home by way of Georgetown. Isn’t this a cool mural on an Adams Morgan building.

 Bill went to the Crime and Punishment Museum, although his reason was unclear to me.  He’s not a reader of who-dun-it books nor is he a CSI, etc., TV watcher.  He came home pretty underwhelmed with the museum so “escaped” early and went out exploring on his own.

I had a 5 PM yoga class so we decided to make something fun of it with Bill meeting me there at 6.  At a traffic light, a bus driver, standing on the corner waiting for his departure time, struck up a conversation with us.  We told him our destination, asked for his opinion but he’d never been there.  Light turned green and off we went only to find “Closed for Renovation” on the door.  We continued riding our bikes and the bus driver caught up with us madly honking his horn.  He stopped, opened his door and yelled that we’d missed it.  We yelled, “closed!” so he pointed to a side street---Beer and Pizza.  That was a winner! 

Just LOVE the people here...which reminds me of another story. On my walk the other morning there was a policeman standing beside his car and another policeman standing on his Segway.  I stopped dead in my tracks, pointing as I said, “I want to ride that!” He said, “then ride it!”.  He asked if I’d ever ridden one before and as I began my virgin Segway ride, I told him that when I return with his Segway I will have.  Couldn’t believe he just handed over his police Segway to a total stranger.  I grinned all the way home!

Bill heard about a Uke Fest in North Bethesda.   We arrived at the Strathmore Mansion upon whose front lawn, a grassy knoll, we sat..  The mansion is elegant and is associated with a music and arts center.  Several hundred people showed up with their chairs and ukuleles.  The performers were five musicians famous in the world of uke.  I had no idea that those little Hawaiian instruments could sound so good.  The majority of the audience participated in the strum-along.  Certainly an off-the-wall thing to do but it made for an entertaining evening for us.

We took a YOYO day--You’re On Your Own--with Bill heading south and me north to Yoga and NW to Tenleytown.  A mountain goat must’ve blazed that trail because it was straight up.  This is the highest point in the District.  It was the Civil War site of Fort Reno, a crucial lookout point for preventing a siege, located about 4.5 miles NW of the White House. If you have a yen for history, Wikipedia has an interesting presentation on Tenleytown.  
En route, I was surprised to pass the Washington National Cathedral, the world’s sixth largest cathedral.  Had no idea I’d ridden that far up that mammoth elevation in such a short time but my destination was yet ahead.
National Cathedral
Since my ride was all uphill, you can imagine the fun of zipping down those trails homeward bound.  It was rush hour so I avoided the streets lest I become just a greasy spot.

By some fluke, Bill and I arrived home at exactly the same moment--coming from different directions. On our last visit here we cycled to Mt. Vernon but he wanted to go 3 miles farther south to George Washington’s distillery.  He was totally intrigued with the story and very complimentary of the docents.  Can you believe they’re still making and selling it?  Harder to believe is that he came home without a bottle and the only place to purchase it is in the gift shop there---whose doors he never darkened. He returned without a souvenir but of course I had purchases to show from my trip!  Later I heard that a pint is $180 so he's absolved.

Our ears are so sheltered from the cacophony of city sounds and when we’re in the midst, we love the noises, but oh, my!  At 6:15 the other morning I was walking toward the National Mall. The traffic din was so ear splitting that I retreated to the path around the Tidal Basin.  I couldn’t believe the clamor of those poor gainfully employed souls headed to work at that early hour.  

Trawler friends, Rick and Pat, live in Alexandria and graciously entertained us with dinner in their home.  What a blast we had trying to catch up.  We started many conversations and I think that we might’ve finished them all before we left,s returning them to their peace and quiet.  It was a most delightful evening.

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington is the largest Roman Catholic church in the United States and North America.  It is also one of the 10 largest churches in the world. Our docent was very knowledgeable and quite impressive..  As she led us around the massive, one-of-a-kind superstructure, she never stopped talking as she recited the tonnage of the bells, marble, etc., and how many thousands of shades of blue and golds in the mosaics.  The architectural style is Byzantine-Romanesque and houses over 70 chapels and oratories, all relating to the cultures and traditions that are the fabric of the Catholic faith and our nation.  The Basilica also houses the largest collection of contemporary ecclesiastical art in the world.
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the 
Charmaine, a friend we made when we were here three years ago, lives and works in the area and owns 5 bikes, one of which gets her to work each day.  We met her one evening in the U Street Corridor for an alfresco dinner at an artsy little cafe.  What a great spot to people-watch.  We arrived home after dark but there are plenty of very safe bike ways in the city and the full moon illuminated our way.  Did you know that that full moon was a Blue Moon?

We cycled to Alexandria, a very historic Old Town and discovered another great restaurant.  We’re eating like we’re on vacation and that needs to stop.

We took the Metro to Annapolis and that’s old hat for the people who use that for their transportation from the burbs to and from work but for us it’s a rare treat and always a cultural experience.  We got together with 4 other couples that we winter with in the Florida Keys and had a wonderful time reminiscing and talking about future cruising plans.  Two couples have their boats for sale and are getting ready to begin new adventures.

A very old icon on the main drag in Annapolis, Chick and Ruth’s Delly, was introduced to us years ago when we came up here to crew for Fred to take his trawler back to Isle of Palms.  It’s a happnin’ joint and we were eager to go there and make pigs of ourselves again.  They’re famous for their colossal servings and here’s a six pound milk shake!

Each Thursday and Friday nights, there are free concerts at The Wharf here and we enjoy them from our fly bridge. Every Saturday morning a dance/aerobics class is taught and following that, yoga.  Hard to fathom but Bill Bender made his yoga debut there.  He’s left his yoga mat with mine so hopefully that’s a good indication that he’ll go with me again.

On the March on Washington day I got an early start and at 7 AM people were arriving by the droves.  100,000 were expected but 250,000 showed up.  The day after, the trash left behind was despicable---much worse than any other morning.  This is their country and their capitol, too.  The litter doesn’t speak too well for their cause and was very disappointing.

World War II Memorial

World War II Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Korean War Memorial

Viet Nam Memorial
These faces are etched in the marble and beautifully portrayed

A Close-Up

Entrance to Bascilica

Incredible mosaics with thousands of shades of blues and golds

Our docent explaining a mosaic

Gold inlaid with precious stones made by Tiffanys, NY

Charmaine, Laura, and Bill on U Street Corridor
Only another week here but we’ve not wasted a second and will hate to leave but looking forward to what comes next!

Bill and Laura Bender
Aboard Kindred Spirit III
Washington, DC 
25 August 2013


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