August 2017 Washington, DC and area - Upstate NY - Washington, DC

     The first August morning and first day in Washington, DC, we got a late start on our morning walk meaning we finished when it was pretty dad gum hot. We walked from Gangplank over to Potomac Park, walked its perimeter, and back home totaling 6.6 miles. Pretty sweat-drenched when we got home but our walk felt good and we are so happy to be back in this city.


View of Washington Monument as we walked across the bridge to Haines Point.

                              Looking north up the Potomac


              A northward view up the Potomac River from our fly bridge

Condos and apartments by the hundreds are being built on DC's Waterfront



Washington's well-known seafood market


     Soon after arriving in Washington, we drove to upstate NY, Bill’s home, to celebrate, Doris, his sister’s, 88th birthday, and also the marriage of our great niece, Rachelle.

Along the way we relaxed along the Susquehanna River, PA, for a lunch stop.


     The wedding venue was an elegant old home with perfectly landscaped and manicured grounds.

A lounging area shrouded by a misting rain. 


The historic home where rehearsal party/dinner as well as part of the wedding reception was held.

        A GREAT Aunt and Uncle at Rachelle and Rob's fun fun fun wedding!


     We're having a most fun weekend of eating, drinking, dancing, and celebrating Rob and Rachelle's marriage in Geneseo, NY.


                                          It's the "Greats" again!


                     A pastoral scene on my morning walk from Doris's






                                                  Letchworth State Park, NY







     Letchworth State Park, New York, is proported to be the Grand Canyon of the east. Doesn’t quite rival THE Grand Canyon but this is a deep canyon cut by the Genesee River.



     In the mornings, my days began with coffee in Doris’s huge back yard, stretched out in her swing. Some mornings I was shivering in the 64 freezing degrees in Williamson, NY! Brrrrr! What a great way to start the day.

     I am from a very small family---very few relatives on my father's side and (what I considered) "a whole bunch" on my mother's side---maximum of 10---no more---for family get-togethers. The numbers of Bill's relatives are legion! Yesterday for the 88th birthday of his sister, Doris, there were upwards of 42 of her/our kin in her backyard. And that's not all!  Quite a few were unable to make it due to a honeymoon, working out of town, etc. I kidded her saying it's all because of her that her progeny is so great. And at her party, a new pregnancy of 8 weeks was announced with an ultrasound photo in Doris’s birthday card. That caused much happiness and rejoicing.


     Lunch with sister-in-law, Doris; adorable and brilliant niece, Teagan, from South Carolina; and long-suffering husband, Bill, at Genesee Brew House. We're on the deck overlooking the Genesee River.

             
    Isn't Teagan adorable! Kodak building in background. If only I had some wire to put into her pigtails I could turn her into Pippi Long Stockings. Don't think college freshmen looked that young and cute back in the day. And the brilliance and creativity inside that cute little head...!!!




                                                Genesee River
                                                  Rochester, NY




                                     Another view of Rochester




     Lots of people out enjoying Canandaigua City Park and the 71 degree August weather.



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Canandaigua Lake, NY


Too bad this little ice cream shop wasn't open---sure is cute!




Some of the little houses along the docks. Wonder if they're called "dock houses"? 




     Upstate NY is really beautiful with gorgeous farms and rolling hills. Our visit and celebrations were wonderful fun but t'was time to return home.

     Years ago in DC, we met Charmaine, a cycling dynamo and also a member of the Bike Friday "cult". We were looking forward to reuniting with her on this trip. The 3 of us met for dinner at Elephant and Castle on Pennsylvania Avenue. After dinner, she, Bill, and I are enjoying the Navy band at the US Navy Memorial, also on Pennsylvania Ave.

     When the Army song was played, a woman next to us popped up and stood at attention not moving a muscle. That made me have wet eyes and gave me goose bumps. I’m so proud to be an American, exceedingly thankful for our freedom and appreciative of those who served and are currently defending our country.


      I love this city!!! I LOVE the ethnic diversity; the various skin colors; myriad of facial features; the many languages and dialects. This is very refreshing because I weary of the homogeneity of many of our cities and towns. It's so refreshing to see not just Caucasians and hear not only English. I'm loving every second of being here and everyone is so convivial. If I didn’t know better I'd think I was in the deep south. And I love how we can get anywhere in a heart beat on our bikes while cars sit in traffic polluting and tourists trudge through the heat looking exhausted. The educational opportunities here are endless as are the chances for fabulous workouts to say nothing of the inexhaustible bikeways and sidewalks for walking and running. Bill really enjoys running on the packed dirt on the Mall. And I love cycling regardless of the surface.

     Bill's the spreadsheet guru of our family and I (almost always) just fly by the seat of my pants. Life's more fun that way. Just never know what's going to happen next! BUT, I've developed a spread sheet of the whens, wheres, and whats of each day. Don't want to miss a beat and no way to check everything off the list. We've been here a month at a time twice before and this time for 2 months and our dance card is already maxed out. Maybe next year we can be here for 3 months. The marina is primarily live aboards--transients are rare birds here-- but they've embraced us with out stretched arms-- into their community.

     I may never come down from my endorphin high from a Saturday workout. Right here at our front door on Saturdays is a yoga class and a heart-racing, fast paced workout led by a guy who must be propelled by jet fuel. With great trepidation, I went to the 9 AM workout, got on back row certain I wouldn’t be able to keep up and would have to bail. What an incredible experience and tremendous endorphin high creating for me a euphoric state lasting for the rest of the day. Doing repetitive jumping jacks changing direction with every 2nd one, squats, etc.,  all to fast-paced music was something I haven’t done in years and frankly, never envisioned ever getting to do again. Have no idea where the pre-conditioning came from since, unfortunately, “exercise doesn’t keep”, but I zipped through that 50 minute workout like I’d been doing that several times a week forever. Had to pinch myself to see if it was really me!  I was soaked to the bone and dripping with sweat. The 50 minute yoga afterward was just a cool-down and much needed. Should I attribute my success to my new pace maker or to his cuteness? Whatever!!!  I've not done an aerobic workout like that in years--maybe even decades. Can't wait for Saturday morns. Come along if you're near. 



     Have I said yet that I'm loving it here? The opportunities? The people?? Fantastic! I'll just be corny and say, "I HEART Washington, DC"

     Lunch with boating friends from Severna Park, Tom, our cycling guru, and Elinor. We met half way and had a magnificent time catching up. Guess it's because it's "new" but really entertained by taking public transportation here. It's fast, efficient, I can read en route---but the people-watching is supurb. We took the train and met them in New Carrollton. 



     We enjoy Friday Night Jazz in the Sculpture Garden and this scene is a great example of "human kindness" till the Anti-Dance Mafia came along and called a halt to this man's fun. He was having the time of his life and good for that gal who stopped to dance with him.


                                        "No fun allowed here!!!"



      Never a lack of activity around here. This Dragon Boat race went on all day long one Saturday complete with a Man with a Mike who loved the sound of his voice!




    
     One morning I left home at 0715 (to beat the heat) to ride the Anacostia Trail. Another one checked off my list. Very few bike commuters but the vehicular traffic—oh, my word!!! Inhaling exhaust fumes was awful. Have I said yet how much I love this place, the opportunities, the people, and the cultural diversity. We’re extending our stay past our intended 2 months which would’ve ended 30 September. But when the frost is on the pumpkin, we’ll be making southern tracks.

     The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail is an important piece of the transportation network here and was a priority project under President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative. The planned 28-mile trail, spanning both sides of the Anacostia River, connects DC residents in 16 waterfront neighborhoods, to their workplaces, schools, shopping, recreational amenities and the outdoors. It provides access to Diamond Teague Park, the historic Navy Yard, RFK Stadium, and Anacostia Park. It runs through beautiful Kenilworth Aquatic Garden and  connects to the Anacostia River Trail in Maryland. The trail provides access to a number of national treasures including the Tidal Basin (famous for its cherry blossoms in the spring), the National Arboretum, and the National Mall -- US Capitol, Smithsonian museums, the Washington Monument and other iconic landmarks.

     Cycling at night in DC is a unique way to see the city. The tourists are all exhausted and are back in their hotels so we had it to ourselves. Quiet! Beautiful! A gentle breeze. We could see so much more without droves of people everywhere. Loved it!

    



















      Great lunch at a fun Greek restaurant in Arlington, Kapnos Taverna, with boating friends---Elle, Dick, Ted, and Nancy--and eclipse watching. I had grilled octopus that was deliciously scrumptious. Then we went outside to enjoy the eclipse. Thoughtful Nancy had the proper eye wear for us else we’d have been peering through a cereal box or something less creative. A memorable day with long-time friends.




     While Bill did his varnishing, I wanted a re-do of the Holocaust Museum. I’m glad I went and can check that one off the list. I learned things I don’t remember from my first visit and found the shoes, photos, and old movie clips as moving and poignant as ever. The museum was packed and despite the throngs, everyone treated it as a hallowed place. If there was any conversation at all, it was in low whispers. It isn’t a pleasurable visit but should be a must-see by every American. Its very effective aim is to educate the American public about the historical experience of an excruciatingly painful kind, so much so that it would be a calloused visitor who would emerge from there unmoved. The emotional, moral, and pedagogical impact the museum makes is powerful.

     Sadly, this museum won’t protect Jews or other minorities from genocide in the future but it informs and bears witness to the Holocaust’s existence, providing a warning to whomever wishes to learn from it, that those who would dehumanize people in order to destroy them, also dehumanize themselves.

     On a lighter note, we went to Strathmore College for the Arts for their annual on-the-lawn Uke Fest. It was fun and incredible to watch and hear the sounds that the skilled musicians can extract from that little 4 string instrument. It’s inspired me to dig mine out, dust it off, and begin from scratch — again— in learning to play. The evening air was so comfortable making for a delightful respite. 

     Bill’s using his Multi-Master to remove Thyocol on decks so I cycled to Arlington to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier—always a somber and moving experience—then to the Sculpture Garden for Friday Night Jazz — then to a SW venue for Jazz at Six. They wouldn’t let me in because I didn’t have $5!!! Stopped at Safeway and in the park area there, there were steel drums and reggae. Nobody asked me for $5. Really—does anybody ever carry money anymore? Got my phone and Apple Pay. What more do I need? $5, I guess.

     I headed out on a solo ride to Silver Spring but needed a bagel and coffee stop in Bethesda to refuel. The Capital Crescent Trail is gooder'n great and was a wonderful day of going outside to play all by myself.





     







                                                Chain Bridge
                             My little Bike Friday in foreground





      Arlington National Cemetery encapsulates America’s history—a living tribute to our Nation’s past and how it continues to thrive through the service and sacrifice of those willing to dedicate their life to her ideals.  





                              As far as the eye can see in every direction....








    This national shrine is the final resting place for more than 400,000 active duty service members, veterans and their families. “Service to country” is the common thread that binds all who are honored and remembered here.
     The cemetery is located on land that once belonged to George Washington Custis, grandson of Martha Washington and step-grandson of George.   In 1857, Custis willed the 1100 acre property to his daughter who was married to Robert E. Lee. After the Lee family vacated the estate in 1861 at the beginning of the Civil War, federal troops occupied the acreage as a camp and headquarters.


   
     The number of Civil War casualties was outpacing other local Washington, DC-based cemeteries, the property became a burial location.  The War Department allocated 200 acres of the property to use as a cemetery and by the end of the war, thousands of service members and former slaves were buried there.  Approximately 27-30 funeral services are conducted every single week. More than 3,000 ceremonies and memorial services also take place at the cemetery each year.

    

     A walking tour was available for the MLK March so we jumped on that. The memorial is exquisite, preserving his memory. He was a visionary, minister, and an intellectual, unwavering advocate of social justice, and martyr to peace, equality, and justice. Although most widely known for his leading role in the African-American civil rights movement in the United States, Dr. King was also a tireless advocate for the nation’s working class and the oppressed around the world.




     The monument reinforces the place of his courageous leadership in our nation’s march toward freedom, proudly standing in the vista between the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial.

     It was on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that Dr. King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, reaffirming his belief in the ultimate redeemability of the words in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence as that “promissory note to which every American will fall heir.”

     There is so much symbolism in the orientation of the monument, the color and quality of the granite from which it is carved, and its environs of stone, earth, and water. His speech the day before his death was sadly prophetic.  “…I don’t know what will happen now…but it doesn’t really matter…because I’ve been to the mountaintop….Like anybody, I would like to live a long life…. I’m not concerned about that now, I just want to do God’s will.  And He’s allowed me to go to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land….” The next day he was assassinated in Memphis.This was particularly significant to us because we were recently in Memphis and visited the museum and motel where Dr. King’s life ended.



     For a little over a week I kept an eye on the Corpse Flower that was on the verge of blooming in the U.S. Botanic Garden. T’was very enlightening to see this rare event in the life of this plant. 




     The corpse flower is huge—it has the largest unbranched inforescence (the complete flower head of a plant including stems, stalks, bracts, and flowers; a cluster of multiple flowers that sometimes looks like a single flower.) in the world. The flowers are located at the base of the spadix inside the spathe. There are 100’s of flowers in one inflorescence.



     This flower stores energy in a huge underground stem called a “corm”. Each year, the corm will produce either a leaf to increase the energy stores through photosynthesis or an inflorescence to produce seeds for reproduction.  Since such a large bloom requires lots of energy, it can take several years to several decades to store enough energy to bloom.

     The dramatic blooming process begins with the unfurling of the spathe and revealing of the spadix. Once the bloom is fully open, it emits a rotting meat odor. The corpse flower gets its name from the putrid scent it emits while in bloom. Some describe it as a combo of garlic, fish, diapers, and rotting meat. The stench serves to attract pollinators, such a carrion beetles and flies.
     It may remain in bloom for 24-48 hours, and then it will collapse quickly.

     




     This plant is native to the tropical rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia, and was first known to science in 1878. In their natural habitat, corpse flower plants can grow up to 12’ tall.  Guess I'm easily entertained but this was enthralling and I paid a daily visit for days.

     Once upon a time, long long ago, Kindred Spirit III was in Ashley Marina, Charleston. Our home in Greenville, SC, sold in a heart beat so I moved on board. Bill was still working so he was commuting. No idea what came over me but I knocked on the hull of a sail boat one day and made the acquaintance of Curt and Judy. When Bill came home for the weekend, he met them and we’ve been fast friends since and have rendezvoused with them in various places along the waterways over the years. Our favorite, of course, is being at their dock and visiting in their home in Lusby, MD.  







     Said all that to say this—Curt used to live in Morocco and they’ve traveled extensively so today the 4 of us enjoyed a Moroccan meal in Arlington. It was a entertaining cultural and gastronomic escapade for us and chatting with them is always a treat. Curt’s never forgotten a thing he’s ever known and we love listening to him. Judy’s an artist making jewelry from genuine sea glass.





     The Arena Stage acros the street from us had a huge sale---costumes, shoes, wigs, props, you name it. They also had entertainment on all 4...or 5 levels of the venue with music, aerial acrobatics, and acrobatics. Free!  Entertainment in this city costs next to nothing. All that needed is to just show up!


     Surely I'm omitting some of what we've seen and done but considering the length of this "month's report", one wouldn't think so.  Loving it!  Loving it! Loving it!  Will attempt conciseness next month---famous last words!

Bill and Laura
Aboard Kindred Spirit III
Gangplank Marina
Washington, DC

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