Monday, September 26, 2016

Virginia, Alexandria - Monday, September 26, 2016 - Pohick Bay Regional Park

For the past week we have been walking 3 miles after breakfast.  One morning we headed for the marina that is here in Pohick Regional Park.

The marina has a nice building you can rent for parties.  It’s nice to sit on the deck and enjoy the view.

Leaves aren’t starting to turn out here and very few wildflowers are blooming.  We see these blooming trees every once in a while.

Our three miles out here is quite a bit more strenuous than the three miles we were walking daily when we were in Kansas.  We are going downhill half of the time and then back uphill the other half.  The walk back from the marina just about did us in – these pictures don’t do the hill justice.  We should have known it was going to be bad when they had “steep hill” signs posted – duh.

Saturday we took off on the motorcycle to visit the Patriot Harley Davidson store.  They were having an event to kick off the introduction of the 2017 bikes.  When we got there they had lots of 2016’s but we didn’t see a single 2017 bike.  Greg did get a new helmet.  His old one had seen better days, but he won’t stand out now.  His new one is just plain black, the old one looked like a bloodshot eyeball.  We even opted out of the free hamburger lunch and went down the road to Freddies.

This morning we (I) decided that our walk should be to see the Mason Neck State Park.  Then entrance to the park is a mile from the campground.

The paved path follows Gunston Road from the campground to the entrance.

Not sure if this is a wildflower, but I like cattails.

The trail into the park included a couple of bridges over places that looked like water might wash through in heavy rains.

This particular path is paved for three miles into the park and ends at the Belmont Bay.  We didn’t go all the way to the Bay.  If we had gone to the Bay and then back to the campground that would have put us at eight miles for the day.  That is just a bit too much for us right now.

There are a lot of downed trees along the trail, not sure if this is just from aging trees or if weather has brought some of them down.  This park if also a wildlife refuge – once again we saw no wildlife, birds weren’t even chirping here!

Washington, D.C. - Sunday, September 25, 2016 - Smithsonian National Zoo

Today we are spending the day with Jason, Robyn and Maddie at the Smithsonian National Zoo.  The zoo itself is free, but it costs $22 to park your car!  Jason and Robyn have a membership since they come out several times a year so that cuts down on costs.  Parking is also at a premium so you need to get there early, we were running a bit later than we intended.

Greg and I have discussed our lack of wildlife/animal interactions in the years we have been on the road.  We’ve only seen 3 or 4 deer, a few squirrels and chipmunks and a couple of lizards unless we are visiting a zoo.  We do see cows when we are at David’s in Kansas but being from the Midwest we kind of take that for granted.  I know we don’t want to get up close and personal with any large animals especially as we go down the road, but you would think that we would have seen more in the length of time we have traveled.  Since we had several bird feeders in our yard before we went on the road I miss seeing all of the species of birds.  Even sitting in the woods where we are now we aren’t seeing any birds other than crows.

The landscaping at the National Zoo is amazing.

This is the main reason we came to the zoo – to see the baby panda.  He (or she, I don’t remember) was enjoying a large branch of bamboo.

Momma panda was keeping a close watch from the tree above.

I like this little guy, a red panda.

As we approached the enclosure for the Asian elephants it looked like this one was going to get in the pool.  No such luck, she was just bringing over a trunkful of hay to the side of the pool so she could enjoy her breakfast and have a drink.

This white wolf is looking like he is in disbelief at the number of humans who stand outside his enclosure and howl – I was a little amazed too.

Maddie couldn’t resist the call of the carousel.

This tiger was letting out some pretty ferocious roars, I can’t imagine the fear that would bring on if you were out in the jungle.

The lady lions were out sunning and napping after lunch.  The male lion was nowhere to be seen this afternoon.

These monkeys are investigating a snack their handler just put out in a paper bag.

Our watching the monkeys and their snacks was interrupted by the orangutans moving from one section of their enclosure to another via the overhead cables that run high above across the sidewalks.  Looks to me like an adventurous orangutan that wasn’t afraid of heights could drop down onto the sidewalk, guess it hasn’t happened yet and I was glad it didn’t happen while we were there.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Virginia, Alexandria - Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - Pohick Regional Park

We are on our own today, Maddie has swim lessons after school so they won’t be out tonight.  Last night we had dinner with Robyn and Maddie while Jason went to a ballgame with his dad in Baltimore.  I learned a new version of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” – the Maddie version.  In this version she gets to wait a few seconds after you have made your choice so she can figure out how to beat you before she makes her choice.  Another option to this game comes into play when you won’t go along with her waiting.  If you have “paper” and she has “rock”, paper doesn’t cover rock, rock gets to sit on paper and trap it until a big, big breeze comes along and sweeps up the paper.  She is pretty good at working things around until she wins – politics must be in the future.

After breakfast this morning we walked around the park to get some exercise and some pictures.  This is us in site 75.  With trees like this all around us TV reception is a no go.

This is one of two modern cabins they have just put in.  They look very nice and they are handicap accessible.

This is the back view.  I could live here, no problem.

It looks like they are trying to make some nice improvements to the sites here.  We noticed our site has a brand new grill and some of the others do also.  This deck has been added to one of the sites accessible for a smaller rv.

These are the older cabins that are available to rent.  We don’t think these have indoor plumbing because there is a pretty worn path to the facilities.

There are two comfort stations like this one in the park that have restrooms, showers and laundry facilities.

Back home again, this is the view from my desk as I write this blog.

And this is the view from the dining area.  I’m enjoying this.  Maddie pretty well summed it up last night.  Her mom told her they had to get home to get to bed because little girls Maddie’s age had to go to school and people mommy’s age had to go to work.  Maddie asked what we (Papaw and I) do.  Robyn said, “they are retired, they don’t have to go to school or work”.  Maddie said, “I want to do what they do”.

Virginia, Alexandria - Sunday, September 18, 2016 - Mt. Vernon Tour

The weather for Sunday looked good until late evening so we decided to take a tour of Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s home.

Maddie and Papaw Greg taking a break before we start our walking tour of the grounds.

In the museum Maddie had to check out the Washington family, including their noses and ears in great detail.

This is a beautiful miniature version of the house.  I would have paid more attention to getting the details in some good pictures if I had realized you can’t take pictures inside the house itself.  The house has a lot of original paintings that belonged to Washington and I think the flash from cameras would harm them and they probably don’t want people taking pictures and duplicating them.

Dinah Oldham this picture is for you.  Beautiful stained glass history timeline.

These Washington quotes made me feel really good about the man who was picked to be our first President.  I wish I could say the same about all of those who followed him.

Maddie managed to keep up with all of the walking we had to do.  It had been a while since Greg and I had been walking for any distance but we found we didn’t have a problem.

The market featuring vendors from Washington’s time in period clothing was special this weekend.  I understand that it isn’t here all the time.  I had to feel for the folks in all of those long dresses, long sleeved shirts and vests.  We were getting pretty warm in our shorts and t-shirts.  They had all kinds of vendors – bakers, soap makers, pottery, gourd bowls, fabric stenciling and more.  The “doctor” selling his elixir to cure all your aches and pains was fun to listen to.

The puppeteer was a favorite of the little kids.

On the path to tour the house we came across the “necessary”.  A real step up from most outhouses of the time.

This is a back view of the house and kitchen (the small building to the right).  There was a game of cricket going on in the large yard in the rear of the house.

I always thought the house was made out of stone.  In fact it is made of wood covered in a procedure called “rustication”.  Pine boards were grooved and beveled to create the appearance of masonry.  The boards were then varnished and painted and fine sand was thrown onto the wet paint.

This is the front of the house overlooking the Potomac River.  If I lived here I wouldn’t get anything done, I’d be sitting on this porch all day.

Not much going up and down the river today.

In the carriage house we didn’t find Washington’s carriage but one just like he would have used – pretty ornate.

From the carriage house we walked back to Washington’s tomb.  Washington is on the right, Martha is on the left.  Beyond the black door in the middle 25 other family members are buried.  This is a really narrow, deep building.

A lot of restraint is going on here to keep from running up and petting the horse.

The gardens are huge and still looking good.

There is a variety of livestock on the farm.  We saw cows, pigs and sheep in addition to the horses.

We stopped at the Mt. Vernon Inn for lunch.  A few of the pictures I took today were a little blurry.  I kept putting the camera in the bag with the cold water bottles and the lens would fog up when I took it out.

I had sparkling apple cider with my sandwich of fried green tomato, bacon, spinach, and gruyere cheese on wheat toast – really good!  It was supposed to have over easy eggs on it but since I don’t like eggs I got them on the side and Greg enjoyed them with his club sandwich.  Robyn was brave and tried the peanut soup they are known for.  It looked a lot like watered down peanut butter which didn’t seem really appealing to me so I didn’t try it.  She said it was “different” and didn’t finish the cup.  It must be an acquired taste.

Sunday brunch has “first come, first served” seating.  We got in with just a few minutes waiting.  This room is available for those who have to wait a bit longer to be seated.

This was a really great way to spend Sunday afternoon – Thanks Jason and Robyn!