Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Plant-Based D.C. Landmarks

Sadly, despite having worked in downtown D.C. for the past 30 years, I had never visited the United States Botanic Garden during the Christmas holiday season before this year.  I’ve been there many times but not during the holidays. But a friend who only lived here for a year before moving out of the area knew about the Botanic Garden’s annual holiday display, entitled Season’s Greenings, and the sights, smells, and sounds that accompany it.  When she asked me about this year’s display, it prompted me to go check it out.  And I’m so glad I did.

This year’s display is a multifaceted one that stretches throughout the Botanic Garden.  First, it includes the return of a series of D.C. landmarks made out of plant materials.  The holiday display also includes thousands of blooms throughout the Conservatory, from exotic orchids to a showcase of heirloom and newly developed poinsettia varieties in the seasonal Poinsettia Room.  Lastly, this year’s holiday decorations include a showcase of model trains chugging around, below, through, and above plant-based recreations of iconic sights and roadside attractions from across the United States.

I will be covering the Poinsettia display, and the model train and roadside attractions showcase in the near future.  Today’s blog post focuses on the collection of D.C. landmarks, all made from a myriad of plant and other natural materials, which is displayed in the Garden Court.  There are a dozen local landmarks and memorials on display this year.  The White House swing set, which had been included in previous years, was not present this year because the actual swing set is no longer at the White House.  In it’s place is the Albert Einstein Memorial.  Also new this year is the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened a little over a year ago.  All of the landmarks would be incredible in and of themselves.  But knowing that they are made of plants adds to the experience.

For added holiday cheer at the Botanic Garden, there are concerts on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in December, when hours are extended until 8pm.  If you can, I highly recommend going on one of these days for both the music and to see the exhibit and plant collections illuminated by colorful lights.  One of my first thoughts after seeing Seasons Greenings was wishing that I had known about it and gone in previous years.  So do yourself a favor and go so you don’t have the same thought years from now.

 

[Click on the photos above to view the full size versions]

1 – U.S. Capitol Building
2 – The Thomas Jefferson Memorial
3 – Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building
4 – Lincoln Memorial
5 – National Museum of African American History and Culture
6 – National Museum of the American Indian
7 – Smithsonian Institution, The Castle
8 – U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory
9 – U.S. Supreme Court
10 – Washington Monument
11 – White House
12 – Albert Einstein Memorial

NOTE:  My blog post on “Seasons Greetings: Railroads and Roadside Attractions” will appear next Monday.

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Best of the Rest – Part 2

Posted: December 8, 2017 in Miscellaneous, Photos

Rainbows on the National Mall

Today’s blog post is part two of a five-part series of my favorite miscellaneous photos from the past year that have not been previously posted here on my blog.  Part one of the series was posted last Friday and can be found here.  And please come back each Friday for the rest of this month for Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 of my year-end collection of miscellaneous photos from 2017.

 

[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]

1 – A young woman playing the violin for tips in front of the U.S. Treasury Building
2 – Public art pieces being transported to the median on New York Avenue
3 – Mushrooms growing on a tree stump on the sidewalk median along 14th Street in northwest D.C.
4 – Some children playing on a modern playground jungle gym while a couple others play on the fence
5 – A group tour traveling via Segway passing by the north portico of the White House
6 – A well-travelled Jeep displays the history of its travel and its owner
7 – The future headstone at Historic Congressional Cemetery of 70-year old music lover Joyce E. Palmer
8 – An abandoned, graffiti–covered house on Rhode Island Avenue
9 – Yayoi Kusama’s pumpkin sculpture at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
10 – The Acanthus fountain in the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden
11 – A view from the Georgetown Waterfront of Arlington and the Key Bridge
12 – A mommy/baby yoga and exercise class at Union Market
13 – Flowers growing along a cast iron fence at a residence on Capitol Hill
14 – A military service at the United States Navy Memorial
15 – A homemade sign hanging from a rowhouse in the Shaw neighborhood
16 – A colorful florist shop on O Street in Georgetown
17 – Greek pastries and baked goods for sale at the Reagan Building Farmers Market
18 – A fence made of rope along the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria
19 – A lone rower practicing on the Potomac River near the Kennedy Center
20 – Beachballs celebrating summer suspended over the walkway at City Center
21 – A man sitting on a bench in Adams Morgan wearing a chapeau that caught my eye
22 – These lions guard the entrance to a restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue
23 – A retired military jet on display at the D.C. Armory
24 – An nostalgic-looking electric street car on H Street
25 – A street musician playing in the middle of the Vermont Avenue Farmers Market
26 – Fireworks for sale at the district line with Maryland
27 – A couple of young women playing Giant Jenga in Farragut Square Park during Farragut Fridays
28 –The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church where President Lincoln worshipped while in office
29 – The protected bike lane on First Street is one of the best bike routes in the city
30 – A mural on Lanier Place by Juan Pineda entitled “A People Without Murals is a Demuralized People”
31 – A pig roasting at the Vermont Avenue Farmers Market
32 – Protestors in Lafayette Square in front of the White House
33 – A sign seen in a shop window at the Artswalk in Brentwood
34 – A mural by an unknown artist at the intersection of Florida and North Capitol Streets
35 – A Little Free Library in northwest D.C.’s Petworth neighborhood
36 – A walking/hiking path on Kingman Island
37 – Some industrial signs along the Metropolitan Branch Trail
38 – A police officer sitting in a squad car updating his Facebook page while parked in the bike lane on G Street
39 – A ghost bike tribute on U Street in northwest D.C.
40 – A unusual looking Subway Sandwich Shop near Union Market
41 – A decorated minivan that probably does not belong to your typical soccer mom
42 – A public art piece located in a park

Sunbeams shining through the autumn leaves of a tree in front of Healey Hall on the campus of Georgetown University

As the month of December begins and another year is rapidly coming to an end I find myself, much like I did last year, with a number of miscellaneous photos I took during my daily lunchtime bike rides over the past twelve months, but did not previously post in this blog. The photos depict many different aspects of D.C., but do not capture what you would call a main character in the story of the city.  Instead, the photos capture the periphery, background, and supporting characters that round out its overall story.

I find myself with so many photos that I have decided to post some of them each Friday throughout the month of December.  In fact, I’ve decided to post a photo for each workday of the past year.  As a career Federal employee, after deducting for holidays, sick days and annual leave, that comes to 210 photos for 2017.  So today, and each day for the rest of this week, I am going to post some of my favorite photos.  And at the top of each of this week’s five posts I will post my top five favorite photos.

I hope you enjoy these photos and find them interesting. And please click on the cropped thumbnails to view the full size versions and additional detail.  And as always, I invite you to comment and/or ask questions. So feel free to do so on a post, or on individual photos after clicking on them.  You’re also welcome to contact me privately if you’d prefer.  I’m interested in your perspective and value your input.

 

[Click on the photos above to view the full size versions]

1 – The cobblestones and street car tracks on O Street in Georgetown
2 – Street Church in Franklin Square Park sponsored by Church of the Epiphany
3 – One of the many murals along the Metropolitan Branch Trail
4 – Art bench on display outside of the 8th Street Art Co-op in the Brentwood neighborhood
5 – The unusual architecture of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization
6 – A young woman sitting on a bench and playing a ukulele while waiting for a bus
7 – Construction site with preserved building façade on U Street next to the Howard Theater
8 – An abstract mural of Yoda painted on garage door in an alley in the NoMa neighborhood
9 – My recumbent bike, Julius, in front of an outdoor fountain at the National Gallery of Art
10 – Cityscape of the Rosslyn area of Arlington from across the Potomac River
11 – Man riding backwards on a bicycle on Pennsylvania Avenue near Freedom Plaza
12 – Spiral bike rack viewed from one end outside of the Farragut North Metro Station
13 – Church building at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
14 – Blooming toad lilies at the Smithsonian’s Mary Livingston Ripley Garden
15 – Illuminated stained glass windows at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square
16 – A selection of fresh shrimp for sale at the Maine Avenue Fish Market
17 – Excavation at a construction site near H Street as viewed from the Metropolitan Branch Trail
18 – Pabst Blue Ribbon mural on side of Solly’s Tavern
19 – Virginia Rail Express train crossing an overpass over 7th Street in southeast D.C.
20 – A Kurdistan protest outside of the Trump International Hotel
21 – An antique motorcycle and sidecar outside of Union Market
22 – A Friday tradition, a round burger from The Georgetown University Grilling Society (GUGS)
23 – Part of the revitalized watershed along the Anacostia River
24 – The U.S. Capitol Building rotunda in my bike’s rear view mirror
25 – A rope walker practicing in Red Square on the campus of Georgetown University
26 – A news crew broadcasting live from outside of the FBI Headquarters building
27 – Shoppers in a rare uncrowded moment in Eastern Market on Capitol Hill
28 – A pair of street musicians playing for tips outside of the Farragut North Metro Station
29 – A ramp for ducks to access the fountain at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
30 – Free popsicle giveaway during “Farragut Fridays” at Farragut Square Park
31 – This Dead End sign caught my attention because of the question mark
32 – Fresh eggplants and corn on the cob at the Vermont Avenue Farmers Market
33 – Tourists taking a photo near the National Mall downtown
34 – A city resident allowed out relaxing in front of his cage on his front porch
35 – A protest against President Trump in front of the Trump International Hotel
36 – A display in front of a middle eastern rug store on 7th Street on Capitol Hill
37 – A street evangelist singing in front of the General William Tecumseh Sherman Monument
38 – A protest by anarchists occupying Pershing Park
39 – A cast iron fence in front of a residence in Georgetown
40 – A sidewalk sign in front of a wine shop on Connecticut Avenue near DuPont Circle
41 – The East Potomac Driving Range at the Washington Golf Center
42 – The daily selection of doughnuts at Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken

NOTE:  Please come back each Friday through the rest of the month for Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and
Part 5 of my year-end collection of miscellaneous photos from 2017.

Police Public Relations

Posted: September 11, 2017 in Miscellaneous

Police Public Relations

I don’t know how to get in contact with her at this point, so I’d like to use this blog post to take the opportunity to thank the police officer driving patrol car #2084 from the 2nd District of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department.  Police officers have to make many important decisions on a daily basis.  So your decision that the convenience of parking in the bike lane in the 1600 block of L Street while you ate your lunch outweighed the potential danger to the many cyclists who had to merge out of the lane and into vehicle traffic to get past you must have been a difficult one to make.  

Oh, I’d also like you to know that I think the sarcastic comments you made through her vehicle’s loudspeaker when you saw me take the photo were a particularly classy touch.  And you have no reason to fear your comments went unnoticed.  I heard you, as did more than a hundred other nearby pedestrians who were part of the busy downtown lunch crowd. 

So continue to represent your department and profession in all you do.  It doesn’t go unnoticed.

dcgolfcenter08

The Oldest Miniature Golf Course in the United States

There are not a lot of choices when it comes to playing miniature golf in D.C. In fact, there is only one miniature golf course in the entire city.  And that is the course in the East Potomac Park Golf Center, located in East Potomac Park at 972 Ohio Drive (MAP), just south of The Jefferson Memorial and north of Hains Point, situated on a peninsula between the Washington Channel and the Potomac River.  And this was the destination of my lunchtime bike ride today, which combined with taking the afternoon off from work, turned into a miniature vacation.

East Potomac Park’s miniature golf course began operating in 1930, and is the oldest continually-operating course in the United States.  As you can imagine based on its age, it is a little more plain in appearance than the typical modern dinosaur or pirate-themed courses, or the fluorescing glow-in-the-dark indoor courses, that are prevalent in seaside resorts, amusement parks, and other tourist destinations.

Each of the course’s holes are simple cement, brick and stone structures with lightly rolling hills and angled turns and corners.  But with varying degrees of difficulty, the overall course is challenging enough to keep the game interesting.  My score made it clear that I was not one of the best players to play the course.  But I think I can safely say that I had as much fun as anyone there.  And a leisurely late lunch at the clubhouse after a full round of 18 grueling holes was a perfect way to top off the day.

The East Potomac Park Golf Center also has two 9-hole and one 18-hole regular golf courses in addition to its miniature version, as well as a covered and lighted driving range, a practice putting green, a FootGolf course (also the only one in D.C.), a retail pro shop, a tennis center, and an aquatic center. There is also a restaurant in the club house, The Potomac Grille, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. And everything is overseen by the National Park Service and, therefore, open to the public.

The center has available on-site parking, as well as an ample number of bike racks.  So regardless of how you get there, I highly recommend going.  For me, it was a great way to end the workday, and begin the workweek.

dcgolfcenter09     dcgolfcenter07b     dcgolfcenter07

     dcgolfcenter02     dcgolfcenter06
[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]

Nature’s Fireworks

Posted: July 5, 2017 in Gardens, Miscellaneous

Nature’s Fireworks

I took this photograph recently near the Smithsonian American History Museum on the National Mall.  I entitled it “Nature’s Fireworks” because for me it brought to mind fireworks shows like the one that took place in D.C. last night.  I hope everyone had a happy and safe Independence Day.

The Amur Cork Tree

Perhaps the National Capital City’s biggest attraction in early Spring is the blooming of the historic cherry trees surround the Tidal Basin, the National Mall, and the Potomac waterfront. Visitors come from all over the world to witness this annual spectacle of nature.  However, the blooms last a very short time.  Any given tree may be in full bloom for only about a week.  And it has now been more than a week since the blossoms peaked.  During the intervening time the remaining blossoms continued to fall off the trees.  And then almost all of those that were left succumbed to the rain and wind over the past weekend.

But just because we will have to wait until next year for the cherry blossoms to return, visiting the trees near the Tidal Basin is still worthwhile.  The twisted and gnarled trunks of the 3,750 cherry trees are ornamental in and of themselves.   And like their blossoms, flowering cherry trees themselves are fairly ephemeral too, at least as trees go. Most cultivars live only 30 to 40 years.  But quite a few of the trees surrounding the Tidal Basin were originally planted more than 100 years ago, and their age only contributes to their beauty.

There are other trees mixed in with the more famous cherry trees that are worth seeing too.  Flowering trees include dogwood, holly, magnolia, and crabapple trees. Other trees include American Elms, Red Maples, River Birches and pines.   But perhaps the most interesting of the other trees is an Amur cork tree on the south side of the Tidal Basin (MAP), between the water and The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.  Having been planted over 80 years ago, these trees are old enough to have witnessed the construction of the nearby The Thomas Jefferson Memorial, and its dedication back in 1943.

The Amur cork tree, or the Phellodendron amurense, is a species of deciduous tree in the family Rutaceae named for its thick corky bark.  Native to eastern Asia; northern China, northeast China, Korea, Ussuri, Amur, and Japan.  The tree is a major source of huáng bò, one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine.

What I find most interesting about the Amur cork tree, however, besides its unusual appearance, is that it is considered invasive and even an ecological threat in North America.  The National Park Service, who overseas the area around the Tidal Basin, originally introduced it to the environment.  However, the Park Service’s own guidelines state, “The best way to control Amur corktree is not to plant it in the first place.”  It’s a contradiction that seems typical for the Federal government.

    
[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]

capitalbikeshare01

Capital Bikeshare Program

Over the past few years I’ve found out first hand that biking around D.C. is a great way to get to know the city and explore all that it has to offer.  It’s also a fun way to exercise and stay healthy.  I go for a ride everyday.  And I have a convenient and secure place to store my bikes.  So I chose to own my bikes.  But another alternative to owning a bike, especially if you’re only an occasional rider or don’t have anywhere to keep one, is to rent a bike.

Renting a bike in D.C. has been something that has been possible for quite a long time.  Dating back to the early 1940’s, bike rentals were available through bike shops and gas stations at different independent locations in the city.  But today the Capital Bikeshare Program provides a network of stations that makes renting a bike easy, convenient and affordable.

Capital Bikeshare, which first began in 2010, makes over 3,500 bicycles available for rent at over 400 stations across D.C., Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland.  Whether it’s for a short trip, a commute to work, to get to the Metro, running errands, going shopping, visiting friends and family, or for any other reason, you can simply rent a bike at any nearby station.  And then when you’re done, you can return it to the same station where you started, or to any other station near your destination.

You can join Capital Bikeshare online or at one of their convenient a commuter store locations.  Membership options include a day, 3 days, a month, a year or try their new Day Key option.  This gives you access to their fleet of bikes 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The first 30 minutes of each trip are free. Each additional 30 minutes incurs an additional fee.

The city’s increasing amount of bike lanes and biking infrastructure combined with the convenient availability of bikes makes it easier than ever to get out there and explore our nation’s capital.

bikerentalsdc01     bikerentalsdc02     bikerentalsdc03
[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]

Left – A bicycle rental shop on 22nd Street, near Virginia Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C., on a Sunday. (Library of Congress Control Number fsa2000056770/PP.  Contributor:  Marjory Collins.  Circa June/July 1942.)
Right – Bicycles for Rent, Washington, D.C. (Library of Congress Control Number fsa1998024089/PP.  Contributor:  Martha McMillan Roberts. Circa 1941.)
Center – Washington, D.C. Renting bicycles at a gas station on East Potomac Park. Notice the “no gas” sign on the nearest gasoline pump. (Library of Congress Control Number fsa2000056780/PP.  Contributor:  Marjory Collins. Circa June/July 1942.)

Note:  Historic photos obtained from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division and used with the permission of the U.S. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information/Office of Emergency Management/Resettlement Administration.

worldtour01a

The 9:30 Nightclub

As this year is coming to an end, I have been looking over the statistics that my online hosting service, WordPress, provides regarding readership of this blog.  And this year was the biggest year, with the most number of views ever.  Now, I don’t ride to the places where I do, or take the photos and write the postings that you see in this blog in order to amass statistics.  I do it because I enjoy riding a bike.  And learning about the places to which I ride in order to write about them enhances my enjoyment.  But I must confess, it’s also been interesting for me to learn about how many people view what I’m posting, as well as the other information which WordPress provides, such as the countries where the readers are located.

So that I could put the numbers in perspective in my head, and because I daydream a lot, I imagined myself as a rock star.  And I thought about the people who viewed the blog as members of the audience for my imaginary band’s concerts.  The statistics indicate that we would sell out the Verizon Center here in D.C.  But that would only represent a fraction of the blog views.  The band could then sell out other popular venues here in the city, including the concert hall at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, D.A.R. Constitution Hall, The Howard Theater, the U Street Music Hall, The Black Cat club, and the 9:30 Nightclub.

But even the combined audiences for all of those performances would not equal the total number of blog views.  Which means my band and I could take the show on the road for a U.S. tour.  And since this is just my imagination, a warm-up show preceding the actual tour would first take place at the legendary but now closed CBGB’s in New York City’s East Village.  From there the band would head across town the next night for the official kick-off of the U.S. tour with a standing room only performance at Carnegie Hall.  Then we’d play one more New York City gig, at the Apollo Theater, before we hit the road again.  From there, the band would then play to sell-out shows at The House of Blues in New Orleans, The Troubadour in Los Angeles, The Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood, and The Fillmore West in San Francisco.

But even with the combined attendance at all of the sold-out shows here in D.C. and throughout the U.S., the band would then have to go on a brief world tour to increase the total attendance to the point where it would equal the number of views for this blog.  So in my mind the world tour would begin where the Beatles began, at the Cavern Club in Liverpool.  There would then be another show in England, at The 100 Club in London, before moving on to Paris and playing at the reopened Le Bataclan.  We would then play Club Ta in Hongdae in Seoul, South Korea, the Ruby Room in Tokyo, and the Ding Dong Lounge in Aukland, New Zealand.   Then we would wrap up the final leg of our world tour with a sold out show in the concert hall at the Sydney Opera House in Australia.

By the end of the tour we would have played in only a half dozen countries altogether.  But based on the location of the readers of this blog, as identified by WordPress, the audience would have been comprised of people from 125 different countries throughout the world.  And I must say, it’s difficult to believe but at the same time amazing to me that people in 125 different countries have read my blog.  There are currently 195 countries in the world.  So my goal for the coming year is to gain at least one reader in each of the remaining countries.  Maybe then my imaginary band and I will go back on tour.  And until then, I’ll just keep riding my bike and exploring our nation’s capital one ride at a time.

2016eoy01

27 – Seagulls near a puddle in the parking lot at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

Below I have included more photos that I took at different times over the past year, but were not previously included in this blog.  They had not been previously posted because what they depict are not necessarily main ingredients in what I like to call the recipe of this city.  I consider them to be more like ingredients that contribute to the overall flavor.  I hope you enjoy them.  And I hope you will continue to follow this blog, and enjoy the posts as much as I enjoy everything that goes into them.

28 2016eoy201  29 2016eoy24  30 2016eoy28

31  2016eoy29  32 2016eoy54  33 2016eoy32

34 2016eoy33  35 2016eoy31  36 2016eoy35

37 2016eoy34  38 2016eoy38  39 2016eoy40

40 2016eoy43  41 zzzzz-2  42 2016eoy45

43 2016eoy19  44 2016eoy27  45 2016eoy41

46 2016eoy46  47 2016eoy47  48 2016eoy48

49 15232246_10209163757543724_7000823876345065174_n  50 2016eoy50

51 2016eoy51  52 2016eoy30
[Click on the photos above to view the full size versions]

27 – Seagulls near a puddle in the parking lot at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.
28 – One of the mid-day summer performances in Franklin Square Park.
29 – The Suburbia airstream bar in the parking lot in front of Union Market.
30 – An altered stop sign in the H Street Corridor. (I couldn’t get the song out of my head for the rest of the ride.)
31 – A weary-looking bike tourer and his dog in front of the Trump International Hotel.
32 – The Chocolate City mural in an alley near 14th and S Streets in the U Street Corridor.
33 – One of the colorful artworks at the National Zoo made entirely of trash taken from the ocean.
34 – An overview of the WMATA rail yard in Brentwood.
35 – A peaceful promotion of Islam and the Al-Islam online digital library by a young woman handing out roses.
36 – A colorful knight, or at least suit of armor, guarding the balcony of an apartment on Capitol Hill.
37 – Some promoters of Red Nose Day raising awareness and money to help raise kids out of poverty.
38 – A clock on the side of a building on 14th Street in the U Street Corridor.
39 – An artist working and displaying his wares on the sidewalk near Eastern Market.
40 – Evidence of an eviction in front of an apartment building in Downtown D.C.
41 – The iconic dome of the U.S. Capitol Building towering over trees on the Capitol grounds.
42 – A Muslim protestor in front of the White House taking a break.
43 – One of the many Little Free Libraries I have seen throughout D.C.
44 – An antique Good Humor ice cream truck in front of the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
45 – A promotion for the Washington Capitals using the DuPont Circle Fountain.
46 – Demolition of an office building at the corner of 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
47 – Mushrooms at the Department of Agriculture Outdoor Farmers Market.
48 – Construction on the southwest waterfront development project.
49 – A homeless man in a doorway on 8th Street, ironically next door to The Lansburgh, a luxury apartment building.
50 – A company car for a marijuana advocacy and investment group.
51 – A lone gun rights advocate demonstrating in front of the White House.
52 – The Spirit of Washington dining ship in the Washington Channel.

NOTE:  Check out Part 1 of my year-end collection of various photos on yesterday’s post.