Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

A Delayed Return, But I’m Back

Since last summer I have not posted on this blog as frequently as I usually do.  And there’s a reason for that.  Sadly, that reason was not retirement.  Although I am eligible to retire and could afford to, I have a couple of daughters who cannot afford for me to.  So my current plan is to work for a few more years while I pay for their college tuition.  And then when I actually retire I’ll buy myself another retirement gift like I did when I became eligible to retire last fall.

The reason I have not been riding and posting in this blog is because early last summer I started experiencing intermittent stomach pains, and sometimes nauseau and various other symptoms.  This would occur at different times, but especially when riding a bike.  Neither I nor my medical team were initially able to determine the cause.  Because the symptoms would come and go it was like taking a car to a mechanic because it was making a strange noice, but my the time the mechanic takes it out for a test drive the noise had stopped.  By the time I could go to see one of my doctors the symptoms would subside.  And you can’t fix something when you don’t know what to fix.

We were eventually able to determine that it was a tear in my abdominal wall at one of the seven incision locations made during my previous cancer surgery.  Thankfully, the cancer was not back.    But the tear had become so large that additional surgery became necessary.  So I had surgery again this past fall to repair the problem.  And I am please to be able to say that the surgery was successful.

However, by the time I had recuperated from the surgery and was ready to get back in the saddle, the government incurred a partial shutdown due to a lapse in appropriations.  And I got furloughed, which means I was sent home from work without pay, for what turned out to be the longest shutdown in American history.  As you may know from reading this blog, I have been working for the Federal government for over thirty years.  So this was not my first furlough.  In fact, I have been furloughed more than a half a dozen times.  But this one was the longest, lasting from before last Christmas until January 25th of this year, around five weeks.  It turned out alright in the end, and I received back pay for the work missed during the furlough.  But the furlough time kept me away from my lunchtime bike rides for even more time.

And then when the furlough finally ended, to coin a phrase, “when it rained it poured.”  Since returning to work after the government shutdown, we have been experiencing numerous closings, delays, and early dismissals from work due to severe inclement weather here in the D.C. area.  This further delayed returning to my routine lunchtime bike rides.

It’s been around six months since I was in the habit of riding every day, so I will have to transition back into riding and posting about it on this blog as frequently as I used to.  I got out of shape and gained some weight during “the incident.”  But I have two goals to getting back to the way things used to be.  The first is to get fit again.  And the second is to stop referring to allowing myself to gain weight and get out of shape as “the incident.”

I have adjusted and tuned up my bikes.  So they’re ready.  And I’m now ready too.  Every journey has to start somewhere.  Or in this case, restart.  So it’s time to start riding again.  So please keep an eye out for me on the streets of D.C.  And keep reading this blog.

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Worldwide Readership (Almost)

Posted: March 5, 2019 in Miscellaneous

Countries with DCBikeBlogger Readers are in Pink

Based on statistics my online hosting service, WordPress, provides regarding readership, this blog now has readers in 153 of the 196 recognized countries on earth.  In order of the highest number of readers, those countries are:

United States, Hong Kong SAR China, United Kingdom, Canada, India, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Australia, Philippines, Netherlands, Brazil, Spain, Russia, Ireland, Japan, Belgium, Romania, Poland, Mexico, Malaysia, Sweden, Switzerland, Pakistan, Singapore, New Zealand, South Korea, Israel, South Africa, Croatia, Bulgaria, Thailand, Indonesia, Ukraine, Turkey, Hungary, Colombia, Taiwan, Finland, Nigeria, United Arab Emirates, Norway, European Union, Chile, Vietnam, Argentina, Greece, Czech Republic, Lebanon, Portugal, Peru, Austria, Slovakia, Malta, Kenya, Bangladesh, Bermuda, Serbia, Egypt, Venezuela, Luxembourg, Saudi Arabia, Lithuania, China, Bahamas, Ecuador, Slovenia, Honduras, Moldova, Puerto Rico, Congo – Kinshasa, Suriname, Armenia, Costa Rica, Nepal, Latvia, Guam, Panama, Bahrain, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Algeria, Cyprus, Albania, Tunisia, Nicaragua, Cambodia, Kuwait, Dominican Republic, Iraq, Bolivia, Qatar, Oman, Georgia, Ghana, Estonia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Macedonia, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, Zimbabwe, Iceland, Palestinian Territories, Jamaica, Belize, Uganda, Ethiopia, Aruba, Cote D’Ivoire, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Liberia, Senegal, Jordan, Guatemala, Myanmar (Burma), Guyana, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Papua New Guinea, Jersey, Gabon, Zambia, Angola, Azerbaijan, Brunei, Barbados, Chad, El Salvador, Laos, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, St. Kitts & Nevis, Malawi, Antigua & Barbuda, Macau SAR China, Rwanda, Faroe Islands, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Seychelles, Trinidad & Tobago, Guernsey, Sudan, Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Curacao, Montenegro, Mauritius, Timor-Leste, Namibia, Cameroon, and Yemen.

This means my job is not yet done.  There are still 43 countries left until worldwide coverage.

An Early Retirement Gift to Myself

I recently completed thirty years of service with the Federal government and became eligible to retire.  And although I am not retiring quite yet, I decided to buy myself an anniversary gift to celebrate the milestone.  And when I saw this bike on eBay I knew what the gift to myself should be.

The newest addition to my collection of bikes is a Surly Disc Trucker.  Surly‘s Long Haul Trucker (LHT) enjoys a reputation as one of the best riding and most value-packed touring bikes out there.  It’s been around long enough to be tested in the real world, in all kinds of places, with all kinds of loads on all kinds of roads.  My 2012 Surly Disc Trucker is an LHT but upgraded with disc brakes to provide a bit more braking performance than the standard rim-brakes that the LHT provides.  Other features of this bike include:  thicker-walled and larger-diameter 4130 CroMoly steel frame tubing than standard sport-touring frames;  a longer wheelbase than you’ll find on a road or hybrid bike, making for maximum stability, comfort and responsive handling under load, and all the braze-ons you could want, from rack mounts to water bottle cage bosses to spare spoke holders.  And the componentry includes:  a Cane Creek 40, 1-1/8˝ threadless black headset;  a Shimano UN-55 square taper interface; a 68 x 118mm bottom bracket;  a Shimano Sora FD-3403 silver front derailleur and Shimano XT RD-M771 rear derailleur; an Andel RSC6, 26/36/48t. square taper interface crankset, and; a Shimano HG-50, 11/12/14/16/18/21/24/28 /32t cassette.  Finally, and with all due respect to Surly’s limited factory available colors of Super Dark Green or Blacktacular, the color of this bike has also been upgraded to custom powder-coated Hi-Vis Neon Yellow.  Combined with matching Deda bar tape and Hi-Vis yellow Ortlieb waterproof front and back panniers, the bike will be almost impossible not to see when I’m out touring.

And going on occasional long-distance bike tours is something I’m looking forward to doing after I retire.  I’ve already planned and mapped out a few different bike tours I will be doing.  One is a tour of the lighthouses of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which would involve riding from north to south down the coast, and then looping back around on the mainland and ending up back at the northern-most lighthouse again.  I also will being doing a tour of the Great Alleghany Passage and C&O Canal Towpath, a 336-mile route without any cars or motor vehicles that connects Pittsburgh with D.C.  Along the way it also allows riders to take in a number of small historic towns, state parks and other attractions along the way.  A bike tour along the lower coast of Florida on down to Key West is also on my list.

While there are plenty of other bike tours I would also like to do here in the United States, I would also like to do a bike tour across Northern Spain.  The route there is called El Camino de Santiago.  Also referred to in English as The Way of Saint James, it is a network of spiritual pilgrimages leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Greater in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.

It’s been a long journey to get to the point of being eligible to retire.  And I look forward to finishing this journey one day soon, so that I can start more journeys in the future.

Yesterday was National Cancer Survivors Day. And to celebrate I signed up for the Great Cycling Challenge (GCC). Let me explain.

The concept of the GCC is simple. Participants set a personal riding goal for the month of June, and then get people to sponsor them. And all of the money raised from the sponsors goes toward fighting childhood cancers.

As it states on the front page of this blog, I’m not a fanatical cyclist. I’m just a guy who goes for bike rides. I use my lunch break each day at work, or occasionally on a weekend day off, to go for a ride and discover some of the interesting sites and events in and around D.C. I then write about it in this blog.

But I am now committed to some bike riding that is a little different than my norm. I have pledged to ride 250 miles during my lunchtime tides this month. That puts me on a pace to ride a cumulative distance during this year’s lunchtime bike rides equal to the distance between New York City and Los Angeles.

As a cancer survivor myself I know how scary and difficult such a diagnosis can be. But I was diagnosed as an adult. I can’t begin to imagine how much more scary and difficult it is for children. And despite being a parent, I can’t imagine what it is like for the parents of a diagnosed child. I love my children more than my own life and would rather have cancer myself than see one of my children diagnosed.

Currently, cancer is the biggest killer of children from disease in the United States. Over 15,700 children are diagnosed every year. And tragically, 38 children die of cancer every week.

So I signed up for the GCC to raise money to help these kids and their parents fight back, and to support The Children’s Cancer Research Fund in continuing their work to develop lifesaving treatments and find cures for childhood cancers. And I’m asking you to please go to my personal GCC page and sign up to be one of my sponsors.

I know there are lots of charity options, as well as bills to pay and other demands on your finances. So any amount you can give will be appreciated. All you have to do is go to my GCC personal page, or click on the logo at the top of this post, to donate using a credit card or PayPal. And like the lack of a minimum or maximum number of miles participants can ride, there is no minimum or maximum to the donations.

Anything you can give will help keep me motivated. But more importantly, it will help the kids. And I can’t think of a better was to celebrate being cancer free than do something to help kids with cancer.

Update:  Through the Great Cycle Challenge and other events, the Children’s Cancer Research Fund raised a total of $13.1 million in fiscal year 2018.  This money goes to support to the brightest scientists whose ideas are making the greatest impact for children with cancer.  The fund also supports vital family services across the country and advocates for childhood cancer education and awareness to surround families with community and, ultimately, hope.  Thank you for your support.

Walking a Labyrinth for World Labyrinth Day

Starting in 2009, The Labyrinth Society designated the first Saturday in May, which this year falls on May 5th, as World Labyrinth Day.  And although that is not until tomorrow, during today’s bike ride I decided to stop and walk the labyrinth located in the sanctuary of The Church of The Epiphany, which is open to the public Monday through Friday from 10:00am until 3:00pm.

At different times, the practice of walking a labyrinth has been associated with pilgrimages and pagan rituals.  More recently however, labyrinths have popped up in modern spirituality for contemplation and as prayer.  People walk a labyrinth for as many reasons as the number of people who walk one, including centering, feeling grounded, as prayer, as meditation, or as a great way to just unwind and clear your mind.

If you would like to walk a labyrinth tomorrow to celebrate World Labyrinth Day, there are nine labyrinths here in D.C., and more than a dozen more now exist within a ten-mile radius of the city.  Of these, there are at least a half a dozen outdoor labyrinths that are open to the public, and most are open daily from sunrise to sunset or shortly thereafter.

One of a few local labyrinths located outdoors and available to the public, the Georgetown Waterfront Park Labyrinth provides a means to walk a labyrinth in a scenic location.  It is located at the southern end of 33rd Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood.

The American Psychological Association also has a labyrinth on the green rooftop of their building at 10 G Street (MAP), near Union Station in northeast D.C.’s NoMa neighborhood.  The 42-foot labyrinth features trellises, plantings, tables, a journal, and a finger labyrinth that you can “walk” with your fingers—a good option for those with ambulatory issues. It is open Monday through Friday from 7:00am to 7:00pm.  You can sign in at the building’s security desk to go up to the roof, or call Holly Siprelle (202-336-5519) to arrange a guided walk.

There is also an outdoor labyrinth that is available to the public at Barton Park, located across the river at the corner of North Barton and 10th Streets (MAP) in Arlington, Virginia.  Originally part of the former Northern Virginia Whitman-Walker Clinic’s healing garden, the 37-foot labyrinth of precast stone and pavers went into storage when that branch of the clinic closed.  It was later moved to Barton Park in late 2013.

Set among old pines and other trees, St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia, also has a public labyrinth.  Located at 8531 Riverside Road (MAP), the 40-foot labyrinth is made of rubber mulch with white stones outlining the path and is set near a memorial garden with benches. At the nearby Art at the Center, parishioner Kathryn Horn Coneway offers workshops on making finger labyrinths from clay.

The city of Bethesda’s St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, located at 6030 Grosvenor Lane (MAP), has a 62-foot labyrinth made from turf and pavers, as well as a 36-by-36-inch Plexiglas finger labyrinth, available to the public.  At this labyrinth, a journal to record your thoughts is available, and is located under the bench.

The University of Maryland’s Garden of Reflection and Remembrance, located at 7600 Baltimore Avenue in College Park (MAP), also has a labyrinth adjacent to the campus chapel. Guided walks, yoga sessions, and special events are regularly scheduled. Benches, trees, and water elements help visitors connect with nature.

If you want to walk a labyrinth, but these options are not readily available to you, I encourage you to find one that is.  To find others labyrinths here in the D.C. area, or anywhere else in the world, just use the Labyrinth Society’s online worldwide labyrinth locater.  And if there is not a labyrinth near you, there are also finger labyrinths now available as a smartphone app.  Just check the Google Store or iTunes.

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

A Secret Entrance to the White House

Anyone who has been near The White House when the president or visiting dignitaries were arriving or departing have seen the entrances to the White House in use.  Equipped with security gates, ram-proof physical barriers, armed personnel, electronic surveillance equipment, and other unseen security measures, the entrances are obvious.  But there is another entrance to the White House that few people know about.

Located two blocks away from the White House in the 1500 block of H Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Downtown neighborhood, the secret entrance to the White House looks like almost any other alley in the city.  Thousands and thousands of pedestrians and vehicles pass by it every day, and I doubt any of them know what is hiding in plain site right in front of them.   About the only thing that distinguishes it from any other alley is a small, unobtrusive booth built into the wall of the building on the right side of alley.  I imagine most people who see it assume the booth is for an attendant collecting money for a public parking lot at the other end of the alley.  But it is actually a bullet-proof enclosure manned by Secret Service agents.

The alley leads south past the back of the Federal Claims Courthouse Building, before ending in an unassuming doorway at the rear of Freedman’s Bank, formerly known as the Treasury Department annex, on Pennsylvania Avenue.   From there, according to archival newspaper reports from before security concerns prevented the publishing of such information, the passageway to the White House passes through two subterranean tunnels.

The first tunnel was constructed in 1919 when the Treasury Department Annex was built, presumably to protect the Treasury and its employees from being robbed of the vast sums of cash with which they worked.  The second tunnel was contracted for President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II, and lead from the East Wing of the White House to the first Presidential bomb shelter.  The tunnel and bomb shelter were to be a secret throughout the war, but was disclosed to the public in December of 1941 when Congressman Clare E. Hoffman complained about its expense in an open debate in the House of Representatives.

In later years, the tunnel has been used by persons who needed to exit or depart the White House without public or press attention. President Richard Nixon’s daughter, Tricia Nixon, and her husband, Edward F. Cox, departed the White House via the tunnel after their 1972 Rose Garden wedding.  President Lyndon Johnson also used the tunnel to avoid Vietnam War protesters when departing the White House.  Other uses of the tunnel have either been discredited or, like the stories of Marilyn Monroe using a tunnel to sneak into the White House as part of an affair with President John F. Kennedy, remain unproven.

Once the alley and tunnels were connected to provide for vehicular access to the White House, the passageway was modified to end in the parking garage in the White House basement.  And despite the general public’s lack of knowledge of the access way, or perhaps because of it, it remains in use to this day.

1 20160311_141244     2 2016-03-21 14.55.17     3 2016-03-21 14.06.22

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[Click on the thumbnails above to view extremely high resolution photos]

Horticulturalists at the National Park Service are predicting that the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin here in D.C. will peak sometime between this coming weekend and the following Tuesday.  One of the methods by which they make this prediction is by gauging the stages of development of the buds on the indicator tree and then comparing that to the development of the buds on the other trees.

There are basically four stages of development for cherry blossoms before they reach their peak bloom.  The first stage is referred to as the green buds stage. This stage, when green color begins to be visible in the small brownish buds, usually occurs between late February and early March.  Cherry blossoms emerge before the leaves on the trees do, and the first sign of their impending arrival are green buds on the branches of the tree.

In the second stage of development florets begin to be visible as the buds slowly open.  This routinely occurs from early to mid March, and anywhere between 12 and 17 days before peak bloom.

The middle stage is referred to as peduncle elongation.  This may be my favorite stage for no other reason than just because of the name.  This is when the blooms grow stems and emerge outward from the buds.  When this stage occurs it is usually about 5 to 10 days until peak bloom.  However, this stage is very susceptible to weather, particularly frost, which can delay the process.

The last stage of development before peak bloom is referred to as puffy white.  This applies to all blossoms, regardless of color.  This averages between four and six days prior to peak bloom, and is characterized by the blooms begin to open up.

Finally, the tree’s peak bloom arrives.  How long the bloom last depends on how long they have been exposed to cold temperatures.  A warm spell in the 60s or 70s will produce blooms lasting four to five days, while colder temperatures could extend the blooming period so that it lasts between seven and 10 days.

Interestingly, during the blooming stage not all blossoms remain the same color.  Many are dark pink when in bud, lighter pink when they first blossom, and then eventually pale pink or white.  Others may open as a white flower and change color to pink over the course of a few days.

The entire blossom season is relatively short.  Full bloom, known as mankai in Japanese, is usually reached within about one week after the opening of the first blossoms, or kaika.  Another week later, the blooming peak is over and the blossoms are falling from the trees like snow from the sky.  Strong wind and rain or other adverse weather can cut the blooming season even shorter.  So don’t hesitate going.  If you do, you may be too late.

Note:  After enlarging it, see if you can find the photo-bomber in the photo for the Green Buds stage.

Best of the Rest – Part 5

Posted: December 29, 2017 in Miscellaneous, Photos

The Colonnade at The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America

Today’s blog post is the fifth and last part of a series of my favorite miscellaneous photos from 2017 that have not been previously posted here on this blog.  Part 1Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of the series were previously posted.

 

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

1 – A street vendor selling a purse featuring Barack and Michelle Obama.
2 – Various mushrooms for sale at the Vermont Avenue Farmers Market
3 – A pedicab parked off the beaten path for tourists on P Street in the Logan Circle neighborhood
4 – Savory Greek pastries for sale at the farmers market at the Reagan Building
5 – A purple flower on an cast iron fence on 14th Street in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in northwest D.C.
6 – A mural on the side of a grocery store features the store’s owner
7 – One of many signs of patriotism for Independence Day, this one in Georgetown
8 – The simplistic and elegant architectural lines of the colonnade at Federal Triangle
9 – Evergreens, although singular in color, rival the colorful flowers at the Botanic Garden for their beauty
10 – Autumn showing off it’s colors on Swann Street in the DuPont Circle neighborhood
11 – A complimentary smart car for use by guests at Attache Corporate Housing in Foggy Bottom
12 – A summer concert in the park as part of Farragut Fridays in Farragut Square Park
13 – A Metropolitan Police Department car parked in a bike lane as an officer inside eats her lunch
14 – A freshly-fallen colorful autumn leaf I watched fall in the yard of a residence on Capitol Hill
15 – Secret Service officers requiring a man to take down the encampment he built in Lafayette Square Park
16 – Marchers from Charlottesville vowed to occupy Farragut Square Park for six months but lasted only a few days
17 – One of the many summer concerts, this one in Franklin Square
18 – Stained glass windows at the church of presidents, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square
19 – A view from the north shore of the Potomac River looking toward Arlington
20 – An inflatable Hoya bulldog mascot in Red Square on the campus of Georgetown University
21 – Musicians in a tent performing in a temporary “Moroccan City” set up on the National Mall
22 – A woman wearing a pie hat at the annual handing out of free pie at McPherson Square
23 – Colorful balloons seemed to detract from this protest’s message
24 – My recumbent bike named Julius at the fountain at the
25 – An elderly homeless man with only one shoe but his own Bible at Street Church in Franklin Square
26 – The counter at another one of my favorite lunch spots, MGM Roast Beef in Brentwood
27 – Heirloom tomatoes at the USDA Outdoor Farmers Market
28 – Looking through the front window and watching the pizzas being prepared at We, The Pizza
29 – A window washer repelling down the side of The W Hotel  on 15th Street
30 – A bike designed more for the comfort of the passenger than the rider
31 – Colorful statues in front of pet bakery and grooming shop
32 – A giant chicken statue in the front yard of a house on R Street in northwest D.C.
33 – A seemingly distraught man near the fountain in DuPont Circle Park
34 – A topiary dog marking it’s territory at a residence on R Street in northwest D.C.
35 – Holiday vendors selling handmade items at Eastern Market just before Christmas
36 – A street artist’s wares on display on a sidewalk on Capitol Hill
37 – I thought all Holly berries were red, but now I’ve learned that they are not
38 – A window in City Center decorated for the holidays
39 – One of the grill masters of the Georgetown University Grilling Society
40 – A dinosaur hiding in the Hawaii room at the United States Botanic Garden
41 – The Tune Inn, my favorite “dive” on Capitol Hill and home of the Joe’s West Virginia sandwich
42 – The entrance to David’s Tent, where a non-stop worship service has been happening since September 11, 2015

Best of the Rest – Part 3

Posted: December 14, 2017 in Miscellaneous, Photos

The high-end residences known as The Warehouses at Union Row in the Shaw/Uptown neighborhood

Today’s blog post is part three 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 1 and Part 2 of the series were previously posted.  And please come back each Friday for the rest of this month for 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 – The George Washington mural on U Street
2 – The base of the fountain at Meridian Hill Park
3 – A very bright red rose in the sunlight that caught my eye as I was riding by
4 – The fountain and soon to be outdoor ice rink at the National Sculpture Garden
5 – A reporter and cameraman on Pennsylvania Avenue across from the U.S. Department of Justice Building.
6 – A sign from times past on a building near Blagdon Avenue
7 – An encouraging mural on the back of Union Market
8 – A very colorful chair on the patio of a restaurant off 14th Street
9 – The modern symmetry of a downtown office building stands in stark contrast to other architecture
10 – Some mushrooms that look more like pancakes on the base of a tree on 13th Street
11 – Some samples of vegetables grown at the United States Botanic Garden
12 – Window washers scaling down the side of the National Press Club building
13 – A bench in Franklin Square Park decorated in memory of a homeless woman wo lived there
14 – A flower vendor outside of the Farragut Square North Metro Station
15 – A duck walking  down the sidewalk along the Southwest Waterfront near The Titanic Memorial
16 – A public artwork of a pink double-hump camel
17 – A piece of art outside near the front entrance to the Hirshorn Museum
18 – A street performer playing for tips in Farragut Square Park
19 – A man wearing an unusually geeky hat during the full solar eclipse
20 – A sticker on a Prius that reads “Cool Prius, Said Nobody”
21 – Police Officers outside FBI Headquarters arresting a man
22 – A large, colorful W in front of The W Hotel downtown on 15th Street
23 – Fresh vegetables for sale at the farmers market at the National Geographic headquarters building
24 – The Spirit of Washington sinner cruise ship travelling up the Washington Channel
25 – A Pabst Blue Ribbon mural on the side of a bar on U Street
26 – Protestors protesting in front of The White House about a variety of issues
27 – What’s left of a bike that was not securely locked in the Petworth neighborhood
28 – People lined up at a food truck parked with all the others along the streets bordering Farragut Square Park
29 – A hopefully friendly dog wearing a sign that says pet me tied up near Union Market
30 – The Southwest Waterfront just east of the redevelopment construction
31 – A window washing rig on the side of a building that seems to disappear into the sky
32 – A sculpture in the National Sculpture Garden
33 – A sign reading Resist Persist on the side of a building
34 – A bench in a shady spot in Lower Senate Park on Capitol Hill
35 – Flowers at Caruso’s Florist on Rhode Island Avenue near the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle
36 – The Smithsonian Institute, more commonly referred to as The Castle because of its appearance
37 – An American flag hanging from the National Broadcasters Association building
38 – Some tourists trying to take a photo of an uncooperative subject in the Mary Ripley Garden
39 – A cooking demonstration at the United States Botanic Garden using plants grown there
40 – More protestors in front of the White House because, well, there are always protestors in front of the White House
41 – The statue of a cow randomly placed in a front yard
42 – One of my favorite lunch spots, MGM Roast Beef

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.