Tag Archives | Grand Banks

November and December 2017 Wildwood, Ocala, Daytona, Jacksonville, FL

     It seemed to take forever to move from the boat to our coach. Even though the move isn’t from house to house, it is from home to home with the coach having FAR less room than Kindred Spirit III. To take a break from the drudgery, we attended an excellent lecture in Ocala on the Florida Panhandle which was of particular interest to me since I was “born and raised” in Pensacola. 

     Boating/RV friends, Dinata and Andy have just moved to Arlington Ridge Retirement Community near Leesville. During construction, Dinata took photos every day and posted them so that everyone could watch the progress. It was very interesting to us so we went down for a visit, to see their new home where boxes were still being unpacked. They gave us a tour of their new neighborhood and we ended the day at The Village Green, a little pub and grill, where Dinata surprised us by singing. She has a wonderful talent and voice. We’d never heard her sing before so this was a huge treat. 

       More boating/RV friends, Sue and Rich, met us at Silver Springs State Park. We wandered around over the grounds reminiscing of when we were there 60+ years ago and my, how it’s changed!

     That was one of Florida’s main attractions so long ago. There’s so much algae in the water that there are only a few bare areas that are free of growth so that the clear water can be appreciated and with a view of the sand.

     The air was perfect and we vicariously lived through their tales of their month long hike through Ireland. These kids have lived a most adventurous life and every time we’re with them, we’re awed by yet more stories of experiences and feats we’d not known about before. They’re an amazing couple. Our time together was culminated at the Mojo Grill where we had the patio all to ourselves. A good thing because the guffaws and howling laughter would’ve been disturbing to others. We love spending time with them and Rich is hilarious. 

     While we were still at Alliance Coach in Wildwood, FL, we had lunch at TooJay’s, across the street in The Villages. One of our fave lunch spots that we were first introduced to while in Vero years ago. I went back to the coach after lunch and Bill spent the afternoon at a Tractor Museum in Leesburg and devoured every second of it. How many more museums of old mechanical things could there possibly be that he’s not yet seen??? Probably not too many.

     The day before Thanksgiving we were finally sprung from Alliance Coach where we had repairs and service. They are excellent and very fair in their charges. Josh, service manager, was outstanding in expediting our repairs. We traveled 30 miles north on I-75 and thankful that we didn’t have to go farther. Traffic is atrocious as it seems to be nationwide. We’re now in Ocala RV Resort and can see the interstate from our site. The traffic out there NEVER stops.  Our intentions are to be here for a couple months to get the flavor of the area and to make sure this is where we want to land one of these days. We’re in Ocala RV Park and Resort–that last word is loosely used. A ‘resort’ it isn’t.

                                   Duck Pond at our ‘resort’

     The retirement community that we’re considering when get older, grayer, and infirmed, is Ocala’s On Top of the World. From this point forward we’ll refer to it as OTOW. We’ve taken advantage of quite a few of their offerings and one afternoon we listened to a couple recount their recent experience touring Cambodia and Thailand. They had 3000 photos from their trip and shared a mere 300 with us. Fascinating!

     Thanksgiving Day was our first day in Ocala and also my birthday so we celebrated both at a wonderful French restaurant. Bill Bender really racked up some “good boy” points on my birthday. He did a super-excellent job!

     Bill has a Facebook account but he doesn’t post so I’ll do it for him. One day he went to the Daytona Speedway for an old car show. He left at 6 AM, got home at 8 PM and walked 9 1/2 miles while he was there. He wore his Garmin because he always wonders how far he walks at these events. There were 1000 cars for sale and 5000 for show. He came home dragging his tail behind him and he was done for the next day BUT he had a good time! 

     Friends we knew from Greenville, SC, Bill’s colleague at Michelin and his friend for 40+ years, Wolfgang and his wife, Pily, came down from their home in GA with their new travel trailer to see what we’ve been raving about at OTOW. While they were here, we took a day trip to Rainbow Springs State Park

and then to Cedar Key, a quaint little fishing village reeking of Old Florida. We enjoyed a Gulf-side restaurant for lunch. 

     Every weekend, OTOW has live music in their Circle Square so we took Pily and Wolfgang there for unabashed dancing in the streets on a Saturday night. We’ve missed only one since we’ve been here.

                              Shaking a leg on a Saturday night

     I just finished a 5 week acrylic painting class and my initial undertaking was the little TR6. Not a good choice for a green horn but I finished it and it sort of looks like what it is supposed to be. I finished one week early so, at the instructors’s suggestion, I chose a simple one and finished it in a couple of hours at our last class. At the first class there were 5 of us. At the last class, only 2.

     We’ve found a church here similar to our Seacoast in Mt. Pleasant and we felt right at home the first Sunday we visited. 

     Six months ago we were here for several days and met JoAnn and Lee with whom we’ve stayed in touch. We reconnected when we arrived and they had us to their home for brunch. Bruce and Patty were also guests and we’d met Patty 6 months ago when we were looking at the model homes. Patty’s in a Bible study with a large group of women. She invited me to join and  I’m really enjoying it. 

     We had a Christmas luncheon that was fun to be able to chat with each the women and, of course, my primary questions were, “how long have you lived in OTOW and how do you like it?”  Bill and I have walked extensively in the development and everyone we meet or even pass on the street or sidewalk will wave. The ones who are walking, we stop and interrogate them, too. Everybody LOVES it here. 

     While I was at art one day, Bill attended a presentation of the Quirky Influences that Florida’s had on the U.S.  We’ve both attended classes by an attorney on documents needed as a Florida resident of which we’ve been since 2007. We had our durable power of attorney and will executed in SC but FL has a few twists and turns, as I imagine do most states, so we’re going to have them reviewed before leaving Ocala. The information was great and we learned some things of which we weren’t aware.

     OTOW’s Concert Choir performed Christmas music at a local Ocala church and, of course, we were right there. Their voices blended beautifully and it was a treat for us.

     Have you ever heard of a Cracker Cowboy Poet? Ocala is the horse capital of the world and cowboys here call themselves Cow Hunters. Hank Mattson provided an afternoon of entertainment. He brought many props—gator hide, snake skin, skunk skin, cow skull and more things than I can name but maybe in the photo you can identify some things. He’s put 400 years of cow hunting facts into poetry that he recites in the Cow Hunter dialect. We laughed and I had tears. This was all from his heart and so intriguing that we could sit through his presentation again!

     A group of ‘elderly’ (I’m no longer certain of that definition) gentlemen who comprise the Ocala Jazz Society presented a concert that was out of this world. We tapped our feet and grinned the entire time. A lagniappe was a couple very proficient in ball room dancing who danced to several of their pieces. Their movements were beautifully graceful.

     Christmas Day, Bruce and Patty invited us to join their friends in their home for a Yule Celebration. We loved meeting new OTOW friends and being asked to share Christmas with them.

     Pily and Wolfgang returned here to escape the GA tundra. Pily went to Disney for a few days and Bill and he went to Jacksonville to look at a BMW for Wolfy and a Corvette for Bill. Bill was looking for pewter and this one was silver. Thought several passes with steel wool would dull the silver and give it a pewter look.  
     You may recall us talking about Charmaine, our cycling guru in DC. She came down for a visit and brought her bike. She, Wolf, Bill, and I went out for a little spin to show her the area. This is the gal who works downtown DC and rides her bike to work, rain or shine, unless the snow is deeper than 3″. She’s an animal on a bicycle and my hero.

                                       Charmaine and me


                     Surveying our intended potential home site.

     Sidney Colen, developer of OTOW, has donated to the city, an exquisite piece of land, a 44 acre botanical garden, named Sholom Park. It’s designed as a place to find inner peace and is landscaped to thrive in the Central FL climate. There are 2 miles of paved pathways created throughout the park’s woodland areas and meadows that are teeming with native wildlife and more than 250 species of plants and trees. Sholom Park is named after Sholom Colen, the grandfather of Mr. Sidney Colen. It’s a most tranquil respite.

     Wolfgang, Bill, and I hiked a very pleasant 5 miles on the Baseline Trail area of the Cross Florida Greenway. Once upon a time, in the 1930’s, it was slated to be part of the corridor for the sea-level Cross Florida Ship Canal project and the latter Cross FL Barge Canal in the 1960’s and ’70’s. There are remnants of the digging from the ’30’s that still remain, so they say but we couldnt find them. Despite the number of parents and children on new bikes, skateboards, and scooters, it was still very quiet and peaceful.

     Along this woodland is a swath of true urban wilderness. We’re not fans of paved trails but the value of providing a ribbon of asphalt through a forest is amazing when you’re in the thick of humanity with subdivisions and strip malls on both sides of the park but gratefully out of sight and sound. People actually USE this trail and lose their fear of the woods. Another attribute of the paved path is its accessibility for bikes, strollers, and wheelchairs.  BTW, there are hills in flat Florida.

     We’ll leave Ocala 22 January, so if you’re in this area, please call and come visit.  We feel so enmeshed and ingrained in this community that it seems like home. It will be difficult to pull up our roots here as we move on to another adventure.

     Happy New Year to all and we wish for you a happy, healthy and better than 2017, 2018!

Bill and Laura Bender

19 November 2017Fall. Transitions. Leaving Kindred Spirit "up north". Waiting for coach repair.

     Once again we checked in to Olverson’s Marina, arriving just in time for Happy Hour and their Halloween Party with oysters fried, roasted; chicken fried, smoked; ham; and desserts unfathomable. With oyster knife in hand I attached those hot, steamy, smoking bivalves and ate till I couldn’t! Wonderful people and delicious food after a long day on the water. Coming here is like coming home. We’ve been here so many times and have great friends here. Of course, Cas and Freddie are the stars and better folks you could never find.

     ’twas a chilly and beautiful morning at Olverson’s Marina on the Yecomico River in late October. The night before we had a great evening with friends over cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and gales of laughter, hosted by Jon and Page. In the morning we’re casting off our lines en route to Solomon’s, MD, to tuck Kindred Spirit in for the winter. Being at Olverson’s is so much like home and we always love our stays here.

     As if the feast last night wasn’t enough, just prior to our departure for Solomons, MD, the dinner bell rang for a gargantuan breakfast spread with Cas, Freddie, Linda, and Wayne at Lottsburg Cafe. I think my Western Omelet must’ve been made with at least a dozen eggs. Never have I seen such a mound of food! A very pleasant beginning to our day.

     We happily tucked into Calvert’s Marina on Solomon’s, after a spectacular cruise on the Chesapeake. We couldn’t have ordered a more beautiful day nor a calmer bay. 
      I have NEVER seen a window in a chimney. And it’s even sporting curtains.
                    Day is done from Calvert’s Marina.
                   This is a magnificent sunrise from Calvert’s.

     Great friends, Curt and July, live on Solomon’s so we joined them at Solomon’s Island Yacht Club for “shrimp night” and it was mouth-watering. Old friends and good times.

     Moved into a covered slip to see how we “fit”. Just hope and pray our new total enclosure doesn’t have to come down. What a monumental job THAT is!!! The mast is already lowered–not a big deal. I am absolutely overwhelmed with all there is to do before we leave here in 3 days. Most can’t be done till the last minute and I’m berserk. Leaving Kindred Spirit III in frigid climes is totally foreign to us…and scary. We had no idea that winterizing takes 2 men 1 1/2 days and 40+ gallons of antifreeze. Judy and Curt saved me from a total melt down last night but I do confess to a partial one. I’m just about to have a fit and fall in it. The carnage created with staging, packing away, etc., almost calls for a pogo stick to move from one part of our boat to another. This, too, shall pass.

A Waterman in Solomon’s Sculpture Garden

     Judy and Curt rounded up Ted and Navy, another couple of our friends who also live on Solomons for cocktails and dinner at the yacht club. More laughter and just a wonderfully fun evening.

                                           Sunset from SIYC
     All of our stuff was “staged” in dock carts so when Bill returned with the rental car, we could make haste and waste no time transferring from cart to car. Onward to Mount Pleasant, SC.

I love Charleston’s Ravenel Bridge

     Bob and Deidre are old boating friends who’ve semi-settled in Mount Pleasant so we connected with them for dinner at Shem Creek Bar and Grill.

           Evening shadows fall over Shem Creek.
     The next evening was great fun in Jim and Betsy’s home with lots of cruising friends, good food, and libations. The following day we had brunch/lunch with Jim and Martha in between MANY appointments! This is our bi-annual Medical Marathon with 18 appointments in 3 days! We’re loving these breaks of time with friends. 4 appointments tomorrow then we’re driving as far south as we can get before we fall asleep at the wheel. What a whirl wind these few days have been!!!

     Our 18th appointment was completed and we crossed the Ravenel Bridge with Brunswick in our GPS for that night.

Leaving Charleston and crossing the Ravenel Bridge

     MUSC is a par excellence medical facility but so glad to be finished and on our way to some REAL adventures!We didn’t get out of town till after 5 PM but reached our destination with a planned stop at the Millhouse Steakhouse. What a gastric treat are their filets and a celebratory dinner! 

     Arriving in Wildwood, FL, where our coach has spent the summer presents the feat of moving in, unpacking, and getting organized. Our boat has waaaaay more room than our coach which is understandable since the coach lacks a fly bridge and numerous hatches. This is absolutely moving even though not from one house to another. Inside looks as if a tornado passed through and there remains MUCH more in the car.  

     To take a break from this challenge, we attended an excellent lecture on the Florida Panhandle; of particular interest to me since I was “born and raised” in Pensacola.

     Friends we met in Marathon years ago, Dinata and Andy, were boaters, then RV-ers, and now living in a real house on dirt. They’re in Arlington Ridge, Leesburg, so we got a tour of their new home and of their community. We went with them to The Village Green for dinner and to hear Dinata sing. What a hidden talent is she!  We’d never heard her sing before and she has a beautiful voice. What a treat!!
                                      Isn’t Dinata a cutie!

     More old boating friends who are new RV-ers but also live on land, Sue and Rich, were in the area so we met them at Silver Springs State Park for a hike and dinner. 

The air was perfect and we got to live vicariously through their tales of their very recent month long hike through Ireland. These kids have lived a most adventurous life and every time we’re with them, we’re awed by yet more tales of experiences and feats we’d not known about before. 

     They’re an amazing couple. Our time together was culminated at the Mojo Grill where we had the patio all to ourselves. A good thing because the guffaws and howling laughter would’ve been disturbing to others. We love Rich and Sue!!!

     Back in Wildwood, we had lunch at one of our faves and after lunch Bill spent the afternoon at an International Harvester Tractor Museum in Leesburg. Andy recommended it and he devoured every second. He closed them down. How many more museums of old mechanical things could there be that he’s not yet seen??? Prolly not too many.

     Another lecture was available so we heard a couple recount their recent experience touring Cambodia and Taiwan. They had 3000 photos from their trip and shared 300 with us. Fascinating!

     Still attempting organization. Shorts and short sleeve weather here although we hear it gets pretty cold. If so, we’re ready for it!

Bill and Laura
Wildwood, FL

28 October 2017 Mattawoman Creek Anchorage to Olverson’s Marina AKA Lodge Creek Yacht Club

     We had another beautiful day for cruising from Mattawoman Creek Anchorage to Olverson’s Marina. 

     We arrived just in time for Happy Hour and their Halloween Party with oysters fried, roasted; chicken …

27 October 2017 Washington, DC – Mattawoman Creek Anchorage

We cast off our lines from DC today headed for Mattawoman Creek Anchorage. We couldn’t have wished for a more perfect day for cruising. 


26 October 2017 Sayonara, Washington, DC!!!

        Sadly, today’s our last day here. Our intentions were to spend 2 months here. We’d spent a month twice before but needed longer this time.  Cruisers don’t have plans—unless they’re cast in dilute Jello—we have intentions. We’ve delayed our departure twice but now, after 3 months, we’ve gotta go. Temps are predicted to fall so we’re outa here.

                                    A pretty steeple in Chinatown

      Of all the big cities we’ve visited, none has the accidental loveliness, to us, as does D.C. This is a city you can walk across, with wide-open avenues, front porches, old neighborhoods and river views. It was designed by a Parisian, Pierre L’Enfant, and, in some respects, still retains that ‘feeling’. By law, buildings cannot be taller than the width of the street they front, enabling one to always be able to see the sky. There are more than two dozen free museums, so you can absorb culture the way it was meant to be experienced. Take a tour of NPR. Enter the name of a museum and discover lectures, concerts, and classes that they offer. Not publicized so the only way to know what’s happening aside from the obvious is do a few searches and you’ll be quite surprised at what’s available–you just have to hunt.

     To get a break from all the history and heritage, we’ve often hopped on our bikes and headed across the Potomac River to Gravelly Point Park off the Mt. Vernon Trail in Virginia. The trail is marked just like a higihway with lines down the middle and is very well used by commuters. They haul on their way to work and home. It’s a grassy knoll known mostly to locals, where you can watch airplanes come in, shockingly close to your head, for a landing just a few hundred feet away at Reagan National Airport. 

     There is also a walking and biking path that runs along the river, plus a pretty view of Washington.

     America does not have many truly impressive Gothic cathedrals, so the National Cathedral is one worth visiting. It is actually an Episcopal church, but Congress has designated it the National House of Prayer. Since 1907, it has been used for state funerals for three presidents, monthly emergency unity services during WWII, presidential prayer services and 9/11 memorial ceremonies. Half-hour tours are held throughout the day. It is striking and pleasantly removed from the rest of official D.C. 

     The best way to see most of Washington’s monuments and museums is to stroll down the Mall, a greenway with the Capitol as a focal point at one end and lined with treasures all the way to the Lincoln Memorial. 

    When “the Smithsonian” is mentioned, many conjure up an image of  just one museum but greater DC boasts 20 other sites—enough to thrill any museum buff.  The National Museum of American History (not to be missed!) is the home of the Hope Diamond along with an insect zoo, an IMAX cinema and a hall full of dinosaurs. There’s even an African elephant in its rotunda. A massive collection of all things American from Abraham Lincoln’s top hat to the Nintendo Game Boy, the National Museum of Natural History has something for everyone from the femme to the fierce. 

     From and 1855 castle to venues show-casing art, outer space, and culture, the buildings around the National Mall has something for every member of the family.

                                    The Smithsonian Castle

     If your head’s in the clouds, the National Air and Space Museum will delight you with its 23 galleries brim-full of aircraft, vehicles and satellites used for space travel.

                                    A stroll through Chinatown

     Architecture, history, art, and culture come together at the National Museum of the American Indian. The building’s unique curvature makes it impossible to miss.
     The newest museum, just a year old, is the Museum of African American History and Culture. There’s a collection of 37,000 historical artifacts as well as exhibitions on sports, segregation, slavery, music, and so much more.  Because it’s so new AND very popular, tickets must be secured far in advance. I failed to do that so when tour busses arrived the day I was there, I just fell in line with those folks and when the tour group leader went down the line doling out tickets, my hand was out and it collected a ticket. 


     When visiting our nation’s capital, our suggestion is not to visit things that look the same on TV as they do in real life. The White House, for example, is not worth the trouble, sorry to say, having nothing to do with President Trump’s description of it being “a dump”. Look at it from the outside and marvel at the snipers on the roof but keep walking. 

     The Washington Monument? The best thing about it is its starkness. You will see that from afar all over town. In 24 hours, your time is better spent popping into one of the outstanding museums, strolling through a garden and then inspecting one of the many icons that say more about America than a slab of concrete ever will.

                               Courtyard of Freer/Sackler Gallery


 Today was our last day to do something new or re-visit a favorite. I love the bike path to Georgetown. Riding uphill, I was going through the woods and then…I was in Georgetown! There’s a mystical facet to that. 

     The Capital Crescent Trail connects DC to its Maryland suburbs. The trail is so lushly wooded that it’s easy to forget the hubbub of our capital lying just over the trees. While pedaling along the Potomac River, glancing over my shoulder provided a beautiful view of the iconic Washington Monument which serves as a reminder of the city’s proximity. 

    Georgetown is a trendy neighborhood and is where the 7 miles of paved trail ends–or begins–just a few blocks from the Kennedy Center and the infamous Watergate complex.

   View of the Potomac from the trail 

    We’ve ridden the trail on weekends and weekdays. As in cruising, we like to leave the weekends for the gainfully employed and then enjoy the week days when bike paths and the waterway is less crowded.  The first few miles are nestled within a national park and tucked between the Potomac and the C&O Canal. The towpath parallels the Capital Crescent before veering off on a journey of 185 miles to Cumberland, MD.


                    Georgetown Waterfront

     It seems there are very few things here without a historical background and this trail is no exception. It traces the route of the former Georgetown Branch of the B&O Railroad which opened in 1910. The train ran for 75 years and carried coal to provide electricity for Georgetown’s streetcars. That coal also powered a steam plant that heated the White House. In preparation for construction of the Lincoln Memorial, these trains also brought in the limestone.

     For me, the Dalecarlia Tunnel is the highlight of the trail, especially on a hot day. It’s 340 feet long, built of brick, and on steamy summer days is a total respite to ride through. There are a few cut-outs in the walls for a pedestrian to get out of the way if a train came as they were walking through–from the olden days.

     We’re fond of celebrations and it’s fairly easy for us to always find something to celebrate. Today will not be a deviation. There are several things for which to be thankful and the first is that today’s the birthday of our son, Andy. How he got to be 46 years old, I do not know!!! Secondly, today’s the 20th anniversary of our first date. I just can’t believe it’s been that long. Seems like only a year or two. And number 3–we’re so thankful for our 3 months in this marvelous city and our proximity to any and everything we might want to see or do. Along with that is thanksgiving for our health and our ability to walk and cycle to every corner of Washington, DC.

     Tomorrow we cast off our lines and begin our southern trek by way of a Calvert’s Marina in Solomon’s, MD, where we’ll tuck in Kindred Spirit III for several months while we explore land based destinations.  Saying goodbye is hard to do!

Bill and Laura
Washington, DC

23 October 2017 Another Post Interview; The Capitol Steps, National Archives with Ken Burns, and Grand Opening of District Wharf


     Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican and Texan, who spent nearly 20 years in the US Senate, is our NATO representative. She was the first female Senator elected to represent Texas. The Washington Post hosted Ambassador Hutchison, for an interview with columnist David Ignatius. The former senator discussed the future of the transatlantic alliance that Donald Trump once called “obsolete” — a position that he has since reversed; she talked about mounting threats from Russia and other countries against Western allies. She addressed her top priorities in the areas of military cooperation, intelligence-gathering and combating terrorism. Bill and I were for fortunate enough to be present for this interview.

     A friend who once lived here and is still in the area, suggested we attend a performance of The Capitol Steps. So thankful for her suggestion because we’d never heard of this American political satire group. They began in 1981 at a Christmas party in the office of former Senator Charles Percy. Like most things in Congress, they never knew when to stop. They have released over 40 albums that are primarily song parodies and have appeared on Good Morning America, the Today Show, 20/20, Entertainment Tonight, Nightline, and dozens of times on NPR’s “All Things Considered”. They’ve performed for 5 US Presidents—6 if you include Hillary.

     Each performance consists of 1 pianist and 5 performers frantically changing wigs and costumes.  Many of the actors have worked on Capitol Hill for both Republicans and Democrats. The current cast has at one time or another infested the offices of 11 US Senators and 7 members of the House of Representatives.

     This troupe books shows all over the country but has become a favorite on the DC social circuit. Its political satire brings riotous laughter, rave reviews, guffaws and bipartisan grins all around.
     When we arrived here 31 July, major construction projects were underway with crews working shifts around the clock to meet the deadline of 12 October’s Grand Opening of the District Wharf. The 4 day opening was certainly a “grand” event attracting hordes of people interested in the new development of up-scale shops, restaurants, apartments, and condos. This southwest area of DC used to be an area to which you dare not come out of fear for your life but now it is a happening quadrant of the city.

     We toured one of the apartment complexes and marveled at the views from their 6th floor terrace although the top floor was the 12th.

Looking south toward Capitol Yacht Club and Gangplank Marina

                         A pool that looks as if you could swim right off the edge.

The view to the north and in the direction of the iconic seafood market

    An assortment of interesting characters were present for the festivities

Each night in the huge rock fire pit, marshmallows, a roasting stick, graham crackers, and chocolate were made available to everyone.

A concert during the Asian Culture Awareness Festival. This musician is describing and explaining a 2 string Chinese violin that she demonstrated.

                              The Asian ensemble performs for us

Another delightful concert in the American Art Museum by a Chinese pianist, 
                                  Ukraine violinist, and British cellist

     We visited the National Archives to hear director Ken Burns and see clips and comments from his documentary on Vietnam, now known as the American War. Cokie Roberts moderated the discussion with Ken and Lynn Novick about their PBS documentary series, The Vietnam War. The two of them spent 10 years creating this 18 hour documentary still available for viewing. 

     Everything I do, everywhere I go, and everything I learn in this city just makes me more insatiable as I realize how little I know and how much there is to read and learn. Life’s just not long enough!

     We’re on our way to another horizon-broadening experience in Alexandria so more later…as our days here dwindle to a precious few.

Bill and Laura
Washington, DC

19 October 2017 – More D.C Adventures

     At our D.C marina, 300 tickets were sold for a charity to those who were curious to see what different types and brands of boats look like on the inside and to ask questions of the owners about living aboard a boat. Many benevolent live-aboards offered to participate (for a worthy cause). Can you imagine all those people traipsing through your home??? When the gates were flung open at 10 AM, I was reminded of The Running of the Bulls so Bill and I (not willing participants) took off in separate directions—he to Arlington Memorial Cemetery for a guided historic walking tour and I went to Art on the Avenue in Del Ray, Alexandria, VA. This is their annual arts festival and the exhibitors were legion!! The little tents occupied both sides of the street for blocks and blocks. Beautiful and varied art and superb bands of many genres. The day is sunny, clear skies and a gentle little breeze. Another day to store in our memory banks.

     The marvelous opportunity has been ours on several occasions to sit in on interviews at The Washington Post and TWP columnist, Kathleen Parker’s interview with former Fox News anchor, Gretchen Carlson, was one of them. This was also to kick off the national tour of Carlson’s new book, “Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back.”

      Gretchen spoke candidly about her experience as a leading news anchor who decided to speak out about sexual harassment in the workplace and discuss how that decision – and the response she received – inspired her to advocate for women on issues of discrimination, harassment and equality.

      The bottom line–how men treat women and why women allow disrespect and sexual harrassment starts with how we, as parents, role-model and parent our children. Girls need to see the respect that her father has for her mother as well as other women and boys need to be taught by their dads the proper way to treat a woman as he sees the interaction between his dad and mom. 

     Gretchen has had a one-on-one conversation with her young pre-teen son and daughter about pornography– #1 its degradation of women and #2-what’s depicted isnt a true relationship based on love. She has a very calming demeanor and is a huge proponent of “Me, too.” I’m most eager to read her book.
     Got an early start to cycle Capital Hill and explore the H and U Street neighborhoods. We had lunch at the famous Ben’s Original Chile Bowl, A Washington landmark since 1958. Many ‘famous’ people have eaten there and it’s quite an eclectic little dive. Bill loved it and would go back in a skinny minute. I’m glad we went to’ve checked it off our list but it isn’t my “cuisine”.

     It was fun to wander the neighborhood and poke around in interesting shops and marvel at many murals in the area.

Difficult to see but above the windows is U.S. Post Office–from long ago.
   We were curious to see Meridan Hill Park, now better known as Malcolm X Park. It is/was one of the nicest and least appreciated parks in D.C. Its 12 acres sit on a hill overlooking downtown and the monuments. John Quincy Adams lived in a mansion here after leaving the White House. Today, there are spooky statues and an empty 13 basin concrete aggregate cascading paved route that water once took.

                        View from the bottom-sadly dry as a bone

                                          View from the top

     It is more reminiscent of a neglected European chateau garden than a National Park Service tract. In 1910 when the U.S. government purchased the grounds, they hired landscape architects George Burnap and Horace Peaslee to plan the Italian style garden.We didn’t visit on a Sunday afternoon but for those who do, they can dance to the sounds of the ad hoc drum circle that meets there weekly since the 1950s.

Joan of Arc statue is only equestrian statue of a woman in Washington, D.C.

  The significance of this park is its architecture and landscape design, both of which are sadly in need of care and maintenance. It was once a garden fit for an aristocrat. In 1819, John Porter erected a mansion here on Meridian Hill, so called because it was on the exact longitude of the original District of Columbia milestone marker, set down on April 15, 1791.  After its conversion to a public park, Union troops encamped on the grounds during the Civil War.
                 Dante statue
      Opportunites are calling so must scoot!

Bill and Laura
Washington, DC

8 October 2017 Newseum, US Botanic Garden, National Gallery of Art

     Our Austin, TX, son, Stephen, came for a long weekend (bike helmet in tow) and every moment was jam-packed being on the move. The Newseum had a special “free” day so we took advantage of that. When there are limitless Smithsonian mu…

6 October 2017 Kennedy Center


     The Kennedy Center is a magnificent living memorial to President Kennedy and honors him with endless exhibitions of the performing arts. 

We’ve been fortunate to have attended 3 performances during our visit here, the most recent, a celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday, with a NSO tribute. 

To enhance that, we visited an exhibition with displays of more than 150 personal artifacts, including personal items, photographs, scores, correspondence, furniture, and films. Among the items is his first piano, the desk on which he composed West Side Story, handwritten score sheets for songs from WWS; his Harvard diploma, and so many more interesting artifacts.

     There are interactive displays with listening bars for private enjoyment of some of his most noted works. There’s a booth that allowed me to sing the lead in WWS w/o assaulting anyone’s auditory senses.

                 Extraordinary views from Kennedy Center’s roof top

                                               Potomac River

     One of our favorites was a video of him standing on the podium while the orchestra played without him conducting but close-ups reveal his expressions, facial twitches, smiles—he was conducting with his face.

  Arlington Memorial Bridge

Neoclassical stone arch bridge crosses Potomac near Lincoln Memorial

     There’s a clip of a young Asian boy about 6 and his sister, a couple years older, who played for Bernstein—she the piano and he, the cello. The surprise is that it was Yo Yo Ma.

     Bernstein entered Harvard in 1935 to study piano and pursue his dream of being a concert pianist. He accomplished that and more as a world renown pianist AND conductor, the composer of WWS, Candide, and On the Town. He was an educator and lifelong humanitarian who spoke out whenever he witnessed injustice. 22 honorary doctorate degrees were bestowed upon him during his lifetime in addition to numerous other honors.  Visit leonardbernstein.com/about
Bill and Laura
Washington, DC


5 October 2017 Old Town Alexandria, VA

                               McHenry Seaport Center
                                Old Town’s Waterfront

     In Old Town, Alexandria, VA, sits the Torpedo Factory, an old munitions factory, turned gallery and artists’s studios. For its 40th birthday 3 years ago, a glass artist installed 5 towers centered around a 3rd floor smokestack, a remnant of the building’s original designation. The spiraling movement of the balls in each tower is reminiscent of the double helix of a strand of DNA. They also look like they’re swimming, providing a very calming and peaceful movement, so you know I loved it.

                                 Artists’s displays encircling the smoke stack

                                                   Old Town’s City Hall Spire

                           Love these little Alexandria town houses

     A collection of sights on my solo bike trip to Old Town Alexandria—a block of a preserved cobblestone street

     Gadsby’s Tavern, a 1792 Federal-style City Hotel, was situated on the main stage coach route between Boston and Williasmburg, enabling it to become an important political and social center. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Robert E. Lee were notable patrons. 

     Then there’s an 18th century modest townhouse built in 1769 by Washington in case business or inclement weather prevented his return to Mount Vernon. 
     I visited Christ Church, a small rectangular Georgian structure. The moulding was made by hand and is original. The tower with belfry is 3 stories high. I sat in George Washington’s pew cubicle. Robert E. Lee was also a member of the congregation.

Original dentil molding in the church

                           Old burial sites on the church grounds

     Love the bricks placed in a herringbone design as a walkway to townhouses. Pretty little village.
Bill and Laura
Washington, DC