Wednesday, November 18, 2009

DC and VA

            
      Bike paths/ trails are making the trip down the east cost a million times easier. The secondary highways are really busy through this region of the country with typically no shoulder. We started using a website called Bikely.com to find back roads around the congestion and to the cities that we plan on visiting. That's how we made it into DC from Baltimore. It was a longer route to the capitol city by back roads, but had very little traffic. The route hooked us up to a bike path that lead us all the way to The Mall. The routes on the website are posted by bike riders in the area who have figured out alternatives to the crappy highways in order to commute on long day rides......I think?
      Ryan and I stayed five miles outside the capitol in  Arlington, Virginia with my uncle Trey and Aunt Rose. Their house was just a short walk from the subway line and right next to a inner city bike trail that fed into DC. We took the subway most days right to the heart of The Mall to explore the Smithsonian Museums and see the national monuments. The Smithsonian's are large and jam packed, all three story buildings with great exhibits that are worth spending time moseying through. It took us two days per museum in order to finish each of them from top to bottom. So we opted to see the Natural History Museum, The National History Museum, and the ever so famous Air and Space Museum which is full of boy scouts and screaming children every day, but is still worth the visit. Other notable stops included the Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, The Vietnam Memorial, WWII Memorial and Arlington Cemetery. On our last day of capitol city exploration time, we met up with our buddy Rob and his friend Katie from Baltimore who came down by car to spend an afternoon with us. It was great to hang out one more time before we head further South.
       On our very last day in the DC area Trey and Rose drove us out Harper's Ferry in West Virginia. The town has been beautifully preserved over the years despite the Civil War and all the flooding that is has experienced being located right where the Potomac and the Shenandoah Rivers meet.  It still functions as a town for most of the residents in the area. Old town has been turned into numerous small museums and time capsules for public view. The four of us walked the entire old town district and had a wonderful lunch together. Special thanks to Rose and Trey for sharing their home and taking us on a grand outing. I don't see enough of my family on the east coast so its a special treat to get the opportunity!
        We headed deeper into Virginia form Trey and Rose's house on the same inner city bike trail. It ended at Mt. Vernon, not too far from where we had been staying. We had a late start that day and when we arrived at Mt.Vernon  we realized that we needed some more back road routes in order to get on our way safely. The day ended with a camping spot we found in a fielded area down from the Pope-Leighey house, ( a Frank Lloyd Wright house) for the night.  
( Our stealth camping skills have broadened with courage.)
       The following day we spent the afternoon at a library down the road in order to figure out how to get to Fredericksburg via bikely.com. After finishing up our search the two of us were packing up the computer and some camping gear into the trailers when a local woman came up to us to ask us where we had come from and where we were going to stay for the night. Her name was Mary Jane and she was wonderful. 
        She and her husband Marvin live in an area called Mason's Neck Virginia. Marvin is a lawyer and spends his days in Alexandria at his office. We spent the days with Mary Jane talking, eating breakfast and lunch together, reading the news paper, helping her around the house when needed, and walking the dog. Every evening Mary Jane made dinner and the four of us had drinks and chatted or watched movies or English comedies. For three days it poured due to the remnants of hurricane Ida that had hit the gulf coast earlier in the week. When it cleared up the nice weather was not enough reason for the four of us to part. We grew close quickly and didn't want to part ways. Ryan and I stayed in their in-law apartment for a week. It was hard to say goodbye to two people we share such a great affection for. Thank you Marvin and Mary for the hospitality and friendship.
          We had only camped out for a night when we were spotted taking a snack break late in the afternoon by a great gal passing us in her van on the way home. She invited us over for pot roast and a place to stay for the night. Bridget and her Husband Dan had just moved back into the states a little over two months ago from Turkey where Dan was working for the FBI and Bridget was doing outreach work for refugees seeking admittance into the US. Dan and Bridget have a seven year old son, Sam and two newborn twins named Ella and Claire. It was hard to believe all they had just accomplished with the move and newborns. We had a great time meeting them and staying somewhere nice and dry for the night. Thanks for the great dinner and beers! 
     It has been absolutely amazing how many people are willing to house complete strangers for a night or more. We honestly thought that we would encounter less hospitality in the upper portions of the east. There tends to be a stereotype about Americans being more guarded and untrustworthy of one another in general, let alone strangers, especially on the eastern seaboard. We're both so delighted to find that so many more people than we thought possible want more than anything to connect with others who are out of the ordinary.

Ryan and Allegra. 
      
   
This is the great bike path that took us into DC.
There were numerous streams along the path.
Here is the cathedral at the National Catholic Collage.
Arlington National Cemetery.
The Obama household. 
The Capital. The health care debate was going on in the house when this was taken.
The elephant in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.
The Smithsonian Castle.
Inside the castle.
Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in this plane. That was a while ago.
Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis. 
Various rockets from NASA.
A Ford Tri-Engine. 
The Washington monument. The obelisk is a symbol of the Masons. Some believe they secretly run the government. I think politicians run the government. Poorly.
Ducks and monuments. Good times.
The WWII monument. I thought it would be more impressive.
The Lincoln Memorial.
Honest Abe. He freed the slaves and saved the Union. I once found a peanut with 3 nuts in the same shell.
Obama in his helicopter.
Legs at the Vietnam Memorial.
Rob and Katie from Baltimore came to hang out with us in DC.
The town of Harper's Ferry, WV.
The firehouse where John Brown made his last stand in his attempt to start a slave revolt in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.
Trey and Rose, Legs' Aunt and Uncle who hosted us in DC.
Here we are in Harper's Ferry. 
Fort Washington on the Potomac River. 
Sam, Mary Jane's bird taking a bath. 
This was a stable for horses in DC. Marvin and Mary Jane took us for a car tour of DC to see all the things we missed.
The National Cathedral.
The most beautiful sunset we have ever seen. 
Marvin and Mary Jane, our wonderful hosts who saved us from Hurricane Ida.

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