DC 2013

Friday (1/11)

The annual Double Nickels trip to Washington began early (5:45 a.m.) but Gretchen and I didn't break our retirement pledge since we said we will rise that early to catch a train or plane! Amtrak delivered us to DC in time to eat lunch at the Capitol City Brewery before the Helms headed to the Holocaust Museum and the rest of us to the Organization of American States Museum. The small art museum is in a building behind the OAS Headquarters and highlights artists who live in the OAS region. The piece below is literally a "swords into plow shares" conceptual piece as the shovels were made from metal gleaned in a gun collection drive.

A walk by the MLK National Mounment and the Boy Scout Memorial (who knew) ended our afternoon before joining the Helms again for dinner. Laurie asked a gentleman on the street if he could recommend a restaurant in the area. Turns out he works for Genworth in their DC government office and knows Lynchburg well! He suggested Chef Geoff's Downtown, a delectable choice, where we all thoroughly enjoyed our entrees. After dinner we headed to the Kennedy Center to see Shear Madness, a play none of our group had ever heard of but is in year 32 of a continuous run in DC (33 in Boston)! We all can see why. We laughed out loud until tears streamed from our eyes! If you have not seen this audience participation play, do see it soon!

"We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Martin Luther King


Lincoln Cottage
A hillside with cool breezes, fewer bugs, a pleasant cottage with a beautiful view of the Capitol and Potomac River to the south; this is where President Lincoln spent summer months while commuting daily on horseback to the White House three miles distant. The cottage provided respite from visitors and a place where the President could ponder the best course to keep the nation in tact while providing freedom for all! President Lincoln's Cottage, located on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home, is now open to the public and well worth the visit. Despite what Gary claimed, I did find out that tours are conducted on Saturdays later than 10:00 a.m.

Laurie's son-in-law has an uncle who donated a carousel to the National Zoo so we wandered on a downhill jaunt according to our tour guide for an afternoon visit to the Zoo. Pandas, zebras, gazelles, seals, elephants, orangutans and a myriad of other exotic animals are all present; a wonderful free adventure for families in the DC area and visitors like us. The carousel is very beautiful with endangered animals for kids to sit on. What a nice gift!

Did I mention that the carousel was at the bottom of the hill in the Zoo. We had to ascend, yes climb back up to the entrance, to continue our downhill afternoon jaunt! A quick subway ride took us back downtown to Jaleo, a tapas restaurant for dinner. It was marveous, simply marvelous! After two very long days with lots of walking, we were all glad for an early return to our hotel, the Washington Court. Rumor has it that several people were in bed between 9:30 and 10:00 p.m.

Dinner at Jaleo


U.S. Capitol

On our way to the National Mall, we heard music waffing through the air and shortly discovered the dress rehearsal for President Obama's second term inauguration was underway at the Capitol. It was a neat scene on a cool, foggy winter morning and the patriotic music was a real treat! We went to National Museum of the American Indian, a building of great architecture, housing well done exhibits on Indian cultures of the Western Hemisphere. You can even sample foods from a range of Indian cultures in Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe. Next, the Helms and Morgans headed to the Botanical Gardens while the Foot/Nero duo checked out the Air and Space Museum. A quick tour of Postal Museum completed our trip before heading to Union Station to catch the Northeast Regional back to Lynchburg.

National Museum of the American Indian

Our annual trips to DC are always fun with new sights, cultural experiences, culinary delights and of course, great friends! This year a nice surprise was the Red Velvet Cupcake Shop across the street from Jaleo where we got a sweeeeet dessert after dinner. City folks do have to walk more than suburbanites; we racked up 57,300 steps during our three day adventure. We all appreciate Gary for his superb job in planning our trip each year! We all look forward to next year, especially since Gary has offered to pay for us to stay at the Willard........if he wins the lottery!



Keep on, Keep on

walking! Last year Gretchen got a Fitbit for Christmas and made a resolution to walk 10,000 steps a day. She did an amazing job, walking 1,588 miles, a distance greater than the length of the Tigris River! Oh hail ye cradle of civilization! After being prodded to get my own Fitbit, I assumed my position at the bottom of the family competition and walked 283 miles, longer than the length of the Lambert Glacier! Where the hell is that?




The crowds are gone, shops are shuttered, the pace is slower and there is a chill in the air. Walks on the beach listening to the surf are still delightful, seafood still abounds and the weather surprisingly, is hospitable enough for many outdoor activities. It is the time of year when locals take a break from their busy summer tourist duties, roads are under construction and landlords prep their vacation rentals for the coming season. These are the insights we had when Gretchen and I visited sailing friends Sarah and Jack in Avon on the Outer Banks of NC, where they have recently begun to spend three or four months each winter.

Not long after our arrival, Gretchen needed a Fitbit walk to get her daily numbers up! Although 10,000 steps was not in the cards for this travel day, it set the stage for exploring Avon in the morning. Saturday, Jack kept asking, how many steps do we have now....and could not believe they were accumulating so slowly! In the end, we all earned 15,000 step badges by the time we returned from dinner at Cafe 12! Sunday, we explored Hatteras Village and Light House. Gretchen and I can't believe how much this end of the island has built up since we visited....decades ago! We hoped to visit Ocracoke but the ferries were running erratically due to shoaling in the channel. Will Sarah and Jack get Fitbits? I don't know but it seems Jack got the bug. Rumor has it on Sunday he was spotted walking up and down the aisles with Sarah in tow in the Dollar Tree Store to add to his daily count while avoiding the evening chill!

Guys, it was a really fun weekend. We appreciate you inviting us and your generous hospitality. Thanks so much. If you decide to spend time next winter in Avon, we'll be happy to make tracks to the Outer Banks once again!



2012 Goal - Ride 2000 miles. Actual mileage - 2187 miles.

It was a great year for riding with the TOF Brothers plus a trip to Pennsylvania with the Double Nickels. Also, I began the year with an unstated goal in my mind to ride a metric century which I did!

2013 Goal - Ride 2000 miles. No unstated goals in my mind!

Patrick Henry's Red Hill Ride. Photo by Gretchen!

The Holidays

As I sit watching the Orange Bowl, the holidays are drawing to a close, and Gretchen and I are relishing a few hours of downtime following five days of grandchildren filling the house with squeals, laughs and constant motion. It is a pleasure and blessing to share these days with family and friends we love; how fortunate we are!

Kelley, Seth and Maggie were here a few days before the Alexanders came and we got to spend some alone time with Maggie. She has grown out of her stranger anxiety, is walking, climbing, and babbling away like any toddler her age. She is a beautiful, strong willed, blue eyed girl! It is hard to believe she was a premie.

Maggie sees her picture in Jib Jab stories.
When Katie, David, Henry and Audrey arrived on Friday, it was present opening time; a time Henry was keen to supervise. How fun it is to see the kids playing with their toys coupled with the memories recalled from days gone by when Kelley and Katie were their age. I wonder if they remember Santa's sleigh bells jingling outside of their bedroom windows? Audrey is growing and changing weekly. Next year she will be walking around the house babbling, just like Maggie this year!

Henry with this year's Hess truck.
The tree is down, decorations put away but fine memories remain. We appreciate Kelley, Seth, Katie and David making the effort to all get to Lynchburg at the same time! Thanks for everything. It was neat to see Maggie getting to know new cousins. I continue to be amazed about how much Henry likes Jib Jab books. Whenever I see him, he quickly grabs my iPAD and asks to Jib Jab. I wonder if Maggie will like those stories with her picture in them as much?

Maggie and Audrey getting to know each other.
One item to note....our dinner group decided to donate to Heifer International this year....raising $670.00....enough for 2 goats, 2 sheep, 8 flocks of chickens and a hive of bees to be sent to needy folks around the world. What a neat gift! Thanks to all!

Happy New Year!