We visited family and friends who live 3000 miles away, most of them not seen since 2019. We flew to National Airport, in Washington, DC, and stayed near our daughter for the first weekend. Then we drove north, and visited folks in Baltimore, rural Pennsylvania, and near New Haven, CT. We returned to DC for the second weekend, before flying home.
I have not spent very much time in the eastern US, so every time I visit I am wide eyed and curious, taking in all the scenery, buildings, and landscapes that are so different from the west. The 300 mile drive from DC to Connecticut is along a low relief coastal plain, gently sloping toward the sea, incised by rivers, and fringed with the bare branches of deciduous trees this time of year. The prominent vertical elements are city skylines. When a highway overpass allowed an elevated view, I could see how vulnerable the coastal plain is to hurricanes – there is so little relief (compared to the west coast) to alter trajectories! That is my old geocuriosity showing up here, and my first time actually driving this route and seeing it with my own eyes…
Friday, March 25 – We left our Washington Cascade peaks behind, flew over the central plains, and arrived with a long distance view of the National Mall. We took the Metro into town and met our daughter at a Peruvian-Sushi-fusion restaurant, followed by gelato, before finding our way to our AirB&B near Columbia Heights.
Mt St Helens and Mt Rainier
DC Metro area
National Airport from the Metro
Saturday morning we visited a local Farmers Market, ate amazing felafels, then took the Metro to the National Mall. This was the second weekend of the cherry blossom festival, and the trees were in bloom. After a quick look at the very crowded Tidal Basin, we decided to walk east up the Mall.
Looking across the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial
Walking past the Washington Monument
A brief stop in the Smithsonian Castle
Kite flyers out on the Mall on this windy day.
Zoom in on the Capitol
We visited the National Gallery of Art.
Azaleas in the Foyer
Sunday, we visited an Art Fair at the Kennedy Center REACH – again so cold and windy we were glad to eat lunch in the sheltered cafe nearby that looks toward the Kennedy Center out of one set of windows, and toward Roosevelt Island on the Potomac on the other side. Then we said goodby to our daughter for the week and drove north to Baltimore to see cousins there.
A new Kennedy statue near the REACH complex
Nordic Swan sculpture near the Art Fair; the swan is made of more than 300 upcycled plastic buckets.
Monday afternoon we headed north again, this time to rural Pennsylvania, just north of Wilmington, Delaware. We had snow squall warnings on our phone just as we arrived at our destination. This cold spell was not in the weather predictions when we packed for our trip! Our cousins in PA have a lovely old home with an amazing kitchen, and we spent lots of time there, with a sight seeing break to see an old oak tree and a walk in a nature preserve.
Good news about boosters, bad news about the weather.
Ancient oak tree
Nearby landscape view
A chilly walk at the Laurels Preserve:
Wednesday – On to Connecticut – about a 3.5 hour drive. We visited the New Jersey Palisades just west of the George Washington Bridge. My husband was interested in seeing them, as he had recently been reading about their role in some of the American Revolution battles. I wanted to see the rocks – diabase sills that originated near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge as the North American Continent was slipping away from Europe much longer ago – 200 million years. We both got our wish, and this was a perfect place to eat our lunch as we looked south at the skyline of New York City.
George Washington Bridge from the Ross Dock Picnic area, New Jersey
Looking up the Hudson River
New York skyline
Over the bridge…
We had lots of lovely family time in Connecticut, catching up with family and meeting some new members. On Thursday we walked up East Rock with some of my husband’s childhood friends, followed by lunch in New Haven.
East Rock Park
View to New Haven and Long Island Sound
Dog of Connecticut
Friday was the 300 mile drive all the way back to DC, a long stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike, previously only known by me in the Paul Simon song: “We all come to look for America!”… passing the most industrial of views, and also wetlands and natural areas when crossing rivers. It was very efficient for us – we managed to avoid heavy traffic until we arrived in DC at dinnertime.
Back over the George Washington Bridge,
through New Jersey,
Over the Delaware River,
Into the Fort McHenry Tunnel to Baltimore,
Back to Columbia Heights, in DC.
Saturday, we visited the Farmers Market again for more of those delicious felafels, then took a bus to the Mall for a private tour of the Federal Reserve building. We were thoroughly screened by security, then our family member escorted us through the newly refurbished building. We looked at some of the artwork on the walls, took a peek into “the room where it happens”, then admired views from a cubicle window and from the upper balcony and outdoor dining area.
Newly refurbished Federal Reserve Building
Older building across the street is undergoing renovations.
Cubicle view, Lincoln Memorial in the distance
Wall art (unattributed):
Views from the balcony:
Southwestern view over the Mall
Southeastern view to the Capitol
Next, we visited the nearby Art Museum of the Americas.
Walking down Virginia Avenue
Art Museum of the Americas
The main exhibit was ‘Mapping The Layers’ by Julio Valdez.
Paintings by Julio Valdez
Painting by Julio Valdez
Painting by Julio Valdez
Beautiful tile work in the Interior Courtyard of the building:
Tilework and a sculpture outside the building:
Some views from the bus on our way back to Columbia Heights:
Sunday we helped with house and bicycle repairs before flying home. On our way to the airport we had time to take a short walk on Roosevelt Island in the Potomac, say Hi! to Teddy, and see a few spring flowers, before our flight.
View from the bridge
Theodore Roosevelt Memorial
Into the woods
Back over the bridge, looking toward VA.
I had a great view of the Pentagon before flying up through the clouds and toward the setting sun.
It felt very satisfying to reconnect with so many important people in our lives, hopefully, a harbinger of cautious return to the ‘new normal’.