DC-MD-PA-CT-DC, March 25-April 3, 2022

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.

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Mt St Helens and Mt Rainier

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Iowa

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DC Metro area

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National Airport from the Metro

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Dinner

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.

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Farmers Market

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Cherry blossoms

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Looking across the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial

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Walking past the Washington Monument

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A brief stop in the Smithsonian Castle

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Kite flyers out on the Mall on this windy day.

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Zoom in on the Capitol

We visited the National Gallery of Art.

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Azaleas in the Foyer

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Knitters!

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Western landscape

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.

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Kennedy Center

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A new Kennedy statue near the REACH complex

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President Kennedy

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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.

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Good news about boosters, bad news about the weather.

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Pennsylvania house

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Ancient oak tree

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Nearby landscape view

A chilly walk at the Laurels Preserve:

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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.

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George Washington Bridge from the Ross Dock Picnic area, New Jersey

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The Palisades

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Looking up the Hudson River

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New York skyline

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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.

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East Rock Park

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View to New Haven and Long Island Sound

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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.

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Back over the George Washington Bridge,

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through New Jersey,

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Over the Delaware River,

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Into the Fort McHenry Tunnel to Baltimore,

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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.

Wall art (unattributed):

Views from the balcony:

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Southwestern view over the Mall

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Jefferson Memorial

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Southeastern view to the Capitol

Next, we visited the nearby Art Museum of the Americas.

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Walking down Virginia Avenue

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Art Museum of the Americas

The main exhibit was ‘Mapping The Layers’ by Julio Valdez.

Beautiful tile work in the Interior Courtyard of the building:

Tilework and a sculpture outside the building:

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Some views from the bus on our way back to Columbia Heights:

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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.

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View from the bridge

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Theodore Roosevelt Memorial

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Into the woods

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Spring flowers

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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.

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Pentagon

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It felt very satisfying to reconnect with so many important people in our lives, hopefully,  a harbinger of cautious return to the ‘new normal’.

Washington DC, May 20-25, 2021

Last spring (2020) we cancelled a trip to Washington, DC, due to Covid. Our daughter has been working there for two years, and we hadn’t seen her since the 2019 winter holidays. Fully vaccinated, heeding all CDC precautions, and despite predicted high temperatures and a cicada invasion, we finally got to visit her!

May 20 –  Flying, Georgetown

We were able to take the five hour nonstop flight from Portland, Oregon, to National Airport, where our daughter met us.

We stopped in Georgetown for al fresco tacos and a walk along the canal and waterfront.

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C & O Canal, Georgetown

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Georgetown waterfront path, Kennedy Center in the distance.

Then we checked in to our AirB&B lodging in Logan Circle, near our daughter’s apartment.

May 21 – National Mall walk

It was ‘only’ supposed to be 80 degrees today. We went on an 8 mile walk, from Logan Circle, past the White House, the Washington Monument and the Tidal Basin, looking at the monuments along the way.

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Walking toward the White House.

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Looking north at Black Lives Matter Plaza.

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Looking south at Black Lives Matter Plaza.

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Approaching the north side of the White House.

Next stop: the Washington Monument on the National Mall.

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Looking west across the mall toward the Lincoln memorial.

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Our next stop: the Jefferson Memorial, under reconstruction, where we ate our picnic lunch in some nearby shade.

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A blue heron flew across our view as we sat on the grass, admiring reflections in the tidal basin.

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Two official helicopters flew past, as well. According to our daughter, two helicopters means it is the Vice President’s entourage, three for the President. So that might have been Kamala Harris in one of them.

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Inside the Jefferson memorial.

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Looking back as we continued walking around the Tidal Basin.

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The Capitol in the distance, Jefferson’s profile in the monument.

Our next stop was a series of exhibits documenting the legacy of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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FDR, lifesized, in wheelchair.

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Tributes to the hardships of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

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Panels representing the New Deal Programs that revived the economy.

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FDR and his dog, Fala.

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The amazing First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt also gets an alcove.

Our next stop was the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, new since my only other visit to the capitol in 2008.

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The large granite sculpture of Martin Luther King, Jr. was much larger than I expected, a very fitting tribute to his legacy.

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By now we were feeling the heat, and I had seen most of the memorials in this area on my previous visit, so we continued toward the Lincoln Memorial, which I wanted to see again.

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After crossing Independence Avenue again, we passed by the Korean War Memorial.

The Lincoln Memorial:

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That airplane is probably on the same flight path we were on the previous day.

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President Lincoln

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The Gettysburg Address

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View north from the steps

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Columns

We still had a couple of miles to walk back to our lodging.

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We visited the Viet Nam War Memorial.

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We saw the Federal Reserve building on Constitution Avenue.

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We sipped cold drinks while walking north toward Dupont Circle.

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We caught another glimpse of our Vice President!

After resting from our long walk we enjoyed a takeout Ethiopian dinner.

May 22 – Great Falls National Park

A hot day – into the 90s! We drove about an hour to Great Falls National Park, VA, to see the falls. It was too hot for a serious hike, but we enjoyed the views and some wildlife.

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The very calm Potomac River, above the falls.

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First viewpoint of the Great Falls of the Potomac River

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Downstream from the falls, and a kayaker

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Park map

We walked downstream to a few of the viewpoints:

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We turned around after looking at Mather Gorge:

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Upstream, Mather Gorge

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Downstream, Mather Gorge

As we walked back, keeping to shady paths where possible, we spotted some wildlife:

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Broad-headed skink, sitting on a log near the trail.

I was very excited to see cardinals for the first time, bathing in the nearby creek while we were eating lunch in the shade. They are very hard to photograph!

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Male cardinal

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Female cardinal

Despite the heat, we enjoyed our visit to the natural world so near our nation’s capitol.

May 23 – Cicadas of Baltimore

We saw these everywhere, though they were not particularly dense in DC proper. On Sunday, we were invited to visit cousins who live in a green suburb on the northside of Baltimore. Just opening the car door upon arrival, we got the full impact of the sound of cicadas. This short video by my husband captures the sound.

I added in my few other cicada photos here.

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Cicada carcasses, Lafayette Square

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Cicada ground holes, Great Falls NP

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Pharaoh cicada, National Arboretum

May 24 – Smithsonian National History Museum

We were lucky to get reservations for this newly reopened museum. We looked at inspiring exhibits of American innovation and history for a couple of hours.

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Arriving at the museum entrance after a slightly rainy walk. Good day to be inside.

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Interior views:

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Inventions:

Pop culture:

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Dorothy’s ruby slippers

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Julia Child’s Kitchen

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Bob Ross

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Yankee ticket booth

History of politics and everyday life:

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George Washington’s chair

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Political signs

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Ballot box

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An exhibit on the changing house through time illustrated the rigors of laundry.

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Helen Keller’s watch

I was surprised to find my own neighborhood depicted in the Transportation exhibit.

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I am always on the lookout for interesting textiles, and I found many to admire throughout the exhibits:

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Old quilt top in the lobby

First Lady dresses:

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So many beads!

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Michelle Obama’s dress

Some other old textiles,

and a couple of items that reminded me of my own youth:

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We enjoyed our time in the museum, but after while I could not take in any more. I love knowing this representation of our material life is preserved, and I hope to visit again someday.

May 25 – National Arboretum, flying home

Our last day. We drove to the Union Market for lunch.

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The Union Market is a converted warehouse, now a food court and entertainment center.

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The queen!

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The rooftop has lots of room for dining,

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and views over the city.

We then wandered around a bit at the National Arboretum.

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Repurposed columns from the U.S. Capitol building stand out on a hill in the center of the arboretum.

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The National herb garden had some pretty blooms:

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It was too hot to go far, but we enjoyed our last day with our daughter.

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Our flight home was mostly above clouds until we saw Mt Hood peeking through.

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This was a wonderful trip, reuniting with our daughter and getting a flavor for her life in DC. And testing the waters for traveling again in the post-vaccination world. We are looking forward to more adventures as the world opens up, however slowly.