Thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak our travel plans have changed quite a bit. The 2 month trip to Florence and Rome—well that didn’t happen. Three cheers for British Airways and Road Scholar for promptly sending us refunds after Italy shut down the country. The same can not be said for Hotel Adriano in Rome. After initially promising a refund, they tried to back out until we reported them to American Express. After that they saw the light.
On a happier note, we traveled to the outer banks and stayed in Duck, North Carolina for two weeks. What a spectacular place–for instance, see the image below.
The Outer Banks are a series of barrier islands located between the Atlantic Ocean and Currituck Sound. There aren’t any cities on the 100 miles + of the Outer Banks. Instead the islands are mostly populated by small seaside villages and towns. It is a favorite vacation spot, attracting visitors from the Northeast as well as Virginia, Georgia and the Carolinas.
We rented a house for a 2 week stay in Duck, a tony village with plenty of gorgeous beaches, fishing spots and restaurants. That’s right. Restaurants you can actually go to and sit inside and have cocktails and dinner. Or you can get a table outside and relax over food and drinks.
There are other places to go to as wee—for instance Kitty Hawk, where Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first historic flight in their flying machine back in December 1903. And then there is Corolla Park with the architectural masterpiece Whalehead and its Museum.
If you get a chance, visit the Outer Banks and the town of Duck. You’ll be glad you did.
Here are a couple of photos from our trip (below), taken with a Leica Q2 camera. Click on a photo to enlarge it. They can be licensed at Evocative Photos.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam who re-emerged into public view after the midterms announced a series of public health measures related to COVID-19, among them steps to encourage social distancing. The measures were directed at “non-essential” businesses. Fortunately, that definition does not included pharmacies like the CVS across the street which sells wine. So all is not lost; we are keeping hope alive. With Cabernet Sauvignon as it happens.
But it is eerily quiet on the streets in Reston Town Center as well as RTC Park. The Bow Tie Cinema is closed, as is the Apple store. And retail merchants have shut their stores for the time being. But the restaurants in town have take-out menus up and running, so that’s a win.
We had planned to 2 month trip to Italy, primarily to Rome and Florence, beginning April 8. Needless to say, that has been cancelled. The good news is that if we had scheduled the trip 2 months earlier we could have been caught in Italy in the middle of the disaster with no way to get out.
Anyway, I went out and took a few photos around the neighborhood because it’s so rare for the streets to be so empty, especially on a Saturday afternoon. The photos are posted below. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how long this lasts.
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds…”
When Abraham Lincoln uttered those words in his second inaugural address the end of the Civil War was days away and slavery would soon be ended in the United States. The war was waged at an immense cost. Estimates of fatalities directly attributable to the Civil War range between 650,000 to 850,00 thousand men, women and children. The population of the United States at the time of the war was only 31 million.
It is hard not to think of that sacrifice when you walk by the Lincoln Memorial on the Mall. Similarly, a walk past the Washington Memorial, Capitol Hill and the White House brings a stark reminder of the toil and sacrifice of the founders and signers of the Declaration of Independence. People like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
Perhaps Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi might consider taking a walk around town for a moment’s reflection before launching the next round of juvenile behavior.
Photos of the Lincoln Memorial, White House, Washington Memorial and Capitol are below.
We spent a busy weekend in the nation’s capitol. Among other things we saw an absolutely terrific performance of My Fair Lady at the Kennedy Center. Shereen Ahmed, a 26 year old graduate of Townson University was perfectly cast as Eliza Doolittle. She lit up the stage with an astonishingly versatile voice which she combined with first rate acting. The Kennedy Center revival performances of My Fair Lady are the beginning of a national tour. Don’t miss it if it comes to a theatre near you.
We stayed at the Watergate for the weekend which now advertises that you don’t have to break in to enjoy the place. We also got a chance to stop in to see the exhibits on display at the Phillips Collection of Modern art and the National Geographic Museum. The National Geographic had an exhibit featuring Jane Goodall, known for her path breaking field work on chimpanzees in Africa. Both the National Geographic and Phillips Collection Museums are certainly worth a visit when in DC. Finally I should mention a very good French Bistro, the Opaline Bar and Brasserie, where we had dinner. Good food, great atmosphere and a fine Martini can be had there.
We went up to Montreal for the Thanksgiving holiday and took a side trip by rail to Quebec City. And boy, was it cold. I mean really, really cold. At one point my iPhone read 8 degrees Fahrenheit. This was during the day, around 9:00 AM. By the way, did I mention that it was cold?
Cold or not, both both Montreal and Quebec had lots of beautiful French architecture. Montreal in particular looked a lot like Paris. The Old Town section of Quebec, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, had Christmas carolers out and the Christmas markets were alive with shoppers and browsers. All in all, the people were very friendly, the food was terrific, cabs were plentiful and the trains actually ran on time. A good time was had by all.
Here below are a couple of shots from Quebec, mostly taken in the OldTown Section.
The season is upon us and that means that Meadowlark Botanical Gardens will be lit up with a spectacular light show. Instead of photos of the Gardens, this year I took a quick video with the new iPhone Pro 11. Here it is below.
In the United States it is easy—much too easy—to take freedom for granted. In part it is because we have a long tradition of freedom; for most Americans the idea of being without it is almost inconceivable. But that can be a dangerous thing if it leads to letting down our guard.
In that respect, a trip to Arlington National Cemetery is a sobering reminder that freedom has to be zealously defended; that freedom is not free, as the saying goes. The endless rows of headstones that quietly mark the final resting places of over 400,000 people is a monument to the price of freedom.
We visited Arlington Cemetery today; it is a place that belongs on everyone’s list of places to go and things to see. A few photos from the cemetery are below.
We had some visitors from the wilds of New Jersey the other day. Mary Anne’s sister Ellen and her husband Steve came by our neck of the woods for a visit. The four of us took a walk around town and then made our way to Great Falls National Park in McLean Virginia. Among other things, the park is known for its stunning views of the Great Falls of the Potomac. Here (below) are a couple of shots taken in the park, along with one photo taken on a hiking trail by Lake Anne in Reston.
The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation runs the annual Virginia State Fair. Scheduled for September 27 through October 6, the Fair takes place in Event Meadow Park, Caroline County. There you can see agricultural exhibits, including entries by students of the major Virginia Universities, horses, pigs, cows, goats, races and tractor pulls. There are rides galore and food trucks everywhere. We saw a performance by visiting Chinese acrobats. And a hip-hop band performed an evening show. We missed the pig races because it was time to go home. Maybe some other time…
Anyway, here (below) are some photos from the event.