Tag: Potomac

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon, Virginia – October 9, 2010

Today was Mount Vernon day.  I had wanted to go to Mount Vernon while we lived in the Washington, D.C. area, but we were just never able to string it together.

Today I took a taxi to oldtown in Alexandria.  I bought a ticket from the Potomac Riverboat Company for US$40. That ticket was good for a round-trip to and from Mount Vernon.  It also included my entry admission to Mount Vernon.  All in all, I thought it was a great deal.  It was about an hour and one-half trip each way.  That included a couple of stops on each leg.

The Alexandria marina and Torpedo Factory.
The Potomac River Boat helm.
Pulling away from the dock at Alexandria, Virginia.
Another view of the marina and Torpedo Factory.
Some docked yachts.
Our captain has us underway.
A small home along the Potomac River.

When I toured the house at Mount Vernon, we entered the large dining room first.  The verdigris green paint in this room is not my favorite.  From there the tour wound out to the front veranda and then back into the house at the main entrance.  Then our guide led the group up the stairs to the second level. On that level, we were able to view the upper hall, blue bedroom, Lafayette bedroom, and the Nelly Custis bedroom. The tour then went through the yellow bedroom. After passing through that bedroom, one was able to look into the Washingtons’ bedroom. From there it was back down to the main floor, through the study, and out the back door.

Our first glimpse of Mount Vernon from the Potomac.
George Washington’s tomb. Martha is on the left.
The inscription above the tomb.
The side of Mount Vernon that faces the Potomac River.
The side of Mount Vernon facing away from the river.
An iconic view of Mount Vernon.
A greenhouse at Mount Vernon.
People lined up along the colonnade to begin the tour of Mount Vernon.
The Potomac River as seen from Mount Vernon.
The stable at Mount Vernon.
The Powel Coach.
The south side of Mount Vernon.
Our final view of Mount Vernon from the river.
Fort Washington.
Fort Washington and a lighthouse.

It really was quite fascinating to see the mansion and grounds. One of these days I will read a biography on General George Washington to get a better picture of this founding father.  I am glad I went today.

As the Potomac Riverboat went back north on the Potomac toward the marina at Alexandria, we passed a motor yacht that was heading south on the Potomac, the Hilarium. It is a fairly large yacht at 134 feet.  The yacht was built in 1986 at a shipyard in the Netherlands.  There is room enough on board for ten guests and eight crew members.

The Hillarium on the Potomac River.
A tugboat heading north on the river.
In-Service Training

In-Service Training

Arlington, Virginia – October 3, 2009

As you may recall, we arrived in Spain on August 31.  I was just starting to get set in Spain when I was called back to Washington for an in-service training.  I was a little disappointed, but I made the trip anyway.  This in-service is an opportunity for all of the facility managers throughout the world to come together to share best practices.  It is also an opportunity to be briefed on the most current trends within our section of the Department of State.

As it was with my flight to Madrid in August, I was once again on the two-seat side of the plane in an aisle seat with no one sitting beside me.  That makes things quite a bit more comfortable for the lengthy flight.  The extra room is welcome since I got up in Madrid at 05:00 on the 3rd and then checked in at the hotel at 01:00 Madrid time on the 4th.  A very long day!

One thing I already miss in my new life in Madrid is the Sunday newspaper.  The papers in Madrid do not come with the comics and inserts like in the U.S.  I used my Sunday in Arlington to catch up on my sleep.  In between winks I was able to enjoy the Sunday edition of the Washington Post.

Later in the day on Sunday, I went to the mall to look around.  When I was in one store making a purchase, the sales associate guessed that I worked for the State Department.  He said, “thank you for your service.”  I don’t know that I necessarily deserved that, but it was nice to hear.

When I returned to my room, I looked out of the window of my hotel room, I saw the torso of a naked woman in the building directly across from the hotel.  That was a bit of a surprise.  It took me a while to figure out that it was a torso in an art school, used by students that were drawing or painting.

The view of the neighboring building from my hotel. By the way, it is an art school…
The view from my room at the Hyatt Arlington in Virginia.
A Delta jet heading for Reagan National Airport.

During the week of the in-service, there was an organized dinner on a Potomac riverboat.  The boat was the Spirit of Washington.  The boat cruised south on the Potomac, past Reagan National Airport, past the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge and back.  The cruise started shortly before sunset.  It was really quite an enjoyable time, especially reuniting with my fellow facility manager classmates.

The Spirit of Washington waiting for us to board for our dinner cruise on the Potomac River.
Some of my fellow facility managers.
Five of seven of my facility manager classmates.
Sunset on the Potomac.
A view of D.C. from the dinner boat dock at Water St. SW.
The boat passing under the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge.
Another of my fellow FMs and his date.
Two of my classmates.
Yours truly even got in on the action.

When I departed Washington, I left from Reagan National Airport.  After I checked in for my flight back to Madrid, I took the escalator down to the main terminal level.  I looked out the window and I saw several people standing around with American flags.  Out near the main ramp, I saw two airport fire trucks.  I quickly ascertained a planeload of American troops was coming home from the Iraq war.  The plane finally showed up and turned down the taxiway.  When it did, the two fire trucks began shooting a stream of water over the plane.  It was an arch over the plane; a salute to the troops.  It was really moving to see this unfold.  Moments later a second plane came through the same salute.  It made me feel proud to be an American.

We Support Our Troops is on the white flag. The airplane returned from Iraq with some of our troops.
A closer view of the airplane.
American History Museum

American History Museum

Washington, D.C. – June 20, 2009

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History is another of my favorites.  I like the Air and Space museum more; however, the American History museum is very good.

On any particular day, the main entrance to the museum is bustling with people.  Mom, Leslie, the kids, and I had carried our lunch with us on this day’s outing.  After touring the American History museum, we sat down outside the front entrance to eat.  That was not only a welcome break, but it allowed us the opportunity to “people watch.”  At times, that was more interesting than the exhibits inside.

The north entrance to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
The IRS building.

One of the exhibits that I enjoyed was the inaugural dresses of the First Ladies of the United States.  It is always so interesting to me to see what people have worn in the past as well as getting an opportunity to see their stature.  I was struck with how tiny many of the dresses are.

Laura Bush’s inaugural ball gown.

The other area of the museum I found particularly interesting was the transportation exhibits.  I especially liked the 1401 Steam Locomotive. I think one reason I liked this locomotive is that it was not all black like most of the locomotives of that time.  The green really stands out.  It reminds me of something you would be more likely to see in Great Britain.

I recommend this museum to others.

An old locomotive appears ready to depart.
Hillary and her Buick.
A remnant of the Berlin Wall.
Remnants of the World Trade Center.
A World War II poster for defense bonds.
A salesman’s wagon.
Tyler “meeting” the Obamas and the Bidens…

Outside the museum, we walked to the White House, part of the Mall, and through the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

The White House.
The Washington Monument.
The United States Capitol in the distance.
A whale and whale skeletons in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
An elephant in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
Watch out below!!
Grabbing for dinner.

The next day, our destination was the charming Old Town area of Alexandria.  Some of the buildings date from the late 1700s.  One such building houses a Christmas store with multiple floors containing everything you can possibly imagine for Christmas decorating.  Some of the streets around these buildings are still cobblestone streets.  This adds to the charm of the area.

The Christmas Attic store.
The cobblestone charm that is Prince Street.

No visit to Old Town Waterfront is complete without a stroll through the Torpedo Factory Art Center.  This old torpedo factory houses numerous shops in which local artists showcase their work.  If money were no object, it would be fun to get a piece from each shop; however…

A staircase in the Torpedo Factory.
The symmetry of the lights in the Torpedo Factory.

As we walked along the waterfront we noticed a tall ship was docked.  As we got closer, we were able to see the Gazela from Philadelphia.  It was originally built in 1883.  It now sails up and down the east coast of the United  States.

Lastly, at the dock, there are several boats available to tourists from which one can explore the area from the water.  One such boat is the old paddlewheel, The Cherry Blossom. It is a very entertaining and enjoyable way to see some of the sights.

A Delta jet on final approach to Reagan National Airport.
The Cherry Blossom at dock.
A jet cruises above the boat.
The Gazela.
A jet passes the Gazela.