Monday, July 28, 2014

Carlyle House’s rich history is preserved and shared with the public

The Carlyle House Historical Park is a museum located in Old Town Alexandra. This museum is a former home, built and owned by John Carlyle, who was a British merchant and one of the original settlers who was instrumental in Alexandria's establishment.

This grand house has an interesting history due to its uniqueness in architecture for the region during that era. It was truly innovative for its time, having been built entirely of stone modeled after European homes of distinction in Scotland which reflected John Carlyle's heritage.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Photos on Friday: The Natural Bridge

This trip is a bit off the beaten path from DC and Northern Virginia, but it is too beautiful of a place not to write about. 

Ever since I've moved to Virginia (close to 10 years now), I've always wanted to travel downstate to visit The Natural Bridge. Finally, this month the opportunity arose and we made a stop to see the beautiful handiwork of Mother Nature during our travel downstate. We only were able to stay a couple of hours, but it was well worth it.

The Natural Bridge, Virginia
Visitors walk underneath the Natural Bridge. There is an active road that crosses the top, but driving over it, you'd never know what was below.

Natural Bridge in Virginia - The Lost River
This is the Lost River, which is located on a pathway beyond the Natural Bridge. The source of this water is unknown. 
The Natural Bridge can make a good day (or more likely better as) an overnight trip. There is also plenty to see and do along I-81 if you're looking to make a weekend out of it. You'll pass towns, such as Staunton and Strasburg, and Charlottesville or Luray Caverns aren't too far out of the way, to name a few ideas.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Visit to Burnside Farms - Summer of Sunflowers in Haymarket, Va.

Last month I wrote about Burnside Farms' upcoming Summer of Sunflowers. The time has arrived. I was reading on their Facebook page this week would be a good one to stop by so made the trip out to Haymarket, Va.

Beautiful day out on the farm and the sunflowers were gorgeous! Lots of different varieties were in bloom and the bees were steadily at work (as an aside Burnside makes really good honey...)

Here are some photos taken today: 

Summer of Sunflowers Burnside Farms
One of the sunflower sections full of gorgeous color

Many bees were busy working during our visit

Summer of Sunflowers - Burnside Farms

I'm told there are still a good couple of weeks for blooming, so there's still time to stop by if in the area.
  • $3 for a single day Sun Pass
  • $4 for unlimited re-entry Sun Pass (kids under 2 years are free)
  •  Sunflowers are $1.50 per stem
Also, I was told to hold onto my Sun Pass and could get the $1 rate if I come back before the Summer of Sunflowers is over. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get back out that way before the event was over, but is good to know if you think you might want to come back.

Burnside Farms is located at 4905 James Madison Hwy. Parking is easy. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Experience 18th century farm life at the Claude Moore Colonial Farm

The Claude Moore Colonial Farm, located in McLean, Va., is a living history museum that highlights Northern Virginia farm life in the 18th century ─ the year 1771 to be exact. Unlike many of the grand homes in the area that have been restored and opened to the public, this museum portrays Colonial family life on a low-income farm, so it is a different perspective.

After paying admission, visitors can pass through the gatehouse shop and enter the grounds. You begin your walk through a path surrounded by woods and nature. Hard to believe the hustle and bustle of modern-day is very close by, when walking to the farm area, you do feel as if you are transported back in time, rather than being just a few miles from the Beltway.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

A walking tour is a great way to explore Old Town Alexandria

When visiting a destination, one of the best ways to really get to know a city is
to take advantage of a walking tour in lieu of a bus tour. Hitting the pavement really gives a unique opportunity to see landmarks up close and really get a feel of history through firsthand experience.

Alexandria, Va., a wonderful historical city located just outside of Washington D.C., offers a number of tours. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Photos on Friday: Space Shuttle Discovery and Shuttle Enterprise nose to nose

In 2012 I was thrilled to be able to have the opportunity to go to the Smithsonian's Air & Space Museum in Chantilly (Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center) on the day Space Shuttle Discovery arrived to be moved into the museum.

The first day, on its final voyage, the shuttle had arrived atop a modified Boeing 747.

The following day the transfer ceremony took place as NASA charged the Smithsonian with the care of Discovery. Shortly after this day, Enterprise made her way to New York's Intrepid Museum and Discovery took her place in the hangar. 

Here are a couple of images from that amazing day:

Shuttle Enterprise and Space Shuttle Discovery nose to nose
Space Shuttles Enterprise and Discovery come nose to nose in a historic moment in April 2012

Discovery crew members attended the ceremony and here was when the astronauts arrived on stage

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cultural and ethnic festivals in the Washington DC area (2014)

Summertime brings a number of local cultural events and ethnic festivals to the
Washington, D.C. Metro area. The diversity represented in the area is highlighted during the year through celebration. Here are a few of the upcoming events which will be taking place throughout the region over the next couple of months:

German Festival: The 114th Maryland German Festival takes place on Sat., July 26 from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sun., July 27 from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Maryland State Fairgrounds, 2200 York Rd, Timonium. This event features German entertainment, food and drink. There is an admission fee for this event which is $8 adults, $6 seniors, Active Military $6; children 12 and under are admitted free with a paid adult ticket. 

Peruvian Festival: This annual event takes place on Sun., July 27 in Arlington at the Gunston Arts Center, located at 2700 S. Lang Street. This event honors Peru's day of Independence (July 28th) and features Peruvian dance, music and food. This is an annual event, but I had a bit of trouble finding details this year, other than on this calendar listed by Arlington Democrats. In previous years, this event was free.

African American Heritage Festival: For 23 years this festival has been taking place in Prince William County on the first Saturday in August. This year's African American Culture Arts Festival takes place in Manassas at Metz Middle School on Sat., Aug. 2, 2014 and will run from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. According to the official website, this year's event will feature 125 exhibitors, entertainment (see schedule) a classic car show, games for the kids and much more. Admission to the festival is free.

2014 Irish Festival in Alexandria: This annual event takes place on Sat., Aug. 9, 2014 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Alexandria's waterfront park (1A Prince Street). Visitors can experience Irish culture including arts and crafts, food, refreshments, cultural dance and entertainment. This is an event open to all ages and entrance to the event is free. Proceeds go to support the annual St. Patrick's Day parade in March.

Annual Pakistan Festival: Now in its 28th year, this increasingly popular event takes place this year at Bull Run Regional Park, Centreville, Va. on Sun., Aug. 24, 2014.  Visitors can expect lots of traditional Pakistani food, folk music and more. Admission and parking for this event is free. You can learn more on the Pakistan Festival USA website.

Annual Cambodian Community Day Festival: This festival will be a celebration of Cambodian culture, which will showcase folk and classical dance performances, live music, traditional foods and entertainment for the kids. You can learn more about the event on the Cambodian Community Day website. 

KORUS Festival: This annual event takes place in 2014 from Fri., Sept. 19 to Sun., Sept 21 at Bull Run Regional Park. Run by the 
Taken at KORUS 2012
Korean American Association of Washington Metropolitan Area, a
weekend full of fun, food, music and more throughout the days and nights. For entertainment, Friday is listed as "singles night", Saturday as "family day"  and Sunday as "cultural day" (all are family-friendly though in my experience). Activities for the kids too.

September also brings the Reston Multicultural Festival. The 2014 festival takes place on Sat., Sept. 27, 2014 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. This is an annual event, now in its 14th year, which celebrates the diversity represented in the community. Attendees are encouraged to come dressed in attire to represent their own cultural background. There will be entertainment, music, dress, food and anything related to cultural diversity. The event takes place at the Lake Anne Village Center located at 1609-A Washington Plaza in Reston. Rain or shine! The event is free to all ages.

The annual Turkish Festival takes place on Sun., Sept. 28, 2014 from 11a.m. - 7 p.m. downtown in D.C. Now in its 12th year, the festival will culminate Turkish Cultural Heritage Month. The website doesn't seem to provide current information, other than a date, but you can check out last year's festivities.

While many of the cultural festivals in the area have already occurred (May is a big festival month), there are still lots of celebrations left this summer and the rest of the year throughout the Maryland, Northern Va. and Washington D.C. areas.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Reviews: Pop's Old Fashioned Ice Cream, Old Town Alexandria

Whether you're young, or young at heart, if you are simply a fan of ice cream, Pop's Old Fashioned Ice Cream Shop is a great choice. The store is located down in the heart of Old Town Alexandria, about a block from the riverfront at 109 King St.

If you enjoy and seek the ambiance of an old-time ice cream parlor, Pop's fits the bill.  

Not only is the shop reflective of a time long gone by, but the on-premises made ice cream tastes good too. On occasion, you can even see employees making the ice cream.

Pop's has the standard flavors and then some variety of unique flavors. I've been looking for a peanut butter ice cream flavor that rivals the one I had in Walt Disney World several years ago. Never been able to find anything remotely close. Well...Pop's had it! 

The other flavors the family tried were all good too, and the kids were already planning the flavors they were going to order on the next time around in Alexandria. The sprinkled cones were a big hit.

We'd first stumbled upon Pop's sometime around 2008-09, and any time we are in Old Town, we typically pay another visit.

The entire family gives Pop's Old-Fashioned Ice Cream a big thumbs up. A terrific spot to stop off and indulge in a cone or a cup!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Photos on Friday: Hummingbird moth at Mount Vernon

Starting this week every Friday (or most Fridays) I will post an image taken somewhere in Washington, D.C. or Northern Virginia, it might be a landmark, event, nature or other random photo. 

Mount Vernon, the home of General George and Martha Washington, has beautiful gardens with many flying critters fluttering about, however, this image was actually taken outside of the gift shop when I was leaving the property. I wasn't sure what this critter was, as I'd never seen one before, but after doing some Web searching, I believe it to be a hummingbird moth.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Air shows and events in the Washington DC metro area in 2014

In the DC area there are a lot of air shows that happen throughout the year. Some annual air shows have already passed, but there is still much more to come this 2014 season. From classic to military, many of these shows will highlight and showcase a variety of aircraft.

Vintage aircraft at a Northern Virginia Air show
Here's what's going on in the DC area this summer and fall:

Flying Circus Air Show

Every Sunday, the Flying Circus Air Show delights audiences with its air show from May through October. See vintage aircraft, parachute jumpers and "barnstorming".  The Flying Circus also offers special events each season. Coming up is a Wings & Wheels Car show taking place on July 13, 2014, and Aug. 16 and Aug. 17 the Flying Circus offers its annual Hot Air Balloon Festival. The weekly shows are fun for all ages and check their calendar for any other special events happening this season. The 2014 season runs through Oct. 26. The Flying Circus is located in Bealeton, Va.

Virginia Air Show and Air Show Week

This year's Virginia Air Show and Air Show Week runs from Sept. 8 to Sept 13. Taking place at the Front Royal-Warren County Airport, about 90 minutes from the District, this show offers events in the days leading up to the show (these I've not attended, but have attended the air show itself). According to the website, this year's features include military aircraft, hot air balloons, a gyro
Gyrocopter in 2012 at the Front Royal show
copter, barnstorming, air acrobatics, antique autos and more. The website  describes "many surprises are planned this year". The show itself is on Sept. 13 and runs from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. As an aside, the Flying Circus is also featured at this show.


Baltimore is hosting the "Star Spangled Spectacular" this year Sept. 10–16, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the U.S. National Anthem. There will be lots of events during the celebration, but also an air show on Sat., Sept. 13 and Sun., Sept 14 from 1 to 4 p.m. The Blue Angels will be making an appearance during these days.

Dulles Day Plane Pull

Every year the Dulles Day Plane Pull takes place in September. This Special Olympics fundraiser features teams of 25 people pulling a 164,000+ pound Airbus 12 at the fastest rate. There is also live music, a car show, aircraft display and other family fun. This year's event takes place on Sept. 20. See the official website for more details.

Leesburg Air Show

Now in its 5th year, the Leesburg Air Show takes place at the Leesburg Executive Airport. The show features demonstrations, exhibitions, acrobatics, aviation displays and much more, including a car show. The event takes place on Sept. 27.

Culpeper Air Fest

The annual Culpeper Air Fest is scheduled for Oct 11. Taking place in Brandy Station, Va. at the Culpeper Regional Airport, the day's fun includes several events such as air acrobatics, aircraft displays, airplane rides, wing-walking, games for the kids and much more. The gates open at 8 a.m.

Nearby air shows

These are a few events in the area such as the Oct. 18 Wings & Wheels Festival in Stafford, Va. and the Wings and Wheels Expo in nearby Hagerstown, Md. on
Vintage cars
Vintage cars
Sept. 21 (this air show takes place about 90 minutes from Fairfax County, Va.)

Unfortunately, the Andrews Air Show has reportedly been canceled for 2014 and, far as I can tell, future plans are up in the air.

It's a bit early now for some of these shows, but it's never too soon to plan. 

Another great show takes place each year in Manassas, typically in May. At this time I cannot find any information for the 2015 show, but definitely one to keep in mind. Below the U.S. Army Parachute Team, performing at the Manassas show, glides through the skies.

U.S. Army Parachute Team "Golden Knights"

U.S. Army Parachute Team "Golden Knights"