Friday, May 29, 2015

Photos on Friday: Nationals vs. Phillies May 23, 2015

Today's Photos on Friday post takes us to Nationals Park. Last weekend, on a whim, we went to the ballpark to see if we could get tickets for the ballgame. The game was pretty much a sellout, however, we were able to get standing room only tickets. This was a new experience for us, but we had a great time.

Here are some photos from the game (Nationals lost 8-1).

Stephen Strasburg on the mound

Bryce Harper and his shadow in right field

Overall, not a bad view with a standing room only ticket

Not his best start, Strasburg is seen leaving the mound as Manager Matt Williams talks to the other infielders

Thursday, May 28, 2015

10 fun facts about the Jefferson Memorial you might not know

The Jefferson Memorial is a quite prominent monument on the National Mall, probably one of the most recognized landmarks. 

Thomas Jefferson Memorial Washington DC in the spring
Jefferson Memorial with cherry blossom reflections
Surprisingly, this monument is not as old as you might think. The memorial was commissioned by Congress in 1934. One unique aspect of this monument is that its design is influenced by Thomas Jefferson's personal tastes. (Did you know Jefferson was passionate about design and an architect in his own right?)

According to the National Park Service (NPS), it "echoes" Jefferson's own designs, Monticello (his home in Charlottesville) and the University of Virginia Rotunda. The Jefferson Memorial's style is Classical Revival and is based on the Pantheon in Rome.

Want to know more? Here are 10 additional fun facts about the Jefferson Memorial you may or may not know.

Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin in Washington DC
View of the Jefferson Memorial from atop the Washington Monument with Virginia in the background

10 fun facts about the Jefferson Memorial

1. The Jefferson Memorial was built by John Russell Pope. Pope passed away in 1937 in the midst of the project. The monument was finished by Daniel P. Higgins and Otto R. Eggers with some modifications in its design, notes NPS. The memorial's cornerstone was laid in 1939.

2. The statue of Jefferson in the center of the memorial stands 19 feet tall and weighs 5 tons. It was designed by Rudolph Evans.

Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC
The statue of Thomas Jefferson inside of the memorial is impressive

3. The original statue was made of plaster but was updated after the end of World War II. At that time, the statue was renovated and reconstructed in bronze. 

4. The Jefferson Memorial was dedicated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on a very fitting April 13, 1943. Why this date? On this day, Jefferson would have been 200 years old.

5. This monument stands on the southern end of the National Mall and is placed in a direct line of the White House.
6. The dome of the Jefferson Memorial is 165 feet in diameter and contains 26 pillars.

7. There were a couple of controversies surrounding the building of this monument. One was the actual design being criticized which resulted in some modifications as noted in fact #1. The second was the removal of some of the iconic cherry blossom trees, which were gifted to the United States in 1912. 

Thomas Jefferson Memorial Washington DC
Today there are still many cherry trees to be found all around the Tidal Basin, but at the time of build, the removal of some trees was a big controversy.

8. Overall, the cost to build the Jefferson Memorial would turn out to be more than $3 million.

9. Marble from four different states was used in the Jefferson Memorial's construction. The marble came from Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee, and Vermont. 

10. About 2 million visitors stop by the Jefferson Memorial each year. This memorial is open 24 hours a day, with a Park Ranger available to answer questions from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

While well-known, the Jefferson Memorial does physically stand a bit away from many of the other monuments. Because the memorial is situated along a very busy road, it's not the easiest of monuments to walk to like those in the center of the mall, but there are a couple of good routes to get you there (the path along the Tidal Basin is a really nice walk).

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed these fun facts. If you are looking for more fun facts about the many Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia landmarks, such as the White House, I invite you to use the search feature to the right of this blog post. 

Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin at sunrise
Jefferson Memorial at sunrise (March 2017)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Photos on Friday: Big cats at the National Zoo

Today's Photos on Friday visits the National Zoo. It's been a while since I've been there and hoping to take a ride this summer (I've been itching to the see the giant pandas, the baby will already be 2 this year!)

These are photos of the big cats housed at the National Zoo. These photos are a little older, at least 5 years.
This cat definitely had his eye on us!

So majestic

Thursday, May 21, 2015

2015 summer fairs in Northern Virginia

During the warmer months, many events in Northern Virginia come to life. Between all the cultural festivals, museum events and county fairs, there is lots to see and do, and Northern Virginia hosts some of the biggest County Fairs in the state. Here are a few that are coming up:

Celebrate Fairfax:  Each year Fairfax County puts on several great events, a popular one is “Celebrate Fairfax”. Fun for all ages, Celebrate Fairfax has the typical “carnival” attractions, such as rides and food, but it also offers several performances and special presentations. And a whole lot more. It runs for 3 days, Friday to Sunday, starting June 5. 2015 marks its 34th year. More details on this one in my post from last week.

Loudoun County Fair: The fair is a large annual event and will open on July 27 and run through Aug. 1, 2015 There is plenty to see and do including live entertainment contests, a demolition Derby, concerts, performers, lots of animals, a Carnival Midway and more. There are lots of daily events, fun for all ages listed, just check out the fair's website. At time of writing, it looks like the schedule is still being finalized. The fairgrounds are located at 17558 Dry Mill Road, Leesburg, Va.

The Fairfax County 4-H Fair and Frying Pan Farm Park Show will run from July 30 to Aug. 1, 2015. This annual fair takes showcases all kinds of entertainment, including animal shows,

various exhibits, music, contests, rides and more. The fun takes place at Frying Pan Farm Park, located on 2709 West Ox Rd in Herndon. You can learn more about daily events everything else fair-related at the designated 4H website. 2015 marks the event's 67th year!

Arlington County Fair will run from Aug. 5 to Aug. 9, 2015. Last year the admission to this fair was free and there was also a shuttle service priced at $2 per adult round trip (children under 12 and seniors were free). The fun usually includes entertainment, family-oriented events, sports, carnival rides, music, dancing and more, both indoor and outdoor events. The fair takes place at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center, located at 3501 South Second St., in Arlington.   

The Prince William County Fair is scheduled from Aug. 14 to Aug. 22, 2015. This fair is now in its 66th year. Its origins were seeded by a group of WWII veterans who sought to promote Prince William's agricultural industry. The fair bills itself as Virginia's largest county fair. It looks like this year, like previous years, will have lots of events on the calendar. The action takes place at 10624 Dumfries Rd, Rt. 234, Manassas, Va. You can visit the Prince William County Fair website for more information regarding admission, parking and more. 
While agriculture in the region has declined as the growth continues to move west from the District, but the history and popularity of this event live on.

If you're looking for some family fun as the summer passes the mid-way point and begins to wind down, these are some great events in Northern Virginia to consider.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Memorial Day in D.C.: Honoring those who gave their all

Every year in the United States, Memorial Day is commemorated on the last Monday of each May. Designated as a federal holiday, it was originally intended to be a day to honor and remember the many brave and selfless individuals who have died while serving their nation. Unfortunately, over time, the true meaning of Memorial Day seems to have gotten lost. Memorial Day has evolved into a day where commercialism reigns.

But it's not just the sales. Memorial Day has also evolved into the "official" launch of the summer season. Beaches and pools open, many people throw parties, go to barbeques or head off on a mini-vacation to soak up the sun.  

As a result, the true meaning behind Memorial Day often is secondary. However, there are still many communities across the nation that do plan special events to commemorate the many brave individuals who served in the U.S. military. Washington, D.C. has many events. Every year many commemorations and ceremonies take place that honor and pay respect to those who have given their all. 

World War II Memorial
World War II Memorial

Wreath-laying ceremonies take place at many of the war and service memorials on the National Mall and throughout the city. In Arlington Cemetery there is a ceremony at the Memorial Amphitheater and also a tribute is held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Please keep in mind you'll need to get there early and go through security. Arlington Cemetery is located just across the Potomac River from D.C., minutes away.

Changing of the Guard at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Soldier stands during The Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery

Every year Rolling Thunder plans its annual ride commencing at the Pentagon, crossing the Potomac and ending in Washington. This happens on Sunday, however, riders arrive in town before this and hold other memorial events starting Friday night. Hundreds of thousands will come from across the country to take part and honor POWs and MIAs. Every year actor Gary Sinise also hosts the Memorial Day Concert on Sunday evening to honor service members (the concert is usually also televised on PBS).

Traditionally, at 2 p.m. on Monday, the annual Memorial Day parade takes place along Constitution Avenue. This was a tradition begun in 2005, and many people come together to pay respects, honor and remember those who sacrificed so much. (If you want a good place to view, plan to get there early).

Float at July 4 parade in Washington, D.C.

On the outskirts of D.C., other ceremonies and parades are also scheduled. For instance, every year Falls Church (Virginia) holds its Annual Memorial Day Parade and Festival.  

While there is nothing wrong with celebrating the weekend with family and friends, and having a good time over the long weekend, let us all please remember to take a moment to honor and reflect upon those self-sacrificing individuals who have served and do currently serve in the military. 

Thank you to all the individuals who have selflessly served their country with courage.  

You are not forgotten.
"We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies."
                                    ~ Moina Michael, 1915

Arlington Cemetery
Arlington Cemetery

Note: This post is an adaptation of a post originally published by myself at Digital Journal in May 2012 and last year on my blog.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Photos on Friday: Sights around Oatlands Plantation

Living out in Northern Virginia, there are a lot of historic grand homes which have been preserved and opened to the public to learn and enjoy. Oatlands Plantation is one property I have always found interesting. As I'm in the midst of planning a trip back, I wanted to dedicate this week's Photos on Friday to some sights seen around Oatlands Plantation.

[ Related reading: A more detailed post I wrote last year about Oatlands ]

I liked the way this entrance looked as it intrigued me. The reflection was a bonus!

This amazing tree is located on the grounds of Oatlands

Viewing Oatlands through the trees on a pretty spring day

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Reasons to hop over to Alexandria when visiting D.C.

Many of Washington D.C.'s attractions are located in nearby Northern Virginia, which is literally across the Potomac in close proximity to downtown. While there are many attractions which span west and south of the District, Alexandria is almost a hop, skip and a jump, easily accessible by Metro. If you're in town for longer than a weekend and want to venture a bit outside the district's borders, I highly recommend a visit.

The local apothecary was actively run by the same family from 1792 until the depression hit. The owners locked the doors and walked away. Incredibly preserved.
The historic Old Town Alexandria I find to be amazing. I am fascinated with this area of Northern Va. While the city was officially founded in 1749, the story goes back further. In my experience growing up in the Northeast U.S., many places tended to quip "George Washington slept here" as their claim to fame. And, perhaps, he really did. In many cases, we'll never know.

Alexandria, Va., however, is truly a place George Washington indeed frequented, owned property, dined, worshipped and did business. 

Washington family pew at Christ Church Alexandria
Marker on the Washington family pew at Christ Church (marker was relocated by the church in 2017)

Whether you're seeking food, culture, history or just a relaxing time, Old Town has it all. Some of the best little museums reside in Old Town Alexandria. You can drive into Virginia from downtown (but truthfully, traffic can be a bear) or hop the Metro. If you get off the Blue or Yellow Line at King Street, you can walk the 1 to 1.5 miles down to the riverfront or there is a free trolley that will take you there.  

Carlyle House, built in the 1750s, beautifully restored after having neared ruin

Visitors can learn about this history through the free and inexpensive tours and landmarks located throughout Old Town Alexandria. Many of the museum and landmark tours cost between $2 and $5 each, if not free. 

Visitors can learn less frequently heard stories and history when visiting places such as Carlyle House, Christ Church, Fort Ward, Gadsby's Tavern, Torpedo Factory, Old Presbyterian Meeting House, Lyceum, Friendship Firehouse, Freedom House Museum, and the amazing Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum. 

These are only a handful of affordable places which await in Alexandria. Additionally, there are literally tons of great restaurants and shops spread throughout the city, in Old Town and the Del Ray neighborhoods  (the latter is on my list of places to explore!)