Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Still Traveling

Day 2 of the visit started with a tour to a little known monument that Little Helen had arranged.  We went to Lincoln's Cottage, which has only been open since 2008. It's a little bit out of the way so not a lot of tourists even know about it but I can vouch that it's well worth the trip! We even had a private tour inside the cottage.

Lincoln's Cottage is the Civil War equivalent of a Summer White House and was where President Lincoln drafted and worked on the Emancipation Proclamation.  The family had suffered the death of their eleven year old son Willie and his wife desperately wanted to take their other two sons out of Washington, DC and away from the White House so that they could have quiet time to grieve.  Though it is only 3 miles away, back then that was a horse and carriage ride and of course things were not developed so it was through the woods.  In other words far enough away for them to have the time away that they needed.  Evidently back in those days, citizens could just walk up to the White House and ask to see the President.  Can you even imagine that now?

The cottage is located on the grounds of what is now known as Armed Forces Retirement Home but used to known as the Old Soldier's Home, which was established in 1851.  The campus and grounds are still active and are home to several hundred retired veterans.  No photos were allowed inside so exterior shots it is. Once again, do click on the pics to make them larger - and the links so you can read more in depth about our wonderful country's history!

 This statue of Lincoln is life-size.  He was 6'4" or 7 feet when he was wearing his hat.

We had gotten a late start so after leaving the cottage we went to eat at a BBQ place called Hill Country. There are only two of these in the USA:  one in New York City and one in Washington, DC. [Texas style BBQ in honor of all my TX bloggy peeps.) Oh my goodness, the BBQ was the bomb!  They sell the items by the pound so we were able to buy 1 rib, a few slices of brisket, 1 sausage, etc.  Once again we shared everything. We were absolutely delighted with the almost gallon-sized mason jars of iced tea LOL!  We were hot and thirsty after our tour.

Then it was time to go have the first meetup with my Sparkpeople friends so we hurried back to Little Helen's apartment to get cleaned up and go off to Happy Hour! We met at Oya which is known for it's happy hour sushi rolls.  At first I was skeptical but they actually do sushi rolls that have no fish and no seaweed.  They were actually delicious.  But more than that I got to meet up with two of my Sparkpeople friends who I haven't seen in 4 years.

It's been so long since we've seen each other the woman closest to the camera in this shot has had two kids and is expecting her third since we last saw each other.  Yes, she's had them close together but still, it's like her whole life has changed.

We have a tradition that we take a "loser" shot and it gets sent to anyone in the group who didn't make it to the reunion.

It was a great reunion and we were having so much fun that I forgot to take a photo of the sushi rolls.  What a great way to end my second day in DC!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Doing A 180 Travels

I'm not trying to turn Doing A 180 into a travelogue but that's what I've been doing in the month of May.  Please bear with me as I document my latest trip to meet up with old Sparkpeople friends, meet a blogging friend and have some time with Little Helen.  These posts will be photo heavy so that's good as I've never been a very good writer. Do yourself a favor and click on the photos so you can see them larger.

It seems appropriate that my latest trip was to our nation's capital where there are many, many memorials and reminders that freedom isn't free and we owe a debt of gratitude to those who have given their lives to give us our lives.


I knew that Laurie (who used to blog at Feeling Good Inside and Out) lived in the greater DC area so I contacted her and asked if she could meet.  Little Helen recommended a particular coffee house in Arlington, VA as a good place to be able to sit and and chat so literally 1 1/2 hours after I got off the plane, I was cleaned up and off to meet Laurie! The time together certainly was not long enough but I figured out that Laurie doesn't have time to blog much anymore - she's college hunting with her oldest child, running the other two around to other activities and has opened her own business.  Not only was I happy to meet her in real life, but I was thrilled to find out that she is a genuine, sweet human being.   Hopefully someday soon we'll be able to meet again!

After that meetup, Little Helen came to get me and we went to the Italian Store, also in Arlington.  She took me there the first time I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 2004 and it has become a must go to place for us.  Not only is it chock full of Italian products but they have a sandwich counter that makes the meanest Italian sandwiches you could ever want.  My mouth was literally watering at the thought of having one (hey - it's been four years)!

After we dropped the items we'd purchased, we headed out to walk off our sandwiches and do a bit of sightseeing.  Lots of photos here and I think you can tell what most of these things are, so I won't go into detail but if you have questions, ask in the comments!

We walked along the Potomoc to go back towards the Smithsonians.

 Looked down and this mama duck and her babies were swimming along - so cute!

The Museum of American History is probably my most favorite, with the National Art Gallery running a close second.

The museum has a display of our First Ladies' clothing dating back very early.  It was interesting to notice how tiny in stature the first First Ladies were.  They were positively petite.

Mrs. Obama's Inaugural Ball Gown!  

There was also a display about Thomas Jefferson and slavery.  He really was against slavery but couldn't seem to figure out how to stop participating.  The ancestors of that time, both his and the slaves, have kept this history alive and it was fascinating to see what happened to the slave families and where their descendants are today.

The wall behind the statue of Jefferson contains all the names of the slaves that he owned - over 600!  What made this so interesting is that so many of the slaves only had 1 name.

After all that sightseeing we went back to Little Helen's apartment and got cleaned up then walked to dinner to an adorable restaurant right around the corner from her place.

Their specialty is small plates of food and flights of wine.  The flights of wine consist of 3 glasses, which are really tastings that are probably the equivalent of one and half glasses of wine.  We ordered several things and it was super fun to share and get lots of tastes!

I loved how they brought the flight of wine!


Smoked salmon (Little Helen's - I don't eat it) with a potato cake with horseradish cream.  You can also see the truffled eggs we got, which are all the rage in the DC area right now.

Macaroni and cheese with smoked bacon.  Oh My YUM.

After all that sightseeing and all that delicious food, I slept like a log.  Can you believe that was only the first day?!

Happy Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuesday Ten: Photographic Evidence

Here's the photo travelogue you've patiently been waiting for Debby.

10. Marigot Market.  Marigot is the capital of the French side of St. Martin.  The market appeals to both tourists for the souvenir/trinket stalls and art galleries, and to locals for the fresh fish, spices, and fruits and vegetables that can be purchased there.

9.  Sights around Grand Case:  came across this guy cleaning conch on the dock. Notice the lime to the right of the photo.  That's because he was about to eat some of it.  Talk about fresh sushi!

8.  Sign at Baie Rouge.  Notice at the bottom it says "nudity prohibited."  By that they mean complete nudity because toplessness is allowed at all French side beaches!

7. Sights around Grand Case:  Lobster Tank outside a restaurant, delicious gelato & ice cream made right there, school children on a field trip

6.  There's a small regional airport in Grand Case.  You can get tiny planes to other islands.  I was lucky enough to catch one about to land when I was out taking pictures one morning.

5.  We had encounters with pets too.  The dog, whose name is Au Lait, lives at the Grand Case Beach Club.  He's a good dog and you can tell he thinks he owns the property because he sits right in the middle of the road and won't move even for cars.  One night when we were eating at the Lolo (local grill) all of a sudden this kitty jumped right onto the bench next to me.  Next thing we knew, she just climbed in my lap.  She was so warm and purry and sweet I didn't want to leave.  Mean Mr. Helen made me and said, "NO PETS!"

4. A bird's nest sitting right in a cactus. As I took this photo, the little bird actually flew out right at me.  Mr. Helen thought that was pretty funny.

3. So many gorgeous, gorgeous flowers and plants and cactus.  So much beauty all around, it was hard to decide whether to look at the water or the land.

2.  Grand Case Boulevard where all the fancy restaurants are.  In the evening, people walk up and down here and look at the restaurant menus to decide where they want to eat.  The restaurant on the left, Le Cottage, is our favorite and where we always eat our last meal.  C'est magnifique!

1.  Finally, the food!