Category Archives: Adventures in driving

Say Wha…???

It’s time to pack my bags and close up shop.

Yes, you read that correctly. I’m going to shut things down here. There’s an entire household that needs packing and moving. My husband is retiring and we’re headed back across the country to our home state of Washington.

Say WA

That was the tourism slogan back in 2006. No, they didn’t ask me.   I prefer to say The Evergreen State.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me why we are moving. Cost of living is one reason. Every time friends here in Northern Virginia ask us to stay, I ask if they are offering to pay half our mortgage. That pretty much ends the conversation!
Another reason for going is family. Nearly all of our extended family lives in Washington, and my mother’s illness and death solidified the desire to be closer.  My two oldest boys have chosen to attend college there and seeing your kids once in 9 months is too long to be apart at this stage of the game — at least according to this mama!  Of course, the weather is a factor. I can’t get away from this hot, humid summer fast enough! And finally, throughout my husband’s career, Washington State has remained home to us. We grew up there, we attended college there, we met and married there. Two of our children were born there. We have kept our residency status with our driver licenses and our absentee voting ballots. We even managed to be posted there twice during the past 21 years.

But if you need more reasons, I’ll try to help you with a few images:


This lovely photograph of the famous 14,410 foot peak was taken by a family friend.

And it’s not just  Mt. Rainier that is so wonderful. Washington is full of mountains, with two mountain ranges (Cascade and Olympic). Here are the Olympic Mountains over Puget Sound at dusk.
[click to embiggen]

Puget Sound is nice, but there’s more than just salt water. Washington has over 8,000 lakes and ponds. The Columbia River powers the region with several hydroelectric dams, the most famous one being the Grand Coulee Dam. If you don’t already know about it, go ahead and click the link and be amazed!

But maybe you don’t like water or glacier-covered peaks. Would you like a volcano? Mt. St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980 (she was a pain in the ash, as they say) and has been politely burping and letting off steam ever since.
And of course there is plenty of hiking and camping to be enjoyed.

I will return to blogging, although perhaps not in this particular spot in the internet. I’ve got some changes in mind but they aren’t quite ready for publication. Please keep me in your reader/feed or somehow on your radar. I’ll post the new link when I get my act together again.
I will be back in some form or other, hopefully by September, and I’ll be blogging from this place:

♥KC

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Where I’ve been lately

Manassas, first Battle of Bull Run with the 10th Virginians

Manassas, the Battle of Bull Run 

Battle of Bull Run, Manassas

Arlington National Cemetery, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Arlington National Cemetery

Carter at Arlington

Pentagon 9/11 Memorial

Pentagon 9/11 Memorial

“Pssst! Phil, it’s not worth it!”

They closed school this morning for freezing drizzle, so I put myself in a 3 hour time-out until I could safely be around children. They had school last Monday, then no school the rest of the week. They had school yesterday (Monday) and right not it isn’t looking promising for tomorrow. We live in the path of the ice storm.  (I just got back from this week’s emergency milk run.)

If the groundhog sees his shadow tomorrow, it will be due to camera lights and flash bulbs.

More than a dusting

It’s a good thing I love snow, because this is what we received in less than 8 hours yesterday. While many folks were trying to drive home from work. And the highways were closed because of accidents.

My cat hadn’t been outside for DAYS and she got all excited when I opened the back door for a photograph. It didn’t take long for her to change her mind. It turns out that sitting on the heat vent is the best way to spend her winter.

What's that? Cleo outside... brieflyCleo says, I'm coming in!On Monday it was so cold that the rhododendron leaves were curled up as tightly as possible (apparently they don’t like 15F). Wednesday morning they were dripping with freezing drizzle. When that stopped, I rushed out to Costco for another 5 gallons of milk (we were down to our last half-gallon) and eggs (down to the last 3) and bread (we went through an entire loaf at lunch yesterday).

For some idiotic reason, businesses that employ thousands of people did not allow them to go home at lunchtime yesterday. At 3pm or so, when the THUNDERSNOW hit (real word, people), everyone thought, Oh, I’d better head home before it gets bad. Unfortunately, it was already bad. And then it got worse. Many people were stuck in traffic for 7 or 8 hours. Roads closed. Cars died. Traffic did not move.  I was so very grateful that my husband had previously scheduled to take the day off. That way he was here to fill the bird feeder…

… and shovel snow.  😛
Waiting now for the snowplow to dig out our neighborhood. It might be a while.

School has been out for a couple of days now (one of those days was the semester break). With everyone at home –and it being newsletter week as well– I am terribly behind on writing and reading blogs. I hope return to normal by next week.

Iced Super Cookies

This is what the roads looked like at 11 o’clock this morning…

I had to drive slowly, keeping plenty of space around  my car due to flying platters of ice randomly flying off the roofs of other vehicles.
[side note: I love parking in the garage. No scraping necessary.]
The chunks of ice splintered spectacularly when they hit the ground.

But at least that gave me plenty of time to listen to NPR and learn how smart-phone apps are gathering plenty of information on other people. I say other people, because I don’t have a smart phone.  (I consider myself lucky to even have limited texting capabilities. Hello, I’m Kcinnova and I live in the 20th century.) But if I ever do get a smart phone, I think I’m going to name it “Big Brother.”

Yes, your apps are watching you. Not a big deal, really — just gathering information such as your user password, contacts, age, gender, location, phone ID, and phone number.  The tracking device has been referred to as “super cookies.”  According to the Wall Street Journal, “These phones don’t keep secrets. They are sharing this personal data widely and regularly.”  Just one more reason to believe that you can’t have your cake and eat it, too keep your cookies to yourself.

So what do you think? Do you have a smart phone? Does this concern you, or is it more of a “meh” reaction in today’s world of uber-shared information?

Musical Monday: Gravity

Here is a short video that I shot a few weeks ago, with the song “Gravity” by Shawn McDonald.
Yes, I know my windshield needed cleaning. I’d tried to do just that at a gas station, but the water looked nasty and the squeegee looked even worse.

Oh yes, I did!

We came, we saw, we rallied.

EB came with us

We read a lot of terrific signs.
[Click to embiggen any photos]

Americans for... oh, look! A puppy!

We did The Wave with the guys from Mythbusters.

And then we realized that we hadn’t seen a porta-potty and we were going to need one. The crowd was…. well, crowded! and we were too far away to see or hear clearly. So as politely as we could, we swam against the tide and headed for a museum.


A little dose of FEAR…

Hey, the Newseum!

It was awesome.  Inside the lobby is a ginormous viewing screen which was showing the live coverage of the rally on the Comedy Central channel.  And there were already a bunch of other people who had the same idea.  They were cheering and clapping. (Not for us — for Jon and Stephen and guests.) It was like being at the rally, only less crowded and with clean bathrooms.  Although with the cost of admission, they were pretty expensive bathrooms.

From the windows and an upper story balcony, we could see the mass of people at the rally…

and those attempting to be at the rally. This is a view of a side street clogged with folks still trying to get in. But they were there. It counts.

Also, we had time to visit a real section of the Berlin Wall and a guard tower (only one in the USA and one of the few remaining left in the world — the rest were destroyed in the past 20 years).

After the rally was over, we headed back to the Mall for more photos of signs and a chance to photograph the [empty] stage.

porta-pottiesOh, look! The porta-potties we failed to find earlier in the afternoon —->

I  strongly suspect that the bathrooms at the Newseum were much nicer, even if we did have to pay a pretty penny to get into the building.

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I’ve been asked why I went. Why would someone who admittedly doesn’t like crowds willingly go to a rally on the Washington Mall? What made me desire to be there?
Here, in part, is the answer I gave to a few friends on facebook:

I hadn’t really thought of it so much of being part of something big — although it certainly was! — but more a matter of standing up in support of what Jon Stewart was saying when he announced the rally. The whole idea of there being a small but LOUD minority drowning out reason, when really there *is* a large, quiet, and mostly reasonable majority out there — a majority that doesn’t agree on political issues but who also don’t think shouting is the way to get your point across. When Jon said, “If you are wondering, am I really the type to go to a rally? The very fact that you are asking that question…The answer is YES.” …that  got my attention.
The really wonderful thing, besides the huge show of support from the 200,000 people who showed up (hello, there ARE decent people on both sides!), was that everyone was just so NICE that day.   I was a little worried about the political climate there, because I am rather moderate  –neither extreme pleases me– and I have always voted independent of any political party, but there was no bashing of parties or individuals (well, fun was poked at Sarah Palin on some of the signs, but how can you NOT poke fun at her? She sort of begs for it. And there were a number of costumes with tea bags prominently featured).
All in all, Civility was the rule of the day.
That is what I observed in person.

Perhaps a part of me wanted to be a part of something big in Washington, D.C., while I was still living here — but only in pleasant weather.
Ultimately,  I went because I wanted to stand up and be counted as a voice of reason.

It was a beautiful day.

Smithsonion Castle

And then we walked all the way back to the parking garage at George Washington University in Foggy Bottom, loaded our tired bodies into the car and got into the mass of traffic to go home…

…where we watched the entire event that I had wisely recorded. It was the best of both worlds.  I can proudly say I WAS THERE but I could also enjoy watching the entire 3 hours of everything I’d missed being able to see… all while laying on the couch in my pajamas  and resting my aching feet.

Vacation, day 5: After the storm

Sunrise on the Eastern Shore of Maryland

With daylight, we could see how well our camping structures had fared through the night.  Others were not so fortunate.

The people who were camping here had left more than an hour before the arrival of the storm. They came back to loss and destruction. I’m not sure how 3 people slept in that tent last night, or if they gave up like others and got a motel room.

Beautiful green pavilion in background -- destroyed

I credit my husband’s wisdom and skill that we still have a canopy, tent and a “screen house.”  I also must credit my oldest son, who spent the entire storm inside the empty, dark tent. He held the sides up, pushing back against the wind.  It wasn’t a fun experience for him. In fact, he was (understandably) angry that we were laughing while he was inside the tent not knowing what was happening outside.  All he could hear was the booming of the wind and our shouts and laughter while he was doing his best to keep the tent from collapsing.

By 7am, we were breaking camp and loading up the vehicles. Everything wet and sandy went into the rig with the bikes and boogie boards. (The canopy, tent, and “screen house” would be set up to dry at home.) Everything dry-ish and clean-ish went into the van.
We said goodbye to the ponies…


click on any picture to enlarge

And then we drove to Ocean City, MD, to find a hot breakfast.  “Bambi” –our GPS– told us to turn left onto Boardwalk. We were driving at the time.

We aren’t boardwalk kind of people, and there really wasn’t any decent place to take a grubby family for breakfast there anyway.  (And by decent I mean inexpensive good food.) But look what we found a few blocks away!

They didn’t just serve donuts and coffee… we were able to get a good, hot breakfast (eggs! toast! bacon! pancakes!) before tackling the long drive home.

It almost made the grouchy ones forgive us for making them ride through the storm at the campsite instead of safely in a building.

And then we drove across  the Bay Bridge.


*Bridge photos taken by the front seat passenger, NOT the driver!

It was scarier driving the other direction on Monday.

Home again, home again, jiggity jig!

Vacation: the first day

Before summer ends
And a boy goes to college
Take a vacation

We were lucky to stay in this lovely house for free! It belongs to the estate of a friend’s mother who sadly passed away this year. And if you want to purchase a waterfront house in Southern Maryland near Jane’s Island State Park, I’m more than happy to share the Realtor link.  The master bedroom suite is the entire second floor… oh, the views!!

For the first time ever, we took both vehicles on vacation. It worked so well it may just happen again! Two people drove/rode in the Honda Element, where we stashed boogie boards for the beach and bikes to share on the pathways. We also managed to use it to haul the camping supplies for later in the week. The other 4 of us rode in the minivan with all the rest of the stuff a family needs for a week away.

SuperDad grilled burgers, which we ate on the deck — mine included grilled summer squash and provolone cheese melted on top:  heaven!  — while we enjoyed the incredible sunset view.

Just floating along

SuperDad has the day off, and what a beautiful day it is! This morning he parked his donkey (that’s what he calls his Honda Element) near a river access and then we drove upriver about 3 miles to put in the raft.
Yes, that is a cat food tub; no, they are not taking cat food! It’s where they are storing provisions to keep them dry.

rafting on the Potomac

SuperDad and SnakeMaster will enjoy a few hours floating down the river today.

heading downriver from Harper's Ferry

Hopefully they will be home before supper!

Potomac River at Brunswick, MD

This is where they will end their trip.

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I enjoyed a lovely drive along the river and took this video to share:

Sorry about the road noise — I had the windows open on this beautiful summer day!