Aunt Denise’s Birthday

This past weekend was Aunt Denise’s birthday. She invited me (and a few other people) to go to the beach with her. I looked at the weather and decided there was no way I was going to let such a nice weekend pass me by, so I planned to take my motorcycle (initially, I thought I would take Tony’s since I figure it’s more comfortable for long trips, but it was broken, so I took mine after all).

I stopped a couple of times along the way to stretch out (I decided that a windshield would be nice for a trip that long) and it ended up taking around four hours to get to the beach. Saturday night, we (Aunt Denise, Aunt Darleen, Aunt Denise’s friend Erika, and I) drove out to the Bay Bridge Tunnel to take some pictures and watch the sun set. This is from the far side of the two tunnels.

Sunday morning, we walked on the beach for a little while before we headed home. The ride home was quite a bit chillier than the ride to the beach. The forecast said it was going to be cooler, but I had expected that since I would be riding back later in the day that it would be approximately the same. I was wrong. Aunt Darleen rode part of the way home, which I really appreciated, since my muscles were getting really stiff.

I was going to hang out with Dad on Sunday, but he wasn’t there when I got there. I rode my bike over to Nana’s and hung out with her and Aunt Darleen for a while. I rode the rest of the way home with Aunt Denise and picked up my bike this afternoon.

Of course, more pictures here.



This winter has been really mild. We’ve had a few cold days (30s for highs), but they were immediately followed by really warm days (highs in the 60s). This past weekend, we finally got some winter precipitation (although today is supposed to be nearly 60 again)! Saturday and Sunday, we got freezing rain and snow. It didn’t amount to much, but it was enough to make things look pretty.

We’d planned to drive up to the mountains to take pictures, but the fog was so thick, we would have done just as well to take pictures of a sheet of white paper. Ragged Mountain Natural Area isn’t too far from home, so when we got back to town, that’s where we went.

Ragged Mountain surrounds one of Charlottesville’s reservoirs. I thought it was a bit like this picture, from the trip Jean and I took to see Grandma and Grandpa in 2009. It was great that the water was calm enough to make the reflection so crisp.

I’m not sure I’ve thought of bobbers as Christmas tree ornaments. Guess that just goes to show that I don’t have enough imagination….

We wanted to make it to the gatehouse (you should be able to see a picture here), but we didn’t have time to get there and get out before it got dark. As it was, we were glad we’d turned around when we did.

More pictures here.

DC on My Own

Tony had a meeting in McLean, Virginia on Wednesday. He talked me into going with him and taking the Metro into DC while he had his meetings. I planned to go to the zoo and to the C&O Canal thing that’s up there (supposedly hooks into Great Falls somehow).

The first thing to make the trip less than fun was trying to figure out how to park at the metro. Apparently, a lot of the parking is only open to people who have SmarTrip cards. Well, I don’t have one of those and I don’t particularly want one, since I don’t plan to go to DC often. It took an hour and a few trips around the block (it was a very large block) to figure out where I could put the car. I almost went to another metro to try to find someplace to park, but on my last attempt (as I’d decided before I found the lot), I found a lot that let you pay cash. Finally!

I arrived in DC at 9:30 Wednesday morning. It was really cold and the one museum I wanted to go to didn’t open until 10:00. So, I walked down toward the the Washington and Lincoln memorials. The reflecting pool was closed(more information here), as was the Washington Monument (more information here).

Initially, I thought I would continue on to the C&O Canal site from there, but I was pretty cold. Since it was after 10:00, I returned to the National Museum of Natural History. I wandered around in there for a couple of hours. Tony and I went there fairly recently, so it wasn’t as interesting this time.

Around 1:30, I finally convinced myself to go up to the National Zoological Park. The creepiest part of the whole trip was going into and out of the metro stations near the zoo. The escalators were really noisy (moaning and groaning and creaking) and it was such a long way to the top (I didn’t even walk halfway up and counted 30+ stairs!).

The zoo was boring – most of the animals were hidden – and frustrating – like a lot of people, I’m not terribly impressed with their living conditions.

The animals in the Asia part (the only part I spent any time on) were mostly inside (because it’s winter). There were a few animals out, but the ones that sounded most interesting from the signs were not viewable.

I particularly wanted to see the Przewalski horse, but when I finally found them (there were two), they were in a little pen that had absolutely no grass. I don’t know if that’s where they usually live, but it looked like it was. The elephant was also in a pen that had no grass. I know they were doing work on the elephant house, so maybe that had something to do with it.

I understand that zoos serve a purpose, but it seems a bit sad that, for all the zookeepers do to keep the animals as close to their natural environment as possible, there isn’t grass for the horses. There was a sign for one of the primates that the keepers put ants into crevices in the rocks so that the animals have to search for them, just like in the wild, but there’s something about it that bothers me.

The panda was probably the most interesting part of the trip to the zoo. I walked toward his space and he looked at me. Then he looked away and I shifted and he (she?) looked back. Finally, it got tired of that game, bleated (like a goat!), and walked away. Who knew? I didn’t!

Actually, another surprising thing was how lightly the elephant moved. After Jungle Book (the Disney movie), I assumed they were really heavy on their feet. But the elephant at the zoo jogged across the [insert correct word for paddock thing here] and it was remarkably light and it looked really smooth.

Once I’d seen the Przewalskis, I headed back to the metro to go back to the car. Tony’s meeting wasn’t out for another hour and a half (after I got to the car), but I was tired and hungry, so I went to a Panera to get some food and hang out for a while. When my computer’s battery died, I left Panera. It took me 20 minutes to go the mile or two from the Panera to the place I was supposed to pick up Tony.

All I can say is, I’m really glad I don’t live in Washington, DC (though I suppose I’d be a lot better at maneuvering up there if I did live there).