To DC, with love: the landmarks

Eric and I went on a walk a few weeks ago, and I took along my 35mm Canon. I am still trying to master lighting and such, but even if the photos don’t turn out exactly as I imagine they will, I just love that they will never look like iphone pictures. So maybe I am a little old-fashioned (some call that the irony of the hipster), but I just like the less-than-predictable aspect of film (said every other member of Generation Y).

Walking through DC, even on a hot summer’s day surrounded by tourists (check out the neon green t-shirts behind me. Ain’t no one gettin’ lost in that group!), just never gets old. And plus, we saw President Obama’s motorcade a little later, which is always thrilling (or annoying if you are driving). I always forget we live in the same city.

For such a short post, I have a lot of parentheticals. I apologize (I just really like the word “parenthetical”!) (…and parenthesis.)

Happy Wednesday, guys. Remember: grammar and syntax can be fun.

Visiting DC: Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

Happy (late) Memorial Day to you! Eric and I spent the weekend getting our little apartment organized, visiting Monticello with Eric’s mom and step dad, and watching Call the Midwife (how many times can one cry in a television series? We will find out).

The last time I went to Monticello was about ten years ago. I didn’t realized what a drive it was to get there, so I don’t know if I can include this in my series on visiting DC. But I am going to, because it is an easy day trip.

Monticello was the home of Thomas Jefferson, and sits in the Shenandoah Valley in Charlottesville, Virgnia. Unfortunately, after the long trek out there, we were told the house tour tickets were sold out (note to visitors: buy tickets online during busy season!). That was a bummer, but we still got to tour the grounds, which are amazing, and we plan on taking another trip there in the fall.


Fun fact: Jack ^ and Thomas Jefferson are the same height!

His household layout is ingenius. He designed his house, and the layout of the other buildings himself, which included many of his own inventions. This is the wash house–one of many out-buildings connected to a long tunnel that goes underground behind the house. Jefferson even had a 16-feet-deep ice house to keep meat and other food chilled all summer long!

One of my new historical wishes that can’t ever come true is to be a dinner guest at Monticello.

Pretend you are drinking tea on your back porch, relaxing after a hard day of founding a country. Not a bad view, right? Jefferson had 5,000 acres of this.

^Jefferson’s actual size. At 6’2″ he cut an imposing figure back in his day.

Isn’t history fun? See you in the fall, TJ.

P.S. If you have not entered the giveaway below, time is running out!

6 things DC taught me…

1) Strangers do not like to be smiled at. In Oklahoma, where I am from, you smile at strangers. It’s just the thing to do. You are in a long hallway, you pass someone, you make eye contact, and you say, “hello!” Why? Because you are both humans. You already have something in common!

When I moved to DC, I made the mistake of making eye contact with a stranger. I learned in about five minutes that eye contact in DC means that you are: up to no good, clinically insane, about to ask for money, harangue them about a political cause, or all of the above. Basically: no human interaction unless you are exchanging money for goods or services, or unless you know the person well. Otherwise, you do not exist.

2) You have to say no. When a man claiming to be a taxi driver tells you to get in his unmarked cab, say no. When you are walking down a street and an actual cab driver offers you a ride “anywhere for free”, say no. When a cab driver drops you off at your house, and then casually mentions he will stop by sometime, you say “um, I don’t think so.” I think what I didn’t mean to say is: don’t ever take cabs in DC?

3) Use common sense. So yes, you can take cabs, because if you stand up for yourself, people in DC will leave you alone. Walk on the well-lit side of the street even if you do think you are being overly paranoid. Don’t listen to your ipod after dark. Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t sell or buy drugs in the “drug-free” zones. That one should be obvious, obviously. I mean come on, they have street signs marking these safe zones. It should make everyone feel better that before I got married, I lived in a “drug-free” zone. Unfortunately  I did not live in a “don’t stab people with a knife and take their purse” zone, but hey, if there isn’t a sign, how can you expect people to do the right thing?

4)  Never be surprised at the cost of living. Specifically, the cost of renting. I went from “wow, $350 is a bit much (in Oklahoma)” to “wow, it’s under $1,000??? Dirt cheap!” in about one week. And when I say under $1,000, I mean a tiny bedroom in a tiny house shared with at least 3 other people. If you want to live alone in a place where your chances of survival after dark are above 80%, expect to pay upwards of $1,500. And that’s most likely a studio.

5) DC is really pedestrian-friendly except when it comes to grocery shopping. It’s like all of the sudden, they expect people to a) own a car AND feel okay with paying $10 for parking b) not mind adding a cab fee to every grocery store run c) have the arms of a professional weight-lifter d) carry groceries home in order to save money, only to spend ten times the amount saved in chiropractors visits. If you must know, I fall into category d.

6) You can’t believe everything Nicholas Cage tells you. To be more specific: there are no clues leading to any kind of National Treasure in DC. A friend of mine, and I, have checked (see below). Some would say that the Smithsonians are a national treasure, and there are lots of “clues” pointing you to those…but, while I do love the Smithsonians, a pile of gold and ancient artifacts would tickle my fancy even more. I am here to confirm what none of us suspected: National Treasure is a farce.

Visiting DC: Mount Vernon

Woooohoo it’s Friday! Thank you all for your feedback on my last post about food/health. I am working on a few ideas and will hopefully be posting more about that soon. It is definitely one of my favorite topics to talk about, so I will try not to get too crazy.

Ironically, right after my health post, I started to feel like I was coming down with something. So, I have been using my knowledge to prevent it from getting worse, and I dare say it may be working. I owe it all to Apple Cider Vinegar, I think. But more on that later.

For now, I want to share the first part of a series I plan on doing a little sporadically, covering my favorite places in and around DC. I hope to build a lovely collection of the best of the best in this wonderful city. First up, Mount Vernon.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


Mount Vernon, the former home of our first President and first, First Lady, George and Martha Washington, is one of my favorite places to visit in all seasons. I first visited Mount Vernon on vacation with my family, and even as a kid, couldn’t help but be in awe of the history surrounding me. As an adult, I notice things I did not notice as a girl, and enjoy things like the layout of the land, and the gardens in a way I couldn’t appreciate as a child. I recently visited with a friend, and we both clutched each others’ arms like the nerds we are, when our tour guide pointed out one of the keys to the Bastille, given to George Washington, hanging on the wall just a few feet away from us. But, whether you are a history nerd like me, gardener, or just enjoy pretty scenery and historical reenactors, I believe you will enjoy this break from the bustling big city, just as Mr. Washington did. 

While Mount Vernon is not technically in DC (it is in Mount Vernon, Virginia), it is worth the short trip out there. It can be reached by Metro (followed by bus), or easily by car. So really, you have no excuse not to go.