Posted in Travel sparks

Capitol A for Amazing

I feel like I have seen a lot in my two days in Washington DC. Equally, I feel like I have seen hardly any of what’s possible to see in Washington DC. Suffice it to say, I hope to come back for more visits as I had a fantastic time. Even if it was super hot and humid weather!  

The Capitol. Adding to my collection of pics of landmarks under scaffolding when I visit.
Given my short trip, I knew I’d be happy if I got to spend time at Newseum (which I have been wanting to see for years), see some of the city, and maybe get to geek out at some other museums and historical places. Yesterday was a great day, but I’ll tell you more about that another time. 

Today was very interesting, with a case of (accidental) great timing leading to a pretty special experience. I was on the hop on-hop off city bus, and, given the furnace that awaited outside the air-conditioned bus, I definitely had to psych myself up to hop off at all. But of course I did, with less than a day left before I hopped on the train back to NYC.   

The Abraham Lincoln Memorial.
View from Lincoln Memorial to Washington Monument.
Great views, sure. But mostly, I wanted to see this big guy. And he was just as awesome as I’d hoped he’d be… 
Honest Abe.

And, for scale, here’s a normal-sized man next to President Lincoln… 

I shall name the other man Honest Gabe. Little pixie man that he is.
So that was all very interesting and in a stunning location. Then I headed down to the Korean War Memorial, and that’s where the magic happened. The memorial itself is incredible – 19 life-sized statues of men dressed in the heavy cold weather gear they would’ve worn during the war. Their faces are modeled on 19 actual US soldiers from that war, apparently. And they are set in a beautiful green garden. Very moving stuff – and proof that traditional art still works: you don’t always need a clever hologram or techno trickery to make your point.   

And then, I noticed a group of Korean gentlemen (mostly old timers, all in uniform) and one young Korean lady (in uniform) gathering, along with a couple of old American gentlemen with service medals and partly dressed in uniform.

I had happened across the beginning of a service of some sort. Some words were said (in Korean), a large wreath was laid, and they all saluted as the anthems of both countries were played. Then a bugler played (bugler, not burglar, to be clear) and everyone that was lurking and watching the scene like me was as quiet as a mouse. It was very moving.  

And a reminder that sometimes when you’re traveling, the unplanned experiences are the best.   


And after that, I went to the Museum of American History – yet another interesting museum, and so well designed and presented. These guys know how to do a good museum, that’s for sure. Too many cool things to mention, so I’ll just share this: Al Capone’s mug shot. Doesn’t he look like a nice young man, who would maybe serve you in a bookstore, or sit next to you on the bus to work? 


Posted in Travel sparks

Greetings from here 

Ah, the glamour of travel. Greetings from this place, which is not quite in Baltimore, but somewhere close, apparently. The train has been stopped for more than 30 minutes, which could be seen as an annoying thing, delaying our arrival at our destination.  

But I bet very few international (or domestic, for that matter) travelers have had such a close look at this exact place. As the sun sets on the last day of summer (that’s official, as it’s 31 August, that’s not me being romantic), it’s catching the yellowing leaves on the big trees here. 

The announcements from the poor lady running this train service are sounding increasingly desperate as the wait time for our unscheduled stop spirals out of control, with no end in sight. I suspect the passengers on this busy service aren’t as content with the delights of the ‘cafeteria car’ as she thinks they should be. 

Calm yourselves and look out the windows, people! There are things to be seen, I tell you. For example, I can see a caravan under covers and a car under covers in the backyard over the wire fence here. And a Jeep and a van. Who are these people? Doomsday preppers, maybe? 

Guess I shouldn’t mock, as we may need to call on them soon to ask for dinner or a shower or a bed if this delay continues…

Posted in Travel sparks, WWWhat?

Garden & Gun

Catchy title, isn’t it? To me, it’s a confusing combination of relaxation and terror: like Library & Land Mine, or Beach & Bazooka. But to hundreds of thousands of readers in the USA, Garden & Gun is a leading magazine covering all that is great about the South (of the USA). According to its President & CEO, Garden & Gun “…is a metaphor for the South—its land, the people, their lifestyle, and their heritage.” And their gardens and guns, presumably.

I’ve never read the magazine (having no real connection to the South, nor to gardens or guns), but the website is certainly an interesting and informative place to visit. Since I’m guessing that you probably haven’t read the magazine either, here are some highlights that I found on the Garden & Gun website…

From the Sporting Life section.  [image from]
From the Sporting Life section.
[image from]
From the Food section, an article entitled Build a Better Hot Dog includes a description of the creative dogs produced at a shop called Frank in Austin, Texas. “…like the Jackalope (antelope, rabbit, and pork sausage with a cranberry compote, Sriracha aioli, and cheddar).” Yes, really.

And, in what I think would be a great title for a sister magazine, the Arts & Culture section features an opinion piece God, Gators, and Gumbo. Uh huh.

There is another cool section called G&G Reader Good Dog Photos, which is pretty much what you would expect it to be – a heap of photos of Good Dogs (split into categories like ‘at play’, ‘on water’, ‘at rest’ and my favourite: ‘dogs being dogs’). Here is the impressive winner of the ‘dogs on water’ category: Fritz – a yellow Labrador retriever from Charleston, South Carolina.

Fritz, a dog who helps catch giant fish.  [image from]
Fritz, a dog who helps to catch giant fish.
[image from]
There is a Garden & Gun online store, which has some great things for sale. Also on sale for $300 is “Bird in Hand” – a photo of a man holding a dead bird. Not my cup of tea, but am sure the “Gun” part of the Garden & Gun readership would appreciate the art. The “Wear” section of the store features branded shirts, caps and leashes (for dogs) as well as pocket squares and a women’s shooting vest. And a “Croquet Golf Set”, which sounds intriguing and looks quite fancy.

If you would like to check out the very interesting website of Garden & Gun, it’s here. I’m no fonder of the garden or the gun, but I still like the insight into another world, from this magazine representin’ the South. Yeeeeeee-ha.

Posted in Travel sparks

Good night, New York

So we all know that it’s the city that never sleeps. And while it is not sleeping, it is also the city that is beautifully lit – especially at this time of year. Here are some pics from New York City in the night time, when the winter chill has me zipping my jacket up past my chin and hurriedly snapping photos so I can put my warm gloves back on. (That may explain why some of these are a little blurry!)

Good night, Time Warner Center. I couldn’t really catch your beautiful colour-changing lights here, but you know you’re gorgeous. And you’re one of my favourite places to soak up the hustle & bustle of NYC.
Good night, random festively dressed hotel on Central Park. You look very pretty. And kind of like you’re wearing a fairy light witch’s hat…
Good night, Public Library. You are such a beautiful building and you look very cool with your fancy coloured lights.
Good night, Harry Winston. Your festive lights look as lovely as the jewellery that you sell. Like very classy diamond accessories for your building, as it were.
Good night, Buckyball. You’re a fabulous colour-changing installation at Madison Square Park and you’ve even brought your own ‘zero gravity’ curved benches, so that viewers can lie back and marvel at your cleverness. And you make the wait for burgers at the Shake Shack much more fun.
Posted in Food sparks, Travel sparks

Give thanks for delicious food

Last week, I was very lucky to be able to share Thanksgiving with my American family and some of their friends. It was fabulous. Here are some pics of the food highlights (although I didn’t take nearly enough photos – I didn’t want to seem like a tourist snapping anything and everything at the dinner table)…There were three kinds of pies (and a cheesecake) for dessert. I repeat, three kinds of pies. Heaven!

Chocolate turkeys made by some kids from the ‘hood.
Give thanks for homemade apple pie.
Give thanks for homemade cherry pie.
Give thanks for homemade pumpkin pie.
Give thanks for homemade cherry cheesecake.
Give thanks for vegetables covered in marshmallow & baked in the oven. Hooray for yams!