Saturday, August 29, 2015

What we have been doing in the Shenandoah Valley…

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While we certainly didn’t plan on spending a month here in the Shenandoah Valley house sitting we have surely enjoyed our stay. When we decided to stay longer we wondered what we would do here for a month. It didn’t take long to realize that we had the equivalent a small state park all to ourselves. With nearly 200 acres to hike and with the Shenandoah River flowing through the middle of it the days passed by quickly.

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We marked out a nice walk of about 2.5 miles with most of it traveling along the the river frontage. With the beautiful red barn in the backdrop there is always a good photo opportunity. The hike is along a dirt road, the river, hay meadows and a forested edge. We have seen lots of deer and birds including wild turkey, osprey, pileated woodpeckers, lots of goldfinches and even a lone bald eagle.

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When not hiking we took many day trips out to such cool spots as Washington DC, Shenandoah National Park and Annapolis which we have blogged about in the past several blogs. We also spent one day playing disc golf in nearby Winchester as well as exploring the town. We have found several really nice crafted beer breweries in the area. A couple of really neat ones we visited were in Wardensville, WV (yes we are very close to WV) and one in Middleton, VA. Our favorite beers however are at the one closest to us in Woodstock VA.

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I would be remiss to not mention how much fun we have had at the Shenandoah River on this property. I have done a lot of fishing and caught lots of fish. Mostly smaller small mouth bass and some sunfish but still it has been loads of fun. We have access to kayaks so we have been kayaking on the river as well. The Shenandoah River is amazingly clear so one can see all the detail on the bottom thus, we also see fish scurrying about as our kayaks pass by. An occasional green heron, great blue heron or belted kingfisher are often spotted on these floats.

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There is also a large flock of Canadian geese that are residents of the property and they hang around the river seemingly lounging throughout the day.  We also often see them grazing on the grasses in the hay meadows. There are a few hammocks down by the river that make watching the geese and the rippling waters of the river one of my favorite pastimes. Happy hours down by the river and on the back deck of the house are filled with beautiful vistas.

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We have done a few chores for our friends (the owners) along the way as our big thank you to them for inviting us to house sit.  It is such a beautiful place to be and with a such a fantastic kitchen which we have especially enjoyed.  Our foodie needs have surely been met during our stay as we have whipped up some of our favorite dishes. There are also lots of windows in the home which bring the outside in providing views of the valley below.  Its been great and the time sure has been flying by as our month is going to be up before we know it…

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Visiting the Nation’s Capitol, Washington D.C.

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Since we are close to Washington DC while here in the Shenandoah Valley we decided that we should revisit our nation's capitol. We visited DC several years ago and it was Sharon’s first visit to the capitol city but during our last visit the reflecting pool was drained. Also the Washington Monument was damaged and being repaired due to the unusual earthquake that hit the area back then. Therefore a return trip was in order for her to see these sights and few others  we missed last time.

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As we did last time we drove over to the Metro Station at Fairfax, Virginia but unlike that visit we came on a Friday after 10am so we were able to park in the metro parking garage for $4.85 for the day. Last time we came before 10 only to discover the lot was full and we had no quarters to park at any of the coin meters causing us to have to drive another 4 miles to the Falls Church Metro. We did come prepared with lots of quarters this time just in case the garage was full.

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The metro was on time and took less than 30 minutes to arrive in the heart of DC. We exited the train at Federal Triangle and walked toward the Washington Monument. We were immediately mesmerized by all the buildings with such stature surrounding us. We were happy to see that the reflecting pool was full of water and the Lincoln Memorial was glimmering in the water as a mirror image of its actual self.

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We walked the length of the rectangular pool to the Lincoln Memorial then looked back at the Washington Monument whose reflection also glimmered in the pool. It was great seeing all of this NOT under repair/renovation this time around. After we walked around the reflecting pool we were hungry and decided to walk over to Chinatown for lunch.  On our way to Chinatown Sharon saw a vintage Good Humor Truck with its driver decked out in the all white uniform.  As we stopped for a photo, he offered us free ice cream.  Wow!  That was lucky! We continued over to Chinatown Express which had been written up in the Washington Post. We enjoyed our meal but to be honest it wasn’t as good as we hoped. Our before lunch double caramel chocolate ice cream bar however was a big hit !

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After lunch we headed to our main event for the day as we planned to spend a good amount of time exploring the Smithsonian Museums. We only briefly enjoyed them on our previous visit to town. We spent a good hour or two in the Museum of Natural History. The dinosaur skeletons, the minerals, and (yes) the Hope Diamond were all highlights of the museum.

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After we left the Museum of Natural History we spent some time (less time) at the Museum of American History. We were trying to find the archives so we could see the Declaration of Independence but could never find it. We did come across the Francis Scott Key exhibit and were fortunate to see the flag that was his inspiration for our national anthem. We were amazed at how large that flag was…

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After leaving the American History Museum we were pretty tired so we began to head back to our Metro when we realized we were at the Smithsonian Metro. So we went down the stairs and caught the train there which saved us from walking an additional half mile to the Federal Triangle station. Man were we glad to sit down especially after we looked at our smart phones that informed us we walked nearly 9 miles this day…Whew!

Yes we had anther great day on the road of retirement…