Posts Tagged With: Traveling solo

Solo Traveling: Surprising Moments with Nature

The wharf at Mount Vernon with nesting osprey on the front piling.

Sometimes nature offers up the best surprises!

Like it did on my visit to Mount Vernon, the home of our first president, George Washington. Among the pristine gardens, the stately riverfront home, the history, and the visitors, was a rough-hewn home and feathered family who captured my heart.

Osprey nest on piling at Mount Vernon wharf – home of President George Washington

Though they’re common place among east coast dwellers, to those of us living in “fly-over” states, the magnificent osprey are a rare treat, indeed.

So often in life, as the saying goes, things come in threes. That’s what happened with my osprey adventure.

  1. Early one morning I awoke and found myself enthralled with a PBS television nature show. More specifically, their piece about osprey, which described their nesting habits, their family patterns, and showed some wonderful demonstrations of their amazing deep-dive fishing abilities.
  2. Little did I realize that just a few short hours later, I would come face-to-face with a real-life osprey family living atop a piling along the banks of the Potomac River at the Mount Vernon wharf. According to an article on the osprey family, the pair have nested on the estate in prior years in the top of a sycamore tree. In the summer of 2010, their nest was destroyed when the top of the tree was lost during a storm. Undaunted, the pair returned this spring and built a new home on the top of the wharf piling – just inches from where the tour boat, Spirit of Mount Vernon, boards passengers six days a week.  That’s how I met them.

    My up-close and personal meeting with the osprey of Mount Vernon wharf – a bit blurry from my excitement:(

  3. A couple of days after my visit to Mount Vernon, some friends took me on a boat ride out into the Chesapeake Bay. To my delight every channel marker seemed to be the home of an osprey family. As little chicks poked their heads out of the nests, parents sat guard or flew off in search of the family’s next meal. My only disappointment was not seeing any of them deep-dive fishing. But nature watching does take patience, I suppose. Thanks to these great videos, however, we can all enjoy the amazing abilities of the osprey to “fish.”

You can watch a brief video I took of the osprey here, and see the parent take flight as the Spirit of Mount Vernon pulls closer. Mount Vernon Osprey nest

A live webcam of an osprey nest can be found here if you’re interested in watching them in action.

Ponder & Chat: Have a favorite nature story you can share with us? Where are you favorite spots for dates with nature?

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Categories: Date Ideas, Nature, Reflections, Solo traveling, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Solo Traveling: Would George Washington Own an iPad?

“No estate in United America is more pleasantly situated than this….” ~George Washington on his Mount Vernon home

George Washington’s Mount Vernon home as seen from the Potomac River

For nearly half a century George Washington preened and prospered his Mount Vernon estate to 8,000 acres along the beautiful banks of the Potomac River. An 18th century entrepreneurial farmer, he developed and utilized a number of innovative technologies. We’d probably label them “cutting-edge” today.

The 16-sided barn invented by George Washington to more efficiently thrash grain.

For example, he invented a 16-sided barn to more effectively thrash wheat and collect its berries. He purchased the third patent on a water-powered gristmill that allowed him to more efficiently grind his wheat, corn and other grains. Just a couple of years before his death, he built a whiskey distillery that ultimately supplied nearly 11,000 gallons of whiskey a year to the Alexandria, Virginia, marketplace. Washington experimented with gardening and fertilization techniques and utilized the Potomac to develop a fish export business.

Of course, during this time he also led a Revolutionary Army, served as the first president of the United States, and offered his obvious talents in many other ways to his new nation. You know, simple things!

As I walked the beautiful gardens and sat on the front lawn overlooking the river, I couldn’t help but think George would have owned one of the first iPhones and iPads. He’d have had a website to sell products online. He’d have blogged to promote ideas and  conversation, and his KindleFire would be loaded with books and ideas.

Ponder & Chat: Which of the Founding Fathers have inspired you and why?

Categories: Date Ideas, Reflections, Solo traveling, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Solo traveling: How to spend a Sunday afternoon in Washington, D.C.

“Exploring things on my own means I get to set a pace that works for me.”

The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

Setting my own pace. That’s just what I did yesterday as I set out from my hotel in Washington, D.C. for the three-mile walk to the National Cathedral. The uphill climb in the near 90 degree weather was made a bit easier by observing the many beautiful foreign embassies along Massachusetts Avenue. Entering “embassy row” near Dupont Circle and walking north reminded me a bit of a day at Disney’s world showcase at its Epcot theme park. Ok, it’s not like “being there,” but one can see and taste small pieces of various cultures in a short time and you don’t have to go through customs.

Mexican Embassy on Mass. Ave. in Washington, D.C.

With wonderment and curiosity, I strolled. Past various countries – Luxembourg, Sudan, Ireland, Madagascar, Malawi, Korea, Japan, Brazil, and the United Kingdom to name a few. Past the brightly colored Mexican Embassy. Past Winston Churchill standing with one foot in the UK and one in the US.

Winston Churchill with one foot standing on US soil and one on British Embassy grounds, symbolizing his Anglo-American descent, and the alliance he worked to forge in war and peace

Does anybody really know what time it is?

To highlight the marking of time, I passed the Naval Observatory master clock and snapped this photo just as it was changing time, making it look as if it isn’t working properly. Time is like that sometimes, don’t you think?

First glimpse of Washington National Cathedral approaching from Massachusetts Avenue

A half mile or so from my destination, towering spires began coming into view. I reached the National Catheral in time to share in the last third of the morning worship service, glorying in the anthems, the readings and partaking in communion with worshippers from all walks of life and faith backgrounds. Afterwards, I quietly explored the Cathedral’s many chapels, praying, meditating and lighting candles along my way.

Returning to the sunshine of the day, it was time to venture another long walk. This time I would take a path down Wisconsin Avenue.

Embassy Row had seemed quiet and a little austere. In contrast Wisconsin Avenue, even on a Sunday afternoon, was bustling and inviting. Shops from chic to punk, conservative to bohemian, enticed me in.

The final pièce de résistance – Thomas Sweet bittersweet chocolate and lemon custard ice creams. Come now, a gal doesn’t walk 6 miles for no reward!

Thomas Sweet – Now that’s a reward! I’m just sayin’

Categories: Solo traveling, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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