Friday, June 18, 2010

Gargoyles and gardens at the Washington National Cathedral

I'm putting a disclaimer out here right away...I'm not a religious person so when I write about churches, monasteries and cathedrals I do respect the religions they represent but my takeaways are more of the architecture, natural beauty and sociological aspects of places defined by a massive subset of our society as "sacred".  I was raised as a young girl going to church and I find that faith can be a great resource to many people but personally, I do not practice any particular religion.

Late last month, I decided to check out the National Cathedral in NW DC since I'd seen this giant structure after coming home from the National Zoo a few weeks earlier.  The sheer size of the building alone commands one's attention but I was captivated by the intricate detail and the architectural beauty of the Cathedral.  I can easily see why it has been designated as our national Place of Prayer.

I'm a planner so I always check the web for information about a location I intend to visit and write up for a piece.  I was surprised at the breadth and depth of the Cathedral's website--there are SO many things to do at the Cathedral that I'll definitely have to take a few trips back just to cover all the activities.

I happened to visit on an overcast day, which wasn't the most flattering for the gothic styled architecture but it was perfect for taking photos in the Bishop's Garden!  As a transplant resident to D.C. I often find myself seeing well-known places like the Cathedral or the Smithsonian as fresh and new when as a writer I know they are not but I think the thing that long-time residents of the area overlook are the details which can make repeat visits to a location an entirely new experience.  I try to put that across in my pieces by providing a lot of links for further information.  I came here from the West Coast and while sure we had a handful of museums and interesting pieces of architecture, the quality of such things in the D.C. area in comparison is astounding!

Either way, Whether you’re religious, an atheist or agnostic, the Washington National Cathedral is a must-see structure in D.C. (read more...)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Watch time fly by at Gravelly Point

I've loved planes since I was a little girl.  An uncle of mine (by marriage) had a single engine prop plane that he took me for a flight in when I was about six or seven years old.  I was completely fearful of getting in the plane at the start but once we took off from the tarmac, I was in love!  He even let me take control of the stick and guide us through the air for a few minutes.

I was 23 when I finally took my first commercial flight and I was smitten all over again.  I'm that passenger who enjoys the turbulence because it's like a roller coaster ride.  Yep, I'm a little bit crazy.  These days I don't do much flying but I do enjoy driving to Gravelly Point Park and watching the planes take off from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

On the north side of the runway at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is where you’ll find the perfect spot for taking in the sights and sounds of airliner departures and arrivals. As the planes take off you’ll feel the ground shake beneath your feet and the vibrations flow through your chest. The park is a common waiting area for local private car service drivers awaiting their clients’ landings. However, lots of locals know of this spectacular viewing area and while the parking lot may be full there is more than enough room between the grassy lawns and the near dozen picnic tables to not feel crowded by other visitors (read more...)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A secret garden in plain sight

Back in the beginning of April, after I'd returned from a trip to NYC, I decided that I'd join the tourists in D.C. and check out the Cherry Blossoms around the Tidal Basin.  Since I was already on the National Mall I figured why not walk around taking pics of the monuments as well.  As I navigated my way to the Tidal Basin area I stumbled upon the National Park Service's Tulip Library.  I'd never heard a word about it in any of my travels to D.C. before I actually lived here.  It's as if it was some secret garden hiding in plain sight that I'd just lucked out to come across.

On the north side of the Tidal Basin sits a small but plentiful garden of tulips. This garden, often never known about until stumbled upon, was first planted by the National Park Service back in 1969. The Tulip Library, as it is referred to by the National Park Service, truly is a secret garden in plain sight because unless one is driving or walking westbound on Independence Avenue SW just before the turn off onto Maine Avenue SW the garden often goes unnoticed.(read more...)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fallen in love with U street

So this was sort of the subject behind my first article for Examiner.  I'd just spent an entire afternoon in the U Street corridor and LOVED it.  I miss that city vibe where everything is so mixing pot-esque.  There was a little bit of it in Portland, OR but it was still pretty much all white people who were college-educated and had money (read: lived on the west side in the suburbs and came to the "city" to shop) or college-educated and chose to live a minimalist life (read: hipster or hippie).  I always felt so out of place in downtown Portland; like I didn't have enough money in my bank account to belong there.  D.C. may be full of politicians and assumed pretension but oddly enough it's pretty laid-back and the streets downtown...maybe it's because of all the tourists.  I'm pretty glad though that the U Street area has remained an alcove from the tourists and that it has kept so much of the character that was around during the days of jazz despite being gentrified in the past decade.

Many U.S. citizens see Washington, D.C., as merely a hub of politics given that it is the nation's Capitol. As tourist season is upon us, an influx of visitors will flock to the monuments of the National Mall, maybe the spy museum and perhaps make it over to the Smithsonian National Zoo or Aquarium. Unfortunately, many will forget about or may not even know of the histories held in the neighborhoods of D.C. and miss out on places like the U Street Corridor in the Shaw neighborhood. (read more...)

Saturday, June 12, 2010


So, not that a ton of people come here but those who do have likely noticed that I've been M.I.A. for nearly a month.  There's a reason other than disinterest.  I finally found a freelance writing gig!  Ok, don't get too excited for me yet.  It pays beans, well not really but pennies kinda look like beans, right? ;)  Anyway, it's a start.  I've been focusing a lot of my time on learning the publishing tool the company has its writers use, going out to locations for stories to take my own pictures instead of stock photos (I think it adds credibility), participating in the company's community forums for writers and working on generating traffic to my articles.

It's nice to see my two loves, writing and photography, finally merge in my life.

While I had a format here of doing a daily post, I will be going back to posting but it'll likely only be a few times a week and a presentation of some photos that I took while out for a story.  I could rattle off a few articles every day but they wouldn't be genuine, detailed and with personal photos.  I can be a machine but I choose to be human--even on the internet.

I'm hoping to build my presence online as a writer because a degree in English and almost five years of experience as a staff writer isn't appearing to cut it to get a writing job in the real world these days.  As many of you know, I was planning on going back to school to get a second Bachelor's degree in Journalism (didn't have the time nor the $ to study and take the GRE before the deadline for Fall term).  However, with the credit crunch, banks haven't been friendly to the idea of lending money to those who are unemployed or with prior debts (like student loans) or people like me who are both of those things.  Perhaps with a co-signer that would change but that requires one having someone willing to co-sign. ;)  It's provided me some frustration but at the same time I understand the position of the banks and of my family who aren't willing to stick their rear out into the wind of the whims of our economy right now.

For now, the ego boost of being accepted by my first pick of schools (a small private school KNOWN for their Journalism program and the quality graduates they produce) will have to be enough.  So, I'll do what I've done throughout my life--take the hard route and learn the un-traditional way.  It might take longer to achieve my goals this way but I've always been one who believed that it's more about the journey along the way rather than the destination.