Monday, April 24, 2017

Cherry Blossoms on Haines Point

I don't like running around Haines Point; it's too long and lonely and windy and there are too many memories of hard ten-milers, half marathons and marathons there.  But it is beautiful when the cherry blossoms bloom.  (National Airport.)

This year was no different.  The blossoms were more spectacular on Haines Point this year than around the Tidal Basin.  (Fort McNair.)

When I run at noon on the Mall with my friends, I park on Haines Point because its free for three hours, there's always parking available, and it's only 3/4 of a mile away from where I meet my friends, so that's my warmup.  I had plenty of opportunity this year to see the trees on Haines Point.  (The long, lonely road.)

Although the blossoms were impacted negatively this year because of the freakish winter weather, they still were a sight to see.  DC is a great place to run.  (The channel side.)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Cherry Blossom Run

Last month I got together with a couple of running buddies from my former workplace and we did a noontime Cherry Blossom run around the Tidal Basin to view the flowering trees at their full splendor.  It had been a rough year for the blooms as the weather had been unnaturally warm for so long in February and early March that they started to bloom early but then they got hit with a spell of extended freezing weather which threatened to knock them off of their bloom.

But, hardy souls, they came out anyway, although muted somewhat compared to other years.  Still, a spectacular show as usual.

Pink pinks, white whites, the colors were there, it's just that the petals were less robust than normal.  Usually the flowering blooms are so frothy and numerous that they form a floating circle six or eight feet wide of downed petals along the walls of the Tidal Basin sea wall, but this year that effect was way off.

But it was a display not to be missed, as usual.  I love running in DC with friends at any time.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Flower Library

There's a flower library on the Mall, over by the Tidal Basin, near the Washington Monument.  Every spring it bursts forth with tulips shortly after the cherry blossom bloom.

This year the library bloomed spectacularly, as usual.  My sometimes-noontime running group ran by it earlier this month.

My running buddy likes to seek out the different flower amidst a group of similar flowers.  She calls them outliers.

There's always something to go see on the Mall.  DC is a great running town.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Get it while you can, if you can

The greatest bargain for anyone 62 or older is a National Parks Pass allowing its recipient and a guest or guests into any National Park for free for life, for a one-time purchase price of $10.  For instance, purchase one at the C&O Canal Towpath parking lodgment for the Billy Goat Trail in MD and you will be able to pre-pay for the parking fee and individual entrance (both free thereafter) for the $10 card, which will save you money for that trip on the spot.

I received a card at my retirement party when I was retired from my agency last year after a quarter-center of service.  I value the card more highly than I do the small statue I received of the agency's distinctive statue outside its entrance, which I also like for memory's sake.

This card has a lot of utility.  Visit the second most spectacular site in the US that I have seen, Crater Lake in OR, for free.

Or visit the most spectacular site in the US that I have seen, the Grand Canyon, with the card.  But the price for the bargain is going up eight-fold soon, so act now if you are eligible.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

So how exactly did you get this?

Here's something you might not know.  When you reach a certain age in your sixties, you can apply for a special smart card in the DC Metro system and ride at a greatly reduced rate forever, I suppose.  I didn't know anything about this program until a friend of mine who is older than me told me about it, describing it as a half-off card.

I inquired at the West Falls Church station, which I sometimes use, and the station manager confirmed the program and told me where the "commuter store" was where I could go to purchase the card, for $2, and informed me of the store's hours.  The next day I undertook a run of four miles to that store and bought the special card and loaded it to the max ($300).


I handed over my OL to the clerk in her fishbowl booth and said, "Check the age and you'll know what I want."  Without a word she smiled, glanced at my license and started filling out a form.  She said most people are ignorant of the program but still, she sells about half a dozen such cards a day.

The card is bright yellow, in contrast to the pale green and blue color of the regular metro smart cards.  I guess its distinctiveness shouts out to onlookers, Senior, Senior, as in old.  But who am I kidding, I don't need to flash the fare card for persons to realize that there are seats in the cars set out especially for me and my ilk.

Having run to the commuter store at the Ballston station on the flat W&OD Trail and hilly Custis Trail from the East Falls Church station because I didn't want to pay full fare to get there when I could ride for half-fare back, I entered the metro system for my return trip and carefully checked the posted fare.  $1.75.  Upon exiting the system one stop later, I was disappointed to see that my cost was $1.05, not $0.88.

I asked the station manager if he could explain something about my brand-new fare card to me and handed it to him.  I said that it should have provided me with a half-off fare, but that my fare was more than half of the normal fare.  He gave me the familiar dodge about higher than expected fares and said it depended upon the distance traveled and the time of day.

I said that it was a senior card which is supposed to provide for half-fares, not something higher.  He was quick on his feet and said it was a discount card, not a half-fare card.  It was apparent that neither of us really knew how the program actually works, so I'll have to monitor my fares for awhile or try find its particulars on-line, but his answer was acceptable to me.

And then, his face hardening and his voice rising authoritatively, he asked, "And just how did you come into possession of this card?"  He was staring at me and holding my card, and I looked at him in stunned disbelief.  Suddenly I burst into laughter and pointed knowingly at him.  His eyes twinkling, he handed my card back and gave me a slight chuck on my shoulder.  Friends for life.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Birthday

I spent a nice birthday earlier having lunch with a friend and then hiking along the C&O Canal Towpath.  It gave me an opportunity to practice with my new camera.

I have run through the little 8-page set-up guide that came with the Canon, so next I have to print off the 180 page manual and refer to it.  My friends say to just refer to it on line, but, well, it's not written that well and to refer to it and apply whatever it says to the camera, I have to have the instructions  open in front of me.

The camera has a 40X zoom which brings things incredibly close but it's tricky to use because it's hard to find the subject in the field as the initial blurriness of the focus clears, and then hold the camera steady enough to get a clear picture at that magnification.  The slightest tremor or most minor tremble throws off the field or blurs the picture, so I have to practice this feature.

But I am pleased with the new camera and it takes pictures with close detail and vivid colors.  I spent an enjoyable birthday.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The World War One run

Last week a friend and I did a noontime run on the Mall in commemoration of the 100th year anniversary of America's entrance into WWI on April 6, 1917.  We started by chatting up another friend of mine outside my former workplace, who related to us the interesting story that he had a great-grandfather who won an Iron Cross as a German soldier in the Great War, and whose country showed its appreciation for his sacrifices by killing him and his family at a concentration camp during the next war due to his religion.  (Black Jack)

We ran by the Capitol where President Woodrow Wilson asked for and received from Congress a declaration of war against Germany, mere months after he won re-election largely on the slogan, He Kept Us Out of The War.  We stopped in at the Navy Memorial where I pulled up from its database the entry of my grandfather, a sailor in the Great War.  (An engine of the Great War)

We ran through Pershing Park downtown and stopped at General Pershing's statue there, depicting him at the Western Front as leader of the American Expeditionary Force.  Then we ran to the Ellipse, where we viewed the memorial honoring the 2d Division's service in the war, its men participating in the 3d Battle of the Aisne, Belleau Wood, the Chateau-Thierry campaign, St. Mihiel, the Meuse-Argonne offensive, the Aisne-Marne offensive and the occupation of the Rhine.  (The Indianhead Division)

Running past the World War II Memorial, we gave it a nod as that worldwide cataclysm was a direct result of the harsh peace imposed at the Treaty of Versailles which ended the War To End All Wars, with its unsustainable war reparations and its festering War Guilt clause imposed by the victors upon the vanquished.  Finally we ended our four-mile jaunt at the World War I Memorial on the Mall, honoring the District residents who served in World War One.  (Over There)