Wordless Wednesday: Mount Vernon slave quarters

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Flashback: Crossing the Wilson Bridge on foot

(Reprinted from my former blog – TheRickSniderReport.com on Jan. 9, 2011)

The new Wilson Bridge was the best billion dollars ever spent in my opinion. I smile every time I drive over it with no backup at all during rush hour. It’s just a joy after a generation of hour-long backups.

I’ve seen joggers and bikers on the trail of the inner loop side since its 2008 opening and said, “I’ve gotta do that.” And like most people, I didn’t.

But I did it last year when the weather was cool, perfect for a three-mile walk. My high school buddy Anthony Lee came with me.

Here’s the key for anyone who wants to trim a long walk – start on the Alexandria side. You’ll hear everyone talk about National Harbor on the Maryland side, but it’s a long, long ways from the bridge and you have to pay a king’s ransom to park.

(Click to keep going because lots of photos ahead)

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The Wharf is a gem

OK, it took me six months to see the new Wharf in Southwest, but what a fine place it has become under the new development.

The Anthem serves as the anchor of the waterfront project. It’s a nightclub of touring bands that aren’t popular enough to fill Capital One Arena. The rest is a collection of bars, restaurants and pricey shops plus the old Captain White’s outdoor seafood . Thankfully, there’s ample parking.

You can stroll the boardwalk area, even walk out onto the pier where there are benches. Maybe catch a boat ride. It’s damn civilized.

We ate lunch at Kirwin’s, an Irish pub. It is a gem. The steak and eggs was excellent, the Killian’s cold and the service fast and excellent. The price was even reasonable. It’s nice to find such a combination. I’ll eat there again.

The Wharf represents the many great changes around town in recent years. I always say my Washington is very different than my grandparents and it will be very different for my grandchildren. The Wharf is among the reasons it will be better.





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Dockside on The Wharf

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Men of science in Museum of the Bible

It would seem a strange sight at first. Men of science in the Museum of the Bible. But, the displays show the two are not incompatible.

Galileo is shown with his telescope. The 17th-century scientist is known for saying the sun was the center of the universe at a time when people believed Earth was the center. When church leaders challenged Galileo, he said the Bible tells “how to go to Heaven, not how the heavens go.”

Sir Isaac Newton is known for his theories of gravity prompted by an apple hitting him in the head. The 18th-century physicist believed to know nature is the know God and that God provides order to the universe.

George Washington Carver was born into slavery in 1860, but grew to one of the 20th century’s leading botanists and inventors. He created more than 500 agricultural inventions and 300 uses for peanuts. Carver referred to his laboratory as “God’s little workshop.”

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Crowds bloom as cherry blossoms peak

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A different view from the water

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Cherry blossoms at dusk

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Walking through Lafayette Park

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Cherry blossoms hit peak bloom

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My favorite cherry blossom photo . . . so far

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Japanese Magnolias always underrated

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Best photo locations for cherry blossoms

The time of day you’re photographing cherry blossoms determines the best place to photograph them.

Many serious photographers arrive at dawn to avoid crowds and get that sunrise shot. The best spot is along the Tidal Basin by 15th St. SW and Independence Ave. SW across from the Holocaust Museum. The sun will be behind you and cast a glow on the water with the Thomas Jefferson Memorial as a backdrop.

If you’re coming more around 7 p.m. for sunset, go to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial at Independence Ave. SW and West Basin Dr. SW. The sun will be behind you near the Lincoln Memorial so you can shoot eastward with the Thomas Jefferson Memorial or the Washington Monument as backdrops.

Any time of day, you can photograph around the King Memorial. It’s a good entrance way into the Tidal Basin and the oldest 50 trees that were part of the 1913 planting still remain to the left of King as you near the water. You can tell by their large girth. This is a good place to photograph King through the blossoms.

There are isolated pockets of cherry blossom trees throughout Washington, but you can’t beat the Tidal Basin when it’s in full bloom.

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Wordless Wednesday: Rev. Graham at the Museum of the Bible

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Personally, Japanese Magnolias > cherry blossoms

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Remembering Charles Davis at Arlington National Cemetery

It’s easy to miss things in Arlington National Cemetery. Most people want to see the changing of the guard and the eternal flame of John F. Kennedy’s grave. It’s already a long walk so they don’t see much else.

Those are great things to see, but the more you wander Arlington’s grounds the more you can appreciate what a special place it is. And so I spent a day in February walking Arlington, looking for things I hadn’t seen or not for awhile when I came across this gorgeous large black marble stone in section 7A not far from the Tombs of the Unknown and just down the row from heavyweight champion Joe Louis.

Charles W. Davis was a Congressional Medal of Honor winner for his heroics in the 1943 Battle of Mount Austin, the Galloping Horse and Sea Horse on the island of Guadalcanal. Davis volunteered to carry messages between companies under fire. Captain of the 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry division, he later led an attack. When his rifle jammed on its first shot, he took out his pistol and kept fighting. The daring move inspired others to follow in winning the battle. He was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Davis later served during the Korean and Vietnam wars and retired as a colonel. He died in 1991. His wife Joan died in 2013 while their son Pvt. John Broderick Davis died in 1984.

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The coolest monument in Arlington National Cemetery

I’ve seen probably 95 percent of Arlington National Cemetery and Section 1 in the back is my hands-down favorite. You never know what you’ll find among hundreds of ornate markers.

Leave it to a sailor to have a breath-taking marker of a ship riding the seas with an angel blowing a horn. It seems so real that you will stop to look at it.

Capt. Nathan Sargent, who actually rose to commander of the Atlantic Fleet and Asiatic Fleet and member of the Navy General Board, is buried alongside his wife Isabell Hill Sargent.

Sargent spent much of his life in nearby Washington. He graduated from Gonzaga College (which today is a high school and college preparatory school) and from the U.S. Naval Academy in nearby Annapolis in 1870.

After 35 years in the Navy, Sargent lived in Washington until his 1907 death.

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Wordless Wednesday: Enjoy the magnolias

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Witherspoon caught at crossroads

Sometimes, the busiest venues can be the worst places to honor past Americans with statues.

John Witherspoon is along Connecticut Ave. and N St. N.W. on a spit of land barely big enough for the 10-foot statue high atop a granite base. You’d think a signer of the Declaration of Independence would be given a quieter venue, but this site actually has historical merit.

Witherspoon left his ministry in Scotland to head the College of New Jersey, now called Princeton. He educated many of America’s political leaders, including James Madison and Aaron Burr, three U.S. Supreme Court judges, 10 Cabinet members, 28 U.S. Senators, 49 Congressmen and 12 Continental Congressmen.

Upset over the crown’s interference in local matters, Witherspoon became one of New Jersey’s signers for the Declaration of Independence. After the war, he returned to rebuild the college.

The Presbyterian minister was remembered with a Bible in his hand and dressed in colonial attire when the statue was erected in 1909 by an adjacent church. However, that church was razed in 1966. Federal officials wanted to relocate the statue, but church members successfully argued it should remain in its original location.

And so Witherspoon does, even if it’s in the middle of madness come rush hour.

By the way, actress Reese Witherspoon is a descendant of the colonial leader.

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Admiral still leads way for Peru

Entering the Peruvian embassy on 17th and Pennsylvania Ave. NW means getting by Miguel Grau first.

The magnificent bust of the country’s person of the past millennium dominates the doorway. There wasn’t room to put it elsewhere and what the heck – he was a big deal.

The marble base says “Gran Almirante” (Great admiral) and “Al Caballero de los mares” (To the Horseman of the seas) for the man who led the Peruvian Navy until 1879 when killed at naval Battle of Angamos by an armored-piercing shell during a war with Chile. In fact, there wasn’t much left of Grau, who is now interred in El Callao, Peru. He was called “The Gentleman of the Seas” for his compassion during battle with Chile while holding off the opposing invasion for six months through his stealth attacks on opposing ships.

The Peruvian embassy and chancery was built in 1910 as a private residence designed in Italian classicism. The Australian government sold it to Peru in 1973.

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