27 November 2010

I'm Dreaming of a White....Thanksgiving?

Pictured below are the peanut butter ball body, Whopper head and German pico-balla tail feathers that I made as a Thanksgiving treat for my piano students. They were cute, but tasted good, too!! Kent and I spent the week before Thanksgiving in Washington state. We spent part of that time in Vancouver, Washington, with Kent's side of the family. We didn't take any pictures while we were on that side of the state. We'd heard there was snow in the forecast for the time we were in Washington, but weren't really prepared for how much snow there was. I took this picture and the one below to show the snow, and also how cold is was in Spokane, Washington, where my parents live. It ended up snowing about five inches while we were there. One thing I try to always do when I'm in Spokane is to visit my 96-year-old grandmother. Here she is, wearing the apron I made her. Her mind is still sharp as a tack. She's been legally blind for almost 17 years, but she' told me many times that those years have been the happiest in her life.
Below is a three-generation picture with my father and grandmother. Sorry the picture is a bit crooked; my 89-year-old grandpa took the picture. Tyler also came from Provo to spent Thanksgiving in Spokane. He's rather fond of Bootsie, my parents' cat. Don't ask me why they're wearing matching head lamps, but Tyler thought it was funny.
We had Thanksgiving dinner in the dining room of the retirement apartment where my parents live. Grandma and Grandpa Bates joined us. It was great to be served the meal and not spend all day cooking and then cleaning up. Instead we went to see a matinee of the new "Harry Potter" movie.
In spite of the snow we were able to get around to everywhere we wanted to go, and our flights came in and left on time. That's because Spokane is accustomed to snow and has the equipment to clear the roads and the airplanes. It was good to be with family for Thanksgiving!

17 November 2010

Out and About

The end of September was the National Book Festival in DC. I went to see Laura Bush (and had a pretty good seat, too!)
And stood in an incredibly long line for two hours to get Hunger Games stamped by Suzanne Collins. She was by far the most popular author at the festival.
The night before the book festival I partied with some of the ladies from my book group at Georgetown Cupcake. There was a TLC show last summer called DC Cupcakes, that was about this cupcake shop. Amazingly, the line wasn't too long for a Friday night and we only had to wait about ten minutes to get our cupcakes. Verdict: the frosting was yummy, but the cake was only okay.
The first weekend in October we had a neighborhood luau. It was very fun with lots of good food.

Another day in October I drove to Amish country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to do some shopping. It was a gorgeous day and we had fun.
On the internet I found out about a volksmarch that started near Arlington Cemetery, called the USA Freedom Walk. I met Kent during his lunch hour and we went on the 6km volksmarch. We walked past the Marine Corps Memorial and around the edge of Arlington Cemetery. That was our very first volksmarch in the US! We went on three volksmarches in the three weeks we were in Germany in September. At the end of October we drove to Shenandoah National Park to see the fall colors. The leaves were past their peak, and not nearly as pretty as when we went last year. You can see from the picture below that lots of other people were out looking at the colors, too. The park was much more crowded than it was last year, but I think that's because it was a lovely day, and last year it was rainy and misty when we spent the day at the park.
These last pictures are of local attractions. Only a few miles down the road from our house is the sandstone quarry on an island in the Potomac (see last entry) that was used to get the stone for the White House and the capitol building. It was just opened as a National Park, with a mile and a half path through the island.

The historic church below is about two miles from our house. It was built in the 1750's, and the sandstone on the corners is from the same quarry on Government Island.

11 November 2010

A River Runs Through It

It wasn't until this year that I realized how vital the Potomac River is to the region where we live. I started to notice that almost everywhere we went, the water we were seeing was the Potomac River. Below is a view looking towards Maryland from the Northern Neck area of Virginia, a quick trip Kent and I took on Columbus Day. I thought it was funny how every wooden post had a bird on it.
In September Kent and I went on a full-moon kayaking trip at our favorite state park, Caledon Natural Area on the Potomac River. It's only about a 45-minute drive from our house. As you can see from the picture below, we headed out at sunset on a lovely clear evening. Soon it was dark and we watched the moon rise over the river. We weren't able to get any good pictures once it was dark since we were in kayaks. Below is another view of the Potomac from the Maryland side. This is the National Harbor area near Washington, DC. I took a water taxi across from Virginia over to Maryland. This statue, called "The Awakening" used to be located at a park in Washington, DC.

The view of the Potomac below was taken from George Washington's home, Mount Vernon.
Here's a bit of trivia--the Potomac River is the border betweeen Maryland and Virginia. But the border isn't in the middle of the river--if you walk out a yard into the water, you are in Maryland. When the water level is low on the Virginia side of the river, a person walking along the beach would be in Maryland. Kind of strange, isn't it?

There's a place west of DC where the Potomac has some rough water. This is called Great Falls, and it's a National Park.
Really more of a big rapids compared to the falls in the west, but it was a neat park with some really nice hiking trails and some great views.
Pictured below was the amazing C & O (Chesapeake and Ohio) canal and locks along side the river to help early Americans to get around the falls with their boat shipping and transportation. This was hand dug, and hand cut stones created in the early days of our young country - around 1800. There were some blog posts earlier this year that also featured the Potomac River--in April when we took the boat cruise on the Potomac to see the cherry blossoms, and on Memorial Day when we went to Robert E. Lee's birthplace on the Potomac.

And that's the end of your history/geography lesson for today!