Sunday, March 8, 2015

Potomac River Exploration

Since I was completely exhausted from shovelling snow for past two days, going for a little ride out in the country seemed like a nice relaxing thing to do.  For some reason I had a very strong urge to visit the Potomac River today.  The original plan was to take White's Ferry across to Virginia and then take Route 15 up to Point of Rocks and then head home.  But unbeknownst to me, White's Ferry was closed, so our little road trip became more random, with "Ooooh, let's see where that goes" being the main source of whatever next move we made.

None of this was planned, but I made a little map afterwards, of where we ended up going, starting at White's Ferry:


We took two little side trips to look at the Potomac, first at the Mouth of Monocacy, and then at Nolands Landing.  We crossed into Virginia at Point of Rocks, went through Lovettsville VA, and headed back across to Brunswick MD.  Then we went a little farther north, just to see what was up there, and found ourselves all the way up at Route 340.  Since we had gone that far, we felt compelled to do one more crossing of the Potomac on 340, just below Harper's Ferry.  By then we were starving, so we turned around and headed back to Brunswick MD, where we had wonderful sandwiches and coffee at Beans in the Belfry, and then we headed home.
Here are some photos I took along the way:

A lovely barn, somewhere between Poolesville and White's Ferry.

Looking south down the C&O Canal towpath at White's Ferry.

Another farm out that way.

A ford is a shallow section of a river or creek where you can easily cross on a horse, or on foot.  It's difficult to imagine the Potomac being shallow enough for that, but apparently the Confederate soldiers thought it was perfectly fine.  Back in the slightly less olden days, there was a paved ford going across Rock Creek in DC, which you could drive across in a car.

A farm along Martinsburg Road, with some vultures on the roof of the barn.

Heading towards the Dickerson Conservation Area.

Look, a deer!
At Route 28, an historic stone fence.

This cow seems right at home in the snow.

I love rickety old wooden bridges.  This one is on the way to the Mouth of Monocacy.

The Monocacy River, near where it empties into the Potomac.

The Monocacy Aqueduct, behind the trees.

The Monocacy River, behind me.

Heading back to Route 28 from the Mouth of Monocacy

Railroad tracks.
Across this field, and across the river behind those trees, are the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.

The Potomac River at Noland's Landing

I love seeing sycamore trees against a blue sky in the wintertime.
One last shot at Noland's Landing.

A snowman near Lovettsville VA gazes in wonder at the mighty Potomac.
Under the bridge at Point of Rocks, looking from the Virginia side.

That's Point of Rocks across the river there.

One last wintertime scene before my camera's battery went dead.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Our Little "Orange" Tree

For Throwback Thursday, here's a little story that began way back in December of 2002, just about a week after getting home from my very first "In the Mood" tour.  I was driving to a gig in DC when my car suddenly became Car#3 in a four-car accident. My car was demolished and my bass came pretty close to being destroyed as well. It was all in pieces inside the bag when I took it out of the car. The neck had come off, and a shoulder was smashed, among numerous other injuries that I don't want to think about anymore. It was definitely the worst day of my life up until that point. 

I took it to David Gage in NYC and he said he could fix it, but it would be months and months before I'd see my bass again. He did an absolutely spectacular job restoring it, but while I was waiting for this miracle to occur, I had no idea what to expect and the whole thing was extremely depressing. For me winter is depressing enough without having something like that happen. 
In an effort to make myself feel better, I decided to go to Florida for a few days, and just chill out on the beach, soak up the warm sunshine, take long walks while pondering life without my bass, eat fresh seafood, drink beer, etc. Doug wasn't available so I went by myself and had as delightful a time as I possibly could, under the circumstances. 
On a last-minute whim, I bought one of those miniature "orange trees" that they used to sell in little cardboard boxes at airports in Florida, as a souvenir for Doug, since he hadn't been able to come along. I figured it would probably last about six months and that would be that. He took it over to his studio, and now it's back in our house, completely loaded with fruit - exactly 41 of these weird little one inch oranges. 

For the past couple of days, Doug has been making tea with these things, along with some cinnamon bark, a couple of cloves, and a crushed cardamom pod. Now that I'm ingesting these mystery oranges I have suddenly become more curious about them. Like, are they poisonous? Since they are no longer serving a strictly ornamental purpose in our household, I needed answers. When I googled "miniature orange trees sold in airports" I discovered that our plant is actually something known as a calamondin and the fruit is quite edible in certain applications. The tea Doug has been making tastes sort of lemony and is delicious with those various spices added. 

So out of this miserable situation, not only did my bass come back from the dead in better shape than ever, but now, twelve years later, I'm drinking the best tea I ever had, and loving it.  And I’m not even really a tea drinker!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Buttercups and Horses

The buttercups this year are a good two and a half weeks late.  I know this because every year I drive past the fields in this area on a daily basis during the last week of April for an annual gig I have up in Baltimore and I always notice the buttercups.  They weren't out at the usual time this year, but they are definitely out now.

That's the Red Door Country Store off in the distance in the picture below.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Back, I think....

I used to be a blogger who blogged, but then I sort of stopped.  Some things changed in my life and I no longer felt the need to amuse myself by posting photos and telling little stories about them.  I joined Facebook and it somehow seemed a little more fun, more sociable and immediate.  It's instant gratification for those increasingly frequent times when I'm either too exhausted or lazy to leave my house to get together with people in my spare time.

But most of the photos that I take are not of people's faces, so I figured it would work better for me to post those pictures here.  If this stuff is still online twenty or thirty years from now, it will be fun to look back at all the fun I've had over the years, and to appreciate my survival of all of the not-so-fun things I've been through as well.  Some of the more random stuff that I've put up in the past is a secret reminder to me of something else that was going on at the same time, which nobody but me needs to know about.  So there!

Anyway, to kick things off, here's a list of posts that I just finished assembling.  They are of my trip to Paris last summer - a very pleasant topic to blog about, and a gap in my blogging existence that I wanted to fill.  It may seem like I posted them a year ago, but that is because I back-dated them.  They just got finished today and I made this list of links so that they can be looked at in chronological order from start to finish. 

So here you go, just click on the title of each one:

July 2, Arrival in Paris
July 2, First Day of Sightseeing
July 3 Montmartre and Sacre Coeur
July 4, Eiffel Tower
July 4, Marmotten Museum
July 5, Evening Stroll
July 6, Practicing, Orsay Museum, Jazz Night
July 7, Rue Cler, Orsay, Final Concert
July 8, Versailles, Cite de la Musique, Champs Elysees
July 9, Musee de l'Orangerie, Louvre, Notre Dam, Bercy Village
July 10, Giverny and the Arch of Triumph

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 10, Giverny and the Arch of Triumph

The last day of our vacation began with a trip to Monet's gardens at Giverny, and it was a day of overwhelming beauty.  We started by taking a train from the St. Lazare station to Vernon, and then continued by bus to the town of Giverny, about four miles away.
After seeing so many of Monet's paintings at the Marmotten and Orangerie galleries, I was extremely excited to be able to see these beautiful gardens in person.  But first, we stopped and had some lunch - we split a lovely salad and a cheese plate featuring some local favorites.
We decided to thoroughly explore the adorable little town before heading to Monet's place.  It's basically all on one street so this only took about twenty minutes.  There were lots of old stone buildings and flowers everywhere.



This is one of the paths into Monet's gardens.  The whole time we were there it felt like we had entered one of his paintings.  This place has an amazing vibe - it's really quite magical, dream-like almost.  I'm so glad we had plenty of time for a relaxed visit because it was hard to leave all of that beauty and peacefulness behind at the end of the day.

Compulsive picture taking was in full force - I really wanted to capture everything, not that I possibly could.  But I tried.  I took so many photos that I don't even know if I have the best ones posted here.  The place is so incredibly photogenic that I ended up with a ridiculous number of pictures to choose from.  So this is kind of a random, but representative, assortment of things I saw that day.

Here is the lily pond that was the subject of many of Monet's most famous paintings.  Because of the amazing light and the way the sky reflects on the water, even a basic photograph looks painting-like. 

This is one of the bridges that appeared in a number of Monet's paintings, now loaded up with tourists.  It's a lovely place to be a tourist though, being able to see what he saw, and imagining how the exact same scene resulted in so many different paintings.


After we finished exploring the gardens we headed for the house.

Inside there were many paintings that don't usually get featured in books or museums, because they stay right here in Monet's house.  Duh!

They don't want people taking pictures inside the house but I couldn't help myself!  Anyone who has been to my house would know that I LOVE the color scheme here.  I feel somewhat validated in my choices now, hahaha!

Look at this amazing kitchen!  This color makes me so happy - I could stare at this picture all day!
The next two pictures were taken out of the train window as we were leaving Vernon, which I guess is why they both have sort of an aqua cast to the over all color.

It was incredibly convenient to have our hotel so close to the St. Lazare station.  It wasn't the quietest neighborhood that we could have stayed in, but we appreciated being in such a central location every single day.  We walked either to or from nearly every single place we went over the course of our stay in Paris. 
So after a day on our feet, we walked the half block to our hotel and relaxed for a little while before walking to our final destination, the Arch of Triumph, better known as the Arc de Triomphe, for one last overview of this beautiful city.

I think this was our third attempt to get there in time to go to the top before closing time.  It stayed light pretty late in Paris at that time of year, so it was always later than we thought.

The view from the top seemed to beg for a panoramic shot, but it came out rather distorted.  This is a half-circular view to the east, compressed into a straight line.  You can just barely see Montmartre (to the northeast) on the left and the Eiffel Tower (to the south) is on the right.  The Arc de Triomphe is in the middle of a huge traffic circle with many intersecting streets.  The streets in this shot, starting on the left, are Avenue Hoche, Avenue de Friedland, Champs Elysees, Marceau, and D'Iena.

The photo below shows Avenue Friedland and Champs Elysees in better proportion.

Here's a panoramic shot of the view to the west.  We never made it out to that area with the all the skyscrapers in the distance.  I wonder if there is anything of interest out there that we should go see the next time we come here?

Twinkling lights on the Eiffel Tower.  It was nice to spend our last evening looking out over the city at all of the places we had visited.

Back down on the ground, looking up to admire this amazing structure.

One last picture, taken from under the Arch.  Paris is beautiful in any light, at any time of day or night.  And I think this has been my favorite vacation of all time.