God Bless America – I’m in D.C.

I’m on the road again, ’cause the life I love is traveling ’round and seein’ friends.

I’ve arrived in our nation’s capital yesterday, after some R & R in Portland and Seattle. I’ve fallen in love with our National Portrait Gallery. From the Grand Canyon to the National Mall, America is beautiful.

Maupin, Oregon

From Pendleton, Oregon, I made my way to my friend Peter’s heritage pig and wheat ranch in Maupin. Heading west along the Columbia River gave me big, “I’m home!” feelings, and then the view of Mt. Hood from Peter’s ranch exuded lots of near-Portland charm.

Mt. Hood from Maupin
A view of Mt. Hood from Highway 216 in Maupin.

I met Jerry and Carla, who run the animal part of the ranch. They’re pig whisperers who get the pigs bred, fed, and off to market, including several restaurants in Portland.

They also take care of pigeons, peacocks, ducks, chickens, donkeys, a herd of yaks, an alpaca, a horse, and some dogs and cats at the ranch. It’s a true menagerie. Peter is in his 60’s and I consider the ranch is multi-hundred-acre Man Cave. Good for him!

Jerry with Sam the dog at the ranch. Sam had just rolled in yak poop.
Jerry with Sam the dog at the ranch. Sam had just rolled in yak poop.

Portland, Oregon

I arrived back amidst tall trees (much missed) in Portland and got clean, showered, laundered, and tidied up. I even scrubbed every inch of Little Sugar (my car). All the rest and time off the road felt wonderful. I want to thank my friends Peter and Kelly for hosting me nearly a week and letting me gobble up their utilities.

Peter and Kelly are the parents of one of my best friends from college. I love them.
Peter and Kelly are the parents of one of my best friends from college. I love them.

I saw my friends Colt and Dustin and their baby Dane. Colt and I went to college together. He’s one of my silliest, kindest friends so time with him is a treat. I even married Colt and Dustin legally in Washington State, just after gay marriage was legalized. We brunched with other Seattle friends, Karen and Natalie. Baby Dane is just starting to walk so that was a big topic.

Me and Colty. He was off to play tennis.
Me and Colty. He was off to play tennis.

I also had a very happy birthday on October 13, thanks to lots of Facebook messages, texts, calls, and a dinner out with my hosts. Thank you, everyone. I “don’t remember” the name of the restaurant they took me to (because I am sworn to secrecy) but the jalapeno-mango margarita was fabulosa.

We had berries and whip cream for dessert. Yum!!!
We had berries and whip cream for dessert. Yum!!!

Seattle, Washington

In Seattle, I fit in a reprise of “Oh, Seattle!” time with loving friends and family, and lots of trips to the gym.

My niece Lily's cuteness continues to flourish. Here she is in her dad's size 15 shoes.
My niece Lily’s cuteness continues to flourish. Here she is in her dad’s size 15 shoes.

My Seattle highlight came in the form of eyeglasses. I had scheduled various medical appointments during my time back, including an eye appointment. What did I discover?

I have been rocking “great vision” in the last few years because my eyes have been working too hard. Within minutes of putting on my new glasses, a chronic pain in my left shoulder started to melt away. You guys! Glasses! Hallelujah! I’m so grateful.

Mom and I found me glasses at Costco. They're giving me a whole new, more-nerdy look.
Mom and I found me glasses at Costco. They’re giving me a whole new, more-nerdy look.

Centerville, Virginia

From Seattle, I scored three-seats across on a flight to Dulles as I said farewell to road tripping. I do love it when someone else drives.

A special hostess picked me up at Dulles. Her name is Laurelynn and she is one of the most badass females I know. We met at surf camp in Dominical, Costa Rica, where she paddled out beyond the surf with ease, then cruised back to the beach, while I struggled to avoid the “washing machine” of the pounding surf. She’s a championship Master’s swimmer and incredibly humble about all her skills.

Me, Laurelynn, and Janet all ended up being surf camp buddies in Costa Rica in 2012.
Me, Laurelynn, and Janet all ended up being surf camp buddies in Costa Rica in 2012.

Guess what her job is? She runs a shooting range for the Virginia Regional Park Authority. It’s like live Parks and Recreation.

She manages 40 people, 39 of whom are men. She gets up on cranes with a chainsaw to cut down trees that are “over the archery hut.” She’s been working for the Park Authority since high school, including leading kayaking tours of the Potomac River. As a tech dork for a living, I find all of this fascinating.

Laurelynn was cutting through some branches when I arrived at the shooting range - wearing camo chaps.
Laurelynn was cutting through some branches when I arrived at the shooting range – wearing camo chaps.

After a jog through Bull Run, the site of one of the first battles of the Civil War, I had a shooting lesson at the range from Sam. Sam is a former military guy with countless certifications from every gunmanship organization in the country. He was kind, patient, and confident that I could learn to shoot the clays he sent up into the air.

Sam kept it positive and fun. He gave me a tour of the facility and explain all the shooting sports. He's passionate.
Sam kept it positive and fun. He gave me a tour of the facility and explained all the shooting sports. He’s passionate.

I did alright. My first few rounds were my best, before I starting thinking about staying forward on my feet, keeping my head up, keeping my cheek against my gun (hard to do those last two together when you have a long neck like mine, Sam informed me), keeping my eyes level, and then “moving smoothly.’ But, it was a great challenge.

I’m not in love with sport shooting but at least I can have checked firing a gun off my list of fears. I did it.

Washington, D.C.

Now I’m crashing at my friend Mike and Karen’s place in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood of D.C. I’m taking care of their very cute dog Chinook while they travel “out West” for their Stanford reunion weekend.

Chinook the dog after a big day of walks and ball chasing.
Chinook the dog at rest after a big day of walks and ball chasing.

D.C. reminds me of Seattle in its nerdiness, but its personality is way more intense and serious. I have not seen so many men in full suits – jacket included – and women in nylons in years. And, these folks are not just tweeting about software for a living, they make national security decisions or are putting legislation into action. There is a sense of being of service on the job that I think exists more in nonprofit work or art in Seattle.

I started today learning Chinook’s quirks when it comes to walking, bathroom breaks, and playing ball, then I walked down to the National Portrait Gallery. Can you believe we have such a wonderful place available to us everyday except Christmas? You guys!

The Presidential Portrait Gallery is full of beautiful work. I love this portrait of John F. Kennedy by Elaine De Kooning.
The Presidential Portrait Gallery is stunning. I love this portrait of John F. Kennedy by Elaine De Kooning.

The National Portrait Gallery is like People Magazine for the whole history of America. You get to see all kinds of painting styles and photography, and next to each image is a biography of the subject. I felt so inspired by the suffragettes, civil right leaders, scientists, Revolutionary War heroes, artists, filmmakers, and many other history-making Americans on the walls. I teared up more than once seeing the face of one brave person after another.

This puffy-pink dressed lady, Juliette Gordon Low, founded the Girl Scouts after her wealthy British husband died. She was a powerful leader with a clear vision.
This puffy-pink dressed lady, Juliette Gordon Low, founded the Girl Scouts of America after her wealthy British husband died. She was a powerful leader with a clear vision.

Spy On!

Tomorrow I’m going to the International Spy Museum. Nearly everyone I asked before this trip listed it as a must-see museum. I also hope to get to the Natural History Museum and the Botanical Gardens. This is fun! And, it’s another bucket list item that I’m glad to be experiencing.

 

3 thoughts on “God Bless America – I’m in D.C.

  1. The spy museum is awesome. A lot of the spies were women (gentle and motherly looking on the outside, badass on the inside). Also recommend the Holocaust Museum (very moving).

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