26 March 2006

More DC Area

On Monday the 20th Bill drove me out to Great Falls National Park. (http://www.nps.gov/gwmp/grfa/) What a beautiful place. We spent a good long time wandering the trails and enjoying the scenery. This is a place that Bill used to train at so he knows it well. This was however, the first time he’d ever been there as a tourist and just walked around to enjoy the scenery. One thing I noticed that I really liked (being the rock hound that I am) is that there are large veins of quartz running through the hills and boulders. It’s everywhere. I told Bill they should have named the place Crystal Hills, not Great Falls. What’s also fascinating is the quartz looks worn, so you know it’s been weathered by many thousands of years. Bill said in the hundreds of times he had been there he’d never noticed the quartz before, not surprising, he’s always enjoying the scenery while I’m always looking at the ground to see what kind of rocks a place has.

On one of the trails we came across a pothole in the rocks, these potholes (according to the sign in front of them) were created when the area was under water (the river didn’t always run the course it does today) and the water would create vortexes and whirlpools that would weather the rock away more in some areas than others. This particular pothole was large enough to stand in…which is why I’m in there. And yes, it was really cold that day. As a matter of fact, that day was the Spring Equinox and it snowed. Happy Spring, have fun freezing your ass off. In case anyone cares, I have 5 layers of clothing on up top and my wool gloves in that picture. I really don't like being cold, the snow was pretty and I'll admit I wanted it to snow more than just the dusting we got, but I like watching it from the inside.

Great Falls isn’t just pretty scenery, like most of the east coast it has a rich history that was developmental for our country and our way of life, small steps along a rough and long road. If you are really interested in the history of the park, read about it here: http://www.nps.gov/gwmp/grfa/falls/grfahist.htm This picture is of the first of a series of locks that used to lift and lower boats along the 75 foot Great Falls of the Potomac River.

After the Great Falls we drove to the National Zoo, it was a quick trip. Ok, getting there wasn’t a quick trip, being there was a quick trip. They only three parking lot’s open, they were all jammed packed and the exhibits we could see from the parking lot’s weren’t all that. So, we drove in, toured the parking lots, and left.

The next stop was Arlington Cemetery, this wasn’t a quick trip in any way, shape, or form. First we got turned around two different times because of construction and bad directions. We finally got there and proceeded to spend several hours there. This place is incredible, I’d say it’s cool but that seems disrespectful to the dead, it’s just amazing. Awe-inspiring might be better, but I’m not sure. There are hills and hills of white stones, all veterans and their spouses who gave their lives for our country and our freedoms. Arlington has, on average, 100 funerals a week; during the few hours we were there we saw between 5-10, I lost count. It’s incredibly humbling. We didn’t take pictures of the cemetery because there’s just something a little off about it being a ‘touristy’ kind of thing. As if the dead are a novelty. I did however video the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was really something to see. Bill had never seen this ceremony in the winter, with the soldiers in their winter uniforms. We also toured the Arlington/Lee house that is a tour that is full of history and interesting little tidbits. If you want to read more about Arlington, do so here: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.org//visitor_information/101st_army_airborne_division_memorial.html

You really need to experience Arlington to understand, it was sad to see teenagers there on fieldtrips acting like jackasses and not really caring, because no one made them care. What are we developing in our youth as a nation?