We Go To DC/ Andrea Bocelli In Concert

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It has been cold and rainy here in Virginia for awhile now and Betsy was sick with a stomach virus that laid her up in bed for a few days. So as the day approached for the Andrea Bocelli concert in Washington DC I was not sure if we would even be able to go. But my lovely wife rallied and the skies cleared up, although it remained cold. We drove two hours up to the southern reach of the Metro system and glided the rest of the way to the Verizon Center.
And so it turned out to be one of the loveliest experiences we have had in quite a long time. Emerging from the subway there were tents and vendors with many, many Christmas items next to the National Portrait Gallery.
This made someone happy. Can you tell? Then we went inside to view an exhibit entitled, A Democracy of Images Photographs. Truly fascinating photos by photographers in America from the time the art first emerged in the early 1800’s until today.
  Then we went to dinner at Corduroy with a good friend of ours, Kurt, who has worked at the Library of Congress for over thirty years. And then we said goodbye and headed for the concert. Andrea was amazing as usual. There were five encores ending with his amazing rendition of Nessun Dorma. I never really expected to see Andrea Bocelli in concert so this was an amazing treat, a Christmas experience I will never forget. Betsy had a great time, too, and we enjoyed the adventure together. Back to the Metro we went and down I-95 where construction is ever present. We got home well after one in the morning and I was asleep about two minutes after my head hit the pillow. Daily walking has its rewards. Here are some photos.   https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidlind/11353523405/in/set-72157638637430505/player/

We Go To DC/ Andrea Bocelli In Concert

D's Slide shows, D's Writing, East Coast Travels

It has been cold and rainy here in Virginia for awhile now and Betsy was sick with a stomach virus that laid her up in bed for a few days. So as the day approached for the Andrea Bocelli concert in Washington DC I was not sure if we would even be able to go. But my lovely wife rallied and the skies cleared up, although it remained cold. We drove two hours up to the southern reach of the Metro system and glided the rest of the way to the Verizon Center.

And so it turned out to be one of the loveliest experiences we have had in quite a long time. Emerging from the subway there were tents and vendors with many, many Christmas items next to the National Portrait Gallery.

Then we went to dinner at Corduroy with a good friend of ours, Kurt, who has worked at the Library of Congress for over thirty years. And then we said goodbye and headed for the concert. Andrea was amazing as usual. There were five encores ending with his amazing rendition of Nessun Dorma. I never really expected to see Andrea Bocelli in concert so this was an amazing treat, a Christmas experience I will never forget. Betsy had a great time, too, and we enjoyed the adventure together. Back to the Metro we went and down I-95 where construction is ever present. We got home well after one in the morning and I was asleep about two minutes after my head hit the pillow. Daily walking has its rewards.

Sky Meadows State Park / Life Hike/Great American Backyard Campout

Blogs or Posts, D's Slide shows, East Coast Travels

It’s back home again after an two day camping event at Sky Meadows State Park with a group of Central Virginia Trailblazers. This event coincided with the Great American Backyard Campout held at parks all over the country. And I’ve just finished editing some photos taken with a Canon SX260 point and shoot. This little camera does pretty well and it has an amazing number of dents and scratches on it from camping trips in the past six months. But it keeps on clicking! I really ought to invest in a small tripod instead of looking around in the dark for a solid surface.

We had some great weather on Saturday as the park put on some educational programs for the kids and their parents. We also had a nice spaghetti dinner. And some of our group discussions were downright entertaining as well! The upcoming Super Moon was mostly on display and there was no difficulty finding ones way around in the “dark”.

Some strong winds came around later in the evening and tested the tents. And we had some rain early Sunday morning. But it was a relaxing and enjoyable time spent away from the city and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Here are some photos.


Columbarium Dedication At Arlington National Cemetery

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Today I went up to DC to visit Zachary and participate in the dedication of a new columbarium at Arlington National Cemetery.   A columbarium is a structure that contains niches for the storage of funeral urns.    It was an interesting ceremony although the jets from Reagan National drowned out some of the words.   Is there any way we can shut down that airport?  It creates noise pollution and the airplanes messed up some of my shots. Here’s a photo of the new area being dedicated and a jet in the background looking like it’s heading towards the moon.


This evening I drove back to Richmond on I95.  They are repaving parts of it so the traffic was squeezed into one lane a couple of times.  I have a suggestion.  Instead of fixing the road five miles here and five miles there they should just fix it in one ten mile stretch.  Then we would only have to go through the dance to get things down to one lane ONE TIME.

But I digress.  It was warmer today.  Spring has finally found us and not a moment too soon. 





Backpacking To Calf Mountain In Winter

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This past weekend we went up to Skyline Drive here in Virginia to backpack in the snow and ice. It was an adventure. I would go into more detail but I’m still too sore to type. It was a good learning experience and we are all blessed to have returned home in one piece. Just about every one of the ten hikers on this trip took a fall at some point. Fortunately nobody landed on a rock or tumbled down the side of a mountain. Would I do this again? Yes, but not without micro-spikes. I have learned some important things on each camping trip and this one was no exception. Have the proper gear. Stay as safe as possible.

I took these with my little Canon Powershot. I have to hand it to Canon. This is a nice, little point and shoot. And it doesn’t seem to mind if you drop it on its head every once in awhile. It’s difficult keeping the lens clean while you are dragging a pack around in all kinds of weather. But once all this other stuff becomes second-nature perhaps I will take time to clean the little sucker every few minutes.

It’s beautiful in the woods when snow covers the ground. The views are incredible. Here are some photos. Have some coffee. Be happy you are warm.



My Run For Vice President In 2016 / Jump On Board Now!

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I’m thinking about running for VP in 2016. Why not, you may ask, run for President, since you are obviously living in fantasy land. One’s as good as the other and most folks, in your situation, would run for the Big Prize. Well, the answer to that question is very simple. I don’t want to do any work. I’m already retired and have some things to do every day. Adding to the list would be stressful. But (!) an occasional trip to DC and a ride, once in awhile, on Air Force One (the VP does get to do this, right?) would be fine. I could make a speech every so often at least as cogent as the present occupier of the office. And I wouldn’t be causing any scenes, touching folks, and spreading germs. So that could be a plus.

Here’s how we are going to do it (because I’m counting on YOUR support). First, we need an issue and I’ve actually been writing about one here, on this blog, recently. The debt crisis. How do we solve it. Well, I’ve found two interesting articles. The first is by Thomas Sowell writing for Townhall.com entitled Fiscal Cliff Notes: Part II. 

And the second is by Stephen Herrington writing for Huffingtonpost.com entitled Conservative Myth Busting: Lowering Taxes Raises Government Revenue .

They are diametrically apposed in their ideas about solving the debt crisis and taxes. Today that issue is identified as the Fiscal Cliff although this term will probably be a distant or non-existent memory by the time you read this. What WE need to do is discover who is right! Because economics should be more like science, dammit! They don’t send up the space shuttle each time based on this kind of information!

Once we have the answer to our problem, we need to make sure, EVERYONE knows what-the-hell it is! Because I’m tired, and so are you (probably) of hearing about this every day. We can proceed, in other words, and make sure the word gets out. We do have, unfortunately, once small problem.

It’s called Global Warming. It has come to my attention that there are folks out there who do not feel our fiscal situation and 16 trillion dollars of debt is the primary issue facing our country. They feel the the level of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are more important! And one party is not paying enough attention to the fact we may drown (as a nation) while trying to figure out our fiscal mess. In fact, many of them feel it would be helpful if our economy collapses! This would cause many of us to be unable to drive our cars and cut down on smog. Among other things.  We need science once again!  And not the creepy made-up stuff!

So, as you can probably see (if you are still paying attention) these two issues are interrelated! And we need to sort them out before we can come up with solution (duh!). Once we have done this we can press forward. We can let the world know what needs to be done. There are many other issues, of course. And I, as a VP candidate in 2016 will have no position on any of them. Let the states sort them out. Let the Supreme Court have a stab at it. And I’m sure the military can stand up for themselves.

If we can solve the debt issue and make sure we don’t all get waterlogged in the process we will have done our part! And I, as your presumptive candidate for the second highest office in the land will be more than ready to take a few victory laps.

Next time, we will need to discuss who will be President and put our policies in place. She (or he) must be trustworthy, of course. So it shouldn’t be difficult getting down to the short list. And since we will probably have 50 million supporters by this time next year, I feel confident we will be able to find someone.

So, it’s time to go to work on these two articles. I’m looking forward to your comments. And, if they are really impressive, who knows? There may be a cabinet appointment in it for you!



Central VA Trailblazers / Bear’s Den Hostel & Harper’s Ferry Trip

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We went up north this past weekend to Harper’s Ferry for some sightseeing and hiking. The weather was very accommodating and we took lots of photos.

Here’s a look at the hike to Raven Rock and back. It is described as strenuous due to the 1500 ft. vertical gain and the very rocky trail on the AT. I was happy to discover that wicking materials really do work in the cool weather. Listening to the wind in the trees I often hiked alone, at my own pace, happy to be among the trees on a trail that has seen many amazing hikers on their way to Georgia or Maine.

Earlier we all went to the town of Harper’s Ferry and had some food and drink. There’s lots to see here and they do reenactments of the John Brown drama that precipitated the American Civil War. There are many old, stone buildings that were painstakingly built with materials from the surrounding mountains. I was drawn to the foundation of an old church on the side of a steep hill overlooking the river and mountains. It has been nearly destroyed during the Civil War, later rebuilt and then left for another location closer to the town.

It was a fun trip. I enjoyed the company and the many opportunities for photo captures. Here are some pics!


A really good, antiwar song by Bob Dylan entitled, appropriately, John Brown. Mr Brown, of course, was trying to precipitate conflict over the institution of slavery. It’s a tragic flaw in the human character that it cannot give up the absurd without a lot of bloodshed. And war.

Keiko Matsui At Birchmere / Happy Birthday Mr. Blogger

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Last week Betsy said, “It’s your birthday next week and so we are going to see Keiko Matsui at the Birchmere Theater in Northern Va. tomorrow night.”

Cool! What a nice Bday present! And so, away we went, and had fun. We arrived there early and sat on a bench with a few other early birds. Then we got tickets and call ticket #8 which means they call you to be seated early. So we sat right in front of Keiko’s keyboard. And then the band came out and played!

They all played very well. They are all excellent musicians. And Keiko is especially good, as well as beautiful and, if you can imagine, humble as well. I love meeting extraordinary people who are so much like regular people. It’s such a vast distance to cover but there are those who can do it well. And, unless she is completely different in her private life (always a possibility although unlikely), Keiko is one of them. She played from her new album and then offered some fan favorites. I bought the album and a photo of her and after the show met her and asked her to sign them.

I’m really not into this autograph business but this is the second time I’ve met her and it just seemed right! I wrote about her last summer when she played in the rain at the Maymont Jazz Festival here in Richmond. That was where I realized she is an amazing artist!

So all is well except that I’m now officially a senior citizen. I’m in the last third of life. I will be changing teams (and uniforms) sometime in the not too distant future. Happy Birthday! It means different things at different ages.

Here’s a photo of lovely Keiko and the blogger. It’s not often that he is on the receiving end of a smile from a beautiful, talented super star (except when his wife is happy). So we cannot let this moment go by without recording it for posterity.





Humpback Rocks Backpacking Trip / Central Va Trailblazers At Large / Paul Wolfe Shelter

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This past weekend I went backpacking again up on the Appalachian Trail just south of Waynesboro, Va. We traveled 8 miles the first day and 5 the second day spending a night next to Mill Creek and the Paul Wolfe Shelter. I also had a great opportunity to take some photos at [[wiki:Humpback Rock]] with its grand vistas of the valley below.

The weather was just about perfect. In order to get to the campsite we went down this zigzag trail and were greeted by other campers who had already arrived and were enjoying the cool stream. I set up my tent in an isolated area and went down to the stream to soak my tired feet in the water. Ah, bliss. Later on we started a campfire next to the shelter and enjoyed a few hours of camaraderie. It was just cool enough to make us appreciate the warmth a campfire provides as well as the nearly full moon glancing down at us between the trees.

This is how you get to know a group of relative strangers. And, yes, there were a few drinks involved in that process. But a father showed up with his young son in tow and we all kept that in mind as the evening wore on. They stayed in the shelter. Some of our group also slept in the shelter. I eventually wandered back to my tent, regretting that I has set it up outside the “perimeter”. There were lots of bear encounter stories to wind up the evening so I was thinking that if a bear came by I would, naturally, be the one he would pick off. But there were no bears in the neighborhood this night!

I wonder how one would react to the flash of my camera? Would I have the nerve to take his pic? These and other questions will have to wait until another time. There was much discussion the next morning about a loud introduction some beast, or bird, made around 6 am. I listened to a great number of animal sounds this morning and the closest thing I could find was the cry of a bobcat. It was quite loud and reverberated through the area. And it definitely would make a great alarm clock! Time to get up! Sleep will not be coming again for awhile.

I met a woman who was in her eighties on this hike and she really was impressive. She has had breast cancer, twice! And here she is backpacking on the AT! She sat next to me at the campfire for awhile and I discovered she also went to Boston University! But she was there back in the 50’s when I was still a child. They left early the next day and we did pass them when we eventually started hiking again. Bless her heart. I feel sure she got where she was going in God’s good time.

A [[wiki:Garter snake]] crossed my path on the way out. I should have taken a photo but I was humping it up a hill and not inclined to stop. When you are with a group there is some pressure to keep up but I regret not spending more time resting, listening and recording the event on film. We did stop, briefly, to take photos of a fireplace that someone had built long ago. Someone spend a lot of time and energy shaping these large rocks into a source of light and warmth. It was home for awhile but now the wood is gone and much of the foundation.

I’ve noticed that after returning from these backpacking trips I have a greater appreciation of the comforts of home; my comfortable, clean bed and much else. And I also have started feeling a bit tougher, in general.  There’s a big push in our consumer society to convince everyone that there is a product to make every situation less taxing. Less painful. And maybe there are things, to a degree, that do this. But it’s still a major challenge, especially for oldsters like myself and my 80-something year old new friend.  Getting older is not a game for sissies.

I guess I would say that, like walking 8 miles every morning, hiking does make you better able to ignore small pains and discomforts.  Without a doubt there are lots of people out there who have discovered this much earlier in life than I did. Military service, for example, must do it to the nth degree.

I never was in the military. But I’m happy, even at this late date, to get some training. And I don’t even have to go to war, although, if a bear shows up in the middle of the night, I may have to take his picture! Here are some photos of our backpacking trip.



Mt. Rogers And The AT / Learning To Backpack And Survive / The Central VA Trailblazers In Action

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So I am back home today after traveling to SW Virginia and backpacking in the Mt. Rogers area. There are some real challenges associated with doing this type of thing starting with the weather and we had a little of everything (except snow) on this trip.

It was good getting away from civilization for a little while. Especially the politics. Unfortunately, it’s still going on now! We have the second convention in two weeks AND they are still talking about Clint Eastwood talking to the empty chair!

So what happened on the trip? We spent about six hours on the road and stopped to dine in Wytheville at an unusual placed called The Log House 1776 Restaurant.   If you read the reviews you can see there is some dissension among the guests because it can take awhile to be served.  We didn’t have too much of a problem and they invited us to tour the place.  So I took a bunch of photos and I think you will see this is not your Applebee’s experience.  The beer is served in heavy glass mugs with a nice frosting and the food was good.  Enough said.

We hiked a mile or two the first day and set up camp without too much of a problem.  I found a nice spot off aways near a stream that made a wonderful sound all night long and provided a good water source.  The MSR water filter quickly did its job and a young couple with a happy child and two cool-looking dogs showed up so I didn’t get too lonely (more pics!).

Amazon.com Widgets 

The next day, Sunday, was the real challenge because we planned to hike six miles to the next campsite near the top of Mt. Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia. This was my first backpacking experience and I took too much stuff! My backpack weighed around 38 pounds and this is too much for somebody who hasn’t developed the particular muscles you need to go up the side of a mountain! But, we all made it, thankfully, without anyone having too much of a problem. I did get a large blister and Karl, our thoughtful and experienced leader, helped me bandage it. Karl also made sure none of us got lost. At one point he and I were hiking along the horse trail when a guy came up on a dirt bike and started talking to me. Karl was about a hundred yards ahead and I stepped off the trail to let him pass. But he stopped and started talking to me. I thought it was idle chit-chat so I politely told him I needed to go because without Karl I was lost in the woods. And I started walking again. He revved up his motorized beast and went on by but stopped again and started talking to Karl who asked him some pertinent questions. It was only then that I realized he was the park ranger and I had terminated our interview. Whoops! But he was very helpful in any case, as it turned out we were slightly off our trail and needed to move in a different direction.

I was moving slowly and some of the younger members of the group had moved ahead earlier in the day. But we all reunited at the campsite near the summit of Mt. Rogers. It was blessed relief to set up the tent, have something to eat and relax  “indoors”.  I was doing this, listening to the murmur of my fellow campers around the campfire when a cold front moved in and a veritable deluge suddenly sent them all scampering to their tents. The temperature plummeted in a matter of a few minutes and, for the first time this season, it actually felt good to burrow in the sleeping bag and fall into a deep sleep for a few hours. My experience is that you do not sleep through the night in this type of situation but it really is not an issue. As long as you are warm and dry it is pleasant to lay there and listen to the sounds of the night. Wind and rain interact with the tent fabric and the trees. You find yourself on the edge of something that is quite wild and feel part of it. It is an adventure. One of our group talked about her recent experience solo hiking on the AT. She was resting in her tent at night when a bear came visiting, wandered around the site making little bear noises. She didn’t realize they were bear noises until later when she looked them up on Youtube. But she suspected it was a bear and I can imagine some of the feelings she was having on her first experience alone in the woods.

We visited with some wild cattle and ponies (more pics!) this trip but no bears. Karl, our intrepid group leader, recently saw a bear close up on the AT. It wandered off in a different direction and posed no threat. Bears apparently are quite cautious about humans and not, in general, a threat. You don’t want to press your luck, however, as a recent photographer did up in Alaska with a grizzly. He got much too close for too long watching the humongous beast eating some vegetation and taking his last photos on this earth. He did not realize, apparently, that bears, as do we all, have their salad before the main course.

The next day we hiked four miles. I was delighted when Karl pointed out a short ways in the distance and below us the parking lot and civilization. I felt for a few moments a feeling of accomplishment along with a desire for a soft bed, a refrigerator down the hall, and a hot shower. All these things, often taken for granted, are more appreciated as I sit here at home. But the media circus I did not miss at all and I’m now missing the long views of the mountains and valleys, the beautiful mist and the gentle gaze of the ponies who live there always and have accepted, more than I can even imagine, all the changing conditions that nature throws at them.


Thanks to Lindsey Borgsmiller for this photo!

I will return, hopefully soon, however, after I have disengaged myself from a few more of the trappings of this world, and shaved the backpack weight by at least thirteen pounds. There were things I brought up there that I never touched. They won’t be going again. You can say “I might need this” but you absolutely need to avoid accidents and your odds are not good with an overweight pack. It’s all about the odds, really. Sure I may use a tent repair kit or have an opportunity to take some cool videos but what if I lose my balance and sprain an ankle miles from help? Do I need extra macaroni and cheese? No. Maybe I will be hungry but I can make it back to the car. Your priorities are quickly adjusted as you labor, carrying so many things up a steep incline. And you don’t want to interrupt the outdoor experience of others as well! People invest a great deal of time, energy, expense and thoughtful planning to do these things. May I never slow them down!

So it’s back to daily walks, working on certain muscle groups that have been complaining the past few days, and waiting for the next opportunity to experience a new perspective on life, build relationships with like-minded individuals of all ages, and capture it all on film. Here are some photos, by the way. Some of them were taken from the car on the way out there and back. We can see here a world that is slowly dying. Old farm buildings   hold out against the ravages of time and the corporate world. And then, a few photos of a world that has always been here and will continue to go on long after we and our ways have passed. I’m sorry there aren’t more of them but I was busy trying to survive on the trail. Maybe next time.


New Construction Projects Dot The Washington DC Skyline/ Stop The Spending!

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When we were up in Washington DC earlier this year we went to [[wiki:Arlington National Cemetery]]. It’s a solemn and very spiritual place to visit and we spent a good deal of time there walking around the rows and rows of grave sites. We toured the house that used to belong to Robert E. Lee and I wrote at the time how surprised I was to see a photo of our current president in the bookcase with the historical books about our nation’s past and all the terrible things that have happened to it. It’s really a miracle we survived the tearing apart of The Civil War.

And as we walked through the beautiful trees and lawns I looked down over the city and was surprised once again to see all the construction projects dotting the horizon. I had never seen so many huge cranes in just one place. And it reminded me that our government continues to grow and provide great jobs to many in this area while throughout the country unemployment remains stuck over eight percent and 23 million Americans are unemployed or trying to survive on part-time jobs.

America is suffering just as it has so many times in the past. And our people are suffering and dying while the government continues to rake in money we do not have to spend in so many ways. The government cannot employ those 23 million Americans but it can make it easier for jobs to be created. It can stifle its appetite for our money and let us use it for the things we need. Raising taxes on the rich is not going to solve the problem we have in this country. It will simply lead to more spending.

And more cranes pointed towards the sky in places like DC. I’m tired of all the silliness. I’m tired of government picking winners and losers. Let us live our lives, create new things and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Millions of Americans can and will do all that is necessary if the government will just get out of the way.



In a way we are still fighting The Civil War. It’s still all about racial equality, state’s rights, and violent disagreements over everything! But it’s far more complicated now. We have come a long way towards establishing a level playing field for all. But instead of rejoicing in this there always seems to be another reason to continue the war and spend more money.

We can’t continue like this. The country will come apart this time. Or some foreign adversity will take advantage of our disunion and end life as we know it for all of us. We need to get it together and be strong. We need to start working together. And I don’t see the current president encouraging this at all. I don’t know that the other side will do any better. But, at least there’s a chance it will happen.  And, I know we need to stop using the tired, old dialogues of the past and think of some new things to say to each other.  It’s all just so, boring.

The political life of the nation rolls on. And silent ghosts look down from the hills, waiting, and wondering, no doubt, what we are doing to the nation they served and, many times, died to preserve.