The Home of Washington is in Your Charge

Recently my Grandmother discovered that we are descendants of Ann Pamela Cunningham, the woman who saved Mount Vernon from deterioration and preserved the house for future generations to enjoy. Naturally, I need to tell the world about this connection to George Washington.

Kyle and I finally had a chance to get out to Mount Vernon for a proper visit a couple weeks ago. It was possibly the perfect early-fall day: blue skies, slight breeze, chill in the air…

The house is still very nice (however you are unable to photograph inside the house), and an entire day can be spent around the gardens and yard. Mount Vernon is just a quick trip from DC, driving it took us only about 25 minutes, however I’ve taken the metro and a shuttle before and it’s not too bad of a trip.
DSC_3728DSC_3735 DSC_3737The highlight of our visit was about 30 minutes spent with Martha Washington. She told us about life at Mount Vernon, about her first years of marriage to Mr. Washington, and what it was like to be the General’s and then President’s lady. 
DSC_3746 DSC_3755There is a very nice museum and visitor center at Mount Vernon (George Washington’s famed wooden teeth are on display!). A great deal of credit was given to my ancestor for the work she did to save the home. 
DSC_3773 DSC_3774 DSC_3775Two bulls out in the farm: DSC_3776George and Martha, along with other relatives, were originally buried in a tomb on the land, but after some years the tomb was too small to hold everyone. George was a planner, and had seen this coming so had prepared plans for a new tomb – many years after he died, the new tomb was created to his specifications and the family’s remains were moved. DSC_3785Can you believe our first president is RIGHT THERE?
DSC_3790 DSC_3792 This is the old tomb. I tried to get in but they locked it. Darn. DSC_3794 DSC_3799Mount Vernon is very romantic! DSC_3817We then went “off the beaten path” as far as Mount Vernon goes and went to visit George Washington’s gristmill and distillery. Just a few miles down the road is the site, so you’d have to drive, but it’s free to take a tour if you’re coming from Mount Vernon.

George Washington ran a very successful gristmill from what I hear – producing cornmeal and flour from his wheat and corn crops. Eventually someone had said to him, “you have all the tools to make whiskey – what’s holding you back?” (I paraphrased this, of course). So, he hired the best in the business to get his whiskey operation up and running. Some time after his death (GW died in 1799) his distillery went up in flames – which is not surprising since colonial-era whiskey-making takes a good deal of fire.

Thankfully, GW left behind detailed notes on his operation. Perfect for future whiskey AND history loving people to rebuild.

If you’d like to learn more about the distillery, check out this list for 10 Facts About the Distillery – it starts with “George Washington was the only founding father to commercially operate a distillery” … anyone else thinking, GW solidified as THE coolest founding father?

IMG_20141018_154921 IMG_20141018_155334 IMG_20141018_155418 IMG_20141018_161605 IMG_20141018_161634 IMG_20141018_161648 IMG_20141018_161816 IMG_20141018_161822 IMG_20141018_161834Twice a year Mount Vernon produces a small batch for sale, however they are unpaged and based on what was said on the tour, not the highest quality (despite costing a pretty penny). With that, the earlier inner-struggle on whether it would be worth the investment in our own Mount Vernon whiskey bottle is solved.

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Where Does the Time Go?

Nobody warned me that the days, months, years would actually fly by after a certain age. One day we’re celebrating our anniversary and the start to the summer heat, the next I’m pulling out sweaters wondering how it’s suddenly late-October and I have yet to buy a pumpkin. Before my memories start to fade, here are the highlights of our summer:

We went back to UD for our college reunion weekend. Naturally, we all acted exactly how we acted in college.

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There is a park in our neighborhood (Yards Park) that hosts bands on Friday nights all summer. It was easy to be regulars and convince friends to come visit for the evening.

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Looking back on my phone for summer photos my first thought was “Why did I take this photo?” Then I realized it was because this could possibly be my Lisa Simpson outfit (if I could only wear one outfit my entire life) – crab necklace, Ohio shirt, and polka dots. All my favorite things. And, I really love crabs. My crab necklace from Baltimore was a necessary accessory when we picked up a bushel of crabs to pick with friends on evening.

No other photos were taken because our hands were much too messy.

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We are really working on our camping skills, so for the Fourth of July holiday we went down to the family farm for some R&R.
IMG_4536.JPGIMG_4542.JPGIMG_4541.JPGIMG_4539.JPGThis summer I was busy with a “summer job” giving Segway tours around the city. It’s not over yet but it has been a total blast meeting people from all over the world to share with them my city’s history. I’m not going to lie, it’s been really nice having a willing (and paying) audience for my cheesy jokes. Remind me to tell you about the bushes outside of the White House…

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My parents surprised me one weekend with a visit to DC! I wanted to give them the full “DC Local” treatment since they normally come in the winter or over a holiday. We hit up Yards Park (I told you we went every week), visited the famed pandas at the National Zoo, and even grabbed some crabs from the fish market. All in a DC weekend.

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We also had a jam-packed weekend with one of our most favorite families. Not pictured: the parents.

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Went to the best and most entertaining concert of my life: Arcade Fire. I have never had so much fun at a concert.

IMG_4751.JPGSent some of our best DC friends off to London for a year of adventure and schooling:

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Went to Cincinnati for Labor Day and I got to see the WEBN fireworks for the first time (believe it) after a wild night in OTR.  Spent a lot of quality time with Mom’s kittens and my grandparents.

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Whew. I think that last photo sums it up! Now that I’ve gone through all of our photos, I realize we had quite a packed summer, full of travel and good friends – what more could we have asked for?

Tour: Bluejacket Brewery

What to do on a cold, wet Saturday morning? Grab a beer, of course! Recently a brewery opened up in our neighborhood and I couldn’t have more good things to say about it. Good beer, good people, and awesome atmosphere.

On Saturdays they have started giving brewery tours, and we had gotten lucky to have a tour given by the head brewmaster for the company – which gave us insight into how they set up the operation and what their plans are for the future.

Here are the highlights: It was built into an old Navy building that was used for ship and munitions manufacturing – all of the windows are new but the structure itself is all original. The brewery operations are on three different levels, and the brewery has about 20 different beers in development at a time, in addition to casks aging in various specially built rooms.

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Oh and at the end you get a free tasting (which is more like half a pint) of whichever brew catches your eye! If you’re ever in our ‘hood let me know, we would love to grab a beer at Bluejacket with you!

Google Glass + Art @ National Portrait Gallery

When I see the opportunity to try out new technology, it’s not a hard sell to get me in line.  This weekend only at the National Portrait Gallery is a special piece that is pretty neat on it’s own, but you can put on Google Glasses for an interactive experience with the art.

Here is a little more on the art (excerpted from the National Portrait Gallery site):

Portrait of America, from David Datuna’s “Viewpoint of Billions” series, is a 12-foot multimedia American flag covered in hundreds of eyeglass lenses. Try on Google Glass and explore historical and contemporary figures from American culture embedded in the artwork. Videos and interactive experiences are activated by different images in the piece and by your voice!

After an hour and a half waiting in line, we geared-up and took advantage of our 3 minute viewing time.  When you put on the GG and look through the lenses on the art piece you can see little pictures and news clippings from various famous Americans (I saw JFK, Lady Gaga, George Washington…) with your own eye, and those photos trigger little videos to play through the GG (like a JFK campaign video, and a Lady Gaga performance clip).

Below are a few photos from the experience, unfortunately the last day it is in DC is today – but there are hopes (according to their PR rep I tried to BFF) to take the “show on the road” to other cities.

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20140217-104039.jpg20140217-104002.jpg My only real gripe with the event is that 3 minutes was not nearly enough time to spend with the piece. It took about a minute to figure out the Google Glasses (probably more for those a little less tech-savvy). By the time I got into the groove with navigating the piece I was being shuffled out.

Read more about the piece and artist (and experience the art from those viewing it) by visiting the artist’s site atwww.datuna.com 

The Building Museum Gift Shop

There’s something about a good gift shop that excites me more than any other type of shopping (and I like most shopping). DC certainly has a lot of them, and to be honest some are just better than the rest. I would actually give a Gold Medal to the Building Museum for their gift shop.

The Building Museum is on my “Off the Beaten Path” tour I give to visitors. It’s a is a museum of “architecture, design, engineering, construction, and urban planning” and is honestly quite interesting (even for us non-engineers). The setup of the museum is perfect for stopping in to beat the heat (or the cold) – it’s wide open inside with separate rooms for each of their exhibits, so you can just pop into a couple, without needing to spend the entire afternoon in one spot.

I might go into it in a later post, but some of the highlights of the museum include a 3D model of the Washington, DC area – both pre and post swamp removal (long story) – and past exhibits using Legos, or about the design of parking garages.

Yes, this is one of those museums you might lose Kyle in. 20140215-144744.jpg

 

 

 

Speaking of Kyle, this particular visit to the Building Museum was only to pick up a couple gifts for him in the museum shop. Being a non-Smithsonian, I guess that the museum has the liberty to stock whatever they want and they stock some VERY good things for the engineer, green building enthusiast, travel lover, map lover, or architect in your life, from child to adult.  Since my husband falls into at least a few of those categories, it’s easy to get him a gift.

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I mean, who doesn’t need some DC-map earrings and some ceramic Legos for their home?

Now hopefully someone comes to visit us soon so  I can have an excuse to actually visit more than the gift shop!