Photography, Road Trips

Touring Arlington National Cemetery

If you know the region, you’re not at all surprised to see a photograph from Arlington National Cemetery that includes the Washington Monument. But for people like me who grew up more than 600 miles away, for whom this cemetery was only ever seen through television on a significant anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death, it was a surprise.

Arlington National Cemetery

Indeed, Arlington National Cemetery is on one side of the Potomac River, and the National Mall is on the other. The cemetery is just a mile from the Lincoln Memorial. The Arlington Memorial Bridge connects the two sites.

Arlington National Cemetery

It’s a truly lovely cemetery of gently rolling hills. I could tell it had been there for a long time as the terrain looked natural. Today, building such a place would certainly begin with big earth-moving equipment to create a desired landscape. Anyway, I was right: veterans have been buried here since the Civil War.

Arlington National Cemetery

Not just any veteran can be buried here. Anyone killed in active duty can, but beyond that the rules are fairly restrictive to honor the limited space.

Arlington National Cemetery

It’s staggering how many of these little grave markers there are, row after row in every direction as far as you can see.

Arlington National Cemetery

We visited just before sunset. The low sun created golden light and long shadows. It was an ideal time of day to visit; it created a reverent atmosphere.

Arlington National Cemetery

Behind the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is the stunning Arlington Memorial Ampitheater, completed in 1920.

Arlington National Cemetery

Its classical style was also enhanced by the setting sun.

Arlington National Cemetery

The cemetery was closing as we reached the last place we wanted to see: the eternal flame at John F. Kennedy’s burial site. This was just after we saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, by which I was so moved that I could not find it in me to photograph Kennedy’s grave. Instead, I turned around and photographed the cemetery as it led away from there.

Arlington National Cemetery

The trees, freshly flowered, were a lovely counterpoint to how I felt: struck by all the loss families had suffered across the generations as their children fought for their country.

Arlington National Cemetery

Canon PowerShot S95

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Riding the carousel dragon

Riding the carousel dragon
Canon PowerShot S95
2018

Since 1967, a carousel has entertained children (and, I suspect, many adults) outside the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

This carousel is the second on this site, having arrived in 1981. It has quite a history. It was built in 1947 for a Maryland amusement park — a segregated park, no African-Americans allowed. The park was desegregated in 1963 on the same day as the march on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke.

This dragon was added to the carousel in 1996. This kid was thoroughly enjoying his ride on it!

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single frame: Riding the carousel dragon

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Photography, Road Trips

Walking the beach in Ocean City

It was my first visit to the Atlantic Ocean.

On the beach in Ocean City, MD

It’s a long trip to visit any ocean from my Indiana home, but the Atlantic is far closer than the Pacific. And since we were most of the way to the Atlantic already on our Washington, DC, visit, we decided to spend one day at the beach.

Who knew Maryland is so wide: it took 2½ hours to drive to the beach at Ocean City! Fortunately it was an entirely pleasant drive, US 50 almost all the way.

On the beach in Ocean City, MD

The day was chilly and the wind barreled in off the ocean. Consequently, few people visited the beach with us. That was just fine with us.

On the beach in Ocean City, MD

The winds were strongest on the pier, from which I took this photo. It chilled the bones in a hurry. I didn’t stay up there for long, as I was wearing only a windbreaker over my pullover!

On the beach in Ocean City, MD

In Ocean City, to get to the beach, you have to cross the boardwalk.

On the beach in Ocean City, MD

End to end, it’s top-notch tourist-trap kitsch.

On the beach in Ocean City, MD

But since the season hadn’t begun, most of the stores and attractions were closed.

On the beach in Ocean City, MD

You could hardly get a bite to eat on the boardwalk this early-April day.

On the beach in Ocean City, MD

The boardwalk wasn’t devoid of people. These youngsters were having fun. The kid out front was pushing the cart backwards down the boardwalk.

On the beach in Ocean City, MD

We left the beach and boardwalk in search of lunch. After we ate we drove down the coast a bit to see a natural beach where we encountered some wild ponies. I’ll write more about that visit in a future post.

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Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is at its most stunning at night. It is carefully lit in a neutral bright light.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln himself is lit in cooler light, and it highlights him. That and his immensity draw people to him.

Lincoln Memorial

If you see nothing else at the National Mall, see Lincoln. He really is compelling.

Lincoln Memorial

His space is remarkable, too, especially at night. The signs all ask for visitors quiet reverence, but even when they ignore the signs the space’s stark airiness creates that reverence in you.

Lincoln Memorial

The glass ceiling tiles are the only light that isn’t neutral or cool in this space, and they stand in contrast.

Lincoln Memorial

From here it’s easy to see the Washington Monument, itself lit in the night.

Lincoln Memorial

Canon PowerShot S95

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Photography, Road Trips

The Lincoln Memorial at night

A photoessay: a series on the Lincoln Memorial at night. This is when the memorial is at its most stunning.

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Vietnam War memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial at night
Canon PowerShot S95
2018

I’m not easily moved by memorials, but the Vietnam Veterans Memorial brought me to tears the first time I saw it.

That was on my first visit to Washington, DC, in 1993. I was small when the Vietnam conflict ended. My main memories of it are the news bulletins that kept interrupting Captain Kangaroo, telling of cease fires as the conflict sputtered to its end. I hadn’t even a vague idea of how this war split our country. I didn’t learn of it until middle-school history class, and by then it was 1980.

But to see the names, in excess of 58,000 — it brought directly home to me what an enormous loss this conflict created in our country.

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single frame: Vietnam Veterans Memorial at night

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Magnolias at the Smithsonian Castle

Among the Smithsonian’s magnolias
Canon PowerShot S95
2018

We approached the National Mall from behind the Smithsonian Castle, only to be surprised by the garden we found there. It’s a rooftop garden of sorts, inasmuch as there is a structure underground beneath it. Yet magnolia trees line it on either side, and they were in bloom this bright early-April day.

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single frame: Among the Smithsonian’s magnolias

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