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

Advertisements
Standard
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.

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.
Standard

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

If you’d like to get more of my photography in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe.
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.

Image

Where US 50 begins

3,073 miles. That’s how long US 50 is. And it begins — or is it ends? — right here, in Ocean City, Maryland.

Its other end is in West Sacramento, California, not in Sacramento as the sign promises. A sign in West Sacramento tells drivers that Ocean City is 3,073 miles away. It’s a famous sign pairing among us roadgeeks. It was even more famous during a time when the West Sacramento sign erroneously read 3,037 miles.

US 50 is one of the original US highways, designated in 1926. But where it has ended has changed several times. Originally, it stretched from Sacramento to Annapolis, MD. Its west end was moved to Hayward, CA, in 1932, and to San Francisco in 1935. Its east end moved to this location in Ocean City in 1948. Finally, in 1972 its west end moved to its present location in West Sacramento.

The route in between has changed many times over the years thanks to various upgrades and bypasses. The changes keep coming, such as one being built now around North Vernon, Indiana. It will add two miles to the route. It makes me wonder how these 3,073 miles are counted. When the new North Vernon alignment opens, will the signs be amended to 3,075 miles?

I’ve driven US 50, including its old alignments, across Indiana and most of Illinois; see everything I’ve written about this road here. I’d like to drive the rest of it someday, on one giant road trip.

If I set my trip odometer at one end and check mileage at the other, do you think the Departments of Transportation in California and Maryland will be interested to know?

Click here to get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week!
Road Trips

Where US 50 begins (or ends, depending on your perspective)

I wax a little too philosophical about US 50 and its ends. I got to see one of them: the eastern end, in Ocean City, MD.

Image
Road Trips, Stories Told

I hate what domestic terrorism has done to our country

The first time I visited Washington, DC, was in 1993. It was an unexpected visit: I was in Maryland on business, and a schedule change left me with a free day. I was in a town at the end of the Metro train line, so I bought a pass and rode right into the National Mall.

I had no idea what to expect. I was surprised and delighted to find Capitol at one end, the Washington Monument in the middle, and the Lincoln Memorial at the other end, all separated by grass and pools.

US Capitol, 1993

Before I left Maryland I stepped into a drug store and bought a disposable camera. I’m so happy I did, because with it I recorded scenes that aren’t there anymore. Like this one.

US Capitol, 1993

Of course these steps are still there. What’s not there is the ability to walk up them. They are barricaded and a guard is posted. It’s been that way since sometime after that terrible day in September of 2001. But in 1993 I walked right up them. When I reached the top, I stood on the terrace and made this photograph.

US Capitol, 1993

You can’t make that photograph anymore because you can’t reach that terrace.

Here’s something else you can’t do anymore: on impulse, waltz right into the United States Capitol. I did just that on this August, 1993 day. I followed the yellow rope line up the steps (humming to myself, “I’m just a bill, yes I’m only a bill…“) and walked in the door. Much of the Capitol was open to anyone. Only the House and Senate chambers were closed to the public.

US Capitol, 1993

It was thrilling to simply walk into and experience this hall of American government. But it was as I had always been taught: this government and, by extension, its buildings belonged to the people. We were therefore free to experience public spaces within them whenever we wanted.

You can’t enter the Capitol this way anymore. For that matter, you can’t enter the Capitol at all without having prearranged it (which you do online here). And you don’t walk up those steps. Instead, you enter through a bunker-like underground visitor’s center (completed in 2008) that’s about 150 feet behind where I stood to make the photo above. On the way in you have to empty your pockets into trays and walk through a metal detector.

We all know that drill. We’ve experienced it for many, many years now. We all probably expect it on some level. You don’t want someone walking in armed and shooting Senators.

In 1993 that idea was so far-fetched as to be ridiculous. Today we can all fully imagine it happening. It’s a national tragedy.

But screening us all creates a second, and in my opinion greater, tragedy. Formerly our government belonged to us. Now our government can’t trust us. Formerly each of us was presumed harmless. Now as any of us enters a government building there is that one moment where the guard at the metal detector just can’t be sure.

It changes how we view our government. We used to believe we were all in it together, that our government, while not perfect, was of us and for us. Now the government feels separate from us, and we don’t feel welcome in it.

Click here to get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week!
Standard
Film Photography, Road Trips

The one-lane bridge on State Road 225

It’s rare to encounter a truss bridge on an Indiana state highway. This one, built in 1912 and carrying only one lane of traffic on State Road 225 in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, is the granddaddy of them all.

Bridge on State Road 225

Known locally as the Jewettsport Ford Bridge, this four-span Pratt through truss bridge stretches 641.6 feet across the Wabash River. It was restored in 1989, at which time the stoplights were placed at either end to control traffic. Before that, crossing this bridge often turned into a game of chicken.

Bridge on State Road 225

SR 225 is a minor highway, spanning just four miles to connect SR 43 in Battle Ground to an old alignment of SR 25, and to provide access to Prophetstown State Park. This highway’s low traffic volume has got to be key to this bridge’s survival.

Pentax ME, 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A, Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400 (at EI 200)

Click here to get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week!

 

Standard