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Friday, July 16, 2021

Happy 272nd Birthday, Alexandria!

 I've always enjoyed seeing fireworks displays, but in recent years, have only rarely gone to see them.  What usually holds me back is the idea of heading into large crowds with parking and/or mass transit scrums.  I made a happy discovery about our new home this year, though.  While I was researching if there was a way I could view DC's July 4th fireworks without actually going into DC and getting involved in the aforementioned scrums and crowds, I discovered that Alexandria celebrates the anniversary of its founding with fireworks!  Best of all, the park where celebrations were held is an easy walk from our home.  There are things I still miss about Silver Spring, MD, where we lived before moving here last summer.  However, the promise of annual fireworks that I can walk to is definitely a point in Alexandria's favor.

The Potomac River at night

My one fireworks photo that is recognizable as a firework

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Pandemic Daze: Traveling Right Now

 I'm not sure what to call this particular period of time.  I think we'd all like to think of this as the post-pandemic period, but I don't want to jinx us all by doing that.  After all, much of the world has little to no access to COVID vaccines.  Then there is the vaccine hesitancy in parts of the US to contend with.  So it may not be a post-pandemic period, but as someone who is fully vaccinated, I feel more freedom to do as I please, including traveling.  I just got back from a trip to North Carolina to see my parents and make a trip into the mountains so we could all escape the heat.  

From my experiences preparing to travel and traveling, it appears that the entire US is currently traveling.  However, if you're not currently traveling and want to travel, I can offer the following tips:

1.  Book pet care/housesitting early.  Granted, we were at somewhat of a disadvantage here because (a) this was our first overnight trip since moving last summer and we weren't established with a local company, and (b) we planned our trip on fairly short notice.  That being said, we were told by multiple local pet sitting companies that they were booked solid, and the sitter we ultimately hired through Rover told me she'd had to turn down multiple requests.

2.  Expect odd crowd patterns.  On the way to NC, we had to sit in a line of cars to get a parking spot at a rest area.  On the way back, we got off on an exit with the plan of going to McDonald's for coffee and a restroom break.  It turned out they were open for drive-thru service only, so we went to a combination convenience store and Dunkin' Donuts.  This was fine except that everyone else seemed to have the same idea, and I must have waited in line for a good 15 minutes to use the restroom.  

On an unrelated side note, it turned out that Dunkin' Donuts had iced decaf!  I was so excited to learn this, since even getting hot decaf is a struggle sometimes, and you nearly always have to get iced decaf as a more expensive specialty drink.  Dunkin' Donuts will be getting a larger share of my road trip coffee funds from here on out.

3.  Bring a mask.  In the interest of full disclosure, I wore my mask less on this trip than I had at any point since last spring.  But, I was happy to have it sometimes in crowded indoor environments.  Also, very occasionally, a business still wanted everyone wearing a mask (like a bookstore we stopped in before returning home).

Here are a few photos from the trip:

Linville Falls

Moth at Daniel Boone Garden

More bug-spotting at Daniel Boone Garden

Mountain view

Rhododendron at Linville Falls trail