Blue and White

The next day was beautiful… very peaceful and quiet.  The storm was gone, the skies were blue, and the ground was covered with a blanket of white.  Up and down the street, our neighbors were out shoveling sidewalks and chatting to each other.   

We went out again…. walking and enjoying the break from modern life…


more pictures here…. 

Only an idiot…

With well over a foot of snow already and more coming down at a record pace, you’d have to be some sort of idiot to try and drive on the uncleared roads around our house.  So how was I going to convince Sandy that’s what we should do?  I needed a hook… something that I could tempt her with… that her desire to do is more powerful than her common sense.  Hmmmmm….

She’s always pestering me to go to the movies with her yet we never do.  The new Avatar movie just came out last night… the snow will keep the crowds away from the theater.  This would be the perfect day to see this movie.  Avatar has been advertised for months and promises spectacular visual effects and a 3D format that puts to shame the last 3D movies I’ve seen more than a decade ago.  I had already researched a few days ago to find the best theater to see this in and found a 3D Imax theater down not far from Old Towne Alexandria.
I had already completed my second round of shoveling, clearing the steps, sidewalk, and driveway.  So we piled into the Element, typed the address into the GPS, and began the adventure.
The road in front of our house had been plowed once early that morning but you would never know that if you looked down the street.  Even route 50 had disappeared under a blanket of white, touched by only a few tire tracks as most people sensibly stayed safe in their homes.  The theater was only about 15 minutes away, but it took us nearly an hour to get there.  The trip was full of back tracking as we had to abandon roads blocked by stuck vehicles, including 395, where we saw numerous cars that had slipped off the road and slid around to point in variety of directions other than the way they intended to go.
Another obstacle we had to deal with was pedestrians who had abandoned the sidewalks, mostly because you couldn’t find them, and instead were walking down the middle of streets where occasional 4×4’s had left parallel trenches which were easier to walk in.  There was almost a sense of rebellion as people, long dominated by a car-centric society, finally had the upper hand as they trudged by cars stuck in snowdrifts as their owners tried to excavate themselves.  They were reluctant to move aside as cars approached, moving the bare minimum to make space for the vehicles to get by.  It was a little crazy actually, how close they allowed the cars to pass considering how easy it was for cars to slide or lose control… almost a game of chicken against fate.
We eventually made it to the theater with almost no time to spare.  Not that it mattered…. the theater had already given up and closed for the day.  About a dozen people who had also come for the movie were going back to their cars,  I spoke to one of them and he was headed to the Potomac Yards theater to try and watch the movie there.  Trusty iphone in hand, I looked up the phone number for that theater and after a few busy signals, I got through and confirmed the movie was there and they would be open long enough for us to see the show.  
With a new sense of purpose, we hopped back in the Element, trampled over some virgin snow and slid on to the road in the direction the GPS commanded.  Unfortunately, a large tanker truck blocked the intersection ahead as it tried to navigate a turn.  We watched for a minute as the truck changed between reverse and forward a few times, trying to find an angle that would let it pass.  Success did not appear to be imminent and we decided to do a quick u-turn which ended up being a bouncier than we expected as we discovered there was a island buried in the snow.  
The beauty of the GPS is even when you don’t know where you are, you can go off in any direction you want and the GPS will adapt and find you a new path.  Following it’s instructions, we made it to the theater with plenty of time to spare.  
We were a little hungry and thought we could use this extra time to get a quick bite to eat.  Unfortunately, all of the restaurants were closed.  The grocery store however was open and we started browsing it’s aisles looking for snacks.

  When we hit the bread aisle we could see that a panicked populace had raided the wonder bread, leaving just a few random bags, laying crookedly on the shelves. 

Interestingly, the multigrain breads had barely been touched…   

Now… on to the movie…

Don’t we look cool in our 3D glasses!

Avatar was a great movie… stunning visual effects and 3D effective enough that at one point I found myself shifting to one side to try and look around one of the characters in the movie.


Our ride home… everything looks different in the snow… you could almost get lost…

where did all this stuff come from?

Wow!  I mean WOW!  

Usually when they forecast a big snowstorm, we either get rain, or the real storm misses us and instead of a blanket of snow, our streets get covered with a blanket of salt and we spend the next six months tracking salt and sand into our houses.

But beginning this past Friday evening, I’m sure to the dismay of many stores across the area, mother nature delivered.  

  It didn’t take long at all before a pristine layer of white covered the frozen ground.  Sandy and I peeked out the windows periodically from near the warmth of the fireplace.

 Not all the children were nestled all snug in their beds… apparently some were out leaving messages for their friends such as Izzy and Nick.  

The “Hi Nick” message appeared in front of our house… we think one of the girls who used to live here was Nicky.  Looks like someone did not get the message that she moved.


This storm was already showing great promise… and the next morning we weren’t disappointed.  I wandered downstairs and looked out into our winter wonderland.

The pond was covered with an icy slush… but my concern of an ice dam forming and diverting water out into the yard never occurred.  Everything looked great! 

The snow was coming down furiously.  The birds in my backyard spent a lot of time trying to find someplace to wait the storm out.  One fellow found the perfect shelter in my freshly filled bird feeder which provided him both cover and food.  Two other birds took turns trying to huddle underneath my electrical box which did not give much protection.

By the next morning these options were no longer available, the wind and snow had been too much for the bird feeder and it lay half buried.  The electrical box had been completely covered by several inches of snow.   

But that was all still in the future… we were not there yet, instead we were in the middle of the storm of the century* and like the great explorers before me, Amundsen, Scott, and Shackleton, I knew I was destined for an adventurous trek out into the wilderness of Arlington, VA.
* not really… but it was a lot of snow
But my lovely wife was not quite ready…. apparently woman’s snow clothes take significantly longer than men’s to put on.  Probably on the order of 5 minutes vs. 90 minutes.  So I shoveled instead.  There was already a good 8 or 10 inches of snow out there and more was coming down fast.  With my trusty shovel in hand, I prepared to begin unburying my property.  As I looked left and right, I could not help but feel a sense of pride for the strength of will of my fellow neighbors.  All up and down the street they fought back against mother nature, determined not to let their depreciated properties disappear forever under the avalanche of snow bearing down on us.
Hmmm… did I get carried away there.  Truth is my next door neighbor gave up with a sore back and hired someone to finish the shoveling.  People across the street hired someone with a snow blower to come and finish their job.  I had to shovel everything three times myself by the end of the weekend.  But I digress….

Eventually Sandy made it out of the house and our adventure started.  The snow was coming down fast and the wind was whipping it straight into our faces.  I didn’t really think we’d be out that long before the cold got the better of us.  We walked down to Lubber Run park and marveled at the transformation that had taken place.  

  After taking a break in one of the picnic shelters in the park, we decided that before we could continue we needed a little more protection from the whirling snow.  We headed back home to grab an umbrella which would hopefully keep the blowing snow out of our faces.

Armed with this additional layer of protection, we set off again for high rises of Ballston with promises of warm soup at the mall.
The above photo shows Sandy walking down the middle of George Mason Dr… which felt more like a deserted country road rather than a four lane divided road.

 It was a slow trek through snow that was now at least a foot deep.  Most of the roads and sidewalks had not been touched yet… the footprints we left the only break in the blanket of ever deepening snow.  After a while, we could see the faint outline of the art deco building where our promises of a temporary respite awaited.

  It was like being in a different world inside the mall.  No signs of the storm that raged outside.

And they have yummy soup! 

After lunch we went back out into the swirling white world and made our way home.   


This is just plain cool!

Christmas Street

Sandy and I decided to head up to Baltimore last night to see this street known as Christmas Street where all of the neighbors have gone a little insane with their decorating.  We cut through DC and went up the BW parkway, a little more than an hour later, we were sitting in stop and go traffic in Hampden a few blocks from 34th street where the Christmas Street neighbors lived.  Parking was going to be a problem.  There were many cars hunting for that elusive spot.  We joined them, slowly driving up and down the streets, hoping to find someone just as they were leaving so we could jump into our spot.  We were pretty hungry, and had already searched for restaurants on the iphone (I  technology).  We ended up lucking out and finding a spot just a block away from this wine bar we had found called 13.5%.

 Google is just sooooo cool!  They make it so easy to look up restaurants (or anything) and give you quick access to websites and phone numbers.  We knew where we wanted to go before we even got to Baltimore.
 Here’s the bar at 13.5%.  We sat at a little table up in the front where we feasted on paninis and sipped wine.  The food was very good and the prices reasonable.  Our only complaint is that it was a little loud in the restaurant.

We finished up with a couple of B52s for desert… yummy drinks of Baileys, Grand Marnier, and Kahlua which would help keep us warm as we walked up and down the streets looking at the decorations.


I guess 34th street is the official “Christmas Street”.  Many of the other streets also have houses with cool displays.  One of the first (and favourite displays) we saw was this one… 

A few minutes later we made it down to 34th Street.  The sidewalks were packed with admirers and the street had a long line of cars slowly moving along as they took in the whole show.

More pics are here

After we’d finished going up and down the street… we begun wandering back to our car.  One of the last displays we saw was this one on a side street.  Someone had set up a screen and was playing “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” for all of us to enjoy.

Ain’t technology grand

When it works that is…

I’m supposed to be able to email entries into my blog. This is my first attempt.

If you can read this them I guess it works

Hmmm… Guess my email signature is a little redundant here 🙂

See what’s been going on…

It’s snowing!

We had our first snow of the season… Sandy and I bundled up tight and went out to enjoy it

 We wandered through Lubber Run park…
 Took a little break in one of the picnic shelters along the way…  
 And admired the determination of others to make the most of the snow that didn’t melt…

We finished our walk at Ballston mall where we enjoyed hot soup and noodles and did a little christmas shopping before trekking our way back home.