Category Archives: DC

Review: Priority Pass in Dulles Airport

The Priority Pass lounge card gives you membership in a network of 900-plus lounges all across the country. It now comes free with several credit cards, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Citi Prestige card.

In the past, I have primarily used Priority Pass in Europe, where the lounges are more plentiful, but I was excited to try out Priority Pass in Dulles since we flew economy to Iceland.

Here’s the catch: Due to the influx of new members, many priority club lounges have placed limits on when you can enter. For example, the KLM lounge in Dulles’s Terminal 1 (closest to Iceland Air) is only open to Priority Pass members from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m to 8:30 p.m. The British Airways lounge is only open to Priority Pass members from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. We arrived at the airport  at 5:00 p.m. during peak travel time. So we headed off to the Turkish Airlines lounge – the newest Priority Pass lounge.

It was great! While on the small side, there is a fantastic spread of food and drinks, comfortable seating, outlets, showers, and even a nap area. While Priority Pass is not a perk I use everyday, it is the perfect perk to alleviate the pain of flying economy on an international trip.

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IMG_9627As Priority Pass becomes increasingly popular, it may become increasingly useless for members, but for now, we were able to make it work.

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Published!

First, a mea culpa. I have been AWOL, but this time it’s not just good ol’ laziness to blame. Election time is busy season for me, and I have been swamped with work. You know how accountants can’t breath or sleep during the first half of April? That’s me in September and October — just guzzling Diet Cokes faster than I can buy them. So that’s my excuse. Now the fun stuff.

M and I had our first collaborative effort published. Really, M gets most of the credit. He’s written a couple of articles about an amazing art exhibit called Washed Ashore. His latest is published in Sierra Magazine, and I contributed the photographs! Go us.

Washed Ashore is the brainchild of artist Angela Hazeltine Pozzi. The Oregon-based artist noticed the tons of plastic and debris littered across our beaches, and decided to turn the garbage into art. Her staff is made up of volunteers, and they spend hours collects, sifting, and organizing piles of beach garbage. Toothbrushes, bottle caps, beach toys, shoes, flip-flops — everything you can think of — become a piece of a sculpture.

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Chompers the Shark

The Smithsonian Zoo in Washington D.C. hosted an exhibit of Angela’s sculptures this summer, and M and I had a great time exploring and taking pictures. Here’s the most amazing part: Angela and her group don’t paint any of the items they collect. They use all the debris exactly as they found them.

When you walked into the zoo, you were immediately met with a giant, colorful parrot fish named Priscilla.

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The exhibit has since left the Smithsonian Zoo, but it is moving across the country and will even make a stop at the State Department here in D.C. Check out the website for details on where the Washed Ashore animals are going next. Here are some of my favorites.

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SeeMore the Sea Lion Pup

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SeeMore the Sea Lion Pup

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Sebastian James the Puffin

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Flash the Marlin

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Lidia the Seal

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Close-up of Lidia the Seal

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Octavia the Octupus

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Whale Bone Rib Cage

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Smith’s Jelly

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A Local Explores D.C. Like a Tourist

M and I took a break from our insane work schedules to enjoy the pleasant spring weather and explore D.C. I’ve lived in the nation’s capital for seven years, but sometimes I forget what a great city D.C. is. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day slog of getting work done, going to the gym, collapsing in bed, etc. It was nice to set aside one day to push that all aside and just explore.

Our walk started with a visit to the Phillips Collection, a private art collection in Dupont Circle. I’ve dragged M to more than a handful of furniture stores, but I had not yet stepped foot inside an art museum — which is M’s version of happiness. It was time to change that.

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Stunning flowers growing on the bark of a tree in Dupont Circle

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A cool shot of the Indonesian embassy

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A statue of Ghandi outside the Indian embassy, kitty-corner from the Phillips Collection

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An eerie tree outside the Phillips Collection

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I’m not exactly an art expert. I can handle an hour or two in a museum, but I’m not one of those people who gets lost in meditation in front of a painting for 20 minutes, pondering the deeper meaning of whatever it is people ponder. It’s not that I don’t appreciate beautiful things. I am just too impatient, too distracted – in museums and in life. M tells me to slow down. I tell him to hurry up. We are a good team.

M, however, is an art critic by profession. So this trip was kind of like walking into his temple. He was a bit dismayed when I got too close to paintings with my camera and spoke too loudly – especially in the Rothko room. Museums are really meant for proper, quiet adults – and I am none of those things. For some reason, M is still dating me.

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A new exhibit at the Phillips. Gotta be honest: I don’t get it.

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I like this series

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A moving sculpture

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A Van Goh

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Pretty stained glass window in the Phillips

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M taking a picture

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Yours truly

We left the Phillips and headed to my temple – Room and Board – one of my favorite furniture stores on 14th Street. I’m in the market for a new table and wanted to check out the wood options in person. On the way, we walked through pretty, residential neighborhoods.

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A beautiful lamp post on Swann Street. I love the fire. I love the reflection in the glass. Basically, I love everything about it.

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Memorial bricks at the National Museum of American Jewish Military History

After Room and Board, we headed down T Street to the Shaw neighborhood, a gritty area that is in the process of modernizing. Dilapidated storefronts mix with brand new condos and hip restaurants. There is a palpable tension between old and new.

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Right next to the historic Howard Theater, I found a sprawling mural on the side of an ethnic restaurant. I can’t resist good street art.

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A new, modern restaurant with a very interesting logo (and name)

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Here’s lookin’ at you… A door on a ramshackle storefront on 7th Street

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A Liz Taylor mural overlooking Dacha Beer Garden at 7th and Q Streets

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As we headed through Chinatown, I stopped to photograph this church. I love the way the street lights cast a glow on the brick facade.

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The Greater New Hope Baptist Church

Our last stop of the day was CityCenterDC, a new development in downtown DC. A mix of apartments, retail shops, restaurants and a public park, CityCenterDC is a great place for this camera-crazed girl.

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An up-close shot of water jumping out of the ground

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These colorful lanterns line the narrow alleyways of CityCenter and reflect on the windows of high-end stores and office buildings

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Pretty

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One day, I will bring a tripod. Then, I can really have some fun.

I love traveling the world, but days like this remind me that I’m lucky to live in a beautiful, historic, and thriving city, filled with old and new surprises. I’m a local getting to know D.C. like a tourist, and I’m okay with that. 









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Running While Carrying (My Camera) Take 2

It was a cold, blustery day – the kind of day meant for sitting on the couch and ignoring the call of my running shoes. I am very good at both of those things. But amazingly, the call of my camera was stronger, so I laced up my sneakers and took the camera out for another spin.

I headed south down 23rd street toward the Lincoln Memorial like I always do. I had plans to check out a stunning painted church in Southwest DC, but never made it there due to a disease I like to called “obsessive photography.”

I started snapping at the John Ericsson National Memorial, dedicated to the man who invented the screw propeller.

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I headed east toward the FDR Memorial, a sprawling celebration of FDR’s four presidential terms.

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The memorial hosts a recreation of the depressed bread line – men waiting on line for a scrap of bread during the Great Depression.

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A collage of bronze panels, called Social Programs, features the 54 social programs President Roosevelt initiated under his presidency. It makes for beautiful photography.

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This wall is dedicated to FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a work relief program that existed from 1933 to 1942.

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I love the way the light peaks through the trees and shines down on the grey stone.

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Here, I zoomed in on a statue of FDR. The statue was somewhat controversial because the designers chose not to depict FDR in his wheelchair. The wall in the background reads: “They who seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers… call this a New Order. It is not new and it is not order.”

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As I left the FDR Memorial, I cam across this tree and stopped suddenly. I can’t get over how much this tree looks like a face.

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Beautiful trees. Enough said.

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I looped around to the Jefferson Memorial before heading home. A bride sat on the marble steps, taking a pause in the cold to touch up her makeup.

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Conclusion: Running with my dSLR makes running bearable, even in cold, blustery weather.

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Running While Carrying (My Camera)

Can someone please invent a contraption that allows me to run with my dSLR camera? I would get a lot more running done, and take a lot more pictures in the process. The former keeps me relatively in shape; the latter keeps me relatively happy.

As many of you know, I’m an avid photographer and reluctant runner. But taking pictures with my iPhone just doesn’t cut it. So yesterday, I did something weird. I strapped my bulky dSLR around my chest, laced up my sneakers, and went for a run.

Yes, I looked a bit ridiculous. Yes, it was not the most comfortable way to log miles. Yes, the camera awkwardly bounced against my hip. Yes, my running got interrupted by “oh my God, I must take pictures of that” epiphanies. But…it was possibly the most enjoyable run I have had in a long time. I was actually excited to venture off my couch. The weather was brisk but beautiful – bright blue skies with steady sunshine. And Washington D.C. is full of interesting sights to satisfy any hungry photographer.

I’ve never photographed the Korean Memorial soldiers before. It was a fun challenge.

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Then I jogged my way over to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

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Look how blue that sky is.

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And then the creme de la creme: Washington D.C.’s floral library. It’s not massive, but it is beautiful. The colors are simply breathtaking.

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Full disclosure: I am not a fast runner on my best days. Running (jogging really) with a camera is that much easier if you are limited to a glacial pace (silver linings, right?). I also switched out my regular heavy lens for the smaller, lighter 50mm lens. It takes great pictures and makes running with a camera less cumbersome.

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Let There Be Light

I’ve lived in Washington, D.C. for many years, but don’t do Washington, D.C. things enough. Sometimes, I’m so focused on traveling to countries far away, I forget to take advantage of the awesome city I live in. But not tonight.

Two of my sisters came down from New York City to visit me, and we wanted to do something other than watch Gilmore Girls for the upteenth time. Not that there is anything wrong with that life choice. Definitely not. That is a very, very respectable life choice.

So we drove to Brookside Gardens in Montgomery County to see the Garden of Lights. It was very beautiful and creative. I’m a sucker for colorful lights, especially when I have my camera in tow. I took a bagillion pictures and Gabby kindly held the umbrella over my head (it’s good to have sisters). It was a good night.

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I Have Become a SUPer

If you are completely befuddled by the title of this blog post, take comfort in knowing that I was in that very same position only two weeks ago. SUP stands for stand up paddling, which is pretty much what it sounds like. You use a board that looks  like a surf board and a single paddle to power yourself on a body of water.

I decided on a whim that this was something I should try. I like kayaking and like the idea of having really strong arms and abs, which is, apparently, what happens if take up SUPing. After a quick google search, I found a SUP lesson on the Potomac at the Key Bridge Boathouse, just over a mile from my house. The lesson was only $35 and lasted about an hour and a half.

Getting on the paddle for the first time (on your knees) and then standing up was a little daunting. But once you’re up, it’s actually pretty easy to move and get the hang of it. I found it incredibly freeing and empowering. I cam to the conclusion that I really, really, really like stand up paddling.

And when I finally stood up and looked out at the horizon, I remembered what an awesome city I live in. Sure, our nation’s capital can be particularly sweltering in the summer months, but it is a beautiful city with so many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.

I obviously couldn’t take any pictures of us out on the water for fear of never seeing my iPhone again, but here are some shots after the fact.

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Hiking Raven Rocks

After I barely made it out of the Grand Canyon (more on that later), The Boyfriend and I decided we need to work on our hiking abilities. So we went hiking. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, and I got to do something I’ve never done before: Hike across the Virginia-West Virginia border.

The hike up Raven Rocks is moderate one — 5.5 miles with a 1,500-foot elevation gain. Here’s a map.

Raven Rocks Hike map

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Holy Bargain Basements – 40 Miles!

Last Sunday, The Boyfriend and I set out for our biggest bike ride yet. It was The Boyfriend’s idea to ride to Mount Vernon (George Washington’s home) and back for a grand total of 40 miles. Of course I said, “40 miles? That’s nothing.”

That was before I experienced the hills. Now listen. I grew up riding my bike in Chicago — which is flat as a pancake. Guess what is not flat as a pancake? If you guessed Virginia, give yourself a prize. We’ve done parts of this trail before, so I expected the intermittent hills for for the first 13 miles. But when you hit mile 14…PAIN. I lost count of how many times I had to get off my bike and literally walk it up the hill like a complete weakling while other bikers zoomed past me. Let’s just say, I will not be riding the Tour de France anytime soon.

Behold our 40-mile bike ride in all of its glory.

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We stopped in Old Town Alexandria which is a midpoint between miles 9 and 10 to reward ourselves for our intrepid journey. The Boyfriend was very, very happy.

And this made me very happy…Reaching Mount Vernon. Of course, we had to turn around and do it all over again.

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Best moment ever…

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Now, That’s a View

Some people love to complain about D.C. The rent. The taxes. The traffic. The five cents bag tax at grocery stores. Yeah, that’s all pretty annoying. But there are some perks to living in the nation’s Capitol, and that’s having a balcony with this July 4th view:

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