Mallow Bay, The Ships Graveyard…

Growing up on the Potomac River, I never knew about this beautiful and historic spot. This beautiful park is located along the Potomac River in Charles County, Maryland is the final resting place of many abandoned ships. Many of them were built during WWI for the US military, however the order was finished way to late and many were poorly built. So they were laid to rest. Today the bay is a popular fishing spot. The park contains a walking trail along the river and through the surrounding wooded area as well as a small boat launch. Majority of the graveyard is best viewed via kayak or canoe, but enough can be seen from the water’s edge for a fun and relaxing afternoon taking pictures.

Mallow Bay, Charles County, Maryland

Mallow Bay, Charles County, Maryland

Mallow Bay, Charles County, Maryland

Mallow Bay, Charles County, Maryland

Mallow Bay, Charles County, Maryland

Mallow Bay, Charles County, Maryland

Mallow Bay, Charles County, Maryland

Mallow Bay, Charles County, Maryland

All of the thoughts and opinions are my own.

Interesting Links

Charles County Parks, Mallow Bay Park

The sordid story of the ghost fleet of Mallows Bay. John Kelly, Washington Post, December 11, 2010.

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Lee-Fendall House

Lee-Fendall House, Alexandria, Virginia

For as historic as Old Town Alexandria, Virginia is, they only have two historic homes open to the public year round. Although in many ways, that doesn’t bother me, I like the idea that history lives on and new memories are filling the halls of the ghostly past.

Lee-Fendall House, Alexandria, Virginia

One of these two homes is the Lee-Fendall House. What makes this home historic aside from being family owned through many generations, is that the “Lee” in Lee-Fendall is Robert E. Lee’s family. From the time the home was built-in 1785 until 1903 when the house was sold to the Downham family, it was family owned. Eventually in 1937 John L. Lewis purchased the house and lived there until his death in 1969.

Lee-Fendall House, Alexandria, Virginia

This Victorian home was built-in a country side style, something unique for Alexandria City. Homes as large as this in a city were “urban plantations”. The garden would have been full of stables, laundries, a rabbit house, a pigeon-house. No space spared. Throughout time however, the garden turned into something peaceful and serene, for those who had leisure time. Today the half-acre lot is an award-winning garden maintained partially by the Alexandria Council of Garden Clubs. The council established an endowment fund which continues to support a portion of the garden’s ongoing maintenance and restoration costs since 1974.

Lee-Fendall House, Alexandria, Virginia

During the Civil War, the house, as many grand houses were, was turned into a medical hospital for union soldiers. It is believed this hospital was for the terminally ill men as a morgue had been built-in the garden at this time. This house is probably most historically known for the simple knowledge that the first, successful, blood transfusion in the US was performed here. Now, that is not to say it could be immediately repeated, however, it was finally understood that it could be done.

Lee-Fendall House, Alexandria, Virginia

All of the thoughts and opinions are my own.

Interesting Links

Lee-Fendall House Museum

Visit Alexandria

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The Newseum

Newseum Sign

Continuing my adventures locally, I decided it’s time to start hitting up some of the museums I have been meaning to get to over time. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Newseum, not knowing much about it other than everyone who has been there speaks highly of it. I loved it! Great exhibits of major news events, and about the history of news, from around the world. What a wonderful way to show off the history of life then through the eyes of the media!

Newseum Building

The museum itself stands proudly on Pennsylvania Avenue, although the building looks massive, it’s exhibits are well laid out in small sections surrounding a massive 6 story entrance hall fully equipped with a news helicopter! The museum also offers an introductory video, 4D theatre, and supporting videos throughout most of the exhibits, along with a lot of interactive touch screens and a mock news studio section where visitors can show off their talents and take pictures! Come with me as I take you on a brief walk through of my favorite highlights…

Newseum entrance hall with helicopter

We decided to start at the bottom and work our way to the top. The first exhibit, on the ground floor after the introduction video, is the graffiti covered Berlin Wall, fully equipped with a Death Tower. This particular Death Tower, which stands three-stories tall, was used to house armed guards with search lights on top, stood at Stallschreiberstrasse. This tower was gifted from the Checkpoint Charlie Museum in Berlin in 1994.

Berlin Wall at the Newseum

Berlin Wall Death Tower at the Newseum

On our way to the Photo of the Year exhibit, housing amazing and some very tragic and heart wrenching photographs was a satellite news truck, locate next to the cafeteria, surprisingly, with good fresh food. The photo exhibit leads into the FBI exhibit. Home to the ever hot topic in the news, terrorism. On display is everything from the Unabomber’s cabin, airplane engines from 9-11, cells phones from the 9-11 wreckage, a sneaker bomb, and hand written letters from the Waco disaster. A really interesting section.

Newseum FBI Exhibit

Newseum FBI Exhibit Unabomber Cabin

Newseum FBI Exhibit Waco Display

One of the more off the cuff exhibits that I wasn’t expecting was an exhibit on The Anchor Man movie. The most interesting part I found of this exhibit was “The Real Story” signage that went along with it discussing topics such as the format of news and women anchors. Without putting much thought into the history of television news. Heading upwards, there is an exhibit with a massive three wall timeline of “Internet, TV, and Radio”. It’s truly amazing how modern technology has changed the face of news, including the most recent trends of social media. My favorite part of this exhibit was the display case housing an original professional digital camera that was produced by Kodak and Nikon produced in 1994. It’s big, and knowing how heavy my professional camera is, I cannot imagine how heavy the one in the case is! Working our way up to the next floor we found ourself in front of what I feel is probably the most important in the history of the way the news has developed in our country, the First Amendment Gallery. If it wasn’t for so many of our First Amendment rights in this country, especially Freedom of the Press, our news could not possibly be what it is. This section although brief, is very valuable. On the Freedom of Press display,they even discuss Garrett Graff, the first White House Blogger. My favorite, and if anyone was following my tweets from this day, is the big poster of Bart Simpson writing on the chalkboard “The first amendment does not cover burping”!

Newseum First Amendment Exhibit, Freedom of the Press Display

Further down the hall is the “Inside Tim Russert’s Office. Tim Russert (1950-2008) well-known for NBC’s Meet the Press, had a special exhibit, including a recreation his messy office space along with a diagram of what was on his desk.

Newseum, Tim Russert's Exhibit

Around the corner is located an exhibit on a modern news story that effected so many people and their lives. The 9-11′s exhibit. This two-story exhibit houses an antenna from the top of one of the World Trade Center’s buildings. Along with a two-story wall covered with front page newspapers from the attack. Although this section does contain other items such as items found in the wreckage and a limestone cornice piece from the pentagon, the antenna and wall of newspapers is pretty overwhelming and was the majority of my focus in this exhibit.

Newseum, 9-11 Exhibit, World Trade Center Tower Antenna

Probably the most important section of the whole museum is the room full of newspapers from important events from around the world across time. Off to the left of this exhibit were some really old books, including the Magna Carta from 1215. But the room full of newspaper draws is filled with fun and heroic and terrifying stories from throughout history. From war, to peace, to Jesse James assassination, women’s right to vote, to the man on the moon.

Newseum, Manga Carta

Newseum, Tray's of Newspapers

Newseum, Tray's of Newspapers

Although I didn’t discuss all the exhibits, I really enjoyed myself. Be prepared for a long day out. Even if you don’t read all the signs you walk past and stop to watch the videos, the museum has so much to offer. We spent 5 hours including lunch and we figured we could have spent another 2 hours easily. And make sure and take in the 4D movie, it was worth the watch!

Although I the Newseum was happy to sponsor my visit, all of the thoughts and opinions are my own.

Interesting Links

Newseum

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How I ended up in the wrong CA!

Flying Over the Rockies on AA

I couldn’t believe it, Maryam said some place cold?! No one ever wants to go some place cold. I’m not sure one can imagine just how excited I was. After tossing around a few destinations we quickly selected Lake Louise and Banff National Park as the top choice. After a month of researching and reaching out to the tourism board to selecting local activities that would give us both a fantastic opportunity to take pictures of the amazing scenery that region has to offer and enjoy the – albeit cold – outdoors, we were set. The investment in winter wear wasn’t cheap, but would be worthwhile in the long run, and I really needed a pair of proper snow boots, even if I wasn’t sure when I might wear the long johns! Bundled in wool socks and ski jackets we head to the airport at some unseemly hour of the morning to catch a stupid early flight.

At Dallas we found a bar directly across from our gate and decided to start our vacation off proper and have a beer with the ten minutes we had until boarding. We were in such high spirits. What could go wrong? Although I didn’t know Maryam that well, we had been co-workers for about a year. I knew she enjoyed traveling as much as I did. What I didn’t know was how well we would travel together. I didn’t give it too much thought being that we were only headed out for a weekend and our schedule was pretty full. The thought that we wouldn’t end up in Calgary 4 hours later and in the blink of an eye change our plans wasn’t even a considered thought.

Then it happened. Given 2 minutes to decide to get on a plane by myself and travel solo on what was meant to be a girls getaway, or say forget about it, let’s go somewhere else and make the best of it, is really not a lot of time. If I had already been seated on the plane when I got the news, I probably wouldn’t have gotten off. But as they started to board us, they quickly realized the crew wasn’t on board yet and sent the few of us priority boards back to the gate. Maryam had been not allowed to board, so being turned back, I joined her at the gate counter while she curiously stood waiting for someone to explain why she wasn’t allowed to board.

“Ma’am you cannot travel on this passport”. Excuse us? Did we hear that right? Her passport wasn’t due to expire for a few more months, but it was well outside of the three-month range. And this is Canada, practically a domestic flight, it was a domestic flight if you consider we still had to pay for luggage. This particular passport had been well-traveled and very well-loved. Was it the stamps from the Middle East? Is she being profiled? Is she black listed? She had just used in to go to Puerto Rico less than two weeks before. Evidently the ladies at the airline counter wouldn’t let her board because the passport was plain worn out – the back page was peeling apart.

WOW…disappointment. What do I do? What could I do? I didn’t have enough time to weigh my options. I am an organizer. Do I just not get on that flight and say let’s fly by the seat of our pants? Is she capable of doing that without freaking out? As we stood stunned, I couldn’t speak and my decision was there for made for me. The airline ladies ordered both of our luggage removed from the plane. Well, there it is. My first major travel hiccup…ever.

Our tickets had been purchased with my air miles, and not even with air miles of the airline we were flying with. We collected our luggage and as I sat on hold for over an hour with for my executive airline club, Maryam set to seeing if a manager would override the other ladies decision. The answer was no. The most the airline people could offer was telling us to go to the passport office…which was closed on a Saturday and wouldn’t reopen until the following Tuesday, the day we were suppose to be headed home. Maryam began to cancel all of our reservations for the following few days that I spent a month arranging. I finally got someone on the phone, and a shout out to British Airways for being so awesome, but… what were our options?

We sure as hell didn’t fly to Dallas to fly down the street to Huston, and we didn’t want to spend the weekend in Dallas, and definitely weren’t flying back to the east coast to end up in Atlanta… California, Las Vegas, Seattle, Denver, Chicago??? Nothing that same day… but wait, 7am tomorrow to Los Angeles… sure! Snow boots, wool socks and long johns in tow… we were headed to the amazingly year round good weather destination of LA!

The George Washington Masonic National Memorial

Disclaimer: The George Washington Masonic National Memorial will be referred to generically as the Masonic Temple throughout this article, as that is what the locals call it.

Masonic Temple

What does the Masonic Temple (Alexandria, Virginia) and the Empire State Building (New York, New York) have in common? They are both iconic buildings and locals rarely visit them! Being a relatively new homeowner my travel budget has shrunk, a lot! So I have been investing my time in local travel, as I like to call it. This time around I toured the Masonic Temple.

Masonic Temple

Growing up within a mile of Mount Vernon Estate, I feel as though I grew up in the shadow of George Washington. A lot is dedicated to his memory in the DC Metro area. To name a few, there is a monument downtown; there is a parkway in his name; an airport with his name; and a masonic temple. I never realized that the temple was a memorial to George Washington, mostly because never took time to think about it. Although masonry has been around a long time, a lot of people know little about it. The freemasons (aka masons) have been glorified by writers like Dan Brown (evidently the masons have very little that is secretive), and a lot of great American historical figures have been freemasons. However, the tour of the masonic temple has a lot less to do with masonry and a lot more to do with the memory of George Washington.

Masonic Temple

In 1910, the Grand Master of Virginia invited every Grand Master in The US to gather together for the purpose of “forming an association to plan and build a suitable Memorial”*. The building took decades to complete, largely due to not wanting to take out loans for the building. The construction began in 1922 with the interior being finalized in 1970. Today it proudly stands as the iconic landmark on Shutter’s Hill in Alexandria, Virginia fashioned after the ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt.

Masonic Temple

Although the building stands tall and proud, it is not huge on the inside, and the elevators actually ascend and descend at an angle to compensate for the smaller space on the 9th floor, the observation floor, and the large bottom floor where meeting rooms and the mason museum is located. The tour starts in the great entrance hall at the top of the stairs and through the massive doors. The two-story rectangle room adorned with columns and portraits of important masons, also houses an amazing statute of good old G’Dub (the original)!

George Washington Statue

Off to the side of the great hall is a mock lodge room full of historical pieces, all items belonging to Washington’s lodge, used throughout time, including all of the chairs that line the walls, and the artifacts found in the display cases around the room. Most importantly, there is a chair that belonged to Washington and was gifted to the lodge from his home. In order to keep the chair from a fatefully end, it lives under a clear box where people and see it and not use it. Once a year the box is removed and the Grand Master takes his place briefly, long enough for a photograph.

Masonic Temple Lodge Room

As a non-mason, entry is only allowed to a few floors. Heading upstairs from the main floor takes us into a two-story museum filled with natural light and dedicated to the life and achievements of Washington. The walls are lined with stories of him as a mason, a landowner, and the president. It’s a wonderful piece of history. The tour then leads guests to the top floor to grasp the amazing view of the surrounding area. On a clear day, one can even see Mount Vernon, Washington’s home, located just south of Alexandria City.

Alexandria, Virginia. View from the masonic temple

The base of the tower holds a masonic museum. In this area the different degree’s and organizations of masonry are explained along with a display of costumes and tools of the trade. A degree is a level of membership. Although ultimately, only men become freemasons, there are female organizations, Eastern Star, as well as youth organizations for boys and girls. Two lodges currently use the Masonic Temple for their meetings, as well as some of the other masonic organizations. To become a mason, one must also believe in a higher power (God); although, they can be of any religion. The idea of a freemason, is that each person has a responsibility to make things better in the world. To help make life a little easier, they contribute a lot to their local area and sponsor charities and causes.

George Washington Statue

And one even cooler thing about this building–just to add that person twist–it’s the view I see every time I leave and arrive back home!

Masonic Temple

All of the thoughts and opinions are my own.

Interesting Links

*The George Washington Masonic National Memorial

Visit Alexandria

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Friendship Firehouse and a bit of local firefighting history

I know little about the early days of firefighting. I grew up in an area where our firefighters were full-time employees and responded within 3-5 minutes of any call. Arriving fully equipped with red fire engines and modern equipment! After the Great Fire of London in 1666, insurance companies formed fire brigades to help protect the properties they insured. If they didn’t insure a building, the fire brigade wouldn’t assist in fighting the fire. In the US although some of this existed by the 18th and 19th centuries, volunteer fire companies were more common; made up by citizens of the community they were helping to protect.

Friendship Firehouse Museum

The Friendship Fire Company was established in 1774 and fought fires actively through the phases of the early days of firefighting; from leather buckets the earliest hand-operated engines. They were one of many volunteer fire companies in the area. In those days, the idea was to keep the fire from spreading, rather than putting the fire out. The Civil War brought on new technology in fire fighting, the steam engine! In 1867 Friendship purchased an engine, but unhappy with the performance and unable to keep up payments they returned it. In 1871 Alexandria City acquired a steamer and instead of playing favorites between the different companies they did their best to convince the companies to merge into one company named Columbia Steam Engine Company.

Friendship Firehouse Museum
This is Friendship’s original hose carriage, it was built-in Alexandria City and drawn to the fire by the men.

Friendship Firehouse Museum
Friendship purchased this engine in 1851. It took 16-20 operators, men pumped the arms creating suction pressure in the domed condenser case which pushed the water out through the hose. Men took 2-3 minute turns and similar to the hose carriage, it was drawn to the fire by the men.

Friendship Fire Company discussed this topic long and hard. In the end it was decided their name was too important to them and they eventually stopped fighting fires in the 1880′s. As new technology became available and more expensive a lot of these volunteer organizations in general died out and was replaced my municipally run departments. Friendship has survived to this day as a Fraternal Organization. They are involved in the Alexandria City local community and assist the city’s fire department when there is a death and reach out to those families.

Friendship Firehouse Museum

The Friendship Firehouse Museum, is quietly located a half of block of the business of life. The building although not original from 1774, was built in 1885, remodeled in 1871 and a new edition was added in 1972. The museum is small, but contains original equipment, and is full of history. It’s only open a few days a week for a few hours at a time, but I think it’s a neat place for some local history!

Friendship Firehouse Museum

All of the thoughts and opinions are my own.

Interesting Links

Friendship Firehouse Museum

Visit Alexandria

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Soaking up the Sun in Saint Lucia

Guest Post written by Kimberly Stowell

In August of 2012 my husband and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary. A little less than a year before that we bought a house and the majority of our free time was spent fixing it up. So when it came time to celebrate our anniversary we knew we wanted a beautiful beach vacation and not our typical on the go sightseeing travels. With little time for planning we took an easy route and planned our trip with all-inclusive couples only resort with Sandals on St. Lucia

St Lucia by Kimberly Stowell

St Lucia by Kimberly Stowell

August was a great time to go, it’s low season there so we never had trouble getting a great spot on the beach, but the weather was just beautiful. Every day it would rain just a tiny bit, but with the exception of one day out of 7 the sun always came right back out. For the couple of days we did nothing but soak in the gorgeous resort while sipping on endless cold drinks of all kinds of tropical flavors.

St Lucia by Kimberly Stowell

St Lucia by Kimberly Stowell

St Lucia by Kimberly Stowell

We did however finally manage to stop looking at the water and actual get it in. We borrowed the resort’s Hobie Cat catamarans (my husband’s favorite thing!), took their boat to a fun snorkeling spot, and I even managed to get up on a paddle board! Of course the moment I felt slightly smug about not having fallen in like my husband did was the moment I fell off!!

St Lucia by Kimberly Stowell

St Lucia by Kimberly Stowell

St Lucia by Kimberly Stowell

When staying at an all-inclusive resort it’s easy to never leave your little spot of paradise, but knowing that it was unlikely we would return to Saint Lucia we could not leave without doing at least a small tour of the island. So we booked a driver/guide for the day took off. We saw the famous twin Piton mountains, bathed in a burning hot volcano mud bath, and washed off in a freezing waterfall.

St Lucia by Kimberly Stowell

St Lucia by Kimberly Stowell

St Lucia by Kimberly Stowell

Saint Lucia was such beautiful island and the perfect spot to spend my anniversary. A small island with nowhere to rush off too, allowing you to soak it all in with a wonderful sense of relaxation. And I highly recommend an all-inclusive couples resort, there was no pressure with figuring out where to go, no keeping track of money, and as much as I like kids it’s nice to have some time at a kids free beach and pool :) It was a great place to vacation and I can only hope that my next beach vacation comes close to the standard set for me here.

St Lucia by Kimberly Stowell

Local Film Festival

Several years ago I was really excited about the launch of a local film festival. They launch in the town square with an outside movie. And had several decent full length movies and talks in place, also several major technical difficulties. Sadly in the many years following, the festival seemed to never pop-up on the radar. I was very disappointed, being a big fan of film festivals.

Then, as it happens, I was sitting around not wanting to focus yesterday (saturday) wondering what might be going on in my town. And there is was, my beloved city’s film festival was this weekend! This year they seem to have a lot of shorts, and there was a grouping of them that evening. I was very impressed with the quality of the films. Two out of the three advertised directors were there (out of 7 films total). My only disappointment was the directors didn’t stay to watch the other films. As a matter of fact, one director walked in during another movie with 8 people, and being the room wasn’t that big, it was very distracting while they were moving back and forth looking for seats together.

I was really impressed with the quality of films. I do not know if the festival requests films (as many smaller film festivals do) or if they are solely individual submission based (as many of the really large film festivals are) or if they are a mix of both.

Film Reviews and Thoughts

Keep your eye’s peeled if you come across the opportunity to watch: “The Championship Rounds”. This short was incredibly powerful and my favorite of the evening. Focusing on a young deaf man, James (played by Michael Spady), whose father had been an up and coming boxer before his downfall due to drugs and alcohol. James, who appears to have also trained at some point in boxing (sadly I did miss the first 15-minutes of the movie), along with losing his father at a young age, has been handed a short straw in many other ways as well. James, a single father to an infant, comes across a man, Darryl (played by the ever amazing Harold Perrineau Jr.) who once knew his father, and through Darryl’s over the top persistent self, gets James back into the ring… right about when the short film ends. Thank’s to the discussion that quickly followed with the director, Daniel Stine, the writer’s intention is to create a full length movie. I cannot wait!

“Hearts and Minds” was another fantastically powerful short. Showing the difficulty of a man returning from war; and the decisions and motions he made and went through while deployed. This short follows a young man who struggles to find peace with his actions while struggling to return to the home and return to the life he once lived. This short also featured a discuss with the director, Charlie Guillen. The hope of this short, is to create a strong television series, focusing on a different soldier each episode.

“Do Not Enter” was a fun and hilarious short film, with no ulterior motive as the first two. A young man lets himself into an apartment to do some painting. The owners, who are out, leave him a note inviting him to eat or drink whats in the fridge, but request he does not enter the room with the locked doors… Does this really stop anyone? A sci-fi twist see’s this young man’s imagination go from curiosity to thinking the world belongs to him. Set at 17 minutes long, this film was enjoyable and almost slightly sad not to see a second person come onto the scene and what they might find beyond the door!

“Freefall” although not one of my favorites for the evening, was about a young girl whose mom was only half paying attention to her at the park, busily taking work photo calls. The short had some ballet dancers and the movie is basically summed up when the girl scraps her knee and her mom finally stops ignoring her. Well filmed, but could have worked as a 3 minute movie better than a 9 minute movie.

“Lines in the Sand” was a sad movie about two young sisters who lost everything and escaping their children’s home relived happy memories while near the shore in the English seaside town they lived in. Sadly the truth is that it’s more than just the sisters reliving their moments of joy, it’s also about reliving the horrors of life.

“Alice” seems like a classic short film, at less than 5 minutes it was the shortest film of the evening. It shows a classic case of a lonely elderly man who longs for his dead daughter. She befriends a young girl from a famous painting on the wall of the Art Gallery where he is a security guard.

A film festival would not be a film festival without a short about the German occupation somewhere! “Roter Schnee (Red Snow)” features a German officer in Serbia dealing with his own emotions about what he believes to be right and wrong, what his job tells him is right and wrong, and his own actions. Although he never falters in his position of an officer, he deals with his own emotions to what (many might call oddly) a fantastic ending to the movie.

I really am sad I found out about the four-day festival so late, as I would have really enjoyed seeing more films. Looking forward to next year! Short films although don’t make the theatres, and are hardly shown on television, are always worth the effort to see when they come to town.

Interesting Links

Alexandria Film Festival

The Championship Rounds

Port City Brewery, The New Local Staple…

Alexandria City, located in Virginia just a few miles downriver of Washington, D.C., at one time was a very important port. As generations have come and gone, our waterfront has made many changes. It is now largely made up of public parks and a small marina off the Torpedo factory. Even some of the last of the warehouses on the waterfront is out of use and plans are currently in motion for renewal of life for that piece of land to be returned to the community and local commerce.

What does this have to do with a brewery one might ask, in this case, it’s name. In 2011 Port City Brewery opened it’s doors, began pouring beer, and quickly became a regular site on every restaurants tap and in all beer fridges around town! By no means is Port City Alexandria’s first brewery. In the late 1860′s Alexandria saw the birth of what became one of the largest brewery in the southern part of the United States, Robert Portner Brewing Company, and was the city’s largest employer until going out of business due to the prohibition.

Port City Brewery

I will admit it’s hard pressed not to find decent beer in every restaurant in town. We tend to have good taste in this City and prefer our craft beer. I am so thrilled that a local brewery has arrived and makes a quality product. They carry 5 flavors year round a Pilsner, Pale Ale, IPA, Wit, and a Porter and numerous seasonal and limited beers including Stouts and Belgian Blondes. My favorite two, not surprising if one knows my beer preference are two of the seasonal’s the Scottish Ale and Oktoberfest.

Port City Brewery

Recently Port City launched their Revival Oyster Stout. In the last 15 minutes of the boil process they add around 1500 oysters, shell’s and all. The Revival Stout will only be available on draft and only at Port City’s Tasting Room and at selected oyster houses, restaurants and bars throughout the local region. Additionally, five percent of the sales of Revival Stout will be donated to the Oyster Recovery Partnership to support their efforts to revive the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Port City Brewery

The Brewery is located in a small office park a few miles up the road from where I live. One knows when they are open (as they have limited hours Wed-Sun) by the friendly pineapple this sits on the sign out front. Why a pineapple you ask? The pineapple symbolizes hospitality, which eventually spread to Europe and Colonial America. Since pineapples are not a local fruit to these locations, they are very synonymous with ship captains as they would place pineapples on their fence post upon returning home from a long voyage.

Port City Brewery

Often live music can be heard on Sunday afternoons and usually there is a ball game of some sort on their TV. But Port City doesn’t just offer brew tours and sell taster, pints, and growlers. Most recently they have teamed up with Sniffing Butt Dog Bone Brewery. These are organic beer grain based treats (made from Port City’s spent beer grains) include no hops and are alcohol free. Flavors are name creatively such as Pug Porter and India Puppy Ale.

Sniffing Butt Dog Bone Brewery

All of the thoughts and opinions are my own.

Interesting Links

Port City Brewing Company

Sniffing Butt Dog Bone Brewery

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A Day at the Farm…

Let me set the scene for you so that you have a full picture of why a group of six young women ventured out for a morning to a National Park in search of a cow. It was a beautiful summer Sunday at a group brunch. New friends, old friends, good food, a lot of laughter and plenty of bloody mary’s! A new friend, quickly to be come a good friend, Regina, pulls out this 4 1/2 page, typed, single space bucket list. Originally created before she was even in high school as a to do before she turned 30 list and updated in her college years. This list had sat dormant for a long time., eventually to resurface a few months before her 30th birthday.

Up to that point Regina had accomplished about a page worth of her items. So I started reading through it, as one does, and I get to the item “Milk a cow”. I chuckled as I read it out loud to the group and offered the opinion that this could be done at anytime she wanted. At this point the whole table turned with a surprised reaction of “we can?” Evidently Regina was not the only one with this item on her bucket list. Even though I had grown up in a metropolitan area, this was something I had done several times, along with visiting dairy farms, I even have an Aunt (and late Uncle) who own a milk delivery service… in Long Island NY of all places! Regina on the other hand, grew up near farms… with lots of cows, as her grandmother told her, you didn’t need to move to DC to milk a cow!

Group shot

I live in the DC metropolitan area, and it would only be appropriate to wonder how far do I need to drive to find a cow to milk. Well the answer, from where we were sitting at brunch was “just on the other side of the bridge” that the restaurant is near (literally about 2 blocks from the bridge). Still to quizzical looks I explained that there is a National Park with a living farm in stones throw distance of our bloody mary’s; all we needed to do was show up.

the farm

It took a few weeks to arrange a date, but one beautiful fall morning we headed to the farm. The Park Ranger was slightly surprised to find a group of adults with no children all lined up. But she was very kind and treated us just like the others interested in the same experience. We were just less scared. Our cow’s name was Minnie. She seemed very friendly and at one point when I was a bit close to her head reading a sign, she attempted to eat my long hair!

Jen, Regina, Gerylee, & Kat milking a cow

Although we came only with the intention of milking Minnie, to our enjoyment the farm experience continued. We headed to the chicken coup! Evidently the chickens fight a lot, so they tend not to look healthy, but the rooster seemed happy to be surrounded by so many hens. We feed them and collected their eggs.

Rooster Feeding

At this farm, they don’t let anything go to waste. We took the eggs from the hen’s and feed them eggs to the pigs. The park ranger was aware enough to make sure everyone either got a turn to collect the egg, or feed a pigs. Along our route we were honked at by a huge white goose; then we stopped by to oooh and ahh over the horses. Followed by an awesome picnic lunch. And all this before noon! It was a great day out and a really fun experience to do with friends.

Pig

All of the thoughts, opinions, and bad jokes are my own.

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Oxon Hill National Park

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