The Basics

There are so many things to do and see in D.C. The inexpensive way to see the city is to purchase an all day pass on one of the tour buses, such as the Old Town Trolley. You can get on and off at your leisure. They stop at every major tourist location and monument. Along the way you receive a narration, sometimes quite humorous but always informative.

The best way to get downtown is to park your vehicle at one of the suburban rail stations and take the metrorail into the city. Parking costs minimal and hassle free!

Sculptures, part of the.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

The Wall

Gleaming black polished granite reflects in the setting fall sun.
Shadows already creep across thousands of names
....engraved into memorial stones,
....script that will last longer
....than the short lives commemorated.

Today, vets beyond middle years,
....some still able to wear the fatigues of youth,
....gaze with painful memories etched upon their faces,
....tears welling in their eyes.
Others – families, friends and tourists –
....stare solemnly
....mesmerized by what is represented.

Looking at panel 17W line 65,
....there is Bill’s name –
....former varsity high school cheerleader –
....liked by all –
....helicopter shot down in ’69 –
....his youthful face only a memory.
His dad, a pillar of the community,
....never recovered from the loss of an only son.

So many names, so many stories never to be told.

Comments: As of 2006 there are a total of 58,253 names listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial known as "the Wall." Approximately 1200 of these are listed as missing (MIA's, POW's, and others). Each recent American generation has known its war. While I have lived through the Korean Conflict, Grenada, the Gulf War, and Iraq, it is Vietnam that was my war so to speak. Bill Unkrich, who this poem speaks of in stanza 3, was a year older than me. He caused quite a stir when he became Galion High School’s only male cheerleader, something unheard of in a small mid western town of the 60’s. However, he was well-liked and eyebrows soon lowered. Watching Bill cheer became an accepted part of each game. Later, when we learned that Bill was a helicopter pilot in Nam, that too seemed so out of place for his demeanor. His death shocked the community as his family was highly respected – his dad a local industrialist. Like Bill, each name on the Wall represents a life that once journeyed on this earth. Perhaps that is what separates this memorial from the others, it is so personal. For more information on this memorial, click here.

Bill's name on the Wall
One of the panels at the Korean War Memorial
A Captial Moment

Seated on a private balcony, thirty floors up,
I bask in the spring rays and brisk air –
Not a cloud visible for miles.
Below, budding trees emerge
From the drab browns to darkening greens.
A plane flies high above the Washington Monument
Adding additional color to this postcard panorama.

Peering out, pondering,
The scene belies the turmoil in the world –
Some caused by decision-makers
Housed in buildings
Only a short distance away.
But for now, I bathe myself
In these moments of serenity.

Comments: We recently traveled to Alexandria, Virginia to visit our son Craig and daughter-in-law, Nicole. Both were celebrating birthdays. Early Sunday morning I stepped out onto the private balcony and took in the panorama of the U.S. capital that stretched miles before me. The poem says the rest.

Recommendations for D.C. and Trip There

  • Visit Washington, D.C. in the off season: I have visited there many times during my life. I always approach the city with a bit of awe and marvel at how much there is see and do. Besides the memorials, don't forget the Smithsonian.

  • Eat at Faccia Luna Trattoria: [823 S. Washington Street, in Old Town Alexandria – (703) 838-5998)] If you enjoy brick oven pizza and wonderful pasta at reasonable prices, you will enjoy this restaurant. I have eaten there six times and the food has always been excellent. There is also one in Arlington, VA, and State College, PA. Its web site is as follows:

  • I-68 in Western Maryland 1) Au Petit Paris Restaurant Francais at 86 East Main St., Frostburg, MD (301-689-8946) is a delightful family restaurant in operation since 1960. The French food is elegantly prepared with cooking table side and provides a gourmet taste experience. Be sure to strike up a conversation with Jeanne St. Marie to learn about the history of this landmark restaurant. Enjoy a quick visit to its web site 2) Puccini (I-68 Exit 46 – on the east side of Cumberland – Ph. 301-777-7822). This Italian restaurant, mentioned last month, was checked out for the second time and lived up to my previous high rating. For lunch, the soups and pizzas are especially good. Though I haven't tried the pastas, the comments heard from neighboring tables indicate they are exceptional. Definitely worth a stop.

  • Twila's Restaurant in Bruceton Mills, WV: On the way this past month to visit Craig and Nicole, on a whim, we stopped at a small restaurant just off of I-68 in West Virginia, last exit before the Maryland border. From the outside the restaurant did not look like much, a typical mom and pop one. What a wonderful surprise upon ordering and receiving our food. The delicious dinner rolls and pies are made right there. Yum! The lemon pepper fish was tender, seasoned perfectly. The mashed potatoes reminded me what great ones should taste like. The coleslaw was perhaps the best I have ever had. Twila, who owns, bakes, and manages the place, is gracious and friendly. No credit cards are accepted. When I questioned, she said, "If you don't have the cash, pay me next time through." A WONDERFUL dining experience!
Window at the National Cathedral
(note the moon rock center of upper circle)
Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Additional pictures and recs of the D.C. and Alexandria and National Harbor