Tag Archives: snow

National Gallery of Art

sculpture hallway at the NGA
sculpture hallways at the National Gallery of Art

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Monday was a federal holiday so both Nancy and I had off. With all the snow still on the ground we wanted to get out of the house for a while and decided to take a trip to DC. Last semester Nancy had an art appreciation class, for extra credit she could visit any art museum and write a one page report.  The class is long over, but we finally decided to visit the National Gallery of Art.

When we arrived in the DC it was pretty desolate with the federal government closed and the city declaring a snow emergency. Finding a garage near the National Gallery of Art was actually real easy. When we surfaced from the depths of the building we had a choice to make, see “old” art or the “new” art. I have been once before to the old art gallery and I was impressed. The marble architecture of the building is amazing. Outside the building looks like any other museum on the Mall. When you walk in from the Mall entrance you are greeted with a huge rotunda and a fountain. There are giant black pillars of marble that ring the space and go all the way to the ceiling.

random sculpture
random sculpture

From this main hall you can go two ways, left or right.  (Map: ground, main)  Down each hallway you will find various exhibits ranging in style, country and period. Starting from the 13th century and going to the 19th century spanning most every country in Europe. The collection of art includes paintings by such notables as Rembrandt, Monet, Van Gogh, da Vinci, Picasso and many others. Not being familiar with art I was able to point out many famous works myself. Those paintings when you see them you say “I know that piece,” you might not know who painted it, but you know they are world famous works of art.

If you have time I would suggest bringing a book to read while you are there. I know it sounds weird, but there are two garden courts that are just beautiful and so peaceful. Being an art museum there is not a lot of talking, just low murmurs from patrons. In fact the museum has a policy that cell phones are not to be used in the exhibit areas. If I worked in DC I would take my lunch breaks at the two garden courts to relax and decompress. Or sit in front of some of the pieces of art, many of the master works have couches you can sit in while contemplating the meaning of life or what ever the artist intended.

I have always had a great respect for artists; painters and photographers in particular. They have this vision in there head and they somehow transfer that to canvas or cellulose. I might not be able to appreciate all the finer details, but I can still appreciate the work.

The House of Parliament, Sunset by Claude Monet
The House of Parliament, Sunset by Claude Monet

After leaving the museum we were hungry so we found a sports bar to grab a drink and lunch. I was hoping to have more options, but most places where closed. We found the Penn Quarter Sports Tavern to enjoy a nice cold beer and some sandwiches. As we ate our lunch the snow really started to come down. The ground was to warm for any accumulations, but at least it was snowing. By the time we left it was almost a full blizzard and I was loving it. Nancy couldn’t wait to get back to the Jeep and into the warmth. On the short walk back to the Jeep Nancy magically transformed herself into the squirrel whisperer.  There where a ton of squirrels inhabiting a small park with some trees.  Living in the city they are use to humans and probably get a lot of hand outs.  Well Nancy starts squeaking and one decided to be brave and check it out. Fortunately it didn’t get to close, but I got some good closeups.

Driving out of the city with the snow proved to be a bit of a nightmare.  It was not a full blown rush hour, but traffic was heavy and slow.  We finally arrived back at her apartment around 5, almost time for me to leave for class.  It was great spending the afternoon in the city as it was almost empty.  The snow kept most people away so the streets and museum were pretty quite.  I still want to hit the modern art museum next door, might have to do that when spring arrives so I can take advantage of the color the season brings with it.

Another Blizzard…

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Another blizzard and another weekend spent at home.  This time the snow started to fall about 10am on Friday but for approximately 6 hours it never accumulated on the ground.  The ground was just to warm and melted what ever fell on it.  Not until late in the afternoon, with the temperature rapidly dropping, did it start to stick.  This is about the time the snow kicked into over drive.

blizzard of 2010
the snow blanketed everything

Through the overnight hours it snowed and snowed, adding to what was already on the ground from Tuesday which was about 4-6″.  All morning and well into the afternoon it snowed at my house.  I spend most of the day working on the computer and getting some organizing done.  In fact with the exception of shoveling my sidewalk/truck and watching Terminator: Salvation, I didn’t leave my man cave.  I got my finances in order and worked on a travel map that I have been meaning to finish for years.  I am missing a few pins, but it shows every city I have seen a concert in.  Eventually I will get the total number of shows seen in a city corresponding to each pin.  Most cities I been to only once. A few cities, like Washington DC and Baltimore, I have been to 8 and 7 different venues with several times that number of concerts in each of those cities.

mid-Atlantic region cities I have traveled to
I love to travel and see concerts

I also got a lot of coding done on taping.org.  Mostly PHP to calculate totals and such.  Like always, most of the changes I made are on the back end and don’t add much visually.  Let me tell you, it was a lot of fun figuring how to get PHP to read a line in a db results query and keep a running total of the values.  I can do this in Java pretty easily, but PHP is a whole new beast.  Thankfully the basic concept of how to accomplish this is the same in both languages.  The rest of my time was spent entering and updating information already in my db to take advantage of the calculations I coded earlier in the day.  Now that 90% of the site has the basic functions I wanted to implement, I find myself spending more time enter and updating information in the database.  I will continue to split my time with data entry and writing code to analyze all the data into useful information.

I might not have left my house all weekend, but it was great spending the time at home just getting stuff done.  Saturday when the snow was still falling I would often stop my coding and just look out the window, it was very peaceful.  I almost turned my desk around to face out the window and soak up nature.

Prince William Forest, Winter Wonderland

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hang on little buddy
hang on little buddy, spring is coming

Another Saturday and another giant snow storm.  Fortunately this time around the accumulation was not 22″, but a much more manageable 6-7″.  Just like before it snowed all day on Saturday so I was stuck in my house trying to keep myself busy.  On Sunday the snow was easy to remove thanks to my new shovel, no more bucket for me!  After a lazy morning I decided to go for a hike at Prince William Forest while the snow was still hanging in the trees and the ground was not to disturbed.  I also thought it would be a great opportunity to take some pictures.  I have been to the park in spring, summer and fall of course, but never after a winter snow fall.

Compare the same bridge as seen during Spring and Winter.

When I arrived I found the park was indeed open but the visitor center was closed and the gate leading into the park interior was closed.  It made sense, who knows what the roads looked like inside the park, near the entrance they where at least plowed.  My bright idea of visiting the park was shared by many others that day as the lots had over a dozen cars.  I expected some people to be there, just not this many.  While hiking I ran into several people on the trail, most of them on cross country skies.  We don’t get much good snow fall in the area so they where taking every opportunity to get some skiing in.  Getting a relatively late start, the skiers and other hikers packed the snow pretty well so I didn’t have to hike through 6″ of virgin snow.  I was actually hoping to find a little that I could hike through, but as far as I went into the park someone had always been there before me.

great shot of the river, trail, trees and sky
great shot of the river, trail, trees and sky

For a couple of hours I walked several miles through the park.  I was amazed at just how quite the park was, very tranquil and serene.  There was no noise form other people, or cars and most of the animals were hunkered down for the day because of the snow.  Actually it was kinda fun at times I would see loops of animal tracks in the snow, but for the most part there was no sign of life.  The trails I took eventually dumped me off at the main road.  I thought taking the road back to my truck would be easier and shorter than walking back through the forest.  When I was able to look at a map it was the furthest from the truth.  I should have just backtracked on the trail.  It would have been much better scenery and I could have avoided all the cars that started to flood into the park when the main gate was opened.  Most of these genius didn’t take the time to drive slowly on the icy roads.

Having hiked in the snow only once before, this was definitely a lot of fun.  The last time there was only a dusting on the top of Robertson Mountain.  Sunday in Prince William Forest was 6″ of wonderful snow and a heck of a lot closers to my house.

Phish John Paul Jones Arena December 5th 2009

copyright: UVA
copyright: UVA

The very weekend after I got back from Panama, I was traveling again. Staying home and getting things done around the house would have been nice, but I had a concert to see. Heck I needed to unpack my suite case and do a mound of laundry. But that didn’t matter, Phish was on their winter tour. Every time they tour I try to catch as many shows as possible. For winter the closest show to my house, and the tour closer, was happening at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville. I have seen several tour closers by Phish and they are always good, in fact this past summer I saw the summer closer in Saratoga Springs and it was fantastic.

The night before was spent at Nancy’s house so it would be a slightly longer drive to get to the stadium. I was giving myself what I thought was plenty of time because of the pretty heavy snow all morning long. When I actually left Nancy’s house there were a couple inches on the road already and very slow going to my house. Once at my house I got a few things done and headed out about 4 hours before the show for what is normally a 2 hour drive. Leaving from my house I cut through the state on a route I have never taken. The whole time I was driving it was snowing, thankfully it got lighter the further south I got, but that didn’t make traffic any easier.

After getting lost in Charlottesville, I was coming from a different direction than normally, I found the arena and it was smashed. Fans littered the streets and where slowly filtering in past security. Some hard core people where tailgating, I just wanted to find a place to park and get to my seat. I skipped the $20 cash lot next to the stadium and instead parked in a garage right next door for half price.

snowy_road, creative commons
it snowed most of the way to Charlottesville

When I got through security and to my seat it was about 7:30pm so I could relax for a few minutes before the show started. My seat was stage right, almost parallel to the band. Not the best seat in the house, but it was a different view, allowed me to get a good view of the arena. My seat was the first row behind handicap seating which was nice. If my ankle started to bother me I could always sit down and still see.

When the show started the set started off pretty good with a few standards and Stealing Time from their new album. When Ya Mar started I quickly looked down at my iPod to scribble the song tittle. (As an aside, I remember writing set lists by hand many years ago.) All of a sudden I hear the crowd start to cheer, nothing to unusual, but it only gets louder. When I look up to my surprise I see a naked guy running around the stage. First time I have seen someone rush the stage at a Phish show. The crowd loved it and the band didn’t seem to phased by the act. All through the night they made references to the naked guy.

Other set 1 highlights included Divided Sky (because of the snow) with a super long break in the middle. Trey is just looking around the arena and the crowd volume went up and down, building to a crescendo when they finally started the song back up again. A good bluesy version of Sneakin’, something I don’t think I have heard since my first show over 10 years ago at Merriweather. Cavern, David Bowie with a mighty jam, and the Wedge were all great versions. I thought the closers of Bold as Love was lame. I hate it when they close a set with slow and melancholy songs. Set closers should be upbeat, leaving the audience wanting more.

Intermission was a time to rest and get off my ankle. I was standing for the entire first set and I could use the break. As the crowd around me thinned out I also spread out some. I always look around at every show during the set break. You see nothing but tired, yet happy people milling around. They might be headed to the restroom, talking with friends, smoking, what ever. But they all have smiles on their faces and are just having a great time.

Set two was much more of a jam session with the first four songs flowing one after another. Tweezer was a great start and jammed for a long time. When it lead into Light I could tell the song changed, but I didn’t know what it was. The guy next to me provided the song title. We actually traded songs a few times, he was really good with the new stuff and I was nailing the old stuff. Near the end of Light the jam turned very dark and cosmic. It just blew my mind away, especially with the transition into Piper, I was floored. The guy next to me also caught the transition too and we both agreed it was stellar.

Once you build it you must sometimes destroy what you love and start all over. That’s what I thought of Sweet Virginia. Yeah it was great to have a song reference the state, but I thought it completely killed the mood by slowing things down. Moving on. Harry Hood had a pretty decent glow stick war and Golgi was good but way to short. By the end of the show Antelope was a great choice. When they eventually walked off the stage the crowd went nuts. After what seemed like an eternity they came back for Loving Cup (bah) and a Tweezer Reprise (no surprise there). All things considered it was a very memorable night, lest of all because of the naked guy.

I was not planning on staying the night in Charlottesville so that meant a 3 hour drive home. Because of the snow on the way down I decided to stick to the highways. Longer distance but safety out weighted the extra time I would spend driving. Bleary eyed, I arrived home well after 3am and went straight to bed with visions of naked woman dancing on stage.

Set 1: 7:58pm start
01. AC/DC Bag
02. Chalk Dust Torture
03. Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan
04. The Divided Sky
05. Ya Mar
06. Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley
07. The Old Home Place
08. Cavern
09. Funky Bitch
10. David Bowie
11. The Wedge
12. Bold as Love

set 1 ends at 9:24pm

Set 2: 10:00pm start
01. Tweezer >
02. Light >
03. Piper >
04. Free
05. Sweet Virginia
06. Harry Hood >
07. Suzy Greenberg
08. Golgi Apparatus
09. Run Like an Antelope

set 2 ends at 11:18pm

encore: 11:20 start
10. Loving Cup >
11. Tweezer Reprise

show ends at 11:31pm

Notes:
• At the start of Ya Mar, a naked guy jumped onstage and ran around for a bit before being rounded up by security, prompting Trey to observe that “Naked Guy’s” antics “took a lot of balls.” During Ya Mar, Mike changed the lyrics to “he was a naked pa.”
• Sneakin’ Sally contained a vocal jam.
• Trey sang the verses to Light out of order.
• The sound for Mike’s bass dropped out during Golgi leading Trey to label it the “trio version.”
• During the ensuing Antelope, Mike took a bass solo to make up for the bass everyone missed in Golgi.
• Antelope also contained several lyric changes referencing the naked stage crasher.

Robertson Mountain December 2008

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I know its the middle of December.  So not only is it the middle of a shortened shopping season, but it’s COLD as crap outside.  The whole shopping thing I didn’t mind about, I would much rather be outside than shopping any day.  As for the cold I just purchased a new North Face Amplitude three season jacket and was looking forward to doing some torture testing on this piece of equipment.  So I didn’t want it to be just cold, the high for Saturday was in the mid-forties, I wanted it to be really cold.  And that means a trip to the mountains.

Robertson Mnt trail marker
Robertson Mnt trail marker

I decided to head to my local mountain range in the Shenandoah National Park for an afternoon hike up a mountain.  I didn’t want to do Old Rag this time, but I did picked a mountain in the same general area.  I decided on Robertson Mountain which is the next mountain over from Old Rag.  With it being the same height I knew it would be a challenge hiking up.

When I arrived at the mountain I was surprised to see about a dozen cars in the over flow lot, so much for getting a parking spot close to the trail head.  I figured with the cold and being around Christmas fewer people would be willing to hike up the mountain, boy was I wrong.  One of the people I ran into while hiking commented on seeing me.  He was surprised to see someone else out hiking on such a perfect day.

snow atop Robertson Mnt
snow atop Robertson Mountain

After almost a mile hike to the park entrance I started down the Weakley Hollow fire road till I got to the Robertson Mountain Trail head.  I passed it on my last circuit hike of Old Rag and thought it would be a good alternative hike to Old Rag.  Hiking up Robertson Mountain was almost straight up, definitely a steeper climb than Old Rag.  It was disheartening every time I would look up the trail.  Then when I looked behind me the trail just disappeared after 30′ or so.  Once above 3,000′ or so there was snow on the ground.  Just a light dusting, but snow non the less.  This high up the mountain it never melted.

About 2:30 hours after starting my hike I made it to the summit of Robertson Mountain.  Just off the trail was an obvious overlook spot that I walked to.  I couldn’t wait to see what the view was like and I wanted to sit and take a break for a while.  When I found the clearing the view was spectacular.  On my right side across the valley was Sky Line Drive and to the left I was eye level with the summit of Old Rag.  It was great to see that mountain for a different view.  Nothing but rocks jetting out with little vegetation.  I got a much better idea of just how bare the top of that mountain is.

I spent about 30 minutes just sitting on the rocks looking out.  I was the only person up there so it was very peaceful and quite.  The only sounds were a couple of black crows squawking every now and then and the rustle of the trees from the driving wind.  Eating my lunch I solved all the problems of the world in the peace and tranquility.  Unfortunately by the time I got down to the bottom of the mountain all the problems returned.  Ugh, my work is never done.

Another great hike.  I wouldn’t mind hiking up once when there is a few inches of snow on the ground.  Have not only the top of the mountain but the entire valley covered in a fresh white blanket of snow.  That would make for some great pictures.

summit of Robertson Mnt
summit of Robertson Mountain