Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

After our big meal.

Today we celebrated Thanksgiving in style! We started the day with the Trot for Hunger 5K in West Potomac Park. The first thing to be thankful for - we both set new PRs, finishing in 31:44. Later, we dined on traditional Thanksgiving favorites with a Belgian twist at BRABO in Old Town Alexandria. Both the food and the atmosphere at BRABO were outstanding.

The "Traditional Turkey Dinner" with sweet potato puree, cranberry relish, chestnut dressing, giblet gravy, and Brussels sprouts.

Kathryn about to enjoy the roasted beet salad with arugula, pistachios, and goat cheese.

At the starting line, trying to stay warm.

Happy Thanksgiving from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Getting Out - Great Falls

There are other places named Great Falls, but these are the greatest Great Falls ever.

We have been training for a half marathon (December 11!), so over the last couple of months the majority of our free time has been devoted to training. We've tried to make the most of it by changing up our long runs to take in some DC scenery. This weekend we did an 11 mile long run on the C&O Canal Trail which started and ended at Great Falls Park.

There are a lot of things to love about DC, but one of the best is the abundance of great parks. The C&O canal towpath is a great example because it starts in Georgetown but quickly feels like a country retreat. We took in our long run on Friday, so the trail was fairly empty. We saw 14 vultures, 6 deer, 4 blue heron, 2 hawks, 2 wood peckers, 1 blue jay, and countless ducks - all within a half hour drive of our house.

The happy couple after just over two hours of quality time running together.

If you squint, you can see the last little bit of fall color in the trees.

The park offers canal boat rides in the summer. We're going to have to come back to check it out.

Editor's note: We forgot our camera, so we took these pictures with my cell phone. The pictures aren't too bad though.

Smithsonian Museums - Natural History

Every time I see dinosaur bones, I act like I'm 6 years old. This cannot be prevented.

National Museum of Natural History

When we first moved to DC, I felt the need to hit as many major attractions as soon as possible - in part because of excitement but also because I wanted to have firsthand knowledge of DC's biggest hits. So I should start this post by saying, I've been to the Natural History museum before (a couple of times), but I went back today. For the sake of completeness, I thought I would share a few pictures and anecdotes.
  • Natural History is huge. It would be easy to spend the entire day at this one museum alone, but you would probably end up tired, bored, and sick of all museums. Still though, it could be done.
  • Natural History is probably the best of the Smithsonians. Postal is my favorite, but I can recognize that Natural History is the best. There's a lot of must see stuff in there - the Hope Diamond, dinosaur bones, giant stuffed mammals.
  • I went for two specific things today. First, I wanted to check out the Hall of Human Origins which was not completed last time I was there. The exhibit is on the verge of information overload, but it was incredibly fascinating, with a great layout and design.
  • I also learned how much fun it can be to follow a group of four creationists (or at least hardcore skeptics) through an evolution exhibit. It reminded me of the evolution discussion in the movie "Country Boys," and if you haven't seen "Country Boys," what are you waiting for? That movie is awesome!
  • Second, I wanted to check out Bluebrain's Audio Companion to the Sant Ocean Hall. Bluebrain is a music duo from DC who created a 17 minute ambient noise piece written for the exhibit, similar to Brian Eno's work for airports. The experience probably isn't for everyone, but I found it to be very stimulating and relaxing. The interested reader should refer to this link for download information and more.

Imagine how awesome giant bones are when set to rhythmic, atonal soundscapes!

I always get excited when museums have stuff from close to home, like this fossil from St. Louis. There's an exhibit upstairs about mining in Southern Missouri, but I ran out of time today.

I really like the Hall of Mammals, but fewer people would be excited if it was called "Hall of Taxidermy."

You probably wondered what I would look like as a Homo Heidelbergensis. The answer is something like this.

Eating Out - Food Trucks

Kathryn and Rebel eating some tacos (and wearing red).

TaKorean (Korean BBQ)

I've heard rumors floating around that food trucks have been getting a tough time from business owners near our work place (Farragut Square), and I hope this isn't true because DC keeps getting more and more interesting food trucks. Last week Kathryn joined me and a coworker, Rebel, for some tacos in the park.

  • Serving Korean BBQ staples like beef bulgogi and kimchi on a taco shell is exactly what you expect from a quality food truck - a creative combination of tasty and cheap foods served in a way that makes them easy to eat standing on the street or sitting on a park bench. The "Korean taco" is now a staple of the modern food truck movement (fad?) which, I believe, started in L.A.
  • I tried one of each taco (beef, chicken, and tofu) topped with kimchi. Kathryn opted to have two beef and one tofu with kimchi. All the of the tacos were pretty tasty, but the tofu stood above the rest. The kimchi (and sriracha sauce) gave all of the tacos a nice kick but not enough to overwhelm the other ingredients.
  • One nice touch is that TaKorean serves Jarritos soda to support the "taco" side of the equation. I'm a huge fan of Jarritos, but I wasn't the biggest fan of mango (a new flavor for me).
  • I'll definitely go to TaKorean in the future, if I can beat the line.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


We've had a couple of friends pass through town in the last couple of weeks. It's always great to share our city with friends and family!

I took my buddy Brent around for some night time monument viewing.

Kathryn's friend Ginny came in for a long weekend, and I met up with them one night for a couple of drinks in Arlington.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Getting Out - The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Believe it or not, we're not even in this frame. We were farther to the side.

The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

There's been a lot said about Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's Rally, and I don't think I have a unique viewpoint to add. I will say this. I thought it was fun.

Our friend Katie stayed with us the night before the rally. Here we are at the start when my legs were still feeling pretty good.

This is pretty much what the rally looked like for most of us.

Depending on which way that guy holds his head, I could see one of the two monitors. (The last two monitors on the left in the picture at the top of this post, if you were curious.)

Katie and Kathryn on the walk home.

This dude is not me, but I did have several friends ask if this was me.

Eating In - Arganica (2)

Kathryn spreading out the pizza dough.

We had so much fun with our previous Arganica box that we thought we would share our next set of meals with you.

We bought a pizza dough and made this guy - Elk sausage, heirloom tomato, basil, Parmesan, fresh mozzarella, and basil.

Chicken burgers with Caprese salad and Brussels sprouts.

Roasted chicken with greens and stewed apples.

Pan-fried beets with root vegetable soup (potatoes, parsnips, and turnips).

Tuna steaks with pears and roasted beets topped with Feta and fresh basil (best meal of the week!).

Check out the size of these greens!

Smithsonian Museums - Art Galleries

Looks can be deceiving - this isn't a tiny museum.

National Museum of African Art
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Freer Gallery of Art

This trifecta of subterranean art museums gave me the chance to click off several rounds of mandatory Smithsonian visits. I originally thought I was going to walk around a tiny African Art museum, but I was surprised to learn that the building is actually a giant, underground space. As I wondered through the exhibits and up and down stairs, I slowly found myself in other museums. The Sackler and Freer Galleries are connected through tunnels (read: hallways), making it easy to seamlessly flow from museum to museum.
  • The best part of the African Art museum was, ironically, an exhibit on sweet grass basket weaving in the Low Country region of South Carolina.
  • The Freer Gallery has a collection of Asian and Middle Eastern art. It's perhaps the best collection of art put together by a retired rail car manufacturer in the world.
  • The Sackler Gallery is also a pretty expansive collection of Asian art. I think they should follow the American Indian museum's lead and put in a Panda Express or maybe I'm the only one who started craving Chinese food.

I'm always a big fan of ivory carvings. Old ones anyway, don't go making new ones.

Before I realized I changed museums, I thought, "I can't believe this is African."

This is the Bodizapha, the original inspiration for Patrick Swayze's character in Point Break.

Smithsonian Museums - The Castle

Last few days of the beautiful gardens.

The Smithsonian Institution Building

The Institution Building or "Castle" is the original home of the museum. There are a number of great features that make it the best place to start a day on the mall: a scale model of the mall, clean bathrooms, and a small cafe. There's a nice intro video that runs on a loop (starring Ben Stiller), and the crypt of Joseph Smithson (starring Joseph Smithson). The best are the mini-exhibits from all of the Smithsonian museums. It's perfect if you've ever wanted to check out the Smithsonian but not deal with all that walking around.

As always, I was most interested in the pop culture offerings like these gloves and helmet from the Miracle on Ice.

Eating Out - Thai

I have a weakness for sticky rice.

Bangkok Bistro (Thai)

There are literally two Thai restaurants within a couple of blocks of our house. They are both pretty good, so as a result, we haven't been too adventurous in hunting down Thai food. Last weekend after a good run, we headed to Georgetown for something to restore our energy.

  • Because we're total addicts, we made sure to start with the rice paper garden rolls. They were pretty good, but the presentation was a notch above the competitors. I wish I would have thought to take a picture.
  • Kathryn had a craving for pork Pad Thai. It was really good, and there were plenty of left overs for lunch (always an added bonus).
  • I was a bit more adventurous and tried the Thai BBQ Chicken. It was a half of a chicken with sticky rice (awesome!) and mango salad (not for me). This was one of the unique offerings, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.
  • However, the rest of the menu was fairly generic so it's safe to say that we'll probably just stick closer to home in the future.
  • We were really tired when we went, and I wish we would have realized that they deliver to our building before making the trek. Maybe next time....

Museums - National Building Museum

Conveniently located on top of a metro station.

National Building Museum

I had a day off from work a couple of weeks ago, but Kathryn was stuck working. I decided to make the most of it and check out some museums. I started at the National Building Museum to see the LEGO Architecture exhibit.
  • The building was originally used for the Pension Bureau. It features a giant open room with equally giant Corinthian columns. The museum exhibits are tucked in the hallways surrounding the main room.
  • The LEGO Architecture exhibit was my primary motivation for coming, but the exhibit I enjoyed most outlined the architectural history of the District. It featured scale models of the National Mall throughout history and a great collection of old photos from around the city. Interesting fact I picked up - the "Beltway" was the only outer loop completed although the original plans called for 4 of them.
  • I also recommend the exhibit "Investigating Where We Live" which was designed and constructed by school kids from Southeast DC. It was really well done and emotionally moving.
  • These two free exhibits really made me proud to be a DC resident.
  • The LEGO exhibit was the only one with an entrance fee ($5), and it was disappointingly small. Also, most of the buildings were from Chicago (Corn Cob, Sears, and John Hancock).
  • Like the Postal Museum, the small, concentrated focus of the museum made it well worth the visit, and it doesn't seem to get as overrun as the major Smithsonian museums.

I decided to save the $5 and not check out the Wearable Crafts Fair.

I wanted to get to the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot angle, but the table was in the way.

This was making me homesick.