Friday, September 30, 2011

For Kelsey...Securing the City

What could a trip to D.C. be like without seeing a variety of law enforcement, secret service, and security personnel.  I just so happen to have a sister who drools over this kind of stuff...she grew up telling people she was going to sleep outside of the Army recruiting office the night before she turned 18, wished her life was like that of Jennifer Garner played out on the TV show Alias, and pretty much anything else of the sort.  I suppose I shouldn't divulge all of her secrets, but she'd probably let you know about them sooner or later.  I'm a little disappointed that I didn't see a sniper set up on the roof of the White House, cause that would have made for the most awesome of photos!  Although my mom and dad apparently saw one on the roof of the Capitol (one of the only buildings that Mike and I didn't stop to see).  So here goes...

Motorcycle cop.  Cool blue helmet. 
Sort-of a segway cop? Not really sure.  Bike helmet...this obviously doesn't go as fast as the motorcycle in the previous photo :-)
Secret Service! Not the "secret service in suits with earpieces" type.  
They probably don't want me to tell you this, but they were on duty for the Nikelodeon Kids "Day of Play", don't even get me started...
I'm just guessing that this wasn't their preferred assignment!  Wonder what they did to piss off the boss, lol!
Mounted police.
Again at the Nikelodeon thing...merely walking near the area made the hair on my neck stand on end, too many children in one spot!  I think these cops were in amazement, too.
Motorcycle-cop bike.  OOOHH...a nice shiny Harley Davidson, another favorite of Kelsey's!
We didn't dare take it for a spin... 
Near the White House; we just happened to get there when a car passed through the checkpoint
K-9 unit checking things out...
Did I mention I'd like to own a K-9 or war dog?  I don't really like big dogs, but an explosive and drug sniffing dog or one with titanium teeth would be great!   
Off to check something out...we kept hearing sirens and hoped to see a motorcade of some sort, no luck though, lame.
Humvee.  Another thing Kelsey drools over :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

(Part of) D.C. for a Day

A 20-hour road trip isn't complete without another 2+ hour drive south to explore none other than the nation's capitol, Washington, D.C.  After a little debating on Friday night about whether or not we should hit up Baltimore or D.C., we decided to cut loose and go all out (I know, risk-takers right?) and make the trek to D.C. on Saturday morning.

Navigating the Metro...the more I ride, the more I think I need to live in a city that has a Metro system!
Waiting for the D.C. Metro at the Pentagon City station...
 Mom--(obviously excited) she would travel, explore, and sightsee 24-hours a day if she could.  Dad--(smiling nicely for the camera) the other 'first-time D.C. tourist' in the group (I was the other).  You can just barely see Mick's head and Lori's profile behind them (both patiently waiting for the train to arrive).

They actually found a couple of seats on the train...which wouldn't be the case later in the day
 when we were packed nuts-to-butts like sardines in a can!
 This was the view at the top of the escalator when we arrived at Smithsonian Station at the center of the National Mall...really!?!?! Apparently I should have known (or should have checked) that the National Book Festival was in town.  Seriously.  White circus tents and people with books EVERYWHERE we looked; I couldn't even see the Mall to know what it's supposed to look like!

Bet all of the 'bookies' were pretty excited that the rain held off...grey skies and clouds all day, but the books stayed dry, woohoo (no wet, musty, old book smell)!
 It's a bit difficult to appease six grown adults entirely by sight-seeing as a group, so we decided to split up and do-as-we-pleased for a lightning-fast 5 hour tour of D.C., since we still wanted to hit up Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon before calling it quits for the day.

Outside the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
Aaron Vanjoske, this one's for you. To go along with Philly's "don't block the box" and Intercourse Brewing Co.
Yes, my idea...I made him pose for this one.
I'm pretty sure Dad could have spent hours in here!
I probably could have too, but I'll have to save it for another trip :)
One of my must-see stops was the Smithsonian's NMAI--National Museum of the American Indian.  Again, we knowingly steamrolled through the facility, but it's one of those places that I'll definitely explore more in-depth on another visit.  The museum opened back in 2004, amidst a huge, week long celebration and festivities.  We really, really debated trying to get to D.C. for the grand-opening, just for the amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience it would have been.  That clearly didn't happen, so this trip was our first chance to see what the place is all about.

If you're at all interested, there was a lot of significant thought, consulting, and unique consideration that went into the design and construction of the building and the grounds itself.  Native-designed.  Native-minded. Native-friendly. The NMAI website gives an overview of some of the unique features, pretty interesting to read.

Little miss popular, posing with her cell phone ;)
The buildings here are massive...

Of the little we saw, the museum has a really neat Contemporary Lives and Identities exhibit, detailing the ordinary and extraordinary everyday lives of modern, 21st century Native peoples.  There was also an extensive collection of beadwork...nothing I'll ever be attempting, LOL!

Some pretty powerful photos...
...and some pretty powerful words, highlighting and celebrating the differences
of the people and the places that make this world more interesting.
Whoever you are, celebrate who you are. 
Unreal.  This was actually in a backlit display and although you can't see the detail in the photo, this was beaded,
the stars incorporate all of the states and within each one of the stripes, tone-on-tone, are the names of different tribal nations. 
I'm no professional photographer, so I found a better photo online that shows the flag with the lighting element preserved, so you can see just how cool this really was.
More information on the piece from the NMAI Collection Search.

Still lots more to share, but I think it's time for a break...stay tuned!  I'm pretty sure I had over 1200 photos taken that day.  After deleting some of the really bad ones and weeding out the duplicates, we settled on somewhere between 800-900 that are now loaded onto my MacBook.  I think I'm getting almost as tired writing about the day as I was from actually walking around the entire city (well, at least the part we tackled that day)!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Minnesota Comes to Town

WHERE TO START.  We had a crazy-fun weekend with Mike, Deb, Mick, and Lori.  Fun! Fun! Fun!  Definitely a weekend that will require a few posts...or you'll be reading for days :) Recap of events...(more details on most of the weekend to come later)

Wednesday 9/21, 1730 CDT--The crew departs suburban Minneapolis for the 1,082 mile trip

Destination: Harrisburg

Thursday 9/22, 1245 EDT--The same crew arrives in HBG hours sooner than Mike and I would have expected!  We're still not sure if they actually drove the whole way or if they flew into Pittsburgh and rented an exact replica of Mick's Chevy Avalanche for the rest of the drive here.  Seriously.  It was a wicked fast trip and I don't think they even stopped for a pee break.  We were SO SO SO excited to see them walk through the door!

Or...perhaps they rented one of these
After a little food, a little beer, and a shower, we were ready for a brief walking tour of Olde Uptown, more conversation, and relaxing with friends and family!

Checking out the sights and sounds of the neighborhood 
Architectural photo-ops...practicing our photography skills
Putting the front porch to good use

Friday 9/23--ACLS (i.e. my morning @ work).  Hershey.  Consignment shopping.  Gettysburg.  Lots of rain.

Saturday 9/24--Washington, D.C.  Lots of walking.  Bottom of the Bay Seafood.  Lots of tired travelers.

Sunday 9/25--Coffee & waffle breakfast.  Vikings choke vs. Lions.  Mini projects around the house.

We wished our weary travelers a safe trip when they headed home on Sunday afternoon...we didn't want them to go, but I guess that's part of adult life :-/  If only we could all get by without working, we could all travel all the time!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Zucchini Ninjas

Farm Show Farmers Market + Homegrown Zucchini + OhSheGlows = (Always) Good for the Stomach
OK, so it's definitely not my photo, but I came across it online and thought it was fun--pretty sure I like the ninja looking zucchini on the right :) Seeing as how Mike and I picked a few of these homegrown beauties up at the Farm Show Complex Farmers Market last week, I thought tonight would be a great chance to try out a new recipe (a.k.a.  they were probably going to get a bit mushy over the coming days).

Fall is pretty much the only time I make sweet breads, simply because you can't beat the farmers market price on zucchini ($1/each) and really, what says fall more than homemade zucchini bread?  After a little bit of measuring and just as much messing up my clean kitchen, I had a loaf of Oil-Free Zucchini Walnut Raisin Loaf with Cinnamon Streusel Topping baking away in the oven.  I didn't have raisins or walnuts, so mine ended up with pecans and chocolate chips instead (what I won't do for a little chocolate in my life)!  

Someday I'll learn how to take my own foodie photos.
Till then, visit OhSheGlows for this great picture and even greater recipes!!!

We haven't cut into it yet, but it smells great! Check back with Mike or I sometime tomorrow and we'll let you know how it tastes; if you're lucky enough, perhaps there will be a few crumbs left.  As I write this I'm also beginning to realize that the neighbors may be right--apparently I do bake a lot, hmmmmmm...more to share, I guess.  Time to finish up the laundry and call it a night--our visitors are beginning their journey to HBG tomorrow afternoon...YAY!!  

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Refugee Camp Weekend

Busy week at work = I haven't had the time or the energy to get a blog post written in quite some time.  Disclaimer to all of you who live in the area:  you're probably way way way beyond sick and tired of hearing about the F-L-O-O-D (or what's now being labeled "The Great Flood of 2011") and don't want to see or hear about anything I'm writing in this post any more than I actually want to search for the photos and actually write it.  Pretty sure that's why it's taken me almost a week to sit down and write about last week's events...and we didn't even get any water.  I don't need to see anymore rain, mud, or nasty brown river water for quite some time.  Feel free to close this window now; I promise I won't be offended :)

For you all that don't live near the Susquehanna Valley, I'll give you an introduction the Susquehanna River--she's back in her banks now, thankfully.  As I write this, I actually just heard the weatherman on TV say that the river is 19 feet lower than it was a week ago, woah! Also trying to search for a few photos to try and give you out-of-towners a feel for just how high (and fast) the river rose.  FYI, I was too annoyed to go out and run around town trying to capture pics of my own; therefore everything you see is courtesy of someone else...mostly from the local news photo galleries and facebook postings.

Keeping an eye on the river levels.  What you can't see from this pic is that the river rose 20 feet between 10 PM Monday and 10 PM Thursday.  I think we had some 11 inches of rain during that time period alone. 
River at "normal" levels, looking South 
River level, looking North.  The Market Street bridge, Walnut Street bridge, and Harvey Taylor bridge are seen.  Our neighborhood is just North of the furthest bridge pictured.
To give you an idea of what the river area looks like typically, see the two photos above.  There are concrete steps leading down to the river (not sure why) and an extra-wide concrete path at the top of the steps.  Next to the path is a hill/embankment and another path known as the Greenbelt that follows along the river at street level (at the level of the bridge-decks in the photos).  The Greenbelt runs parallel to Front Street; our neighborhood sits an additional 2-3 blocks off Front Street.

Intersection of Front Street and Delaware Street, our neighborhood sits 2-3 blocks further back off of the river.  The Greenbelt mentioned previously runs just behind the bench and trash can you see.
Oh there were plenty more where this came from...dumb people wading in the river and playing over the storm drains sucking excess water into the sewers.  Let me think for a minute: letting my child play in a raging, flooded river + sewage and failed wastewater treatment plants upstream, really? SMRT.
Another view near Front Street and Delaware.
These were taken before the extensive flooding and river crest (i.e. we took a quick walk down to the river as we were finishing moving all of our belongings to higher ground and preparing for evacuation).  I really don't have a visual picture in my mind of how much water our neighborhood took on at the peak of the river's crest.  We're lucky enough to have great friends and a great community that Mike and the neighbors were all working together to clear each other's houses simultaneously, conducting a seemingly organized yet obviously chaotic Thursday afternoon house demolition/remodel that cleared the entirety of all of our first floors before personnel came by to shut off our electric and gas lines for the weekend.

We packed up and caravanned East, to Hummelstown.  Carolyn and Dave were amazing and most gracious when they offered us...all of us...a place to crash.  Let's be serious, I'm sure none of us really knew what we were getting ourselves into--it was surely a site to see (and probably quite comedic) to see 7 adults and 4 dogs fit into their 2 bedroom apartment for the weekend!  Someone quickly dubbed it THE REFUGEE CAMP, a name that inevitably stuck. All in all, we spent Thursday and Friday night having cozy, quality time with some great friends (who truly have become our Harrisburg family), drinking beer, laughing, and making memories.  Saturday (while I was at work) they all headed back to survey the damage and re-decorate our living rooms!

An empty Olde Uptown during the evacuation...our street looks so empty!
City Island under water.  No baseball. 
The Harrisburg Senators playoff series was moved to Richmond, VA.  They ended up getting swept in three...some home-field advantage that turned out to be :(
Old Shakey, the pedestrian bridge to City Island.  You almost have to experience this for yourself and see what it's like to walk across with normal water levels to really get a feel for just how high this water level is!
An aerial view of the interchange and entrance/exit ramps I take to work each day.  Shipoke area neighborhood of Harrisburg can be seen in the left portion of the photo. 
Shipoke up-close, just South of downtown Harrisburg.
Long story short...our life is back to normal.  The lives of others are still getting back to normal, and there are many, many people who sustained varying levels of damage to their lives and their homes.  There's plenty of clean-up yet to be done (when the waters receded, everything was caked in a layer of mud...yum).  We were lucky enough to not have any damage, but know friends and co-workers who did.  

At present, Blogger is driving me nuts with all sorts of different technical nuances, so I think I'm done-enough with this post (and I"m sure you've seen enough flooded river photos).  To leave you with a laugh...for those of you who didn't see this posted to Facebook...this was Friday afternoon at the "Refugee Camp".  

Clockwise from top left:  Kaia--chihuahua, 3 lbs.; Tank--chihuahua, 7.5 lbs.;
Arnold--English Bulldog,  60-ish lbs.; Danny--English Bulldog, 70-ish lbs. 
What a combination! They actually get along surprisingly well!  You'll have to excuse my lack of clarity...I need to get the lowdown on my Bulldog breeds and weight statistics :)  Happy Saturday, it feels like fall here! Cool, crisp air.  Sweats on.  Enough said.