Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Fringe Benefit.

One of the greatest fringe benefits about being self employed is I am allowed to work the hours I want to, however, there are a few other fringe benefits also. When clients come into town, I am often honored with hosting them at my house. Them, "not being from around here" gives me an excuse to show off my town and often even the town next door, Washington, DC. I had just such a visitor last week when Chris came in from Canada to drop off a trailer and to take one away. You can read all about that story in a few days on my other blog.

I asked Chris what he most wanted to see and his response was "the Smithsonian." He did not realize that "the Smithsonian" is many buildings, each dedicated to a different discipline. He also did not realize that each building is massive, requiring almost a full day to see everything. We took him to my favorite building on the Mall: the Museum of the American Indian.

I absolutely love this building. It opened not too many years ago and we have come to it many times now. Before I go further, I feel obliged to make something clear so as to not offend, but it is the building that brings us back. The exhibits are often good, but somewhat sparse within an incredible structure. I think the building upstages what it is supposed to show off.

My mouth is often ajar as I walk around the building. Somehow, aesthetically, it just pushes the right buttons within me.

This space moves me in a way that very few do. As a kid we visited many grand churches and cathedrals through out Europe. I have toured many great building all across this country, but none make me feel as though the Great Spirit dwells within, like in this house.

I watched countless parents take a very similar photo as this. Watching the spectrum move across the walls is an experience all in itself.

With the different cloud patterns and ever changing length of the Sun's rays, this pattern will never be duplicated. The Sun is doing a dance within the building that never will be repeated.

Everywhere we go, something appeals to me.

It continues right into the landscaping that surrounds the building.

I think this is a Native American, koala, family crossing. Everyone has their special interests in DC.

We went on over to the National Museum of Art for a meal. Avoid this restaurant if you come for a visit. Very expensive and the food is nowhere near mediocre. The waterfall dividing the East Wing from the West Wing is worth a visit, as is the book store. If you love the arts, architecture, or any aspect of culture, you are going to find some awesome books here.

After lunch Chris and I were able to ditch the girls for an hour and a half. We made a bee line for the boy museum, the Air and Space. The Spirit of Saint Louis is hanging there in the center. She sure is looking dingy these days. Her brushed skin looks streaked with oil and her skin is sports dark patina. Maybe they would consider using Frank's Trailer Works to polish her back up.

There are millions of rivets and miles and miles of aluminum hanging from the rafters. Just about every first in aviation is present at this wing of the Smithsonian. The real big stuff is out at Dulles Airport where the Air and Space Museum has another building. Ever want to see a Saturn V rocket? You will need to go there.

Of course we made our way into the room dedicated to Wright Brothers Flyer. I am always astounded to see what a primitive plane this is. It didn't go far, but we sure have since then.

We also strolled into the Hirshhorn. This museum is dedicated to postmodern art. They were having an Andy Warhol show. No photos allowed in there. It's just as well, because the Hirshhorn has decided to show what has to be his lamest work ever. 108 panels, 450 feet long, all the same, with just color variations. As someone with an MFA, I think I am entitled to hold this opinion. I wish it was not my opinion, for Andy has always been high on the list of artists I like.

Dan Flavin's light sculpture drew me in like a moth. It was electrifying. The guard in this gallery had to wear sunglasses. He looked very cool standing there in the electric blue light. He looked like part of the installation.
After the Hirshhorn we drove around seeing the sights from the car - the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and the White House. It was an abbreviated tour, but Chris got a good taste of DC. When he comes back next time we will probably hone in on just one museum.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

For the past few days now I have had a troubled mind. The question "How will you explain this to them?" For the past two years I have not camped with a great bunch of folks called the Washington DC Unit due to my boycott of their Mother Club. Fortunately this past weekend was a WDCU buddy rally and we (and a number of others in my same position) went to it.

Fall is an excellent time to go camping. The crisp air makes one truly appreciate how cozy a little heat in the trailer can be.

The color of the leaves also makes the Airstreams glow in the forest.

Trailers of all ages were in the campground making for a beautiful view almost any where one looked.

For many years we camped with all of these people and it was very nice to see them again. Nothing breaks the ice like sitting around a campfire.

I love the sight of Airstreams in the morning.

I also like to see the reflections of people laughing in the polished aluminum.

We managed a side trip to the Central Market in Lancaster (thats lank-ist-tur, not Lan-cast- tur). As a kid my parents would go to this market to buy from the Amish farmers. We always brought a big cooler for the meat and the rear of the car would be full of vegetables and baked goods. It was only open Tuesdays and Fridays. Now it has Saturday hours also.

The building has not changed, but the market sure has. Instead of being filled with Amish vendors, there were just a few.

That guys is not Amish. Do the Amish drink tea? It contains caffein.

The mason jars are nice homey feel, but the Amish never sold us any smoked paprika or Spanish saffron.

They do still sell you some yummy cookies.

They also supply the milk vendor who sure knows how to market it as organic and Amish produced. I do not think we ever paid $5.99 for a quart of table creme.

Do the Amish have a thing for sweets or is it all of us that crave it?

They do know how to process their animals into some very tasty meats. Yes, I not only eat all you see in the case, but I love it.

Halloween was celebrated at the campground. Some actually took the decorating very seriously.

For me, it is all about the campfire.

I really want to thank the nice people of the WDCU for making me feel so welcome. It was very nice seeing you all after so long.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I am not sure if this gift was intended for me or weather someone else is trying to move in on my girl, but we got an awesome gift last week.

In the mail came this gorgeous 1962 plate from Ohio. My client Chris saw this on Ebay and thought of me(and Anna I suspect). For a number of years now I have been collecting old plates to decorate Frank's Trailer Works with. I mostly go for the old rusted ones collectors all pass on. This plate is not going on the wall however.

Anna will be wearing it proudly. Thank you Chris, I love it and so does she.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Wet One

We had an awesome time this weekend camping with some friends at Greenbrier State Park, here in Maryland. I did not take a single photo all weekend long. Though not my own video, this one kind of sums it all up.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Storm Chasers (chased by)

As most know,the east coast was hit by hurricane Irene over the weekend. The forecast for West Virginia was supposed to be perfect, so we hooked up Anna and headed West. In all honesty, we had already planned on going out with Anna for the weekend. This was the last weekend before Halle starts kindergarten, and we wanted to get one last trip in. Our destination? Seneca Rocks. Irene, however decided to push a little further inland than the weather guys thought it would and we had a lot of clouds and a little drizzle to contend with. Seneca Rocks looked like a Japanese print from our campground across the street.

Right up yonder holler is the tallest mountain in West Virginia. We thought, why not go and check it out? What we forgot to take into account was that the cloud ceiling was about 3400 feet. Spruce Knob is way higher than that. Are my knuckles white? The 30 feet of visibility was comforting since the left side of the road dropped straight down into the trees and there were no guard rails.

So at the top, we were way up in the clouds. There is no way around getting wet in this situation. What to do, but go for a stroll.

The path through the woods was an absolutely lovely walk.

This fire newt didn't seem to mind the weather. He was out for a stroll, making the best of it. too.

The view from the observation tower was truly wonderful. I could see my house even better here than on top of Mount Evans a few weeks back.

Dropping out of the clouds brought us back into fairer weather.

By the next morning the cloudy skies and drizzle had gone north and we went about seeing the sites. Seneca Rocks is a very popular rock climbing destination. We hiked it instead of climbing it with ropes. There are many cool hikes in this area. Up the road in yonder opposite direction is one of our countries best kept secrets - Dolly Sods. Dolly Sods is a wilderness area and offers some spectacular hikes. We did not make it there this trip, but hope to go with the girls in the near future. Even further up yonder way is Harpers Ferry. We wanted to visit it on the way back home.

Honestly, the day could not have been more perfect. The weather was cool with low humidity and the crowds were sparse due to the hurricane that had just gone through.

Many years ago I worked for a historic restoration company. One of my projects, while there, was fabricating the windows and exterior mill work for this building you see here. I was very proud to see it looked so good after all these years. How would it not? I built them exactly as the originals were, from wood of the same era. During one of the numerous flood the water was past those third story windows.

Most people know Harpers Ferry because of John Brown and his armed insurrection. There is a reproduction of the building that it took place in. Oddly, historic buildings were often taken apart and put on exhibit. More than once they were "lost" between exhibitions. This same fate fell upon Lincoln's boyhood home.

Walking the old streets is a cool step back in history. Harpers Ferry was a major player in the American Industrial Revolution. Many successive floods and a civil war, followed by more floods ended that era. The population today is half what it was before the Civil War.

For architecture geeks, there is a great deal to admire.

Railroad geeks will find the town interesting also. After Harpers Ferry we headed off to find a campground. Right next door to Harpers Ferry is a gigantic KOA. We pulled in and did an immediate U turn right back out of the place. Camping like sardines is not my bag. Next we headed to our 'go to; state park, Greenbrier, just west of Fredrick, MD. Unfortunately the gate was locked tight. All Maryland state parks were closed due to 'storm clean up.' We saw no evidence of storm damage that needed clean up. Instead we moved on to a private campground literally 15 minutes from our house. Good Sam's was very good to us. Though the campground was full with seasonal people(in HUGE fifth wheels that never move) we were given a nice site almost all to ourselves.

There was a good deal of 'storm clean up' that needed to be taken care of at Ramblin Pines, and to make up for the closed pool, we got free mini golf. Halle is a natural, even if her stance, poise, grip, and swing are all wrong. Ava is an ace hitting par at every hole.

Beth, well, like her Dad, takes the golfing very serious.

Hey, give me back my ball!!! I want to play another round.

Even though, not a perfect weekend, it was perfect to me. With Ava turning thirteen I feel my trips with her are reaching their limit quickly. I will take every one I can get, even if the weather is not perfect and if things do not go as planned. I hope we can squeeze a few more weekends in before the year comes to an end. Halle starts kindergarten tomorrow, so as far as we are concerned the summer is over for us.