Friday, September 14, 2018

September 2018: Hanging Out Around DC

The National Harbor Waterfront District is Dotted with Numerous Statues.
Here: Churchill, FDR & Rosie the Riveter
Just as with the prior day, the weather on Sunday, 09-September, was exactly as predicted….which is to say pretty crappy.  Rain chances had been pegged near 100% with temps in the 60’s and a stout 15 MPH breeze from the east, and that’s pretty much what we got.  Perhaps eventually we would start pining for the sunny and hot days of the previous weeks, but for now we were content to cool off.

Rick spent the day onboard and dry – loading routes into the ship’s PC, backing up that computer, checking weather forecasts (all ugly), repairing a sagging ceiling panel, and catching up with the MLB pennant races and some boring NFL games. Chelle, not capable of sitting still for very long, braved the raw weather and scouted out the local water taxi tours to Alexandria and DC proper.
Another Interesting Sculpture at National Harbor.  This One, Called
"The Awakening", is Not Supposed to be Under Water.

By the time sunset arrived the only real concern was the rising water level (the predicted vs. actual tide level showed us at +3.5 feet above the norm) especially in relation to the marina dock’s power junction box – that thing has been mounted way too close to the nominal water line; and the cumulative rainfall, resultant runoff and tidal swings might put that box under water.  There was some debate as whether the marina would need to cut power because of that.  It would not be a huge deal for us since we could just power up the generator and keep systems running, and the main thing was the floating docks here could withstand another six or seven feet before their pilings would succumb to high water.  The approaching hurricane might test that, although it wasn’t likely, so for now we were good.

While it rained a bit more overnight, the morning of Monday, 10-September started dry if quite grey with a low overcast – we could hear the aircraft on final to Reagan National but we couldn’t see them.  We tended to some minor storm preps (stowing deck items, topping off water tanks), enjoyed a relaxed brunch on board, and then hosted a brief visit from some friends of Chelle who coincidentally were attending a convention at the Gaylord Resort just east of the marina.
View of the US Capitol Building from Mid-Mall.  Rumor Has It In Ancient
Times Intelligent Discourse & Lawmaking Used to Occur Here.

We spent the rest of the day being tourists.  While we had wanted to take the water taxi into DC, that fleet had been sidelined by the inordinately high water levels, putting some of their moorings at risk.  So instead we engaged Uber for a ride into town to visit the National Mall.  There we indulged in admiring some of the capitol’s more famous monuments. Yes, we had both visited them some years ago, but this seemed a good time to reacquaint ourselves with a few of the most influential figures in our country’s history (Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln) and recall what leadership and statesmanship used to look like.
The 555' Tall Washington Monument Honors the First U.S. President....Completed in
1888, at the Time It Was the World's Tallest Structure. It Is Currently Closed for Renovations.
The Lincoln Memorial, Dedicated in 1922, Honors Our Country's 16th President, Who Faced the Daunting
Task of Preserving the Union via a Devastating Civil War.
Inside the Memorial is the Imposing -- 19 Feet High -- Sculpture of President Lincoln.
The Front of the Jefferson Memorial Honors the Third President of the U.S.  It Was Not Completed Until 1943
During the FDR Administration.  The 19 Foot High Bronze Statue Inside Wasn't Added Until 1947.
We also took considerable time to tour the adjacent World War II and Vietnam Veterans Memorials, also located there on the National Mall and newly erected since our last visit here.  While those conflicts are at opposite ends of a spectrum, we have close personal connections to both and the motivations of the individuals involved in them; and are pleased the equal sacrifices have been recognized and mostly appreciated.
The World War II Memorial with the Lincoln Memorial in the Background.  It Was Originally Funded During the
Clinton Administration But Not Completed & Dedicated Until the Bush Presidency in 2004.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Consists of Two Polished Black Granite Walls, Each at 247 Feet Long, and
Which Are Inscribed with the Names of  the 58,318 Who Perished in That Conflict.
 As centrally located those monuments are, that still involved a lot of walking; by mid-afternoon we were tired and hungry so we detoured over to GW University and the kitschy “&Pizza” for some flatbread pizza for lunch.  After that break Rick insisted we make one more stop before retreating to the boat – and of course that was at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.  The Smithsonian complex (aka the “nation’s attic”) has numerous museums across a wide and eclectic spectrum of historical interests, but having visited all of them previously the one that draws us back is Air & Space.  The technology, daring, dedication to service and just plain sexiness of what is displayed there is worth repeat visits for us.  And the photo opps are fabulous.
A Douglass DC-3 Hangs in the Main Lobby

Rick and His Dad Used To Spend Days Browsing & Discussing All the Displays
in the National Air & Space Museum.
As we tired eventually we had to cop an Uber ride back to the boat and our recliners. The rain continued to hold off during the evening and, while keeping a wary eye on the progression and path of Hurricane Florence, we concluded a busy day by enjoying another peaceful evening aboard Ghost Rider.

National Harbor Doesn't Lack for Interesting Restaurants
On Tuesday, 11-September, we slept in and were greeted by another grey, dreary day and occasional sprinkles.  The forecasts for Hurricane Florence had not changed much, still estimated to make landfall near the border of South and North Carolina as a Category 3 storm….although the probability cone still extended as far south as Charleston and as far north as Norfolk.  Wind and rain impacts would span a much broader area.  Our plan remained the same: stay here. 

The afternoon was mostly dry, so Chelle launched her e-bike and made a grocery run inland to Aldi’s.  Rick took a stroll around the Harbor area to visit a couple of stores, hit the ATM and grab a lobster roll for lunch at nearby Mason’s.  But otherwise it was a lazy lay-back-and-wait period for us.

Weather-wise the morning of Wednesday, 12-September, looked like the previous four mornings – grey and misty.  Temperatures, however, were finally rising into the low 80’s, making the humid air less appealing.  We took care of a few routine boat chores in the morning (cleaning sea strainers) and continued to monitor the progress of Hurricane Florence.  It wasn’t looking good for the Carolinas but the local outlook was improving a bit as a result.
A Rare Glimpse of Mostly Clear Sky Above Ghost Rider
at National Harbor Marina

By mid-afternoon a strange yellow ball appeared in the sky, which we later recognized as the sun.  So around 1500 we walked to the nearby Pier House to check out their happy hour cocktails and appetizers (all good).  Surprisingly the weather had remained good all afternoon – we could see cumulonimbus clouds surrounding us but we seemed to be in the quiet center for the time being.  It was a pleasant change that we appreciated and enjoyed.

By the time Thursday, 13-Setember dawned the sun had performed is disappearing act again as the low, grey overcast returned.  Florence had reduced in strength ever so slightly to a Category 2 hurricane, but was still tracking relentlessly towards the Carolinas (and in doing so, staying away from us.)  Rick handled some more routine boat maintenance items in the morning, but in the afternoon we went back to being tourists.
Street View of Old Alexandria, Virginia

River waters had receded enough to allow the water taxis to resume normal operations, so we hopped on one for the short cruise over to old Alexandria on the opposite river bank.  We strolled historic King Street for a while and then used the free trolley to ride to the west end of the avenue to tour the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.  Initially proposed back in the 1850’s construction didn’t actually begin on this imposing structure until the 1920’s and was completed in 1932. While Freemasonry is usually miscast and misunderstood, and Washington’s degree of involvement is debatable, one of the main reasons the Masons wanted this structure was to preserve the many forms of authentic Washington memorabilia in their possession (having experienced several lodge fires previously where much of it had been lost.)  It does that much well.
The George Washington Masonic National Memorial

We concluded our brief visit to Alexandria with happy hour drinks at Bugsy’s bar, and then hopped the river taxi back to National Harbor for dinner at Rosa Mexicana….good food, excellent salsa and Margaritas.

Late that night we took another check on Florence as it approached North Carolina.  It had degraded as far as wind speed – down to a Category 1 storm – but was still going to produce prodigious surge and rainfall.  Our friends Mike and Mari had evacuated from River Dunes but had left their Nordhavn 47, Mari Mi, at the marina and were hoping for the best.  Ron and Mercedes had their N47, Moonrise, tied up as best they could manage just outside of Charleston, hoping the storm would stay just to their north.  Paul and DeeDee down in Edisto were all boarded up and hopeful that the current forecast track would just miss them, too.  It was a tense time and not a particularly restful night.

As of 13-Sep the Tropical Atlantic Was a Complete Mess & the Carolinas Were Getting Hammered
Friday, 14-September, looked like all the previous mornings here at National Harbor, overcast with occasional mist, with temps hovering in the 70’s and humidity to match.  More of the blah.  Florence had finally made landfall in North Carolina near Wilmington and slowed to a ponderous crawl; while winds had decreased considerably to a low-end Category 1 storm the thing was in the process of dumping a year’s worth of rain in the span of a few days.

In studying the local weather forecast it appeared that we had about a 2 day window of relatively benign conditions starting the next day, so we made plans to sortie back down river towards the Chesapeake Bay.  The general idea was to reach Solomons Island in the Patuxent River by Sunday night before the weather turned ugly again.  This time it would be from the remnants of Florence as it finally turned to the northeast, but probably only for a couple days.
The Red Line Shows Our Intended Path from DC, Down River to the Chesapeake, then to Solomons
and Annapolis, and Finally Into Baltimore for Trawler Fest
 Our basic longer term plan still remained the same – to be in Baltimore on or around 23-September to attend some Trawler Fest classes the week of 24-September.  Here in the DC area we were only about a 30 minute Uber ride away from Baltimore.  But it would take us several days to boat our way back down the Potomac, into Chesapeake Bay, make stops at Solomons and Annapolis, and finally chug up to Baltimore.  This would be akin to driving from Fort Worth to Dallas….by way of Chicago.  Sometimes such is trawler life.

Rick busied himself with departure preps – loading routes, updating the GRIB file and Active Captain database, preflighting the engine room and lazarette – plus some minor boat cleaning chores.  We also topped off water tanks again and placed a slew of online supply orders to be delivered to us in Baltimore.  Chelle went for a spin on her e-bike, eventually ending up on the other side of the river to get a rusted brake cable replaced at a bike shop over there, then also grabbed a few more groceries at Whole Foods (Rick did not ask why.)  

We stowed the bike and hoses back aboard, and by happy hour we had everything ready for Ghost Rider to sortie the next morning.
More Statues at National Harbor....This One Marilyn Monroe
And One of Louie Armstrong
And Rick Pretending to be a Statue

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