Rockville, MD

I work at a university and one of the benefits of working in higher education is that you get time between Christmas and New Years Day off.

I usually spend the time with family. This year though I thought I would spend Christmas with family but then take to the road to visit friends to the East.

I first drove to Rockville, MD to visit with my friend Edith Shields. We met in 2012 at a work conference in Kansas City. We have accompanied each other on a number of trips over the years and she is one of the few friends that I have that I would take with me on an extended trip.

While visiting her we traveled to nearby Washington, DC to go to the National Harbor. The harbor was a nice first night outing. We walked around, saw the Christmas lights and waited in a HUGE line at Starbucks for coffee.

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Lights outside of a Chinese restaurant at the National Harbor

She also took me to see Great Falls which is a national historic site and one of Edi’s favorite local places. As she has talks about it frequently and posts pictures online it was nice to see it in person. The amount of water that rushes over these falls is quite impressive.

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Great Falls

I also learned that housing out east is incredibly expensive. Even with $800-$1000 a month in many places this would only allow you to rent a room in someone’s house. With so many people living in such a congested area I have to admit it felt a bit claustrophobic. It seemed like every road out east was in perfect condition. The more I travel, the more I am sure that Michigan and more specifically the metro Detroit area has the worst roads in the United States.

There is a lot of diversity in the area so there is no shortage of great eating establishments. Over the course of my visit we ate Korean, Chinese and Filipino food along with a few traditional american restaurants.

The next day we headed to out to visit Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. This park lies about 75 miles west of DC in the Blue Ridge mountains. It was unseasonably warm so there were a lot of people in the park. It is usually cold and since many people don’t come in the Winter there was only one bathroom (with a long line of people waiting to use it) working at the visitor’s center.

There is a nice display/museum in the visitor’s center that outlines the history of the park. Like many parks the Civilian Conservation Corps played a large part in building areas on the park, including Skyline Drive and the many wonderful lookouts that were built along the route through the park. My grandfather was in the Civilian Conservation Corps while working out west so I always feel a connection with their projects across the United States.

Just down the road was the parking area to use when hiking down to Dark Hallow Falls. The trail is about a mile downhill. The falls were beautiful. Though we really enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather the hike back to the parking area was a bit challenging. I used to try to rush up hills and stairs but I have adopted a new strategy of “slow and steady” and I think it results in fewer breaks along the way.

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Dark Hallow Falls

The next day we traveled to visit Green Mount Cemetery. This cemetery, in the heart of Baltimore, was created in 1839 and is the final resting place of John Wilkes Booth and a few other semi notable historical figures. What we were there for though was to take pictures of the gravesites and sculptures. I have included a number of the photographs in the gallery below.

Eventually my time with Edi came to an end and it was time to head down to North Carolina to ring in the new year, visit with friends and of course, take more photographs!

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