Visiting Washington DC


Nadia on the steps of the Supreme Court


We had a pleasant long weekend in the nation’s capital, my fifth visit to the district. The amount of history and power concentrated in one place is impressive. The city is special to me because my wife Nadia loves politics so much, it is like me going to a professional sporting event. Seeing in person the sites of the American political system in person is exciting. I enjoy watching her delight as much as seeing the sites myself.



Catching up with friends on the “Poto-Mac” boardwalk in historic Alexandria


Summer evenings are delightful and walking around the National Mall during a beautiful sunset is a great way to spend a night in July. The founding fathers did a good job of portraying the power of this nation. The Roman classical building architecture, the wide expanse of green space and the Potomac River flowing past, it really sets itself apart from European capital cities. There are always a lot of visitors, but it didn’t feel crowded. The Lincoln Memorial captures the spirit of the great president. It was moving to read the words of the Gettysburg Address with his statue just to the side of me. The American Civil War was not all that long ago and keeping together the union has made a better life for Americans today. There are still cultural, economic, social and racial divisions in this huge country, but keeping together is better than splitting apart.


We had to do a “drive-by” of the Trump Hotel


The World War II memorial, next to the reflecting pool is also a fitting monument to the people impacted by the war. Both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters are featured and with quotes by generals and presidents, it stirred patriotic feelings in all of us. We made it to Washington obelisk, and it is fitting General Washington received a Pharaoh’s treatment. On a tour of the Capitol Building, Washington is featured on the fresco on the ceiling of the Rotunda, and the Italian artist Brumidi, pictures Washington ascending to heaven accompanied by angels representing liberty and victory. He didn’t conquer the world like Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar, but being the first president of the future American empire, puts him in that same group.


American Apotheosis on the ceiling of the Capitol Rotunda


DC is a very busy city and although we avoided rush hour traffic, the amount of entrance and exit ramps, bridges, multi-laned highways, it was a bit confusing navigating the city. I also don’t like any place with a median house price of over half a million dollars. The amount of culture and intellectual energy in the place is great, but I don’t know how educators could live there. Driving through neighborhoods reminded us of Japan because the homes were so close together and streets were narrow compared to the rural Pennsylvania. Space is at a premium in the city.


A beautiful summer evening on the National Mall


We took a short tour of the US Capitol Building. It was interesting to see congressmen walking out of the building into waiting Chevy black Suburbans with secret service drivers. I didn’t realize how vast the space for the inauguration ceremony actually was. The photos from the air during Obama and Trump’s ceremonies were controversial regarding crowd size and it was fun to stand there. On our way home, we made a stop at Chatter, the restaurant owned by ESPN commentator, Tony Kornheiser. I occasionally listen to his podcast and so I wanted to see the restaurant and new podcast studio on the site. The food was reasonably priced and pretty good, so I do recommend a visit.

We also visited an old friend of Nadia’s in Alexandria, Virginia. City officials developed the water front and combined with the historical buildings and lots of restaurants and bars, it was a lively atmosphere. We had a good Thai meal and walk along the water.

I finish this post with a video of Ocean taking part in a street performance. A busker (Aussie term for street performer) called her up to set out the tip hat. I guess using a cute little girl would generate more sympathy from patrons. She of course loves the spotlight and was hamming it up for the crowd.



Visit to Washington DC

Nadia and Kim reunited with their families visit the Pentagon

On our final weekend in the USA before our return to Japan we visited our dear friend Kim in Washington DC. The nation’s capital is a 3 and 1/2 hour drive from the Lehigh Valley. We saw some of the iconic sites like the White House and the Pentagon, toured the National Geographic museum and just spent time with Kim and her daughter. It is always a thrill to see the center of the US government, driving by the Federal Reserve, the Capitol building, etc. Despite the heat, we managed to see a lot. We even got a taste of Bolivia, stopping by a restaurant for saltenas. Around 250,000 Bolivians live in the Virginia side of the DC area and it felt like we were in Cochabamba!

Ocean and I check the bees

Kim allowed us to check on her bees. She is a conservationist and works for the US Forest Service and is an avid beekeeper. It was quite an experience for the kids and me! It is sad the plight of bees worldwide and through the efforts of people like Kim, hopefully they will continue to pollinate and keep our planet’s environment healthy. The bees were doing OK, but we didn’t find much honey. We have been friends for a long time and it was such a pleasant visit. Thanks to Kim for her hospitality!

We are packing in preparation for heading back. I am refreshed and ready to go for 2016-2017!

Nadia poses with the boys in front of the White House

Family Journal: August 12, 2016


We are wrapping up our summer holidays in the USA with a weekend in Washington DC visiting our longtime friend, Kim. We have known her since Nadia and I were in Bolivia.

Last night the Washington Nationals were hosting the Atlanta Braves so I took the opportunity to take Owen to his first Major League Baseball game. A father taking a son to his first MLB game is one of those experience people don’t forget. It was a wonderful night for me, regardless of the score or quality of play. The Braves have the worst record in baseball, but they played like champs, defeating the Nationals 8-5. Everyone at the game was sweating profusely with temps in the mid-90s and high humidity. Since it was Owen’s first and only MLB game this year, I splurged and we got tickets very close to the Braves dugout. We were disappointed that Bryce Harper was not in uniform (strained neck) and Max Scherzer (ex-Tiger) was not pitching. The game was highly entertaining and the size and power of MLB players was on full display in contrast to the smaller Japanese players. My big takeaway from the evening was the play of the infielders. On television it looks so easy to field a grounder and throw out the runner, but with the fast players, the catch and throw need to be perfect. I admired their skill. Nationals Park is right downtown near the Potomac and the Navy Yards and it is a fantastic night out. I can see why they have such strong attendance, plus the team is in first place. Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg was going for his 14th victory with only two defeats, but led by Braves’ first baseman Freddie Freeman’s three-run homer, he exited the game in the sixth inning as the losing pitcher.


On the negative side, in MLB’s quest to maximize revenue, the average cost of attending a game for a family of four is $326. It would be nice to half this and have everyone in the league, make 1/2 the money they do, owners and players. When a player contract reaches over $300 million dollars, that should be a sign that why put the cost ultimately on the consumer. I know that television revenue play a part in these high salaries, but when you look at the game experience, $5 for a bottle of water, $30 for parking, $92 for a baseline seat, it adds up for the fan attending a game.


On the way from the Lehigh Valley to Washington DC, we stopped by the Gettysburg battlefield in southern Pennsylvania. This was the furthest the Confederate reached in the war and the second day was the decisive battle of the Civil War. I see the are huge differences between the Republicans and Democrats in today’s politics, but the idea of a war between Americans is hard to believe. It was a young country then, (4 score & seven years), and I guess they needed to work out a governmental system for the continent. It was extremely hot and humid so we walked a bit of the battlefield near the climatic battle of the three-day conflict. There is a huge amount of interest in the Civil War and Gettysburg is one of those places every American should visit. Much of the battlefield has been preserved and there is much to be reflected upon while visiting. I recommend watching Ken Burns’s 1990 PBS series, Civil War, which is available and digitally restored on the PBS website.

The Modern Rome


We spent the afternoon yesterday touring around Washington DC. This is my second visit to the city and I was really inspired with awe at the architecture and layout of the city. It reminded us of many of the European cities we visit, and that is because the original plans of the city were based on European cities. The parks and grand buildings make me think that it must be like what Rome was at its height of the empire. It is a grand capital and fitting for the American Empire.

It is amazing to see that these institutions we hear of all the time, like the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), the FBI, etc., actually have offices and is a real place. Washington also has so many bike paths and parks and the Potomac Riverfront is beautiful. It is a city that I could definitely live in.

As you can see in the photo above, the city is getting ready for President Obama’s Inauguration Parade coming up next month. There were viewing stands being constructed in front of the White House and the main stage in front of Capital Hill (above). The city also has so many museums and cultural institutions, it would be a great place to live.

I’m in front of the White House

The Founding Fathers really chose well for a capital. I hope to come back for another visit, there is so much to see. I would like to thank our good friend Kim Winter for showing us around the city and inviting us out to her home in Virginia.

Washington Monument