Sunday, August 9, 2009

Washington DC in Photographs

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here are some profound thoughts about our nation's capital:

This is just one big metaphor. Dave and I are the lions, the helpless creature in the middle is the ride.

Dave in front of his embassy.

On the bike route approaching DC.

Trying to get huge on the bike path from Mt. Vernon to DC. I did 5 and was exhausted. Guess I need to start lifting.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

What happened to the East Coast?

On the Road

What exactly happened to the East Coast? Dave and I just finished weaving our ways in and out of cars on Manhattan and are sitting in our friend's, Dan Bacon, apartment in the city. I've been very tired as of late which is why the blogs have been lacking and for that I apologize.

Everyone had a great time in DC. We gave a presentation to a lot of Stanford kids at the Stanford in Washington house and then went out on the town with some people. We drove down to the waterfront and met up with Aaron Frankl and Alec Levy, our rowing teammates. It was great to see the guys and cath up with what everyone has been doing this summer.

On Wednesday we got up at 5:30 and were on the road at 6. Dave and I decided to bike from DC to Philly, originally a three day trek, in a single day. We changed up the route a little bit so that we only had 187 miles. It was a long day but my legs felt good after a rest day and I was very happy to roll into Philly.

We spent two days with the Trope family whose daughter, Michal, is one of our good friends from school. Yesterday we hung out in the city for a while and then split ways a bit. I left the group to meet up with a friend from high school, Pat Kneeland, and then go out to dinner with my Uncle and his family. It was a great to catch up with so many people I hadn't seen in a while.

Today we biked just over 100 miles from Philly to NYC. The miles were easy except for going through Newark, NJ. Bad roads, bad drivers, and a bad route. But we are now here and I'm very pleased. We're about to head out to dinner so I have to bounce, but I'll try to put up another good blog or two in the next couple of days. We're almost there!

Fact of the Day

In 20 years of life this is my first time EVER being in New York City. Worcester, my hometown, is only about 4 hours from New York. There are 3 or 4 times when concrete plans for going to the city were established and then fell through. I jokingly told my parents that I had to bike across the country to finally get here. Whouda thunk?

Trivia Contest

Today's Question: What are the 13 original colonies? (1 point a piece)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Following the North Star

On the Road

Following my blog post this morning we had a great breakfast at the Ashe household, took some photos with the family, said our farewells, and drove back to our starting point for the day. It was a short day- a meager 60 miles!- and we did it in one fell swoop. Upon arriving in Fredericksburg we stopped at Olde Towne Bicycles to pick up some new tires for my bike. As a contribution to the ride the owner threw in an extra wheel which was extremely nice of him!

Dave and me with the Ashe family this morning before setting out on our ride. Notice the Face AIDS pins...spreading the word all across the country!

We're all about to go to bed and are anxious for tomorrow. We're biking to DC in the morning (around 90 miles) and giving a presentation at the Stanford in Washington House at 7:30 (the reception starts at 6:30). It's going to be great to see some of the guys on the East Coast starting with our teammates Aaron Frankl and Alec Levy in DC. Then riding up to Philly over the next couple of days. I can't believe it, but the end is in sight!

Trivia Contest

Answer to this morning's question: Jefferson Davis was the President of the Confederacy. 10 more points to my dad who is making some noise on the leader board!

Directions: Ride to Virginia and take a left

On the Road

Saturday morning we got up, dressed, and walked down to the UVA campus. On the way we stopped at Bodo's, a favorite bagel shop of students in the area. The campus was beautiful! Designed by Jefferson as his "last act of public usefulness", the designs are in the neoclassical style and are intended to remind the viewer of the architecture of the Roman Republic. This was, of course, intentional; Jefferson wanted to draw a parallel between the fledgling American Republic and the ancient Roman one.

Around 9:30 we piled into the car and drove out to Monticello, Jefferson's home. We took a tour of the marvelous mansion and learned a lot. Every detail was designed by our 3rd President and construction lasted over 40 years. Full of gadgets and books, the house reflected Jefferson's Enlightenment thinking. After the tour we walked down the hill, past Jefferson's grave, jumped back in the car, and headed back to Charlottesville for the start of our day.

Since we spend so much time touring about the area, we didn't get on the bikes until 12:30. It was our latest start of the entire summer and we had over 90 miles to ride. Despite 11 days in a row of hard biking, the miles were pretty smooth. After some rolling hills just outside of Charlottesville, the terrain flattened out and we cruised pretty easily into Ashland, just north of Richmond. Ashland/Richmond was an important location for us because it is there that our East-West maps intersect with our North-South maps. So it is time for the Great Left Hand turn and the ride now turns north!

Saturday evening we stayed with the Ashe family, some family friends of mine from back in Worcester. Their daughter, Jordan, was one of my sister's best friends before they moved down to the Richmond area in 2004. We got there late in the evening but were welcomed with food (always a pleasure!), warm showers, and good conversation.

Yesterday we slept in, ate breakfast, and then headed into Richmond to check out the town. Richmond, as described by Jordan, is "a little city that thinks it's a big one". This description seemed spot on, but I really enjoyed walking around town. While Lauren went off to shop, Dave and I wandered into the Museum of Science and down Monument Ave which commemorates people important to Virginia history. It surprised me that the first monument we came across was of the President of the Confederacy. Over our time in the South I've become fascinated with the continued devotion to the Confederacy. Everywhere there are monuments to Lee, tombs of unknown soldiers, and plaques commemorating the town's dead in the Civil War. At W&L, one of our guides suggested Confederates in the Attic as a good book to show how the spirit of the South still lives on today.

We returned to the Ashes' in the early evening and had a great pasta dinner. At night we sat around the TV and watched the Sox game, a pleasure I have not had for sometime, before reading and going to bed. Currently we are sitting around reading, writing, and watching TV while waiting for breakfast. We have a very short day today which can be used as another "recovery" day. Monday we get into DC and have another off day. If you are in the area, let us know, we'd love to see you!

Fact of the Day

There are over 1,000,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. AIDS is not a problem exclusive to the African continent. It is a very real and devastating problem in the US as well. If you are interested in AIDS in the United States, I suggest you read My Own Country by Dr. Abraham Verghese. It chronicles Dr. Verghese's life in a small town in eastern Tennessee as AIDS enters the town's population and how the community deals with it (both physically and spiritually).

Trivia Contest

Answer to Thursday's question: Martha Washington's great grand daugther married Robert E. Lee. Nate Rooks soars back into 2nd place (40 points) breaking a tie with KTO (30 points) and just behind Mrs. Evans (47 points).

Answer to Thursday's BONUS Question: Jefferson, an true "amateur" architect, designed the UVA campus. The centerpiece, the Rotunda, is a scaled down version of the Pantheon in Rome. 5 points to my Dad!

Today's Trivia Question: The first statue we came across on Monument Ave. was of the President of the Confederacy. What was his name?