Going to Washington

washington,-d.c-170.jpgYou might’ve heard Washington, D.C., was a bit of a circus this past week. A former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation gave blockbuster testimony to Congress about the commander-in-chief that seems like it could be historic no matter what happens next. People across the country met the situation’s gravity by crowding into bars and holding watching parties at home and work.

The mix of solemnity and cheerfulness suits D.C., I think. Every tourist destination there has a line as long as a theme park ride’s – some places require reservations months in advance – and school field trips and flocks of Segway riders crisscross the National Mall. Meanwhile, some of the people and events that define the country are preserved and memorialized in glass cases and an incredible amount of marble.

The Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History and National Gallery of Art house pieces of the world’s most incredible beauty, while the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum houses some of its horror, such as in the quiet devastation of a room filled with victims’ shoes in every size. National museums of the American Indian and African American history and culture display beauty and horror alike. Across the Potomac from the original oversized pages of the U.S. Constitution lie hundreds of thousands of service members at Arlington National Cemetery.

It’s nothing if not a town of juxtaposition, and there is plenty to see.

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washington,-d.c-229.jpgThis is one of those lines I mentioned, one that stood in the early morning to get a ticket up to the top of the Washington Monument. The break in its color comes from a 20-year pause in construction during the Civil War and other national problems. I guess that’s a good enough excuse.

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I’ve had the chance to go the capital twice, first in high school in 2008 with my dad and cousin, again in college in 2010 with the rest of an honors class. I’d have a more complete set with better shots for you all if I returned to D.C. now, I hope. But it seemed a good time to see snippets of a place that determines so much of what we remember and of what we do in health care, climate policy and more.

Thanks for looking, and keep watching.

Dan

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Mushrooming III

IMG_9511.JPGSome real warmth is finally here, and warmth plus rain means hidden networks of tiny fungus filaments in the forest floor are popping out mushrooms. I’ve already paid tribute to the variety and strange, sometimes slimy beauty of these little toadstools here and here, but still the Ozarks have new kinds to show me, including the above beauties at the entrance of a Devil’s Den State Park cave.

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IMG_9512.JPGI hope you had a good Memorial Day weekend — thanks for stopping by.

Dan

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Between the storms

_C1_8531.JPGThis month has brought a whole lot of rain: more than 7 inches so far this month, with another 8 (!) possible between now and Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. Yesterday’s storm swept away a homeless camp in Fayetteville, caused other flash flooding and caught houses on fire with its lightning, and that was with only 3 inches of rain. The ground is almost completely saturated, so be careful of all the runoff this weekend, and especially don’t drive through it.

The pauses in the mayhem, on the other hand, have brought great chances to see local waterfalls at their full power. The one above is a cascade at one end of Lake Wedington, which sits in a nearby patch of the Ozark National Forest. I took an early morning hike on the trail along the lake’s edge Sunday, my first time there.

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_C1_8524.JPGThe waterfall drains the lake around the trail’s halfway point and was absolutely gushing, tumbling 50 or so feet and throwing off curtains of mist. The torrent blocked me from going any further — the trail continues somewhere on the other side of this mist. But I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

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_C1_8642.JPGToday brought another break in the rain, so I hurried down to Devil’s Den State Park this evening. Some of the waterfalls there are going as strong as I’ve seen.

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By this weekend, the falls might look more like this. Stay dry, everyone.

And at the risk of being way too presumptuous or commercial, if you all like any images in this or other posts, you can get prints of some of them (in much higher resolution) here. It might take a few days after a post for the photos to appear, but I keep it pretty up to date. Feel free to tell me which, if any, you’d like to have available.

Thanks for looking,

Dan