Friday, February 25, 2011

A Weekend of Pasttimes

Part 1: Finding Talent
One of the great things about the Washington DC area is the musical talent that we have everywhere.  There are live bands, cabarets, musicals, and operas chock full of talented singers and musicians.  It is easy to focus on Glee, and Lady Gaga, and other popular musicians, and to forget about who we have right here.  But, don't.

Recently in Shirlington's Signature Theater, I saw Katherine Thompson sing in a cabaret.  She appeared in "Giant" in a previous Signature season, but in real life, singing her own songs, she really shines.  Over the course of her scheduled nightly appearances, she also featured guest singers to give them a chance to sing and shine.

Part of what makes Katherine great is that she has asthma.  Any day that she has an asthma attack, she has to take an inhaler which puts particulates on her throat, affecting her voice.  Despite this contrary health condition, Katherine "sings through" the hardship with the same passion as on days when her breathing is fine.  She does not let something as small as asthma or inhaler stand in her way.

It is easy to find local talent to hear someone passionate and live.  Whether you hear Katherine or another singer, go outside your front door.  Leave the television, Glee, and American Idol behind -- and find a local band, cabaret, or piano bar, and let yourself enjoy it.  Find the talent!

Part 2: Enjoy the Weather!

There are a lot of places to walk around the NoVa and Washington DC area.  Over the past few weeks, we have seen hints of Spring, and this invites us outdoors.  This afternoon, I walked along a trail in Georgetown with some French-speaking friends.  We got exercise, fresh air, and an easy snack afterwards.  We were walking along the C&O canal, and some parts of it were what you'd expect ... while other parts had no water!  There was a sign at the "Visitor Center" about taking barge rides on the canal.  Well, in the photo I include here, you can see the status of that past-time.  Nevertheless, we all had a great time.  We took advantage of the great weather, though, and had a great time.  Below are some resources for you to find places to go walking.

Part 3: The "Other" Air & Space Museum: Udvar-Hazy Center

If you or someone you know has any interest in planes and helicopters, then this is the place for you.  There is also a little bit of history that you can see through the scope of air travel evolution.  Located in Chantilly, you have the advantage of visiting a larger museum with fewer tourists.  Some of the highlights of this museum are the touch screen views of what its like inside the cockpit, and the mix of public and private sector aircraft.  Some of the planes that I spotted were Air France, Boeing, a silver-colored Pan Am plane, a Pennzoil plane, and a West Virginia Air Guard plane!  Helicopters are highlighted as "vertical flight," pointing out that while these aircraft literally can go up and down, whereas planes glide upward slowly.  There are multiple levels that you can stand on to see the planes and helicopters, the floor and a catwalk halfway up to the ceiling.  There are also a Cinemax theater and Simulator rides. 
If this is a trip for you, here are some  suggestions to improve the trip:
  • Admission is $15 parking per car.  Pack a mini-van and split the fee.
  • The only food there is a McDonalds, if you don't like it you can bring food to eat at an outside picnic table.  The museum also will give you lists of restaurants in the area..
  • Bring extra cash, the Cinemax costs up to $8 per person, and so do the simulator rides.
  • There are restrooms on the ground floor and catwalk level.
  • The museum is open 10 - 5:30 daily.
Have fun!  I know I did.

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