potomac river

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The Mount Vernon Trail is one of the best places to go for those who enjoy being active outdoors but doesn’t want to deal with the crowds in Washington DC. The 17 miles trail spans from Rosslyn, VA to President George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon but along the way provides some of the best views of the nation’s capital and then some. The trail itself is protected by the National Park Service and can be accessed year-round from 6 am- 10 pm.

Here’s a great map of the trail.

For a majority of the time, the trail is sandwiched between the Potomac River and the George Washington Parkway.  This makes it really easy to hop on and off the trail at any given point. But it also provides some very beautiful waterfront views.  In other words, you don’t have to walk the entire 17 miles in order to see the best of the best, here are some personal favorite points of interests and places where you can hop on and off the trail:

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The Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Arlington Memorial Bridge are seen from the Mount Vernon Trail in the middle of autumn.

Theodore Roosevelt Island

(L) the footbridge leading to Theodore Roosevelt Island (R) Theodore Roosevelt statue

Let’s start with one of my favorite places along the Mount Vernon Trail, Theodore Roosevelt Island. A great place to begin your outdoor adventure. I love it because it’s not like any other place along the trail. Park your car in the parking lot and cross the footbridge. You’ll be greeted by Theodore Roosevelt himself. Walk within the island for a bit more solitude than you would get along the Mount Vernon Trail. No bikes are allowed on the island but there’s a bike rack by the bridge so you can leave your bike and walk 🙂

Once you are back on the Mount Vernon Trail, you will see beautiful willow trees, and about half a mile away from Roosevelt island, you’ll start seeing some of the best views of the Washington DC Memorials. Its one of the only places where you can actually see the top 3 landmarks (Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the US Capitol) all lined up in a row. There is not one spot, in particular, you should go to see them. The more you walk, the more the perspectives will change and the view from across the Potomac River is like no other. If you walk a little further, you’ll start seeing the Thomas Jefferson Memorial as well. Enjoy these views or the memorials anywhere from Roosevelt Island to the Navy Merchant Marine Memorial.

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July 4th firework celebration

If you can, my favorite time to go here is on July 4th for the firework show. You basically get front row seats all along this part of the trail so you don’t really have to go early to claim your spot. If you do decide to go, then driving/parking may be a hassle. The best way to do it is to take the metro and get on and off at the Rosslyn stop. It’s a little more than half a mile walk but you’ll be saving so much more time by using the public transportation route. I have been on the George Washington Parkway when there are fireworks and cars will literally stop in the middle of the road to watch it. At that point, traffic gets super backed up!

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Greetings. About one month has passed since I posted my first COVID 19 update, I figured I’d send out another one.

In the past few weeks and even days, I’ve started realizing all the things I used to take for granted. I used to take for granted meeting up with a friend for lunch. I never even considered the fact that I would be unsafe walking past someone on the sidewalk. I took for granted being able to run to the grocery store real quick when we ran out of eggs. Now it’s a lengthy discussion with Andrew as to who’s going to go, what we want to eat for the next couple of days and if we have all the ingredients, fun snacks and even to make a note to look out for toilet paper (which we’re running dangerously low on!). Needless to say, it’s a crazy time where I’ve been feeling a lot of ups and downs. When I’m feeling up, I am productive doing things that make me happy.

A few images from an expired roll of Porta 400 film from cherry blossom season. I got these images developed from PhotoVision.

When I’m feeling down, I try my best to journal or write at least write down the things that I’m grateful for. Going on neighborhood walks has helped. Sitting down and expressing my feelings out to Andrew or friends on the phone has been great too. I’m still constantly thinking about what’s going to happen after all of this is done, when it’s going to be done but I just know all this uncertainty can’t be answered right now. When I catch myself feeling like this, I try to remember how I’m blessed to even have my health and almost instantly feel better.

From a walk on the Mt Vernon Trail before the stay at home order in Virginia.

I’ve also realized that every time I step foot outside my house, I’m concerned about the coronavirus. Even if it’s just to walk Frankie, I’m on the lookout to see who’s about to come near us and I feel so disturbed having those feelings. This has also hindered my photography. I’m not going out nearly as much as I used to but still feel the urge to capture images. I’ve taken a few pictures around my neighborhood and surrounding areas which has been nice.

Our local grocery store that I can walk to.

One day, Andrew and I just needed to get out so we decided we’d go fo a car ride. It was great to get out but so weird to see the streets of DC so quite. Frankie loved the little outing too. I also need to make a mental note that whenever I leave the house, I should bring my camera. I want to get better at that, especially since it doesn’t happen very often.

We didn’t get out of the car. Just enjoyed the views from inside.

While I’m home, I’ve been working on a few personal projects. One project that I’ve mentioned in my newsletter and on Instagram is that I’ve been scanning old family pictures. Luckily, my mom gave me a few photo albums before everything really broke out so it’s been keeping me busy. I’ve also taken the time out to scan images from high school.

A few family scans

But a majority of the time I’ve been trying to learn more. I want to take this time to try to improve my own photography. I love watching youtube videos of other photographers and attending webinars. I’ve learned that one thing that I don’t want to take for granted now is all this extra time we’ve been given. No more time spent stuck in traffic, no more time even commuting anywhere or even running mindless errands has given me so much “extra” time. All those things that I use to say that I would do if I had more time, I’m going to try to do them now!

I’ve also been going back and editing some older images. (L) Our first snowstorm in March 2018. (R) Surfer in San Diego in January 2019

But I think one of the most rewarding experiences so far has been running again. It’s been a great release for me. Andrew and I used to run a lot together when we first started dating. But after I ran a half marathon in 2015, I haven’t ran much. Running now has shown me how much stronger I have gotten over the years just by working out at the gym (which has now been replaced by virtual workouts). But in general, I feel less winded and my mile has definitely gotten faster. I am starting to feel really good when I go out for a run too. After all of this, I’m not sure if I’ll still continue running. But for now, I’m am grateful to be able to concentrate more on my health.

That’s all from me. This update was kind of all over the place with all the things I’ve been thinking about and doing but I hope you enjoyed it. Sending you much love and well wishes. Stay safe!

PS If there are any particular blog posts or photo content that you’d like to see from me, please let me know in the comments below! I’d love to use my skills to try to make you feel safe and more comfortable at home.

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Back when the Reach at the Kennedy Center was almost ready for the public, I was honored to be invited to see it for a special social media sneak peek.

But even though our main focus was the Reach, I still took a few minutes out to photograph the Kennedy Center. I don’t get to go often, but when I do, I fall in love with the beautiful lines and architecture all over again. I thought this image was interesting because it’s not every day that you get to see everything that it takes to replace the light bulbs in the ceiling. LOL.

I just love the injection of the orange crane in between the columns and walls at the Kennedy Center. It seems like something so out of ordinary to be there.

My camera settings for this image are F4 at 1/640th sec and ISO 250 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm.

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There have been so many beautiful highlights of 2019 and one of them was definitely the reopening of the Washington Monument this past September. Every time I walk or drive past it now, I’m just so excited there aren’t any fencing or barriers around it anymore. It’s like a whole new area of the National Mall opened up, ready to roam and explore.

The best is being able to go to the top. I haven’t been able to go since 2014, but even then it closed down a few months later. I would love to go back up during the different seasons, especially when it snows. I think the city looks so beautiful when it snows and being 555ft above ground must be a beautiful sight to see.

In case you missed it, I created a guide to visiting the Washington Monument. Everything you need to know about getting tickets and visiting before you actually go.

This image may not be as obvious, but it’s of Constitution Gardens, adjacent to the WWII memorial on the National Mall. Fortunately, I was able to get tickets during sunset so that warm glow was hitting all the trees at the right time. If you look a little further into the image, you can see the Kennedy Center and the Potomac River <3

My camera settings for this image are F4.5 at 1/60th sec and ISO 1000 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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I still have a ton more images from Taiwan to share but taking a little break from them with some images I captured even before I left. I almost forgot that I spent a little time walking around the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts one cloudy afternoon in Mid-November.

It’s great how the Kennedy Center allows visitors even when there are no events or performances going on. You are free to roam the interior around the Hall of Nations or even the exterior on the rooftop terrace. It’s a great place to just sit and appreciate just how great Washington DC is. Everything is just so grand and awe-inspiring in this venue. Just thinking about all the people who have walked through the halls and how many performances have taken place here is amazing.

As I was walking around the outside of the building, I noticed this woman walking very fast. I have no idea where she was going, but she matched perfectly with the gold exterior and fall colors. She was just screaming to have her picture taken at this moment.

My camera settings for this image are F7.1  at 1/640th sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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Just a short drive from Boulder Bridge is Rapids Bridge in Rock Creek Park. You could technically walk, but I wore the wrong shoes and decided to drive instead. Next time I go to Rock Creek Park, I gotta wear my hiking shoes instead of rain boots. It had rained the night before I visited so I figured the ground was going to be wet. But I should have known that I would have wanted to climb up rocks and things so that’s when the hiking boots would have been the better idea. Anything for the shot, right?

So I was extra careful when I was making my way to this spot. I had to jump across a few rocks in order to get to a big one in the middle of the river. From the picture, it doesn’t really look like it because you can see land straight ahead but I swear, I was on a rock in the water. LOL.

At this point, I left my tripod in the car. I didn’t want to have anything in my hands that would throw me off balance and I knew that I wanted to get a low angle where the majority of the image would be of the water. So I sat on this rock and used it to help keep the camera steady. At that point, I made the mental note to wear waterproof pants next time I shoot Rock Creek as well. LOL.

My camera settings for this image are F13 at 1/3 sec and ISO 400 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle.