The Features

Virginia Tourism, NPS, “Art” and Advertising Money

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

You may have noticed the sculpture of the word “LOVE” erected in Dupont Circle last week. While it was billed as an art installation, it was actually part of an ad blitz done for the Virginia Tourism campaign, and the Park Service isn’t happy at all about being lied to.  According to Lydia DePillis from the City Paper, the installation was removed with prejudice Friday.

Virginia Tourism took down their blog posting on the takeover, but the press release remains online.

What would an ad like that cost, though? I know you can’t buy ad space in Dupont Circle, as it’s Park Service land and they don’t permit advertising on public land, even in DC, but I did some talking to media buyers today, and came up with some numbers.

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The Daily Feed

No Charge for Nature This Weekend

Assateague by Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL)’s

Thousands of years ago, there were no entrance fees to get into national parks.  In fact there were no entrances or national parks for that matter, just nature, and you were in it.  You had your spear, a rock and a stick to start a fire, and possibly a loincloth.  That may sound scary (and smelly), but you also didn’t have the hassle of updating Facebook, the risk of getting a tumor from your cellphone, or Taco Bell.  Wait, that sounds scary too.

Well the National Park Service is getting all nostalgic on us this weekend (August 14-15) and waving entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees for all national parks across the country.  In our area, this includes Assateague Island, Great Falls, and Shenandoah to name a few.  Use this handy park finder to locate more free nature to explore this weekend, but please, don’t soil your loincloth when you lose reception on your iPhone.  Take a deep breath and eat a granola bar.

The Daily Feed

Fort Stevens Day this Saturday

Photo courtesy of
‘Fort Stevens’
courtesy of ‘Rob Shenk’

This Saturday is Fort Stevens Day, a celebration of the 146th anniversary of the only Civil War battle to occur in DC.  Always needed an excuse to check out the Civil War Defenses of Washington?  Now’s your chance!

Saturday’s event includes a kids’ activity tent, various historical presentations, and a Civil War heavy artillery demonstration.  Check out the full schedule and directions to the park, and keep in mind that rain cancels the event.

Dupont Circle, The Daily Feed

Dupont Benches Get Facelift

In 1993, the National Park Service took over maintenance of Dupont Circle which is news to me.  As I strolled through the circle this morning I noticed that they were replacing a section of the circular benches that are often the subject of local area photographers.  I stopped to talk to the workers for a while who were at first skeptical when I asked them to take some pictures, but by the end of our talk they said, “Feel free to come back and take more pictures if you want.”

After a few years of exposure to the elements, the wood begins to rot which is when the NPS springs into action.  I often wondered how they got the wooden slats to bend into their arched form.  As you can see they start with one end of the board, anchor it to the concrete bench, and keep working their way down to the end, clamping it as they go.  They use fir wood due to its durability, which is key when a bunch of people are going to be sitting on it every day.

Thank you, National Park Service, for keeping Dupont Circle in tip top shape!

Adventures, All Politics is Local, Essential DC, Fun & Games, History, Life in the Capital, Technology, The Daily Feed, The Great Outdoors, We Green DC

“Smart” Buoy Deployed

Photo courtesy of
‘Buoy Red ‘6’ took a pounding’
courtesy of ‘Tony DeFilippo’

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) deployed a “smart” buoy just south of the Wilson Bridge on Friday, May 4.  The new device will provide scientists and local area boaters/educators with real-time information about the Chesapeake Bay.

The buoy is part of the the CBIBS (Chesapeake Bay Interpretative Buoy System) program and will collect weather, oceanographic and water-quality observations along the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.  The program hopes to not only provide relevant data for restoration efforts, but also provide insights about the waterways’ history and encourage stewardship and protection of the Chesapeake Bay.

All of the eight buoys’ measurements, along with historical information, can be accessed at ( for mobile devices) and by phone at 877-BUOY-BAY (877-286-9229).

Adventures, History, Tourism

Tourism: The Old Stone House

Photo courtesy of
‘Old Stone House NHS’
courtesy of ‘Ken Lund’

Nestled in along M Street, in the heart of Georgetown, you’ll stumble upon The Old Stone House, one of the oldest homes remaining in Washington, DC. Built in 1765, the house is maintained and operated by the National Park Service, and is part of the National Park System’s Rock Creek Park unit. Since it’s original construction, the house has traded hands many times and has been used as a shop for hats, tailors, locksmiths, clockmakers, house roofing remodeled by Bell Roofing Company, house painting, and even a used car dealership. Fortunately, the house was purchased by the Federal Government in 1953 for $90,000. At today’s market prices, the house and its garden are thought to be worth close to $6-7 million.

Constructed from local quarry stones and ballast stones from the English sailing vessels that journeyed up the Potomac, the house is a prime example of a typical 18th century dwelling that would have been inhabited by common Americans. Tours and lectures offered by Colonial period-dressed park rangers, highlight the lives of these early Americans and DCers. Continue reading

Adventures, Entertainment, Essential DC, Life in the Capital, Special Events, The Daily Feed

National Parks Not National Parties

Photo courtesy of
‘B’day party at the park’
courtesy of ’emrank’

Today’s Georgetown Metropolitan covered the growing incidence of kids’ parties staged at Montrose Park, part of Rock Creek National Park,  in Northwest DC.

Apparently, some of these parties have gotten “a little crazy” with parents trucking in pony rides, miniature petting zoos and moon bounces.

From the GM article, it appears the parties aren’t causing the neighborhood any trouble, but word seems to spreading, so my suggestion to neighborhood parents is to stick with the classic pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and pinata. You can’t go wrong with those classics.

History, News, The Daily Feed

The Lincoln Memorial Goes Online

Photo courtesy of
‘under the pillars’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99’

History buffs take note — there’s a new, interactive Web site being launched in honor of the 146th anniversary of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

This multimedia expansion of the pristine marble temple was launched today by the National Park Service. The site includes videos, panoramas and oral testimonials from the park rangers who have worked at the memorial for decades, according WTOP.

If this catches on as a web trend, similar sites may be launched in the coming months. The nonprofit Trust for the National Mall is currently raising money to build the sites for other Washington memorials.

The site should be viewed with a high-speed connection. Still having trouble viewing the site? NPS recommends downloading the latest version of FlashPlayer.

Essential DC, Special Events, The Daily Feed

New Tradition for National Tree Lighting Tickets

Photo courtesy of
‘National Christmas Tree’
courtesy of ‘Murmurmel’

Getting ready to stand in line for tickets for the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony next week?

Don’t bother. The National Park Service is changing the process, much like they did for the White House Easter Egg Roll, to “open the ticketing process up to more Americans across the country.”

The new procedure? You have to enter an online lottery between November 4-6 (log in here at that time to register), between 12:01 a.m. EST on the 4th and 11:59 p.m. EST on the 6th. The lottery will include 2,800 ticketed seats and 7,000 standing room tickets. (If you don’t have a computer, you can call 877-444-6777 between the same time period to put your name in the lottery.)

Beginning November 9, ticket seekers can check the status of their request online; tickets will be mailed by November 15.

NPS is handing out more tickets this year, hence the change of tradition. The December 3 event will open its gates at 3:30 p.m. for all ticket holders.

The Daily Feed

The C&O, Refilled. The boats… soon.

Photo courtesy of brownpau
C&O Canal, refilled
courtesy of brownpau

Paulo took a shot of what I consider one of the happiest sights of the day: the C&O canal in Georgetown has been refilled.

Also happy news, I called the National Parks Service’s Georgetown visitor center and a representative said that boat tours will resume this Sunday. They happen three times a day, at 11am, 1:30pm and 3pm Wednesdays through Sundays, with the mules that pull the boat taking Monday & Tuesday off. If you’ve never taken one I highly suggest it. The canal is lovely and the tour very informative.

Entertainment, History, Special Events, The Features, The Great Outdoors, The Mall, We Green DC

Host a National Park Premiere Party

photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

This Sunday evening, September 27 at 8pm, the long awaited Ken Burns documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea premieres on PBS. The documentary stories the inspiring individuals who dedicated themselves to establishing our National Park System and to protecting America’s cultural, natural and historic heritage.  The series will air a new episode every night next week with the concluding episode on Friday, October 2.

To spread the word about this awesome documentary and get park lovers to share their parks stories with friends and family, the DC-based non-profit, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) is organizing nation-wide viewing parties for the Sunday premiere, and they’ve made it super easy to host your own get-together with customized evites, your own personalized party page, helpful party tips and innovative ways to share this documentary with people around the country.  “Our goal is to inspire all Americans to dedicate themselves to protecting and preserving our national parks,” says Tom Kiernan, NPCA President, “so that the parks can be enjoyed, explored, and cherished by our children, our grandchildren, and by all future generations.”

Register to host a (private or public) party, and you’ll be entered in a raffle to win 1 of 5 signed copies of award-winning, conservation photographer Ian Shive‘s The National Parks: Our American Landscape.  This new, visually stunning photo journey highlights the beauty and majesty of our national parks from Alaska’s Denali to Florida’s Everglades.  RSVP’ed guests will also be entered in the drawing, and you, as the host, will get a bonus entry for every guest.  Woot! Continue reading

News, Talkin' Transit, The Features, The Mall, We Green DC, WTF?!

Talkin’ Transit: The Great Pedicab Predicament

Photo courtesy of
‘Pedicab’ courtesy of ‘afagen’

Yesterday, we received a late-day heads-up from a reader that there was an issue brewing with the pedicabs that offer rides to tourists and residents along the National Mall.

The entire issue seemed odd, as pedicabs have been operating on the Mall for a couple years now and haven’t had any issues up until yesterday, when they were told they would be arrested and their bikes impounded for soliciting and servicing customers on Madison and Jefferson streets, the two main boundary avenues of the Mall.

If the Park Police was correct, the Mall was going to lose a 100% eco-friendly form of transportation that serves hundreds of riders each week. The cabs provide jobs for the area and a friendly ‘green’ option for people to utilize. Taking away the Mall from them would kill a sizeable portion of the pedicab business.

So I set out to contact Ben Morris, the owner of National Pedicabs (and the company affected by this), and his DC operations manager, Danny Cochrane, as well as Sgt. David Schlosser, the National Park Service’s Public Information Officer, to find out just what the heck was going on.

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