Education, Interviews, People, Special Events, The Features

Meet Travelers Who Make a Difference

Every year, National Geographic celebrates individuals who travel the globe with passion and purpose. These travelers represent a style of travel, motivation, or method that informs and inspires us. Last year, more than 1,500 nominations were sent in to National Geographic Traveler for their annual Travelers of the Year award. The magazine staff selected those who turned trips into opportunities to assist with conservation efforts, connect with local cultures, volunteer, challenge themselves, deepen familial and community bonds, and engage the world in a meaningful way.

This Thursday, National Geographic will host a discussion with seven of their 2013 winners. And WeLoveDC wants to send one of our readers to this insightful program with a pair of tickets to the program and reception!

Panelists at the evening program will be Hilda and John Denham, who established the Pacuare Nature Reserve in Costa Rica to protect turtle nesting areas; Alison Wright, a photojournalist who launched the Faces of Hope Fund to provide medical assistance, education, and aid to children around the globe; Shannon O’Donnell, who began Grassroots Volunteering, a database of volunteering and sustainable tourism opportunities; Molly Burke and Muyambi Muyambi, founders of Bicycles Against Poverty in Uganda; and Tracey Friley, a youth travel advocate who began the Passport Party Project for helping underserved girls get their first passports.

These travelers went a step beyond a simple vacation and strive to make a difference through their journey. Often, it is an experience, sight, or object that inspires their change of direction. “I traveled several times to Costa Rica during the eighties to see the turtles and went to many beaches on both Pacific and Caribbean coasts,” said Hilda Denham. “I was fascinated by what I saw but was shocked by the poaching that was going on everywhere. Legislation came too late, and has always been ineffective.”

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New Bus Service Links U Street to Brooklyn (Win a Ticket to Try It Out!)

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘erin m’

“Don’t hate on us. Don’t hate just because we might be cool or choose to live in a creative, vibrant neighborhood,” implores Shalonda Hunter, founder of The Know It Express a new bus service between Brooklyn and DC. You might have heard it casually called “the hipster bus” – but it’s owner has a more inclusive, positive concept.

“The whole idea is to help people from both cities appreciate what the other has to offer – and connect people with their pals, where they live.”

Ms. Hunter originally founded The Know It as a DC tourist-information site (now in transition to more of a traveler’s social network) after years of work in the city and a deep desire to show off both the major tourist sites, but also the personal, hometown side of DC. Even if tourists make their way off the Mall, she says, “There is more to this town than a stop at Ben’s Chili Bowl. I want to show people that.”
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The Daily Feed

River Visual

This is my favorite thing about flying back into DC from a trip: the famous River Visual Approach to DCA, the path planes must take to avoid no-fly zones when landing from the North in clear weather. Sit on the left side of the plane during a river visual landing, and you get great views, from the Mormon Temple and the Beltway, down to the Cathedral, right down to Georgetown, the Watergate, the National Mall, Hains Point, and Southwest Waterfront.

When flying in to DC with a chance to reserve seats, pick a window on the left side. Even if you end up doing the less climactic approach from the South, you get a great view of Alexandria and the George Washington Masonic Memorial before touching down. (Conversely, if flying out, get a window seat on the right side of the plane for similar views.)

Bigger video after the jump: Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Get Me Out of Here: Sun and Sand for Cheap

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘needlessspaces’

The dreamy 85 degree sun beats down on you as you lay, without a care in the world, sprawled out on a hotel towel covering the warm white sand, listening to the soothing crashing of the waves in a consistently rhythmic fashion. The sound of an exotic bird squawking as it flies overhead causes you to briefly raise your head and look out over the crystal clear, bright blue waters that surround you. Do you put the trashy, mindless romance novel down and take a dip in the warm waters, snorkel with the fishies of a thousand different colors, take a barefoot stroll along the beach to feel the fine sand between your toes…or do you put your head back where it was and catch some more sleep (as soon as you finish that Piña Colada of course)?

These are tough decisions. Really tough. But they are the kind of decisions you could be forced to make if you could JUST GET OUT OF HERE. Trade the white snow for the white sand, the cold for the hot, the blizzard induced winds for the light breeze off the sea. Trade snow shoveling for beach drinking and layer after layer of clothes for…just about nothing. Seriously, it’s time to get away from this frozen tundra of a city and get to where the sun and the sand are seemingly endless. I’m here to show you a few example trips on the cheap. And if nothing else, at least stare at these HOT PICTURES.

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News, The Daily Feed

VA gets $75M, MD $70M for Railway Improvements

Photo courtesy of
‘Tomix EF66 41 Hauling Hayabusa’
courtesy of ‘foolish adler’

Both Virginia and Maryland will received funds from the federal government’s American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to improve local railway infrastructure and services.

Virginia’s $75 million dollars in funding will build an additional 11 mile track to the current railway service between Woodbridge and Quantico.  The new track will allow freight and passenger trains to simultaneously navigate this bottle-necked section and will allow trains to reach speeds up to 100mph. Improving this stretch is only part of a proposed $1.8 billion dollar project to create a Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor.

According to WTOP, the $70million awarded to Maryland will rebuild a highly-traversed Baltimore tunnel and will speed both commuter and freight  traffic.

The Daily Feed

Senate Subway, Then and Now

From historical photoblog Shorpy we get this underground gem:

Senate Subway, 1915

That’s the Senate Subway, c. 1915, just two years after it started operation, part of the whole Capitol Subway System. After the jump, you can see how the Senate Subway still uses open-air cars, though somewhat more modernized.

(Update: Well, boy is my face red; the ‘today’ photo after the jump is actually from the House subway, not Senate. You can tell I’ve never ridden either system, not having had the privilege of working on the Hill myself.) Continue reading

The Daily Feed

AA Flight from DCA Overshoots Runway in Jamaica

American Airlines Flight 331, a 737-800 originating from DC National Airport, overshot the runway on landing in Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Jamaica, with heavy rain. The plane broke into pieces and came to a stop on the beach, just short of the water. At the moment we are hearing 154 on board, no fatalities, 91 injuries, 3 reported serious. Survivors escaping the fuselage emerged into dark and rain, then had to walk down the beach to get to waiting buses. More from NPR, and discussion on

The Daily Feed

Live ATC from IAD and DCA

Planespotting at Gravelly Point

Local pilots and planespotters will be happy to know that LiveATC has live streaming tower communications from National Airport (DCA) and Dulles (IAD). Few things are more soothing and fascinating for the aviation geek than listening to the smooth, seductive tower-and-aircraft dance of ATC broadcasts from your local airport.

You can also search for the pertinent airports from LiveATC search; National is KDCA and Dulles is KIAD. Found via

Talkin' Transit, The Features

Talkin’ Transit: Holiday Travel Tips

Photo courtesy of Daquella manera
Connecticut Avenue, courtesy of Daquella manera

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel days of the year. Here’s some common sense tips to help make your journey a little less stressful – and a whole lot safer.

Chances are if you’re reading this on the day before Thanksgiving, you’re either not going anywhere for the holiday weekend, you’re stuck at work hoping they’ll cut you loose early, or you procrastinated until the last minute and you need to leave five minutes ago. Still, regardless of your situation, I’m fairly sure these tips will come in handy at some point during the next six weeks as the end of the year comes upon us.

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We Love to Travel: Weather Survival Guide

Airplane Skidding in a Snowstorm, by Anirudh Koul

Airplane Skidding in a Snowstorm, by Anirudh Koul (Creative Commons)

There are supposed to be two guarantees in life: death, and taxes.  I think they missed one: airline delays and cancellations.

As our recent “snowstorm” – and our upcoming thunderstorm season – prove, airlines can cancel flights for just about any reason.  Snow that might appear?  Canceled.  Too much wind?  Canceled.  Plastic bag blew on to the runway?  Canceled.

Okay, so now what?  Here are a few ideas I’ve compiled to help you get through the fun of airline cancellations.

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Inaugupocalypse, The Daily Feed, The Hill, WTF?!

The Scene at Union Station

With most of Union Station’s Grand Hall reserved for tonight’s inaugural ball, and the Metro station and rail concourse already packed to capacity, the crowd entering Union Station had to be divided into Metro, Amtrak, and MARC/VRE riders. Confusion reigned outside as the Columbus Circle road was closed off, forcing people to circle around sidewalks and fences and clumps of National Guard and MPD personnel.

How was it for you?

The Daily Feed

MARC Commuter Alert: Major Delays on Penn Line


Via WaPo’s Get There blog, an alert for MARC Penn Line Riders: major electrical system damage near Landover has left only one of three tracks open for inbound and outbound commuter trains, so MARC’s going to be a mess.

MTA MD’s official MARC alert page says Metro will honor MARC tickets to New Carrollton to get past the rail bottleneck.

Baltimore-bound riders may also want to consider the Camden Line tonight, or, as a last resort, the Green Line to Greenbelt, then B30 Bus to BWI, and Light Rail from there.

Essential DC, Talkin' Transit, Travel, WMATA

Talkin’ Transit: Turkey Time!

Photo courtesy of M.V. Jantzen
Coming and Going, courtesy of M.V. Jantzen

So for the first time since moving down here, my wife and I aren’t driving anywhere for the holiday; since we bought our house this summer, we’re the hosts for this year’s holiday season.

However, I feel your pain, people. If you’re reading this now, you’re either like me and not going anywhere this holiday weekend, or you’re just procrastinating from packing and will most likely get caught in area traffic.

For you lazy bones, I’ve got some tips on alternate road routes, but we’ll knock out a few regional transit items first.

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Adventures, Getaways

Getaways: Gettysburg

Photo courtesy of Cavalier92
IMG_4238, courtesy of Cavalier92

Located only two hours from downtown DC, Gettysburg is probably the most well-known Civil War battlefield in the nation. Originally begun as a memorial in 1864, the battlefield was established as a National Military Park in 1895 and transferred to the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service in 1933.

The quite Pennsylvania countryside around Gettysburg became the turning point of the Civil War during three days in July 1863. When the smoke settled and the clash of arms subsided, over 20,000 soldiers were injured and close to 50,000 were casualties of the brutal fighting. In the end, Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was a broken force; the South would never recover from the defeat. Continue reading