Tag Archives: travel

Washington, DC

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I’m currently at the American College of Rheumatology meeting, the annual event when the Rheumatologists of the world descend on an unsuspecting U.S. city like a swarm of locusts. This year we are in Washington, a city that was one of my regular tour stops when I worked in professional tennis.

Being here this week, in the wake of the American presidential election, I feel very unsettled… like I’m at the scene of a terrible accident but I can’t turn away. I’m staying very near to the White House and every time I walk by and see the protesters I want to hug them and tell them I know how they feel, but I don’t know, not really. I get to go home to Canada and watch their next four years from a distance.

Since I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t already been said about the election results, I’m going to instead focus on the positive.

11 things I love about Washington

1) The opossums – Like Toronto has its giant squirrels,  Washington has opossums. When I was here for a tennis tournament, all of my sightseeing was done at night and these guys used to pop their heads out of garbage cans and startle me every time. I saw one on my way home from dinner last night and his big-butt ramble across the park in front of me made me smile.

2) The Smithsonian – This is an obvious one, right? Amazing collections in vast quantities and all for free. You can spend days in roaming the exhibits and still not see it all.

3) The National Gallery of Art – The Smithsonian gets most of the attention here in Washington, but as far as museums go, I’ve always had a thing for art. In this gallery, I particularly love the amazing realism of the Vermeers and the bronze sculptures by Degas. I spent some time here yesterday afternoon after a long meeting and the place worked its usual magic on me.

4) The monuments and memorials – I’m lumping them together and I know that doesn’t do them justice but naming them all would use up my entire list. My favourites are the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool. I love the stark marble obelisk tower, the grand scale of the statue of Lincoln, and how they are brought together with the simplicity of the water on a still day.

5) The White House – A favourite haunt of the aforementioned opossums, the White House and it’s grounds are stately and elegantly beautiful when lit up at night. I especially love the current family in residence and will be sad to see them move out.

6) The streets – Like New York, I love how the city is so well planned with alphabetized and numbered streets. Washington is a joy to navigate.

7) The people – Like all great cities of the world, Washington is a big melting pot and I love chatting with the eclectic people I meet. This week, my favourite was Jorge, our always smiling hotel doorman from El Salvador.

8) Georgetown – I love the juxtaposition of the milling students and the multi-coloured row houses that must cost a small fortune.

9) The Holocaust Memorial Museum – Do I need to explain?

10) Random important but obscure organizations– I love how you can just be walking down the street and pass by something like the National Association of Wheat Growers. I don’t know why but it makes me chuckle every time.

11) Dupont Circle – The very first time I worked in the city, I stayed very near to this great neighbourhood and spent my free evenings wandering the sidewalks, mingling with people as they spilled out of the busy restaurants and bars and watching chess in the park. Simply put, I fell in love. I spent my afternoon wandering there again today and rekindled the relationship.

How do you feel about Washington these days?

 

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11 things I miss about New York

Arthur Ashe stadium

Arthur Ashe stadium

Even though my entire life used to revolve around tennis, I very rarely catch a match on TV anymore. When I first retired, I didn’t watch because I was honestly sick of tennis. Now, I watch it so infrequently because it just doesn’t fit into my life anymore; I work, I have kids, the matches are on at weird times, etc…

This weekend, The Husband is away and I’ve been watching oodles of US Open to while away the evenings. It has brought back some really fond memories of the 3 weeks I would spend there every year.

11 things I miss about New York City

1) The tennis – While the Australian Open will always be my favourite Grand Slam, there was something uniquely electric about the US Open. Maybe because it is the last major of the year, there always seemed to be an all or nothing quality about the play. I never thought I’d say it, but for the first time, I actually miss the tennis.

2) The people – New Yorkers get a bit of a bad rap but they are some of the friendliest people in the world. They may not always hold doors open for you but they will be the first ones to stop and help if you look lost. Also, they are funny, in a really smart way, and are always quick to strike up a conversation.

3) Central Park – Although there is some sad history behind Central Park, such as the razing of Seneca Village, as a visitor, the park was always a highlight. Whether it was taking a walk on my day off looking for dead bodies (sorry, too much Law and  Order and NYPD Blue) or a picnic with friends, the park was always full of interesting activity and a great place to take a load off and just people watch.

4) The subway – Unlike a lot of places, the subway in NYC runs 24 hours a day. It is super easy to navigate and I always felt safe. The number 7 train runs directly from Central Station to Flushing Meadows and was always a lot quicker, and more frequent, than the official tournament bus.

5) The architecture – The Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Flatiron Building, the Woolworth Building, Grand Central Terminal… need I say more?

6) The bridges – Maybe it is because I come from a bridge city, but the bridges of NYC always appealed to me. Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the best things to do in the city, especially at sunset.

7) The shopping – I hate to shop. Everyone who knows me knows this, but there was something about New York that would inspire me. Perhaps it was because I had lots of time in the city, or that I was headed home after the event, but I always enjoyed shopping in New York. Ahhh, I miss Century 21!

8) The culture – I loved being able to go to  a play or a show at the drop of a hat. And oh, the museums! It was a great city to have days off in which to play.

9) The streets – New York is such a great city in which to walk around. I come from a city that was designed by drunk city planners. Take my word for it, although it is beautiful, Halifax is not an easy city to get around. Manhattan, on the other hand is a paradise for the “directionally challenged”. Perpendicular “streets” and “avenues”, all named in numerical order… it is a beautiful thing. And I loved being a part of the bustling sidewalks.

10) The food – What can say about the food except, YUM! Anything and everything you possibly want can be found within a short subway ride or walk.

11) My friends – This isn’t specifically a New York thing except the US Open (like all the majors) employed a lot of officials, so almost all of my close friends would be working the event. Plus, it was the last big tournament of the year so, once it was over, there would be a three month break before we all got together again in Melbourne for the Australian Open. There were always a lot of group dinners and excellent camaraderie. Dear friends, I miss you the most!

What city do you love?

A backcountry adventure

Filtering water for breakfast.

Filtering water for breakfast.

My boys are away on their annual camping trip to Kejimkujik (while I’m stuck at work). But this year it is with a twist.

Yesterday, The Husband left the comforts of car camping and took the boys on a backcountry adventure. They are strapping their gear to their backs, portaging with the canoe, and venturing out to camp on a remote island site.

This is very exciting for us as parents because this is the way we always camped before we had the boys. We would hike or canoe for hours to get to a site. There is just something magical about being out in the woods with no one else around; no light to dim the stars and no noise to drown out the loons.

Fingers crossed that the boys love the experience as much as we do so that this can be something we continue to do as a family. Although, as long as they still get to roast marshmallows, I’m sure they’ll be happy.

Do you have a passion that you hope to pass on to your children?

Friday Flashback – Skiing

Today I took CJ and ET skiing. It was our first time out this year but they were zipping around like the pros they are.

Skiing has always been a part of my life (I started when I was three) and every year we would take a ski vacation with the same family friends. Some years other families would join in but the nine of us were the core group. The memories from these family trip are some of my most vivid and are absolutely among my favourites.

This is a picture of our gang (minus Dad who was taking the picture.) I’m in the green pants in front of Mom and The Sister is on the far right.

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I’ve seen the future…

Disney/Pixar's vision of the future as see in the movie Wall-E.

Disney/Pixar’s vision of the future as see in the movie Wall-E.

I don’t want to be accused of “fat shaming” (and anyone who knows me knows that I have more than a few extra pounds to shed myself) but the number of obese people on scooters at Disney just blew my mind.

A few times I was questioned about these people by my youngest. He would see someone riding around the park who would then pop-up off their scooter and jump onto a ride with no sign of disability. Being generous of spirit, I would explain how some people were okay to walk short distances but that they may have something wrong with them that might make it too hard to walk further. They may have a disability that we couldn’t see.

After about the third time explaining this, I took some time to break it down in my head. Here are my thoughts…

I’m going to overestimate and randomly say that perhaps 1 out of 3 of these people on scooters actually had a mechanical back or leg issue that had no relationship to weight, but that might make it hard to traverse a theme park by foot.

So why were the other 2 out of 3 people on a scooter? Because they were fat. I’m not saying that they weren’t disabled… just the opposite in fact. The majority of the people scooting around Disney were disabled by their obesity. Yes, I’m sure it would be hard to walk around the park all day when you are carrying (at least) a hundred and fifty extra pounds. Hell ya, you bet your legs and back would be killing you.

I really believe that these people actually needed to be riding around on scooters.

So why am I even writing about this? I know this is not new… I know I’m just coming in with innocent Canadian eyes… but the sheer number of scooters (they almost outnumbered the strollers) just blew my mind. I was shocked to realize that this proportion of the population has disabled themselves with obesity. Is Disney a fair random sample so that I can extrapolate this across the US? I don’t know and I’ll admit that I’m a little scared to think about it.

In conclusion, if you are looking for a quick-rich investment opportunity, I suggest looking into Orlando area scooter rentals. Business is bursting at the seams!

Funny things my kids say #18

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We woke up this morning at 5am. We flew all morning and then spent the afternoon at Epcot Center. It is now 8:30pm (9:30 our time) and we are all exhausted. But we promised the kids a swim so here we are. The kids have been troopers but they are now on the edge of insanity.

On the way to the pool, the husband said, “You guys need to calm down, you are too excited.”

The 8-year-old replied…

“What do you expect from kids on their first day at Disney!”

Gotta admit… he has a point.

Previous: Funny things my kids say #17

He’s a charmer!

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If you overlook him plying me with drinks from the open bar, the story of how The Husband and I began dating is quite a romantic one. But it’s easy to be romantic at a beautiful wedding with music and dancing, wooing me long-distance while I traveled around the world was a much more daunting task.

I did a share of the work, by booking my off weeks to visit him in Toronto as much as I could, but when The Husband was merely The Boyfriend, he went well beyond phone calls and e-mails to court me. (Ha! I just realized how funny him “courting” me sounds… considering I was a tennis umpire and he’s a lawyer!)

Over the eighteen months that we dated long distance, here are just a few of the amazing romantic surprises I experienced.

11 Romantic surprises from the early days

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