Tag Archives for " tourist "

Sep 14

Things I Don’t Understand: Hatred of Selfie Sticks

By Melinda VanLone | Thoughts



I don’t get why some people are so violently opposed to people taking pictures with selfie-sticks. How is that any more or less offensive than photos taken the normal way…with one of your group always left out of the picture? Perhaps those opposed would rather you bug them to hold the camera and take the shot? Or they like it when a scammer offers to do it and then runs away with the camera? Or…what? Why is it any different than someone taking photos of everything except themselves?

Maybe they’re so angry because they’ve experienced the selfie-stick also being used as a weapon, much like I’ve seen some parents use strollers. I’ve been blocked, run into (always the shin), kicked (hard little kid shoes!), and had entire lanes of traffic backed up for miles by someone using a stroller as an “it’s all about me” card. Yet I haven’t seen the blatant hatred for them. Perhaps it’s because there might be a child in the stroller and it’s hard to hate a child, since obviously they’re captive and have no control of the situation.

Maybe there’s a gang of selfie stick wielding maniacs running rampant through tourist areas, whacking people in the head, shoving them out of the way or even sticking said stick into places it shouldn’t be. There might even be a selfie-stick fetish group. They probably have meetings where they talk about exact ways to, well, use the thing.

I haven’t actually seen anything like that but maybe I don’t hang out in the right areas. I’ve seen plenty of people taking photos, though. It’s never bothered me unless they take so long I can’t get a shot of my own. But usually people are pretty polite about such things.

Why is it suddenly offensive if I’m in the shot too, as opposed to simply taking a quick shot of the scene sans people and shuffling on? As I’m often alone, the only way I’ll ever have proof that I’ve been somewhere is if I use a selfie-stick. Why shouldn’t I do that? Perhaps I don’t matter. Perhaps they’d rather I didn’t exist. That’s the message I get when others post those “look how rude this person is” memes featuring a happy couple smiling before a selfie-stick.

I’m wondering if those so worked up about it are, perhaps, a tiny bit jealous that they don’t own one, too?


Aug 19

Ahoy! There be Dragons!

By Melinda VanLone | Imagination , Photos , Thoughts


This last weekend I had the pleasure of entertaining a friend who stopped by for a visit. We had such a good time being tourists. Even though I suppose I’m a “local” now, I don’t feel like one. We’ve only been here 10 months, and there is so much to see and do around DC, not to mention all up and down the East Coast, that I suppose it’d take a lifetime to see it all. That doesn’t mean I won’t try!

We took in the Baltimore Inner Harbor, and  if you’ve never been, this is one stop you should make on your way to DC or NYC. Yes, it’s touristy. Yes, the food anywhere you go is a bit pricey. But look at this:



How can you not want to ride in dragon shaped paddle boats? Plus the National Aquarium is right there. (That’s it in the background with the pointy roof. Get your tickets in advance online. Trust me.) You can also climb in and around and on four different navy boats including the U.S.S. Constellation. Go ahead, explore almost every nook and cranny. You can see how the sailors lived, and hear about what they did on a daily basis.

My favorite was the Constellation. It was the last sail-only sloop-of-war, and was designed and built by the US Navy in 1854. Just standing on the decks evokes thoughts of pirates, and maybe an image of Johnny Depp.


The Constellation was originally intended to disrupt slave trade ships. She managed to get three of them before turning her attention to carrying famine relief stores to Ireland and exhibits to Paris for the World Expo in 1878.

Today she hangs out in the Inner Harbor, greeting tourists from around the world and showing off her beautiful network of ropes and amazing history.


You might have seen me mention recently that I’m a future-looking sort of girl. That’s still true. But I can’t deny the inspiration and fascination this ship held for me. I think it’s because I was able to walk in and around the very parts which people before me had touched, used, lived in, dreamed in, fought in, even grew up in, as the powder monkeys were always young boys. (They’d have to me, the powder was stored in a tiny portion of the ship that had my short body bent double.)


The crew slept like this. Can you imagine being that close, day in and day out, to your coworkers? Go ahead, look at the cubicles next to you. Imagine it. Whatever these men were paid, it wasn’t enough.

It was odd, seeing how they did things back then. If history class had been held somewhere like this ship, I might have paid more attention. It makes a difference, getting to see and touch and explore.

The captain maintained posh living arrangements on the upper deck. His rooms included a private pantry, space for dining, and an actual bed. The whole area was bigger than my first apartment.

The captain maintained posh living arrangements on the upper deck. His rooms included a private pantry, space for dining, and an actual bed. The whole area was bigger than my first apartment.

So here’s to the USS Constellation, long may she reign in the the Baltimore Inner Harbor.

If you haven’t been, what are you waiting for? Go..See..Do! Take your pirate hat.


Aug 07

Thor Storms DC…Continued

By Melinda VanLone | Thoughts

In case you haven’t been following along, please start from the beginning of Thor’s journey. You can find it chronicled here:

A Godly Visitor

Thor is a Lush

Thor Storms DC

The saga continues…

After Thor took off with the German tourists, I decided to call in reinforcements. Obviously Thor needed more babysitting attention than I’d anticipated, so I called my hubby. He agreed to help me find the God of Thunder, though he wondered if the German tourists were all women and whether they were attractive and in that case did Thor really want to be found? I assured him that yes, of course Thor wanted to be found, as we hadn’t eaten lunch yet.

The hubby and I searched all around the Tidal Basin, since that’s where Thor was last seen. When we arrived at the FDR memorial, I’d almost given up. I’d have to go home and wait for him to grace me with his presence. I began to compose what I’d tell Debra…”Hello, I lost the God of Thunder….yes I know that’s difficult….yes I realize what kind of damage he could do…no, I don’t think he’s getting into trouble. It’s DC, what trouble could he cause?”

We happened on a large crowd gathered around one set of rocks in the memorial, and the cheering drew me in. I had to find out what they found so exciting. I pushed my way through the crowd and discovered:


Thor, yelling at the top of his lungs, about Godly Rights and Equality, Except Loki Who Is A Dumb Twit.

Thor, it seemed, had embraced the culture of DC and was eager to lead his own  protest. He’d been inspired by the words at FDR.


As he droned on explained about issues Gods face, in particular the struggles they have with their siblings, some of the crowd started to lose interest. But they applauded when he identified with the working man. Being a God is, after all, a full time job. There’s evil to vanquish, villains to subdue, siblings to crush…it can all get a God down at the end of the day.


The crowd dispersed when Thor got a little over excited trying to make his point, and threw his hammer at a nearby tree. The sparks were understandably intimidating to any who don’t know Thor as well as I do. As I rejoined Thor and applauded him on speaking up and having a voice, he mentioned he still hadn’t found a decent and reliable steed, and then he asked me “What does a God have to do to get a drink around here?”

My hubby assured him he knew the perfect place for a pint of ale, and we walked further through the memorial to find a cab.

Big mistake.

That’s when Thor thought he’d found his steed.


We stood there for 30 minutes while Thor tried to convince his “steed” to do more than pose nicely for photos. By the time Thor admitted that perhaps this particular steed should remain where it was, a monument to dogs everywhere, he’d come down from his caffeine high. He needed ale, he said.

So my hubby obliged him. This…can’t end well.

2013-08-05 15.58.01

Thor is scheduled to leave us on Friday to continue his world tour. I wonder if he’ll find his perfect “steed” before he goes?

Apr 08

Stalking Cherry Blossoms

By Melinda VanLone | Photos , Thoughts


I’m officially a stalker. I’ve been to the Tidal Basin twice, so far, and plan on at least two or three more trips down there to document every single change in those cherry blooms which, by the way, took their own sweet time in arriving. Why am I doing this? I’m obsessed. Fascinated. I love pretty flowers. I’ve been cooped up inside far too long and besides, it’s good to play tourist in your home town. How often do you really go out and see those things that are right under your nose unless family comes to visit? Not often. Daily life gets in the way. Routine takes the place of adventure. Life gets in the way of living.

The hubby and I strolled all the way around the basin yesterday along with thousands of others. At times, the crowd was a bit overwhelming and I found myself wishing I’d waited for the work week when it would thin a bit. At other times it felt like one giant party. Families spread blankets on the grass for picnics, children giggled and laughed as they played tag, couples held hands as they strolled or simply sat along the edge of the water admiring the view and each other. For the most part, even though it was intensely packed by human bodies at some points, people were still happy to be outside, thrilled to take part in this annual pilgrimage, and in general overjoyed to be basking in the spring sun.

I was one of them.

I forgot to wear sunscreen, so I brought home a bit of a souvenir in the form of a pink nose, and over 300 photos. Not all of them are good, but all remind me of a happy day spent in the sun with my sweetie.

It just doesn’t get any better than that.

(hint: click an image to get a bigger slide show)


Mar 29

Review: Old Town Alexandria

By Melinda VanLone | Photos , Thoughts


Normally I’d post a review of some sort on Friday, to set you up for the weekend. You know, offer up a good read or a movie I enjoyed or something along those lines. The problem is I read a really awesome book. You’ll like it. I know you will. But I can’t review it yet because it hasn’t officially launched. Yes, I’m nothing but a big tease today.

The movie I want to review, The Host, just came out last night and I ended up watching Syracuse instead of going to the movie. I’ll go this weekend and let you know what I thought, but in the meantime I thought I’d review a tourist destination instead.

I visited Old Town Alexandria the other day and it seems a shame not to tell you more about it. If you’re ever in the DC area, this should be on your top 10 list of places to see and do. King Street is lined with restaurants and cute shops and people. If you follow it all the way down to where it ends at the Potomac there are benches and walkways all along the water, as well as a water taxi, boats, some touristy cruises and other amusing things to see and do. You could spend all day here, taking in the atmosphere and eating. While I was there, a street musician played some sort of instrument that wafted gentle tunes into the air while kids giggled. It was peaceful, just walking along, watching others. Two older ladies sat on benches sketching the scenery filled with boats and birds. A couple of kids zoomed by on skateboards. A grandfather played on steps with his grandson.

It’s probably overloaded with people in the heat of the summer, but this time of year it wasn’t. There’s a free trolley that travels the length of King Street so you don’t have to walk the whole thing if you’re not inclined to do so. There are hidden parking garages underneath buildings here and there…look for the blue P signs.

And be sure to stop at ESP for coffee or sorbet. Pet the puppy dogs while you’re at it.


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