DC Protects Against Insurrection

As of 16 January 2021, news reports are indicating over 21,000 National Guard troops are stationed throughout Washington DC to protect the U.S. Capital from further insurrection activity similar to the 6 January attack on the Capitol building that resulted in the death of 5 U.S. citizens.

Every road leading to the National Mall was blocked with no access to that area either by car or by foot. Heavy duty military vehicles and armed soldiers set the tone for all those entering DC from the bridges leading from the Virginia side of the Potomac.

When on roads outside of the no-go-zone, D.C. seemed ordinary in every other way.

However, anywhere within the vicinity of the White House, National Mall, U.S. Capitol, or other important buildings, you are always under the eyes of trained U.S. soldiers ready to protect America from the home grown MAGA terrorists.

Eyes on every vehicle passing through this choke point.

Every route approaching the heart of the U.S. Government was blocked.

Unmarked Secret Service details were everywhere as were marked cars stopping vehicles for reasons unknown to us.

With not much more to see, we left DC, missing the sights of our Nation but fully understanding why they were on lockdown given the dangerous climate in America at this time. It looks like the trash has been cleaned up ahead of the Inauguration – not a single Trump flag or MAGA hat was in sight today. America is on the path back to normal. Time to return home and enjoy the rest of the day.

Back home to Great Falls, VA, where Trump insurrectionists are in a distain minority.

Small Coal Mining Towns, WV

Many small West Virginia coal mining towns are slowing slipping away to history. Many little unincorporated towns had little going on as we passed through on the way to other tourist spots in West Virginia.

The local town church seems to have not seen worship in some time

I estimated about 1/2 of the homes and 3/4 of the local businesses are abandoned here in this one particular town. Better times have passed by this little coal town and this town was not alone.

Many towns along the rural routes in West Virgina resembled this town had something that I can only guess were coal chutes to send coal down the mountain for processing. We saw so many of these in the West Virginia hills as we passed through these small towns. Every chute was disassembled in the sections that crossed the road.

These one-road small towns are lined with houses and storefronts. They are the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else. These are not rich area, quite the opposite, and I suspect the towns’ inhabitants pull together to help each other when necessary. The trouble is, however, what happens when the entire town needs help?

This house probably has been been painted in 20 years.

Not Quite the “Crazy Train”

I’ve been flying back and forth between DC & CA monthly over the past 4-5 years and in February of this year, 2020, I decided to do something a bit different. Rather than fly and spend an entire day traveling, I decided to extend my travel to three days and take the train across country. I am so glad I did.

I began my Trip at Union Station in DC for an overnight trip to Chicago where, after a 5 hour layover, I would take the train to Denver, the continue through the Colorado Rockies, Nevada, the Donner Pass, and into Northern California ultimately arriving at Emeryville, CA, just across the bay from San Francisco, my ultimate destination for this trip.

Union Station, DC is really a lovely old-world station. I will need to make a photoblog about it some day. I take many photos of it every time I visit.

Front entrance into the hall of Union Station

The accommodations on the train were fine, just enough for a decent rest, not much more. The real point of the being on the train is not being in cramped space, but rather looking out of the windows and there are few better places to do this than from the observation car.

I think I took over 5,000 photos during my 3 days and 3 nights on the train. Many photos are discarded of course but still leaves hundreds of photos to pick from.

Passing through the beautiful Maryland countryside
Sun setting along the Potomac River, one of the last familiar scenes I would see on this 3 night trip.

One thing I have noticed is that photography encourages you to see the beauty all around you. Virtually any subject has at least one, if not many, interesting and beautiful ways to view it. Even the undercarriage of a train.

These wheels and suspension pass through all sorts of extreme temperatures.

The trip into and out of the Chicago Station was really nice. Gorgeous morning light created a beautiful skyline and also lit up the graffiti very well too!

Once outside of Chicago, the scenery really opened up as we made our way towards Denver. On

The train stopped frequently alone the route to discharge and pickup passengers. Every few hours, the train would have a longer stop of 10-30 minutes to restock the train and this would give the passengers a chance to disembark and get back on the train.

The fresh air was welcomed deep into my lungs and the photo opportunities welcomed into my camera lens.