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9/28/2016 My apartment

I finally got around to taking those apartment pictures, so here they are.

September 27th (Tuesday): My Apartment
It's a little less than two months since I moved here, but I finally got around to taking some photos. Actually, the main reason it took this long was that I wanted to wait until the movers arrived and everything was unpacked. And then until I got some shelves and other things to neaten the place up a bit. Really, I only got all that finished a week or two ago, so I haven't been putting off the photos for too long.
Anyway, let's start off with the apartment building. It's got two buildings, each with their own gym, lounge, pool, and the like. They've got a pretty nice set of amenities. Interesting note about that courtyard and pool, they're actually on the third floor, the first two floors are the parking garage. Also, that picture was taken about a month ago. They closed the pool for the winter about a week back and it's empty now.
Moving on to the apartment itself... As a note, the place is a little messy at the moment, but I wanted to get the photos taken while I was thinking about it. Here's the kitchen, living and dining room, and the office. Unfortunately, those boxes in the office are probably going to stay like that until we move into a bigger place. They're mostly books, games, and the like which we don't have the shelf and/or closet space for. Speaking of shelves, I did put a few in the guest room. I'd kind of like to put some in the master bedroom, as well, since there's some empty space, but Connie would rather we didn't for now. And I did manage to fit all the most important things on the shelves I have, so that works. Not shown, two bathrooms, a couple medium sized (non walk-in) closets, and a small deck. It's the nicest apartment I've ever had (not the biggest, but the fanciest), which is fitting considering how much it costs. Honestly, rent here isn't much different than in Hawaii. Having all my nice furniture certainly helps too (making this my best furnished apartment), though cramming a house's worth of stuff into an apartment makes it a little cramped. All in all though, it's pretty nice. I miss having a house, but it's nice.


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9/26/2016 Apples

Still haven't taken those apartment photos, but I do have a travelogue post.

September 23rd (Friday): Apple Picking
It's apple season and they grow lots of them in this part of the country so I figured there would probably be some place nearby that does pick your own. Picking is fun and cheaper than buying them in stores or at a farmer's market. As it turned out, there are quite a lot of pick your own apples (and other fruits and veggies) farms around here. So I chose one that looked promising and Connie and I headed out. We went to Hollin Farms, which is out in the countryside in what can best be described as the rolling hills. I'd been expecting ladders (back from when I picked apples as a kid), but all of their trees topped out at around 10 feet or so, making most of the apples pretty easy to reach by hand. They were having a special where you could pick four bags for the price of three and they had several types of apples that were currently in season, so we spent a pleasant hour or so filling up our bags. We ended up with about one bag each of Autumn Gala (sweet like regular Gala, but smaller), Shizuka (part sweet part tart, kind of like a Honey Crisp), Grimes Golden (a really good yellow apple), and Crown Empire (small, purple, and fairly sour). They had a vegetable patch as well, with a variety of greens and some radishes, so we pulled a few of those and picked a squash from their pumpkin patch too. While we didn't do it, they also had the option to dig up potatoes and peanuts.
Unlike some pick your own places I've been to, Hollin Farms didn't have anything fancy. No big gift shop or market stall, nothing to do except pick, but there's nothing wrong with that. It's a picturesque place with good prices and very good fruit. Now Connie and I just need to figure out what to do with all those apples...


9/23/2016 At the zoo

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I keep forgetting to take apartment photos when the light is good. I'll try and get them for Monday. In the meantime, here's a bit on Connie and my recent day in DC.

September 20th (Tuesday): The Smithsonian's National Zoo
Connie needed to visit the Chinese embassy in Washington D.C. so we decided to make a day of it. I think that most of the time we go to D.C., we'll take the metro. The embassy, however, wasn't very close to any of the stations, so we decided to drive instead. Driving in was actually pretty easy. Driving out at the end of the day, on the other hand... But I'll do a RVC about driving sometime soon.
The embassy is a bit outside of D.C.'s main tourist area. It's in a mostly residential area, along with a few shops and restaurants. I walked around while Connie was getting her things taken care of. Other than a couple old churches and an even older cemetery, there wasn't really too much to see. Pleasant enough, but nothing too exciting.
Once Connie was finished, we grabbed lunch at a nearby Vietnamese place and then headed for the zoo. Why the zoo? Well, it's a bit away from the main tourist areas as well, so I figured we might as well go on the day we had our car. Actually getting there proved a little complicated though. Even with a GPS, D.C. has really confusing streets.
Anyway, the Smithonian's National Zoo, also known as the National Zoological Park, is, like the Smithsonian museums, completely free of charge. That said, they do charge quite a lot for parking and even maps of the zoo cost $5 (though you can find some signs with maps scattered around, or just pull one up on your cellphone for free). And you may want a map. While the zoo isn't overly large (about average), the paths are kind of twisty and go through lots of trees and rocks.
The zoo is divided into several areas. Connie and I started in the American section. Though, other than a few fairly ordinary animals, most of the animals there were either hiding or not in their areas. At least until we got to the Amazonian building, which had a mini rain forest and lots of interesting displays. Moving on, we left the Americas behind and found our way to the great cats area, complete with lions and tigers. Monkeys came next, along with gorillas and orangutans. There was also a building with lots of small and mid-size animals (though no ant-eaters), including a fennic fox, a sloth, and a sand cat. Elephants followed, and then the zoo's most most famous animals...giant pandas! There aren't many zoos in the US with pandas, and the National Zoo has several of them. Though they have a large habitat, including indoor and outdoor areas, so they can take a while to find.
There were a few more animals that we ended up skipping (like the flamingos), but we made it around most of the zoo before deciding to call it a day. Over all, I wouldn't say that the National Zoo is one of the best zoos I've been do. There are plenty that have a nicer layout and/or a larger collection of animals. But the National Zoo is still a pleasant place to spend a couple hours and it has a few rather rare animals, like the pandas, so it's worth a visit if you have the time. Though it probably shouldn't top a D.C. touring list unless you're a huge panda lover.


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