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Day 164: The Carousel at Glen Echo Park – A Local Treasure

Glen Echo Park

Glen Echo Park

The centerpiece of Glen Echo Park is the whimsical Dentzel Carousel.  The carousel has been a fixture at the Park for 90 years now!  In 2003, after 20-years of painstaking restoration, the hand wood-carved carousel was revealed again – appearing as it was in its beginning.   The natural colors and look were restored to reflect a truly authentic experience of a ride in 1921 – the year the carousel first opened to the families of D.C. and Bethesda.  The Glen Echo Park website has some beautiful photos of the carousel at night and at dusk.

Deborah Lange has written a comprehensive account of the restoration process, including many full-color photographs.  The publication is entitled Restoring the Glen Echo Park Carousel and is available to order on-line or by contacting the Park directly.

You and your children can enjoy a ride on this local treasure for $1.25 (cash is preferred) Saturdays and Sundays from 12 – 6 PM.  Or stop by between 10 AM – 2 PM on Wednesdays & Thursdays and, beginning in July, Fridays as well.  The carousel season for 2011 runs through September 25th.  The big closing celebration, Then and Wow!, will be held that day.

You may have ridden a carousel before, but if you have never been to Glen Echo Park, it’s unlikely you have ever experienced a carousel quite as special as this one.  Its gentle lions, rabbits and horses await you and are ready to delight as you round the magical carousel with its delicate, magical music.  You will surely be transported to a time of innocence and joy.

Share this fun with your children or with your special someone.  It is indeed a rare and wonderful experience to be had.     ~Amy

Day 163: Yurts for the Arts

The Pottery Yurt

The Glen Echo Park Yurts are quite an interesting sight to behold.  These little brown circular buildings are centers for art, calligraphy, pottery classes and galleries at Glen Echo Park.  So why yurts?  Well, apparently in 1972 they were created for an 18-month habitat exhibit at the National Mall that never materialized so the yurts were brought to Glen Echo Park.  They were an ideal resource for the needed classroom and studio space for the Park’s new focus on the arts.  Don’t they just smack of the 70’s?!   They should be equipped with avocado colored appliances and shag carpet in my opinion.

Yurts can be found around the world and have been traditionally used by the nomads of Mongolia and Turkey for hundreds of years.  They are built in such as way as to be easily packed up and moved by horses or other animals and they are able to withstand all kinds of weather conditions.  Traditional yurts consist of a circular wooden frame carrying a felt cover made from sheep’s wool.  Today, you can find yurts used all over the world for various peoples and purposes, and in Glen Echo Park, they are cleverly used as classrooms and galleries.  The site upon which they stand in the park was the one where, in days gone by, the Tunnel of Love (the World Cruise) once romanced the people of Bethesda and DC and thrilled others with The Whip and the roller coaster.

Feather Tree Hill Yurt

Alana Hunter of Feather Tree Hill offers calligraphy courses in one of the yurts.  Since 1998 this Chautauqua Artist-in-Residence has hosted summer camps, classes, workshops and art parties.  One of her most popular classes is the “Project Funway Wearable Art Camp.”  Check out more details on her blogspot.

You will also find the opportunity to enjoy pottery and ceramics at the yurts.  Visit the gallery on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 – 5 PM, April – December.  Summer pottery classes for middle and high school students are being held this summer on Tuesdays (June 21 – July 26) and Thursdays (June 23 – July 28).  There are also classes for adults too. Get your hands into the clay and enjoy the unique opportunity to create using this wonderful medium.  To register for classes, visit the Glen Echo Park website.   Jeff Kirk is the director and artist-in-residence for the pottery program since 1975.  As artistic director – and as a resident artist and instructor as well – his  goal is to foster the spirit that enables students to give shape and meaning to their unique visions, according to the Park website.

Whether or not you take classes or visit the gallery at the yurts, you should at least stop by and take a look at these fascinating and unique structures at Glen Echo Park. I can hear the Pink Floyd music in my head every time I see them!      ~Amy

Day 155: Tennis Anyone?

Tennis at Cabin John Park

On a day like today, a beautiful June afternoon, you simply MUST get outside and enjoy the fresh warm air and sun before it gets so hot and humid that you feel like a big dog is breathing down your back.  The dog days of summer are coming but today was pretty perfect really.

One of the parks we enjoy most on a day like this is Cabin John Park at 7401 MacArthur Blvd.  This 6-acre park is a short drive from downtown Bethesda and offers a nice blend of facilities for ball games of all kinds – basketball, softball and of course, tennis.  For the little people, there is a little playground and grassy area with a couple of picnic tables too.  That’s where we enjoyed our sushi picnic last week.

7401 MacArthur Blvd

Parking is usually readily available here and it’s a great place to just lay out and relax or challenge your best bud to a tennis match before it’s just too darn hot this year.  There are some nice ball fields here as well but I must warn you not to bring your band of brothers out here to play without booking the field in advance.  The reservation/permit process is easy and it will save you the disappointment of losing out to some other baseball or softball bunch who was smarter than you and planned ahead.  To book the ball field, first open a ParkPASS account (click here for step-by-step instructions) at  Then you’ll be able to go to the Montgomery County website and reserve your facility of choice at any of our local County Parks for a few bucks.

The good news is that you don’t have to do any of that to play tennis at little ‘ole Cabin John Local Park – just show up with your racquets and balls and hope for the best!  If you can’t find an open court, no worries.  There’s some good beer waiting for you down the road at The Irish Inn at Glen Echo!     ~Amy

Day 150: Washington Folk Festival this Weekend


June 4th and 5th, 2011

Singing, dancing, storytelling and workshops are in store for you this weekend at the Washington Folk Festival just outside of Bethesda at Glen Echo Park this Saturday and Sunday, June 4 -5 th from 12 PM – 7 PM.  The event is free of charge and will include over 400 performers.

Our area’s diversity is celebrated at this annual festival which has been a grand success now for 31 years!  Cultures from around the world are represented through live music and dance performances, art, crafts and food galore!  This is an all volunteer event.  Everyone who participates in any way, from performers to stage hands, volunteer their time and energy.  If you want to lend a hand, visit the Folklore Society Website to sign up.

Pipeband -photo from Folklore Society

If you’re planning to attend the event, please note that parking is always tricky in Glen Echo.  A free shuttle will be provided from GEICO in Friendship Heights.  Take the METRO Red Line to Friendship Heights and then it’s an easy 2 block walk to the GEICO campus on Western Ave. to catch the shuttle.  If you’re coming from Bethesda METRO, the local RideOn bus #29 should get you there just fine.



Day 149: The Angel of the Battlefield

Clara Barton, A life of service

On April 19th, 1861 riots broke out in Baltimore during the early days of the Civil War and the Massachusetts regiment of soldiers was attacked.  Many of the men were former students of Clara Barton when she was a school teacher there.  They made their way to Washington D.C. and told her about the fact that the U.S. Army did not have any supplies to care for the injured.  Clara did not sit idly by.  She put together the needed supplies and food and made towels from sheets and then made her way to the battlefield.  This was the beginning of Clara’s war relief efforts – and thus the start of her reputation as the “Angel of the Battlefield.”  It is said that she thrived on hands-on fieldwork.

Clara Barton cared for the wounded through many bloody battles of the Civil War such as Antietam.  She also established an Office of Correspondence with Friends of the Missing Men of the U.S. Army in 1865, responding to over 63,000 requests for information about loved ones.  Thanks to her efforts, 22,000 soldiers were removed from the lists of the missing bringing closure to their families.

While visiting Europe, Clara volunteered for the German Red Cross in 1870 during the Franco Prussian War during which time she gained her first insights into the International Red Cross organization.  Then, in 1881, the American Red Cross was formed and Clara Barton was elected its first President.  She led the organization for 22 years until her resignation in 1904.  During her tenure, she oversaw the creation of many local Red Cross Chapters and led relief efforts in the Spanish American War in 1898, as well as 18 peacetime disaster relief efforts such as the Galveston, Texas hurricane.  As a result of her decision to offer the support of the American Red Cross in peacetime relief efforts, the Treaty of Geneva was amended thereby modifying the mission of the International Red Cross to also serve as a peacetime disaster relief organization.

Clara had become well-known and respected around the world.  She was an acclaimed public speaker and supporter of the rights of women and African-Americans.  Although she was herself discriminated against many times due to her gender, she took it in stride saying, “as for my being a woman, you will get used to that….” 

Clara Barton House today

Here locally, in the early 1890’s, the town of Glen Echo was formed by the famous Baltzley Brothers.  Edward and Edwin decided that it would help them with their efforts to obtain investors if Clara was living in their new town so they invited her to live in Glen Echo and built her a home there.  Clara lived in the grand Victorian-style home for the remainder of her life.  The home also served as the warehouse and headquarters for the American Red Cross until 1904.

National Historic Designation

In 1963, the organization Friends of Clara Barton, Inc. purchased the home.  Then in 1974 it was designated as a National Historic Site and is now managed by the National Park Service.  Visitors today can visit the home, open daily, which is still furnished with a great deal of Clara’s personal items and furniture as well as other period pieces.

In addition, children ages 9-12 can participate in a free 2-day Junior Ranger Summer Camp in July and August to learn more about the history of Glen Echo and about Clara Barton’s important life in our local area and in our nation’s history.  Clara Barton House National Historic Site is located at 5801 Oxford Road, Glen Echo, Maryland just off of MacArthur Boulevard adjacent to Glen Echo Park.

After resigning from the Red Cross in 1904, Clara Barton went on to organize the National First Aid Association which taught basic emergency first aid care and preparedness to lay people in factories, fire brigades, mills and railroad workers.  Today, the American Red Cross continues this tradition.  It is impossible to recount how many lives have been saved by the efforts of Clara Barton and how many families have been brought peace by her efforts to assist them in learning the fates of their loved ones lost in wars and disasters.

As we spend today, Memorial Day, honoring those who have served in our military fighting for our country, it seems appropriate to pause for a moment and reflect upon the life of a woman who served the soldiers behind the scenes, many of whom had care in their last minutes and hours of life thanks to her efforts and the efforts of the organizations she led.

Front Facade of Clara Barton House

Today with the onslaught of weather-related and other disasters we hear about so often, it is still the American Red Cross who is first on the scene to help.  Visit the Clara Barton House in Glen Echo just off MacArthur Blvd and see for yourself how this fearless woman impacted all of our lives by her tireless and selfless efforts.  If you don’t live in the area, you can visit the Virtual Museum Exhibit on the National Park Service website.      ~Amy

Day 141: Care for a Sushi Picnic?

Our sushi picnic

Today was truly a wonderful spring day in Bethesda – the perfect temperature, not too humid, sunny but not too hot and a slight breeze – ideal for a picnic!  Brian and I were in the mood for fish though – not your normal picnic fare.  So how can you seriously enjoy fish and a picnic?  Kanpai Sushi at 7307 MacArthur Blvd in Glen Echo is your answer.  Since 1985 Kanpai Sushi has been serving its loyal customers who thoroughly enjoy their fresh and beautiful creations.

We popped in today at the recommendation of a client we met recently who happened upon the place and shared their excitement with us about their visit.  I had never noticed the place because it is a small and obscure little shop.

The nicest men were working and happily took our sushi order while busily making rolls and nigiri for their customers.  Our order included two spicy tuna hand-rolls (one of my favorite sushi delights) as well as salmon nigiri, tuna nigiri and a California roll with fresh crab.  Of course our snack was accompanied by wasabi, ginger and little containers of soy sauce to go.  We added some San Pellegrino and off we went to Cabin John Park to enjoy our sushi picnic!

Japanese grocery items

We were not sure what to expect from this small little sushi shop in Glen Echo but we were truly delighted with the mouth-watering creations made by our sushi masters.  That spicy tuna hand-roll was true to its name and was one of the spiciest ever!  I was very glad for the San Pellegrino!  Brian and I will definitely be back for more sushi take out…soon!

Fresh whole fish

We also learned that Kanpai Sushi offers beautiful and quite affordable party platters as well as fresh whole fish, bags of asian rice (always a trick to find), edamame and other asian delights.  In fact, Kanpai Sushi is called a Japanese grocery store and you can find a nice selection of many Japanese food items in addition to their delectable sushi menu.  So if you’re interested in trying some great sushi take-out, Kanpai Sushi is your place and Cabin John Park is a nice spot to cop-a-squat and enjoy it!    ~Amy

Day 75: The Irish Inn at Glen Echo

Irish Inn at Glen Echo

One of Amy’s and my favorite haunts in the area is the Irish Inn at Glen Echo.  One night after work we stopped by to enjoy one of our favorite beers, Kilkenny.  Kilkenny is an Irish cream ale from the makers of Guinness beer, from Kilkenny, Ireland.  What we really like about the beer are the small tiny bubbles, what they call a “nitrogenated” beer, and of course it goes down smooth and tastes great.  Kilkenny was only recently introduced to the U.S. market back in the fall of 2009.  Candidly, up till now I would have told you that I really don’t like beer that much but this beer has totally changed my opinion of the beverage.  In college I drank my fair share of cheap American beer and I never understood the appeal.  I became adept at the game quarters primarily to avoid drinking it.  I guess I just never had the good stuff! Amy on the other hand is a bit of a beer connoisseur (and yes I did have to look up how to even spell that) and introduced Kilkenny to me having been to Ireland and sampled the ale direct from the source.

Kilkenny Beer

The location where the Inn is located has a bit of a morbid and checkered past, having been the site of tragic fire that killed the family that lived in the residence that once occupied the land, and the location of a rough neck local bar and grill known as Trav’s.  Ghosts of the fire and a lethal brawl at the previous “joint” are believed to haunt the establishment.  For a brief time the building housed the restaurant known as the Inn at Glen Echo until it was purchased by the current owners and renovated and transformed into the Irish Inn in 2003.

Amy and I like the small intimate atmosphere of the place, whether you are eating in the white tabled clothed restaurant or enjoying the tap at the traditional Irish pub.  The bar area has richly colored walls that compliment the extensive long wood bar and amazing hand-painting throughout.  Don’t be surprised if the lovable Christy Hughes, the owner, slides up next to you and introduces himself.  It’s that kind of place.  On the same night I tried Kilkenny I was treated to another experience, live music compliments of the 19th Street Band.  In stroll two young fellas and a beautiful young one (young girl).  You end up saying these sorts of things when you’re in the Inn after a while.  The trio begins to play a wonderful selection of contemporary hits and old classics in the folksy Rockabilly music tradition.  Caolaidhe, Meghan & Mike make up The 19th Street Band with Caolaidhe on guitar, Meghan on violin, and Mike on upright bass.  The first time Meghan took to the mike and began to sing nearly every head in the bar turned to the stage as we all had a collective, American Idol trained, “a-ha” moment when as we realized that this girl has an extraordinary voice.

Lastly, we really enjoy the food.  My personal favorite in the Pub is the “Bangers and Mash”, an Irish staple of sausages served with mashed potatoes, peas and whiskey sauce!  This St. Patrick’s Day Dinner will be served from 4-10 with a $35 per person special featuring your choice of Salads, Potato and Leek soup (yummy) or fried oysters with main course options of Shepherd’s Pie, Bangers and Mash, Fish and Chips, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Lamb Chops, Boiled Ham or Guinness Beef Stew.  The 19th Street Band will be making a special appearance on St. Patrick’s Day as well.  Any idea where I might be on Thursday?  You guessed it.  So don’t be a dry shite (boring person), a dosser (a lazy person), or a Wanker (a person no one likes) and join my “young one” (Amy) and me for a Jar ‘ol Kilkenny at the Irish Inn on Saint Patty’s day. ~Brian Maury