A Gem of a Day

Ready for Game DayBy just about any measure, it was a pretty wonderful day for a baseball game in the nation’s capital.

Sunday of Memorial Day weekend…the start of summer. (Check.)

Sunny skies with temps in the high sixties/low seventies throughout the afternoon. (Check.)

A huge crowd at the yard.  Official attendance of 39,033.  (You look for these things when you’re scoring the game.) (Check.)

Wonderful daughter along for the afternoon. (Check!)

As we left home for the metro around noon for the 1:35 first pitch, Claire and I had on appropriate game-day attire.  (I think she still finds it amazing that someone who is 20 – her age – can play major league baseball, so I offered up the Harper shirt.)

Strasburg was on the mound, and he was sharp! The Phillies were confused all day.  Eight strong innings and nine strikeouts later – with the only blemish being a balk on his next to last pitch allowing a man on third to score – he showed that despite the strange 3-5 W-L record this year, he’s back to pitching like an ace.

And the dormant offense showed some life.  Zim started the big seventh inning by legging out an infield hit that ignited the rest of the team.  (He later closed out the 7th as they batted around.) LaRoche continued his “steady as she goes” stretch, with a 2-for-4 day and two runs scored.  Lombo had a huge double that drove in two runs and he stretched it into a three-bager on one of three Philly errors for the day.  Our season tickets section – good ole 313 just below the press box – had our N-A-T-S, Nats! Nats! Nats! Whoo! cheer going for each of the six runs.  The Phillies make three errors and only score one run…I said it was a gem of a day!

And after Clip came in for a perfect ninth, the picture that everyone loves – the Nats lining up for the congratulatory hand shakes after the 6-1 win – was all that was left.  Even a stupid President’s Race (where Tom fakes off the others so that George can win in a cakewalk) couldn’t ruin a wonderful day in the park.

Perfect weather, the perfect daughter along as a companion, and a series win against the Phillies.

Yep, a gem of a day.

Go Nats!

More to come,


Nats win vs Phillies

Maybe I Should Come to the Office More Often

DJB with NTHP colleague Leigh Ivey and Trustee Gloria Estefan - the new spokesperson for the preservation of the Miami Marine StadiumI recently did the math. In one three month period this spring I am in the office less than one-third of the time.  True, I’ve been to some wonderful places, but if my two days in Washington this week are any indication, perhaps I should come to the office more often.

When she was in fourth grade, my daughter told her class that her dad’s job was to “sign papers and go to meetings.” This hasn’t been one of those weeks.

At the National Trust, we’ve been working hard to help Americans understand and protect the full story of our nation’s life together.  That  work was front and center yesterday and today.

On Wednesday, our great friends at American Express announced a $1 million grant to the Michelle Obama at Decatur HouseNational Trust Historic Site Decatur House and our partners at the White House Historical Association.  The grant will help ensure that the site’s slave quarters – one of the few remaining urban examples of slave quarters – are preserved and used in the educational work at the site.  First Lady Michelle Obama was present for the announcement, and it was great to have her with us to honor this gift and the work it represents.

Then today, newly minted National Trust trustee and seven-time Grammy Award winner Gloria Estefan stopped by our offices to talk with the staff about our work together to save the modernist Miami Marine Stadium.  In a 30-minute interview and Q&A with staff, her passion for place – and especially this unique venue and Miami icon – was evident.  She spoke of her concerts at the stadium, a recent photo shoot on site to help bring attention to this one-of-a-kind urban landmark, the building’s special resonance with the Latino community given its design by a young Cuban-American architect in the 1960s, and her hopes for its future.  My assistant Leigh joined me (photo above) as we had a chance to thank Gloria for her commitment to preservation. Afterwards, I was fortunate to join Gloria, her husband Emelio, her daughter, and the president of the Estefan’s company for lunch with several colleagues.  There we talked further about the steps needed to save the stadium and to learn more about the Estefan’s long-time passion for place.  For an old bluegrass guy, it was great to get to know the Queen of Latin Pop – and an ardent preservationist.

Let’s see, I’m in the office again tomorrow. Must be a scheduling error.  I wonder what it will bring!

More to come…


A Wonderful Week

Porto, Portugal Travel for work often deserves the brickbats thrown its way. But then there are the sublime trips that more than make it all worthwhile.

My travel last week falls in the latter category.

As posted here, here, here, here, and here, Candice and I have been on the road, seeing a variety of special places with friends and supporters of the National Trust. But because internet connections were slow-to-nonexistent on the road, I kept the posts short and to the point.

So this is my “bring it all home” post.  I’ll give a short update of each stop, and then will post several new photos from that portion of the trip that weren’t included in the original updates.

Our first port was Porto, Portugal, a wonderful city with a historic center that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It was a great kick-off, with a strong mix of monumental buildings and streets full of markets like the one at the top of the post.  We saw the coffee shop where J.K. Rowling wrote the first chapters of Harry Potter and a beautiful stock exchange building that reflects Portugal’s one-time status as a world power.

A Porto street scene

Along the river in Porto, Portugal

The next day we were in Spain, visiting the great pilgrimage site at Santiago de Compostela.  Steeples, plazas, and gargoyles filled my camera on this day.

Cathedral Details

Bilbao’s transformation from gritty ship-building city to international arts destination was a revelation.  We knew of the Guggenheim’s impact, but we weren’t ready for the blocks of historic buildings intermingled with the works of multiple modern masters.  It was a glorious visit and one that we want to repeat with the entire family.

A historic detail from Bilbao

A Bilbao church

Candice and David at the Guggenheim

Gehry's interior of the Guggenheim

The next day we moved on to France, and the beautiful island of Belle-Ile.  We toured the coasts where Monet painted, and explored the imposing Citadel that dominates the port.

The coastline of Belle-Ile

Citadel detail

View from the Citadel towards the port
In both Belle-Ile and Guernsey, our next stop, Candice and I loved the clustering of traditional houses which opened up the beautiful farmland and landscape.  Our tour focused on the German occupation of the island during WWII, but our attention was drawn to the countryside and thought of how the U.S. – with some notable exceptions – has allowed development to eat up our open space.  So I was pleased today when Andrew texted to say he would be working as an intern at the Coalition for Smart Growth this summer.  When one sees places such as Belle-Ile and Guernsey, you see how much we’ve lost.

Open space in Guernsey

Guernsey coast line

We ended our wonderful week in Normandy.  My last post spoke of the emotional nature of any visit to the beaches and the American cemetery, and the depth of the sacrifices made on those fateful days some 69 years ago is still very present and powerful.  The countryside of Normandy also speaks to the simple, hardworking lives that were turned upside down throughout the German occupation and the Allied invasion. It is a place one doesn’t soon forget.

Known only to God

David at Omaha Beach commemorative marker

Thanking the Veterans on our tour at Normandy

Arromanches Street Scene

It was a trip to remember, and we loved every minute as we were reminded how truly blessed we are.  Thanks to all who made it possible.

More to come…


Remembering Their Sacrifice

The American Cemetery at NormandyOur last day touring in Europe was the most emotional. If you don’t cry, you may not have a soul.

We saw Normandy, and the place names from the U.S. that will resonate through history:  Utah Beach, Omaha Beach.

We walked among row after row of headstones at the American cemetery.  Crosses and Star of Davids.  Most with names of men who gave the ultimate sacrifice.  Some whose names are known only to God.

And it was made all the more personal because of a chance encounter last week.  When we were headed out the door to leave on this trip, we saw our 90-year-old next-door neighbor and told him we were going to Europe and would visit Normandy.

“I’ve never been to Normandy,” he said, “but I was flying over it on D-Day, trying to take out a German gun placement.”  We can’t wait to show August the photos of the beaches and,  yes, the craters that remain from the bombs that fell on that day.

Heroes all – and they even live next door.

I’ll have much more to post in the next few days, but I did want to put up at least two photos of the day before I head to bed.

So, the headstones from the American cemetery above.  Omaha beach below.  All to remember the ultimate sacrifice.

More to come…


Omaha Beach, Normandy

Island Hopping

Belle-Ile, France Citadel DetailThe past two days we’ve visited two islands on our tour of European Coastal Civilizations:  the beautiful Belle-Ile in France and the equally intriguing British island of Guernsey.

In the spirit of “quick posts” from the field, I’ll include three pictures, with “more to come” after our return home over the weekend.

The first two are of Belle-Ile:  a detail from the very impressive Citadel restoration and a view of the town.

The final one shows a German gun placement on a Napoleonic ruin along the rugged Guernsey coast.

Our tours were very different in style and topic, with Belle-Ile focused on the beauty of the island and its coastline.  In Guernsey we toured sites of the German occupation of WWII, in anticipation of today’s visit to the beaches at Normandy.

This will probably be the last post from the trip until we return home, so thanks for checking in and look forward to one or two more extensive follow-up posts…with many more pictures…in the coming days.

More to come…


Belle-Ile, France

Guernsey Coastal Defenses