Alexandria, VA 
I spent a few days in Alexandria and Washington this past week. My wife and I managed to get a few days away without the kids. Since we had both already seen most of the major DC sites, including Mt. Vernon, we took our bikes and biked along the Mt. Vernon Trail which runs along the Potomac on the VA side; running from Teddy Roosevelt Island to Mt. Vernon. We did not do the entire trail as it's 18 miles long and Alexandria is near the middle; so we biked a few miles north one day, past Reagan National, and then several miles south the next.

We did an Alexandria Ghost Tour which was excellent. I don't believe in ghosts but those types of tours are always entertaining and give you a good history of the area. Alexandria is a quaint town with some good restaurants along King St. If you're ever there, I highly recommend Cafe Salsa for some Cuban and Puerto Rican type fare.

We did go into DC for an afternoon and then went to the Nationals game at night. Since I had last been to DC, the WWII Memorial had been built so we got to see that and, since it's so close, we walked over to the Lincoln Memorial, which is my favorite of the DC memorials. I took some photos and I will probably post some on the Web once I get to it.

We did very little driving once there. We took the hotel's shuttle to King St. one night and then walked back to the hotel. For our trip into DC, we did the Metro (took a taxi back from station to hotel at night), which as you know if you've ever been on it, is very well run and very convenient to use. A one-day rail pass is only $7.80 too so it's economical as well as eco-friendly.

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America on Wheels 
A friend of mine from Pittsburgh was passing through town and wanted to got to the America on Wheels museum so we ventured into Allentown to check it out yesterday. The museum features cars, bicycles, motorcycles, trucks (heavy on Mack, as expected), and even has some odd stuff like a bar-stool racer, a Segway, and a lawn-tractor racer. The muscle car exhibit on the second floor was impressive with some beautiful and rare cars. As expected, there is an historical overtone that helps one understand and follow the progression of wheeled-transport in America over the past 120 years or so. I didn't know that early in the 20th century, there were quite a lot of electric car manufacturers but the museum credits (blames?) Henry Ford for doing away with those by making affordable and reliable automobiles running on cheap and plentiful gasoline. The museum also has some futuristic themes as to what we may be using as fuel in 20 or 30 years with, perhaps, Air Products leading the way as a major hydrogen producer. At $7 admission for adults, it's less than a movie and much better for your brain.

After the museum, I thought a trip to Willy Joe's at 15th and Liberty would be in order. They were closed, again. What's with them being closed on Sundays and, like last year, the Saturday during Memorial Day weekend? Bah. We opted for the Yocco's on Catasauqua Road since it was on the way home. Great dogs, just as good as Liberty St. or Hamilton Blvd.

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32W 
For the first time since around 1990, I actually bought a pair of pants (shorts, actually) with a 32" waist. I fit into them. I also bought two medium shirts, too. Many of my clothes are now too big for me. I guess losing 22 pounds will do that to you.

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Hold the Line 
This morning I tipped the scales at 20 pounds less than I was on January 3rd. I might actually hit -21 or -22 this morning yet because I don't eat breakfast; except for one or two days a month or when I'm away on vacation, breakfast is coffee only. Dinner between 6 and 7 and then nothing until after 11 the next morning is the norm for me and has been the norm for about 20 years. I've really been holding steady at about -16 to -18 for the past month but the past week I've picked it up and really watched my diet and kept up the amount of exercise I've been doing. Now, I have to hold onto my losses. I've been pretty good about exercising and getting in either a 1.5 to 2 mile walk or a 5-8 mile bike ride in five days a week. Dietetically, I haven't really changed too much. I think if I cut down the number of calories I consume and imbibe I could hold down the losses easier. Speaking of imbibe, I drink coffee (morning), water (throughout the day), juice (one glass), and beer (2 a day, night only). I stay away from soda. Soda is nothing more than easy weight gain in a can or bottle. Yes, beer is too but beer tastes better and might actually be better for you than soda in some regards. I think a lot of people only focus on what they eat and not what they drink when it comes to watching diet. What you drink, or don't, is just as important.

So, I need to keep on keeping on and see if I can knock another five pounds down. If I make -25 that would put me at a weight I haven't seen since around 1990.

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10.9 
Santa stuffed a little bicycle odometer/speedometer thingy (called a 'cycle computer' on the packaging) in my stocking a few weeks ago so now I am able to measure more accurately the distances I cover when biking. Since I was born with flat feet and I can't run very well (even in high school the smokers would beat me in the mile. I could barely do it in under 10 minutes then), so biking is how I exercise.

It turns out my standard route is 10.9 km, or about 6.5 miles, round trip. I had estimated about 5-6 miles going by the mile posts on the path and then adding in the route to the path that runs along the river and is only about a 1/2 km from my house. The terrain locally is fraught with hills and it's uphill to my house so it's a hard 10.9 too and it's steep enough that I have to walk some of it on the return trip home. Some parts of my usual ride are difficult to maintain a 20 kph speed.

Anyway, the device is called a 'cycle computer' because it also tracks your speed, distance, average speed, calories burned, tells the temperature, and a few other things. On my last ten-point niner, the computer said I burned 355 calories which doesn't seem like a lot. I think taking the terrain into account, I can add at least 75 to that. Still, though, 430 calories is only a few beers or a hot dog. I know you burn calories throughout the day doing the daily things one does and little things can help. One thing I never do is take the elevator. Four floors or less, I walk it, unless it's a situation where the elevator is the only option, or I have the kids and strollers and such with me.

In the warmer months, I try to bike at least three times a week. In the winter and early spring, I have to sneak in a ride when weather permits. Exercise is important. More Americans should do it.

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