Grace on Pace

Tag - Washington DC

Washington DC Blizzard 2016

Washington DC Blizzard 2016

After watching a day and half of the Washington DC Blizzard 2016 demolition derby from our window, we emerged this morning from the shelter of our apartment to check out the full wrath of #DavidSnowie.  While the jury’s still out on the name, this truly could be the Blizzard of the Century.  More than 60 million people were under blizzard conditions with incredibly snowfall totals as follows:

  • Washington, D.C.: 17.8 inches
  • Baltimore: 29.2​ inches
  • Philadelphia: 22.4 inches
  • New York City: 26.8​ inches

Although public transportation was completely shut down during Washington DC Blizzard 2016’s storm and Dulles and Reagan National were closed all weekend, the storm still only ties for fourth all time.  Apparently in 1922, DC received 28″ of snow on January 27-29.  However, for three cities — Baltimore (29.2), Allentown (31.9) and Harrisburg, Pa. (34) — it was the biggest snowstorm ever recorded.

The sun is shining and the snow is over, but the cleanup has just begun.  Metro says it will operate extremely limited FREE rail and bus service Monday , so a sledding trip may be in order to Capital Hill for Esmei.


2015 Joint Base Andrews Airshow

2015 Joint Base Andrews Air Show

2015 Joint Base Andrews Airshow – Prince George’s County, Maryland

This weekend, we ventured out to Joint Base Andrews widely known for serving as the home base for Air Force One, to attend the 2015 Joint Base Andrews Airshow featuring some of the best aircraft and pilots in the world.  Along with some awesome aerial demonstrations, the field had static displays where you could enter the aircraft as well.

The 2015 Joint Base Andrews Air Show is the conclusion of week long activities in the Capital Region, to include the Air Force’s Birthday Week festival.  The F-35A, the U.S. Air Force’s latest fifth-generation fighter, was the most impressive aircraft on display.  During the show, the aircraft was able to float backwards under full control.  The aircraft will replace the U.S. Air Force’s fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt II’s, which have been the main combatant aircraft for 20 years.

It was my first airshow and it definitely exceeded my expectations.  The action was basically non-stop the entire afternoon and the announcers and background music generated quite the powerful scene. Almost as impressive was the organization of the crowd and transportation set up to bring the thousands of spectators to the event from the Branch Avenue and RFK parking lots. All in all it was a great way to spend the day and our only regret was not having enough time to thoroughly visit the numerous static displays and booths peppered around the viewing areas.

American Parkour Beast Coast Jam 2015

American Parkour Beast Coast Jam

American Parkour Beast Coast Jam

Gateway Park

1300 Lee Highway
Friday – Monday 5/22 – 5/25

The annual American Parkour Beast Coast Jam gathering of top parkour athletes from all over the world took place this weekend in gateway Park and other locations in the D.C. region.  The “jam” featured breakout sessions, informative seminars, and some incredibly talented athletes.  The main event featured American Parkour’s speed course, where 75 of the fastest people from around the world came to compete for the chance at winning over $2,500 in cash and prizes.

In between the scheduled events, the athletes free styled on a pop-up parkour park including bars, boxes, and fun walls.  After jamming from sunrise to sundown, the Beast Coast film festival was hosted, where videos from individuals, teams, and groups from around the world were showcased.  Attending and featured on the big screen where parkour legends Brandon Douglas, Collin Cooper, Jake Smith, Omar Zaki, Sam Blattner, Travis Graves, Yoann Leroux, Crazy Russians, and Dylan Baker.

We were lucky to stumble onto this experience and were so drawn by the live DJs, huge professionally-built obstacle set-up, community BBQ, parkour film festival, and explosive energy, we simply had to go grab our lawn chairs and make a day of it.

Foreign Service Construction Engineer Appointment Offer

Foreign Service Construction Engineer Appointment Offer
Foreign Service Appointment – Construction Engineer Position

I am officially in!

Yesterday, I received an official employment appointment e-mail and have decided to join the Foreign Service.  The training class will start on Monday, January 26th, followed by my initial post in Washington D.C.:

The Registrar’s Office is pleased to extend an appointment offer for the January 26th, 2015 – Foreign Service Specialist Orientation Class for Construction Engineers (Con Eng).

A little background of what I will be doing…

A Foreign Service Construction Engineer (FSCE) is an engineer or architect, in the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations working specifically in the Office of Construction Management, responsible for managing Department of State construction projects overseas. The FSCE is a member of a U.S. Government team that ensures construction is professionally performed according to applicable plans, specifications, schedules, and standards. The FSCE must adhere to the highest standards of integrity, dependability, attention to detail, teamwork and cooperation while accepting the need to travel, to live overseas, and when necessary, to live away from family.

While extremely excited about the opportunity, there’s no doubt, it has been a tough decision. I can’t help having regrets about leaving my family, company, and community. I have lived here my whole life. My parents have lived here their whole lives and even my grandparents lived here their whole lives. I absolutely love Vermont and will always consider it my home. I love my friends, job, kids I coach, hunting, fishing, playing softball, and most of all my family. In the end, it came down to pursuing a dream. I truly believe, serving in the US Department of State will be rewarding career opportunity. It will allow Jennilou to pursue her degree choice at URI in International development while allowing Esmei to grow up with a world view that a child would not acquire in the United States.

For those interested in the journey, here is a timeline from the day I originally applied to the position:

  • April 30th, 2014: Foreign Service Construction Engineer: Accepting applications.
  • May 27th, 2014: Submitted my application online
  • May 28th, 2014: Vacancy Announcement Closed
  • June 11th, 2014: Foreign Service Construction Engineer: Accepting applications Again.
  • July 9th, 2014: Vacancy Announcement Closed
  • July 15th, 2014: Invited for Oral Assessment on August 18th, 2014 @ 9:00am
  • August 18th, 2014: Passed Oral Assessment with Score of 6.0 out of 7.0 (5.15 Passing)
  • August 21st, 2014: Submitted My Security Clearance Documentation
  • September 3rd, 2014: Submitted My Medical Clearance Documentation (Waiting for Jennilou to Heal and Baby to Grow Before Submitting Theirs)
  • September 17th, 2014: Received Worldwide Medical Clearance
  • September 19th, 2014: Contacted by a Security Investigator
  • September 21st, 2014: Interviewed by Security Investigator
  • November 4th, 2014: My Neighbor Called To Say He Was Interviewed by a Security Investigator (Last One of the 12 People That I Know Of)
  • November 10th, 2014: Received e-mail Indicating I have been granted a Favorable Suitability Clearance for the Foreign Service Register
  • November 10th, 2014: Received followup e-mail Indicating I am Placed #4 of 6 on the Foreign Service Register for Construction Engineers
  • November 26th, 2014: Foreign Service Construction Engineer: Accepting applications Again.
  • December 2th, 2014: Foreign Service Construction Engineer Appointment Offer

There is a lot to wrap my head around now that it is finally official.  All I can think about are the things that need to be done before we leave…

  • Train a replacement at my current job
  • Sell the house (Listing if you know someone interested)
  • Buy Suits
  • Neuter Timber
  • Decide whether to Keep / Store / Sell our stuff
  • Find A Place to Live in Washington D.C.
  • Be a good Husband / Father

However, before we leave, all I want to do is spend as much time with my family and friends as possible.  Maybe we need to organize another barn party!

Capture 4

Our 10 Favorite Cities Around the World

Our 10 Favorite Cities Around the World

Our 10 Favorite Cities Around the World

Cities have never been our preferred places to visit or spend tons of time, but in retrospect, certain cities we would love to go back to all over again.  Urbanites across the globe agree on a few things about their built environment, they want great architecture, food, activities, parks, open space, and transportation.  We may be in the “century of the city”, but the most integral factor, which is included in all of the points above, is clearly a city’s people.  They will ultimately set the tone for when you explore our top ten favorite cities below…

Our 10 Favorite Cities

Favorite Cities #10 – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Nestled into a valley of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai can be a sanctuary, where many stay much longer than they had anticipated. The city is laid-back and international but the landscapes and temples celebrate a traditional culture ideal for travelers, hipsters, nature lovers, and city connoisseurs.

Favorite Cities #9 – Cape Town, South Africa

Surf the Atlantic, climb mountains, indulge in wine tours and still find time to relax on the beach (with or without penguins).  Cape Town continues to reinvent itself as one of the most livable cities in the world.

Favorite Cities #8 – Bangkok, Thailand

Shiny Buddhist temples next to slick skyscrapers where long-tail boats race the automobile. The sweet and spicy food—served on the street or from the top of high-rise towers—Bangkok is addicting, affordable, and delicious.

Favorite Cities #7 – Mandalay, Myanmar

Mandalay is the economic center of northern Myanmar and considered the center of Burmese culture.  We feel lucky to have visited Myanmar in 2014 before it has rocketed to the top of must-go-now lists everywhere as travelers try to get in before the country is overrun with development.  A metropolis of Buddhism, we have not found a friendlier city in our travelers.

Favorite Cities #6 – Athens, Greece

Worshiped by gods, Athens is a city with the most magical history in the world.  A city where democracy was born and you can stroll through one of the most famous archaeological monuments in the world.

Favorite Cities #5 – Hanoi, Vietnam

The 1,000-year-old capital, considered one of the most affordable cities to visit is one of the best values for your money.  A low-rise city of lakes, peaceful parks, and outstanding cuisine, the city is a pleasant experience of exploring an often understood culture.  A cruise through nearby Halong Bay will be unforgettable.

Favorite Cities #4 – Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

One the “happiest” cities in the world, famous for its Carnival festival, Rio’s gorgeous natural surroundings lend themselves to endless outdoor activities.  Even away from the samba and the soccer, Rio’s parks, beaches, gardens, and cultural sites kept everyday exiting and pleasant.

Favorite Cities #3  – Beijing, China

Rich in history, both ancient and modern, Beijing is home to an assortment of premier sites, most famously the Great Wall of China. Must sees, also include the Forbidden City, the largest ancient imperial palace complex in the world; the Temple of Heaven, an awesome site of imperial worship; and the Summer Palace, a lovely imperial garden.  There is also Tian’anmen Square where the People’s Republic of China was inaugurated by Chairman Mao and sure to be the site of many future events as China takes its next steps as a World power.

Favorite Cities #2  – Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul is a vibrant city, straddling Europe and Asia as well as Christianity and Islam for thousands of years. The reality is that it’s very easy to travel, locals don’t try to hassle you or rip you off.  The city is beautiful, cheap, and full of life, cool bars, delicious food, and great sites.  Most of all, its and great place to witness where east meets west and get to know someone from a different background.

Favorite Cities #1 – Washington DC, USA

The Smithsonian doesn’t rob you of 24 bucks to experience history.  It’s centrally located to a bunch of great places: Philadelphia, New York, Ocean City, Richmond, Baltimore and you can drive an hour one way and reach the mountains, an hour another way to the beach, and an hour yet another way to the farmlands and country roads of Maryland.  Again, I may be a little bias here, but based on livability, sprawl, green space, natural assets, cultural assets, connectivity, isolation, and pollution, it tops the list in the US and is on par with any city world wide.