TAIL OF THE DRAGON - WASHINGTON DC 2008
Touring Highlights

Nancy and Ron had a Tail of the Dragon Information Booth at the 2008 Washington DC Motorcycle Show January 11-13, 2008 . As usual we met a lot of TOD friends and made some new ones.

We always enjoy the Washington Show because we get to see some of the National Treasures on each trip. We arrived on Tuesday afternoon and checked into our room at the Renaissance Washington Hotel. After checking out the pool and gym we headed out to find a place for dinner.

Being only a block from Chinatown we wandered that way and decided to try Tony Cheng’s Mongolian Restaurant. Last year we had a great lunch at Tony Cheng’s Seafood Restaurant which is located upstairs. There is no menu at the Mongolian. You go up to the buffet, assemble your barbeque veggies, choose your meats and sauces, and then watch as the cook tosses it on the large grill for a minute or two. Back at the table there are bowls of peanuts and rice, a cabbage salad, rolls, and hot tea. You can return to the trough as much as you want, but once was enough for Nancy and I.

Back at the hotel Nancy was somehow able to get on a treadmill. All I could muster was a 15 minute float in the pool and a long steam bath.

We were up bright and early Wednesday for a bagel breakfast. Nancy went for her annual Lincoln Memorial run while I took a brisk walk down to the Whitehouse. I found the marker that all United States roads are measured from. It is located directly in front of the Whitehouse on the south side.

We met back at the hotel and walked the three blocks to the Metro. We purchased all day passes for $7 each and left the car in the parking lot. If you stay downtown you can see most of the highlights by either walking or taking the Metro. We found the subway clean, efficient, fast and safe. Trains run every 10 minutes or so and it is fairly easy to figure out the crisscross routes that go to different areas of DC and Virginia.

We took the Red Line out to Dupont Circle and walked Embassy Row. Here you’ll see flags from all over the world and the varied architecture. As we walked along Massachusetts Avenue the air was suddenly filled with sirens as a half dozen motorcycles with sidecars cleared the way for a motorcade of black SUVs. They all stopped in front of the Turkish Embassy and we recalled that the Turkish President was in town.

A little farther down Massachusetts was the Naval Observatory where the Vice President’s house is located high atop one of the rolling hills. You can set your watch by the U.S.N.O. Master Clock Time in front of the main entrance.

From here you can see the spires of the National Cathedral looming on the horizon. Officially know as the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul it is the world’s sixth largest cathedral. As we entered one side of the clerestory was illuminated in bright colors as sunlight shown through the stained glass windows some 40 feet above. We took the grand tour which leads visitors through the massive structure and its many chapels. After the tour we attended a 30 minute exhibition of the pipe organ which is made-up of 10,600 pipes. We then took the elevator to the top floor of the front towers for a magnificent view of Washington and its environs.

Walking back to the Metro at the Woodley Zoo Station we returned to downtown DC for lunch at one of our favorite spots, the Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries. Here you get a freshly made double burger with fresh toppings of your choice and a huge serving of French fries (hint, only order one regular fries for two people). This place is packed most of the day and especially 11 to 2.

Sated we got back on the Metro and headed for Arlington National Cemetery . Waiting at the station we were treated to a trio singing some classic Motown for tips.

Some 300,000 servicemen and their families are buried at Arlington . The property once belonged to Confederate General Robert E. Lee. During the Civil War the Union confiscated it and buried some 16,000 Civil War soldiers there. President John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert and Pierre L’Enfant designer of Washington are buried here. The most moving part of the cemetery is the sentinel for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Considered one of the highest honors in the military, the guard marches the mat with such precision as to appear robotic. Summers the guards rotate at 30 minute intervals, winter at one hour intervals and at night in two hour intervals. This ceremony has gone on non-stop twenty-four hours a day year round since July 2, 1937 . The changing of the guard is symbolic and is conducted according to US Army regulations.

Walking back to the Metro we passed a statue of Richard Byrd 1888-1957 with a small bird perched atop his head. Back at the hotel Nancy informed me that according to her pedometer we had walked more than 13 miles during the day. She passed on the treadmill and I passed on the float in the pool.

We did feel better after a quick rest and shower. We hobbled half a mile to the TenPenh Restaurant at 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue . Chef de Cuisine Cliff Wharton is an avid motorcyclist and recently visited the Tail of the Dragon. This upscale restaurant features unique Asian cuisine in a far eastern setting. It was packed but we were seated without a wait. Nancy ordered the Pineapple Sambal Halibut and I chose the Crispy Fish which was a whole flounder fried to a blackened top. It was delicious right down to the crispy tail and head pickings. We didn’t have any room after cleaning our plates, but the chef sent a complementary desert of fresh Saigon Cinnamon Sugar Dusted Donuts with Dark Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding. Nancy couldn’t even resist. Wow!!!

On Thursday we were moving slow. We did manage to waddle down to the Air and Space Museum to see the Smithsonian temporary exhibit Treasures of American History. These are some of the highlights that are normally found in the National Museum of American History which is currently closed for renovation. Some of the items on display were Lincoln ’s top hat, Custer’s jacket, George Washington’s uniform, Dorothy’s slippers and the robot motorcycle. 

A display of interest to motorcyclists in the Air and Space Museum is that of Glenn Curtiss who developed an early airplane. Curtiss also was a builder of bicycles and motorcycles. In 1907 he set an unofficial world speed record of 137 mph on his 40 horsepower V-8 air cooled aircraft engine mounted on a motorcycle. One of his early motorcycles is on display here.

For lunch we tried the highly rated Potbelly Sandwich Works on 7th Street NW . Here you name your favorite sandwich and it is prepared fresh and then heated. I had the roast beef on whole wheat and a cup of corn chowder. Nancy opted for the chicken salad salad. Everything was excellent ….. but the Potbelly has now spoiled our opinion of Subway.

We took the afternoon off and then had dinner at Ella's Wood Fired Pizza. It was crowded and noisy, but the pizza was worth the distractions. We ate here in 2007 and enjoyed it so we returned once again. As a matter of fact we ate here twice in 2008.

Friday we felt revived. We set-up the booth at the Convention Center and then walked down to the Mall. We returned to the Freer Museum just to see Whistler’s Peacock Room one more time. This room was designed and painted by James McNeill Whistler for a wealthy English shipowner in 1877. At completion there was an argument over payment. The artist then added subtle paintings that had hidden meanings concerning the dispute. The room was purchased by Charles Freer in 1904 and transported to Washington in 1919. It is truly a unique work of art.

The next stop was the National Gallery of Art. Nancy and I are not exactly art aficionados, but seeing these works by masters of the past centuries up close is really something special. Here there are works by American painters such as Remington, Whistler, Sargent, and Homer; and other such as Matisse, Picasso, El Greco, Goya, Manet, Pissarro, Monet, Degas, Cezanne, da Vinci, Raphael, van Eyck, Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh. We also got to see the temporary exhibition of Edward Hopper, American artist 1882-1967. We also found a couple of early Dragon Slayer paintings from the 1500s. SEE PHOTOS

It was nearing 4 pm so we walked over to the Convention Center and spent the rest of the day at the motorcycle show.

Over the weekend we explored the motorcycle show and saw many old friends. Doug Snavely who pioneered the early days at the Gap showed up and we spent several hours reminiscing about the “good old days” when he’d get shot at and arrested. He still rides Cyborg, a 1976 Goldwing which has parts from some 19 different motorcycle models on it. It is also the cycle that “took a bullet” back in 1992.

We met Lee Parks, owner and lead instructor for Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic. He is the author of the book Total Control which helped Nancy and I learn some tricks on two wheels.

We saw Aaron Stevenson of Cornerspeed for the first time in years. Nancy and I had some of our best trackdays at VIR with Aaron and his professional instruction. We highly recommend Cornerspeed School and the various track layouts available at VIR. Aaron has also opened dirt track training called Cornerspin School .

We got to meet the young men who thrill audiences with their daring Ball of Steel Show. These guys work really hard and risk their bodies in every show.

Some of the interesting exhibits included numerous motorcycles from the past , new models for 2008, and a lot of customs. Venders were selling just about anything you might be looking for.

WHAT WE SAW IN 2007

The White House, The Capital, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, the Old Post Office, Union Station, National Art Gallery, Chinatown, and the National Archives. And at the Smithsonian - Air and Space Museum, Arboretum, and Freer Gallery.


DC Sidecar Police. They are parked in front of the Turkish Embassy after escorting a motorcade with the Turkish President.

The National Cathedral

Inside the National Cathedral looking at the Rose Window. Note the light from the side windows showing on wall at right.

Changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery.

Fabulous dinner at TenPenh

Early Dragon Slayers. This painting is circa 1506 by Raphael.
Saint George and the Dragon

Another early Dragon Slayer.
Saint George and the Dragon 1518 by Sodoma
Note the detail at right.

Detail of 1518 Sodoma painting Saint George and the Dragon.
Note horse biting dragon's leg and scattered body parts.

Whistler's Peacock Room

This Van Gogh was phenominal in person.

A robot motorcyle from 2004. On display at the Air and Space Museum.

Just a few of the many buildings along Embassy Row..

One of Curtiss' early motorcycles. And below some of his medals.

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