So That’s What A Book Looks Like

While the sale of e-books continues to skyrocket, traditional bookstores continue to fight for customers attention.
While the sale of e-books continues to skyrocket, traditional bookstores continue to fight for customers attention.
The Second Story Books store at Dupont Circle has become somewhat of a rare books landmark in the neighborhood.
The Second Story Books store at Dupont Circle has become somewhat of a rare books landmark in the neighborhood.
At Second Story Books carts full of books are placed outside the store for customer to purchase under an apparent honor system.
At Second Story Books carts full of books are placed outside the store for customer to purchase under an apparent honor system.
The eclectic bookstore offerings and old-fashioned displays add significant character to the Dupont Circle neighborhood.
The eclectic bookstore offerings and old-fashioned displays add significant character to the Dupont Circle neighborhood.
While traditional books continue to appeal to an older generation, today's youth is not so taken with nostalgia.
While traditional books continue to appeal to an older generation, today’s youth is not so taken with nostalgia.

I’m always fascinated by bookstores.  Never mind that long ago I made the transition to e-readers, though, because no matter this surrender to the modern era, I still can’t resist the lingering nostalgia that comes from having been part of the pre-Internet generation.  Not that my memory of simpler times leads to any sale during my visits (carrying a camera all day seems enough for me these days), but rather that in the process of transitioning to the digital age, all sorts of things were admittedly lost in the process.  The physical sensation that comes from walking between rows and rows of books, the orderly lack of uniformity and topics on the shelves, and the childish satisfaction that accompanied the process of purchasing a book.  All great things, but perhaps more relevant to an era when physical access to a whole slew of bookstores was more the norm rather than an exception.  Notwithstanding this reality, bookstores out there are not giving up without a fight and seem to have figured something out by concentrating in neighborhoods that do away with the need for anyone to get into a car to reach them.  This is good news.  But is this a last stand or the wave of the future?  Hard to say.  What I know is that bookstores are still out there, and that just in case, we must all enjoy them while we can.

Off The Beaten Path: The Jones Point Lighthouse

The historical Jones Point Lighthouse in Alexandria, VA sits regally along the shores of the Potomac River.
The historical Jones Point Lighthouse in Alexandria, VA sits regally along the shores of the Potomac River.

 

Hardly ever visited by tourists, the old lighthouse also marks one of the 1792 survey points for the boundaries of the nation's capital.
Hardly ever visited by tourists, the old lighthouse also marks one of the 1792 survey points for the boundaries of the nation’s capital.
One of the few riverine lighthouses along the Potomac River, the lighthouse was in operation for 70 years from 1856 to 1926.
One of the few riverine lighthouses along the Potomac River, the lighthouse was in operation for 70 years from 1856 to 1926.
Once used for target practice by the Army during WWII, the lighthouse and adjacent grounds were fully restored during the early 1960s.
Once used for target practice by the Army during WWII, the lighthouse and adjacent grounds were fully restored during the early 1960s.

Here’s one place that most likely very few of you (if any) has ever visited: the Jones Point Lighthouse in Alexandria, Virginia.  Don’t blame you, though, because admittedly, I recently discovered the place myself.  Well, discovered in the sense that someone else led me there during this year’s Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photowalk (read rainy, cold day).  Not having had much time that day to photograph the place, I decided that I would come back to this somewhat isolated spot along the Potomac River when I didn’t have to fight a multitude of photographers for position, or the weather for that matter.  But once I set out to find the place, I began to realize why the lighthouse is somewhat of a desolate, albeit beautiful, place.  The lighthouse is just not easy to find, let alone bump into, even when millions of people drive by it everyday as they cross the Woodrow Wilson Bridge linking Virginia to Maryland.  Getting there, though, is half the fun, specially during the fall season when the park seems to be celebrating a festival of colors, with reds, orange, and yellow leaves shinning bright against the deep blue sky of autumn.  Considering that downtown Washington, DC lies only a few miles away, you would think that the Jones Point park and lighthouse would be on people’s radars when visiting the area, but the opposite seems to be true.  Quiet, isolated, and only reachable by foot, it sits majestically and alone by the water’s edge, with its occasional visitors enjoying the zen-like experience the place seems to induce.