Spend August Washington DC or Somewhere Else?

Would you like to spend August in the soaring temperatures of Washington DC and its environs? It gets miserably hot and humid in DC during the summer and especially in August. I often see overweight tourists sitting in the sun like so many dumplings and turning pink. Not a pretty sight. So, take my word for it, you don’t want to be here.

Desperately hot tourists in Washington, DC in August find in the wading pool at the World War Two memorial on the mall in DC.

This is against the rules but World War Two was a war to preserve individual liberty and I don’t think the tourists are being disrespectful although the Park Service thinks they are. (You can wade in the reflecting pools between the Lincoln Memorial and the World War Two Memorial).

I’ve interviewed dozens of World War Two veterans and I don’t think they would see this as disrespectful—especially those who served in the North African campaign. They would see it for what it is: the living enjoying the liberty these men died to preserve as well as connecting the living to the dead in the cycle of life.

(Photo by BeyondDC on Flickr)


Or, would you rather spend August at Lake Garda in Northern Italy shown below?


This magnificent hotel is on Lake Garda in Riva del Garda in Northern Italy. Cool and salubrious breezes would stimulate the creativity of any writer. Someone make reservations for me here, please.

(photos courtesy getawaytravelservice)

I saw these photos on the Weather Channel and decided it would be far preferable to be in one of these places than stuck in DC like I am.


california coast

Along California’s central coast, the Santa Lucia Mountains rise in steep cliffs along the ocean, creating a closer-to-home version of a sun-soaked Grecian paradise. McWay Fall is a gorgeous hideaway. (Flickr/Don Graham) Courtesy of the Weather Channel.

Alaska's Denali National Park

If trying to climb glorious, ice-capped peaks is your thing, check out Alaska’s Denali National Park. Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America, is the park’s centerpiece. At less than 10,000 feet shorter than Everest, it might be a good (closer) place to start. (Flickr/NPS/Jacob W. Frank) Courtesy of the Weather Channel.


No need to try to compare Hawaii’s most gorgeous and least-developed island, Kauai, with anywhere else in the world. You may recognize the lush, mountainous landscape as a backdrop for Jurassic Park. America’s own paradise may require hopping on a plane to get there, but the stunning scenery is well worth the ticket price. (Flickr/Paul Bica) Courtesy of the Weather Channel.

Because one of the many ways I make a living is as a historian, I will add that Washington DC is so hot that in the era before air-conditioning, British diplomats received hardship pay as they would have in other very hot countries. People have heard of this and have asked me from time to time if this is true. Yes, it is.


Playa Flamenco in Culebra Island

Playa Flamenco in Culebra Island in Puerto Rico. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Flickr/Diueine) Courtesy of the Weather Channel.

Mount Rainier

 Mount Rainier in Washington state. The ice-capped berg west of Seattle may look like a gentle giant, but it is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. (Photo: Jupiterimages/Thinkstock) Courtesy of the Weather Channel.


author Charles McCain pointing out how high the drifts are two blocks away. Crystal Drive, Arlington, VA.  winter 2016.


Charles McCain is a financial writer, speaker, independent journalist, voice-over narrator, and published novelist. As an 8th generation South Carolinian he often writes about his native region and his Southern Gothic youth.

His first novel, An Honorable German, was published in 2009 by Grand Central Publishing/Little Brown, Ltd./Hachette Book Group. An Honorable German is a World War Two naval epic uniquely told from the point of view of a heroic yet deeply conflicted German naval officer and U-Boat commander in the only such novel ever written. (No one else was foolish enough to spend years doing the research).

You can buy various editions of the book here:



Collision Course with a Hurricane: How Doomed US Ship Met its End


SS El Faro

from Marine Link webzine:
“The ill-fated U.S.-flagged El Faro cargo ship sunk by Hurricane Joaquin was sailing at near full speed into the center of the storm before it lost propulsion amid mountainous waves and brutal winds, according to ship tracking data.

The data on Thomson Reuters Eikon raises questions about the ship owner’s assertion that the vessel’s captain had chosen a “sound plan” to pass around Joaquin “with a margin of comfort” but was then thwarted by engineering problems. It shows that even before the ship lost power it was in stormy waters that many mariners interviewed said they would never have entered.

After reviewing the data, Klaus Luhta, a former ship’s officer and chief of staff at the International Organization of Masters, Mates, and Pilots, went silent for a moment as he contemplated what has been called the worst cargo shipping disaster involving a U.S.-flagged vessel in more than 30 years.

“I don’t know what he was thinking – I can’t even speculate,” said Luhta in a telephone interview. “He headed right into the track.”

You can read the rest of the story by clicking here:


German Army Elite Long Distance Special Surveillance and Reconnaissance Commandos


The New Motto of the German Armed Forces:

“Let the Americans Do It”


The Elite German Army Fernspählehrkompanie 200 or FSLK200, their long range Special Surveillance and Reconnaissance unit, is being disbanded in 2014.


Jump training in Memphis

A soldier of the elite long-distance Fernspählehrkompanie 200 from exercises in Memphis, TN, USA. Pictured: A Fernspäher in free fall with scale navigation equipment.
© Bundeswehr

Unfortunately, this elite special forces unit is being disbanded by the German Government and the men will be absorbed into other units. Like most countries in Western Europe, the Germans have been unilaterally disarming since they know the USA will defend them if they need defending.

Maybe they Germans should look a map and see how close they are to Russia. They have a lot of experience fighting the Russians and they know it isn’t easy. So with Russia in turmoil what is the German Army doing? Shrinking itself to the size of the police force of Cleveland or some other mid-sized American city.

It is a terrible policy. Besides, I think most American voters would tell the Germans to bulk up their military and be prepared to defend themselves. We’re sick of paying taxes for American armed forces to protect the Germans.



Jump training in Memphis

A soldier of the Fernspählehrkompanie 200 from Pfullendorf exercises the vertical movement in Memphis / USA.
© Bundeswehr




Troopers from the elite special forces unit of Fernspählehrkompanie 200 or  FSLK200 (translates as: Special Surveillance and Reconnaissance Instruction Company 200) on practice jump outside of Memphis, TN.

Members of the German armed forces often train in the US because the air space in Europe is so crowded and the population density is so high. Finding places to practice jumping without disrupting air traffic or dropping onto buildings is impossible so they do it here.
The training base for the entire German Luftwaffe is located at the American Holloman Air Force base in New Mexico.


A Luftwaffe (German Air Force), Panavia Tornado IDS aircraft (s/n 43+13) from the “German Air Force Flying Training Center (GAF/FTC)” at Holloman AFB, New Mexico (USA), heads to the fight after refueling during Red Flag 07-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada (USA), on 31 August 2007. Red Flag tests aircrew’s war-fighting skills in realistic combat situations. (Official US Air Force photograph by Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald)

You Have To Be Out of Your Mind to Do This


Victoria Falls

 it’s a long way down and crocodiles meet you at the bottom


vic falls

Victoria Falls, located at the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, is the largest waterfall in the world and is known for ‘Devil’s Pool,’ a naturally formed pool of water on the edge of the falls. During dry season, the waterfall’s flow of water is lower and a natural rock barrier comes close enough to the surface. (Wikimedia Commons/Ian Restall. Released into the public domain by the author.

courtesy of the Weather Channel’s  photo slide show: “Why Would You Do This?”




Victoria Falls from the front

photo courtesy     www.places.co.za/html/victoria-falls.html


“While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is classified as the largest, based on its width of 1,708 metres (5,604 ft) and height of 108 metres (354 ft) resulting in the world’s largest sheet of falling water. Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls.” 


source: World Digital Library/US Library of Congress:



Copy of Charlie McCain Victoria Falls 1976 cropped

Your man in Africa, Charles McCain, with Victoria Falls in the background, 1976.

(author’s collection)

I remember the day I visited Victoria Falls. You could hear the falls from more than a mile. Walking along a grass trail to the falls, spray from the falling water fell on us as if it were raining. That is the reason I am wet in the photo above. And I was really wet.

This is trite to day but Vic Falls reminds one of the power of nature. It is such a beautiulf, majestic, and dangerous place that I can’t imagine why anyone in their right mind would swim on the lip of the falls. If you went over, you would die. And if you managed to survive for a few minutes, you would be eaten by crocodiles.

If I want to be a daredevil on a vacation, I will ride a roller-coaster.



Victoria Falls circa 1900.

Photo courtesy of the Frank and Frances Carpenter Collection at the Library of Congress.