Eagles and Boomerangs

The day started with the trill of a red wing black bird in Dyke Marsh only 3 miles from home. Ten miles later on the Trollheim boardwalk beneath the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge I spotted a great blue heron only a few feet from the trail on the river’s edge.

The ride home I played pin ball with Canada geese. I didn’t hit any. The temperature was in the low 70s. I looked longingly at the trees across the river. A few cherry trees were in bloom but most were still waiting for a burst of warm weather. They’ have to wait a few more days. We all have our fingers crossed that a blast of cold air will not ruin this year’s peak blossom now scheduled for March 19.

On the way home I stopped to take a picture of Little Nellie in the twilight. Big Ed came rolling along. He just came back from Florida. He had the good taste not to have a deep brown tan. Otherwise I might have had to push him into the river. Earlier a schoolkid had tried to hit him with a boomerang as Ed rode past the Washington Monument. He missed (after Ed threatened him. Did I mention that Ed was big?) The rider behind Ed had to swerve into traffic an nearly got hit by Crocodile Dundee. Poor kid. He doesn’t know that Ed’s HD camera caught both attacks. The kid was wearing a school uniform and was standing next to a classmate who had a cast on his arm. Busted.

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Big Nellie at Dyke Marsh at Twilight

Ed and I parted ways. Ed rode up the big hill on Park Terrace while I stayed along the river to check out the eagle nests. As I approached the Tulane nest, I thought I saw a large mass next to the nest. It was twilight so I wasn’t sure. As I rolled under the nest I saw wings fan as an eagle descended into the nest from the left. Cool! On the right side of the nest, I saw the partner eagle standing guard. I think what I witnessed was the changing of the guard as the eagles incubate their egg(s).

Tomorrow promises a return to cold and wet weather. Little Nellie and I are taking Mrs. Rootchopper’s car to the dealer for some TLC, and a 3 1/2 mile bike commute.

Cheers.

 

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Winter’s End? – A Walk in Huntley Meadows Park

We are tantalizingly close to spring. The cherry trees in DC should be at peak bloom in less than two weeks. This weekend was cold. Cold for around these parts anyway.

I took a day of rest yestimg_7580erday. We watched basketball and lolled around the house. Today, we started filling out retirement forms. If two people with masters degrees can’t figure out the forms, something is amiss. We planned for this. We each have about ten questions for HR people. It will only take a few minutes to finish all this nonsense. Then I wait until my birthday and launch into the unknown. It’s one part scary and one part exciting.

To get my calm on before the paperwork, I went for a walk. Huntley Meadows Park is tucked away off US 1 in southeastern Fairfax County Virginia. It is little known and I hope it stays that way. (Don’t tell anyone, okay?)

It is what I as a child called “woods”. Not a forest just woods.img_7570 And there is a big swamp (they call it wetlands to make it palatable to neighbors). The swamp used to run dry from time to time, but nowadays the beavers have been allowed to dam it up and the water is high and wide. A boardwalk winds its way over the waters.

Huntley Meadows is different each time I go. This time of year the beavers were nowhere to be seen but there was a very loud hawk (or maybe a vulture) circling overhead, some mallards and coots and Canada geese floating about, and a great blue heron stalking his lunch. I startled a flock of grackles in the woods. They would launch in unison, fly 10 or 15 yards and land. Then I’d catch up to them and they’d repeat the process. I could hear the call of red wing blackbirds, one of the few bird calls I recognize from my days hanging out near Dead Man’s Pond in Albany. (If there was a dead man in it, he had decomposed. I never saw him.)

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The trail through the woods is well groomed, unpaved, and flat. I did a figure 8 which probably amounted to 2 miles total distance. It was just enough of a walk to wake me up and chill me out.

There are some more pictures over on my Flickr page. I used an old Canon EOS Rebel digital SLR. I was stunned at how much better the pictures are than the ones I take on my point and shoot camera and my phones. I will try to remember to bring this camera with me to events in the future.

Intentionally Outdoors

I have been sick on and off for the last three weeks. Nothing major, just a cold that seems to be wandering around my body disrupting things. Mostly, it makes me tired. So I thought I would use this weekend to just lie around in my jammies and rest.

I did pretty well. I watched some football, something I don’t usually do without my son’s insightful and amusing play by play. He is 12 hours away so I went solo.

Knowing I was going full coach potato during the games, I intentionally hopped on Deets yesterday for an easy bike jaunt. I decided to ride the tour of Arlington (a bike trail circuit around the county) in a counter clockwise direction. I also planned to throw in a quick ride to Hains Point in DC because it’s what #bikedc people do.

On my way past the airport I ran into Ryan, master planner of our No Wrong Plan bike tour in 2015. He was riding from Bethesda to buy a used seat post for the Frankenroadbike he is building. During our discussion he gave me the idea to switch my route to a ride up Rock Creek Park. Once I left, I reconsidered. I was already tired and a clothing experiment I was trying was not working out leaving me chilled.

So it was down to Hains Point then back across the Memorial Bridge. The city is teeming with tourists who think it’s perfectly okay to walk four and five abreast on sidewalks. I refrained from giving them a good talking to hoping they’d scurry back to Peoria in due time.

Around the foot of Arlington Memorial Cemetery where the white gravestones are still adorned with a Christmas wreath. I could tell my body was not having fun when I climbed the hill near the Netherlands Carillon. The fun lessened as I rode the hilly Custis Trail, all the while thinking, “What crackpot thought this route up?” (Er, that would be me.)

I reached the turnaround at the W&OD and its gradual downward decline toward home. I arrived at home super tired after my 40 mile rest ride and realized I had a splitting sinus headache. I went to use my sinus irrigation gizmo but it was broken. I took drugs, watched the Steelers win, and went to sleep.

Today I slept in. (The drugs were good.)  I needed to get a new sinus gizmo and a book to read since I was nearly through with The Arm. Mindful of my intention to rest, I rode to the Barnes and Noble in Potomac Yard, because that is the only bookstore anywhere near my hours. Ten miles away. On the way I noticed a stalker in Dyke Marsh. A great blue heron that was sticking around for winter.

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I bought Michael Lewis’s Flash Boys at the bookstore and turned around for home. It was surprisingly nice out, especially for mid January. (We will pay for this in a week or two.)

Just before I reached home, I stopped at a drug store and bought a neti pot. It was time to go old school. I used it when I got home and felt quite a bit better.

In two days of rest, I rode 60 miles. It was good to be outdoors again. I only work Wednesday and Thursday this week. I am hoping the weather is good for inauguration day so that I can ignore the festivities hiking somewhere. For those of you who want to save time, here’s what will happen. The big wigs assemble at the Capitol. They swear the new guy in. He makes a lame speech. There’s a parade.

Go outside. It’ll be huge.

 

 

Joyful

I don’t know what has gotten into me. Maybe it’s the contrast with feeling so depressed over the last two months. This morning when I left for work it was 26 degrees. That would have had me looking at the car with just a month ago. Now I was eager to start pedalling.

So I did.

I was a bit cold for a couple of miles. I went by the site of yesterday’s downed tree. It had been removed. but somebody’s probably without cable service as the cables were still lying on the ground.

I made it down to the river without apparent effort. It’s been a long time since I was able to ride four days in a row without feeling tired. No problem today, though.  When I arrived at the Dyke Marsh bridge the sun was rising so I had to stop for a photo and just to admire the beauty. No two sunrises are alike, I suppose. My hat’s off to the man in the sky. You paint awesome pictures.

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Once again I was in mediation mode. Miles whizzed by and I have no recollection of them. Just the cold air going in and out of my lungs, the cold breeze chilling my face.

At the troll bridge, I spotted the great blue heron again. It was perched in the low hanging branch of a tree about 15 feet from the edge of the trail. I stopped to admire it and take a picture. I feared that the squeak of my brakes and the sight of me fumbling around with the phone would scare it off, but it waited patiently. I am ready for my close-up, Mr. Rootchopper.

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My morning photography complete, I rode up the switchback to Rosslyn. The hill didn’t bother me at all. What is going on?  I never smile while climbing.

I went to turn left onto the Lynn Street sidewalk as I do every morning. A car in the nearest lane was rolling forward toward the red light. I guessed that it wasn’t going to stop. And it didn’t. If I had simply followed the law I would have been hit. Instead I yelled at the driver, who was conversing on his cell phone as he turned, oblivious to me or the pedestrains crossing from the opposite side. He looked over at me, shrugged, and drove on. Police were getting set up for traffic enforcement just a few yards up the road. Too bad they weren’t quite ready for him. A walker coming from the opposite side of the crosswalk shook his head and said, “What a jerk.”

Despite Mr. Shrug I maintained my good humor and was rewarded with an invisible cloud of donut aroma. It got stronger as I approached the entrance to my building. A donut truck was parked there, pumping donut essences into the cold air. What a perfect capstone to a bike commute. (I resisted the urge to purchase as the aroma of a donut far exceeds the eating.)

As I parked my bike, I took a drink from my water bottle. Yesterday morning, it was solid ice. Today, it took a little doing to free up the valve but I managed to get cold, cold water from it and it was better than the finest wine.

The ride home featured a headwind. Ack! The gods are messing with my commute bliss. It also featured a temperature of 54 degrees. I could ride without my clumsy overshoes. Headwind? Who cares?  This was great. And it was light out for ten of the 15 miles of my trip.

I could get used to this.

Post Traumatic Weekend Syndrome

As many of my readers know, I did two hilly metric centuries this weekend. Since my accounts and a few pictures are long and I am still pooped, I will blog about them in the days to come. For today I present what it’s like to commute on two legs of lead: not exactly expeditious! 

I left home a few minutes early to be sure to arrive at work in time for an 8:30 commitment. About a mile from home I rode up a short steep hill on my way to the Mount Vernon Trail.  Dang! My legs were dead meat. Undaunted, I continued on flat Alexandria Avenue. I spotted some kids waiting for a school bus. Their heads were dropping as they drowsily ignored each other and mourned the end of the weekend. On my recumbent I have a nice view of the sky. Just before I passed the kids, a big bald eagle came soaring right over the tops of the trees toward us. Not one of them saw it. Then, another bald eagle came right behind the first. The kids missed that one too. Kind of hard to get inspired for the start of the week if you don’t look up now and then, no?

The ride into work featured a nice cold headwind. Lovely. The Hoppy Runner seemed not to mind as he had the wind at his back. Nancy “Two Sheds” Duley waved hello and yelled “Enjoy the wind!”  as she cruised by on her way south.

As I cleared the 14th Street bridge a passing rider commented on my weekend riding.  How the heck he knew I rode both rides is beyond me.

The rest of the ride north was uneventful except for the hill up to Rosslyn. It seemed much steeper today. A block from work I admired a black Maserati as it waited at a traffic light in front of me. If I owned a Maserati I don’t think I’d drive it in rush hour traffic.

The ride home featured a welcome tailwind. I could tell I was still a little out of it when I passed a jogger pushing one of those fancy baby carriages. I could see a bike approaching from ahead of us. Normally, I’d just accelerate but today when I called on my legs to push they said, “Not today”. Thankfully, the approaching rider was alert and I managed to veer out of his way. My apologies if you read this.

I have a short climb to get up to Washington Street at the beltway. My legs were convinced we were on Alpe D’Huez. At the top, I started to turn left to cross an intersection. I saw a runner coming from that direction. My eyes fixated on him. Instead of stopping, I glided a bit. Just as the runner reached the curb cut on my side of the intersection, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something big. I hit my brakes and stopped just before hitting a light pole. My legs aren’t the only things that are tired.

I managed to get home from there in one piece. As I crossed the Dyke Marsh boardwalk, I huge Great Blue Heron flew from right to left in front of me, coming to a soft landing in the water to my left.

Even tired and sore, my bike commute is still pretty damned nice.

Tomorrow, part one of Let’s Ride Two.