Monday, December 14, 2009

Monumental Fog!

This morning when I looked out the window at home, it was INCREDIBLY FOGGY!!! Visibility was less than a half of a block. So I decided to don my reflective vest, and turn on my headlight and blinking rear light. I was VERY careful in crossing intersections, and making sure cars saw me when I was approaching side streets. The fog was so thick that I had beads of water dripping off my helmet visor as I rode along.

As I rode by the airport area, and D.C. comes into view, there was an eerie sight ahead. The fog had obliterated the base of the Washington Monument, so it made it look like the Washington Monument was sitting atop a cloud! Pretty wild! (Thanks to my fellow biking friend, Reba, for this photo! I didn't have my camera with me).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Making of the Mt. Vernon Trail

I wish I had had the chance to meet this lady, Ellen Pickering. I was reading a local bike website today, and came upon the mention of her passing away last May. Evidently, back in 1971, Ellen and another friend, Barbara Lynch, talked about how nice it would be to have a trail along the George Washington Parkway. Families could use it on the weekends, and bike commuters could use it to get to their jobs in D.C. They collected 700 signatures of interested local citizens and sent the signatures to Jack Fish at the National Park Service. The NPS offered to provide the gravel, if volunteers could be found to spread the gravel. No problem. :) In all, over four months, Pickering, Lynch and their 400 recruits shoveled 4,240 tons of gravel and contributed 5,350 hours of labor! Amazing. The first segment of 4.5 miles open in April of 1972, and by the next year, the trail was extended to Mt. Vernon.

The Mt. Vernon Trail is cited to be the nation's most popular recreational trail. :) I ride the trail every day to work, and also use it on weekends to get places - stores, the subway, connections to other trails - the trail is VERY useful to me. It does get a little crowded in nice weather, but during winter, I usually have it to myself. :)

Thanks, Ellen and Barbara, for all your hard work in making the Mt. Vernon Trail a reality for so many trail users (1 million annually!). :)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Nothing is Constant Except Change

Here we are, entering another Autumn season. I love to see the various trees change colors in the area, though they can pose a threat on the bike path. They can be dry on top, but can be wet underneath, so when you ride over them on a curve, things can get slippery very fast. So there's a lot of caution, despite the beauty. I like to hear the crunchiness of the dead leaves on the path as I ride along - it's like riding over lots of potato chips. :) The path can get totally covered with leaves - you can't see the path at all, so it's like you're riding "on memory". I really know the bike path well, since I've traversed it thousands and thousands of times. I know every bump, curve, and rise. I've said I could ride the path "even in a coma". :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Trashy Story :)

I was riding to work the other week, about to pass by Gravelly Point, where a lot of people like to park and watch the planes fly overhead. On the weekends, there's a lot of people who visit this spot, and spend the day picnicking, playing on the field, and of course, leaving trash in the cans. On Mondays, the trash cans are WAY overfilled, even having big trash bags set up next to the can to hold the extra trash. Well, on this day, I noticed something new that caught my eye, so I stopped and went back to take a closer look. I wonder if any other cyclists had seen it too, or whether they had just blasted on by... Anyway, this new item was a Solar Powered Trash Compactor! Wow! Very interesting! When I got to work, I looked up online to see if there was others like it and what the deal was. Here's the website I found on it: An article I found on the web says that these solar powered trash compactors can accept close to eight times as much waste as a regular trash can. It saves the city money because the workers don't have to come around to empty it much. In Philadelphia, it says the city saves $12 million dollars over 10 years! Very cool. :) I hope lots of other cities get these installed! :)

UPDATE: The Trash Compactor only lasted a couple months - - then disappeared. Maybe it was a "trial experiment"?

Monday, August 31, 2009

A New Bike Commute

A week ago, I moved to a new residence, and my bike commute is now 25 miles roundtrip, vs. the previous 32 miles. It still is a convenient bike commute, located near a grocery store, bank, bike store, and the Mt. Vernon bike trail. :) One good/bad thing about the new commute is that it includes a HONKING big hill.... It's good in that it's fun to fly down at over 30 m.p.h. :) It's not as fun climbing up it at less than 5 m.p.h., but it's good training. :) :) I first climbed this hill when I went to take a look at the residence. I was riding my Cannondale hybrid, which has pretty good low gears. But tackling this hill on that bike left me breathless and I had to make two rest stops. I next rode it on my Bike Friday folding bike. It was a PIECE OF CAKE and I wasn't even out of breath. The gears on the Bike Friday are quite low, and makes almost any hill easy. So, I'm now using my Bike Friday as my commute bike. :)

Also, for the move, I rented a Zipcar pick-up truck. My brother was helping me move, and suggested getting a U-Haul. It was about 4 p.m. on a Sunday. I told him getting a Zipcar would be easier, and we could keep it as long as I needed. I called up Zipcar and spoke to the reservation agent. The lady was very nice and made the reservation and she said she didn't envy my moving event - that she had just recently done that too. So my brother and I made a couple of trips to the thrift store to drop off items not needed, and then a couple of trips to the new residence to unload everything. So, Zipcar saved the day! :)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Somewhere Over the Rainbow :)

When I came out of my office garage, the lady attendant in the booth said that a friend of mine had just been there to see me. I turned around and saw my fellow biking commuter friend, Reba, standing nearby, waiting to ride back to Alexandria with me. That was a nice surprise! She's a lawyer, works a few blocks from me and also lives in Alexandria. We often bump into each other on the way to and fro work, and have a good time chatting. Her husband, Robert, often cycles from home to meet up with her along the way, so we came across him on the way. Just as we were crossing a small bridge where people like to fish, I looked to my left and saw a beautiful rainbow! I shouted that I wanted to stop and take a picture, so we took out our cameras and got our shots. As we continued on, we saw the path was a bit wet -- evidently we had just missed a shower. Good timing! What a nice way to end a workweek prior to a long holiday weekend! :)

Friday, June 05, 2009


Well, it was a good thing I wasn't passing by this part of the boardwalk bridge when this big tree came crashing down on it!! It's been raining A LOT in the past week, and I guess this tree couldn't hang in there any longer. I came around the corner of the winding boardwalk and was surprised to see this tree across the path. There were two guys on their bikes ahead of me and we helped each other lift our bikes over the tree. I was thinking I could have maybe slipped my bike under the tree, but one guy said he didn't there'd be enough clearance. So I'm glad they were there to help me, as it was a little tricky getting over the tree - it was pretty wide.

As we finished riding over the boardwalk, there was a National Park Service truck approaching on the path, with it's lights flashing. I stopped to talk to the three guys in the truck and told them about the tree. They were aware of it and were coming to take care of it. So hopefully the tree and the boardwalk will be fixed by the time I come through after 6 p.m. tonight! Thanks, NPS, for your quick service!! (and thanks to my biking friend, Reba, for sending me this photo you took!!)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bike to Work Day 2009

Last Friday was Bike to Work Day, so I left home a bit earlier to be able to spend some time at the pit-stop in Old Town, Alexandria. I rode my Bike Friday folding bike, and also had the trailer suitcase hitched to my bike because I was bringing in a stained glass panel I had made, for a silent auction that weekend. I propped my bike and suitcase up against a wall, and went to take a look around at the various vendor booths. There were a good amount of bike commuters there, milling about, having some of the free bagels, coffee, apples, and energy bars. There was music and raffle prizes being given away. There was a vendor booth for a new pedicab service that's starting up in Alexandria - offering both transporting people, and also delivering groceries, which is nice. I've taken a few pedicab rides in the past and they are great fun. :) They could use more pedicabs in D.C. around the Mall area, because tourists walk a TON, and it's pretty tiring. Pedicabs are a nice alternative compared to a taxicab. There was a local bike shop who had a repair stand set up to do any minor adjustments to your bike.

It was fun to see the cool jerseys people wore and the different kinds of bikes people rode. I talked to one guy who was there with his homemade recumbent trike. He said he made the bike from plans he bought on the internet, and the total cost of the recumbent was about $300! He didn't understand why recumbent trikes have to cost so much (they usually go for about $2,000-$3,000). Of course, his bike was steel, not aluminum - so it's a lot heavier. But it was still impressive to see that he had built it himself. :)

So it was a fun way to start the day!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Fish That Didn't Get Away!

Last night, I was zipping on home with a great tailwind. The Mt. Vernon trail runs along the Potomac River, and I've often seen people fishing along its banks. As I approached the airport area, I saw on my left, a bicyclist and a fisherman. The bicyclist had laid his bike down in the grass, and was taking a picture of something. What I saw made me do a double-take, hit the brakes and turn right around. It was a HUGE CATFISH!!! I've never seen catfish this size before! Unbelievable! That's why I took some pictures, and then also put my pannier down next to the catfish. My pannier measures 16" in length, so you can see that this catfish was probably over 32" long! The bicyclist said he had stopped to help the fisherman pull the catfish up out of the water. He said it must have weighed at least 30 lbs.! The fisherman was Asian, and didn't speak any English, though I tried to ask/motion him if he was going to eat it. He replied in his language, as if I would understand...but I think I got the idea that he wasn't going to eat it. I guess not, since the Potomac River isn't the cleanest river around. Still, I was quite impressed at the size of this catfish. I think if it had been me, I would have taken some pictures, and then thrown him back.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

How Much Are the Puppies in the Panniers?

I have seen this couple on their bikes a few times on the bike path on my way home. Just as they pass by me, is when I notice the white furry heads sticking out of their panniers! Oh, cute Maltese puppies!! I always want to take a picture of them, but of course, there's no time, since they've zipped on by me. Well, yesterday as I was biking near the airport, I saw them pulled off to the side of the path, and were readjusting the straps on the panniers. They had 3 puppies in one pannier, a couple in another, and the guy had a few in his panniers also! So I stopped and whipped out my camera to take a picture or two. The dogs were whining a little bit, anxious to get going, I assume. The couple were definitely turning heads as people went by and noticed their doggies!
And, of course, it's Cherry Blossom Time again in D.C. I took this picture on my way to work. The Cherry Blossoms are so pretty - and you'd think you'd get tired of seeing them every year. But every year, the Blossoms make me stop and admire their beauty - especially when the weather is pretty outside and the blue skies are above. I took many photos, walking among their snowy branches...and just made it to work on time! But it's nice to dawdle and take time to enjoy the sights.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Thru the Ice and Snow....

Well, March arrived, and with it yesterday, we got 5 1/2 inches of snow. We haven't seen that much around here in 6 years. Yesterday, I took the subway to work, but decided to ride today. I left about 25 minutes early, anticipating difficult conditions on the bike path. It normally takes me an hour and 15 minutes - - today it took 2 hours, so I got quite the work-out. But, in a way, it was a fun - sort of like an obstacle course. One neat thing was that I stopped to talk to a photographer guy who is out there all the time. He has two huge cameras with long lenses, and I found out he works for the National Park Service. He takes pictures of the bald eagle that is nesting near the bike path. I asked if I could take a look through his camera on the tripod, and he agreed. I saw the head of the bald eagle sticking up out of the nest. So we chatted a bit before I continued on. You can take a look at some photos of the eagles at:

I took roads wherever I could, so I could make up some time that way. The path was a mix of various conditions - a few blacktop areas, but mostly snow/ice encrusted. Sometimes I had to get off and walk, as it was just too chunky and difficult to ride. The wind chill was about 1 degree, I think, but I was working hard and didn't notice the cold!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Cold Hard Cash!

When I left to bike to work this morning, the temperature was 14, and the wind chill was 0. Not too bad, considering a couple weeks ago, the temperature was 11, and the wind chill was -11... :) At least there's no snow/ice to contend with!

Riding along the bike path, about 5 miles into my commute, I happened to look down on the path and see what I thought was a handful of quarters. I thought, no, that couldn't have been that many quarters - maybe it was just plastic tabs that LOOKED like quarters. So I stopped and turned around to take a closer look. Wouldn't you know it, it really WAS a lot of quarters!! I set my bike aside and started to pick up the various quarters, nickels and dimes I saw scattered in the grass and on the bike path. I couldn't believe how much there was! Not only that, there were a couple of rolls of DIMES! ($5 each!) I scoured the area a few times to make sure I got whatever I could see before I left. I stopped at the park restroom a little further, to go inside and pull it out to count it. I had a total of over $14.00!! Wow. What a way to start your morning!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

To the Inauguration! :)

The BEST and EASIEST way to get to the Inauguration yesterday was by BIKE!!! :) My office was fortunately closed (everyone would have had a heck of time trying to get to the office anyway, with all the closed roads and clogged subway!). I told people in my office that I was going to bike into DC for the festivities. They looked at me like I was crazy! The bike ride was cold (temps in the 20's, wind chill about 10 degrees!), but you stayed warm biking. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association was hosting a couple of free bike valets, which I had planned on using (at the Jefferson Memorial). However, when I got there, I saw a long line to check your bike in, so I just decided to park and lock it at a chain/post area that runs along the Jefferson. Lots of people were doing that. You hope for the best, that no one would bother your bike.

Turns out I could have brought my bike even closer up on the Mall, which I didn't realize. But it worked out fine - a nice little walk to the Mall after biking, to stretch your legs. :)

The Inauguration was INCREDIBLE - it was like going to a huge rock concert with 1.8 million people cheering! :) :) Everyone was in a GREAT mood and we all got along amazingly well. There was Peace on Earth! A great way to start off the year! :)

After the Swearing-In Ceremony, biking home was fine. We biked right down the 14th Street Bridge, as it was closed to cars. And there were only a few people on the bike path, just like in the morning - so it was a piece of cake! Totally different than experiences people had when trying to take the subway!!

So it was an AMAZING day in Washington, D.C. - and for once, the Bike was King for the Day!! :)