Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The heat is on

I have 4 lush heads of romaine in my garden

Maltese cross

Allie appears to be blinking here as the still shot has  her with her eyes closed.

Maya doing the splits. She finally did lose her other top central incisor but looks strange as now she has just one enormous tooth in the empty space

from the GAP website. When we went across this, it was raining

On Father's Day afternoon, when I scheduled a  BBQ, it was 97 degrees with a heat index well over 100. Hard to get people outside even though we had shade. Maya was with her father and Hannah was home sick with her mother. Still it was nice to have the 4 grandkids over who played well together along with our 3 kids. I harvested half a shopping bag of Swiss chard which when cooked, shrunk down to less than 2 cups. I was on the road by 5:30 am, already 70 degrees, which is fine for biking. I had to travel 4 miles before it was light enough to see my odometer. I had my flashers on so if there were any cars on the road, not very many, they would see me. As it was sunny, I had to go my complete loop which means dirt roads for my eastern trip, which is tree lined and blocks the sun out of my eyes. If I took the paved road, drivers would be blinded by the sun and not see me.

I've ridden over 120 miles since I came back, mainly because it was too hot to run. Still trying to decide whether I want to go on my bike trip up north all by myself. I am sure there will be familiar faces. I did the GAP on an organized tour 5 years ago by myself (a friend was supposed to go with me) and it turned out fine.

How awful can Trump and Sessions be? There is biblical precedence for separating children from their mothers? And his blackmail: pay for the wall or I keep them locked up. And then he said it was all the Democrats fault for putting the kids in cages. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

trees of life

A black and white version of a short tunnel we went through. Had to remember not to look at the end of it or I would be blinded

she is so expressive

subject of our cooking class: vinaigrettes
and marinades or using low fat seasonings to avoid fattier ones Salads were good

George Washington had Sweet Williams too

foxglove

my garden grew so much while I was gone even though I took out about 20 swiss chard plants. I will harvest the romaine and more of the chard tomorrow for our Father's Day bbq

Asiatic lilies finally in bloom

my favorite bird is back now that we have service berries

Cedar waxwings. All fruit diet whereas orioles supplement theirs with insects and seeds

Half way point of the C&O canal a week after we would have been on it. Well at least some of the path is visible

I surveyed my gardens 8 days after I had left for my bicycle adventure. How things had grown including the weeds. The ripening service berries (I have a tree in front and in back) have attracted flocks of cedar waxwings and robins. I see the chipmunks, catbirds, orioles, wood peckers and even the grosbeaks eating them too. Yes I still have orioles, around 5 of them so I have been diligent about giving them grape jelly. Usually they are gone by now but maybe they will next nearby. What hasn't come back are my wrens. I have 3 houses and they are usually full. Wrens are little plain birds but they sing so nicely and eat the beetles in my garden.

It's been hot and humid, hard for running but OK for biking as long as I am out early. Will I do another bike ride this summer? Still deciding. Just don't want to be by myself. I am sort of at loose ends as I have nothing planned. But if I decide to go, I will be in shape.

I have found stuff to amuse me: Happy hour with the Moms where I had too much of a prickly pear grande margarita: visit to the dentist (no cavities, yay!) cooking class, resale shop while I tend to home improvement projects. Naomi has started a new career as a line cook. Fortunately she is good with her hands and is a quick learner. The pay is much better than her old job who cut her hours because they did not want to accommodate Maya's school schedule, Boo on them.

And school is out for summer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The O-line

This is the road we would have needed to take to get out of the flooded sections around Paw Paw West Virginia so we had to bail

5 inches in a day on top of 10 inches in the previous weeks will do this

From the train station on the East side of DC, we crossed the mall to get to our trail from Georgetown we needed to take to my friend's in NW DC. This is the Smithsonian Castle

a cool building. I needed to pee so badly but they need to paw through every single bag to let you in. Again I had everything on me I needed for a week. An uncomfortable wait as I have lots of compartments

The big rain happened 6/3. Our path

So Wednesday, instead of riding, we walked around museums all day. My thighs were swollen from the 160 miles of riding so going down stairs was fun.

We spent a lot of time in the Museum of Natural History and that of the American Indian. Wanted to go into the National Gallery but ran out of time

American Indian Museum was very depressing. Broken treaties, genocide....soldiers shooting toddlers who were too big to carry but walked too slow on the Trail of Tears

lots of public art

Museum of American History?

this tree was all metal

I liked these caladium leaves

Georgetown Waterfront Park Sculpture. We went through this several times coming and going on our bike trips

tomb of unknown soldier, Arlington National Cemetery
Acres and acres of tombs

Mt Vernon..at the end of the Mt Vernon trail

slave quarters for the house servants at Mount Vernon. Washington had slaves but he did buy the freedom for several of his favorites

Alexandria two days before we rode through it. We still needed to make detours around the waterfront in Old Town

the rains plus a tidal surge left this at the Georgetown Waterfront Park. We rode through there two days after this picture and it was fine

same thing here

We went to the zoo to see pandas who were MIA. But they had this. I think the Orangutans can brachiate for a quarter mile 50 feet above us. If they were willing to fall, they could escape. Lots of videos on line with them taking their trips. One was about to start as we were leaving but he was taking too long and we had places to be

starting tower

this one was making faces at a kid inches away through the glass. Lots of fun expressions

lunch spot Friday near the Potomac. Real cute Irish pub

Glen Echo Park full of art deco rides. Howard students had a mass protest here in the 60s as Blacks were excluded


the merry-go-round still works

Just because we had to abort the second half of our ride didn't mean we had to hide in a corner and cry. We could still have fun and even spend the whole time riding our bikes. Lots of options. Or we could take the train back to Pittsburgh where the car was. But my friend was on vacation..yeah, let's have fun. We could stay 4 nights with my friend instead of the one planned. Nothing more fun than inviting oneself. He was busy but we would be gone during the day.. I was responsible for planning the first half and my friend the second half. Lots of cancelling on his part. We could have not gotten to Harper's Ferry as the bridge was out (that was the town I most wanted to see). Rumor has it that the Western Railroad Trail (paved!!!!) will extend all the way to DC and they will stop maintaining the towpath so when that happens, I'll be there.  The train was to leave Cumberland at 9:30 (ha!Amtrak is never on time, just the week before the whole line was closed down due to the other rains) so we had plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast downtown. What could go wrong? Well at 9:10 our path was blocked by a stopped train. They switch cars nearby and block the main drag regularly. Lots of people cursing that train. So we did get stuck carrying the bikes under that sleazy urine filled underpass. The website now said the train was late. There are no train officials at the station nor any outside seating. I sat on edge of the tracks narrowly being missed when the train came whooshing in. There is only one luggage compartment that fits the 8 bikes And my bike ticket cost as much as my senior ticket though I guess it did take up more space than I did. There were several other bikers there in the same situation so we had lots to talk about. I made new friends. My friend went to sit in the back of the  caboose so he could see all the flood damage. My new friend said something about where was my husband. Back in Michigan. So you are sharing a room with someone not your husband. Yeah. So what? We both had our own floors in DC so there. I am not a cheater and biking doesn't make the situation any more tempting.

Where are our bikes? We thought it would be obvious once we were in Union Station. But no. And they don't number their cars logically like they do in Europe so we didn't the note the number  of the car. Zillions of school groups come to DC for their end of the year trip. The mall was so crowded.  with tourists, it was slow going. Taking the Capital Crescent trail took 12 miles total. It does go too far north but there is no easy short cuts. I assume if we just rode up (up being the operative word) Massachusetts Avenue, we could have gotten there in half the distance but risked our lives. Once we found the beginning of the Capital Crescent in Georgetown, it was easy going. Hardly any bikes either though I think it had been flooded that morning at high tide. Cold fancy beers and a nice dinner awaited us at the end of our ride. I got to meet their new Shibu Ino, much friendlier than their last dog. While we were there, DC was unseasonably cool until the last morning so that was great. And no rain. And my Michigan friend got along really well with my DC friends, which I had worried a bit about.

Wednesday was a rest day spent walking around museums. Thursday, we rode down to Georgetown, crossing the Potomac into Virginia to go on the Mt Vernon  trail along the Potomac. It would have been 55 miles round trip but as long as it isn't rush hour, you can put your bikes on the metro made easier by elevators. We stopped by the Arlington Cemetery, stood under the end of a runway at Reagan to have a plane take off right above our heads, lunch in Alexandria at a nice deli, up (also up a hill despite it being right next to the water) The swollen Potomac sometimes was just an inch away from us. We did have to ride inland in Alexandria to avoid the flooding. Love the colonial architecture. Also very expensive to live there.

It was so crowded at Mt Vernon with those school kids. We got there at 2 and the earliest we could enter the mansion was 5 pm. We did take a virtual tour. Not very fancy inside like the palaces built at the same time in Europe. We toured the gardens and farms with the same plants as he had. My rhubarb looks so much healthier.  Back to Alexandria. I went to the tourist info to ask about good happy hours. Oh you will be watching the game then? What game? It turned out to be the final game of the Stanley Cup, the Washington Capitals (We are all CAPS, I saw on signs later)versus some Las Vegas team. The only reason this mattered is when we had to transfer downtown to the red line from the blue, all these loud guys wearing red flooded the station hooting and hollering. I am not much of a hockey fan. DC has a huge black population but they don't seem to be into hockey either. We settled down to a sidewalk Irish bar and had very tasty food and beer. We would only need to ride about a mile or two to the subway station outside of town (and up yet another hill) We had to wait until rush hour was over so we took our time only to find a flat tire. Ugh. It was patchable but time consuming. With the transfers, it was dark when we returned to our friend's neighbor hood. Tennytown. Down the hill into the darkness. Fortunately I had packed my flashers.

We were mostly in the city the next day. It was suggested we go to a Japanese Art exhibit. Trust me, this would not go over well with my riding partner. We went to the zoo, then Georgetown , then we were going to ride the C&O canal but ended up on the Capital Crescent once again (Rock Creek Parkway, which we headed south on not so straight or flat). We got off of it to go to Glen Echo and the Irish bar next to it before heading up the hill from hell making me use the lower chair ring for the first time back into my friend's place. We took out our hosts to a really good seafood place nearby. That dinner cost more than the 3 nights of hotels I paid. DC is a very expensive place.

Woke up early to run in the now steamy weather before our long drive home, first in a rental car to carry our bikes, then in my friend's car back in Pittsburgh. We did stop for crab soup in Hagerstown Maryland.

Maybe someday the weather will co-operate.



Monday, June 11, 2018

GAP Mile zero: The end

View from the top

Welcome to Maryland, which was part of the north but hung onto Jim Crow laws into the 60s

barely readable sculpture

to encourage trail riders to go up a very steep hill into town they built a series of switchbacks decorated with about 5 bike part sculptures. Trail was sandy and the turns too sharp for me. I lost momentum and then insisted we walk. Part of our journey took us up 5 flights of stairs

the hair moved with the wind

one of the many waterfalls between Frostburg and Cumberland. All this shale indicates probable oil and coal

the start of the C&O canal which I rode on for a bit until I realized I was going away from where I was staying in town

the end of this adventure. Sigh

our very bicycle themed hostel. Much more comfortable than the barebones place we stayed at in Rockwood plus had fancy coffees we could make and snacks. The owner drove me to s state liquor store so we could have wine which we drank on a swing on the porch

Cumberland is a very old industrial and transportation hub but they managed to turn their downtown into an inviting place


when in Maryland, eat crabcakes. They had 'pig' for my friend but it turns out he loves crabs

and this silly drink

I did the final leg of our journey by myself, 15 miles of downhill from Frostburg to Cumberland.He kept wanting to stop; I wanted to get to the hostel at the time I said I would made difficult because I got lost in town. Then a very slow moving train blocked my path for 15 minutes. Yep I could carry everything (bike!!!)under the underpass full of homeless people but I waited. Our very nice hostess told us we needed to go to the National Park Service and speak with Ranger Rita to get the real scoop on trail conditions. I left that chore for my friend. We were advised not to go on but if we chose to do so, a list of outfitters was given who could pick us up for a price (though on line, some people were doing this for free). Meanwhile my DC friend as saying he'd come get us if there was a flood emergency. But at least the first few miles of the C&O looked good. We had reservations at a hostel in Little Orleans the next night, a hotel in Williamsport then another hostel in Harper's Ferry. The latter was problematic as one has to cross a ricketedy footbridge to cross the river complete with a spiral staircase (pain in the ass with a bike). But in the middle of the night I read that bridge was washed away so that would be impossible (one could maybe ford across an old railroad bridge or go on an active railroad bridge. I imagined some kind of Stand by Me situation there. Nein danke. But for a while we lived in denial that all was right with the world, got our wine (thanks Gail!) and later walked to town and ate crab cakes in the cool evening air.
My usual insomnia hit at about 2 am. Started readings of the  National Flood page. Pawpaw West Virginia, Mile 10 for us, was completely underwater. We would have to go through a long tunnel there which of course was flooded. Once I saw my friend stir, I said we needed to talk. He wanted to wait until morning. No can do. We went downstairs so not to disturb the other rider who was in our same leaky boat. He agreed we had to abort. Do we want to ride back to Pittsburgh? No. Take a train to DC? Only if we could get reservations for our bikes. They let only 8 bikes on a 18 car train and then claim to be bike friendly. But we got the reservations. Do I tell my friend in the middle of the night that we are coming 3 days early? That could wait. If he said no, we'd look for an airbnb.



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