walking narrative

I complain about northern Virginia a lot. Everyone is unbelievably over-committed and busy. Traffic is terrible. The cost of living makes me cry when I think about too much. And so on.

Sometimes I complain so much I forget that in many ways it's a lovely place to live. Virginia itself is a lovely, lovely place full of lush green forests, verdant valleys dotted by horse farms and stone fences far older than the city to the east. And living in proximity to the District has distinct advantages. The city can be a beautiful, interesting, exciting place when it wants to be.

I had cause to remember this a few days ago, when I walked from the north end of old town Alexandria to Peter's office in Georgetown via the Mt. Vernon Trail. It took me four hours, pushing one kid in the stroller and having the other strapped on my back. But oh, the pretties. The colors were so rich and vibrant!

My dinky little camera couldn't really capture what a sparkling jewel of a day it was. (By the way, we were fairly happy with our camera, a Canon Powershot A95, until we got ridiculously spoiled by having use of the Trinity Forum's magnificent and hideously expensive Nikon SLR. Sigh.) Click on any of the following for large-- and I do mean large-- sizes.

Here's some of the jungly, marshy vegetation along the trail just below Daingerfield Island and Four Mile Run. It sort of reminds me of Louisiana.

Then we got to watch a bit of a race out on the water. I'm not sure what they were doing-- some of them looked like windsurfers, while others looked like actual sailboats.

You see the planes in the background in the picture above? That's Ronald Reagan National Airport, where all the takeoffs are terrifying because the plane has to execute an immediate sharp turn to avoid flying over the Capitol. Other than that, I like Reagan-- it's one of the least unpleasant airports I've ever had to endure (Pittsburgh is still my favorite, though). Here is the main terminal, which you walk right past on the trail.

On the other side of the airport, we walked right behind this plane, which looked like it was parked and undergoing maintenance. At least, I hope it was, because every few moments its right hand engine would fart out some disturbing smoke. Also, I never noticed this before, but from behind, jet engines look like buggy robot eyes.

As we continued around the airport and followed the trail along Gravelly Point, we found ourselves right under the flight path of departing planes. Marky was fascinated (Colin was asleep in the stroller at this point).

Up, up....

...and away. A very, very loud away.

As we came around Gravelly Point, we got our first good view of the monuments. Mr. Pointy Phallic Symbol sort of catches the eye right away, what with his sky stabbingness and all. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of obelisks. Neo-Classical domes? Yes!

Then we walked under a railroad bridge (the one you see in the picture above). I'm not certain, but I believe this is the bridge used by Amtrak, et al. This picture is not so artsy fartsy as I wanted it to be.

Having crossed under the rail bridge, we see...more pointy goodness!

It's not that bad of an obelisk, as obelisks, go. Just, you know.


A bit further up the trail, we have the Navy-Merchant Marine Memorial. I love this sculpture.

Isn't it pretty? Let's look again.


On to Memorial Bridge! At the end of the bridge there you can see the Lincoln Memorial, my favorite. How can you not love a building with words from the second inaugural address graven in the wall? Incidentally, I have a long list of memorization projects for my kids, and one of them will in fact be Lincoln's second inaugural. What a truly great piece of American rhetoric. Also, they will actually know what rhetoric is, per Aristotle. Well-Trained Minds FTW!

I had actually planned to walk across the Memorial Bridge into the District, but I was foiled by a total lack of signs indicating how the heck to get up there. So I had to keep walking along the Virginia bank until I got to the Roosevelt Bridge. So instead of crossing the river to the Lincoln memorial, I got to cross to the Kennedy Center.

I have great affection for the Kennedy Center, but for reasons other than its architecture. Sometimes I wish I were a giant so I could rake my finger along the side and snap all those stupid toothpicky columns.

Incidentally, isn't that a lovely blue sky? My camera couldn't capture the colors of the day, but Photoshop sure can!

After we got across the river I was too busy navigating my way to Georgetown to take many more pictures. Here is the final one, which I had to take because it is so startling. I know the world has gone downhill since we got rid of all our televisions, but honestly...wrestling pandas? That's just wrong.

1 comment:

happygeek said...

Gorgeous pics.
I've never been to DC, (heck I've not even been to Ottawa-probably should go there first) but I love looking at pics of it. Looks like quite the hike!