Monday, July 26, 2004

Pretty active weekend considering all the blowing-off of plans I accomplished...

The blow offs actually started before the weekend. I was supposed to attend the East Coast Xterra Challenge in PA this past Thursday thru Sunday with the rest of MAXC, but decided in the middle of last week that I wasn't gonna make it. The idea of spending $25 for event registration, $60 to camp for three nights, $10 to become a 'member' of the off road park where the even was held, $75 ($25 per day) to actually off road in the park, not to mention gas to get up there and back (~240 miles away), cash for food and drink, etc, etc, etc, I have other places I'm trying to put my money. As much as I'd like to have hung out with the friends I've made in MAXC, I couldn't justify it.

So, after having my weekend planned out for the last few months, I suddenly had a it wide open. Not wanting to sit in the house all weekend, the girl and I made plans to go camping/hiking in Shenandoah National Park. True to form, the weather totally didn't cooperate. They called for rain on and off all weekend. So we decided to bag the camping in favor of doing more local outdoor stuff.

Saturday comes and we decide to hit the National Arboretum in Washington DC. The girl hadn't been there since she was a kid, and I'd never seen the place. Sounded like a good opportunity to do a bit of biking and take a few pix of some new and unusual subject matter.

So the girl and I spent a couple of hours tooling around the Arboretum grounds (me on my SS, her on her geared bike) looking at plants and trees and other oddities. Gotta say, the coolest thing we saw had to be the Bonsai exhibit. Check it if you're there. Also, feed the bigass goldfish in the outdoor pond. The day would have been totally perfect if it weren't for the dumbass thugs blaring "50 Cent" or some shit in the maintenance yard (clearly audible from the far end of the park grounds). Made for a relaxing time among the serene Bonsai. Anyway, we persevered.

Sunday, there's a MORE picnic planned in MD, but I was leaning toward blowing that off too. Not for any specific reason. Just that my original plan was to be outta town one way or another this weekend, so I never gave it much thought. The picnic was in conjunction with the opening of a new trail system at Rosaryville State Park in MD. I want to get out there and ride the trails soon, especially since I helped build them :)

So instead of attending the MORE picnic, the girl and I decided to work in a hike. (Since the original weekend plan was for nothing *but* hikes, it seemed appropriate). Since the weather was questionable (read: it was raining like hell all morning), we decided to stay pretty local. Since neither of us are in our peak training condition, I decided to find something not too taxing. A copy of "50 Hikes in Northern Virginia" suggested a casual hike in Mason Neck State Park, a little way down Route 95. After some back-road GPS exploring to avoid the parking lot that is always 95 South, we managed to find the park.

The casual hike turned out to be a casual walk. Probably only 1-2 miles. There was an extra 1 mile loop, but we decided to skip it since it didn't really seem to include anything interesting, and there was a second .5 mile spur that has been closed permanently (see below). The 'hike' started out along the bay (dunno what bay), and within a half a mile we came across a huge church group doing baptisms in the bay. Not that I'm all that religious, but it was pretty interesting to see 100 people watching from shore and 4 in the water, dunking people. I took a bunch of pics, but I'm not sure I had the angle or distance I needed. We'll see when I dump them from the camera.

Unfortunately, it turns out that what might have been the coolest part of the trail has been permanently closed. It was once described like this:

"The Kanes Creek Trail ultimately leads to a wooden blind constructed to view birdlife in the exceptionally beautiful Kane's Creek inlet and marsh. And the waterfowl is there in abundance - from bald eagles, to great blue herons, to migrating waterfowl. An ornithologist could spend hours at this site, and hikers will drink in the view and wildlife with relish."

Upon our arrival at the trail leading to the blind, we were greeted with a sign which said (essentially): Due to environmental concern and other considerations, the trail to the marsh blind has been permanently closed". You can see the section of the trail that's been closed on this map. It's the part circled in red. Disappointing.

Anyway, after our brief hike we wandered around a few paved paths in the park and did a bit of exploring on some out of the way (but not off limits) shore line. Took a ton of photos, but as I said earlier, I haven't pulled them off of the camera, so I don't know what I have yet.