Monday, March 9, 2009

Pounding the Pavement in DC

Sunday was a lovely warm spring day and as a spur of the moment decision, I went on a hike in D.C. with a friend that was advertised in the Washington Post. There is also a PDF map on the link showing the route. It was listed as a 9 mile hike so we followed the advice of the previous walkers and had brunch at the Florida Grill.

The diner was very 1950's with walls covered in autographed photos of famous personalities. The staff were very friendly and my omelette was delicious but my home fries were the weirdest I've ever tasted so those were abandoned in favor of the wonderful biscuits.

Feeling full, we headed up the hill and walked through quiet neighborhoods with quirky house fronts and people coming home from church. I thought the window display above was great.
Before long, we were at Rock Creek Cemetary. The map seemed to indicate that we went around the perimeter on the outside so we headed for a gate on the lower side. That was locked so we had to walk full circle to get in and start looking around.

This graceful bronze sculpture marking the grave of a couple was one of many beautiful works of art adorning the graves.

These mausoleums all had intricate stained glass windows at the rear and the one in the foreground was in an art deco style from the 30's. The window is in the corner of the photo. Melville Bell (1819–1905), Scottish teacher and inventor, father of Alexander Graham Bell, Emile Berliner (1851–1929), German-born American inventor of the gramophone and Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor (1875–1966), President of the National Geographic Society are buried in this cemetery.

This Russian memorial was only erected a few years ago but had many Russian headstones surrounding it, some with snowdrops flowering beneath them. We finally left the cemetery and continued our hike.

We saw plenty of black squirrels on route. These had originally escaped from the Washington Zoo and can be seen in parts of D.C. and out towards Falls Church. They are more inquisitive than their grey relatives and seem to be more intelligent.

The styles of housing was diverse in this area with plenty of color and we weren't sure whether it was because it was a Sunday, but the neighborhoods were very quiet.

We eventually reached Rock Creek Park which was founded in 1890 as one of the first federal parks and boasts over 1700 acres. We know this because we think we walked most of it. The map was very vague through here, with none of the roads marked, and once we arrived at the creek, our weary feet sizzled as we plunged them into the icy depths of the running water. We sat for about 20 minutes or so dunking our feet often, and then reluctantly put our boots back on to try and find the right road out of the park. A couple of miles later after being given wrong information by 2 locals, we reached civilization and houses again.

I thought the architecture of this house was intriguing and was amazed at the way it was balanced with weights underneath and tensioned cables at the top.

We had to get close for a better view of this plant as it looked too vivid in color to be real. I think it's an aloe plant but maybe it was plastic.

As we came to the summit of Washington D.C. we saw Fort Reno Park which was involved in the only Civil War battle to take place in the District of Columbia. The highest point of D.C. is marked here but after fruitlessly walking around the park and asking locals who were unable to help us, we had to admit defeat, and flopped to the ground to share a Clif bar and gulp the rest of our water. The photo below is one I obtained from the internet.

The view from D.C.'s highest point was rather disappointing and this was the best shot I could take. The other 3 sides were of fencing, satelite towers or office buildings, but regardless, we were elated that we had completed our quest, albeit that our steps towards the end were slow and words were few. Our midmorning feast was quite forgotten and our stomachs were growling.
Our poor feet had trudged over 14 miles in total thanks to some wrong turns, but our spirits were high because we'd achieved what we set out to do. It had been an interesting hike covering parts of the city we'd never seen before. That night I slept like a log.

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