Thursday, June 27, 2013

NOVA Beerfest & Kenilworth Gardens

Saturday was another blazing hot day so I covered my head and shoulders before setting off to meet Steve and Mark at the NOVA Beerfest in Leesburg. I haven't been to one of these for ages and was looking forward to it.
A cool tag line of the show shirts.
I couldn't imagine eating these ribbon fries in the hot weather but there were plenty of folks who thought differently including Steve.
We got our small show beer glass and the 4 beer tokens that came with the ticket price but alas, those were soon drunk and we needed to buy more.
Seeing the police stationed at the ticket booth was sobering and a reminder not to overdo it. Everyone we saw seemed responsible and we didn't see a single soul who was inebriated. A few police walked about but no one was in need of an escort. At least not while we were there, this event did go on into the evening.
Supping ales in the hot sun was an enjoyable pastime. Both Mark and I started taking notes on the beers we were supping but that didn't last long. Most of what I drank was great, we all tried each others' choices but a lot of Steve's beers were 'face twisters' as far as I was concerned and I stopped accepting his offers to try the darker beers.
Steve completing a dare to perform a 'teapot' pose.
A novel way to keep your snacks close by and your hands free.

We all enjoyed a cigar with our drinks, the perfect accompaniment.
The Shock Top beer beetle.
Loved the hat and the tat!
Me drinking my one and only dark beer which had a chocolately taste, and Steve photo bombing my photo. I actually had a lot of fun photo bombing other peoples' group snapshots.
Mark insisted on charging $2 for a glass of water. He didn't get any takers and one guy even completely ignored his insistence of payment and helped himself. so we gave up on that project and walked on .
Our last beer of the day, Tröegs Sunshine Pils, nice and crisply refreshing. We had all had a glass of this earlier and all agreed that it was our favorite, so it was a final 'Cheers' from us with Steve managing to bomb the photo again!
We listened to the band for a while as we finished our beers, and then it was back to Meadow House for Steve and I to fire up the BBQ.
We had chops with a Carolina sauce and fresh basil, asparagus and butter, potatoes with seasoning and olive oil and another beer. It was a perfect meal with both of us saying that the thick and juicy pork chops were the best we'd ever had.
Another fun day ended with relaxing in front of the TV while recharging the batteries for another outing the following morning.
Early Sunday morning I was woken up by loud rain crashing down on the metal roof. Looking outside the window I could see that it had been coming down hard for a while and I wondered if the day's outing would be cancelled. I was meeting with a group at Kenilworth Gardens in DC but after constant checking on my phone it seemed that the event was still on. I drove down to DC and as I got closer to the gardens the rain came down heavier. In the parking lot I checked again and sure enough, the event had been cancelled 15 minutes previously. I wasn't about to waste the morning or my gas so I decided to walk around regardless. The rain had eased off to just a drizzle and even stopped for small periods. I found a park ranger and another lady who had also shown up despite the late cancellation. The park was completely empty apart form a couple of hardy photographers and I realized that we were actually very lucky to have these beautiful ponds to ourselves with raindrops sparkling on the petals and leaves and the sounds of wildlife easy to hear without crowds of people.
The ranger gave us a tour of the ponds and a brief history. He pointed out the types of lilies and showed us the trenches between the ponds which I had assumed were for keeping the water levels the same between the ponds, but were actually made by heavy beavers as they bumbled from pond to pond. He also showed me where I could land my kayak if I wanted to visit the park from the Potomac, which I hope to do in a couple of weeks.
The beautiful lotus flowers are starting to open. They will be at their peek in 2-3 weeks.
After out tour I was happy to just roam around the ponds taking in the quiet beauty. The traffic was always in the background but I marveled at how peaceful the park was and was very conscious of how fortunate I was to enjoy this splendor without the huge crowds that usually visit. Apparently the early hours of the morning are the best for viewing as the hot temperatures later in the morning will cause the flowers to close.
This was very sad. I noticed a photographer who was zooming in on a bush by a pond and had a couple of red wing blackbirds fluttering noisily around her. apparently she'd just arrived to see a black snake eat the last of their babies. A large flock of nearby birds had all tried to help the parents by dive bombing the brute, but to no avail. This episode really tainted my morning and my heart felt heavy in sympathy for these poor birds.
The park is teeming with wildlife. I saw so many turtles, frogs and dragonflies. As well as the red wing blackbirds, I saw grackles, and families of gooses ambled on the grassy paths between the ponds. The ranger explained that because the wildlife is so prolific there isn't a mosquito problem here, and indeed I noticed that. It was a hot sticky morning and yet I wasn't bitten once.
After spending more than 3 hours here I left, promising to return. This park is a hidden gem in DC and I can't believe I've not been here before. The sky was very dark and heavy with the air becoming oppressive so I was glad to get to the AC in Stuart. Within less than 10 minutes of driving from the park the heavens opened and torrential rain beat down once again. My trip had been perfectly timed. A perfect end to a busy weekend.

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