Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Big Screen in a Field

Friday night was a lovely cool night so Rob came up and we went to Stephen's City, home of The Family Drive In Theatre. We sat in line on the grass verge and was glad we got there early, this place filled up fast. All following photos are iPhone taken at dusk so the quality is not good, but it gives a retro feel! 
America once had 4063 drive in theaters but less than 400 are remaining today. This theater is asking patrons to donate as they have to go to digital next month, costing about $140,000. They don't overcharge on tickets so make their profits from food sales.

We were happy to help, ordering burgers, soda, fries, cheese sticks and onion rings. Good God, how did we ever hope to eat it all! We didn't. But felt happy having done our bit and knowing we'd got a much better value than the regular cinemas.
The projector room!
The place filled up really fast and gradually folks settled down and quietened as the dusk grew darker and turned to night. And the lots of cool 50's style messages came up on the screen, which in daylight looked like a lot of vertical wooden planks painted white, but with a movie playing on top of it looked perfectly smooth.
 Not once during the movie did I think that the quality of the screening was poor or wish that I was in a regular cinema. The quality was great and even though we had our speaker clipped on to a rear window it sounded like surround sound. I really enjoyed being able to stretch out my legs and not have to share an arm rest with someone or have an elbow digging in to me. We watched from inside the car and was glad we did as it turned out to be a cool evening. Even with so many people around, including kids, our attention was never distracted by noise from others. There are 2 movies showing each evening, and 2 screens  yet we never heard anything from the other screen. Our first movie, Wolverine, had started late and when it finished at nearly 11pm, we decided to forgo the next one, not wanting to have a late night and be tired the next day. As we left I felt hopeful and wondered if this would now be a returning trend, and drive-ins would now rise up again. I sincerely hope so. Next one in Marshall please!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Return to Pohick Bay

Sunday was going to be another scorcher and it couldn't be better spent than on the water once again. This time Emily was coming with me to one of my favorite places, Pohick Bay. I haven't been for a couple of years and was absolutely delighted that it hadn't changed and still wasn't busy with hoards of people. A couple of other kayaks and a fishing boat were moving slowly in the distance.
Time for a cool refreshing beer! We sat amongst the lilies watching dragonflies darting back and forth and tiny fishes wriggled under the water.
We saw a few herons as is normal here, and the amount of fish we saw was incredible. I kept coming head to head with some huge chaps who sashayed out of the weeds gaping at me or just flcked past the boat. Baby fish were everywhere, it was wonderful to see how this place is thriving.
The water was crystal clear with every pebble and shell visible while the various kinds of weed looked like underwater forests.
Emily was as happy as me to just slowly and quietly work our way through the weeds and lilies, enjoying the nature and often just sitting to take in the sights and sounds.
We stopped for lunch up a creek and waded out to a concrete block where we sat watching the water flow past as we ate our lunch.
We stopped on one of the banks to stretch our legs noticing that the sky was getting darker. We'd heard a few rumbles around the bay but it did look now like a storm was heading our way.
I was fully prepared for another soaking, it was now becoming a way of life, but we decided to head back towards the dock just in case. We were going to paddle out to the deeper water when Emily was asked to return her kayak to the rental shop, the rangers were hauling people in off the water because of the impending storm. As I loaded up Big Red onto Stuart, the picnickers on the grass were packing up too. Everyone one was scurrying back and forth to their vehicles and we actually managed to get in the car and start driving before before the heavens opened with a flash of lightning. 
It was great to still be dry and even better that I've now got yet another kayak buddy. Margie has bought a kayak and Emily is looking into it now too. I can see some road trips in the near future!

A Ramble in the Reeks

On Saturday I met up with a couple of other people to walk around Banshee Reeks, a nature preserve near Leesburg. This is a 725 acre area of woodlands, meadows and water that has plenty of trails for walking. I got lost getting there, as did my fellow hikers so made sure I dropped a pin in my GPS app to ensure I would find it again.
While waiting for Ken & Uma, I strolled around trying to keep out of the intense heat and humidity. I spotted some odd shapes by a stone wall and investigated. They appeared to be dead animals wrapped in wire and labeled. I had to get to the bottom of this and asked one of the volunteers working there who was wrapping up a cardinal as we chatted. Any critters that are found on the grounds are being treated this way so that they will decompose without larger animals taking them off, and then the skeletons that are left will be displayed in the visitor center. I hope they don't treat human casualties in the same manner!
Ken and Uma finally found their way to the preserve and we set off on our hike. The place is beautiful with so many plants, flowers and wildlife. I've never seen such well kept trails, it was like walking through a garden. The preserve is regarded as a hot spot for ornithologists and we certainly saw and heard plenty of our feathered friends. They do bird walks here which hopefully I'll be able to attend if I can ever get a free day on my calendar.
We walked along Goose Creek and Ken decided to take a dip. i didn't think it looked as clean as the Shenandoah and after being on the filthy Anacostia, I'm now a little apprehensive of river water. Uma declined also but we laughed with Ken as he frolicked in the water.
This place is a gem and I can't believe I've never come across it before, it's definitely one of Loudoun's best kept secrets, and thankfully has not yet been discovered by the huge hiker groups that swarm over NOVA, The Skyline Drive and Maryland in their droves. Here it is peaceful and calming and all the volunteers are welcoming, friendly and helpful. We were fortunate enough to have the trails to ourselves and even when we got back to the visitors' center we only came across another couple of folks.
We sat on the back porch admiring the view and quietness while we ate lunch. Ken had a drink which he insisted we try and immediately Uma and I were hooked. We wanted to buy some. Immediately! It was a cordial that needs to be diluted with water or any other drink and is made of elderberry and chokeberry Aronia). Ken had got it from a winery in Waterford, and so it was determined that we should all go to buy some. We had originally planned to carry on hiking but Uma was done with the heat and I was secretly pleased. I will definitely be back here to walk more trails when the weather cools a little.
We arrived at the winery and I recognized it from a previous visit but had not seen the Aronia tea mix before. The owner gave us a free wine tasting but had unfortunately run out of the wines I wanted. He sells them in 3 liter boxes and wouldn't have any more packaged until the following weekend. But he did have plenty of tea so we all bought 4 bottles each. After a while we all decided to head home and spend the rest of the afternoon lazily in the heat, and we chuckled as we all knew we'd be sitting and sipping on our delicious tea, which I discovered worked very well with a shot of vodka added!