Friday, December 5, 2014

A Ramble on Roosevelt Island

On Saturday I met up with Nancy to explore Roosevelt Island. I'd been here very briefly on a very cold day years ago but remember that we didn't cover any of the trails at that time. so Nancy and I decided to walk around and hopefully work off some the turkey we'd been stuffing ourselves with over the Thanksgiving holiday.
We met in the parking lot and I was pleased, although surprised, to discover that there weren't that many folks using the island. It wasn't that cold and the sun shone so we donned boots and started off.
I love the Roslyn skyline and there's a wonderful view of it from the footbridge, the island's only access point. This 88 acre plot of land used to belong to the Nacotchank Indians and was taken from them in 1682 by Captain Brandt. George Mason III later acquired it and was the only owner who built on it, around 1796, a mansion with gardens. When Mason died, it passed through various hands but the island was neglected. The house burned down but the plot was still referred to as 'Mason's Island'. It was used for experimenting with electrical ignitions for explosive devices in secret in the early 1900's. In 1913 the Washington Gas Light Company purchased it but the island remained overgrown until it was cleared by the Civilian Conservation Corps around 1935. The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Association bought the island in 1931 but it took them nearly 30 years to raise enough funds for the work needed. Finally in 1967 the memorial was dedicated and a 17ft bronze statue stands on a plinth with 4 21ft granite walls engraved with his famous quotations. There are fountains also but these weren't working today.
The 2.5 mile trails mainly follow the banks of the island and offer great views of Roslyn and Georgetown.  There is little elevation and parts are actually swamplands with boardwalks meandering through.
We walked all around the island in less than an hour and hadn't even been walking fast. There is supposed to be a notable collection of wild flowers and birds which would be more apparent in warmer months. We only saw a couple of mallards weaving through marsh water that had an oily residue floating on the surface. The area has to endure multiple floods each year which has helped to create a diverse array of vegetation.
We came across Teddy's statue. a hulking great piece of bronze glinting in the sun, and I realized as I looked up that he looked to be actively swatting every plane that zoomed over to land at the National Airport. I managed to catch a shot that caught him in action.
We walked back over the bridge and feeling that we hadn't don't much to walk off the turkey dinners, we continued walking into Georgetown.
We walked up and down M St looking in the shop windows and decided to stop for lunch. I could only manage 1 beer, I was still feeling a little woozy from my neighbors cocktail party the afternoon before, and 'hair of the dog' wasn't really working for me.
As we sat and chatted over lunch, a large group of protesters walked by outside, marching in protest over the Michael Brown shooting. I went to the window to grab a photo but felt intimidated and a little scared when I caught the eye of some of the crowd. I quickly sat back down again and looking around observed that barely anyone was taking any notice of them.
After lunch, we felt that we should walk some more, but we were well aware that we were fighting a losing battle. I think I'm going to give up trying to lose weight and instead concentrate on growing taller.
 The long lines outside Georgetown Cup Cakes. They must be good but I've never had the urge to find out.
We really enjoyed looking in the stores, especially the clothes stores but I couldn't see anything that I wanted and nor could Nancy. We noticed that it was getting colder and dusk was slowly advancing so we walked back to the cars again. The Eastern Sycamores were looking beautifully pale on Roosevelt Island, almost like ghosts.

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