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July 15, 2019 / bikesbytesbites

Cape May – Part 2

Wednesday, July 3 2019

This morning started with a run along Beach Ave. Yesterday at the Lighthouse Museum Store, I bought the booklet “Cape May Bike Tour”, published by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities. It highlighted many historical buildings. So the plan was to visit those, booklet in hand, the rest of the week.

IMG_0434Stopping at the houses featured in “Cape May Bike Tour” is not a very good training run, but an excellent chance to see the neighborhood and to realize how little I  know about 19th and early 20th century architecture — Cape May had its first tourist boom in the 1830s (!!) and the oldest buildings, those that weren’t destroyed in a later fire, date to then. It was popular until the end of the century, hence the Victorian architecture, when Atlantic City started to overtake it in popularity.

Today was the day for a “long” bicycle ride.  But that happened AFTER a visit to Swain’s Hardware Store (established 1896) and the clothing consignment store. The goal was to explore West and North Cape May and visit the Aviation Museum and Cold Spring Village. The goal was a bit unrealistic, given my late starting time and the fact that I wanted to get to the beach this afternoon.

West and North Cape May are a fascinating mix of nature preserves, farms, and suburbs that look like they date to the 1950’s –  1960’s (split levels and ranch houses that reminded me of a development near my house in central NJ dating from that time period.) This neighborhood provided a good alternative to continuing on a county route.  Another highlight – two men restoring an old church which was moved to a spot just north of the Cape May Canal .

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The highlight was the Naval Air Station (Wildwood) Aviation Museum, built in Hangar 1 of what started life as Naval Air Station Wildwood, where aviators were trained from 1943 through 1945 for air combat and landing on air craft carriers. 

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After the war, the building housed various other ventures, including South Jersey Airlines (!!), until it fell into disrepair, from which it was rescued starting in the 70s. This was the closest I had ever gotten to airplanes — the teensy (relatively speaking) ones from WWI through a MiG!  Worth a visit and the price of admission.

IMG_0451A return trip is needed to spend more time in the Aviation Museum and to visit the Forgotten Warriors Vietnam War Museum across the street.

On the way home I discovered the Cold Spring Bikepath, which parallels Route 9.

IMG_0459As per its name, it goes right by Cold Spring Village, a collection of  historic buildings moved to the spot fairly recently — kind of like Wiliamsburg. I looked around, and that was enough. However, I did miss the Brick Church, twin to the church I saw being restored/converted into a residence earlier today.

There are only 3 miles of bikepath and then you have to finagle your way through a traffic-ey intersection to get back to Cape May. However, the bikepath will (sometime soon?) be part of the Cape May County Bikeway, which will extend through the county.

Tonight was our celebration night, to eat dinner out. There are lots of places to choose from — we chose the early bird prix fixe dinner at the Merion Inn, which was excellent. 

Thursday, July 4 2019 – Cape May to Rio Grande

The ride I set out to do today was to Starbucks, in Rio Grande. That would allow me to get a little farther north in Cape May county and to return to the city via the ocean route through the Wildwoods. I consulted “The Cape May Shoreline Route”, which I picked up from the Village Bikes, the bike store/rental near the bus terminal/old railway station.

The route out of town duplicated routes I’d previously ridden — there are only three ways to get across the Cape May Canal and I was saving one of them for the return trip. I got to new roads once I passed Cold Spring Village and also found a new bike bike path — the Middle Borough Bike Path, which goes north from the Cold Spring Bike Path.  Some of the agriculture I passed included vineyards — the oldest vineyard in NJ is near here somewhere.

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The bikeway ends a little before Rio Grande so, once again, I zigged through a 60s-70s neighborhood to get most of the way to Starbucks, where I drank an iced Americano and bought some decaff instant Italian roast to replenish my stock. 

The way east, to the ocean, was on state route 47, a major road but with a nice shoulder marked as a bike path.  This being the July 4th weekend, I was moving faster than the car traffic, until we got over the bridge over the Intracoastal and into Wildwood.  The part of Cape May just south of Wildwood is industrial and commercial.  Good to see that Bumble Bee Foods still has a manufacturing plant (and fishery?) here.

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There’s a toll bridge to get back to the mainland, but bikes aren’t charged. I headed to the honey store, to buy some Pine Barrens honey, then to the cheese store, where I picked up a local newspaper that is very New Jersey.

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Then to the beach, for the first time today.  We returned to the beach later that night to watch the fireworks — fired from a barge in the ocean just offshore from the Convention Center.  Happy Independence Day!

Friday, July 5 2019  – Ferry, then to Annapolis and Home

Not much to report.  We said goodbye to each other and to Holiday House.

There is free long-term parking for cars at the ferry terminals. Next trip, I might just leave the car in the lot at Lewes and bicycle from the terminal in Cape May to my destination — I didn’t drive the car once I got to Cape May anyhow.

July 4th weekend traffic slowed down progress, but I made it to Annapolis and then home safe. 

 

 

 

October 24, 2018 / bikesbytesbites

My 50-mile shopping trip, er, bike ride

This past weekend (Oct 20-22) I took part in the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia‘s (BCP) fall weekend, based in Hanover PA. It’s actually billed as the Hanover-Gettysburg weekend since, I guess, Gettysburg is a bigger draw than Hanover; plus, many of the rides go to Gettysburg, some exploring the battlefield.

Gettysburg was not that compelling for me.  It’s relatively easy to get to from Washington DC, and I’ve ridden there many times. So  I decided to head in the other direction, east to Loganville. Conveniently, a ride was scheduled to leave for Loganville at 9 AM on Saturday.  I had gotten up early and was ready to ride by 8 AM. Therefore, I decided to start with a small detour, heading into downtown Hanover, to explore. I had even planned where my route could intersect the ride route and hopefully join up with the group.

Early in the ride, I passed the R H Sheppard Diesel Museum (!!) which wasn’t open. It turns out it is only open by appointment, but it was an intriguing store front.

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My first real stop was the Hanover Market. It’s a farmers-market-plus, with nice produce, other food items (the best selection of rooibos teas I’ve ever seen) and some handcrafts. Purchases: one of those rooiboos teas, some Halloween candy for the group, and some non-pasteurized wildflower honey.  Who knew that most honey was pasteurized? And I was glad I decided to equip my bike with panniers to carry stuff.

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I left the market in time so that, if I hurried, I could make it to the corner where my route would intersect the ride route, just a little bit behind the ride. Alas, another distraction: just before that corner was a factory outlet for Snyder’s of Hanover Pretzels. That’s a slight simplification: the factory outlet was for  Snyder’s Lance, a large conglomerate that owns Snyder’s Pretzels as well as lots of other cookies and snacks.  That explains why the building across the street said it was the Snyder’s Lance Research Facility.

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The walls are hung with the trademarks and packaging of sample products. When I questioned one of the sales clerks, “Really? Does Snyder’s of Hanover own Pepperidge Farm?”, I was corrected: Campell’s owns Pepperidge Farm; but it also owns Snyder’s of Hanover.

20181020_3_SnydersI sampled some pretzels-with-peanut-butter and bought some candies.  I had to resist buying a large package of pretzels to give out for trick-or-treat: although I could have carried it on today’s ride, I was also riding partway home from Hanover, with my panniers packed with the weekend’s clothes and sundries, so there would have been no room for the pretzels. Rats.

After that little shopping excursion, there was no way I was going to catch the group ride, so I tootled along enjoying the scenery. The route didn’t actually go on the Heritage Rail Trail, but it paralleled it for a bit.  I happened to glance at the trail as I was passing Hanover Junction, and just had to take a picture of one of the sculptures (?), with my bike added for scale.

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I actually did see a group of cyclists as I was approaching the rest stop; it turns out it was a group of BCP riders that had left half-an-hour after the group I had wanted to join, and was going at a more relaxed pace. Anyhow, I ended up not having lunch at Brown’s Farm Market (too busy), but enjoying the free snacks (apple cider, various samples) and making another purchase: honey crisp apple sauce.

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I don’t know if I can count the next stop as part of my “shopping expedition” since the only thing purchased at Rutter’s was for immediate consumption: a sports drink.  I keep thinking that Rutter’s must somehow be related to Sheetz, since their color schemes are similar, but no; in fact, they are competitors.

The ride back to Hanover was west-by-southwest, which seemed to be exactly the direction the headwind was coming from. So, it was nice to stop at Sonnewald Natural Foods.  Even nicer, they were selling a brand of protein powder I had been wanting to try — Whole Foods stocks it, but only in one flavor in a giant-size package. Sonnewald had multiple flavors in single-serve packs. Into the shopping basket and into the panniers.

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It was good to get back to the hotel, away from the wind. A very enjoyable ride, even using a detailed cue sheet and not 21st century technology. Thanks, BCP, for organizing this weekend.

June 4, 2018 / bikesbytesbites

Yesterday’s Adventure/Misadventure

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Interesting day Sunday. I was attending a triathlon in Rock Hall MD.  (Not participating because of lack of training due to injuries, but my share in the AirBnB house had already been paid for.) Anyhow, I cheered on my teammates at the start and left for home around 10 AM.

Really bad news: When I got home and unpacked, I realized I had left my pocketbook at the house. I called my housemate, but she didn’t answer. I thought that maybe she had already left for home, since it was a sprint triathlon and the weather was so lousy.  So I started to drive back to the Eastern Shore. (My wallet and driver’s license were in my waist pack, which I was wearing.)

Mini bad news: The entry to the highway was blocked by an accident. I waited five minutes for it to be cleared and then got going.

Great news: About forty minutes later, my housemate called. She was at the house and found my pocketbook. We arranged for me to pick it up at her place when she got back to town.

Good news: Because of the delay caused by the accident, I was five minutes closer to home when I turned around. On the trip back, I stopped at the Wegman’s in Lanham MD, just 2 miles off route 50. So, I got in a trip to my favorite grocery store, which I had skipped on my first drive since it was raining so hard. And because routes 295 and 695 into DC were showing B-A-D traffic, and I was already off US-50, I explored a new, alternate route to get back into town, which worked out very well.

All told, I could have lived without this adventure/misadventure.

September 21, 2020 / bikesbytesbites

Arlington Black Lives Ride

Arlington for Justice is organizing a Ride for Black Lives, scheduled for Saturday, Sept 26. The ride will go through some historically Black neighborhoods of Arlington VA (with a police escort) and end with a rally at Courthouse.

I volunteered to be a marshal for the ride. As such, I got to do a preview ride and learned a little about the area’s history, events and sites significant to Black settlement from after the Civil War through the 1960s civil rights struggles. However, the official route doesn’t actually visit most of the sites (not practical with a police escort and a large crowd of bicyclists), so I designed my own ride to see them.

Lots of historical information is available online (see, for example, the Arlington Historical Society) or in the Arlington Central Library (when it opens for browsing … sigh). In the meantime, here are the highlights:

  • Charles R Drew Elementary School, named after Dr. Charles R Drew, whose medical discoveries saved many lives in WW II (and subsequently)
  • In the Green Valley neighborhood (renamed to Nauck, but Green Valley is its original name), Masonic Lodge #58 and the Green Valley Pharmacy, the first black-owned pharmacy in Arlington and in family hands until quite recently.
  • Freedman’s Village, settled by freed slaved after the Civil War, maintained until 1900. Nothing remains of the village itself, but look for plaques — several embedded in the sides of the Washington Blvd bridge that goes over Columbia Pike, and another in the park at the corner of Oak St and South Gate Rd, adjacent to Joint Base Ft Myer-Henderson Hall and Arlington Cemetery.
  • Penrose neighborhood, like Green Valley a segregated neighborhood. Home of Charles R Drew. (His house is still there, private property, but with an appropriate sign.)
  • Then it was on to the black neighborhood in North Arlington, Hall’s Hill. The neighborhood was established post-Civil War. But when white suburbanization started in the 1930s, a Segregation Wall was erected to keep Hall’s Hill residents out of other neighborhoods. The remains of the wall still stand.
  • The Cherrydale Drug Fair was the site of an integration sit-in that was picketed by the Nazi party! The Drug Fair is gone, but a plaque stands on the replacement store.

The bicycle route is 15-ish miles, with a few hills. https://ridewithgps.com/routes/34079937

Here are some of the sites/plaques: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bikes_bytes_bites/albums/72157716007214053

August 12, 2020 / bikesbytesbites

Bike to the Beach – Not

The Ride in Previous Years

In 2018 and 2019, I volunteered at an organized ride called Bike to the Beach. The ride is sponsored by the organization Bike to the Beach, and raises money for autism research and support. There are actually seven Bike to the Beach rides, each starting in/near a major metropolitan area and ending up (duh) at a beach. I’ve been doing the one that starts in DC and ends up in Dewey Beach DE. I’m part of a team to raise money for Yes She Can, Inc, which “[helps] teens and young women with autism spectrum disorders”.

The logistics of the ride are pretty amazing. It starts in downtown DC at 5:30 on a Friday morning. There is a police escort leaving town. The riders from Washington and Baltimore converge in Annapolis, where they get on a bus, and their bikes are loaded on trucks, to get across the Annapolis Bay Bridge. The riders then continue to Dewey, where there is a celebration.

There are multiple ways to get back to your starting point. Bike to the Beach organizes bus transportation; many riders have friends meet them in Dewey, to provide a ride home. The captain of team Yes She Can, Allan, has lent his car to one of the ride organizers, who uses it as a support vehicle. We can then get in the car and drive back to DC or up to NYC (where I’ve headed in previous years.)

The Plan This Year

The organizers announced that the DC/Baltimore ride would be held, with COVID provisions. These would include social distancing and health measures taken (temperature screening; separate rest areas; KN-95 masks provided), extra buses with distanced seating and open windows, and more.

To avoid people having to get on the bus at all, there was an alternate start, in Centreville on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. A century was still available, with a new loop and some rerouting providing the missing 30+ miles.

Our plan (Allan’s and mine) was to meet in Centreville on Friday morning. However, early that week I got a call from him saying he wouldn’t be able to do the ride. I was disappointed, but I figured: Whatever. I’ll drive out to the Eastern shore on Thursday afternoon, get a hotel room, enjoy a short bike ride and a seafood dinner, and be ready to ride on Friday morning (6:30 AM start time). But I wouldn’t be able to do one of the official rides, since Allan and his car weren’t there for the drive back from the beach. So, I had a nice 40-mile loop planned, out to the rest stop, in Denton.

The Ride This Year

That’s not the way it worked this year.

Well, Thursday worked out mostly as planned. The hotel in Queenstown (a Quality Inn) was acceptable. The bike ride was on a mix of roads, paths, and a boardwalk, out to Kent Narrows and back, exploring some nooks and crannies on the way. The ride was delightful, with gorgeous views and little traffic.

Leisurely Thursday Ride

Dinner was at Harris Crab House. Great food (good rating on Yelp), right on the water, and their own pet ducks.

Harris Crab House

Unfortunately, the weather on Friday didn’t cooperate. When I loaded the bike into the car, at 5:30 AM, it wasn’t raining. By the time I ate breakfast and got on the highway, a light rain was starting. When I got to Centreville (12 miles away), it was raining in earnest. I kept the bike in the car and checked in. I was very impressed with the COVID measures at the start…

Bike to the Beach – Check-in and Rest Stop

but that was as far as I got. True to my nature (“Stop me before I volunteer again!”), I helped set up the registration area and first rest stop. I kept helping and it kept raining. I decided I didn’t need the miles that much, so I waited until all the riders had arrived and headed for home.

I hope my logistics and the weather work out better next year.

August 4, 2020 / bikesbytesbites

My New/Old Bicycle

A local resident was decluttering and found a vintage Austro Daimler mixte. They decided to donate it to a non-profit which usually ships bikes to Africa (https://wheels-to-africa.org/). I was helping Wheels to Africa repair and sell bikes when I spied this one. It sat for two weeks – too big a job for the school-aged volunteers to get the bike in rideable shape. So, I freed up some storage space and adopted the bike.

Here’s the bike as acquired. It looks like it had many of its original components. The chain was removed, since it was so rusted as to be unsalvageable. I also ditched the rubber handlebar grips, which were torn and disintegrating.

Bicycle as acquired

The serial number is 6917064, which dates the bike to around 1980-1981. The model is a “Michelle” (printed on the Mixte cross tube).

It took a while, but I’ve got the Austro Daimler fixed up! Here are the fixes.

Wheels

The tires on the original 27″ wheels were toast. Pieces of dried out rubber came off onto my basement floor when I removed the first one. I decided to remove the second one outside, to spare myself the cleanup.

I asked a friend who has too many bikes and bike parts if he happened to have a 700c 120-mm rear wheel, ideally drilled for a Presta valve, lying around.  Yes – he had a wheel he had used years ago, for racing! (Thanks, T.) It needed a new rip strip, but otherwise was in great shape. The 27-inch to 700c conversion works fine; the Weinmann double-pivot center-pull brake calipers are long enough.

For the front wheel, I installed a 27″ (with Presta valve) front wheel that another friend was giving away, since she no longer had a bike it fit on. (Thanks, I.) The wheel was not in great shape and I had to true it, but it seems to be working. I figure I’ll use the 27” wheel until the tire wears out, then switch to a 700c, since good tires are easier to find and I’ve got some in stash. (I even have a good condition 700c front wheel in stash. This one came from my Terry in 2019 when I replaced it with a wheel with a generator hub.) So far, so good.

Chain/Drive Train

The bike needed a chain. I bought a 6-speed chain from Papillon.

Papillon installed the chain and transferred the 14-34 freewheel from the original rear wheel to the new one. (I know how to remove and install a freewheel but lack the strength and vise grip to do it.) Larry Behery (The Old Bike Shop) said he might have some 14‑34 5-speed freewheels as backups or if the current one doesn’t work out.  (It was rusted, but I was able to remove most of the rust and clean it; the teeth don’t behave as if they are worn down.) However, Larry didn’t turn up any in his stash.

The Shimano Tourney crankset that came on the bike has half-step plus granny gearing: 50-45-30 chain rings. It works fine, but I’m not crazy about the gearing. Larry tried to find a new middle chain ring (130 BCD, 39 or 40 teeth); no luck.  John at Papillon found a chain ring! However, attempts to remove the middle chain ring from the crankset failed — the bolts wouldn’t come out! So, I’m sticking with half-step plus granny gearing for now. (The crankset I have in stash would probably work; it originally came on a 1995 Trek with indexed 3×7 gearing, whose other parts went toward rebuilding my 1996 Trek which was badly injured in a crash. Thanks, J.)

The shifting is working fine, for a non-indexed bike with stem-mounted Simplex shifters, allowing me some learning experience. I had gotten used to handlebar-mounted shifters, but it’s hard to find those for non-indexed drive trains.

Brakes

I replaced the front brake pads.  The old ones squealed horribly in my test rides.  The new brake pads appear to toe in nicely.  Very nice –squeal eliminated. The rears should also probably be replaced …

Seat and Seat Post

The bike came with an old-style one-piece seat post and bolt. It will do. I raised the seat (a women’s Selle Royale) and changed the angle of the saddle. Works for now.

Pedals

The bike needed new pedals, which is a shame because the originals were standard metal Lyotard platform pedals. The body of the right-side pedal kept sliding off the axle — another problem that I hadn’t seen before.  I’d like to keep platform pedals. I checked stash and found the non-optimal pedals I had removed from the Jamis. Good enough for now. I’ll see if I can get something free/cheap from The Old Bike Shop or Velocity Bike Coop. (Sigh. The Old Bike Shop is sold out of pedals and Velocity didn’t have any that fit my specs.)

Handlebars

I got a new pair of handlebar grips.  (The originals were torn and disintegrating.) The grips came from stash – they were originally on another bike which was upgraded to ergonomic grips. I should still should find a mirror for the left bar end.

The bike needed new handlebars, because of a bend in the right side, the likely result of a crash.

Original Handlebars

I measured the good side of the original handlebars to determine the width I need –looks like total width would be less than 500 mm.  I spec’ed out some Nitto bars at Conte’s Clarendon – all were too wide. A friend (thanks, S.) sent me a link to https://whatbars.com/, a long, but not complete, list of handlebars and their specs. But many specs seem to be missing the “reach” – how far back (toward the seat) the handlebars extend, which is critical for me. Larry brought me some Wald handlebars he had in stock.  Alas, they were too wide and had too short a reach. So S. said, come and look at the bars on his bike, Velo Orange Bellevilles. Perfect! I ordered some.

When the Bellevilles arrived, I rode the bike over to Papillon for them to install the new bars . One day later: voila, a magnificent bike.  This was the last major part overhaul/replacement.

Bike after restoration

Miscellaneous

  • Found a bell (Incredibell) in stash.
  • Bought O Rings so I could attach an extra Wahoo Element GPS mount to the handlebars.
  • I had the tools and repair equipment previously used on my Raleigh, which was recently sold. However, the seat bag/wedge pack from the Raleigh was slightly too big to fit on the bike, with the Pletscher rear rack. So I got a slightly smaller seat pack from stash. (The last one!)
  • The kickstand that came on the bike was too long – the bike didn’t lean enough and was prone to falling over. I’ve had this happen on a previous bike with the same frame size – maybe the bottom bracket is slightly lower? Anyhow, John at Papillon sawed off the end of the kickstand and rebent it, so now it works!
  • How to carry a pump?  There was neither a pump peg, nor braze-ons for a water bottle cage on the bike. I found an HpX pump (from the Raleigh) in stash. John found me an umbrella clip and it works with the HpX. Done.
  • I still need to figure out how to carry a small water bottle. On the handlebars?  The mount I tried doesn’t fit — it’s evidently made for a child’s bike, with thinner handlebars. Still looking.

May 25, 2020 / bikesbytesbites

Hey, you

I have been teaching a class on “Introduction to French” for American students. One of the topics is the existence of two French pronouns for you: “tu” (informal singular) and “vous” (formal singular as well as all plurals).

Conjugation of a French verb

I mentioned that this is one of the places where English has a hole – we used to have “thee/thou” for singular “you”, but it has vanished. As a result, there is no official way to differentiate singular vs plural “you”, but there are attempts: “you guys”, ”y’all”, “youse”. In one of life’s little coincidences, the day after I covered that topic, I received an email from an organization in North Carolina which is organizing a fund raiser I’m participating in. The message ended with this sentence:

“We will keep yall posted on which community food banks we will be giving too. “

This reminded me of experiences I had in learning two other languages that evidently also have holes where a form of “you” could be.

I taught myself Italian by lying on the beach in Italy. Well, ok, only part-time. In the mornings of one past August, I attended a class on “Lingua e cultura italiana per stranieri”, but the class was on literature and literary theory, not on grammar. In the afternoons, my classmates and I went to the beach in Viareggio. The next fall I returned to graduate school in the US where I was slated to be a graduate assistant in French. However, the Romance Languages department needed an instructor for Italian 1, so I said, “Sure. I can do that.” It was only while preparing my lessons that I learned that Italian has a plural-formal form of the pronoun you, “Loro”. Gee, nobody said that on the beach; everyone was always “voi” (supposedly the plural-informal form.) I hope that grammar book has been updated or replaced.

I also taught myself German. This time, it was on a farm in canton St Gallen, in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. At the end of a month, I could converse pretty well, provided that topics were limited to farm produce and nobody minded incorrect declensions or genders on nouns. (Verbs weren’t a problem.) So, it was quite a surprise when I sat down to actually take a grammar course that German also has an informal-plural form of you – “ihr”. Never heard it once; everyone was always “Sie”. Phew. Google confirmed that “ihr” isn’t used in Swiss German, even the “official” standard language.

May 7, 2020 / bikesbytesbites

Boundary Stones Project – 5

Ride #8: NW 1 and NW 2 (not) (4/12)

Stone Northwest 1 has its own walkway — between the yards of two houses on Powhatan St in McLean. It is a magnificent approach. The owner takes care of the stone, as documented in an article in ArlNow: https://www.arlnow.com/2013/09/19/d-c-boundary-stones-a-silent-part-of-arlington-history/

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Walkway to Boundary Stone NW1

The stone itself doesn’t disappoint.

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NW 2 is on the boundary line, right in the middle of a fence, between two houses. I tried to get to the stone from the house on Old Dominion Drive, an approach I had successfully used before. However, both gates to the yard were locked! I’ll have to try another day, from the house around the corner.

Ride #9: NW 3 (4/14)

This is the last NW stone on the Virginia side of the Potomac. I actually rode to a community center nearby and then walked to the stone — cross training and all that. The in the back yard of a house near Old Glebe Rd, in a beautiful site.

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The inscriptions on the three sides of the stone are clearly visible and just about legible.

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Ride # 10: SW 9 and West (4/15)

West Corner and Southwest 9 are both in parks in Falls Church. Southwest 9 is in Banneker Park on Van Buren St — currently obscured by construction in the park.

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Boundary Stone SW9 – Van Buren St

West Corner has a lovely site, in Ellicott Park. Unfortunately, there is no much left of either stone.

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Ellicott Park – West Corner Boundary Stone
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West Corner Boundary Stone

It’s gonna get harder from now on — these are the last stones I had to visit in Virginia. Well, except for NW2. That one is in the middle of a fence between two houses. I tried to get in through one yard — the gates to the yard were locked! I’ll have to try the other house/yard.

April 27, 2020 / bikesbytesbites

Boundary Stones Project – 4

Ride #6: SW8 (4/10)

This was one of the very first stones I ever visited, many years ago. I was very proud of myself for finding it — it’s not on an actual street, but on a private street that serves as parking for a garden apartment complex. Over the years the complex has had construction which obscured the stone, but not this time. I knew I was getting close when I passed the “Leaving Arlington” sign. One more turn and voila! I think it was in Falls Church, but I’m not sure.

Boundary Stone Southwest 8

Ride #7: South Corner (4/11)

The South Corner Stone is in Jones Point Park, but people rarely go past it. It’s not visible from the parking lots or accessible from one of the paved paths. You have to follow a gravel path to the old lighthouse.

One path to the West Corner Boundary Stone

Then you have to look past the construction barrier to try to see the stone, which is below ground level.

West Corner Boundary Stone
April 12, 2020 / bikesbytesbites

Boundary Stones Project – 3

Ride #4: SW5 (4/7)

It started as a ride to Trader Joe’s — line too long. I took Leesburg Pike back toward Arlington, and decided to go into the Target. Target is HUGE. There were not many people inside and so social distancing was no problem. They even had some cheap red wine I could use to make charoset for my Passover seder. From there, a direct route home led me past Boundary Stone Southwest 5. The stone is mostly hidden by overgrown greenery along the sidewalk on the north side of Walter Reed Dr, just before it crosses Route 7/Leesburg Pike. This is along the bike path — should Arlington county be maintaining this?

Boundary Stone Southwest 5

Ride #5: SW6 and SW7 (4/9)

Another grocery run, better planned this time. The destination was Harris Teeter — Thursday: Senior discount day plus early admission (6 AM – 8 AM). I figured I would try Trader Joe’s again. This time, on the way there, I stopped at Southwest 6. The stone has been moved from its original position (probably smack dab in the middle of a highway) and placed on the media of Jefferson St. There’s a lot of granite left, but not much inscription.

Boundary Stone Southwest 6

From there I meandered to Southwest 7. This one is on the edge of the parking lot for an elementary school. Ride into the lot, turn around to start your exit and boom — the stone is facing you.

Southwest 8 (4/10)

As I was approaching Southwest 8 on Wilson Blvd, I could tell I was getting close:

But the stone was not right on Wilson Blvd. This one, too, has been moved from its original position. It’s now on a street in the middle of bunch of garden apartments in Falls Church, just over the Arlington line. Once again, a fair amount of granite, not much inscription.

April 9, 2020 / bikesbytesbites

Boundary Stones Project – 2

Ride #3: Southeast Stones 4-7 (4/5)

Margaret wanted to go on a longuish bike ride this weekend. It had to be something where we could ride to the ride start. I suggested a section of the Boundary Stones. She chose Southeast/Anacostia. I said that it would certainly be different from our usual riding territory, but might not be that scenic. That turned out to be kind-of true.

The ride through DC and Anacostia to get to our first stone (Southeast 4) was, in fact, quite nice. Police were blocking access to Potomac Park, so we went through downtown, quite deserted on a Sunday morning in the middle of a pandemic. I especially liked the street art, of a bird balancing on a post.

Street Art – Southeast DC

Boundary Stone SE4

We didn’t find Boundary Stone SE4. The source says it’s supposed to be just southeast of the corner of Southern Ave and Naylor Rd. We didn’t look too hard, but didn’t see anything from the road.

Boundary Stone SE 5

The first boundary stone of the day. It’s on the Maryland side of Southern Ave, just south (before, in the direction we were heading) of the Southern Ave metro station. This stone had the best preserved inscriptions on the stone I’ve ever seen: “Maryland” on one side; “[Federal] Jurisdiction of the United States” on the opposite side; “1972” on a third side.

Southeast 5 – Three Views

Boundary Stone SE6

Continuing along Southern Ave, the next noteworthy sites we came across had to do with the pandemic, not with boundary stones. We started seeing signs advertising “Walk-Up Testing”. The testing was available (but not on Sundays) at United Medical Center (UMC). The isolation tents are clearly visible from the roadway.

Soon after the hospital, we got to Boundary Stone SE6, once again on the Maryland side of the road and once again with a well preserved inscription.

Boundary Stone Southeast 6

Boundary Stone SE7

The next stone was another mile down Southern Ave. The number of people on the street, waiting for buses, or walking around was striking, a notable contrast with activity we’d seen in central DC. Stone SE7 is on a very busy intersection, where Southern Ave ends at Indian Head Highway. Unfortunately, the stone is not well preserved and the site is not well maintained.

Boundary Stone Southeast 7

Boundary Stones SE8 and SE9 (not!)

A navigable route from SE7 to the next stones is not as straightforward as our previous few miles. In fact, the route is so non-navigable that we didn’t see SE8 or SE9. We got as close as we could get by following the Oxon Hill Farm Trail, which is stunning and lightly traveled. However, seeing these two stones would have involved going off the trail. Since we already had gone over a low-water crossing by stepping on rocks and slipping on mud and in the stream, we decided we didn’t want to get wetter or muddier.

The Route Home (and SW2)

From the Oxon Hill Farm Trail, it was uphill to get to paved roads, then downhill to get from Oxon Hill Rd to National Harbor and over the Wilson Bridge. Since we had to ride through Alexandria to get back to where we started), I figured we might as well see one more stone which was on the way – Southwest 2. This stone is in a yard in the neighborhood immediately south of Old Town Alexandria, but easily viewable from the street. After seeing this stone, it was an easy (and familiar) ride to get home.

Boundary Stone SW2

April 7, 2020 / bikesbytesbites

Boundary Stones Project – 1

The Boundary Stones of the District of Columbia marked the original boundaries of Washington DC. These granite stones were erected in 1791-92, placed one mile apart on the border of the federal district, which was the shape of a square each of whose sides was 10 miles long. (The area west of the Potomac was retroceded to Virginia in the 1840s.) We can thank the DC chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) for protecting the stones via iron fences, most put up in 1916-1917.

One of my favorite bicycle rides, DC Boundary Stones, to visit all of the stones (or as many of the 40 as you can get to in one day) was recently canceled. I was really looking forward to it. So, as a way to get exercise during this time of social distancing and limited travel, I decided to visit the boundary stones in a series of short rides. Unfortunately, I think I’ll have plenty of time to get to all of them.

Ride #1: Boundary Stone SW2 (4/1)

Two friends were doing a ride that would pass near my house and was heading toward Old Town Alexandria. I rode behind them until they got to their turnaround point (King Street). Then I left to do a minor detour in order to see Boundary Stone Southwest 2. The stone is near the corner of Russell and King Streets. Both the stone and its site are well maintained.

Boundary Stone Southwest 2

Ride #2: Boundary Stone SW3 (4/4)

I didn’t set out to see a boundary stone today. I set out to buy some bread and biscotti at Great Harvest Bread on Quaker Lane in Alexandria. Once I got there, however, I realized I was only a short distance from Stone Southwest 3. This stone is in the parking lot of a church about a mile down King Street. There were only two cars in the lot; unfortunately, one of them was parked right next to the stone.

to be continued …

January 15, 2020 / bikesbytesbites

Books Review – 2019

I just reviewed the spreadsheet where I keep track of the books I’ve read in the previous year. ( Books Read in 2019 ) I seem to have read quite a variety of fiction and non-fiction. I highlighted some of my favorites on the list.

Ok, I included on the list some books I tried to read, but just couldn’t get through. But at least I tried.  And some of the items on the list are actually stories, but I think that counts.

I don’t know if I have one “favorite” for the year. However, one of life’s little coincidences greatly influenced my enjoyment of two of the books. I love the work of Ted Chiang, who wrote “The Story of your Life“, on which the film Arrival is based.  This year I read his new collection of stories, Exhalation.  One story in particular intrigued me: “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”.  Soon after I finished reading this book, I happened upon another book quite accidentally (at a library book sale I happened to be riding by): Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything.  According to Foer, reading (and writing) were the first assistive technologies for memory; the Chiang story is a sci-fi take on technologically assisted memory.  Great background and insight for a wonderful story!

Books on my 2019 wish list that I didn’t get around to reading have been transferred to the 2020 list, so I have a definite starting point. There are various reasons necessitating the transfer:

  • Some of the SF classics have been transferred from list to list for a few years now, since I can’t find them. But, hurrah, one such classic is on its way to me now, from Paperback Swap.
  • If I really want to read some of the Italian or French titles in the original, rather than a translation, I have to look harder for the original and/or just accept having to pay a bit more for best sellers by Leila Slimani or Elsa Ferrante.
  • Sigh. Lack of time. And other things with higher priority.