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Posted by on Mar 15, 2017 | 1 comment

Cabin Camping in Shenandoah

Cabin Camping in Shenandoah

This past weekend, my family took a trip to a primitive cabin outside Shenandoah National Park, one of many cabins owned and operated by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC). Despite really cold temperatures, we had a great time and enjoyed slow-cooked meals, games played by candlelight and peace and quiet away from cell phones, Internet and other modern distractions. We left Alexandria on Friday afternoon and hiked 1/2 mile up a steep trail to Morris Cabin. My kids had never been cabin camping (or camping at all for that matter) so I was a little nervous how they would handle it. Fortunately, as soon as they saw the cabin from the trail, they were instantly in awe and couldn’t wait to get inside. The cabin, built in 1927 by Wayman Morris, has four rooms: a kitchen/dining room, living room, separate bedroom and a sleeping loft. It’s primitive, meaning it has no electricity or running water, but it has everything you really need. Since it was so cold, we...

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Posted by on Aug 12, 2016 | 2 comments

Help Del Ray Build a Spray Park

Help Del Ray Build a Spray Park

If you pass by the Colasanto Park at the corner of Mt Vernon and Commonwealth Avenues, you’ve probably wondered why the pool, in such a prime location, sits closed. Well, you’re not alone. There is a group of Del Ray citizens, led by Nancy Lee-Reeve, eager to make the most of the space. They want to convert the pool into a proper “gateway” to Del Ray complete with a spray park with fountains and sprinklers for kids of all ages. “On hot summer days, we are reminded of what could be if we work together as a community to make this spray park happen. This pool has been an eyesore for way too long,” says Nancy. The pool closed in 2010 due to under-utilization and although it is slated to be redeveloped, that isn’t in the city plans until 2022. To speed up the process, Nancy launched a petition which states: “The pool and the surrounding area are the gateway to Del Ray. We’d like the City of Alexandria...

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Posted by on Jul 6, 2016 | 2 comments

Learning to Draw Ferns and Moss at Huntley Meadows Park

Learning to Draw Ferns and Moss at Huntley Meadows Park

Naturalist Margaret Wohler’s nature sketching classes are always excellent. Margaret’s exuberance, love for the natural world – Huntley Meadows Park in particular – and love of art is contagious. I started with a class on creating a nature journal and then took one on drawing dragonflies. And this time, I showed up to learn about ancient plants, the bryophytes, or mosses and ferns – to add to my nature journaling repertoire. Margaret begins every class with a brief biology lesson on the subject at hand using her own hand-drawn illustrations. In this case, we learned about where ferns and moss fit into the history of the planet; they emerged just before reptiles and flying insects, and predate seed plants, flowering plants, and even dinosaurs. We also learned about the reproductive cycles of the ferns and moss and why they’re unique and have managed to survive some 470 million years. She transitions to a discussion of the tradition of nature drawing, sharing several examples from the Victorian era to the present, as...

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Posted by on Mar 2, 2016 | 2 comments

Skate Break at Alexandria’s Skatepark

Skate Break at Alexandria’s Skatepark

Skateboarding is such a great outlet for kids. We are fortunate to have a skatepark in the city of Alexandria that is free of charge. It’s about a couple miles from Del Ray and is well worth the trip. The park is located at 3540 Wheeler Avenue. Most people call it the Duke Street Skatepark, but it’s officially called the Luckett Field Skatepark. Here are a list of the rules: If you have kids that are still learning to skate, the best time to come is in the morning. By afternoon, there are lots of teenagers whisking about. You have to be a pretty seasoned skater to navigate your way around them. Early mornings are for the younger kids, and they start young. I found it sweet that even at such a young age, they were able to do quick fixes on their boards without parental help. Kids helping each other. The park has a nice variety of ramps. Here is my son showing another child how to drop...

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Posted by on Feb 12, 2016 | 1 comment

The Charles Hill Park Bird House Collection

The Charles Hill Park Bird House Collection

This post started with a tip from a friend in Del Ray about an impressive collection of bird houses in a neighborhood park. And, true to my friend’s word, I found about 25 bird houses of all shapes and sizes hanging from the tree branches at Charles Hill Park on the corner of Oxford and DeWitt Streets. The person who’s responsible for the bird house collection is Pat Miller, a well-known Del Ray resident who runs the Del Ray Farmers Market and Art on the Avenue, and is involved in countless other civic and community organizations. The park is named after Corporal Charles W. Hill, a former member of the Alexandria Police Department who was killed in the line of duty in 1989. Pat is friends with Hill’s widow, Ginny Hill-Obranovich, who also thought the bird houses would be a lovely addition to the park. I met the two of them the other day for a tour of the collection. That’s Ginny on the left and Pat on the...

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