Phil Rambles

Phil Rambles, Phil Price blog.

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    Mon, 03 May 2004

    Why did I not appreciate the Potomac more?
    When I lived in the D.C. area, I literally never thought about the Potomac River as a destination or as a nice place to spend a day. I remember going to Great Falls a few times with my parents when I was young, but other than that, I was completely oblivious to the river and its attractions.

    Last week, though, Juliet and I were in D.C. for a few days, and we spent some time on the Potomac. Actually the river started out just as a place to give her her birthday present (really a "baseball bat" present, since I get to use it too), which is a folding kayak. This is a 17-foot-long two-person kayak that folds up into two (rather large) canvas bags; you can store them in your closet or even check them as baggage when you fly! My brother and his wife arranged to meet me and Juliet at a restaurant/bar overlooking the river; I arrived early, assembled the kayak (which I had bought on eBay and had shipped to my brother's house in D.C.), and shoved off. When Juliet arrived, my brother and sister-in-law pointed her my way, and there I was, paddling towards her with a bunch of orchids in the bow . Very romantic. Juliet hopped in for a brief paddle back to the put-in spot, then we all headed out to dinner.

    Juliet and I intended to go out to the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge the next day and spend a few hours paddling around, but that plan was aborted when, after a half hour of driving, we still hadn't managed to get halfway to the city line! (The traffic was incredible, far worse than San Francisco, or, for that matter, Manhattan the last time we were there). Instead, we drove back to the Potomac, assembled the kayak again, and went out for a quick jaunt, just about an hour total. That was nice, and we also noticed a lot of people jogging and biking along the towpath for the C&O Canal, alongside the river. So the next day we rented bikes and went for a bike ride along the canal and the river. We rode up to Great Falls, an impressive set of rapids about 14 miles upriver. The ride was very pretty, on a nice spring day. It's really amazing that this relatively unspoiled and almost completely undeveloped stretch of river exists in the middle of such a densely populated area. We owe a big thanks to the people who fought to keep the river corridor undeveloped in the 1920's, when there were plans to fill in the canal and build a highway in its place.

    Anyway, if you're ever in D.C. and looking for a brief escape from the hubbub of the city, try a walk, jog, or bike along the C&O canal towpath.

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