Quite the Ride


Oh hello there! It has been eight months since my last confession post. The truth is, I’ve been busy cooking up a new project and here we go, I am excited to share:

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve just launched my own business, a family-friendly bicycle outing company here in DC called Recess Outings. We’ll be offering group bikes rides predominately for parents who would like to bike with their young child along for the ride. Please come visit over at www.recessoutings.com, share the site with friends and family, and sign up for a bike ride! When booking an outing, you’ll be able to choose whether you’d like us to attach a child seat to one of our bikes. All gear and equipment are provided so it’s easy to get out the door and meet us for a fantastic outing.

Of course you’re most welcome to join us without children too. The goal is simply to go play outside and have an adventure with like-minded people. We’ve spent these long summer days scouting routes, largely along the Anacostia River and throughout the bike lanes of Capitol Hill, and we can’t wait to get things rolling.

Because the mission of the new company is so well-aligned with this existing blog, a handful of content from Neighborhood Nomads has been pulled over onto the Recess Outings blog to showcase the delight of exploring close to home and celebrating places we belong. I’m excited to be sharing my love for the city in a whole new way!

A Resolution & A Celebration


January 4, 2015: In 2015, those of us at Neighborhood Nomads resolve to spend more time where we belong. We got a headstart, actually. A few months ago, we changed the tagline here from “a guide to exploring close to home” to “a celebration of places we belong.” The new description more aptly describes what’s been happening here the whole time: the blog has never been an instructional how-to focused on any one geographical location so much as a collection of observations — a celebration, really — of various locales that evoke a sense of belonging. I feel rooted in my D.C. neighborhood close to home, but I’ve also felt this sense of belonging in transit at the airport moving between homes or getting to know locals in a town I’m visiting for the first time. I now know this celebration of belonging was the intent from the get-go during year one of this chronicle, and it’s remained the thread since, whether in interviewing people about why they love where they live and work or jotting down thoughts about the city and neighborhood. Despite being wanderers, we crave connection, we yearn for community, and we see beauty in the simplicity of the places and spaces we gather offline. We travel slowly, both in our own neighborhoods and foreign cities, to collect bits and pieces of places we feel at home, stash them away in our bags, and tote them along to the next locale.

Celebrating these places and spaces is the easy part, of course. It’s finding time to be there that’s the challenge. We all wish each other a new year full of something or other, but in this case, may your New Year be a little less full, and may you find time to celebrate there, wherever it is you belong.

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Then Came December


December 7, 2014, Washington, DC: I tried to linger as long as possible, but summer ended and autumn raced in without asking permission. Warm days spent strolling the neighborhood on maternity leave came to an abrupt halt. Fall arrived quickly. On Barracks Row, people lined up for dinner at Rose’s Luxury, Bon Appetit’s best new restaurant of the year, beneath golden trees and planters filled with mums. In the blink of an eye, postseason baseball in the District came and went. Election posters were plastered on street signs and just as soon ripped away. The city legalized marijuana, Republicans gained control of Congress down the street, and former mayor-for-life Marion Barry passed away. As the season raced ahead, scaffolding enveloped the Capitol Dome at the pace of an old-fashioned film reel. A glamorous Christmas tree suddenly appeared at the shiny new City Center before we could process that the old parking lot downtown where we used to board the Chinatown bus had since become a sparkling development. Doormen greeted guests at the new Marriott near the Convention Center and we couldn’t remember what had occupied the block before. The front façade of the original Chinese Community Church remained standing but shrank into the construction that near swallowed it on all sides. Next the First Family lit the White House Christmas tree and away we went. Now the neighborhood smells like pine.

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Breakfast Time on Barracks Row

photo 3 copy 2August 7, 2014, Washington, DC: “Good morning! I didn’t know you were open!”

“We’re not. But you’re about to get a doughnut!”

So began this August morning on Capitol Hill. During my outing down 7th and 8th streets to peek inside the doughnut shop coming soon to Barracks Row, I both met a neighbor who usually keeps to himself and had a spontaneous coffee-doughnut breakfast with a new business owner and a marine. This is something I love about my neighborhood: the random interactions with people we’d never meet otherwise if we didn’t all share the same living space.

One thing I appreciate about cities is their physical variation — the way architectural details from different eras occupy a single block, the way old and new butt up against one another like old friends. But the same can be said of a city’s people. In the neighborhood I call home, residents from all walks of life cross paths during the course of a busy day. And District Doughnut co-founder Greg Menna is certain a good old-fashioned doughnut, individually crafted in small batches by pastry chef Christine Schaefer, will appeal to them all.

Case in point, Greg says: “My dad would never be caught dead buying a cupcake.”

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New England Summers

newenglandJuly 30, 2014, Washington, DC: Happy summer, neighborhood nomads! What better way to celebrate the season than by visiting family and friends in New England, an area of the country we called home for many years and have revisited ever since. This month, we followed the scents of salty air and charcoal grills up the East Coast during our ten-day vacation, stopping to play in its parks and waterways along the way. On the itinerary was a wedding in Portland, Maine, brunch in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow, and a paddle with my dear sister out of Connecticut’s Southport Harbor. All around not a bad way to embrace the heat of July.

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A City’s Shared Gardens


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July 23, 2014, Washington, DC: I used to love walking through Fort Mason’s not-so-secret city garden when I lived in San Francisco. I’d see people awake in the early morning, hard at work tending to their tomatoes and peppers and roses. Their tiny plots were so precious to them. I remember thinking how lovely it would be to one day have a little square of my own there in the shadow of the tall trees and footpath lining the San Francisco Bay, just over the crest of the hill from triathletes swimming laps in open water at the Aquatic Park. I also remember thinking I might not ever live in one place long enough to make it happen. It takes a large degree of certainty about a place to commit to growing produce. It implies a person has a family dinner table to bring it home to. It suggests they’re not packing any boxes just yet and will remain there to see the bulbs they planted months ago bloom in spring. As much as I loved that shared city garden, I wasn’t sure I’d ever commit to one place long enough to grow fruits and vegetables. Even in my favorite city in the world.

More than ten years later, and as confident as a wandering soul can be that I’m not moving for at least the foreseeable future, I still admire the gardeners who tend to these shared spaces. When I walk past the Hilton Community Garden close to home on Capitol Hill or the Biltmore Triangle Garden in my old neighborhood of Adams Morgan or the communal garden in Shaw that a neighborhood nomad introduced me to not long ago, I admire the gardeners there for the same reasons I admired those at Fort Mason. They’re committed. They intend to stay put. They are certain enough about this place they call home to put a stake in the ground and declare they belong.

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Monuments at Night

monuments at night, dc

July 3, 2014, Washington, DC: An old friend I hadn’t seen in about ten years visited Washington for the first time last summer with his family. After a pizza dinner at Matchbox, his young daughter implored us see the “mommy mints” at night.

It was the evening before a DC fourth of July and Neil Diamond was rehearsing for the next day’s Independence Day concert over the loudspeakers around the Capitol. As we walked across the east plaza, our new little friend stopped in her tracks and insisted we join hands to spin around in a circle to the music. Moments later, a fireworks display erupted over at Nationals Park. We watched the colors burst into the sky behind the Cannon Building, and I stood there in awe of all that was happening in my beautiful neighborhood.

One night before the big show, this little celebration was entirely ours.

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