Neighborhood Nomads
places we belong

Category: Places That Shape Us

The Summer of the Shared Bicycle

bikeshare dcAugust 10, 2013, Washington, DC: I am a saner person on a bicycle. There are strong arguments to be made for bicycling as a money saver, a time saver and a healthy choice, but the bottom line is that my blood boils less when I’m biking rather than driving and I actually enjoy getting from Point A to Point B. This summer more than ever before, it’s apparent there are a lot of us out there.

A Warm Welcome to Ballpark Boathouse

Ballpark Boathouse, July 2013, Washington, DC

July 20, 2013, Washington, DC: DC’s first kayak rental facility on the Anacostia River opened today and needless to say, I am so excited. The dock is tucked right there in the shadow of Nationals Park and it’s called Ballpark Boathouse. Seriously. These are a few of my favorite things. As I paddled back into the dock this afternoon, I could hear a test run of the National Anthem beginning over the loudspeakers in preparation for this evening’s ballgame. Immediately, all of us there began excitedly brainstorming about enjoying night games on the water. When I lived in San Francisco, I thought McCovey Cove just outside the ballpark was one of the coolest spots in the city, and now we have someplace similar to paddle in DC.

Not only does Ballpark Boathouse combine some of my favorite elements of DC life, it’s also the result of a year of hard work by many, including Neighborhood Nomad David Garber. About a year and a half ago, David contributed to the blog to share why he loves where he lives, and we can now count Ballpark Boathouse as one more reason to spend time in Navy Yard. It’s been uplifting to see this neighborhood adjacent to my own developing in recent years and I’ll certainly be taking advantage of someplace to paddle closer to home.

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Ballpark Boathouse, July 2013, Washington, DC

Green Mountain Friday

power of place

June 28, 2013, Stowe, Vt: A copy of Yankee Magazine is on the table by the window when I arrive in my hotel room in Stowe, Vermont. The issue is a few months old, maybe left behind by an earlier guest, maybe held onto by hotel staff because its contents hit home. Either way, the publication is a gift; inside are stories set on a New Hampshire farm, where a woman threw a birthday party for her house’s 250th year, or in Cabot, Vermont, where children drew maps of the best places in town, detailing routes to the candy store and the lake where they found an enormous spider. Also included are the winning submissions from “My Hometown” photo contest and tales of people whose connection to the land runs so deep they refuse to sell. “They know what they’re about, and where they live is a big part of that,” writes Howard Mansfield, author of the article called, “My Roots are Deeper Than Your Pockets.” “They have something of the reach of the land within themselves.” Editor Mel Allen writes that this issue devoted to the power of place is one of those that speaks to him more than the others. I see what he means.

Miles From Monday: Running the Capitol Hill Classic

Capitol Hill Classic, Washington, DC, May 2013

“It was being a runner that mattered, not how fast or how far I could run. The joy was in the act of running and in the journey, not in the destination. We have a better chance of seeing where we are when we stop trying to get somewhere else. We can enjoy every moment of movement, as long as where we are is as good as where we’d like to be. That’s not to say that you need to be satisfied forever with where you are today. But you need to honor what you’ve accomplished, rather than thinking of what’s left to be done.” — John Bingham

May 20, 2013, Washington, DC: We run together through a spitting rain. First as a tight pack and later as a long string of a neon sneakers stretched out over the entire neighborhood. We check the landmarks off the list first, tagging the back of the Supreme Court and the Shakespeare Library before beelining it away from the city in a straight shot out toward its edge. Familiar faces and strangers reach into the street offering paper cups and high fives. Clutching coffee mugs, wearing baseball caps, there’s the shopkeeper from around the corner, the family who lives down the block…

Miles from Monday, And Still Running


“Every mile out there is a gift.”

-Amby Burfoot, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon

April 22, 2013, Washington, DC: Amby Burfoot was less than a mile from the finish line last Monday, ready to celebrate the 45th anniversary of his marathon win, when the bombs went off on Boylston Street. I heard him recount his story a few days later on NPR’s Fresh Air as I drove home up Independence Ave. and past the U.S. Capitol where flags flew at half staff to commemorate the victims of the Boston Marathon. When I got home, like so many others, I went for a run. Past the Capitol Police on the corner of Independence and 3rd, behind the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court, out East Capitol and around Lincoln Park. The usual route, spiked this time with an unusual sense of patriotism.

I ran a lot last week, in fact. Undoubtedly inspired by those who ran the marathon and those who cheered them on, undoubtedly motivated by the neighborhood 10K coming up next month. On Thursday, I ran my occasional six mile route home from work, through Dupont Circle into downtown and east along Pennsylvania Ave towards Capitol Hill. The pedestrian plaza in front of the White House, a highlight on the route, remained closed due to increased security, but the crowds of runners and visitors out that day detoured around it and carried on.

Potomac Days

Georgetown from the Potomac River, Washington, DC, April 2013 Columbia Island Marina, Potomac, April 2013

April 21, 2013, Washington, DC: Late April in Washington this year marks the beginning of our Potomac days. We’re off to a later start than normal, it seems, but we don’t let the chill in the air stop us. We check on our yellow kayak and introduce ourselves to Nicholas, the new manager at the Key Bridge Boathouse formerly known as Jack’s. Soon we’ll be there often, grilling by the water’s edge and pushing off from the dock for short trips past Georgetown’s already crowded waterfront steps towards Watergate and the Kennedy Center. When the weekend comes, we bundle in fall layers and bike down to the marina, hitching a ride on a friend’s boat out of Washington Channel and around Hains Point into the Potomac where the river gets wide. We are making preparations for summer Saturdays. We are getting reacquainted with the water.

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Places That Shape Us: Biking Home

Potomac River, Washington, DC, January 2013

January 8, 2013, Washington, DC: I snapped these photos this evening on my bike ride home. It was the first time I’d gotten out and exercised in awhile and I took my sweet time, pausing to balance my bike against a street lamp or curb while removing a glove and taking my camera phone out my coat pocket to capture the sunset. I live in a beautiful city. It’s easy to remember that while biking through the areas of town occupied predominately by tourists. Every one of them is smiling. It’s refreshing to see the city as they see it, through the eyes of someone who’s never lived here and is moving through it for the very first time.

Movement itself, I’ve decided, makes me a particular type of nomad. Despite my best efforts, I’m not a traveler who can sit still at the beach or a homebody capable of spending a day on the couch. I am someone who appreciates my surroundings most profoundly by moving through them — one step, one pedal, one stroke at a time. For some, it’s predominately music or food that draws them in; while both compel me, I’m typically hooked by opportunities for physical activity. Outdoor recreation allows me to live well in a space, inhaling its air, taking it in at a manageable pace, appreciating its health. A run in a foreign city, a paddle around Teddy Roosevelt Island, or a bike ride home from the office are the best ways I know to carefully observe the landscape.

That’s why I’ve recently organized all of my posts focused on recreation, athletics, health and wellness into a new category here on Neighborhood Nomads called Places That Shape Us. You can find it in the drop down menu on the righthand side of the home page. Check it out and come back to visit for upcoming posts about moving and exercising throughout this fine city.

Georgetown and Potomac River, Washington, DC, January 2013

Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC, January 2013

Washington DC, January 2013

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