Neighborhood Nomads
places we belong

Category: The Landscape

Quite the Ride

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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

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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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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.

City Swimming Holes

Navy Yard splash pool DC

July 1, 2014, Washington, DC: It’s still early, but the temperature in the city is pushing 90. In the southeast neighborhood of Navy Yard, campers in bathing suits rush down a sloped lawn into the water. Parents lather sunscreen on their children, leave their flip flops on the edge, and step in themselves. Even before a mid-morning snack, kids in tiny sunhats and rashguards have filled the splash pool by the Anacostia River.

Georgetown Waterfront Park

Mid-afternoon. The heat of the day. A family visiting Washington discovers the fountain by the Potomac River on Georgetown’s waterfront. All morning they’ve been asking themselves why they opted to visit this swampy city at the height of summer, but now the children run free in soaked t-shirts and shorts. An ice cream truck on the corner repeats its tune, and this trip to the nation’s capital seems like a good idea after all.

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Early evening in downtown Washington. Businessmen and women leave the office and fill in the gaps between tourists lining the fountain in the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art. They take off their summer flats or closed-toed shoes, roll up their slacks, and dip their feet in. Through graceful arcs of water, they gaze at the grand columns of the National Archives across the street. They take a breath, put the day behind them, imagine Europe. They zone out for a bit, some longer than others, before thinking about what’s for dinner and retreating into the city’s neighborhoods with hours of sunlight still ahead.

There’s a swimming hole on the slopes of Mt. Tam in the shadow of tall, dark trees on the outskirts of Muir Woods. The hole is alarmingly deep and the water is ice cold even after a long sweaty hike higher on the mountain. It’ll take your breath away every time.

If You Go…
National Gallery of Art (http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb.html)

Georgetown Waterfront Park (http://www.georgetownwaterfrontpark.org)
Yards Park (http://www.yardspark.org)

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Our Annual Adventure

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“Come sit with me in summer chairs,
Behind us, the old hotel chatters with echoes.
Shadows fall on the lawn as dark as pitch, deep as the evergreen sea.
We speak of our heart’s desires, make lists: A sunny courtyard with pots of rosemary and a caramel colored cat; one more ripe tomato; one more conversation with our mother; walking in shoes that speak Italian; kisses that reach our toes; a world at peace.
Mist blurs blue balsams on the horizon, comes to settle on our knees.
We wear old sweaters and wait in summer chairs for rainbows, for one more golden chance.”

-Artist Diane Hanna

June 24, 2014, Washington, DC: Husband and I were married several years ago in the little town of Irvington, Virginia on the peninsula known as the Northern Neck, and each June we return to coastal Virginia to reminisce about that epic party. Map in hand, we explore various towns and waterways that lead to the Chesapeake Bay, drink Virginia wine, sit outside and dream of an eventual summer home, paddleboard on Carter’s Creek, eat oysters, make plans. I love how that wedding weekend has evolved into our own little family tradition, one that’s open-ended enough to be a bit different every year.

Are there trips you take with family every summer? Maybe it began with a horse race or a soccer game or a surprisingly good meal. Where do you go and how did the tradition begin? What do you value most about these annual adventures?

If You Go to Irvington:
Hope and Glory Inn (http://www.hopeandglory.com); The Dog and Oyster Vineyard (http://www.virginiawine.org/wineries/the-dog-and-oyster-vineyard); The Tides Inn (http://www.tidesinn.com); Nate’s Trick Dog Cafe (http://www.trickdogcafe.com)

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dogandoyster

Speaking of The Places You’ll Go…

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June 18, 2014, Washington, DC: 
I remember receiving Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” as a graduation gift long ago. I loved every word at age 18 as much as I did at 5, and I appreciate his book even more today. But this weekend, I was also compelled by the words of another doctor, likewise offering advice to graduates about the power of place.

This gem from doctor and writer Atul Gawande, appearing at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, was included in a compilation of excerpts from 2014 commencement speakers in Sunday’s New York Times:

“One thing I came to realize after college was that the search for purpose is really a search for place, not an idea. It is a search for a location in the world where you want to be part of making things better for others in your own small way. It could be a classroom where you teach, a business where you work, a neighborhood where you live. The key is, if you find yourself in a place where you stop caring — where your greatest concern becomes only you — get out of there.”

Isn’t that terrific? I thought those words deserved some space here on Neighborhood Nomads, both as a reflection on the places we’ve been and on those still ahead that we’ve yet to explore.

Miles from Monday: A Place to Pitch a Tent

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Miles from Monday is a travel series focused on venturing out of the spaces we inhabit during our work week and retreating to landscapes that feel far from routine.

June 2, 2014, Washington, DC: It was thumbtacked to a bulletin board in Eastport’s Leeward Market last week, just across the creek from downtown Annapolis. “Wanted, a place to pitch a tent… just a safe spot to sleep under the stars… my phone fell in the river so email is temporarily the best way to contact me.” A vine of flowers, birds and sunshine surrounded the message. Simple. Idealistic. Handwritten.

Maybe that’s why I found the note refreshing instead of naive. It was a throwback to an era that preceded the online status update, a return to a time when a lost cell phone was not the end of the world. It was a retreat to days when a bulletin board in an old deli was the optimal to contact the neighbors. It was a reminder of a former phase of my own life when solo travel was the greatest adventure imaginable and all a girl could ask for was a safe place to sleep under the stars.

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