Neighborhood Nomads
places we belong

Category: Washington DC

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, 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!

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.

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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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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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.


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 (

Georgetown Waterfront Park (
Yards Park (

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The Upside to Cabin Fever


June 26, 2014, Washington, DC: I’ve spent more time home than ever since little one arrived. She made her debut just before the temperature hit sweltering and the azaleas out front wilted away in the midday sun. Without warning, the heat of June cut short our daily outings and postponed strolls with friends until after dinner in the shade of evening. Within the confines of our air-conditioned oasis, I’ve teetered between going downright stir crazy and suddenly loving this home more than ever — in large part because the little person who lives here now has transformed it.

That’s why it felt serendipitous to finally get around to reading the rest of Kinfolk’s Home issue recently during an afternoon nap. I happened to open to an essay called “A New Lease on Life” and it was just perfect. It was everything I’d want to tell you here if its author Nikaela Marie Peters hadn’t so eloquently already done so.

“When my son was born, my house became alive,” she writes. “I noticed it in the first week. The structure I’d come to accept as ordinary—an early-1920s middle-class home with a stone foundation, hardwood floors and limestone moldings in the porch—started acting extraordinarily. In the otherwise silent night, save for the sounds of a suckling newborn, I was sure I could hear the house breathing.”

If you subscribe to Kinfolk, (I highly recommend!), you can read the essay here in its entirety. It’s all quite beautiful.

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