Chai, Chai Again

Like many D.C. residents, I’ve been under the weather lately.  The warm spring temperatures and up-close visit to the cherry blossoms resulted in a flair up of allergies.  After a regime of tea and honey, I resorted to more traditional remedies.  However, I’m still on the look-out for local honey.  Some believe that because honey contains pollen, an allergen, ingesting it in small doses can fend off later attacks.  With a family history of honey, I like to think that is true, plus it’s a great natural sweetener.

The honey at the local farmer’s market is within a 100-mile radius of the metro area, but there’s definitely a closer source in Georgetown, as identified in this News 4 story about a beekeeper who not only advocates for the bee population, but keeps eight hives on his rooftop.  It’s like a buzzing civilization above the city.

My tea of choice is chai.  It’s strong spices are one of the few things that I can still smell.  I discovered this type of tea in college, and it seemed so foreign then.  I grew up on hot black tea for breakfast and southern sweet tea for every other meal. Coffee was something reserved for holidays at grandparents houses, brewed strong to mask its staleness, or mixed instantly into hot water for a quick morning pick-me-up.  Now chai tea is something warm and familiar – pure comfort in a cup.

A Curious Case of Character-Driven Novels

After a lengthy read for book club – Dr. Zhavigo –  I picked up something lighter to read.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time comes in at a mere 270 pages, but seems half that when reading on the Nook.  It’s completely character-driven, told in the voice of a 15-year-old boy with Asperger’s Syndrom who feels more at home in math class than with his parents.  He can calculate large numbers quickly, devises algorithms for daily activities such as getting stuck in a traffic jam, and is obsessed with prime numbers, to the point that his chapters are appropriately labeled by them, rather than the conventional cardinal numbers.

When Christopher discovers a dead dog in his neighbor’s yard, he embarks on a detective mission, similar to his beloved Sherlock Holmes books, where he learns the most about his own family and their relationships with the neighborhood.  While his world unravels, he becomes more focused on his upcoming math class, the only thing that stays constant throughout the book.  Even though Christopher has to keep his distance from people, it’s the characters in the book that make the story.  Readers become closer to them through each detail and each clue, as the author Mark Haddon reveals just enough to keep the story moving forward.

 

 

D.C. in bloom (and in green)

cherry blossoms

A visit to the cherry blossoms in D.C.

For this weekend’s adventure, we plotted a running route that would take us through the famous cherry blossoms of D.C. and result in a half-marathon, 13.1 mile distance.  This would be my longest run to date and my first time visiting the tidal basin in bloom.  We started at 9 a.m. and kept a good pace through Rock Creek Park, until traffic – vehicular and pedestrian – picked up.  We also saw plenty of bicyclists and the occasionally rollerblader, both of which seem to be a smart way to see the sights.  Even though it’s early in the season, the trees were already in bloom, providing a gorgeous, lace-like cover to parts of the path.  Our run slowed to a walk and eventually to a halt to take photos.  We stayed along the river, where I was surprised to see a father and son fishing over the railing, and even more surprised when one of them actually pulled something in.  Otherwise, we only shared this part of the peninsula with geese and ducks and a fair amount of debris that had been washed ashore.

Georgetown canal

The Canal in Georgetown

Our return route took us by several of the monuments, which continuously draw a crowd, making it somewhat difficult to navigate the baby strollers at a descent pace.  The number of runners also increased, possibly because of the nice weather, though I had expected to see fewer runners since most competed in the Rock and Roll half-marathon.  By the afternoon, no doubt, they were celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.  For our Saturday, we enjoyed the natural green that can be found in D.C. We ended in Georgetown via the canal path, which offered a view at the backside of a quaint part of the city.  Here, the pavement turns to cobbled bricks and stones, the path narrows, and eventually the running surface returns to dirt. Though I noticed that several of the weekend athletes avoided the ground altogether, preferring instead to take to the water, on a cherry blossom boat ride, a paddle boat or canoe, or one of the many rowing teams that broke through morning fog and continued to row well into the afternoon.

Time for Trails

The Washington Post ran a story this weekend from a couple who decided to bike the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.  It’s the D.C. end that interests me, and it’s one of our favorite places for long weekend runs, even on the shortest day of the year.  With additional afternoon sunlight and spring arriving a little more each day, it’s the perfect time to explore the running routes in D.C.

In the fall, the tow path and canal are almost empty.

Starting at Georgetown, the dirt tow path runs parallel to the paved Capital Crescent Trail.  On weekdays, the CCT bicycle traffic picks up with commuters, so it can be difficult to run with the dog.  The first time we ventured out on this trail, I even questioned whether or not dogs were allowed.  They are, as long as they are kept on a short leash.  On the weekends, you’ll see plenty of them trotting along the more natural tow path, leashed to walkers, runners, and the occasional bicyclist. This path also attracts fishermen and families who congregate along the banks when the canal is full.

The route we choose depends on the surface and scenery that we want.  The tow path, for all its small stones and pebbles, offers a relatively level surface and hugs the Potomac River into Maryland.  From the Key Bridge, it flows west past a rental boat house to reveal a kayak course that has been the subject of a CBS Sunday Morning segment.  After the dam, the views expand, so it’s worth parking at one of the many locks along the route and starting your journey from there.

The Capital Crescent Trail has a steep incline to begin, crossing over the canal and arching further inland through Maryland.  Though on the reverse route to Georgetown, the running is mostly downhill.  Plenty of side paths lead into the suburbs of Maryland and a McDonold’s emerges approximately four miles in, as a scented, primary-colored reminder of civilization that could almost be forgotten.  The trail skirts the outside of the city, as quick get away from hustle and bustle that more characteristic define the district. Perhaps that’s why Nancy Szokan found it so meditative during her biking trip.