Navigating Narrow Lanes

I drove the interstate for the first time in weeks today.  Merging into traffic reminded me why I enjoy my walk to and from work, where I only need to look both ways before I cross the street.  It also reminded me of another area where we need to navigate traffic: the grocery store.  Our local supermarket consists of narrow aisles, just wide-enough for two carts to pass side-by-side.  Occasionally, we’ll run into a traffic jam, usually at the registers, the equivalent of the exit ramps. Every now and then, we’ll select the broken cart – the one with the wobbly wheel or worse yet, the seemingly standard cart that veers into the aisles when it pleases.  This cart, which only reveals itself after in the middle of a crowded aisle, will turn head-on into displays of dry goods, threaten to roll into other shoppers from behind, and if loaded down with soda cans or a giant bag of dog food, dig its worn-out treads into the tiles and refuse to move at all.  Depending on how quickly we want to move through the store, the cart’s belligerence is an annoyance and sometimes, comical relief.  We have laughed our way down the aisle as we slow traffic.

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Bringing Home a Part of the Farm

We were driving back to our apartment yesterday evening when we passed a parked horse trailer.   This sighting would not be unusual where we had come from in the Shenandoah Valley, but we had already crossed over the Key Bridge.  Horse trailers and the namesake they carry aren’t that common here, so we slowed down to get a better look.  In the front yard of a nearby home, we spotted a pony, a goat, and a llama – a complete petting zoo driven in for a birthday party!

At the time, we had our own garden in the back of our Fit – a full harvest from the garden at my grandparents.  After spending the day picking a bushel of beans and mowing their substantial yard, we came home with some squash, cucumbers, peppers, and a container of hand-picked blackberries.  (We managed to leave the beans behind, though after picking through three rows, I thought I would never escape.)  This morning I discovered that I also brought back several bug bites, a burned shoulder, and the possibility of poison on my right forearm.

Trail Blazes

Raspberries from the trail

The first signs of summer have cropped up along our favorite part of the Canal Path.  During our run this past week, we spotted 32 geese of all ages and sizes, a single young deer grazing in the nearby wooded area, and more raspberries than we could count.  Though hardly noticeably during our running pace, their ripe red color screamed out when we stopped to walk.   We probably looked crazy when we stepped off the pebbly path to get a closer look.  Most of our fellow runners, walkers, and bikers, crept or sped by seemingly unaware of these bight blazes.  Though I don’t recommended eating them straight from the trail, I did carry a few home to thoroughly clean before tasting.  Though smaller than store-bought berries, they are just as flavorful as those found at the nearby farmer’s market, and they had even fewer miles to travel – a total of 2.5 in fact.  Though with the berry picking sidetrack, this “run” took us over an hour.

The Billy Goat Trail and Other Creatures

A clear sign that we found the Billy Goat Trail

My husband accused me of scrambling over rocks like a girl today.  He speaks the truth – I’m much less agile than my fellow hikers, who use their long legs or four-wheel-drive to quickly climb to the peak of the rock outcroppings that we encountered on the B and C portions of the Billy Goat Trail.  We sought out this trail in April, but ended up on less scraggly trail farther north in Great Falls.  Today, we parked at Carderock and started from the southern point of the trails.  The parking lot still had plenty of spaces, but the trails revealed a fair share of families, rock climbers, kayakers, and other dogs leashed to the owners.  Our hound enjoyed this trail thoroughly, bounding through mud puddles and over large rocks, but it’s important to note that dogs are not allowed in the A section of the trail, due to the rocks.  Fortunately, we have been building up to them.

Climbing ropes on the Billy Goat Trail

The rocks in this section of the trail provide ample surface for rock climbers, who tie their ropes to trees at the peak and rappel down to the wider path below. In addition to outdoor enthusiasts, the trails host other wildlife including plenty of toads and frogs enjoying the muddy terrain.  The recent storms were evident in the river as well, which swallowed trees down the bank from the trail and in some spots lapped at the dirt a few feet from our path.  Fortunately, we waited an extra day after the recent storms to let the water subside, resulting in a great river view from the Billy Goat Trail.