Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Walk in the Park

There are days when riding a bike seems forced. Today was one of them. I don't have anywhere to go and it's a little on the cold side outdoors.  And, to be honest, bike riding does get a little stale after 6,600+ miles over the course of the last 11 months.

Sitting inside leads to a vegetative state. And blobitude. Both are not good for your soul.

So I went for a walk in the woods. One of the nice secrets of living in southeastern Fairfax County is Huntley Meadows Park. The park includes over 1,400 acres of woods and swamp with two miles of walking trails including a boardwalk out into the swamp.  Once you are a half mile into the park all you can see are trees and swampland. It's a great place to decompress.

I hit the trail at about 11 this morning. The best time to go is early in the morning when no one else is there. You'll see deer and, in season, an impressive array of birds, turtles, beavers and other critters.

There were a few families at the park this morning. This pretty much guaranteed that I wouldn't see any deer. Kids make too much noise. When my kids were little, we'd take them to the park to check out the birds in the swamp. My son became obsessed with photographing them so we bought him a telephoto lens. His bedroom walls have several framed pictures that he took at Huntley Meadows when he was around five years old.

There's not much to see this time of year. The skies were cloudy and gray. The trees barren of leaves. The water level in the swamp was low, except for a small area that had been damned by beavers. Even with so, walking through the park reminds me of all the times I went exploring in the woods in Albany when I was a pre-teen. I could spend hours and hours just hanging out, poling the big logs on Dead Man's Pond, and spying on the big kids.  Sadly, Dead Man's Pond was filled long ago to make way for houses. The woods were cleared by a man who bought them with money he made selling CB radios back in the 1970's. They probably don't even know that a man known only by the decidedly politically incorrect name of  Injun Joe lived there. (I thought this was a tall tale made up by one of my brothers. I helped a friend's father move when I was in college. He told us about when he was a kid in Albany and actually met Injun Joe. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard this.)

I spent about an hour in Huntley Meadows. At one point I saw a couple of signs about 100 yards off the trail in the woods. I decided to check them out. They were warnings of a winter-long deer hunt being conducted by archers.  If they wanted me to stay on the trail, what the hell did they post the signs up so far into the woods for? Fail.

When I got home, I packed my panniers for tomorrow's cold commute. Big Nellie and I will be ready. Legs fresh. Brain recharged. If you happen to be in southeastern Fairfax County, take some time to check out Huntley Meadows.

My pix can be found here.

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