Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Too Pure to be Pink

I saw a few of these Pink Ladies painted on the sidewalk on my walk home from work yesterday.
Does anyone know what they are for?
Are they painted in more areas than between Dupont and U St?
Very intriguing.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Love New York - Or that's what the T Shirt Says

You'd think I would love New York - it's a loud city with loud people, it has an unparalleled appreciation for fashion and the arts and the city really knows how to party.  But for reasons unbeknownst to me, when it comes down to it, I'll never love New York the way it deserves. It's overpriced, it can get really smelly for no reason, and the streets every weekend tend to look like Bourbon Street the day after Mardi Gras.  Ironically though, many of the people I love the most in the world are New Yorkers, or hale from the tri-state area, and because of this I make what seems to be a monthly pilgrimage to the city that never sleeps.  And I have to say, after 8 years - it's growing on me.

Despite my reluctance to consider New York on my top ten list of cities, I do respect New York and it's people.  New Yorkers have an unprecedented commitment to taxing cigarettes, fat free fro yo, convenient banking and pharmaceuticals (you can't scream "How YOU doin'" without it echoing off of a Duane Reade).  But in relation to this blog in particular, the city has an unbelievable commitment to NATURE.

It's true, New York can be characterized as a sea of cement with sky scrapers that (especially in Winter) seem to block out the sun entirely, but in actuality it houses some of the most beautiful parks that I've ever been to.  And for argument's sake, let's say I've been to a lotta parks.  I feel like there is more greenery in ten city blocks in New York than there is in all of DC.  
Here are some fun facts: 24% of New York is covered in trees and there are 5.2 million trees in New York City.  Apparently those trees catch 890 million gallons of stormwater annually - so high five a tree in NYC for protecting us from Irene last weekend.

So, back to hiking, in an ode to New York greenery, I took a leetle walk to a park that opened in 2009 and recently just opened an expansion this past June - High Line - the Park in the Sky.

There are 9 different access points where people can enter and exit the park

A couple of summers ago, Chelsea, Britt and I biked from the South Street Sea Port up the West Side Highway to this little gem, which at the time was only a few months old.  Chelsea has since moved to Chelsea (hehe) and certain entrances to the park are only a few blocks away from her building.  So you're looking at that picture thinking...stairs? to a park?...I know.  High Line is actually an old train line that has been converted to a little boardwalk type park that stretches from the meatpacking district to 30th street.  I'd say it's about a mile long, maybe a little more.

The old train tracks that run the length of the park

There are places to eat and sit, flowers that have been planted along the stretch of the tracks and even some sculptures and art to gaze at along the way.

The grey and neon color scheme is a designer after my own heart

How cute are these maintenance bikes?

This sculpture is also bird houses

The views from the park are also breathtaking.  There is the Hudson River with the Jersey City skyline and also a view of the New York skyline, which like or dislike of the city as a whole aside, always amazes me.  Washington DC has it's beautiful monuments, but New York's skyline is a tribute to well over a century of innovation and architecture.  And those buildings are situated side by side - an early 20th century walk up right next to some post-modern all glass skyscraper.  I'm honestly surprised I've never been hit by a car in New York because I never tire of walking around looking straight up at the different buildings that tower above.

Innovation in a parking garage - Let's just stack them on top of each other

Not a split screen, these two building coexist right next to each other

Something a little more modern

Painted brick over the DVF store in the Meatpacking District

I think my walk from Chelsea's to the park, then walking around the whole perimeter of the park and back to the apartment was probably about 3 miles.  A perfect little vacation workout.  The next day I walked from 26th and 7th down to the Staten Island Ferry.  Let me tell YOU - that was a looong walk.  It was a great walk too, down 7th to Canal, then to Broadway dead ending at Ground Zero and the new tower they're building there, through the financial district to the waterfront.  I didn't take any pictures though, so there won't be a post about that one.  Also, considering I was going to a music festival to be on my feet all day - I wish I had just cabbed.  

On the ferry to Governor's Island I did snap this of Lady Liberty

In conclusion, I live in DC and I visit New York.  I love love love to just visit New York.  And with upcoming trips already planned for September and October, maybe I'll hike around another park in the city as well.  With special guest stars in this special guest city.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

An Earthquake and a Hurricane Walk Into a Bar

The earthquake says, "What's shakin?"

That's the best I got.

It's true, in a span of 5 days I've been in an earthquake and now Hurricane Irene.  But not just me, the rest of the east coast.  Being from Florida, hurricanes mean breaking out the daquiri machine and getting pushed in the pool.  Fill your tub up with water just in case, but otherwise...Hurricane Partyyy!

New York on the other hand, is panicking.  Every bus, train and boat out of the city for the next 48 hours has been cancelled.  The subway stopped running at noon today.  Every Starbucks in the city is closed.  It's insane.  And a little overzealous if you ask me.

This comes to mind.

This morning it was really just this.  Sandbagging.

The only thing is, for the past 2 days I've been making fun of people freaking out about this Category 2 storm...which I think has now been downgraded to a Category 1.  Which is a joke, actually.  I do think that karma can be a high maintenance lady though, so to protect myself, I hope that no matter what, everyone stays safe and well-weathers the storm. 

I did get 2 beautiful days in New York though and managed to get in a couple of long, scenic walks - which this blog likes to refer to as 'hikes.'  Stay tuned for updates next week.

Until then, be safe, stay dry, and please - turn your hurriCAN'T into a hurriCAN.  Party on.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Not Your Port in a Storm

I like to think of myself as a loyal friend on a psychological and emotional level.  However – in the event that physical harm can be done to me – I am not your girl.  For example, on a commercial shoot in Florida recently, a HUGE bug landed on the cameraman’s shirt.  Mid-sentence I took off running, only looking back to scream, “You HAVE A BUG ON YOUR SHIRT!”  Let’s just say I’m more of a shoulder to cry on than a port in a literal storm.  You’ve been warned.

I’m telling you this because we had an earthquake today in DC …and I panicked.  Not like ran into the street panic, which a lot of people did and that’s the last thing you should do, but like froze up, couldn’t think, heart palpitation kind of panic.  I'm calling it "Mini-Stroke Panic."

When the tremors struck I was sitting next to my boss, working, and I couldn’t help thinking, “If I die in the clutches of this job, I am haunting my coworkers forever. The bad kind of haunting.”  I usually have this thought during plane turbulence on a work trip or ‘close calls’ if I’m driving a rental car and almost get in an accident.  I can now add “earthquake” to the ways I may die while slaving away in a production studio.  Great.

So like I said: I’m sitting next to my boss, and having never experienced an earthquake before, I quietly asked, “Why is there shaking?”  He replied without looking up from his computer, “It’s probably just an earthquake.”  Thank God.  Just that. 

That’s when I froze.  Though I realized the rumbling and shaking were growing in intensity, I absently stared out the window wondering, “If that building across the street falls, then I’m really [insert expletive here].”  Trying to decide if I should get under a doorway or something, and before I could come to a reasonable conclusion or form a complete thought, it was over and I started laughing like a crazy person. See – not your bridge over troubled water.  I couldn't move, think or speak.  Mini Stroke 101.

What really amazed me was the amount of people who managed to ‘evacuate’ within this 20 to 30 second span.  I couldn’t find anyone in the building for 15 minutes.  Sheesh, it took people longer to decide if they should evacuate for Katrina.  And that was serious damage. 

Then of course there’s the 24 hour news – nothing like sensationalist media coverage of the 20 second equivalent of a garbage truck driving by to really amp up public hysteria.  

Please guys, the camera shakes more when you're filming without a tripod.

In summary, I hope you bring a few things from my stories today. 1) When you’re hanging out with me, it’s every man for himself.  I can’t help it, it’s Darwinism.  Kind of.   2) The odds increase everyday that I’m going to die in the workplace AND that the world is coming to an end.  Matt – you know the drill.   3)  I blame the media for my feigned overreaction, and I’m quietly snickering at people that left the building.  
4) Thank God we weren’t hiking because cutting your own arm off for a movie deal is so last Oscars.  

What?  Too soon?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Inventionist

See - I just invented that word to add drama and meaning to the fact that yeah, I'm an inventor.

For example, it's long been one of my life goals to have a word entered into Webster's.  Which considering they added "woot" to the Oxford English Dictionary this year, I can't be that far off.  In college I invented the word "majoratively" - Muh-JOR-ah-tiv-lee Adj. Meaning a majority of the time - and would throw it into finals and term papers just to see if my professors recognized my genius. Usually they just circled it with a question mark...but at least they noticed.

George is clearly aghast at the state of the English language.
(Art on the corner of 15th and V NW)

I also claim to be the inventor of the RunWalk.  Since joining the Cross Country team in high school - and never being much of an endurance type - the RunWalk is the fine art of running for a few minutes until you get too tired and bored, so you slow to a walk.  Coach Townsend will attest to the fact that I'm somewhat of a Master Yogi of RunWalking.  That year I attempted to run in exactly one race - and it was rained out.  I took that as a sign.  Unfortunately, in relating this story to someone who's actual profession is 'Trainer,' he claimed the RunWalk is already in existence as an official way to do long-distance races.  Apparently there are even some books about it.  Whatever, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

Cross Country Practice - 2002

I've invented loads of other things, but I think you get the idea.  Also, none of my brainchildren have yet to reach the level of the the world’s not ready for me anyway.

Which brings me to my hiking point, because after all, that's what this blog is about - I've invented a hike!  Yes, I understand you can't "invent" a hike, but I forged the path, blazed the trail, and wrote it down first (which according to Groundswell is half the battle).

I was walking solo this weekend since Matt had a friend in town...but after seeing what our book classifies as DC Hikes, which are sometimes just long sightseeing walks, I thought I'd share a route I routinely take on the weekends from my apartment to the Regal Gallery Place movie theatre.  I bring you: "Movie Miles."

There are plenty of ways to walk from 16th and U NW to Chinatown but I prefer to walk straight down 16th for a few reasons: there are tons of beautiful buildings to look at along the way and it's really hard to get lost. Hang a Louie at the White House and stay on H.  Not hard.

Along 16th, dead-ending at the White House, you'll find some really beautiful townhomes and apartment buildings (my favorite is the one below with stars as trim - Stars remind me of my friend Katie), the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Museum and Library, and the DC Church of Scientology - which I heard gives free tours and free stress tests.  Helloooo DC on a budget.

Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Museum and Library

I love the primary colors.

Carnegie Institute

'Free in DC' - Scientology
The walk is about 40 minutes one way and it's the perfect exercise to justify going to sit for 2 hours in a dark theatre on a beautiful day.  In addition, for the ladies, if you go down F or G Street instead of H, there's a Macy's, Filene's, Forever, H&M, and Zara along the way.  And in the words of the immortal Carrie Bradshaw, "Shopping is my cardio."  2 birds, 1 stone.  3 birds if you count ending the spree with a movie.  4 if you bike home.

And I shot all those birds on Saturday.*  

Cardio Woot!  Thanks to the Redcoats, and their bloody control over the English language, that is officially a real sentence. If you ask me, 'majoratively' will do less harm to future generations.

*No birds were actually harmed in the writing of this blog.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hike 3 - Park Preview

For the next two weeks, Matt and I will be doing Tuesday hikes because we’re busy/out of town during the weekends.  This past Tuesday we trekked around Great Falls Park, VA.  Un.freaking.believable.  I didn’t know such beautiful nature even existed in the Metro area.  You haven’t seen the Potomac until you’ve seen it like this.  If I can say that, anyone who’s actually into nature would really go gaga.

Check out the little kayakers!

The murky green waters that snake through the District and around our monuments don’t hold a candle to the white-capped rapids that break in Virginia’s Potomac.  Breathtaking.  Shoot, now I feel guilty that I’m rounding my three-year anniversary here in DC and I had no idea this little gem even existed.  I knew the Potomac existed, duh, but not like this.

In addition to experiencing the River in a completely different way, the drive up is equally pleasurable.  Again – I didn’t know homes so grand existed in this area.  Am I really going through life with blinders on?  Oblivious to the wonderful city I live in and all it has to offer?  Keep it to yourselves – those questions are rhetorical.

*Sidebar – After almost getting hit by a car 2 days ago at 19th and L, I had the random conversation with myself about what it would be like if we had no peripheral vision.  Weird, right?  It’s fun inside my head.  I go there all the time.

Oh –as I was saying: Sprawling acres, gated and stonewalled mansions, it’s a Real Housewife’s dream.  Being a sucker for real estate and home d├ęcor publications, I just gawked out the window - hanging my head out farther than Hudson - recurrently gasping, “Look at THAT!” 

Then came the obvious question, “Seriously Matt, how do I marry into that?” I kid, I kid.  But as my dad, Ed, always says, “It’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as it is to fall in love with a poor man.”  And I always listen to Ed.

We had to cut this hike short because an important thing to note about Great Falls is that it’s a solid 30 to 40 minute drive from DC.  By the time we both got off of work, I biked to Matt’s (more to come on that debacle), and we high-tailed it out to Virginia, there was only about 40 minutes of light left in the day.  It was even darker in the thick of the woods.  Hudson was scared, so after promising each other to come back on a Saturday morning and do the works - kayaking, hiking, and grilling – Matt and I reluctantly drove back to the mothership – er, land. 

Now comes the funny part about my bike ride to Matt’s house in Eastern Market.  It’s actually just pitiful, but I figure if I write enough embarrassing stuff I can shame myself back into shape.  Here goes:

I recently have been dabbling in Capital Bikeshare  – a bike rental company in DC.  I tested the waters with a few one-day passes and a couple of days ago I signed up for an entire month.  Reckless, I know.  In the spirit of my new healthy-ish lifestyle, I decided I’d snag a bike around the corner from my office and bike to Eastern Market.  Easy-Peezy.  And it was.  Not.

Do you know why they call it Capitol Hill?  Because our Capitol Building sits on an actual hill in DC and it is the highest point in the city.  I know what you’re thinking: It’s not Everest, Chief.  But, let’s face it, I would never climb Everest because I hate the cold and I complain too much – so the Hill is my Everest.  Just go with it.

One thing leads to another and I’m pedaling along, minding my own business, when I realize the route I have taken will bring me right to the belly of the beast.  There’s no turning back.  Independence Avenue.  Between the Capitol Building and the House Office Buildings.  The Mother of all Hills – or at least the Mother of all Democratic Hills (a little political humor, if you will).  It was too much, too big, too soon. 

I made it past Rayburn – which Washingtonians know is only a third of the way up - and then I had to stop and walk the bike up the rest…hanging my head ashamed as I passed the Capitol Police and they looked at me with disdain.  Judging.  And thinking, “That girl is weak.”  I made that part up.  They didn’t notice me.  But it was still embarrassing, especially since I didn’t even think – as I gasped for air, and my quads burned like the fires of Hell– that I was going to be able to make it walking either.  I went into my head picturing the horror of waking up, trapped under this bike, with Capitol Police zooming to my rescue and reporters rushing to the scene.  ‘Alert DC’ texts going out saying, “Chubby girl wipes out and blocks traffic to the Hill.  Congress shut down until further notice.” 

Just kidding – Congress isn’t even in session right now.

In the end, where Independence turns into Pennsylvania, I got back on my horse.  Luckily, I didn’t see anyone I know, but the Hill got the best of me.  Oh well, it wouldn’t be the first time.

This story went on forever, but humor me.  You’ll appreciate the film version.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Becoming a “We” and Special Guests

To officially make our hikes a “thing” we embarked on ILikeHike number 2.  60 Hikes brands it the “Columbia Island” hike.  But being that I’m a tourist in my own city – I don’t know where that is or if we were there.  This is how I see it: we started at Theodore Roosevelt Island, walked to the LBJ Memorial Grove and then looped back to Teddy’s pond.  I don’t have a poetic title for this one – but good stories ensue.

Spandex v. Shorts

Matt and I thought we were a little more prepared this time.  I’ll censor the blog for the children, but Matt and I finished our last route somewhat uncomfortably.   We each have a special name for our common ailment, but I’ll just say this: It involves thighs.  Inner thighs.  Being more prepared, and ever the lover of spandex (blame it on my ballet and rowing days, or just blame it on too much Saved By The Bell), I wore bike shorts.   Poof.  Problemo solved.  Matt thought longer underwear was the answer.  It wasn’t.  Shorts – 2.  Matt – 0. 

And…we’re hiking.

Enter my Mom, Claudia, who was in town for the weekend to go see Wicked with me.  It was a fabulous show, and I was over the moon that she came up just to see it with me... but I digress.  Claudia wore jeans on this hike, which I unfairly gave her a hard time about.  (But Moooooommmmm - Matt kept calling me Farrah, you figure it out.)  I can’t say the jeans slowed us down though because Matt and Hudson weren’t exactly on their A game either.  Matt will retaliate that I was some type of steroid-enhanced speed demon on this particular Saturday morning (and he’d be right), but these are my feelings, and I’m entitled to them.  As I sped ahead, it turned out Matt and Claudia are a match made in Heaven!  They chatted politics and had a blast!  Mom:  Matt is reading the book you suggested and can't put it down.  He told me to tell you "Love It" is an understatement.  *Sigh* I love it when my parents like my friends... :)

In addition to speedy, (and I wasn’t going to mention this, but in the spirit of full disclosure), I was cranky.  Don’t ask me why, I’m just a woman.  So, I’m cranky.  And we got lost.  On the GW Parkway.  No trail.  Just highway.  Going rogue.  Needless to say, after turning around a few times we found our way back to the trail.  But some jaywalking occurred and I’m flashing back to screaming across the highway, “Well, I’M NOT GOING THAT WAY.”  Not my proudest moment.  The up side to this is that even though the book says the Columbia Island Hike is 5.7 miles – our detours I’m sure made it significantly longer and therefore more exercising!!  Despite getting lost, this trail only took 2 hours and the book predicts it taking 2.5 or 3.5.  Long story short: We’re awesome.

What was really fun though is that we ventured into an area that Mom, Matt and I had no idea even existed: the LBJ Memorial Grove.  We ran into 2 very nice women in the grove that took our picture and – in a weird turn of events – actually know the author of the book which inspired and maps our 60 hikes.  Small world, right?  These women told us two things: 1) The author has a listserv that organizes naturey, outdoorsy kinds of events around the Metro area.  I mean, nature may not be my cup of tea, but I do have a blog about hiking now, which puts me about one dreadlock away from buying Birkenstocks and clothing made out of hemp.  Don’t worry – I don’t need an intervention.  Yet.  Oh, and 2) Apparently this LBJ Grove is one of the best places to watch the fireworks on the 4th.  A little hidden treasure, if you will.  But you didn’t hear it from me. 

Memorial Grove

In speaking to one of the women, I quickly realized that Matt and I – through 15 months of friendship and our hikes - have become somewhat of  a ‘We.’  Just 2 hikes in, we have stories about ‘our’ walks and I talk about Hudson as if he were my own.  “Oh, yes lady I don’t know, WE hike every week…WE always bring the dog…WE are going to blog about our hikes…WE love Netflix.”  And on and on and on.  When she said, “Oh, don’t worry, he’ll take care of you…” (I think we were talking about the high price of real estate in DC...ok, I know we were) Matt and I made eye contact, awkwardly looked away and said “Oh, it isn’t like that.”  But it is.  No, it isn’t.  It kind of is.  Nah.  Well, we thought it was funny. 

The Marine Memorial
'I <3 Oz' Shirt Courtesy of Mom!

In addition to my mother and some women who know the author of 60 Hikes, we had yet another guest star in this week’s hike.  Diana.  See – Matt is my boss Rob’s second cousin and Diana is Rob’s girlfriend.  Small world AGAIN, right?  We ran smack into each other, totally unplanned at 9am on the trails.  Diana has done the Breast Cancer walk a few times now and is training for one upcoming in California.  She walks a thousand miles per weekend to train.  Maybe not a thousand, but she literally walks to Vienna and back.  It’s too far for me to even Metro to Vienna.  Enough said.  It was wonderful seeing her though and kudos to her as she walks further every weekend than I could ever hope to.  WE really enjoyed seeing her.

Overall, though the weather was gloomy and the map was difficult to read, having my dear old mom along for the ride was really exciting.  Now that she’s taken part, WE actually have a witness to our little challenge.  Diana witnessed it too.  This is not a drill, people. 

I just have to decide who will play Mom in the movie.  The woman in the park will be played by Halle Berry and I actually told her that.  True story.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hike 1 - The Lincoln Loop

I wish I could say I started this challenge as some noble endeavor: a love of the outdoors, a need to connect with nature, or a longing to explore a city I live in but see too little of.  Nope.  Anyone who knows me knows I hate nature.  So, let’s call it a little bit of vanity (I need to lose weight), a little bit of boredom, and a little bit of “Matt Found This Book in the Bargain Bin at Borders.”   I don’t actually know if that’s true, but he showed up with this book one day and we hatched the idea to do them all.  Oh – the book we’re following, the inspiration for the 60 hikes, is 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Washington, DC

Of course, Matt and I had the obvious fear that we would give birth to this baby plan and never see it grow.  We’re a whole lotta talk and very little action.   The couch calls and I must answer.  But here’s how it works:  We started talking about it to anyone who would listen or dare utter “Any big plans this weekend?”  Parents, friends, coworkers… Matt pointed this out but – How embarrassing would it be to talk about our grand 10 miler and future plans to conquer the world, er, I mean 60 hikes in 60 weeks, if on Monday morning when people asked we both just hung our heads sheepishly and said, “Oh, yeah, um, I didn’t do that…I sat on my couch watching Netflix and eating my feelings…”

I know.  So embarrassing.  That’s what I was thinking.

And so began, “I Like Hike.” Well, we started hiking at least.  The idea for the blog came a bit later.

It’s the beginning of August and DC has had record heat this summer.  Most of July’s days had a heat index of well over 100 degrees.  That brings us to Saturday, August 6, 2011.  The first hike was Lincoln Park to the Lincoln Memorial and back, which the book dubs 8.6 miles and what I’m dubbing The Lincoln Loop.  Clever, right?  (I may or may not have stolen that gem of a title – I really don’t know).  But, Matt recently moved to Eastern Market and that’s where we walked from, so let’s just round it up to about 10 miles.  10 MILES.

10 MILES!!!  I was nervous.  Really nervous.  I’m not going to speak for Matt – but I’m (ahem) a little out of shape.  I know from friends training for the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk, that walking at a leisurely pace and flat road or not – you can’t just bust out 10 miles without achy joints, blisters, sore feet, etc.  I was also a little paranoid that it would take us 5 hours.  Having once stood at the top of the Capitol Dome and looked down The Mall – the Lincoln Memorial is like, really far away.  Worried that if we started the walk at 10:30 am, we’d be stuck in severe heat at the peak sun hours of the day, I had the grand plan to start at 8am.  Matt woke up on time, but being that I don’t even wake up at 8 on a workday, I did not.  I am…the weakest link.  So, we started at 10am anyway.  The good news is: It was only about 88 degrees that day and it only took 2.5 hours.  Visions of stress fractures and heat stroke quickly vanished once we began.  We were back at Matt’s by 12:30.  The bad news is: Hudson was a little worse for wear.  I’ll let Matt elaborate in a later post, should he feel that Hudson not get too embarrassed. 

We felt so empowered by our accomplishment and endorphins that we thought, “Pshhhhhh, stupid hikes – We could do one of you every day.”  And then, in typical loudmouth fashion I blabbed to parents, friends, and coworkers, “Oh, yeah, Matt and I are doing this hike-a-week thing.  No biggie.”  And to come full circle, we didn’t want to be embarrassed for letting the plan fizzle out, yada yada yada, we’re doing one hike a week.

Admirable.  I know.

And that's how we started this blog.  Because how else do people get movie deals?  Duh.