Friday, June 20, 2008

Building Substance

It had been a long time since I last visited DC. With this distance, I had forgotten just how impressive all the public buildings are in the capital. I get so sickened of public buildings in strip malls, such as our Federal Building in Boise that is nicknamed Fed-Mart due to it's not so substantive, but considerable neighbor.

When did courthouses start resembling box stores and churches warehouses? Show that place has meaning! It is delightfully refreshing to visit a public space that we embrace whole-heartedly, stating unabashedly, "This is a place that matters."

Some classic (and new) examples from around DC:

I was delighted to discover the new World War II Veterans Memorial. Another example of substantive architecture. It leaves a mark. Bravo.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Me & Ma and Ma & Pa

I enjoyed a stroll this morning with my Mama on a new section of the Ma & Pa Trail constructed on (or near) the abandoned Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad right-of-way.

Hiking the Ma & Pa Trail
Mom on the Winter's Run Bridge

Construction began on the trail since I left home and I have enjoyed hiking each new section when I return home on trips. This most recent section connecting Annie's Playground to the fairgrounds north of Bel Air is exceptional. The MA & PA Heritage Trail, Inc. and Harford County Parks & Recreation have really done a fabulous job of creating a well-used public space. The trail when I visited was heavily trafficked and all pedestrians and cyclists were friendly and courteous. It is a true multi-age/experience park used by all the citizens and I applaud them for a job well-done.

Hiking the Ma & Pa Trail
Pond near Annie's Playground off the Ma & Pa

My recommendation for the future?
Continue the concept, but scale the effort beyond abandoned rail lines to become not just recreation, but an alternative transportation network that allows citizens to use the trails to commute by foot or bike to work and shopping.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day Game

For the first time in five years I had the luxury of being home to spend Father's Day with my Dad. For the occasion, I took both my parents to a baseball game, which appropriately enough pitted the Orioles (my hometown team) against the Pirates (their hometown team) for the first regular series matchup in the club's histories.

It turned out to be a really competitive game that kept nearly everyone on the edge of their seat.

Orioles vs. Pirates
I know the picture quality is horrid, but I just love my Dad's emotion in this shot

Orioles vs. Pirates
The usher was kind enough to snap a family portrait

Orioles vs. Pirates
First pitch

Orioles vs. Pirates
Ball or strike?

Orioles vs. Pirates
Esskay Hot Dogs, classic Baltimore

Orioles vs. Pirates
No hands required.

Orioles vs. Pirates
So not everyone stayed on the edge of their seat...

Sunday, June 08, 2008

A/typical Morning Ride

On the trail
We visit Military Reserve often. Shelly admits it's her favorite ride and while I might not go quite so far, I am partial to the views and the snaking downhill singletrack.

Over a year ago, Shelly showed me these trails hidden behind the Veteran's Hospital. I was delighted, because up until then my mountain biking trips in Boise were all of the ski lift variety... a long slow steady climb up Table Rock or the Boise foothills followed by a fast steep descent. While fun, the directness of it all always left me bored when compared to the fallen trees, roots, mud, jumps and other obstacles which littered the trails of my childhood.

I've never seen it this green
Taken in profile the route we take through Military Reserve remains an up and back, but it's a playful journey. It starts with a creek crossing and a rutted root path through deciduous forest (now closed to bikes unfortunately), followed by a long meadow ride up a gently sloping valley. This ends with three options, all quick climbs out of the lush (for Boise) valley floor onto hilltops clothed in dry grass and sagebrush.

From there the more leisurely ascent resumes, the trail graciously looping back more than once for vistas of the city below. Wildflowers flank the sides, displaying a a color for each season, on this morning the yellow arrowleaf balsamroot flowers were fading and their replacement, of which I do not know the name, a soft purple-blue display blanketed the landscape.

Last reflections

Like many weekends I spend with Shelly I find myself feeling as if I'm on vacation in my own town. It is a contagious joy that Shelly speads infectiously through a glint in her eye that echos a two-year old's amazement at the world around them and a smile so pervasive that the lines remain on her face betraying any attempt she may make to contradict them.

More than once I've stopped Shelly mountain biking as a love bubble gets the better of me. Something about having to give my all to chase her downhill on a bike just presses my buttons. Perverse I know (I get amorous snowboarding and backpacking as well). So it was odd this morning that she was on to me. Perhaps it was because we hadn't yet begun our descent.

Stopping at the top to take in the view, a typical morning mountain bike ride, turned atypical when I started talking more mushy than usual. Looking around, Shelly asked uncomfortably, "Am I on a reality TV show?"

In answer, I dropped to my knee and proposed. Shelly, helmet-clad and still straddling her bike answered wordlessly, with a kiss and arms wrapped around my neck. An embrace which should have been startlingly difficult, but worked.

Still straddling her bike

Yes Photoset