We decided to have our Thanksgiving on Friday this year and that meant that today we had nothing specific to do. I thought we might go to Tridelphia Reservoir and Brighton Dam Recreation Park but when we got there, the parking lot was blocked off and the reservoir was mostly drained. I assume they are doing some sort of maintenance work on the dam. Anyway, there was nothing for it but to go somewhere else. I decided to drive to the Monocacy Aqueduct where the Monocacy River goes under the C&O Canal and then meets the Potomac River. It was an absolutely beautiful day and there were very few people about, so we had a really nice time.
Tagged With: Potomac River
It was cool today (some said cold, but my scale is a little different to some). It was beautiful out, in any case. The sky was a deep blue and it was a perfect day to go to Great Falls and the C&O Canal. We walked out to the overlook, stopping along the way to enjoy some wildflowers in bloom. We saw lots of yellow adder’s tongue (Erythronium americanum, also known as yellow trout lily), although we only saw one or two flowers and they were not completely open yet. We saw some cutleaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata) which I recognized but couldn’t name without looking up. We saw lots of spring beauties (Claytonia virginica), varying in color from pure white to fairly deep pink. After returning to the tow path, we found a few areas with lots and lots of Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica). That was a particular treat and really made it feel more spring-like.
It was raining quite hard when we left for church this morning. So hard, in fact, that we used umbrellas to get to the car. Generally we don’t bother for such a short walk but it was hard enough that we’d have been quite wet if we hadn’t used them. After church it was still raining but we decided we wanted to be outdoors. We parked across from Old Angler’s Inn and walked up the tow path to Widewater. It was raining lightly as we went and we stopped fairly often to look at wildflowers and other plants as well as rocks and the river. This was taken on a rock beside the path high above the Potomac River just a little way up the tow path from the Angler’s Footbridge.
I took a pair of photos like this and then switched to the wide angle lens. Those pictures show the river as well as lots of trees and rocks but aren’t as good of Cathy. I like this picture quite a bit better.
As mentioned in the previous post, we went for a walk on the C&O Canal this afternoon. It was raining very lightly as we walked out from the parking lot across from Old Angler’s Inn and up to Widewater. This is a sluice used to drain the canal when necessary, about half way up the Widewater section of the canal. There is a footbridge over the section of water and you can just make out the sluice in the center of this photo. After this was taken the rain started coming down quite hard so we made our way back to the car and were quite drenched by the time we got there. But it was really lovely being outdoors and not too hot.
Cathy and I were able to get away for two nights and a day and we drove up to Harpers Ferry. From our hotel we walked into town today and enjoyed the scenery. It was in the low 90s and very humid so we were glad to take a break in the visitor center and museum in town (which was air conditioned) and then stop for lunch part way up High Street in an air conditioned place. We continued up the hill and I took this picture looking east over the cemetery towards the confluence of the Potomac and the Shenandoah Rivers. This was taken while sitting on a bench and catching my breath after the walk up the hill.
It was a cool but pleasant day and Cathy and I decided we needed an outing. We drove through Poolesville and crossed the Potomac River on White’s Ferry. From there we drove the short distance to Ball’s Bluff Battlefield. The battle fought here in October, 1961 is not one of the really well known engagements of the war and compared to the likes of Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Antietam, or Shiloh but it was significant nonetheless. Among other things, it marks the only sitting United States senator (Colonel Edward Baker of Oregon) to be killed in action. This photo was taken from below the bluffs. It was a quiet, peaceful place but would have been a really bad place to get caught with your back to the drop of the bluffs.
Cathy and I have not had Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday for many years. The company where we work has decided that starting this year, we will be honoring the day and so, for the first time in many years, we were off work for that today. We wanted to do something outdoors and talked through a lot of options. Then Dorothy suggested we go to “the island with the box with the hand sticking out of the top.” When I was young, we went to this island in our little jon boat (there was no bridge or causeway in the mid 1960s). In the center of the island was a huge wooden box with a brass hand sticking out of the top of it. We know the proper name for the island, of course, but we still refer to it, and now Dorothy does, too, in this somewhat more colorful manner. Our friends Bob and Maureen joined us for the outing and we had a lovely time on a lovely day.
I took the day off today and spent the morning reading (Rumours of War, by Allan Mallinson). Dorothy is home for Thanksgiving but both she and Cathy worked this morning. In the afternoon we drove to River Road and walked out to Blockhouse Point. It’s a nice walk pretty much any time of year and particularly with the leaves off the trees the view is really nice. We didn’t really have time to walk down the trail to the level of the canal but we will plan on doing that next time.
As I think I’ve mentioned, we’ve been looking for new trails to walk on lately. What with working from home and not being able to go to church or to visit friends much, we really like getting outdoors. Turkey Run Park, on the George Washington Parkway in northern Virginia is one that I’ve seen signs for over the years but we’ve never actually been there. The walk was about 2 miles in total but felt like more than that. Parts of the trail were a bit muddy and slick and there were a few places where we had to scramble over rocks (scramble may be too strong a term, but you had to watch what you were doing, anyway). There were two places where we had to cross a stream on rocks. And coming from the river back up to the Turkey Run Park parking areas was quite a climb. There are wooden stairs where we made that ascent, which helped quite a bit, but it’s fairly steep. Anyway, we had a nice time being out and seeing the river.
Cathy, Dorothy, and I went to Violet’s Lock on the C&O Canal today and walked south past Blockhouse Point. The river was fairly high and very wild looking. It was fairly cold and there were icicles hanging from the rocks on the other side of the canal. We happened to see two adult bald eagles in a tree about where we turned around and then saw two more eagles—one adult and one juvenile—flying overhead. I took quite a few photos and enjoy this one quite a bit. It was a pretty day and nice to be out, although also nice to get warm again afterwards (not that I wore a heavy coat, mind you).
We met up with Jean today for a walk. I found a new place that we’ve drive by without noticing up until now. It’s just into Virginia and right off the Capitol Beltway on Georgetown Pike. The hike was pleasant, although there’s a significant climb both ways down to the river. This waterfall is where Scott’s Run empties into the Potomac River. We also walked a little way down the river before retracing our steps back to the parking area. It’s a nice, quiet place and we really enjoyed it. Of course, that may have been the company, as much as the location. It’s always good to be with Jean.
After church and also after running a few errands today we drove to McLean, Virginia and took a nice walk at Riverbend Park. We went northwest on the Potomac Heritage Trail about a mile and a quarter. The view of the river isn’t all that good for most of the way, but there were a few good spots for seeing out of the trees. There is a nice bit of trail where it climbs about 50 feet over a knoll into a beech and oak wood before coming back down to the river.
From there we drove to Great Falls Park and walked to overlooks 2 and 3 (where this photo was taken). Because I now have a lifetime senior pass, short trips to parks that we would normally not do to avoid the $20 entrance fee are basically free. As you can see in this photo, the river is quite low right now. We’ve seen it when most of the rocks in this photo are totally covered.
We met our good friend Jean today and went to the Virginia side of Great Falls (which are in Maryland, because the state boundary is the Virginia shore line). It was a chilly day but beautifully clear. Most photos were taken with my long lens, including one of a heron across the river and an immature bald eagle flying overhead. I almost got a good photo of a turkey vulture (Cathartes aura) fairly close overhead but it’s only about 60% in the frame. Tracking and focusing such a large, heavy lens on a moving subject is still more than I can do reliably. I switched to my 100mm, which I carried in a pouch on my belt, for two sets of images that I stitched into panoramas. This is one of those two, which I’ve also cropped down and will use as my site’s banner image for a while. The previous banner, of Portland Head Light in Maine has been the banner since late 2015 so I thought it was time for a change.
We drove to Pennyfield Lock today and walked up stream past Blockhouse Point. We took a few detours off the towpath, heading down to the river. First we went around one of the artificial ponds between the canal and the river that were built, I believe, in the early part of the 20th century. We got off the towpath again north of Blockhouse point and that’s where this pictures was taken, sitting on the rocks on the side of the river. The river is quite low, even for this time of year, but I suspect we’ll start getting rain again soon and it will be back up.