Cross County Trail ~ Biking fun

The Cross County Trail in Fairfax County, Virginia is an awesome perk when you live in Northern Virginia.  In the midst of one very busy urban suburban neighborhood outside of Washington, D.C. you can have a beautiful day with nature.   As a family, we ride our bikes almost every weekend for an 8-12 mile ride and this is our favorite ride because we can depart from our house and avoid loading the bikes.  Once you get on the trail, it is paved, well marked, not crowded and you can ride as far as you want through Northern Virginia.

This section of the CCT can be accessed at the intersection of Hunter Village Drive and Old Keene Mill Road.  Ride your bike, walk your dog, or jog to Accotink Park and all the way to Reston if you have the energy.  My husband went to Reston one day on a 50+ mile ride and he had a blast.  Glad I was out of town.

We recently packed up our bikes and went out of our neighborhood and rode part of the CCT near Reston.  It would have been a better ride for us without the kids because of the number of people using the trail and the packs of mis-mannered bikers in their fancy outfits.  One group of ladies almost ran my son off the road as they passed in double with oncoming riders.  He was startled.   A simple, courteous "on your left" goes a long way.   The first 5 riders squeezed by him.  I watched him get unsteady on his bike and scoot over to the side.  The riders a the back of the pack were riding, talking, not paying attention to oncoming traffic as they blindly passed my son.  They had to jump into his space when they realized they did not have enough room to pass.  I watched in horror and prayed that he could hang on and keep riding straight and not go off the trail.  I yelled "you can do it buddy, keep going!"  What I wanted to yell is something quite different. 

I did not take any photos in Reston, because I was too concerned about safety and I broke my camera during the ride.  I had my Nikon D5000 in my backpack with snacks for the kids.  We stopped and I was occupied adjusting the bike chain on my husband's bike (I'm the mechanical one) my kids raided the snacks.  I picked up my backpack to leave and my camera rolled out right in front of my husband.   He looked at me wide eyed when he heard that awful sound of electronics hitting pavement.  I said "I'm sure it will be fine" as I quickly shoved it in my bag.  It survived a full over the handlebars bike crash on asphalt, so it should be fine with a little drop on the bike trail.  Not so lucky.   My 11-month photography journey came to an abrupt end.  

Not so fast, pity party over!  I have an early Christmas present from my husband!  A Nikon D7000.  I told him that I still want to take it to the beach and on bike rides, so I also have a two-year warranty protection plan for any damage beside fire or loss.  He knows me too well.  He insisted I also buy a lens protector.  Yippee!  He asked me to please keep this camera in once piece for a least two years. 

Instead of shooting from the hip like my ride in Yorktown,
 I put the camera up to my face and used the viewfinder for some better and in focus shots.
Nikon D5000, sports mode. 
My little guy trying to pass Dad and sister.
She was egging him on with some friendly banter.
The CCT has several of these steel bridges.
Kids love bridges.
My rock picker.
I make her bring her own backpack now
 to carry her favorite rocks home.
She is adding to my heart collection.

Yes, they got their shoes wet.
We decided our 8 lb. dog would like this beach.
 I've been putting him in a doggy backpack and riding with him.
He goes nuts when he sees a squirrel and he makes me shake all around.
Yes, I get a few strange looks and people ask "Is there a dog in there?"

Arg, Blackberry alert!


National Botanical Garden

On Election Day the kids were out of school so we invited some special friends for an outing to the National Botanical Gardens in Washington, D.C.  The gardens are beautiful anytime of year.  Winter is my favorite time to visit.  We went on a brisk but sunny day which made the climate controlled gardens feel so warm and tropical on our skin. 

The kids spent most of their time in the outside Children's Garden playing in the playhouse, watering plants, hiding in the bamboo and playing in the fountains.  My friend and I enjoyed some time to sit in the sun and visit.  The National Botanical Gardens are worth the trip.  It's free!  If you like photography, like I do, the filtered light and beautiful plants provides a perfect studio to take pictures.  

The bearded pair.
Peaking over the log bridge.
Playing with the fountain in the Children's Garden.
The girls in the background are playing in the little house.
A beauty in the bamboo garden.
French vanilla smelling pot at a special exhibit on herbs.
A favorite scent.
Can she press her face any closer?
An oversize metal flower with a changing video screen in the middle.
Very nice display.
 Simple but interesting.
National Garden adjacent to the
U.S. Capitol and Botanical Garden.
Plants, walkways, fountains, tables, and benches.
Fall flowers
I've never seen the U.S. Capitol from this perspective.
Election Day 2010
The workers setting up the train display for the holidays!!!
A must see if you are in the city over the holidays.
I will post again when we attend.