Before I Go on Staycation…

June 21, 2012, Washington, DC: I’m planning to take a little staycation. I’m not going anywhere and I’ll most certainly be back — just taking a brief hiatus from regular blog posts to reflect on this year’s project and collect my thoughts concerning what happens next. New ideas are keeping me up at night and I couldn’t be more excited. I look forward to sharing them with you soon.

Before I go, I invite you to participate here on Neighborhood Nomad. Your stories about why you love where you live are intriguing and inspiring. They reinforce the power of place and they remind us of the extent to which our geography shapes us. Collecting and producing reader interviews has been one of the best parts of this effort so far, and every single one of you has distinctive stories to tell about the rhythms of your home, your neighborhood, your town or your city. Shoot me a note. Tell me more about your hometown.

More to come! As always, I’ll keep you posted.

Map of Mornings: The Road to Hampton Pool

June 10, 2012, Washington, DC: These are roads I know like the back of my hand. They are the routes we traveled to swim practice and gymnastics and piano lessons and school. Yesterday morning in North Baltimore, I instinctively took shortcuts down side streets and noticed changes in traffic patterns, piecing together a map of so many mornings from my youth. We spent a lot of time in the car growing up in North Baltimore.

Given that it’s summertime, I retrace the best morning drive of all: the one that led straight to Hampton Pool.

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Miles From Monday: Old Montreal

May 28, 2012, Washington, DC: It’s on these hot summer nights that arrive unseasonably early in Washington that we romanticize Vieux Montreal. We let our minds wander back down the narrow streets and alleyways in the oldest part of the city and we recall — sweating — what it was like to feel cold there. Downing lemonade with extra ice, we remember fondly our dinner by a fireplace on Rue Saint-Paul back in December when the cobblestones were slick from an icy rain turning to snow. We remember feeling oh-so-Parisian during that lunch of butternut squash soup and red wine at the luxurious Hotel Nelligan, and we consider how quickly time passes — that it feels like just yesterday we ducked into Bon Secours Market for hot chocolate and now we’re darting into DC’s museums desperate for a blast of cold air.

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Happy 75th, Golden Gate

May 28, 2012, Washington, DC: As commutes go, this one ain’t bad. Any pessimism you may have about the day ahead is easy to shake off as you cross the Golden Gate through the microclimates between San Francisco and Marin. On the morning drive, the bridge’s paint color of international orange will give you a jolt stronger than coffee. On the evening ride home, this bridge is the entry back into one of the greatest cities in the world.

It was 75 years ago Sunday that the Golden Gate Bridge first opened, and it’s hard to imagine life without it. In many ways, the Golden Gate is a place I grew up.

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Holiday Weekends in the City

May 26, 2012, Washington, DC: The Friday night and Saturday morning of a holiday weekend is always a good time to enjoy the city. If you’re staying put, you watch the evening traffic head out, bound for the beach or a weekend with family. You watch the roads clear and things grow a bit quiet, then hear the volume crank up a notch as the neighbors head out for the night and reclaim their local spaces. It is on city nights at the start of a holiday weekend that you realize how small this place really is, nights like this when you feel like it’s entirely your own.

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Nights I Love This Place

May 22, 2012, Washington, DC: I met a friend halfway today after work; she biked south down Rock Creek Park from Adams Morgan and I pedaled west from Capitol Hill to meet at the Thompson Boathouse. We had every intention of exercising together, perhaps an ambitious sprint up the C&O Canal, but instead we sat there on the Georgetown waterfront catching up. There was a lot to say. About halfway through our conversation, the skies behind the Swedish Embassy opened and the rain poured down through a bright backdrop. We huddled beneath an awning wearing bike helmets and waiting it out, expounding on the things we fear and love, like great white sharks and San Francisco.

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Cycling Hains Point

April 29, 2012, Washington, DC: Over by the Tidal Basin and the Jefferson Memorial is a long, narrow slice of land, an island actually, that juts south between the Potomac River and the Washington Channel. Hains Point, home of East Potomac Park, is named after Peter Conover Hains, a major in the Army Corps of Engineers who served as chief engineer on the Potomac and Anacostia rivers during the 1880s. Hains is credited with designing the Tidal Basin, and for good reason: He did it to eliminate the awful stench of this marshy area here at the entry to the nation’s capital.

Thank goodness for that, because the smells beckoning me around the perimeter of this point today on my bicycle are to die for.

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