This evening, I hiked to Meridian Hill Park with the Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group as part of their Hike DC series. Meridian Hill Park is a bit off the beaten track. It’s not in a part of DC that tourists typically see. It’s situated along 16th street (see map below) and is managed by the National Park Service as part of Rock Creek Park, although the main sections of Rock Creek Park are nowhere to be seen. (See the NWS page about the park for details.)
Our hike started and ended at Dupont Circle. Right before the hike started, we were unexpectedly hit by a drenching thunderstorm, prompting a few of us to scoot over to CVS for umbrellas. The park was unexpectedly lovely in the rain.
These weekly four-mile hikes have been a perfect way for me to train for my participation in the Avon 39 in Santa Barbara, Calif., later this year. Plus, they’re a lot of fun, and they have given me an opportunity to meet lots of nice people!
Here’s a map that shows the location of Meridian Hill Park:
The USDA Farmers Market brings a taste of country to downtown Washington, D.C. Located at the corner of Independence Avenue and 12th Street, S.W., the market is at the Smithsonian Metro stop, just a block from the National Mall. It’s open every Friday, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., from June through October, 2013.
The market features live entertainment, and the atmosphere is laid back and friendly. During your visit, you can pick up fresh fruits and vegetables; olive oil and honey; garden herbs and plants; breads, pies, and muffins; and many kinds of flavored popcorn. If you’re touring downtown D.C. in the summer months, it’s a good place to pick up some inexpensive treats for a quick lunch.
This year’s crop of cherry blossoms has come and gone, but they were oh, so lovely while they lasted. Peak bloom was expected to be late this year, but nobody seemed to anticipate just how late that would be.
According to RestonPatch.com, the National Weather Service originally forecast peak bloom on March 23-30, and then shifted their predicted peak bloom dates to April 3-6. The Washington Post’s final prediction was for April 6-10. The dates kept shifting back because of an unusually stubborn cold spell in the D.C. area this spring.
I was at a conference in Baltimore during the predicted peak bloom days, and I was so worried that I would miss the blossoms. I needn’t have worried, though. This year, the blossoms started peaking on April 8, with the absolute peak on April 9, and I was there, camera at the ready, on both days.
So were thousands of others, all snapping away in an attempt to capture the ephemeral beauty of the cherry trees in full bloom. I’ve seen some beautiful photos others have taken of the same subject over the years, and I know mine don’t hold a candle to those. But, still… I want to share my photos with anyone who missed the blossoms this year and wants to take a look.
I want to say one more thing, and then I will just let you look at some pictures. If you’ve never seen the Washington, D.C., cherry blossoms for yourself, you really should put that on your bucket list. The experience is like strolling through soft, pink clouds under a clear blue sky. Add to that the warm sun and the gentle spring breezes — you couldn’t experience those if you gazed at a million photographs. As I said earlier, it’s kind of hard to predict when the cherry blossoms will be in full bloom, so, if you’re from out of town, you should plan to stay in D.C. for at least a week. Fortunately, there are plenty of other things you can do here while you’re waiting for the cherry blossoms to pop.
Got a flying disc and a pair of walking shoes? That’s all you need to start playing disc golf.
By ANDREA KENNER
PATAPSCO VALLEY STATE PARK, CARROLL COUNTY, Md. – Disc golf is a game that’s a lot like traditional “ball golf.” The rules are pretty much the same. The main difference is that you can start playing disc golf with equipment you probably already have in your closet: A flying disc and walking shoes.
The bad news is that you’ll need to get yourself to one of the area’s disc golf courses and none are in Washington, D.C. The good news, though, is that there are about 65 disc golf courses throughout Maryland and Virginia, and some of those are within a few miles of the District. The two closest courses are in College Park, Md., and Arlington, Va. The College Park course is about a 10-minute walk from the College Park Metro station, and the Arlington course is about two miles from the Ballston Metro station.
At a disc golf tournament called Patapsco Punisher, played on the disc golf course at Patapsco Valley State Park in Carroll County, Md., April 7, more than 70 players — from professionals to newcomers — took to the tees.
Stephen J. Badger, a naturalist with the Patapsco Valley State Park, is also a tournament director and a promoter of the game.
“Disc golf is open to a wide variety of players,” Badger said. “We certainly have an eclectic mix. People from all socioeconomic groups and of all ages are out here to play. Today, we have competitors from 14 up to about age 52 or 54.”
Badger said tournament play is open to everyone, and the tournament is divided into different expertise levels that make it possible for recreational players to play alongside the pros.
However, all of the players in the April 7 tournament were male. Badger said he has found it can be difficult for women to commit the time needed for tournament-level play.
“We’re always hoping to have new women come into the sport,” Badger said. “We do work on various promotional ways to get women into more tournaments. Sometimes we help by finding a sponsor to take care of the registration fees or add cash to their division.”
Matthew Kashima, 14, was one of the youngest players at the tournament. “My dad has always had a basket in the front yard, and I’ve just been playing in my front yard since I was two or three years old,” he said.
Kashima said he likes playing with the older guys, but “they’re a little bit slow.” Some of Kashima’s younger friends play in tournaments, too. “I have a couple of friends that live up in Pennsylvania that play, and a lot of times we get into some bigger tournaments.” Kashima said that the thing he likes best about disc golf is that “you don’t have to be in the best shape to play. It’s just a lot of fun.”
Badger said the Maryland Park Service offers disc golf clinics for people who want to improve their game. “There’s also the grassroots approach by just buying a single disc at a store and just going out and giving it a try,” Badger said.
He said some beginners use Frisbees, but “the discs don’t fly as far, and they’re certainly harder to control in a heavy wind.”
But tournament golfers don’t use Frisbees. Instead, they use specialized discs that are smaller but heavier than Frisbees. Just like “ball golfers,” many professional disc golfers select a different type of disc for different play situations, Badger said.
Course designer Jim Myers said every hole on the 18-hole course offers two tees and two baskets so that players can make the play harder or easier to suit their skill level.
“The thing that we wanted on this course was to incorporate all the elevation changes you see here and make the course something that could go from amateur play all the way out to professional play,” Myers said.
“This course here is one of the sweetest courses in the nation,” he said.
Many of the area’s disc golf courses are free, but for some require a small park entrance fee. The Patapsco Valley State Park charges a $3 entry fee for Maryland residents; the entry fee for out-of-state residents is $5. Once you’re in the park, the disc golf course itself is free.
Registration fees for tournament play varies. The entry fee for the Patapsco Punisher was $45 for pros and $25 for amateurs, but that helps to fund prizes for the top finisher. Mike Moser, the winner of this year’s Patapsco Punisher, brought home the day’s top prize: $195.