Friday, June 06, 2008

A Classic Backyard Barbecue

For years now, whenever we have asked Julie what she wanted to do for her birthday, the answer has always been, "backyard barbecue!" An early June birthday is great for this kind of thing, although it seems like we are constantly dodging summer storms (which we pulled off again this year...barely!).

So we fired up the old charcoal grill, did some burgers and dogs, plus some red peppers, onions, and assorted other veggies. Hěn hǎo chī!

The one deviation from the "retro throwback" theme was the ever-present moon bounce. This just seems to go over great with kids of all ages. Of course, as the years go by, we have to rent bigger and bigger ones...moon bounces are dangerous enough without the kids (now teenagers) banging into each other because they don't have enough room.

And speaking of danger, the only bummer of the party was when Nathan bumped his arm into the still-hot grill when watching Julie blow out her candles. He'll be bandaged up for the next couple of weeks. Feel better, dude!

And happy birthday, Julie!

~Steve

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Elusive Lock Number Zero

As a family that prides itself in knowing a fair bit about the C&O Canal, it was with surprise we found out some time back that there is a lock we had never heard of. As far as we had ever been aware, Lock #1 at the very beginning of the canal is the first lock boats had to go through after leaving the Potomac for the long journey up to the mountains of western Maryland.

Turns out, there is actually a lock right at the edge of the river. This so-called "Tide Lock" is the boundary between the river and the "watergate, " a small body of water that serves as a connector between the Potomac and the canal. (This waterway is actually the inspiration for the name of the complex that over time has come to be associated in the minds of Americans with Richard Nixon and the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The buildings, you see, loom right over the watergate.)

So there we were recently, biking our way through the area of town between the end of the canal and the river, searching for this "bonus" lock. (Desi pointing out along the way how once we snap a photo of it, I am going to have to move all our lock pictures to make room at the very front of the album.) Here's roughly how it went...

Bike on the trail along side Rock Creek Parkway, peering down at the watergate, looking for any sign of a lock.

Get to the Potomac waterfront and turn right. Ride back up the other side of the watergate on a small walking path.

Get back to where we started, where Desi spots the remnants of a structure that kinda resembles a dilapidated lock.

This "lock" is, unfortunately, on the other side of the very busy, very fast moving parkway.

I zoom the camera in on a sign that looks to be describing whatever it was that was once there.

I then zoom in further on the taken photograph...turns out what we are looking at is an old kiln...

Ride back down toward the river.

Rather than turn right at the waterfront, keep going left.

Z, up in front, sees something through the trees.

Yep, that's it, nestled on the far side of a boathouse, on a "hidden" peninsula.

After our little expedition, Lock Number Zero provided a nice reward. A great breeze coming off the river. Excellent views of the planes landing at Reagan National. Another little DC secret unlocked for the Ballas...

~Steve