Monday, April 13, 2009

old town walk

I've sent off yarn to three of the four contest winners! Mickey, if you're out there, get in touch with me so I can send you a present!

While we were visiting my family in Virginia, we had an afternoon to ourselves. So, the professor and I took a walk that I've always loved. It's changed some, but it's also still very much the same.

We took a couple of metro trains to Alexandria. (I knitted the whole way.) At Braddock Road Station, I waved out the window to my father's old high school, George Washington, which is now a middle school. My dad grew up in Alexandria, so it's old stomping grounds to some extent. (Colonial home to some of our nation's most famous legislators AND Joanne's dad...)

When I was a teenager, my mother used to worry when I said I was going down to Old Town. The area near the Potomac River waterfront was gentrified; but the rest of King Street was not. She worried about the walk from the metro station down to the "good" part of town. These days, it's hard to find a part of Old Town that hasn't been gentrified! There's even a free trolley that brings people down to the waterfront, making a relatively long walk a bit less so. We took the trolley and started by the water.

First, we stopped in at the Torpedo Factory. I soaked up the art and visited with a family friend who has had a studio there for a long time. We wandered up King Street, taking in the sights. Along the way, we stopped for an ice cream (cup only, no cone, no kinds with cookies, since it's Passover!) and we ambled into a used book store.

Then we magically turned, away from boutiques, antiques, and bric-a-brack, to a knitting store. (yes, I know where they ALL are.) Knit Happens has a lovely selection of organic yarns, natural fibers, and, well, the kind of "plain vanilla" knitting yarns I like best. I used every bit of my will power not to buy up the place. Rather, I focused on talking to Holly and Michelle, the manager and "right hand woman" of the shop, and they were delightful!

Up, up we went along the street in the sunshine, enjoying the crowds and their dogs. Old Town is now famously dog friendly. Most the shops had water bowls by the entrances. Frankly, even the dogs looked well groomed and chic. We doubted Harry and Sally would be able to handle the social pressure!

Towards the metro station, I did see vestiges of the slightly grungy past of the area. In between the colonial-era townhomes and historic markers, there are still a few buildings that fit in between the old ones, complete with asbestos shingles. It was almost as if I reminded myself then--see, you weren't crazy. It used to be sort of dingy here!

Tired, we hopped back on the train(s) during rush hour back to my parents' house. I negotiated the rush hour crush and remembered how things worked as if on automatic pilot. Some things stayed the same. For instance, if the train approaching is WAY too full, just wait for the next one, it will be likely to be much less crowded. Other things (like the growing and changing metro lines, the crowds, the "new" fancy Virginia suburbs) are very different.

My family says I help them "see" the changes around them since I haven't lived in the DC area now for almost 11 years. Over time, they forget and think it's always been this way. I remember when my mom worried that I might get into trouble in the blocks between the metro station and the gentrified areas of Old Town. See? Things do change! Even in historic areas... but it's nice to take the same walks every now and again.

Do you have favorite walks? Where are they?

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Blogger Geek Knitter said...

Oh, so many favorites, especially this time of year. Spring comes early to my part of the country, and I vary my walks to see new trees and flowers going nuts. My absolute favorite is to walk down near a quiet bend in the river where the osprey nest each year.

April 13, 2009 at 5:07 PM  
Anonymous AlisonH said...

The C&O Canal. Every time. And I try to dip a toe in the Potomac while I'm at it, although that led to a good story once upon a time, along with a goodly bit of a mess.

Eleven years. Wow. It's been (running out of fingers and toes here) going on 32 since I went off to college and left DC behind. But I do come back.

April 14, 2009 at 12:12 AM  
Blogger SueJ said...

Some favorite country walks around home for sure, places like Brimham Rocks. Walks in town? Possibly around York, although we are not great 'townsfolk'!

April 14, 2009 at 7:02 AM  
Blogger PghCathy said...

There are a couple parks around here (W PA) that are lovely in the spring & really lovely in the fall. But nothing beats walking on the beach at Sanibell, FL. I can almost here the Gulf waves now.

April 14, 2009 at 3:30 PM  
Blogger PghCathy said...

PS...that should be 'hear' the Gulf waves.

April 14, 2009 at 7:28 PM  
Blogger Allie Pleiter said...

Enjoyed meeting you at SOKY--this post was especially fun to read as I have family in Alexandria and am planning to go there this spring! Stop by and see my blog I was talking about. Your dog looks adorable.

April 19, 2009 at 8:10 AM  

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