A Walk to the Morningside Nest

Bike riding is excellent exercise. It has one shortcoming; it is not weight bearing. After 150 miles of bike commuting, I could use a little change of pace. Today, I decided to go for a long walk.

The Morningside bald eagle nest on the Mount Vernon Trail is about 2 1/2 or 3 miles from my house. Off I went with my hiking boots on. Even with the brisk pace I set, things move by so slowly compared to cycling. For that matter, things more slowly compared to distance running. I arrived at the nest eventually. I call it the Morningside nest because it is situated on the Mount Vernon Trail across from the Morningside Drive exit from the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

Morningside Nest

This time of year, when the trees have no leaves, the nest is relatively easy to spot. In a couple of months it will be almost completely obscured by green. The nest is in a tree that is about 30 yards from the trail. I brought my Canon EOS Rebel camera with a decent zoom lens. I was hoping to see an eagle at the nest but that didn’t happen so I took a picture or two of the nest and walked on. Not 100 feet later I spotted an eagle about 100 yards away, perched in a tree beyond the nest tree at the waterline of the river. (You can’t call it a riverbank here because the Potomac is tidal here; the river’s edge varies quite a lot.)

Thanks to the zoom lens on the camera I actually was able to get a semi-decent picture of the eagle. As soon as I snapped the pic, the eagle launched and headed downriver.
I kept walking and spotted a big woodpecker, maybe 12 inches in length, working on a distressed tree. I tried to get a picture but, not being at the top of the food chain, he flew off as soon as he spotted me.

Morningside Resident Bald Eagle

I continued walking to the Dyke Marsh bridge then reversed course. I took a few more pics of the nest. Now with a blue sky in the background I thought I could get a better picture.

Morningside Nest

I waited for the eagle to return but after 15 minutes I gave up and headed for home. Being used to covering my route home by bike the walk seemed interminable. It didn’t help much that my bum left knee was sending electric shocks into my leg every few minutes.

Despite the knee zaps, I made it home with the feeling that I had redeemed my weekend of couch surfing.  It will be interesting to see how my legs feel when I saddle up for the ride to work in the morning

The pix are here.

Early Spring Ride

Looking out the window, the weather seemed dreamy.  I decided to go for a long Sunday bike ride. Just before leaving I checked Twitter and saw that my cycling friend Lisa just arrived at Mount Vernon about 3 miles from my house. I tweeted her to be on the lookout for me.

I interesected the Mount Vernon Trail  1 1/2 miles from my house. I turned right and in about 30 seconds saw Lisa coming my way.  I joined her for her ride back toward DC. Along the way we stopped at the Morningside bald eagle nest. Just as she dismounted behind me on the side of the trail, I pointed out the nest. No sooner had she said that she saw it, a bald eagle swooped in from the skies over the river and landed in the nest.

Lisa at the Morningside Nest

After the bird show, we resumed riding.  I kept getting far ahead of her because I was on Big Nellie and we were heading downhill. Big Nellie goes downhill incredibly fast. (Of course, going up hill is quite a chore, so all is fair.)  We stopped at the Belle Haven bald eagle nest but there were no eagles around. Next I showed her how to get on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge trail. Once she saw it she had to ride it so we took the trail over to National Harbor.

After gettting a drink at a coffee shop we wandered over to The Awakening statue. The Awakening used to be on Hains Point, but the Park Service kicked it out and it ended up in a cramped spot on a teeny bit of riverside beach. We posed for the obligatory pictures and started to leave when we bumped into Ted and Jean from Friday Coffee Club and their friend Jenny. We chatted and then headed out for Alexandria and lunch.

Lisa at Awakening

Lisa and Jenny at DC Cornerstone

We rode through Old Town and stopped at Buzz, a coffee shop and bakery on Slaters Lane. Here we partook of more chat and a light lunch (if you can call coffee and a cookie “lunch”).

Union Street Bike Gang

The wind was making a nice sunny day a little bit uncomfortable (just 10 more degrees and we are THERE, BABY!!!)  I headed home with a mighty tailwind. I rode onto my lawn and just managed to avoid running over the first crocus of spring.

First Crocus of 2013

It’s be here any day now.


I woke up at 5:30. Actually my bladder woke up at 5:30. My brain was still asleep. It was a fierce fight for anatomical dominance but my bladder won.  My trip to the end of the driveway was invigorating. Not because of my bladder. It was in the 20s and the wind was blowing.  Maybe I should get wind resistant jammies. I briefly considered driving to work, but then I thought, “Why not freeze my noo noos off instead?”  And so I rode Big Nellie into the frigid morning.
Despite the big fairing on the front of Big Nellie, I was having quite a rough time getting any speed going.  I hit the hill on Park Terrace Drive going only about 10 miles per hour.  In a few seconds, I was doing 32 and ducking behind the fairing to preserve the flesh around my eyes.  Tears were shed involuntarily. Dang.
Onto the Mount Vernon Trail without a stop to cross the Parkway. Ithink I will call this maneuver “Pulling a Moses.” How nice of people to provide a gap in traffic. The Dyke Marsh boardwalk was free of rime, too, so things were going swimmingly.
I didn’t blog about my ride yesterday but it was notable for two wildlife sightings. Along the river near Dyke Marsh a tree was absolutely filled with red winged blackbirds. They were making the trilling sound that reminds me so much of my days as a kid playing in and around Dead Man’s Pond.  (Sounds a bit like something Luke Skywalker would say, no?) Sadly, the pond was filled in by developers long ago. When I got to the northern side of Belle Haven Park, I spotted a bald eagle about 200 feet up in the air flying from the river across the trail toward the Beltway/US1 mixing bowl.
Yesterday’s flashback was provided so that I could place today’s wildlife sighting in context. As usual, I was hoping to spot a bald eagle in the Belle Haven nest.  Instead, I spotted one about 30-50 feet high gliding straight toward me over the trail.  All I could think of was, “It would suck to be a mouse right now.” Just before getting to me, the eagle flapped its wings, turned and gained altitude as it headed for the nest. Double dang.
I slogged into the headwind through Old Town. The beaver dam is starting to get built up again. I wonder if this isn’t the work of the National Park Service official beaver dam disrupter or just a very stubborn beaver. The water level is almost up to the trail again so I suspect the disruptor will be back soon. Damn. (So to speak.)
The rest of the ride in was work. As usual, once I cleared the airport, I had nothing to block the headwind. The bike seemed unusually sluggish. On the way home I learned that my front fender was dragging on the side of my front tire. I must have been really sleepy this morning because I didn’t hear it rubbing even with the fairing to amplify the sound. Once I freed the tire, I could enjoy the tailwind all the way home.
And so I completed my 30th bike commute of 2013.  Normally I don’t hit 30 until sometime in March. Tomorrow I am driving in. The forecast is calling for afternoon snow showers and a wintry mix for the evening rush. Not gonna happen on two wheels.

Two for Two for Tuesday

Another day, another ride to work on Big Nellie. We sure are getting along fine these days.  I once again gave the holey sweater the day off even though it was about ten degrees cooler than yesterday. After about a mile I warmed right up and was comfortable for the rest of the ride. I think I have the hang of winter now.

I decided that no two commutes would be the same. So today my route took me to the stone bridge where I picked up the Mount Vernon Trail about a mile sooner than usual.  When I take this route I pass up the swooping downhill on Park Terrace. Most winters the trail is icy from the stone bridge to Dyke Marsh but this year has been so dry and warm that ice is not an issue.

On the north side of Belle Haven Park I spotted an osprey in a tree right along side the trail. It was facing me and I could see its white underside. It was all fluffed up. Show off. About a quarter mile later, I spotted a black bird flying across the trail away from the river. It was a bald eagle, probably returning from a fine fish breakfast. The eagle alit in the tree with the Belle Haven nest. Two raptors in one morning ain’t bad.

On Union Street in Old Town, I spotted Nancy Duley for the second straight day. I can always tell she’s coming because she has a single small pannier. I think it’s where she keeps her bourbon but I’m not sure.

The rest of the ride was peaceful. I graciously allowed many riders to pass me. I also took my sweet time on all the iced up boardwalks. My recumbent does not do ice very well.

On the ride home, Lynn Street in Rosslyn was packed with cars. The police had closed off the Key Bridge into Georgetown. They weren’t even letting bikes or pedestrians across. I could clearly see a stream of pedestrians coming across the bridge from DC but on the far side of the bridge. (II later learned that a man had threatened to jump off the bridge. The police talked him out of it.) I took a picture or two and headed down to the MVT. Under the Roosevelt Bridge I ran into (not literally, of course) Chris B. from Friday Coffee Club and the HoPolice block off Key Bridgeppy 100.  Based on where he lives I knew he was headed for the Key Bridge. I yelled underneath my neck gaiter “Bridg is closed!” I don’t know how her heard me but I stopped and he did a u-ey and we talked briefly.  He headed across the TR bridge and I made my way home. Two bike friend encounters in one commute, my second twofer of the day.

The ride home was splendiferous if a little odd. I guess that somebody might have jumped off the bridge and watched as a Park Service helicopter passed low over the river. I kept my eye out along the river side to see if anything human popped up. No bodies, just geese.


When I got home I emptied the mailbox to find my booty from the Coffeeneuring Challenge. There were two pins, one pewter pin of a coffee cup and another metal pin showing the fancy pattern from a coffee with the words Coffeenuering Challenge on it. Thanks for sending this Mary.