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Blizzard

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Washington, DC.  January 2016.

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Azalea season at the National Arboretum

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On a lazy Saturday this spring, a friend and I biked out to the National Arboretum to take in the peak bloom of the park’s amazing azalea collection.  We’d never been to visit the azaleas and were expecting a good-sized garden filled with colorful blossoms.  Instead we found several acres of shady hillsides, bursting with color in every direction.  Unlike the almost suffocating crowds that choke the tidal basin during cherry blossom season, the park was relatively calm and quiet but just as lovely.  We spent over an hour wandering through the blossom-lined trails and marveling that we could have lived in DC for so long without visiting this beautiful place.

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Passport DC

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On a sunny Saturday in early May, we finally had a chance to attend Passport DC, a month long event in which embassies from around the world open their doors to the public.  In just a few hours we were able to visit the embassies of Costa Rica, the Philippines, Oman, Botswana, and Peru, as well as the Islamic Cultural Center of DC.  It was such a pleasant afternoon spent hugging alpacas, tasting baklava and tamales, sipping pisco sours, and being treated to a few amazing dance performances.

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Sakura

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Those hazy, blossom-filled spring days.

She’s gotten to mysterious devotions

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Washington, DC. March 2015.

She heard the music in the night

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Washington, DC. March 2015.

Her eyes, they shone bright like diamonds

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Washington, DC. March 2015

A fox in the snow

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Washington, DC.  March 2015.

Ah, girl

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Fantastic day out shooting photos with this gorgeous girl around the modern wing of National Gallery of Art.

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The tide pulled at her hair

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Washington, DC; December 2014.

You can float around with me

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Washington, DC; December, 2014.

God knows I love her

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Mother. Sister. Washington, DC; December 2014.

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Does she sing because she knows?

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Muses in taxicabs. Washington, DC; December 2014.

Urban pig roast

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A glorious night of food in the Petworth neighborhood of DC.  This porker roasted in a wooden box for the better part of a day, and by the end of the night, our friends reported that the hungry masses had only left about 3lbs of meat to go into the freezer.  Can all our friends just do this every weekend?  Pretty please?

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Holiday scenes from the District

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My family came in for a few days right after Christmas and it’s been absolutely wonderful.  We’ve invited over lots of friends who were in town for the holidays and went to Zoo Lights, and made tacos and played Loteria into the wee hours.  There’s been a lot of sparkling wine, a lot of hugs, hours spent wandering around Capitol Hill, and even a magical few hours watching the Nutcracker at the Warner Theatre.  I wish they could stay forever.

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Merry Merry

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Almost Christmastime

A year with Capital Bikeshare

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This past weekend marked my first full year of membership to Capital Bikeshare, DC’s bicycle sharing program, and I thought it would be fun to reflect a little on a year spent riding around on those distinctive red bikes.

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In the spring of 2013, I was starting to feel more comfortable biking around town and decided to try commuting into work via bicycle.  I have a gorgeous little Dutch-style bike from Public Bikes, and I loved the idea of building more exercise into my routine while cutting out some of the stresses of taking the metro or the bus (we don’t have a car).  There aren’t great north/south bike lanes on my side of town, but I quickly figured out that I could travel on the bike path through Rock Creek Park, DC’s greenbelt, and avoid riding through traffic almost entirely.  Summer and fall of last year as a bike commuter were so amazing!  I was spending so much less money on transportation, riding through the park was gorgeous, and the one down-side of the ride, a steep hill alongside traffic just before I got home, was nerve-wracking but had left me with killer legs.

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Then, in late fall, Daylight Savings Time ended and I realized that I couldn’t safely bike home in the dark through poorly lit Rock Creek Park.  Riding through the city felt too dangerous, especially in the after-work rush with scant bike lanes and poor visibility.  I was pretty devastated at the thought of being stuck on public transportation all winter, and I kept wishing I could just ride in to work in the the mornings and magically transport my bike back to my apartment in the evening.  And then it hit me: Capital Bikeshare!  In the mornings, when there was daylight, I could pick up a bike at the kiosk on my block, drop it off right outside my office, and then take the bus or metro home in the evenings when it was dark.DSC_0664

The weekend after Thanksgiving, I signed up.  A one-year membership to Bikeshare is $75.  A few days later you get a handy little key-fob in the mail, and you have unlimited 30-minute rides for a whole year.  So, if you’re wondering what I’ve thought of using Bikeshare, I’d have to say, it’s been great and I just signed up for year two!  Here are a few thoughts:

  • Overall, I had 137 rides using Bikeshare last year, mostly for commuting.  That’s pretty good considering (1) I only ride one way, (2) I  traveled for about nine weeks last year, and (3) we had a terrible winter that was often too snowy and icy for safe riding.
  • My commute averages 24-27 minutes depending on my energy level and if the park is looking really photogenic that day.
  • I like the one-way rides so much that it’s now my new routine all year.  My leg muscles aren’t quite as killer, but I ride more often now that I don’t dread struggling up that crazy hill in traffic.
  • Bikeshare’s website makes it super easy to locate kiosks and check bike availability.  I don’t use the app, but only because my phone is crap.
  • My local kiosk is incredibly popular so sometimes bikes can be scarce.  This is my biggest annoyance overall, but there is another one a few blocks away that usually has bikes.
  • Rickety bikes that make weird noises are annoying though workable. You get better at identifying and avoiding them.
  • The bike bells are broken about 25% of the time, but that isn’t a huge deal.
  • I’ve had one mid-ride flat tire.  Not bad for a whole year of riding, and super not bad considering that all I had to do about it was walk the bike to the next kiosk, hit the red button for repairs (and turn the seat around to warn other riders), and grab another bike.
  • Bikeshare charges an extra fee if you go over the 30 minute limit.  This only happened to me once and I was on a slow ride with a very pregnant friend, so we knew it was likely.  The extra time was less than half an hour so the additional cost came out to $1.50.
  • In DC it tends to rain in the afternoon, so it’s really great to ride to work when the weather is still nice, and grab a bus in late afternoon when it’s pouring/snowing/sleeting.  No more choosing between leaving my bike at work overnight or riding through awful weather.

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I was also mulling over the finances of using Bikeshare as opposed to bus and metro commuting, and thought the cost breakdown was pretty interesting, too.

  • A $75 membership fee spread out over 137 rides comes out to about $0.55 per ride.
  • Bus fare is $1.75 per ride if you use a SmartTrip card.  137 rides on the bus would be $212 at regular fare.
  • Metro fare is $2.15 minimum during peak hours (which is when I commute).  137 rides on the metro would come out to $294.55.

So overall I have to say that I’ve loved using Bikeshare and I’m excited to see how many rides I can get in over the next year.  It almost feels like a challenge to beat this year’s total!

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Have you ever rented a bike or used a bikesharing program?  We’ve had a few experiences with both over the last year:

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Travel time

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We’re hitting the road early today, happy to have a few days off and eager for time with babies.  Are you traveling for the holidays this year or staying cozy at home?

Autumn strolls

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I feel it in the air

Memorial Day usually marks the beginning of summer, and I’m feeling excited about the days ahead.  We have a lot of traveling to do over the next few months, but mostly I’m ready for warm nights, the smell of freshly grilled food, and long days spent in the company of good friends.

It’s Friday, I’m in love

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After several weekends spent on the road, a quiet weekend at home starts to sound heavenly.  This weekend, I’m happy for the normalcy of sleeping in my own bed, going to the farmer’s market, and catching up on episodes of Parks and Rec.  There’s a charity craw-fish boil on our radar, which sounds fun and delicious, but mostly I’m looking forward to a little downtime hanging out in my city.

Hope you have a great weekend!

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