Old Town & The Mount Vernon Trail


September 10, 2011, Washington, DC: This morning we visited Old Town Alexandria in northern Virginia for the King St. Art Festival. Alexandria's festival is one of many September festivals in the regional lineup, and seeing so many people out and about today was an especially happy sight. Evident from the festival to the Mount Vernon trail and the National Mall, it seems an incredible number of people are getting out this weekend, finding little reasons to appreciate our surroundings and to stay active and unafraid.

The frustration of searching for a parking spot in Old Town vanishes the minute you shut the car door. Old Town's quaint and historic streets and outdoor dining are a draw, its festival a lively event.

Part of what I like most about Old Town is its location on the Mount Vernon trail. On weekends, slews of cyclists traverse King St., riding down Union St. parallel to the Potomac. I like how the scenery on the trail varies: parts of the trail between D.C. and George Washington's Mount Vernon run alongside Reagan National Airport, others cross marshland or expose lovely river views. I love the sound of my bike tires rolling over the handful of wood planked, weathered footbridges on the trail just north of Alexandria.

Today I got lucky: We drove into Old Town with the bike in the car, then I pedaled back home into the city on my own. As you can imagine, this is my kind of bike ride. I don't like exercise routes that take me out and back, that leave no choice than to turn around and return exactly the way I came. A one-way trip along the river, back over the 14th St. Bridge, onto to the National Mall, and up Capitol Hill for the final leg home is just my style. So is taking my sweet time to snap pictures en route.

The shores along the muddy, storm-battered Potomac were buzzing today around our low-lying capital city. Like so many other weekends, families gathered in the field just beyond the airport to picnic and watch the planes land as runners and cyclists crowded the riverside trail. And today, lining the 14th St. bridge spanning the Potomac between D.C. and Virginia was a row of American flags, reminding throngs of drivers and tourists and cyclists and runners going about their day that we'll always get out to enjoy this place we love.