• gfeldstein

Day 26 Washington, DC to Aquia, VA 61 miles 2,956 feet

Before our ride this morning we were met by Eric Brenner, one of the local ambassadors from the East Coast Greenway Alliance. He presented a short talk about what’s happening locally with the ECG and then we rode out as a group with Eric as our tour guide and commentator. It was early on a Sunday morning and the streets were fairly deserted so we rode up almost to the steps of the Capital Building, the Covid memorial below the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial.

We crossed the Potomac River on the Arlington Memorial Bridge and rode just outside the gates to the cemetery, bikes are currently not permitted inside. We entered Virginia on the Mt Vernon Trail and rode within spitting distance of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. We continued south and made a brief stop in Old Town Alexandria, where Johnathan Woodbury, one of my CVC Race buddies from California, grew up.

A bit farther south we entered Jones Point Park, originally the south west corner of the District of Columbia as planned by George Washington. The rudder from a Civil War era warship was on display at the entrance to the park. With a bit of searching and a lot of help from Eric, we located the original first corner stone that was laid in 1791. The stone had been moved from its original location alongside the Point Jones Lighthouse but the exact original spot was marked by a brass and glass enclosure which allowed you to see the hole that the stone was moved from.

We bid Eric adieu and continued back onto the Mt Vernon Trail. Just as I had noticed on entering the District yesterday, the route out of the District was clean, pleasant, and well signed. It was about an 8 mile ride to Mt Vernon through a densely forested greenway. It was a paved surface with occasional wooden footbridges. The pavement was mostly smooth but occasionally broken up by underlying tree roots that could be jarring if you rode too fast. I made a 2 hour stop to explore Mt Vernon, including a tour of Washington’s house. The house sits on a promontory overlooking the Potomac River on 500 of it’s original 8,000 acres. Washington inherited the original house with a handful of rooms and ultimately expanded it to a 21 room mansion with dozens of accessory structures. He personally oversaw the design of the home as well as the surrounding landscape and formal gardens.

About 3 miles past the main house, Washington had a gristmill and distillery, which still stand, and operate to this day. In his day, Washington was one of the largest producers of rye whiskey in the United States. The whisky is still produced the same way, and sold under the name “George Washington’s Rye Whisky,” it is the official whiskey of the State of Virginia.

Leaving George behind, there was a 5 mile stretch along Richmond Highway that initially ran alongside centuries old farm houses but ended up in suburbia. When we finally were off the Highway and onto the Cross County Trail, it led us directly through the Occoquan Workhouse, AKA Lorton Reformatory. It was originally built in 1910 as a prison farm for non-violent offenders. Early suffragists and women’s rights activist were housed at Lorton, and treated so poorly that many went on a hunger strike to protest the conditions which included being beaten, abused, and tortured. The old walls and guard stations still stand but much of the grounds have been converted to upscale housing and an Art Studio.

We crossed over the Occoquan River and rode through Occoquan, a cute little riverfront town.

The ECG routed us past the Potomac Science Center on the shores of the river then along the Belmont Bay Harbor Marina and through the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The remainder of the route was fairly industrial and included long sections along Highway 1, a highly trafficked multi lane highway with no shoulder and vehicles wizzing bye at 65+ mph. All told, we spent perhaps 8 or so miles on Highway 1, with a handful of side bypasses along the way. I think everyone was happy to pull into our hotel parking lot and breathe a sigh of relief. Along the way a few more trees were beginning to show their fall magic.

Dinner was a very pleasant surprise at Olla Cafe & Bar, 2777 Jefferson Davis Highway, Stafford, VA, a Latin restaurant in a strip mall. It is a Salvadoran restaurant, one of several owned by the same family, and the food was world class. I started with corn chips and guacamole, both freshly made. The guacamole was chunky and full of fresh cilantro. I couldn’t decide between 2 main courses, so I ordered them both. Sautéed shrimp in garlic, olive oil, and Arbil chile. The shrimp were plump, crisp and flavorful, obviously fresh and not frozen. The Carne Asada was equally well prepared and presented. Desert was a tossup but they were out of the apple tart so I went with the NY style cheesecake, with a graham cracker crust and warm caramel sauce. The deserts, like everything else on the menu are made fresh in-house every day.

Ten states down, 5 more to go.

Cumulative Totals

Miles 1,378 Feet Climbed 55,741

States Visited Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia

For more details on my route, see my Strava

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