Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lockhouse 10, Round 2!

Before I get started with this post, I want to remind you of the Police Unity Tour fundraiser link. It's over there to the right (FirstGiving) --------->. My goal is to raise $1700 and I need your help. Even just a dollar or two helps.  We have a few more events coming up soon, and I will definitely keep you posted, but in the meantime please consider donating a few bucks to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund. Its easy and goes to a good cause.

I know its been awhile since I last updated, but I have a lot of news to share! I'll probably have to break it up into a couple of different blog posts.

First up: our return to Lockhouse 10! As you may recall, we had an awful biking experience the last time we stayed in a lockhouse along the C&O canal. Flat tires, stripped bolts...everything that could go wrong with a bike went wrong. The stay itself was lovely, but the problems with my bike made me miserable and I was determined to come back and have a better time.

Right around the New Year, The Boy and I made the choice to go ahead and book Lockhouse 10 for Valentine's Day weekend. Sure it was a bit of a wait, but it would be worth it. By the time Valentine's Day rolled around, we would be ready to get back to the canal again.

Sure enough, the time passed and it was time to get packed up again. This time I used a few of the gift cards I received for Christmas to purchase a some things for the trip. I bought a sleeping bag since I knew it was going to be cold and extra bedding would always be welcome. Plus I could use the sleeping bag for future biking camp trips. I also went ahead and bought two different camping pillows, since bringing along standard pillows takes up the most amount of room. I bought two different types so I could see which ones we preferred (review to come soon--hint: we both like the pumped air type rather than the compressed stuffing type). I also purchased a camping towel, which was awesome. Worked like a charm.

The day to ride out to the lockhouse couldn't arrive soon enough. We woke up and got ready to pack our stuff. Since this was our 3rd time (3rd time is the charm!), we had become experts at packing; enough clothes for 2 days & nights, extra sweatshirt, rain gear, towel, pillows, sheet, toiletries, pack of cards, flashlights, ALL OF THE TOOLS, Kindle, U.S Parks Passport, iPhone & charger, and a stick of butter (so we didn't have to buy a whole box of butter AGAIN. I swear we have 24 sticks of butter in our fridge from buying a box of butter every time we go to the lockhouse).

Turns out The Boy had packed a little something extra....but more about that later.

It was a COOOOOOOLD afternoon when we set off. Brrrr. I actually had to use my balaclava because it was so cold. Bitterly cold. I said a little prayer to the Bike Gods that this trip would be uneventful & smooth, and off we went.

Betty, all set to go. Much better at packing by now :-)

The Boy, cheerful as always. That's not an obscene gesture, he was just pointing with the wrong finger.

I should mention that since the New Year, our commute to work has been drastically shortened due to being transferred to a new workplace. What used to be a leisurely 2 mile bike ride  has turned into a less-than 4 block stroll. Although I still ride to and from work (down the hill, up the hill)---The Boy hasn't been on a bike for a quite a bit. So the 12 mile ride out to the Lockhouse was a bit of a shock to his system. We took it nice & easy, and took several breaks to "enjoy the scenery" (let The Boy rest for a bit).

Taking a break at Fletcher's Port-A-Potty Cove

Lockhouse 6! We miss you and your super comfy mod chairs!

After what seemed like an eternity in the bitter cold, we finally made it to Lockhouse 10. I will admit that even I was feeling a bit tired when we rolled up. The temperatures & wind were no joke! I figured we would go ahead and unpack, relax for a few minutes, than ride out to the Cabin John shopping center to get dinner/supplies before it got too dark. The Boy looked pretty tired too.

This is why I probably should have been a bit more suspicious when he suddenly insisted that we go for a walk along the river's edge before it got dark. I was tired, hungry & cold so that was the LAST thing I wanted to do and I said so. The Boy was very insistent, which was just....weird. He was adamant that we had to do this NOW, so I said FINE and trudged out along the trail with him. I might have sighed a little dramatically too.

There is a nice little trail opposite the canal from the lockhouse where you can sit along the Potomac's edge & watch the river go by. It's a pretty little spot, and we had fun exploring it the last time we were there. It made a good distraction from me cursing at Betty's bike troubles. This time it looked a bit different since the leaves were all gone, but it was still beautiful-especially with the setting sun in the background.

And then The Boy got down on one knee and asked me a question that I was completely unprepared for, and yet already knew the answer to: Will You Marry Me?

I honestly had no words at that moment, and couldn't quite believe what I had heard. The Boy pulled out a ring and slipped it on my finger. I didn't know if I was numb from the cold or the shock, but I had no idea what to say. Of course the answer finally came to me...

Of Course I Will Marry You. (I'm pretty sure I just mumbled something that sounded similar while kind of staring oddly at The Boy; but he knew what I meant).

The rest of that evening was a bit of a blur. We did manage to make it out to Cabin John for food & beer (but not before the sun went down--weeee another night ride! This time we knew where we were going though). We even had a friend over that night for dinner to help us celebrate (the fire alarm STILL went EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE). We had a wonderful evening playing cards, building terrible things with the Lincoln Logs & just sharing stories. It was awesome.

Look at that shiny thing!

I am definitely not an engineer.

Getting ready to prepare dinner (mac & cheese & sausage)/set off the fire alarm.

The next morning came far too early. At least it had warmed up a bit and was actually fairly pleasant outside. It was a perfect sunny day. An ideal day to attempt our ride over to the Irish Inn (which we had planned to do the last time we were at the lockhouse, but bike troubles prevented us from doing so).

Betty, sunning herself on the porch. No flat tire this time!
We knew that the Irish Inn was right off of MacArthur Blvd, but we weren't sure how far down. We checked out a map and it seemed reasonable enough.....on paper. But how would it be actually riding?

Pretty easy, actually. There is a cycle track that runs from the Cabin John Shopping Center all the way to the Irish Inn along MacArthur Blvd. It could not have been more simple. It even went by Glen Echo Park, which I am still dying to check out.

Glen Echo Park during the day (I love that trolley car in the front).

Glen Echo Park at night. Gotta love that neon!

We arrived at the Irish Inn in no time at all, and it was so easy to ride to. The only thing I wasn't too happy with is that there is virtually no bike parking whatsoever (which is odd, given its a business that is located directly next to a bike path). There are a few street signs around to lock up on, but they were pretty far away. Luckily the owner let us keep our bikes out on the patio since it wasn't in use, but obviously that wouldn't work during the warmer months. Oh well. Guess that they don't get many cyclists?

Anyway, the Inn itself was wonderful! Good food, good service, good time. We happened to get in right before it got really busy (and it did get busy!) and they had a live band too. The band was awesome & we had an excellent engagement dinner. I can't wait to go back again. We stayed so long that the sun had set long before we were ready to leave. Thankfully we have lights on our bikes, so we were able to ride back to the lockhouse without incident.

Dessert. They make the ice cream in-house!

I was sad that our last night at the lockhouse was quickly coming to end, but I knew I could't have asked for a better weekend.

View from the bed. I was sad to leave :-(

The next morning arrived way too early. Especially since a maintenance guy decided to invite himself in at 7:30 in the morning. Oops! Apparently Tuesday is the day they do any cleaning/maintenance for the lockhouses...but he had forgotten that guests might still be present up until 11am (checkout time). He apologized profusely, but we were definitely not prepared for such an early wake-up call. Heh. We managed to get everything packed/clean by 11 and then it was time to head back to DC. Always the most depressing part of the trip--especially since I know I'll be heading right back to work as soon as we get in. Oh well. Its nice to know that the lockhouses are always a short bike ride away :-)

We will be back again soon (honeymoon, maybe?!).

P.S. I really want to thank WABA since it was their silent auction that got us started on these crazy trips to the lockhouses along the C&O Canal. Thank you! And I strongly urge you guys to visit the C&O Canal Trust and book a lockhouse yourself. You'll love it.

Coming up soon: A new bike in the family!