USS Barry pierside at the Washington Navy Yard
Today, I took a day off from running, because I knew I would be spending the evening on the river -- the majestic Anacostia that is, the river that blows a steady, cool breeze up over the River East hills on a late, summer day, invigorating and fresh like the scent of juniper in a lush, pine forest.
Why did I go?
I have indeed been a faithful and diligent resident east of the Anacostia River for the last six plus years, but I have never set sail on this mystic River before (the Potomac -- yes, indeed, onboard a 17-foot Hunter, with mainsail flapping freely with each puff of wind traversing over the Chesapeake and also swimming freestyle during last year's Nation's Triathlon.) But the good, ole Anacosita, I have unfortunately been saved and deprived of the opportunity for sail or swim.
How I got there
The drive from Anacostia over the venerable Frederick Douglas Bridge, which despite its archaic shape and ancient state provided an expansive view of the Capitol, the Washington Monument, the distraught Nats Park (there's always another season) and of course the expansive green, brown acres of Anacostia Park and the historic area, once called Uniontown.
Bet You Didn't Know
A lot of people and even lifelong Washingtonians are unaware that Anacostia Park extends over 1200 acres with hundreds of acres available for soccer fields, picnicking, basketball, tennis, and other family activity. (The Kenilworth Park, Aquatic Gardens and Kenilworth Marsh are also part of the Anacostia Park.)
As I admired the sweet view from my rolled-down window, I formed visions of exploring Kenliworth, just me and my trusted Brooks running shoes, and a pocket of Cliff shots for endurance, sprinting and prancing among the colorful summer butterflies that feed on wetland plants preserved there. One day, I thought to myself, one day soon this summer, a summer I hoped would never end.
What did I board?
So today was the big day. I was looking forward to my inaugural cruise aboard the luxurious Odyssey along the River that I cross over daily, a remarkable way to observe first-hand some of the development sites and waterfront enhancements, projected down the road, along this historic, meandering river, I've known and love for years.
Peering out on both sides of the river, I could see the familiar Hains Point and the spacious Anacostia Park - both my stompin' grounds for bike and run. And as usual, there were sports-a-holics galore on this mild, summer evening. The sun still shone bright but waning as it was prepping its demise over the grandiose Woodrow Wilson Bridge along the mighty Potomac.
I was energized to see the rowers jabbing the river with such force and strength and pushing water back as if it was solid and firm. The calm ripples glistening in the sun, stroke after stroke, blade after blade. Sweat and salt, I'm sure glistened from their temple and cheeks, but they paid that no mind.
Over the last five months, I have participated in several fora regarding the Anacostia Waterfront at the MLK Library downtown. The sessions have been educational and enlightening, and it was wonderful meeting activists from both sides of the river
And today was a special day to cap off the first season of the Waterfront Fora and to thank those who supported and sacrificed hours upon hours during this critical and foundational planning and development phase.
Kirsten Crase, Neida Perez, Nikki Peele and Lashaun Smith discuss critical issues along the Anacostia Waterfront
Realtor, Darrin Davis, poses as the Odyssey sails under the 11th Street Bridge.
What I Learned:
A lot was discussed, a lot was discerned. For me, it was a way to get acquainted with my surroundings and to network with the River East Emerging Leaders to realize once and for all that there truly is a flowing river that runs through home and turf.