The pandemic year felt like the longest year ever, but looking back at my history of completing errandonnees and realizing that this year's challenge was the 8th one I've completed (missing only 2018) it seemed like time does, indeed fly. So here's the rundown of this year's activities.
April 27 - 6 miles total by bike, including personal business, discovery, helping hand, and "you carried what?" categories
(Personal business) a lifesaver during the pandemic has been participating in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share. I have needed to do almost no grocery store visits, as I've gotten veggies, fruit, and pantry items all in one beautiful box. However, this was the first time I've picked up my share by bike. The stuff just barely fit in my trailer - in part because I pick up my own share and one for a friend. While the pickup location is just 2 miles from home, there are some not insignificant hills involved.
After picking up and dropping off my own share, I proceeded to my friend's house to deliver her share (helping hand). But on the way I happened to pass an abundant patch of large-leafed dandelion greens. I have foraged many such greens this spring and, even with my big box of veggies, it's hard to pass up free food. I learned that the key to cooking dandelion greens is to soak them in salted water before cooking. They're best if you get them before the plants flower, but even if you can't the salting removes much of the bitterness. In case you're wondering at my desire to eat weeds, I'm including a photo of the delicious risotto I made with them. (I'm putting this in the "you carried what?" category.)
On the way back home from my friend's house I stopped at the Lee-Harrison shopping center to pick up a couple items. Swarming around the trellis adjacent to the bike rack I saw - GASP - my first cicadas (discovery). The other billions of cicadas should be emerging soon. They were hard to photograph, but if you look closely you can see one or two. There were many more!
April 28 - 13 miles by bike: history
It was a lovely day to ride west on the W&OD trail. I picked this route so that I could look at the Freeman House and historic railroad car in Vienna, VA. It was too early in the day for me to enter the museum, but from the brochure I learned that the store was established in 1859 next to the newly-built railroad tracks. In 1861, voters gathered there and voted two-to-one to remain in the Union. While the state of Virginia was, nevertheless, the cradle of the Confederacy - a shameful legacy that the state is only beginning to disavow - the town of Vienna was in the hands of the Federal army for most of the war.
I was delighted to notice a tiny mailbox outside the museum. There was one exactly like this near my grandmother's house when I was growing up and this is only the second time I recall seeing one like it.
April 29 - 3.5 mile walk (personal care and discovery)
I try to mix up my exercise routines with biking, hiking, and swimming. Since I'm currently unable to do any errands by swimming, it's not too inconvenient that the errandonnee only allows for biking, running, and walking.
Discovering hiking spots has been the silver lining of the pandemic and there are several locations I now visit regularly. Pimmit Run - a trail that begins near Chain Bridge - has just the right number of hilly stretches mixed with flat trail. Walks in the woods are definitely part of my self-care routine. And there is always something new to discover.
My daughter knows far more than I do about plant identification. So when I texted her a photo of some interesting leaves she told me they were mayapples and suggested I look underneath the leaves for blossoms. Sure enough - many were in bloom.
April 30 - 9 miles biking; 1 mile walking (history)
When I'm in the mood to do a hilly ride (okay - I'm never really in the mood, but periodically I force myself anyway) I have a circular route that takes me up and down Military Road and past the Gulf Branch Nature Center. I decided to stop at the park and take a bit of a walk, look at the historical buildings in the park (including an 1871 log home) and see the Fort Ethan Allen marker.
While the fort is no longer there, I learned that it was used by President Lincoln to defend Washington against the Confederate Army by commanding approaches to Chain Bridge. As someone who rarely reads historical markers, I was glad to have the nudge from the errandonneuring challenge, which resulted in my learning a thing or two.
May 1 - 3 mile walk (personal care and public art)
Because I'm traveling again now that I'm fully vaccinated, I had to cram my errandonnee into a compressed window. For this walk I headed to Windy Run - a location just a few miles from home, but one I never knew about until the pandemic. I intended it to qualify for my 12th "errand" as personal care, but realized there also was "public art" of sorts.
Along the somewhat challenging trail, there are some large old rusty structures that look like they might have once been sewer pipes. Another hiker on the trail asked if I knew what they were and I realized that their interesting shape and overgrowth of vines made them a worthy art installation.
And with that, I count a total of 13 "errands" over 6 days for 35 biking and 7.5 hiking miles - each of them a spot of joy.