Springfield, VA

I’ve been getting to know the Springfield, VA area and while Maryland is obviously still way better, I’ve been impressed. Turns out it’s not a bad place to pass a summer day.

lake-accotink-dam

Lake Accotink Park is one of my favorite so far. There are a lot of trails — both paved and dirt — for walking, running, and cycling. There seems to be quite a number of trails for mountain biking in particular, but even the paved paths are wide enough for a road bike. The surrounding trails back up to a lot of neighborhoods, so there’s usually a good crowd there outside of work hours.

lake-accotink

The Gerry Connolly Cross Country Trail runs through the park as well. The GCCCT is more than 40 miles long in all and connects all of Fairfax County. You can run right from one park into the next without seeing a single car. Amazing!

gerry-connolly-cross-country-trail-virginia

Lake Accotink Park has a lot to offer on its own, though. Not only can you take your sunset picnic and or fish in the spillover section, you can also rent boats, attend summer concerts, or play minigolf.

lake-accotink-rec-center

So far all I’ve done is explore the trail system, but that’s kept me plenty busy.

 

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Allentown, PA

This past weekend was the World Championships of Drum Corps International. My old team, the Bluecoats, had an amazing season and were in medal contention the whole way through. Saturday night was the final test.

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I have only been to Finals once — when I marched myself — because of the distance and cost of getting there. Instead, my friends and I used to head up to the Allentown, PA show which was always exactly 1 week before Finals. It was a great opportunity to see the Corps at their near-best and was a lot closer to home when I lived on the East Coast.

I hadn’t been to Allentown in quite some time, so I jumped at the opportunity to go with family this year since I was a closer than normal.

allentown-pa-dci-tickets

As it did almost every year when I used to go, it poured rain on Friday night delaying the show. It was a good thing, too, because Friday afternoon traffic was even more hellish than usual, so we were late arriving. Things finally got started about an hour late and we were able to see the corps slotted for 1st place, the Blue Devils. BD is technically very good, but their shows are often less entertaining than they could be.

That night we went back to the Bear Creek Mountain Resort in the Poconos. It was a great spot; the next morning my mom and I went for a walk around the grounds and went paddle boating for an hour or two on the lake.

bear-creek-mountain-resort-poconos

When everyone was awake, we headed back to Allentown to watch the Cavaliers rehearse at Springfield High School. The Cavaliers are an all-male corps that always has great visuals in their shows and used to be a regular on the medal podium at Finals. In recent years they haven’t been doing so well, but their shows are still highly entertaining. Watching rehearsal really took me back to my own days of marching.

cavaliers-2014-rehearsal-allentown-pa

After the Cavaliers finished up, we went back to the show site. After picnicking, we hung out in the “lot” outside the stadium to watch other corps warm up for their shows. After the better corps started warming up, we went into the stadium to take our seats before they performed.

The Bluecoats show was just as great as I had been hearing all season, definitely a crowd favorite. Still, placements held steady to what they had been coming into the Allentown Show.

bluecoats-tilt-2014-finals

Fast forward a week later and things were starting to get shaken up. At Semifinals, Bluecoats closed to score gap between their 3rd place and the Cadets in 2nd place. Going into Finals, it was close.

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This is the highest score the Bluecoats Drum & Bugle Corps has ever achieved, not to mention the highest-place finish. Congrats to 2014 Bluecoats and the corps as a whole, which has upped its game by medalling twice in the past 4 years. It looks like the tides of DCI may be turning.

As Bluecoats say, Six Words.

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Missoula, Montana

This summer has mostly been about getting some quality time with family, but it hasn’t been without travel. Last month I got the opportunity to really see a small piece of Montana for the first time.

hike-missoula-montana

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Geneva, Switzerland

About 3 months ago I went to a class at my local REI about planning a budget trip to Switzerland. At the time it was a fun, just-in-case kind of thing, but little did I know I’d be visiting Switzerland in short order.

geneva-switzerland-street-cafe

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Chamonix, France

The next stop on my trip to France was Chamonix, a mountain town in the French Alps known best for its skiing. In the summer, Chamonix has a lot of great hiking, climbing, and cycling.

chamonix-france

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