This past weekend the wife and I took a short ride.  We have several “reoccurring” circuits that we enjoy some go north into Maryland, others west into West Virginia but this ride features the George Washington Parkway.

We left the house and traveled east on Route 7 until we reached the Fairfax County Parkway (for this road “Parkway” is derived from the fact there are over 50 stoplights between where we got on and the end of the road).  Luckily, we hit very few lights and reached US Route 1 quickly.

From the Fairfax County Parkway to the turn for the GW Parkway Route 1 runs though Fort Belvoir.  Ft. Belvoir was the last posting (4 years) my wife and I had before I retired from the Army after 25 years.  The Fort holds a lot of special memories for us.

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Mount Vernon Visitor’s Center

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View from the GW

The GW actually starts at the Washington’s home Mount Vernon and heads north along the Potomac River.  There are many overlooks and scenic stops along way all of which have great views or historic importance.  On this trip we did not stop but I would highly recommend (beside Mount Vernon) a quick look at Fort Hunt.

Shortly past Fort Hunt you will enter the city of Alexandria and the first thing you will notice is the very old cemetery on the right.  The cemetery (St. Paul’s) holds the “Grave of the Female Stranger” which is one of the more interesting stories of old Alexandria.  If you are riding the GW you need to make time to visit “Old Town” Alexandria.  There are lots of small shops, taverns,

Torpedo Factory

Torpedo Factory

restaurants and art galleries.  The largest gallery is the “Torpedo Factory”, named that way because during WWII it was a Torpedo Factory!

The next major landmark on the GW is Regan National Airport, while not a tourist destination for bikers, it does make for interesting views as large jetliners fly just a couple hundred feet

View from the GW

View from the GW

overhead!  Almost as soon as you see the airport you will catch a glimpse of the Washington Monument over the trees. A few moments and a left hand curve later you will see not only the Washington Monument but the Jefferson and Lincoln monuments across the Potomac.  But, because your eyes will be drawn to those major attractions, you will miss the Navy and Marine Memorial,

Another GW Pic

Another GW Pic

LBJ Memorial Grove, and Lady Bird Johnson Park!

Now is the time to decide if you want to go downtown DC or not, if you get in the left lane you will be directed towards the Arlington Memorial Bridge and the back of the Lincoln Memorial.  Stay in the right lane and you will pass under the bridge and continue upriver along the parkway. As I mentioned

Arlington Memorial Bridge

Arlington Memorial Bridge

earlier we were out for a scoot and did not stop very often nor did we go into the city on this trip.

One of the most invisible but one of the most powerful presidential monuments is the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial on Roosevelt Island.  This is my favorite monument in the National Capitol Region but it is a bit of a hike from the parking lot (which is right off the GW), to the park at the center of the island.  If you have the time I think this is well worth the stop.

While there are several minor attractions and overlooks the remainder of the GW is just a smooth tree lined ride…..until it ends on I495 exit 14!  The GW basically throws you out on 5 lanes of beltway traffic that is normally bumper to bumper at any time of day.

Luckily our route leaves us in the right hand lane and exits within a ½ mile onto the Clara Barton Parkway. We normally turn left and continue to follow the river upstream but there is good reason to head down river and visit the home of Clara Barton (founder of the Red Cross) and take in parts of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal.

Debbie at the Old Angler's Inn

Debbie at the Old Angler’s Inn

Rolling past the US Nave Surface Warfare the parkway soon ends and we decided to have a light lunch at the Old Anglers Inn.  The Inn is Zaggat rated and the service was spectacular!

Old Angler's Inn

Old Angler’s Inn

After our meal we followed several different roads ending up at White’s Ferry.  White’s Ferry is the only ferry currently operating on the Potomac River, having started in the early 1800’s.  One of the interesting parts to note about the ferry is how deep the flood waters have been over the years. With different flood stages marked on the building, it is remarkable sight to realize you are a dozen or more feet below the surface!

Taking the Ferry across the Potomac to VA puts us about four miles from home and is a fun way to cap this ride. As we were nearing home I got an idea for another ride…tracing the route of the C&O Canal, maybe we will be able to slip this one in sometime in the near future.

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