Friday, November 10, 2017

Hike on the Seneca Creek Greenway trail

The Seneca Creek Greenway Trail is 7.8-mile natural surface trail.  The trail is part of a planned 25 mile greenway connection between the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers.  I went for a hike on one of the more popular sections, between MD-355 and Watkins Mill Road.

If you are going North on MD-355, at the northern edge of Gaithersburg, the road crosses a bridge over Seneca Creek.  Just after that is a gravel parking lot and a trail head.

The trail between 355 and Watkins Mill Rd is about 3 miles, so about 6 miles round trip (according to the sign at the start of the trail, it is 2.9 miles).  The trail doesn't follow the creek exactly, it is up on the side of a hill at the edge of the stream valley.

Many years ago I would go on this trail very frequently, and it used to be right on the edge of Seneca Creek for the first mile or two.  They have relocated the trail further away from the creek.

I just took these pictures on November 10th, and you can see it is late fall and most of the leaves have fallen.  There is still the occasional tree with green or yellow leaves and they really stand out against the other bare trees.

This isn't Seneca Creek, it is a very small stream that flows into Seneca creek.  You can see the bridge where the trail crosses it.  The trail is well maintained, and all stream crossings have bridges (or in one case, a huge rock).  It can get muddy and the fallen leaves can be slippery when wet, so you do have to pay attention.

This area hasn't always been a park, and there is one spot where several cars were left to rust decades ago.  There isn't a whole lot left of them now, but it is neat to see them out in the middle of the forest.





Thursday, September 21, 2017

Repaving Woodmont Avenue


Today they were milling the pavement on Woodmont Avenue between Bethesda Avenue and Elm Street.  Southbound Woodmont Ave lanes were closed and traffic was redirected down one of the northbound lanes

 They were also milling the intersection onto Bethesda Avenue.  This caused significant traffic pattern changes, closing Bethesda Avenue at times.  This forced people wanting to go down Bethesda Ave to instead turn right on Woodmont and go around the block.


Monday, September 4, 2017

The Georgetown Branch trail closes tomorrow


The Georgetown Branch trail will be closing on Tuesday.  Today is your last day to get a run, walk, or bike ride on the trail.  After that it will be closed for the next four to five years while they construct the purple line and the new (paved) trail.

The trail will be re-routed on surface streets between Silver Spring and Bethesda, but you will be sharing the route with cars.

Between now and then, the Apex building (which the trail runs under) will be torn down and a new building put up.  The trail will still go under the new building



Monday, July 31, 2017

Stratton park closed for upgrades

 Stratton Park, in Bethesda, MD is closed for upgrades.  The park is being made ADA compliant.  The changes include a pave path to the baseball field, replacing the path to the playground, and a paved path that goes by the tennis courts and basketball courts, then continues on to Democracy Blvd.  They are also replacing the grill with two grills, one of which is ADA complaint.  I previously covered the planned upgrades.

The whole park is currently closed and the pavilion, playground, basketball courts, and tennis courts have a fence around them. The park will remain closed until winter (no word on if it is the beginning or end of winter).


 The equipment and piles of gravel are stored in the parking lot.

 The path up to the pavilion and tennis courts is being re-done.

 The new grills will be located in this area.

 The playground area is fenced off.

This is where the new path that goes by the tennis courts and out to Democracy Boulevard will be.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Go Visit: Tubing at Harper's Ferry

 A great summer adventure is to go tubing on the Potomac River near Harper's Ferry.  It is only an hour's drive from Bethesda and it is a fine way to spend a hot summer day.  There are many outfitters that will rent you a tube ($20 to $30), drive you to the river, then pick you up again when you are done.  I went with Harpers Ferry Adventure Center and was pleased with how they run the operation, but I am sure that there are many other good outfitters.

The strength of the rapids depends a lot on how much rain there has been.  The rapids are class I to class III, which is not too strong.  The above picture is representative of the type of rapids there are above the railroad bridge.  Below it are some stronger ones.

It will be hot, and you will be out in the sun the whole time so bring plenty of sunscreen and water.  You can bring food and pull up on a rock to eat it (make sure it stays dry and pack your trash out when you're done), Also, shoes that you don't mind getting wet are a must.  Children should be over 12, I'd suggest one child per adult if they are 12 or 13.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Space ships abound



 I got a box from Amazon today and on the inside flap it said:

SPACE SHIP
Assembly Instructions:
  1. Place box on floor
  2. Carefully place space traveller in box
  3. Blast-off noises
I love it, but my astronaut conscript was not amused.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Cicadas are Back!

Last night I was walking around Bethesda and noticed a significant number of cicada nymphs emerging from the ground and climbing up trees.


 After a while, they started their final molt.  It takes well over an hour from when the first slit appears in the back of their exoskeleton until they are fully emerged.


While emerging, they are white and pale yellow.  After they have emerged and rested, their skin will darken.


As they emerge, their wings start to expand.


This morning, the ones I had seen last night had finished molting and crawled off.  However, there were still some that had come out during the night.  I found one that was fully out but hadn't finished hardening and darkening.


Once they have molted, they abandon their exoskeletons, which are left clinging to trees.


It is too soon for these to be the big batch of 17 year cicadas, they (Brood X) last came out in 2004 and won't return until 2021.  These do look like periodicals (not annual cicadas which are larger).  Looking at the chart on wikipedia, it is most likely that these are Brood VI of the 17 year cicadas.  They aren't listed as being in Maryland so I can't be certain.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Parhelion over Montgomery County

Around 5:30, as I was driving on the outer loop of I-495, I saw what looked like a smaller second sun to the right of the Mormon temple.  A bit of research later (and some help from friends) and I see the effort is called a parhelion, or "Sun Dog".  Most of the pictures you see of this effect are better defined than this one.  You can't see it in the picture, but in reality the bright spot had a rainbow shimmer to it.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Stratton Park basketball and Tennis court refurbishment started

 They have started the refurbishment of the tennis courts and basketball courts at Stratton Park in Bethesda.  This is independent of the ADA upgrades I have written about before, but not a coincidence that they are trying to do both around the same time.
 The basketball courts already have a fresh covering of blacktop.  The posts for the hoops are there, but are not complete.

 All the cracks in the tennis courts have been filled in with tar.  I guess that means that they aren't going to remove the existing blacktop, but only put a new layer over it.

The fence is down, but the poles remain.  The supports for the nets have been cut down as well.
 The equipment is on the courts, waiting to be used.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Council set to vote on SSP and remove school facility payment

On Tuesday, November 15th, the Montgomery County Council will vote on adopting the subdivision staging policy (SSP).  They have removed the School Facilities Payment section of the SSP, this will hurt the county's ability to fund expansion of our overcrowded school system.

The school facility payment has long been a part of the subdivision staging policy.  It is triggered if a school cluster is between 105% and 120% of capacity and required an additional payment be made by developers that goes towards increasing school capacity.

Last year (2015) these payments totalled almost 2 million dollars, and in 2014 they were over 2 million dollars.

Earlier this year the county council increases taxes paid by it's citizens in order to increase funding public schools, now, they are reducing taxes on developers by millions of dollars.  Taxes that were dedicated to schools.

It is because of things like this that term limits were overwhelmingly approved last week.  Keep this in mind next election when the non-term-limited council members run for re-election, and if any of the current council members run for county executive.

There is a petition asking that they postpone the vote scheduled for November 15th and address the the MCPS crisis more fully. It covers this issue as well as other school related issues.

The County Council's agenda for tomorrow is  here, the vote is scheduled for 10am. The analyst packet is here, it identifies all the changes (additions are underlined, deletions are in square brackets). The portion on the school facility
 payment starts on page 17, then there is some more on the bottom of page 18 and top of page 19.