Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye Graffiti

Graffiti Audio and Video, a long time Bethesda, MD fixture has closed. This is the store that had the Blues Brothers statues out front. The remaining merchandise is being auctioned off online at

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bethesda, After the snow

The snow stopped Saturday night. I waited until midday Monday to walk around downtown Bethesda, MD and see how it held up. Bethesda has a reputation for being a good place to walk around, a big snow storm is the perfect time to put this to the test.

90% of the sidewalks were at least mostly shoveled, you would now and then come across one or two stores that hadn't shoveled (unfortunately, some of them were on Arlington Rd which is pretty major). Intersections and curb cuts were pretty hit and miss, lots of them had been poorly cleared or not cleared at all.

Twitter user @gellmania summed it up nicely:
Dear Bethesda, learn how to shovel sidewalks. It's not that tough. Also, plow more than one lane on the major roads. That would be great.

Old Georgetown Road and parts of Wisconsin Avenue were missing lanes. Particularly noticeable was Old Georgetown between Arlington Rd and Woodmont Ave (southbound) only one lane of two was clear, backing up traffic.

Veteran's Park was just tables in a field of snow, no chance of walking through there.

The Capital Crescent Trail was actually a bright spot. There was a narrow path cleared going down towards DC. I didn't follow it to see how far down it was cleared.

I'll give the cleanup a B- because it really should have been better by now. I went easy on them because it was such a large storm.

At the top of Bethesda Metro station is a line of newspaper racks. They all had about four feet of snow in front of them and none had been refilled, not even the USA Today and Washington Post. The lone exception was the Rock Creek Free Press which had not only been refilled, it had a path shoveled to it. If you have never read it, grab a copy one day, its free.

One spot that did give me a pause was this store. The snow was slowly sliding off the roof and was hanging over the sidewalk. Look up while you are walking too.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snowpocalypse: Bethesda

Officially we got 24 inches of snow here in Bethesda, MD. There were 17 inches piled up on my patio table. It snowed hard from about 9pm Friday night until around 9pm Saturday night.

During the snowstorm the roads were in pretty poor condition, not surprising since it was snowing at the rate of 1 to 2 inches an hour. Here is a picture of I-495 near Old Georgetown Road. Even with conditions like this, there were still people driving.

No one was spared, not even the police.

By Sunday afternoon, things were much better. Main roads and secondary roads were wet, side streets were a bit worse, and they had started plowing neighborhood streets. I was just a tiny bit disappointed by how quickly things got back to normal.

They were busy re-stocking shelves at the Giant Food on Old Georgetown Rd. Nothing was really out, but selection of a few things were limited. For instance, there were no cans or 6 packs of Diet Coke, only 2 liter bottles. The soup aisle also had some holes in it.

Tell us what you did during the snow storm.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bethesda Fountains Part 10 (potd)

Nestled between Chipotle and Crossfire Grill, on the corner of Old Georgetown Road and Commerce Lane in Bethesda, MD is this fountain is easy to miss even though it is two stories tall. The top has a series of water spouts then the water flows down a brick wall to a pool. At the top of the fountain are a number of quiet tables that are usually empty. At the bottom are more tables that are quite crowded on nice days with people eating lunch (at lunchtime) or kids hanging out after school. A staircase alongside the fountain lets you access both parts.

Read all of the Bethesda fountains series.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Bethesda's Winter Wonderland

Last Saturday was the "Bethesda's Winter Wonderland" event with an ice sculpture carving, student concerts and even a visit from Santa Claus. I didn't get there in time to see if they used a chainsaw on the ice, but I enjoyed watching the sculpture putting on the finishing touches. It was in the shape of a giant snowflake.

After that, they had five different schools singing carols (one after another, not all at once). I stayed for the first two (Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Jane de Chantal) before the cold chased me off to get hot chocolate.

Veteran's Park was filled with people and there (mostly kids who were going to sing and their parents), it was great having the event while it was snowing, and the singing was good too.

[where: Bethesda, MD]

Saturday, December 5, 2009

First Snow!

After last year's disappointing snows, I am very excited about this year. An early snow always puts me in good spirits. This morning in Bethesda, MD the rain changed over to really big snowflakes that started blanketing the ground. Now the flakes are smaller but are still coming down. We have an inch or two of snow on the ground.

Roads are wet with a little slush in turn lanes. Nothing too bad but take it a bit slower, I did slide when trying to stop for a red light on Democracy Blvd (near where this picture was taken). It is above freezing so I don't think that the roads will get bad, and an early snow like this won't stay around long.

It is supposed to keep snowing this afternoon and tonight but tomorrow will be around 40 so it should all melt.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Montgomery Ave closed at MD-355

Montgomery Avenue at Wisconsin Avenue is currently closed. One lane of Northbound Wisconsin Ave is also closed. There are lots of fire trucks in the area and activity seems to be centered around the building across the street from the police station. I didn't see any sign of an actual fire.

Update 2:15pm: Montgomery Ave is now opened, it looks like all police/fire/rescue have cleared out.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ice carving and a student concert

This Saturday from 1 to 2pm watch live Ice Sculpting presentations in Veteran's Park in downtown Bethesda. Watch as large blocks of ice are carved into beautiful sculptures. (This often involves chainsaws and chips of ice flying everywhere. You know, good, wholesome fun).

After that, there will be a student concert with holiday music from featuring Garrett Park Elementary School, Our Lady of Lourdes, Seneca Valley High School and St. Jane de Chantal.

Veteran's park is on the corner of Woodmont Ave and Norfolk Ave. Ice carving starts at 2pm the student concerts start at 2pm. More information at

Update December 9: I went to this event, you can read my report.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lost Cat alerts

I ran across an interesting site the other day, the Lost Cat Neigbourhood Watch. You can sign up to get an email when someone looses their cat in your neighborhood. Or, let's say you loose your cat, you can post it on this website, along with pictures, descriptions and location and other people in the area get an email and can report if they have seen or found your cat. As an example, today someone from Potomac, MD lost their cat Kesha, I hope they find her.

Seven Locks Road Sidewalk & Bikeway Project: Public Meeting

I should have posted this last week, but on Wednesday December 2nd there is a public meeting to discuss the planned improvements to sidewalks and bikeways on Seven Locks Road between Montrose Rd and Bradley Blvd. It is from 6-9 pm at the Heights School, Chesterton Hall, 10400 Seven Locks Road, in Potomac, MD. You can read the (sparse) Meeting announcement or spend time perusing the much more interesting Project Documents.

The project is in Facility Planning Phase II and is 35% through the preliminary design plans. There is still a lot to do on this project. Phase II isn't scheduled to be complete until winter 2011, then after that it has to be budgeted and land aquired, etc before construction can start. Even so, this is an important meeting because at this stage, the design isn't finalized and your input can be taken into account. The proposed improvements include:
  • Two 11 foot wide travel lanes plus a 5 foot wide on-road bike lane on each side of the road.
  • A 8 foot off-road shared use bike path on the west side of Seven Locks Rd.
  • A 5 foot wide sidewalk on the east side of the road.
  • A 8 foot off-road shared use path along Montrose Rd between Seven Locks and I-270.
  • Northbound and eastbound auxiliary through lanes at the intersection of Seven Locks and Turkerman Ln.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bethesda parking lot 31A temporarily closed (finally)

Parking lot 31A in Bethesda, MD on the corner of Bethesda Ave and Woodmont Ave is closed for the next 60 days or so for utility relocation. This is the really small parking lot, not the big one across the street. The closure is part of a larger project to build a large mixed-use building on the site of the current lot 31 (the large lot across from Barnes and Noble). That project will include a garage with public parking.

From reading the sign, it looks like there may be temporary lane closures on Woodmont Avenue related to this construction.

This lot closure has been scheduled many times before. First they were going to do it at the beginning of May, then in mid-June, then at the start of September, then on (or about) November 1st, then on November 16th. Other blogs might have jumped the gun and reported the 11/1 date, but not me, quadrice bitten twice shy.

UPDATE November 24th: "Closed" is a relative word, and in this case it means that several of the parking spaces are fenced off for storage of equipment. The rest of the small lot is still open however.

UPDATE December 7th: Apparently they re-scheduled the closure of the full lot to today but the re-scheduled it again for sometime in January 2010. So that is at least the seventh scheduled closing date. Never have I seen so much effort go into closing so few parking spaces. I wouldn't hold my breath for the January date being the real date.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It's a great day to be outside

Today is a really nice day. Much better than I thought it would be and it is a great day to get outside and enjoy the warmth. This afternoon should be near 70 degrees.

The big playground at Cabin John Park had lots of kids running around playing when I went by there earlier today.

Tomorrow should be pretty nice too, not as warm as today but not bad for this time of year.

Bethesda Fountains Part 9 (potd)

This fountain is practically next to last week's one, however, architecturally they couldn't be more different. The other fountain in Bethesda Place Plaza is more of a large shallow pool. This is a more traditional fountain and has a raised stone 'roof' It is on a very small hill and surrounded by trees.
Read all of the Bethesda Fountains series.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Woman hit by school bus in Bethesda, MD

Around 1:30 this afternoon a woman was struck and seriously injured by a school bus in front of Bethesda Elementary school, 7600 Arlington Rd., Bethesda, MD. Five students were believed to be on the bus at the time of the accident, none of them were injured. The woman later died from her injuries.

As of 4:00pm, Arlington Road between Old Georgetown Road and Edgemoor Lane in both directions was still closed for accident investigation. Alternate routes were crowded.

Update: 5:25pm: Arlington Rd in both directions is now open.

Washington Post

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bethesda Fountains Part 8 (potd)

The definition of a fountain can be hard to pin down. Do you really need water spraying in the air? I don't think so. In the middle of Bethesda Place Plaza is a large shallow pool with rocks in it. On weekends you see kids jumping from rock to rock while waiting for a table at the Original Pancake House. Sooner or later one will miss the rock and land in the water.

Even though it looks calm, there is a bit of a current because of the filter. I almost lost the duck because he went for a swim in the middle of the fountain.

Bethesda Place Plaza is easy to miss since it is raised a bit from most of the roads. You can get to it by going up stairs on Woodmont Ave, or the stairs by the Safeway on Old Georgetown Rd, or up some stairs of Commerce Lane, or from Wisconsin Ave (MD-355). In the summer they have lunchtime concerts here too.

Read all of the Bethesda Fountains series.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Review: Cornucopia Tuscan Rosemary Ham sandwich

For lunch today I made a trek to the ver edge of downtown Bethesda, MD. 8102 Norfolk Ave to be exact. Cornucopia specialty foods has imported Italian food, cheeses and lots of cookies. The purpose of today's visit was to get a sandwich for lunch so I skipped the plates with cookies piled high on them (this time).

I tried the Tuscan Rosmary Ham sandwich. The ham had a light coating of rosemary on the edge which was very flavorful. It went wonderfully with the balsamic vinegar that they put on the baguette. There was also cheese and tender lettuces on the sandwich. This is a really nice sandwich, fairly simple but with a distinctive flavor that sets it apart from other ham sandwiches I have had. The only downside was that the cheese couldn't compete with the rosmary and balsamic vinegar, I really couldn't taste the cheese at all.

There is limited seating there making this more of a place to pickup lunch and take it with you. It is also closed on Mondays.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween or is it Merry Christmas

It is that time a year again, everyone dresses up and dances around the Christmas tree before going trick-or-treating.

Wait, that isn't supposed to be how it goes. Isn't putting up holiday decorations before Halloween a bit early? It seems like there are only three seasons anymore: Christmas, Back to School, and Other.

There are holiday decorations went up earlier this week in front of the Barnes & Noble on the corner of Woodmont Ave and Bethesda Ave in Bethesda, MD and on Bethesda Lane by Redwood Restaurant. Both places have a Christmas tree and a Menorah so we get the requisite does of bi-holidayism.

Happy Halloween everybody.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cool construction Stuff

Every now and then I walk by the construction on Woodmont Avenue between Hampden Lane and Elm Street in Bethesda, MD just to see how it is progressing. Sometimes they have some neat pieces of construction equipment, including this one, which I had never seen before. Last week was this unusual scene. There was a big truck of gravel, but instead of dumping the gravel on the ground, it was pouring onto a conveyer belt that was moving really quickly. At the end of the belt, the gravel was thrown off and flying through the air at high speed. It landed about 30 feet away at the bottom of the foundation.
Last month, I saw this concrete pumping truck. Nothing too unusual about it, but I love the name of the company "Grumpy's Concrete Pumping". If I ever start a company, I gotta have Grumpy as part of the name.

You can see the full coverage about this construction project.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bradley Boulevard improvements planning

Currently in the early planning stage are improvements to Bradley Blvd between Wilson Ln and Goldsboro Rd. The master plan includes on-street bike lanes on Bradley as well as an off-road shared use path. The current study will evaluate connecting the existing sidewalk on Bradley Boulevard east of Goldsboro and an existing sidewalk on Wilson Lane to improve pedestrian safety and provide access to transit stops and the Bethesda central business district.

This project is still in the early planning phase. There will be a public meeting tomorrow October 27 from 7:00 - 9:00pm at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase regional services center, 4805 Edgemoor Ln, Bethesda, MD.

More information about the project is at the county website.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bethesda Fountains Part 7 (potd)

A number of the office buildings in Bethesda, MD have fountains out front in a public plaza. This one is on the ever so uniquely named "East Lane" between Montgomery Lane and Hampden Lane. Behind the fountain is an abstract mural made with muted colors.

Read all of the Bethesda fountains series.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Candy Corn Construction Cones

I saw a couple of these in Bethesda, MD yesterday. The one in the photo was in front of the Barnes & Noble on Woodmont Avenue. I also saw one on Old Georgetown Road. Somebody has taken some of the orange construction cones and given them a Halloween paint job, turning them into giant yellow, orange, and white candy corn. It's a good thing they did too, it reminds me that Halloween is coming up. I still need to come up with a costume before I go trick-or-treating.

Update October 27th: I saw one of these candy corn traffic cones in Silver Spring yesterday too.

Update October 28th: I read that the responsible part is someone named Diabetik

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A crepe from Rita's Crepes

I've had my eye on this crepe stand for a while, just waiting for the right time to give them a try. Today was just the day, nice and warm but not too hot.

Rita's Crepes is a little outdoor stand across Woodmont Avenue from Barnes & Noble in the Bethesda Row section of Bethesda, MD. There isn't any seating there so I went down the Capital Crescent trail to the rest area to eat.

The menu is limited, 4 sweet crepes and only a single savory crepe. Since this was my lunch, I went for the savory: Fresh spinach, mozzarella, tomato sauce, and capers. It was cooked fresh in front of me in a few minutes and wrapped in foil so I could eat it on the go.

The crepe was filling and the cheese was nice and melted. The tomato sauce I was a bit concerned about, but it added a nice flavor to it. The Spinach released a little bit of water that made it to the bottom of the wrap but not nearly as much as I expected. The capers added a salty little surprise now and then. The crepe was good, but not great, it was somehow missing a bit of punch. Because of this and because of the limited selection of savory crepes, I'd recommend trying the sweet crepes, that looks like it is more the strength of this stand.
I wonder if the people of Silver Spring are laughing about this, I can almost hear them saying "Typical Bethesda, trying to be all upscale. A hot dog cart isn't good enough for them, nooo, they have to have crepes".

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hilton Garden Inn hotel now open

The construction of the new Hilton Garden Inn hotel on Waverly Street in Bethesda, MD has been an ongoing affair for quite some time now. It hasn't been without problems either, in May they had issues with the construction causing a blizzard of Styrofoam in the area. At long last, the problems are behind us and the hotel is open. I have been watching the construction for over a year, it started around January of 2008. Here is a retrospective of the building going up.

January 2008
This is almost a 'before' picture. They have put up construction barricades but they haven't started demolishing the pre-existing parking garage.

April 2008
They have pulled the old parking garage down and put up plastic sheeting so cars in the rest of the garage won't get debris from construction on them.

July 2008
This is a view from the remaining parking structure looking down at the bare dirt they are building the hotel on.

October 2008
They have the first 6 or so floors built.

November 2009
Lots of visible progress, 12 floors and they are starting to put on the exterior.

December 2008
The exterior walls are going on and most of the building is covered in what looks like yellow insulation.

May 2009
Looks about done doesn't it. Still months to go before it opens though.

July 2009
There is still a lot of work to be done near the ground.

October 2009
It is done and open.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bethesda Fountains Part 6 (potd)

This fountain right at the top of the big escalator at Bethesda Metro Station and by the bus bays is arguably part of the last fountain I highlighted. This fountain is noisy, noisy enough to be heard even when there are idling buses around it. Water cascades over small steps all the way down. It is also very wide. The only minor quibbles I have with it are that it looks like it is missing a flagpole and that the water doesn't quite reach all the way to the right side for the top half of the fountain.

Read all of the Bethesda fountains series.