Trash Collector

NY Times featured an article about a trash collector who did just that – collected trash. It’s amazing what people throw away. Mr. Nelson Molina has worked for NYC Sanitation Department for 20 years and has found some pretty amazing items. Check it out here.

Dumpster Dove Museum


National Geographic Adventurer of 2012 Alastair Humphreys really impressed me. Not because he climbed the highest mountains or travelled to the most desolate places…. but his creative ways to show adventures are accessible to all.

Generally I swoon over crazy stories of mountaineers, sailors, backcountry skiers and others who hop around the globe, doing daring feats that test their determination, perseverance, physical and emotional strength. Those individuals are awesome – but most of the adventures require a lot of time and a lot of money. We used a little of each on our kick a$$ adventures  hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in ’09 and Continential Divide Trail in ’10. TBut now what?

To go off for 5 or 6 months we’d have to quit our jobs… and we’re fortunate to both have jobs we’re very passionate about.  Plus, after moving here and there so much, we’ve now decided to stay put (for a bit, at least) and build up a community here in Reston.  However, we only get about 2 weeks of holiday a year.  So does it have to be all work or all play? Working 4 jobs to earn money for our backpacking adventures was definitely worth it, but now we’re trying to create a more integrated and balanced life.

Enter Alastair.

“Break down the elitism in adventure—that was my goal,” says Alastair Humphreys, reports

He had his fare share of far-flung adventures – he rode his bike 46,000 miles around the world, as well as traipsing around remote areas of Iceland and the South Pole.

But in 2011, Humphreys never left his native U.K. He barely even left the county.

Photo: Alastair Humphreys cycling on folding bike in the mistInstead he embarked on a year of microadventures—small, local trips that began and ended at his doorstep. He hiked Britain’s most reviled stretch of road, the M25, a clogged transit artery that circles London through the swelling suburbs. He swam the Thames, used public transport to get out of the city and sleep out underneath the stars, and spent four days living off the land. Advanced Base Camp was his home in London’s suburbs.

“Each trip ticked all the boxes of adventure. It was cold. It was physically challenging. I talked to people I wouldn’t have otherwise met,” says Humphreys. What he learned was clear—we find adventure by stepping outside of our day-to-day norms.

And what’s also great is his use of Twitter and modern technology to inspire others to also come up with their own microadventures. My fave of Humphreys’ adventures is his hike around the M25 – basically London’s equivalent to 495/The Beltway – a huge circular highway that people dread driving, much less walking. It’s so ludicrous. It sounds like something only a masochistic would dream up. Did I mention he did it in January? Yet Humphreys’ reports,  “I saw some beautiful places, which I hadn’t expected to find at all. I met interesting people. That week ticked all of the boxes that my four-year bike trip around the world ticked. I came back buzzing. It was quite stupid and silly, but it had been a genuine adventure.”

To read the full interview of Humphreys, click here.

And please leave comments about ideas of DC microadventures? Walking around the Beltway anyone?

Diamond Jubilee

Life in the US of A is good, but it’s such a shame we’re missing the festivities in the UK for the Queen’s Diamond Jubillee and the Summer Olympics!

The BBC reports:

The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant is one of the biggest live events to ever take place in London. It has taken two years to plan and is costing £10.5m of private money. That sum does not include the cost of policing which falls to the taxpayer but Lord Salisbury, who chairs the team that organised the pageant, is promising “a hell of a show … to thank the Queen for 60 years’ hard labour”.

I have to say that as an American, I’m both baffled and interigued by the monarchy of the United Kingdom. In many countries, 60 years in power signals a dictatorship, not a democratic society. Yet, in the UK the whole monarchy has a romantic fairy-tale feel to it – with Lords and Ladies and castles. Just take the queen’s royal rowbarge Gloriana. It’s the “largest rowed vessel in the UK. It has been specially built for the occasion and will lead the whole flotilla of more than 1,000 vessels. The gilded barge is made from wood from sweet chestnut trees grown on Prince Charles’ own private estate.” Chestnut trees from Prince Charles’ private estate? I wouldn’t be surprised if he also has a magic beanstalk.

When Elizabeth was crowned queen in 1952 The British Empire stretched across the globe and posessed about 90 ocuntries. The changes that have taken place in the 60 years of the Queen’s reign are incredible, but both the monarchy and people of the United Kingdom seem to have adjusted well.

The UK seems more content with grey areas and have successfully managed to maintain both a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system. And even the British weather won’t stop the celebrations today!

Del Fest(ivities)

After enormous amounts of deliberation and desperate scrambling to find transportation and dog-sitter, everything fell together and Friday morning we headed off with our friend Ben to Cumberland, Maryland for Del Fest. Del Fest is a bluegrass festival that bluegrass legend Del McCoury started 5 years ago. With bluegrass, I expected more red necks but the crowd was actually very hippie. Lots of tie-dye, long skirts, scruffy beards and plenty of funky tattoos.

Weather-wise we faced intense heat and humidity and a number of crazy booming thunder and lightning storms, but we floating down the Potomac River kept us cool and our Hubba Hubba tent kept us dry.

It was an awesome time of relaxing, listening to inspiring music, people watching (especially fire dancers and hulu hoopers), hanging out with friends and getting a taste of “the trail life” on a town day. Wow, I could really do with a slower pace of life!  I also enjoyed 2+ hours of free yoga each day and finally did a pretty decent head stand (but in tripod position w/help from my hands).

Some of the music highlights for me were Luther Dickson and the Wandering, Birds of Chicago (Allison Russell is my new girl-crush and I think J.T. Nero should inspire Dan to try a funky bun), Emmitt- Nershi Band (Billy!!), Della Mae and the Yonder Mountains String Band. And Steve Martin is pretty dang good on the banjo – and his cheesy humor comes out in his music too! We also camped w/two guys from the band “Herb and Hanson” and enjoyed some pickin’ sessions with them.

J.T. Nero and Allison Russell of Birds of Chicago

In the meantime, we’ve signed up for the Watermelon Park Fest in September and will have to try make it to more festivals and camping excursions this summer. Ahh… must fight business of DC area! Thankfully the pool has opened up… it’s not the river but it is relaxing!

Watermelon Park Fest 2012

You say it’s your birthday…

Reston turned 48 this month and Robert E. Simon, founder of Reston, turned 98! These are comforting numbers as I myself entered a new decade. And we all enjoyed cake and festivities on Founder’s Day.

Reston Bob Simon Statue real

Robert E. Simon (Photo by Tom Jackman - The Washington Post)

I was actually eating my lunch at Lake Anne one bench to the left while this photograph was being taken! For some interesting facts on Reston, check out this recent Washington Post article.

I enjoyed two lovely al fresco dinners for my birthday with:
– a small group of family and friends
– 2 adorable little girls (one with pink hair)
– dappled red and white tulips, buttercups, and dandelion “wishes” and a canopy of wisteria
– 1 precious black and white calf
– 1 mischievous puppy
– copious quantities of sunshine and champagne.


Conflict Kitchen

Conflict Kitchen Iran Pittsburg

Located in downtown Pittsburg, “Conflict Kitchen is a take-out restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict.”  Conflict Kitchen is an intriging way to introduce people to a country beyond brief news clips of war and terror. They also host dinner parties via Skype where Pittsburgians eat with young professionals from “conflict countries” like Iran, Iraq or Venezuela. The packaging of the food features interviews of people from conflict-countries, giving diners a first-person narritive of life in those locals.

“Conflict Kitchen reformats the preexisting social relations of food and economic exchange to engage the general public in discussions about countries, cultures, and people that they might know little about outside of the polarizing rhetoric of U.S. politics and the narrow lens of media headlines.”

And from the the looks of it, the food’s pretty tasty too!

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