Dwight Peck's personal website

Winter 2023-2024

A photographic record of whatever leapt out at us

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

The Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve and a look round Historic Occoquan

On a very grey day, 26 November 2023

We alight at this historic Belle Haven Picnic Area carpark on the Potomac, about 2 or 3 km south of Alexandria, Virginia.

We've come to learn whether the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve has really got any wildlife or what.

It may look a bit daunting from this angle, but happily . . .

. . . there's a fine path, including some boardwalks farther on, running the 1.4km out to the end of the visitors' area.

It's an excellent walk, easy going and with its own understated charm.

Best marks for the efforts of everyone concerned

Just a guess at this point, but it's a fair bet . . .

. . . that the path will take us out onto that point.

Maybe that's where all the storied wildlife are hiding.

For someone who's spent two decades extolling the virtues of wetlands, our narrator still finds them pretty unpleasant to the eyes.

We'll confine ourselves, wisely, to the boardwalk. A closer look out there would certainly ruin your sneakers, or maybe you'd just disappear without a trace.

Masses of driftwood -- right here in Belle Haven!

Correct . . . we're on our way out onto the spit of land.

George Washington was here! Following in his august footsteps we are.

So much for following in his footsteps . . . now we're on a long boardwalk. Gratefully.

That environmental gem is enigmatically named 'H Island' on the map.

-- Pleased to be here.

Still no wildlife, however, how disappointing.
What half a mo!!

There he is -- we've figuratively bagged a heron.

Aller retour -- we can't stay out here admiring stuff forever.

Historic Occoquan

Occupan History District is 15 crow-fly miles south of Alexandria, pretty much following the Interstate I-95, though of course we avoided that. I-95 famously rivals our I-81 for smash-ups and delays; we stayed with the scenic countryside roads.

Historic Occoquan, we gathered during our visit, is truly historic, but much of the most genuinely attractive architecture we may politely describe as an 'historic development'.

Certainly the surveyor George Washington and his colleagues would never have named this street 'Gaslight Landing Court'.

One finds the houses seriously beautiful and incredibly well-maintained, but they're laid out like any other suburban development.

They're still charming though.

And indeed, it does have a lot of well-renovated old buildings as models for the newer ones.

It's clear from the shops and restaurants that the downtown at least is more or less a boutique town, oriented towards tourists, like us, looking for arts and crafts, food and souvenirs, etc. There's no harm in that -- our Staunton downtown is much the same and we like it.

Speaking of gift shops (or should that be 'shoppes'), most of our party is stopping in to have a wander about.

That charming (but useless) vintage car has an enormous plush toy bear propped up in the boot.

Photo by Alison of her Fond Papa

A serious arts and crafts old-fashioned mall

That's the Occoquan River preparing to dump into the Potomac about five miles farther on. The bridge, which we mistook for I-95, is apparently just plain old Belmont Blvd. The massive building seems to be Madigan's Waterfront restaurant.

Walking north towards the end of the downtown

Renovated old mill buildings, by the look of them

We've reached the park on the left of the map, at the end of the downtown street, and with restrooms, yay.

A handy map plaque of Prince William County, with Occoquan on the right. 'The county was named for Prince William, Duke of Cumberland, the third son of King George II' -- so the place has been named in honor of the 'hero' of the Battle of Culloden near Inverness against the last of the Jacobites in 1746.

'Many modern commentators allege that the aftermath of the battle and subsequent crackdown on Jacobite sympathisers were brutal, earning Cumberland the sobriquet "Butcher"' (Wikipedia).

The River Mill Park, looking upstream at a jumble of rapids

The Occoquan Footbridge (though there's virtually nothing on the other side).

That's the outflow from the Little Occoquan Run (which seems to have industrial origins)

The rapids upriver -- even as we stood here admiring them, every 10 second a blue heron swooped low along the river heading downstream for reasons of their own.

Every 10 seconds, all solo -- there must have been a good reason for that (photo by Alison).

That's the Bann Thai Old Town, a Thai restaurant.

Upholstery, slip covers, etc.

'Man Overboard'

The Andre Soriano Atelier and maybe some other stuff there, too

It's time to remember where we left the car. (It does all look alike round here.)

We should have memorized the house colors -- at least those are all different.

We went right past the corner of Union and Commerce Streets and missed it entirely. Worse luck.

A nice gesture

The marina and docks fronting on the Madigan's Waterfront

November Christmas adornments

And so we take our leave, desperate to get back to Alexandria for dinner before the rainstorm hits.

So here we are in the Namaste JALSA Indian restaurant, and we need find what that is that Alison's ordered.

Answer: it's a Thali.

Alison knows about these thing.

The drive home to Staunton was very pleasant, along I-66 and down I-81, except for this disconcerting and possibly insulting configuration along the highway. They seem to be popping up all over these days, an unsubtle conspiracy of some sort, maybe QAnon.

Next up: A few winter walks before trekking back to Wisconsin

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 28 January 2024.

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