Monday, December 27, 2010

A Brief Sojourn To Visit The Potomac

The spousal unit had to retire to the old country this week rather urgently - for a bit of administrative heckling (a.k.a. visa processing) and hopefully some much-needed R&R - of course, leaving me in the deep doldrums, alone and depressed on the long Christmas weekend. Thankfully, two dear friends of mine, SB-squared, decided to come over to Baltimore to ameliorate my misery. Muchas gracias, mi amigo y amiga!

We spent a wonderful time in chit-chatting (what we Bongs refer to as 'Adda'), sampling the delectable offerings of a local eatery ("David's" on Falls Road) as well as of Kali's Mezze, a delightful little Greek restaurant at Fell's Point in Baltimore, and, on the day before Christmas, making a day-trip to the Great Falls National Park (a.k.a. Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Park) - to peek at the great falls of the Potomac river that flows through the park, separating West Virginia from Washington DC.

It took us a little more than an hour to reach the Great Falls Tavern visitor center of the park from Baltimore. This is one of the several points of entry to the park area along the path of the Potomac. Ordinarily, they charge $5 per car, but in keeping with the Christmas spirit, they waived it off this time (a more mundane reason is that they had broken down their toll-booth, which was being reconstructed, to be fully operational not before February 2011). It was pretty cold (Duh! End of December!!) outside, with a considerable wind-chill, but we were reasonably attired in layers. Besides, the male half of SB-squared had recently successfully scaled Mount Kilimanjaro, and he disdainfully pooh-poohed the Southern winter cold.

The Great Falls park offers a boat tour in the Chesapeake and Ohio canal (that also runs through the park, parallel to the river), but it was seasonal. Most part of the canal was frozen solid. People were throwing rocks of various sizes and dimension in vain attempts to make a dent in the ice (while standing on the ice, but they were in no immediate danger - for the ice layer was impregnable). Embedded in the ice were numerous neuron-shaped fracture marks, very cool-looking and possibly arising from unequal or uneven expansions-contractions during the ice formation.

fractures on ice

We took a mile-and-a-half walk to the Angler's Inn entrance to the park, keeping the canal to our left; the walk seemed a lot longer because of the meandering nature of the path. We were surprised to find hoof marks on the ice on both sides of the path, the frozen canal to the left and frozen surface of lowland areas, to the right, from where, presumably, the river has strayed during the winter months. It was only during dusk - the park closes at sundown - that we, while walking back, caught a glimpse of some deer or deer-like animals.

dears in the park

Potomac flows fast and rough through the park. The Falls themselves were a bit... underwhelming; I guess I, having seen the Niagara Falls, the Multnomah Falls in Oregon, as well as the Hudru-Jona and other falls in India, had a different expectation from the connotation of the word 'Falls'. The falls on Potomac were of a much lower height, borne out of the rough, rocky terrain on the river's path, rather than of any impressive drop. But the fast-moving, swirling, eddying, writhing water, roaring through the park, was not too shabby. We enjoyed the view, and I managed to capture a short video for posterity's sake, my pièce de résistance in fact.

Hope you enjoy this vicarious glimpse as much as we did the real thing.

N.B. I set the video to a track by Colonial Cousins (Lez Lewis and Hariharan)


  1. Enjoyed this essay! And the video. I esp liked the mallards...I've always enjoyed watching these birds, but you've caught the "calm and serene above water but paddling desperately underneath" perfectly! And I quite liked that part with your shadow on the rocks, photographing away.
    Not much snow, eh?

  2. Thank you.
    The East Coast blizzard did give us a scare last night, but it's all good now. Dunno how long that would last though.