Well – there are two days left in July – just TWO! Where in the world has this month gone? I feel like I talk too frequently about how quickly time passes but I always remain astounded by how time seems to fly…and here we are, staring down the barrel of August and the final five months of 2018! What in the world?!?
I can at least say I passed the last weekend of July living well – and I suppose if you just try to live each day to it’s fullest and best, then what else can you do? Right? Friday night after work (which ended early – hallelujah!) I watched some Shark Week programming (naturally) and then we headed to Regions 117 for dinner – a spot that never disappoints with the delicious food!
The weather was pretty temperate this weekend and so we were able to dine on the huge deck on the back of Regions 117 with a view of the lake and the awesome summer breeze, so once dinner was over we sat on one of the giant pallet swings for a bit and then walked down by the lake for just a minute… before driving home, seeing no less than 4-5 deer on the way (we only live like… 2 miles from Regions 117).
I passed the rest of the evening watching the Nationals game, some Shark Week programming and made several trips out on to the deck to peruse the night sky and check out Mars – which is currently as bright as it will be for the next 50+ years. Watson watched the baseball game with me…at least, that’s what I like to tell myself, and after a little couch surfing, I got into bed much earlier than usual on Friday night – but hey, I do love the sleep.
Saturday morning was a bit earlier than normal – we wanted to go see Great Falls National Park and everything we’d read said to arrive early because the 600 spot parking lot fills up quickly, so we took that to heart and after some coffee, we headed out around 8:30 for Great Falls. Great Falls is located just about twenty minutes from the nation’s capital but it feels like a world away; an area in nature heaped in history, where the Potomac River builds speed and crashes over rock formations to create what is now known as Great Falls.
I will admit – before moving to the Northern Virginia area, I’d visited DC several times and I honestly never knew this place existed. I happened to catch an Instagram post shortly after I moved to Virginia and it’s been on my list of places to see ever since. I’m not sure why it took 4+ years, but I suppose that would be because…well, life. We arrived around 10:00 and waited just a few minutes before entering the parking lot and making our way to the Visitor’s Center.
We shortly perused the Visitor’s Center and then headed along the pathway where three overlooks are – the pictures above were all taken at the first overlook, which is almost right on top of the falls and provides a very up close look. The other two overlooks were spaced farther down the falls and of course, the farther from the falls you got – the wider the view of the falls. Due to the rainfall that has been near constant over the past few weeks, the water was absolutely raging!
There were people everywhere – granted the weather on Saturday was gorgeous and was one of the first sunny days we’ve had in a while, so all the people out and about taking in the falls made perfect sense. The currents around the falls are pretty intense, so there is no wading into the water – they have approximately seven drownings a year due to people who don’t heed the warning and try to wade into the river. Yikes!
The river has flooded on numerous occasions and I made sure to take the time to pose by the high water mark pole, ha-ha! The area where Great Falls is located was originally owned by Lord Fairfax and on the recommendation of George Washington, the river was seen as a perfect way to move trades up and down the Eastern portion of the country, but the rocky outcroppings in the river proved to be a bit of an obstacle – but the pioneering men found a way…
The Patowmack Canal Company was created in 1785 and charged with creating a series of locks to move boats up and down the 80 feet that the river drops in the mile that constitutes the Great Falls area. A town called Matildaville even popped up near the canal and was home to numerous homes, a grist mill, a saw mill, a Superintendent’s house, a market, a foundry, an inn, an icehouse and boarding houses – so, a proper town. Thousands of boats locked through the Patowmack Canal but unfortunately, the cost of running such an operation became it’s downfall and in 1828, the Patowmack Canal finished it’s work and was transferred to the newly created Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company.
After we viewed the falls from each of the outlooks, we followed a path that led through the woods and along the remains of the locks built as part of the Patowmack Canal and even passed by some of the ruins of Matildaville – the town was tied to the fate of the canal and only lasted a couple years after the canal ended it’s business. There were numerous trails and I feel like there was still so much more to see at Great Falls – so I hope to return at some point and see more.
If you plan to go to visit Great Falls – I cannot stress enough how important it is to arrive early! When we left around 12:05, the line to enter the park was backed up all the way to the road – at least a mile, if not longer. The 600 parking spots fill up fast and once they’re full, you’re left to wait in line and wait your turn. There is so much to see and do here – and there is even a Maryland side to the falls, so it’s well worth a visit!
We made our way to Dulles Town Center and had a late lunch at the Cheesecake Factory – always delicious and of course, we got cheesecake! I mean – I feel that if you’re eating at the Cheesecake Factory you have to get cheesecake – it’s just a part of the dining experience. We also perused World Market a bit before heading home, where everyone just kind of lazed around a bit before we headed to the Alamo Drafthouse to see Mission Impossible: Fallout – which was really good! Our final stop of the evening was at Newtown Creamery where I got the most amazing Mint Chocolate Chip and Oreo swirl cone – so many sweets, but hey – maybe calories don’t count on the weekend? Ha!
Sunday dawned less bright and early than Saturday – which is always nice! I had my coffee and Fruity Pebbles, headed to church and met up with my friend Jennie for the service. I watched a little Shark Week before meeting a former coworker and friend, Joshua for lunch – we caught up over the course of two hours and had a wonderful time. The rest of the evening was passed just doing a lot of random things – as Sundays usually are – cleaning up, planning for the week ahead, watching an episode of A Series of Unfortunate Events, reading a bit, watching HGTV and taking that all important bubble bath.
Another weekend in the books! Memories made, new places visited and fun had – I can’t wait to see what these August weekends ahead have in store!