An exploration of things to do in Arlington

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ultimate Frisbee in Arlington (and soccer)

I've been in to trying new sports lately. I've always been a good athlete, but I grew up in a very small town - basketball, baseball, and football were the only options. As I became more "wordly", I found out that there really were other sports.

And now in my adult years, I've really wanted to try new sports. There's always just been one problem - pride! I don't like to do anything I'm not good at. But recently, I've been able to suck up my pride and try some new things and I'm really glad I did.

This spring, I played on a soccer team. I felt lost and confused at times (OK, a lot of times), but it was a lot of fun and I'm now I'm really looking forward to the next season.

Now I'm playing on an ultimatee Frisbee team. When I lived in Arizona, a group in the neighborhood used to play pick-up every week, and I would do that. I thought this would be that easy. Boy was I in for a surprise! First of all, there is a lot of strategy (and jargon) which I had no idea existed. Second, most people guard the side you would normally throw a Frisbee from and so you have to learn to throw a "forehand". I'm not very good at that. But everyone is really nice and I'm having a good time.

The Washington Area Frisbee Club has this cool thing called a recreational league. You just sign-up and they point you on a team. It's very low stress and they have beginners and experienced players who are really nice and teach you how to play. They play all over the DC area, including right here in Arlington at Bluemont Park. I'm not sure when registration is for the next league, but I definitely recommend it.

And to repeat a recurring theme with these blogs - just get out there and do it. Try new things. You'll be glad you did (at least most of the time)

P.S. - Sorry, I don't have any "real" pictures. This one is from Google images, but you get the idea.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ropes Course

I can never think of a clever way to start these things. I generally start with something to the effect of "So, this weekend ...". Hmm, I need a more clever topic sentence. OK, I've got it ...

Hurtling down 400 feet, suspended only by a thin wire, perilously crossing a canyon with only two-by-fours to help, and leaping 12 foot walls in a single bound, and not be left out, joining in a rousing rendition of "Three Blind Mice ... see how they run ..." -- these were just a few of the fun things that a group of 20-somethings in Arlington participated in this weekend.

What, you ask, could possible have all these elements? The answer - A ropes and intitiative course in nearby Middleburg, VA - a trip organized by Arlington Parks & Recreation.

So, you ask, how do I sign-up for something like this?

And here, I have to apologize, because I'm going to tease a little bit.

The initiative is called XY Arlington: Activities for 20s, 30s and Friends and it's coming, coming soon. What is XY Arlington? Well, it's a lot of different things - ropes courses, bike rides, hikes, indoor picnics at art galleries - mostly it's just fun! And it's designed for you! You, who live, work, and play iin Arlington. You who are young, and full of life, energy, and looking for fun.

How do you stay in the loop, you ask? I'm glad you did. Keep reading this blog - there will be more information here, and if you're not already, subscribe to the What's Up Arlington! e-newsletter. There will be more information there too.

It's coming very soon, I promise. Right now, we're testing a few small activities - like the ones I mentioned to see what kind of interest there is. We're also working on some of the internal things - like an online registration system. But it's coming. And when it comes, it's going to be FUN! Oh, so much FUN!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Guest Blog: ACE Hike and Happy Hour

This week we unveil our first guest blog. I still have this grand vision of this blog being more of a community review of things to do in Arlington, so if you would ever like to contribute something, please let me know. I would love to have it.

So, this week, Miles Grant takes a look at the ACE Hike and Happy Hour. Drumroll please ...

Just walking up to the Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE) Hike & Happy Hour, you could tell it was going to be a big crowd. Well before the event's 4pm start time, there were already a couple of dozen people gathered around the back of the ACE worker's van in the Roosevelt Island parking lot, and the two bird-watchers who were leading the hike looked a little overwhelmed. They'd only brought a few pairs of binoculars, but fortunately they got some help from the crowd! Several other bird-watchers volunteered to help lead the hike and share their binoculars.

After County Board Member Paul Ferguson welcomed everyone to the event, the birders decided to split the crowd (now about 40 people) into two groups to make things more manageable. Once we got onto the island, our group actually split up again, into people who wanted to spot birds and people who wanted to get a good hike in! I went with the hikers, and it was such a perfect day to be on Roosevelt Island -- 75 and sunny. Even the far side of the island, normally a hot, muggy swamp, was bearable.

In the swamp we got a surprise -- a red-tailed hawk perched in a tree just a few feet off the path! Some smaller birds, including a cardinal, were buzzing around it, and we speculated the hawk was a little too close for comfort to their nests. But the hawk wasn't bothered by them or us, and stayed perched for pictures. We laughed that the hiking group may have gotten a better bird sighting than the birding group!

Once the hike wrapped up, we headed over to Continental for the Happy Hour end of the event. Continental is more of an after-work bar, so on a Saturday evening, we had most of the place to ourselves. The group of about 40 people was twice as many as we'd had expected, and Continetal wasn't quite prepared ... we got a new waitress who was totally overwhelmed by the big group. But with Continental's low happy hour prices (half price drinks and appetizers), we didn't mind waiting a bit.

Continental donated some lounge space and pool tables for the event, so we played a few games of pool while we filled out trivia sheets for the evening's door prizes -- gift certificates to the restaurant Pinzimini (in the new Westin in Ballston) and LaTasca in Clarendon. We also talked about future ACE events, with people buzzing (no pun intended) about the Organic Beer Tasting planned for this fall, and several people suggested we plan a screening of Al Gore's new movie "An Inconvenient Truth", so we're already talking to Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse about planning that. For updates, you can join the ACE email list

I hope to see you out sometime soon.

Does Crystal City Rock?

Does Crystal City Rock? That was the question I set out to answer this past Sunday at the annual Crystal City Rocks festival.

There were essentially two parts to the festival - music and food. (a good combination!). I really liked the way the food was set up - lots of Crystal City restaurants with tables set up and small tastings for $1.00. I liked that I could sample lots of different restaurants without my wallet being quickly emptied. So, first question, does Crystal City food rock? Answer: Yes.

Part two (well, part isn't exactly an accurate term since everything was going on at once), but you get the idea, was the music. I had a soccer game earlier in the day and got to the festival later than I would have liked and missed Kenin - which was too bad because I was really looking forward to that. While it's always nice to have a larger name headline, I really like the experience of discovering new music. I hadn't heard Kenin, but had heard good things about them, but I digress. If anyone out there got a chance to see Kenin, or had seen them before, please leave a comment.

I did get there in time for the headline act - Vertical Horizon. Vertical Horizon is one of those bands that I knew I knew, but didn't really know what I knew. Make sense? Anyway, if you are in that situation too, let me help you out ... He's everything you want, He's everything you need ... but he means nothing to you and you don't know why. And there's the little twist at the end, where the "He" becomes "I". It's a good song, I like it. And Vertical Horizon sounded good. They are what I would describe as basic top 40 pop, but as that genre goes, they're good - and hey, it was free. So does Crystal City music rock? Answer: Yes.

I have to say, though, the thing I was most impressed with was just Crystal City itself. I don't go down there that much because, well, why? But it's really changing. There are lots of nice, fun restaurants, and a really cool outdoor park area to sit in. It's not all the underground blah, that I associate with Crystal City. So if you're looking to head someplace different, one night, try Crystal City.