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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Would you like fries with your wetlands?

To go under the knife or not? is a question that will be answered sometime in the middle of next week, so opportunities to give the knee are workout appear to be rapidly diminishing. With beautifully clear skies today (and rain in the forecast for tomorrow), the choice of whether (no pun intended) or not to go out for a walk with my daughter was a no-brainer. The two of us thus headed out to Huntley Meadows Park in Hybla Valley, Virginia, in the suburbs of Alexandria, fighting the weekend tourist traffic through Alexandria's Old Town district and the congestion along US 1. It was worth the trouble, for despite being only 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) in length, the trails we traversed this afternoon took in some nice scenery as we made our way through a 500-acre (202 hectares) freshwater marsh. My knee was thankful for the short distance and level ground.

First things first: fueling up with a bacon cheeseburger, little hamburger, small order of fries, a Root Beer and a strawberry punch at Five Guys.

Amber uses my binoculars to scope out a possible squirrel nest sighting

Wherever there is a fallen tree that needs to be walked on, my daughter will be there

After a short walk through the forest, the wetlands make their first appearance

Turtles were taking advantage of the relatively warm weather

Behind Amber you can see the results of the hard work done by beavers. Although it's difficult to make out from this angle, the small tree to the upper right of my daughter that appears to have been almost completely snapped in two has been neatly gnawed on by a beaver.

More views of the wetlands. There were plenty of ducks and geese making their presences felt this afternoon, joining the gentle cacophony of croaking frogs. Spring is almost upon us.

Another view of the wetlands, from a two-story observation tower. A volunteer guide had set up a telescope for visitors to look at the various fowl in the water.

Following our short jaunt through the wetlands, we visited the nearby Historic Huntley, a secondary residence and summer retreat built in 1825 by a grandson of George Mason, one of the creators of the Bill of Rights. We missed the last tour of the day by about an hour, so we couldn't go inside, but we were able to walk around the grounds.

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