Well, it's summertime, and the living may not be easy nor the cotton high (at least not in Maryland), but those fish sure can jump, especially at Fort Washington Marina.
The bass and rockfish leap out of Piscataway Creek's shallows reaching for bugs, contending with the butternut and blue swallows diving down on them from the sky. A heron on shore and I eye each other as we take in the zoological ballet. Ducks mutter to each other as they feed near the docks and sea gulls watch from the pilings. Cormorants hang their wings out to dry. Ospreys play in the thermals with an eye out for leaping fish. No one is in a hurry.
Tucked away in a residential area, Fort Washington Marina is operated by Prince George's County. The family-run Cajun-style Gallery Cafe hosts community events as well as live music (often jazz and its relatives) on selected weekends. If it had a view of the wide creek (it doesn't), it would be one of the hottest destinations in the D.C. boating area. In the meantime, you can eat in the air conditioning or get carryout and sit on the patio overlooking the docks.
The docks may be a more interesting view than the river. The marina provides substantial room for rehabilitation and repairs, with one of the largest boat lifts in the area. That means boats bigger than most folks' homes rest in dry dock there, in various and intriguing states of disrepair. Tied to floating docks are a variety of sailboats and motor cruisers, including two restored classics built in the 1920s that resemble the presidential yacht, Sequoia. Over the double ramps flows a constant stream of bass boats, day cruisers, ski boats and Jet-Skis. Kayaks and canoes launch from the neighboring floating dock. Windsurfers take off from the beach club next door.
It's amazing how quickly a hot afternoon can pass as you lean against a piling, sipping a beer or iced tea, watching all the activity, both nautical and natural.
To get there by boat, turn inland a breath upriver from Mount Vernon on the Maryland side of the Potomac at the Fort Washington lighthouse, red channel marker No. 80. From the Beltway, take Indian Head Highway (Route 210) south to Fort Washington Road. Turn right, and follow the signs to Fort Washington Marina. If you get to Fort Washington National Park, you have gone a block past the turn onto Warburton Drive to the marina. Facilities include year-round floating dockage, transient docks, gas, pump-out, restaurant, restrooms, a launch ramp ($5) and kayak rental.
--Joanne M. Ivancic
Ever find yourself with bored kids on your hands and need a novel way to impress? Go to the Canadian Embassy (501 Pennsylvania Ave. NW). Just above the fountain (in front; there are stairs right beside it) is a gazebo of sorts.
Within a certain circle (demarcated by a metal strip), the acoustics go crazy. People inside the circle hear anything they (or others inside the circle) say, echoing multiple times. Outside the circle, everything sounds normal. A fun trick to play on a couple of unsuspecting juveniles, and a nice view of the Mall.
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CAPTION: Steve and Lydia Sadler dance to celebrate their new boat while Miles Hamby and Katherine Dols enjoy the show.
CAPTION: Fort Washington Marina, where leaning on a piling leads to bliss.