740 calories

Ginia Bellafante is no slouch, either. From the Why We Can’t Have Nice Things Dept., Must We Gentrify the Rest Stop?

Five years ago, the New York State Thruway Authority conducted a survey of more than 2,600 drivers to take measure of the customer experience at the service areas lining the 570 miles of road that make up one of the largest toll highways in the country, stretching from the edge of the Bronx up past Buffalo. Whether participants were traveling for work or for pleasure, they had needs that apparently were going unfulfilled.

Among those who identified as occasional users of the Thruway, more than half said they would like food halls with “local artisan” offerings. Some commuters wanted Blue Apron meal kits. The resulting report listed as chief takeaways that leisure travelers complained about unappealing interiors and the lack of “Instagrammable moments.”

Giving voice to the voiceless

I am mortified that no one else stepped in to do this job, but gratified that Devon Henry was there to do it. White contractors wouldn’t remove Confederate statues. So a Black man did it., by Gregory S. Schneider.

Henry’s mission as the man who finally drove the Confederates out of Richmond was nearly complete. He had a brief, blunt message that morning for the chilly workers as they prepared to do the unusual work that has become so familiar.

“It’s the last one,” he told them. “Let’s do it right and get out of here.”


I love everything about this image from Shorpy (save one): the motion blur of the waitresses and ceiling fan, obscure prepackaged food, checkerboarded mini tile floor, shiny Coca-Cola fountain—and above all, the patrons ranked behind the diners, waiting their turn. The blot: as commenters have noted, this image is from 1942, when Washington was segregated. The photo is by Marjory Collins for the Farm Security Administration.

My year in cities, 2022

Birthday road trip and Virginia Master Naturalists conference.

Overnight stays in 2022:

My year in hikes and field trips, 2022

I’m chasing that next Trail Quest pin.

Another moderately successful season of monitoring nest boxes at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Va.

Christmas Bird Count 2022: Seneca and Central Loudoun

This was my second year leading Seneca’s sector 14, and I was a last-minute recruit to lead a subsector of Central Loudoun’s sector 11, four sites in the vicinity of “Old Ashburn” (the crossroads with the W&OD Trail).

We found a warm place inside to get the sector 14 group organized and then dispersed into a pair of parties. We missed some birds that we found last year, but found new ones, for a total of 46 species. One of my feeder watchers reported an Evening Grosbeak (Hesperiphona vespertina). The Buttermilk Creek Trail (pinned as an eBird hotspot) was marginally productive for Candy and Pat’s party; on the other hand, I had reasonable success with the obscure Lexington Estates Park in Great Falls, despite a bumptious family group passing through. No luck finding Rock Pigeon in my sector, despite some near-twilight parking lot crawling. The north end of Lake Fairfax is more easily accessible from the boat house, rather than walking down the hill from the parking by the water park.

I got to meet some new places and denizens of Ashburn with sector leader Kent Clizbe, and my team of five “beginners” was relatively well experienced. A Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) teed up for us near the Graves Lane pond. Accipiters are still an ID challenge for me. Raptor-on-raptor confrontations are always fun: this time it was another Red-shouldered Hawk challenging a Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), flustering a pack of European Starlings in the process. The Borrowers claimed the lens hood on my long lens, and then quickly returned it (thanks, Michael!).

It was a good season for Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) on both counts.