Leaves are Dying, Here is Where you Monsters Can Watch Them

Sigh, autumn.  The season where the District skips off to collectively squee over shorter days, desolate beaches, vests and inedible corn, while its best friend summer is left to bleed out in a heap on the sidewalk.  IronCitySpy and I have spent countless hours trying to convince you people of the obviously superior season, a position that has only been reinforced by TV, music, movies, books, branding and overall number of smiles, but, in an attempt to turn over a new (dying) leaf, we decided to throw on some Tartan, sigh heavily, and help you watch some plants give up:

Option 1.  The best place in DC to take a million tree selfies without judgment and then watch Westworld

Image result for national arboretum

Columns at the Arboretum with leaves in various stages of despair (photo courtesy of DC-HBC)

The National Arboretum.  Hands down.  It is free, massive, and you can find plenty of places to practice your selfie in peace while still getting home for HBO Sunday.  You also can get pictures of autumn splendor reflected in other flora that thrive on the precipice of death, like certain  vines, shrubs, flowers, and autumn bonsai, which are ADORABLE.  The Arboretum does not have a restaurant, but it does sell snacks.  You could also pack a picnic and force everyone to eat on the freezing ground, because that seems like something that you people would do.

Other options include Rock Creek Park, C&O Canal Historic Park, Roosevelt Island, Arlington Cemetery (though perhaps not the best selfie spot) and yes, even the National Mall.  DC is actually a green city, unlike other cities who claim to be (*cough* New York) so just explore it.

Option 2. By “tree viewing,” I meant eating pumpkin pie in a large sweater.  Where can I do that, but surrounded by above-average dying trees?

An admittedly noble request.  The knee jerk response on most websites would be Harper’s Ferry, and honestly with good reason – great overlook hike, quaint restaurants, and a multitude of hiking options.  Yahoo rated it best foliage or something.  The problem with Harper’s Ferry is the CROWDS.  It is a zoo during peak leaf season, and it is tough to find anywhere to park or eat.  So go if you want, but, as an alternative, let me humbly recommend Frederick, Maryland.

Image result for frederick maryland autumn

Not only is that an old-timey locomotive, it is a MURDER MYSTERY DINNER LOCOMOTIVE. I am serious. Click the picture and search for “murder mystery dinner train”

I mean look at that.  It really has all your Fall things:  old buildings, Americana restaurants, covered bridges tours, three breweries in the city, one of which is named after Monocacy, a civil war battlefield that you can tour nearby if that’s your thing.  New Market, Maryland’s antiques capital, is a 15 minute drive away,  and, if you prefer eating your pumpkin pie in active wear, you can first hike in either Cunningham Falls State Park or Catoctin Mountain Park  25 minutes north of Frederick to really get the Thelma and Louise tree experience.

Blue Blazes Whiskey Still trail

Blue Blazes Whiskey Still trail, Catoctin Mountain Park, Credit: Alicia Lafever

I know, its almost too seasonal.  I’ll give you a minute.

Option 3. I can only tolerate tree viewing if I am constantly moving, like a shark.  I also have a dog. 

Photo of Overall Run Falls

Leaves in varying stages of death at Overall Run in Shenandoah National Park surrounded by water that cannot save them (credit MDEliz on Trip Advisor)

Another respectable request.  It will probably be freezing and dogs are pretty great.  For hiking, we are really spoiled for choice in the DC area, so I am going to highlight three trails that are good, dog friendly (on leashes) and maybe not as obvious as Old Rag and Great Falls:

  • Overall Run Trail:  Great views plus the tallest waterfall in Shenandoah National Park.  About 2 hours outside of DC.  There are many hiking options here depending on your persuasion. You can find a really detailed description of a 5.0 mile option on Virginia Trail Guide. Another option is 7.3 miles starting from Thompson Hollow.  
  • Sky Meadows State Park:  A pastoral state park with rolling hills, meadows and wooded areas.  Drive takes about an hour from DC. Numerous trails but one of the most popular is the Piedmont Trail. 4.7 mile loop. Then you can go to Hollins Farm for cinnamon donuts or Arterra Wine for…wine.
  • Kepler Overlook: Near Woodstock Virginia. Up and back hike. 6 miles total. Drive takes around 2 hours to get to.  Beautiful views, some streams and not very crowded. There is a berry farm and microbrewery combo nearby.  I know, I’ll give you a minute again. Tibet Knob is another excellent alternative nearby that is 3 hours but more strenuous.

Option 4.  I am willing to go wherever, but am anxiety ridden over figuring out when “peak foliage” is.  Do you know when peak foliage is?  Does anyone? I heard our summer pushed it back? Is that true? Did I miss it?!?!?

Deep Creek Lake, MD: presumably watered by the tears of leaves (photo links to park site)

First, no, you haven’t missed it. Plenty of places have not peaked yet.  However, from one psychopath to another, it is impossible to predict peak foliage within a neurotically-acceptable margin of error.  Yes, you can find a foliage map here, but as I have intimated above, it comes with caveats that are frankly unacceptable those that spend all their vacations agonizing over whether everyone is actually having fun or just faking it.  Thankfully, I have discovered a solution:  WEBCAMS.  Many awesome places have webcams that update in real-time or daily, so you can see if the foliage actually looks good. You can also see whether you have missed it, since peak season is very regional.  Here are some good ones:

So that’s that.  I hope the death of flora is sufficiently bloody for you people.

The One Where DCSpy Blogs Again But Sets Expectations

Okay, so it has been awhile. Three years to be exact.  The last time you left your faithful spy, she had abandoned her perfectly acceptable government-adjacent job to become a goddamn lawyer–a confusing and seemingly pointless endeavor that culminated in her taking a bar exam, mentally breaking down during said bar exam, showering with her clothes on like Tobias, and then somehow passing said bar exam to only land a job that can be summarized as follows:

(photo courtesy of this amazing lawyer coloring book by Sad and Useless)

Sigh.  And so, in a moment of existential crisis, after buying a year’s worth of costumes for her beleaguered hedgehog (known here as DChog to protect his identity / job at the crinkle tunnel factory), DCSpy decided to blog again.

And dear reader(s), so much has happened in DC in the past three years!  Eckington is a thing I know now! There are working streetcars on H Street! A Dupont underground!  Philz Coffee!  The rat colony behind my apartment has a new leader! People aren’t as into cupcakes as they were at one time! Angelina Jolie is single and supposedly teaching at Georgetown!

I will do my best to update the blog at least weekly with recommendations around our fair city and other general musings, but please know I say this with the distinct possibility I might abandon the idea entirely  in a month.  For now,  the posts will be short and definitely pointless, but they will be on the internet.  I will also be tweeting I guess, although past practice indicates it will likely be a jumble of DCSpy writing, deleting and re-posting virtually the same tweets ad infinitum.  Twitter is taxing on the neurotic.

Happy Halloween my beloved District!!

Oh hi DC. It’s been awhile since we chatted on this medium. Why you ask? Well, in our 22 month hiatus, your lovely spy attended law school, broke down as a human, abandoned everything she loved, was rebuilt as a poorly functioning lawbot, and then promptly short-circuited in her lawbot body due the bar exam even though she is nearing 3o and should be able to take a goddamn test. I now return to you as shards of twisted metal and obscure latin phrases to blog about pointless DC things and beg for your love and forgiveness.

So with that, happy halloween!!! Halloween in our fair district is fantastic — if only because the embassies give out candy, dauschunds look like hot dogs, and every building is haunted by administrations past (seriously even Wok n’ Roll in Chinatown was once the boarding house of Mary Surratt – the first woman executed by the U.S. government for her role in Lincoln’s assassination– and is therefore known to be haunted).

Sushi with a side of ectoplasm

Ironcityspy and I will be going out this weekend to a murder mystery party as Sam and Suzy from Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom — a reality that is so insufferably hipster you should probably just poison some craft cider and put us out of our misery. If you are unfamiliar with Wes Anderson, just  assume our halloween will look exactly like the clip below — a movie trailer that is both parody and something I would seriously want to be an actual movie:

That being said, if you are in the district and looking for a party this weekend, I would check out both Eventbrite and Brightest Young Things to get the most comprehensive list of DC, MD, and VA activities. OR if you are lazy, you always could just dress up, drink at your house, and then take awkward photographs in front of national treasures. OR if you are even lazier, you could just eat Cheetos,  find a cat, force it to dress up as different U.S. presidents, and photograph it in front of terrible backdrops of national treasures that you drew.

Regardless, happy halloween and trick or treat!!! (Or as they say in Canada, “Halloween apples!!!” because God even their devil’s night is earnest)

The Marine Corps Marathon is very, very happy to be back in DC.

The annual Marine Corps Marathon concluded yesterday, marking another successful race  despite increased security. But that is hardly noteworthy compared to what I found yesterday while looking up road closures:

 Source: MCM website

Source: MCM website

Too subtle for you?
Must. resist. puns.

Must. resist. puns.

Yes friends, I give you the most important map since DNA was sequenced. Normally I’d think this was some sort of divine coincidence — but you can’t look at that tip penetrating the U.S. Capitol and tell me this isn’t the work of staggering genius.

- IronCitySpy

Oh, why did we choose this moment to end our 22 month hiatus you ask? Obviously you aren’t familiar with scripture:

“… and when a giant phallus reveals itself, rejoice!  The gentle blog will rustle from it’s ancient slumber.” - The Bible, probably.

Hey DC, this is a really dumb intersection.

Dear DC,

Please explain in what plane of existence one needs to inhabit in order for this intersection to make sense?

19th and T NW

This intersection is on IronCitySpy’s daily commute home. It’s also the home of IronCitySpy’s daily-vehicular-near-death/near-homicide. While it looks like a perfectly normal 4 way stop , look closer — only two parties are required to stop. The other two can zip on through. While a 2 way stop isn’t asinine on it’s own (well it kind of is), consider the following:

  • Parked cars are allowed to flank both stop signs. While seemingly benign, this actually creates a sinister Catch 22. In order to see if there is on-coming traffic (that is not required to stop), I must move my car into said intersection in order to see past the cars (and likely getting hit by said oncoming traffic in the process). Or, I can just assume there are no cars coming and try to bulldoze my through (again likely getting hit by oncoming traffic, which again is not required to stop).
  • This intersection is also the mecca of pedestrians/bicyclists. And not just any pedestrian/bicyclists, but some sort of weird Bermuda Triangle of douchery where 30 somethings that assume it’s appropriate to travel by longboard are genetically drawn towards. The rare moment when you see there is no oncoming traffic, you can bet a carnival of “Paperboy” characters will descend all around you — seemingly with the sole objective of being run-over by your vehicle.


DC, your transportation network is an easy target and is ripped on quite a lot. But this is an easy win and a quick fix. Make 19th and T NW a 4 way stop. If you do, you’ll gain a fan for life. But do it quickly, because at this rate I’ll be incarcerated for running over a dude juggling fire*


*Paperboy, anyone?

Blogging for the enemy: IronCityspy joins Caps blog


In addition to recently selling out and getting advertising dollars on here, I’ve also been asked to moonlight at the very good Caps blog “Stop throwing hats“. What’s that? Why did I agree to work on a blog that gets it’s moniker from insulting my favorite player? Short answer, daddy’s got to eat. The proprietor is a talented writer that is getting a good deal of exposure (some of it nationally). Continuing my personal mantra of never being afraid to follow others, I am basically hoping to ride his coattails to some blogger glory. He is giving me complete creative control, and rather hopes I narrow in on what it’s like being a Penguins fan in DC. If you are interested in either the Pens or the Caps, I hope you will grace my unlettered scribblings from time to time.

At any rate, if you are interested my first article centers around the Pen’s and Cap’s tribute to the tragic fate of the doomed Lokomotiv team.

Fall is back, DC citizens squeal with excitment

Fall is back in DC (also presumably everywhere else) and if my Facebook and Twitter feeds are any indication, the regional population couldn’t be happier. So I suppose you have come here to read what just about every other blog is writing about: favorite fall activities, favorite fall drinks, favorite fall fashion, etc… If this is the case, I’d suggest heading to one of those. As my general feelings on fall can be summed thusly:

IronCityspy's present mood. Credit to OMGkitty.com for the perfect image.

As is well known to our longtime reader(s), DCSpy and I love the Summer. We love the sunlight, long hours, warm weather and trips that are synonymous with those glorious 3 months. So when I read twitter statuses that say “So excited to wear scarves again!!!” Part(most) of me dies inside. Don’t you people realize you have like 8 months of scarf weather!


DCSpy tends to be of the opinion that as long as Fall is here, we may as well embrace it. This position is anathema to me. Summer, in many ways, is like my best friend. I look forward to it before it arrives, can’t get enough of it when it is finally here and I am terribly sad when it leaves. Fall is Summer’s murderer/rapist. But unlike typical murder-rapists, I am then forced to hang out with the thing that forcibly sodomized and stabbed my best friend. Then I have to hear about what a great guy he is by literally everyone I am associated with!  Look, he may have some good jokes and can turn the occasional phrase, but at the end of the day he still left my beloved Summer in a dumpster behind the KFC.

It is because of this that I will be curmudgeonly during any and all fall activities I am forced to participate in. Yes apple picking and Halloween may be fun, but they can’t replace my best friend.


P.S. Not to clog my inbox about the Fall vs. Summer argument again, but I have one question for the Summer haters. When you go on vacation, do you go somewhere that is 60 degrees and overcast? No, you go somewhere that looks like this:

Year-round Summer!


thirst DC – a sexy lecture

The one unforgivable sin is to be boring” – Christopher Hitchens

It seems the organizers of Thursday’s thirst DC event took this mantra and completely ran with it. It’s also unfortunate DC’s beloved boozy man of letters is too ill to take advantage of this gathering, as it seems right up his alley. Let me explain:

The underlying theme of thirst DC (assuming I understand the  press release) is the old concept of stuffy lectures is outdated and pointless. Gone is the packed auditorium filled with professorial types, listening to one speaker drowning on and on about a single topic, only to be interrupted by the occasional golf clap. In it’s place is a lively social gathering, where several renowned speakers give short, impassioned talks about a wide-range of topics. Instead of listening passively, all that are in attendance are encouraged to engage fellow participants and even lecturers themselves — all with the help of generously available liquid courage.  The idea being that smart and passionate people should engage each other, and from there we add to the marketplace of ideas (a phrase ruined by Libertarians).

To thirst DC‘s credit, they do have quite an eclectic guest list:

  • New York Times Best Selling Author and Blogger, Chris Mooney
  • Theoretical Mathematics genius/Wall Street guru Shaun Maguire
  • Technology and culture expert Melissa Pierce
  • Smithsonian anthropologist Briana Pobiner
  • Documentary star and social media expert Shauna Dillavou
  • Weather marketing expert Daniel Alexander

Sidebar: What the hell is weather marketing?!?!

Obviously this event isn’t for everyone. It requires participants to be “utterly fascinating“, and as someone that argued the merits of Harry Potter v. The Lord of the Rings on Facebook for the better part of 4 days, I clearly don’t qualify. That being said, DC is perpetually in need of splashes of color — which this event provides in spades. We have never been short on intellectual capital, so why not use that resource and marry it with some cosmopolitan flair. At the very least, the combination of pretty people and stiff drinks is superior to my typical Thursday night. Go forth and thirst dear readers!

- IronCityspy

Thursday, August 25th, Bier Baron Tavern: 7:00pm - 2:00am

Bier Baron
1523 22nd St. NW
Washington, DC

Register at thirstdc.com or directly at Ticketleap. Tweet us @thirstdc or join our FB group to receive a discount code on your tix.

Woman Dies After Falling From W Hotel — Jesus

Apparently a very intoxicated lady plunged to her death last night, falling from the top of the W Hotel bar. Witnesses saw her climb over the fence, then “dangle from her hands” (as opposed to what?) from a ledge before falling. Authorities aren’t yet ruling it a suicide or just a drunken accident.

You'd have to work to get off of this.

Assuming this isn’t a suicide, my initial thoughts are how stupid and sad this is. She really had to work to get to where she was (as the above picture illustrates) and it’s shocking for her to die in such a vulgar and extreme way. I feel very bad for her family.

My second thought is; “how the hell hasn’t this happened at Local 16, Cleveland Park Bar and Grill or dozens of other local watering holes?  Absolutely no disrespect to either establishment, as I’ve frequented them both more times than I care to admit. But half the time I’m shocked I’m even able to make it home. So when you couple that with my abysmal coordination, the fact I am typing this now is an utter affront to science and the natural world.

Not exactly good for keeping drunks from falling off -- or White Walkers

I know two and three stories aren’t usually enough to kill someone, but still you’d think we’d hear more about this. At any rate, this is a very sad story and I really don’t think the W Hotel could have done anything differently to prevent this. I’ll let you know if anything new comes of this.


DC apparently horrible place for women to meet men. Ladies?

According to this recent article from the Daily Caller, single women are having a hell of a time finding suitable men in our fair city. The article suggests two main reasons for this:

  • Washingtonians are married to their jobs. Because we are so career oriented, we have no time for relationships
  • Women outnumber men by a surprisingly large amount. There are 112 women for every 100 men.

Accurate approximation of IronCityspy

The first point seems dubious to me. While it’s true we are a career obsessed city, we work far fewer hours than the majority of the big cities. Moreover, places like New York and Chicago are never uttered in the same “it’s hard to find men” breath. While I think it’s true people that are career oriented tend to get married later (as do most educated adults), I doubt it will cause men to not date.

The second, actuarial point seems far more accurate to me. Because there are greater numbers of the fairer sex, it allows us men to be something that we rarely are; picky. While I am certainly setting myself up for an onslaught of hate mail (shock), there is a nice cemetery to this. Throughout our entire lives, men have to compete with each other to win women’s affection. I personally find it sort of nice to be in the other camp for a change.

Maybe I should rethink this whole DCspy thing. I mean, it’s been great and all, but apparently I am in demand. Plus I could start referring to her as a “Spinster”, which would be excellent.


Oh, and ladies, I do have plenty of single friends that aren’t career obsessed. I mean, they tend to be of the small and ginger variety — but they’re out there. Don’t all start lining up at the door.