Wiehan’s Birthday Bike Ride!

And just like that, we’re halfway through the year and celebrating another birthday for Wiehan! It really felt like this birthday sneaked up on me. He went away on a business trip for the week leading up to his birthday, giving me loads of time to plan a surprise adventure for the big day. And fortunately, his birthday fell on a Saturday, so we could enjoy a full day together, without work getting in the way.

I revealed the plan to Wiehan on the morning of his birthday, so he could help me with a few of the preparation steps: A bike ride along the Mount Vernon Trail in Alexandria, Virginia, with a few fun and delicious stops along the way! I packed up snacks for us, he loaded up the car with our bikes, and we were on our way!

We parked the car at Daingerfield Island and began the 12-mile ride along the Potomac River, through Old Town Alexandria, over bridges, through dense forestry and up a few short, steep hills. We stopped along the way at a water point with benches. I ate homemade sweet potato chips and sausage, while Wiehan snacked on a hamburger. It was a really warm and humid day, which made the ride feel a lot more challenging. It’s usually a little difficult for Wiehan to hold back his speeds on the bike to stay at my pace. But this ride selection was very clever on my part, because much of it was new to him, so he really enjoyed cruising at a slower pace, to enjoy the beautiful views. 

Screenshot from our Strava ride.

The plan was to visit George Washington’s home at Mt. Vernon. But there were scattered thunderstorms in the forecast, and we wanted to make it back to Old Town Alexandria before they hit. So rather than spending a few hours touring the estate, we took a quick break from the heat for a few minutes in the visitor’s center and then carried on with the bike ride. I’d also considered cycling further past Mt. Vernon to visit the Pope-Leighey home, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. But the distance would have been a little too far for my fitness level; we would have had to ride on busy roads; and again, we were nervous about potential storms. But we’ll most likely visit both historic sites on another day, maybe just by car instead.

Late lunch at Virtue Feed & Grain. Steak & Fries (left) and Little Gem Lettuce Salad (right).

A few miles after leaving Mt. Vernon, storm clouds appeared and thunder began to rumble in the distance. Hmm… this seemed a little early, based on the weather forecast. We carried on, but realized that in the event that a storm did come our way, the trail is so isolated that there were no shelter points for miles. As we cycled through a sunny patch, we thought by the looks of the clouds that maybe the storm had already rolled through and was over across the Potomac in Maryland. And we carried on. And then we felt a few rain drops. And then the lightning and thunder drew closer. And then we paused and got off our bikes under a heavy downpour, on a bridge that wound through the thick forest. We turned off our phones and protected them inside Wiehan’s bike bag, then decided we may as well carry on. Parts of the trail had sprinkles of rain, while other quick patches were full on downpours! The rain actually felt like an incredibly refreshing break from the heat and humidity of the day. We weren’t totally soaked by the time we made it through the storm, but we were definitely soggy and thankfully safe from lightning. We cycled up to the top of Woodrow Wilson bridge for a beautiful view of the Potomac River, while the rain clouds hovered over us. 

Eventually, the sun peaked out as we made our way back to Old Town Alexandria, to share a large latte from a name brand coffee shop. After catching our breaths, drying off a bit, and people watching in the busy streets, we walked around a bit and then ate an early dinner at Virtue Feed & Grain. I had the Little Gem Lettuce Salad, without tomatoes, and with added grilled chicken. Wiehan had a root beer and the Steak & Fries, and shared his delicious fries with me. 

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We slowly made our way back onto our bikes, headed back to our car at Daingerfield Island, but first we stopped along the trail for a photo op! Upon the completion of our ride, being a birthday and all, Wiehan decided to order a strawberry milkshake from the cafe by the water. We sat outside on the porch, watching the sequence of airplanes landing and taking off on the runway at Reagan National Airport. Happy and tired, it was a day well spent! A rainbow sighting topped it off on the drive home along George Washington Memorial Parkway.

After returning home and cleaning up, I asked Wiehan to cover his eyes, while I led him into our office for his gift - something that also took that full week leading up to his birthday to create. I had him sit down in a chair facing our big screen, pressed play on a Spotify classical music playlist and began a slideshow of photos from highlighted memories of his first two years in the U.S. With all the tons of photos I take, the slideshow was about a half-hour long. We both had happy tears streaming down our faces by the end, feeling so blessed by all the wonderful people in our lives and all the amazing experiences we are able to share. We truly love maximizing our days and living life to the full! It was a wonderful day celebrating this incredible guy! And we highly suggest checking out the Mount Vernon Trail, maybe just on a day without thunderstorms in the forecast! 

- Christin

What's your favorite way to celebrate a birthday?