Hooray for Powerlines and Prisons

January 1, 2007 at 11:57 pm 2 comments

George Carlin has a great comedy bit about prisons and the NIMBY (“Not in My Backyard”) syndrome.  He talks about how everyone wants more prisons… but not in their backyard.  Carlin mocks this reasoning and points out a neighborhood by a prison would probably be safer.  He said (paraphrased):

If a prisoner escapes, what is he going to do?  Stick around?  Check out real estate prices?  No!  He’s going to get as far away as possible!

 The NIMBY philosophy isn’t limited to prisons.  It can apply to any number of things– Homeless shelters, landfills and…powerlines.

Well, last Wednesday, I got to appreciate some unexpected benefits of having prisons and powerlines nearby and Carlin’s concepts were reinforced in my mind.

Hooray for Powerlines
In the late afternoon, Alex Moskwa, Brian Nenninger and I went after the “A Great Spot” geocache in Lake Ridge.  It provided some surprising views and scenery of the Occoquan River.

Occoquan River, 2006

And like I’ve found on many hikes, some of the best views can be attributed to…. powerlines.  Even on hikes where there isn’t a dramatic ridgeline, a knob or a clearing– if there is a powerline crossing, you are still ensured a view.  Some examples:

Poor Mountain, 2003

Sinking Creek Valley, 2006

Town of Narrows, 2003

After finding our geocache on Wednesday, we went up a hillside and thanks to the clearing for the power lines, we had some nice views of the river and the sun illuminating the opposite shore!

Hooray for Prisons
Wednesday evening, I visited my friend Aaron Evans at his home in Alexandria.  He played for me the latest excerpts of his DVD, we watched some episodes of the U.S. “The Office” and then he got to watch his first episode of “Extras” (which by the way, the hilarious 2nd season starts airing on HBO on January 14th).  I left his house pretty late and headed home.  Although there was no traffic, I took the Lorton exit off I-95 for nostalgia.  That is the “shortcut” my father and I used to take each afternoon when rush hour traffic was at its worse.

In a land where townhouses and yardless homes are commonplace, suddenly I was driving amoung trees and fields.  I admired the night time views and the brighter stars as I followed gentle curves to 123.  And I knew I had the Lorton Prison to thank for the brief vacation from Northern Virginia life!  The prison had over 3000 acres of land which it used as a dairy farm.   In fact, they provided milk for D.C. hospitals. 

The Lorton prison was closed in 2001 and ownership of the property was transferred to Fairfax County.  I think Fairfax County is keeping a large portion of the land slated for parks and greenspace.  I bet those parks end up kicking ass and providing something the prison couldn’t provide me– spots for geocaches!  But, some of the land is going to be lost for various development projects.  My friend Stacy, with his Urban Planning background, can probably speak more knowledgably on the subject. 

As for me, I’ll just reap the surprise benefit of the prison while I can.  🙂

Entry filed under: Aaron Evans, Alex Moskwa, Brian N, George Carlin, Hiking, NIMBY.

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2 Comments Add your own

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  • […] in 2007, I had a post called “Hooray for Powerlines and Prisons” where I talked about the surprise greenspace provided by the old prison in Lorton, Virginia. […]


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