Great Falls Great Falls residents Beth and David Sansbury are no strangers to travel. The two of them count 67 countries they’ve visited. But after long careers in the CIA, they had enough of being cooped up in an office. So after retirement, they began spending their days outdoors pursuing their true passions: hiking, biking, kayaking and touring local attractions.
"Soon we made it into a pretty serious thing, we’d set aside a day whenever we could and make a trip," Beth Sansbury said. "We started writing down the trips we would take, then we began telling our friends about it and soon it became a much more formal thing."
For the Sansburys, making a formal thing resulted in their book "52 Perfect Day Trips for Fit Adults in the Greater Washington Area." In the book, the two outline 52 separate full day trips that consist of a hike, bike or kayak trip for half a day, then a half day at a local attraction.
"We’re high energy people, so that’s what we wrote about in the book and why we say ‘for fit adults,’" she said.
The book is three years in the making, as the Sansburys began documenting their day trips, not sure where it might lead.
"Once we got about 30 trips in we got a lot more structured about where we would visit and took a more systematic approach to make sure we were covering all the areas north, south east and west," David Sansbury said.
THE BOOK covers an area no longer than a one-and-a-half hour drive from the D.C. area, and goes as far north as Frederick, Md., south to Orange County, Va., east to Chestertown, Md. And west to the Shenandoah.
"Having lived here since college, I was amazed when we started seeing how many great places were so close," Beth Sansbury said. "One of the most interesting places we saw was only about five miles from where we live along the George Washington Parkway. There’s a path with all these waterfalls, all between the Chain Bridge down to Georgetown, and they were beautiful. I drove along that road every day for years and never knew they were there."
Each trip is meant to be a full day’s journey there and back, and includes a lunch recommendation for a local eatery. David said he is still amazed at the range of experiences.
"There’s geographic diversity, places of incredible historical significance, homes that presidents have lived in," he said. "We discovered places filled with history, beautiful architecture, stunning gardens and secret trails."
Some trips can be made year-round, others are meant to be taken advantage of in certain weather. All the trips include directions, why the destination is worthwhile and details of what visitors can expect to see.
"Hopefully the book can act as a timesaver," David Sansbury said. "We spent a lot of time working out the places to visit, the places to eat and writing down directions, so it’s all there."
One trip advises travelers to take a section of the Billy Goat Trail (located on the Maryland side of Great Falls) to the Glen Echo house of Clara Barton (who brought the International Red Cross to America). Another advises a trip to Fountainhead Regional Park’s Occoquan Reservoir for a boating trip, lunch at the Haveabite Eatery in Fairfax and finishing at the Fairfax Museum.
THE COUPLE make a good pair, with David tending more toward the research side of things and Beth more of a natural writer when it came to organizing their thoughts and findings.
"To be honest, we did the research beforehand, so we didn’t make too many trips that were left on the cutting room floor," Beth Sansbury said. "But through David’s research, we have huge packets of information about locations, probably enough for a second book."
Their book, "52 Perfect Day Trips," is available as a hard copy at Amazon, and as a color e-book at www.lulu.com. The book includes pictures of most trips.