a little glimpse at our no-name oakton neighborhood behind oak vale

Wednesday, August 7:  Today I take a walk around my Oakton neighborhood and take pictures with my iPhone of some houses and yards, as well as a path in the woods that’s overgrown with ferns and grasses and fallen trees.  Here’s a little glimpse of my neighborhood on a cloudy Virginia day.

We live in a neighborhood with older normal-sized Colonial-style houses.  When I turn off of our road, the scenery is upgraded quite a bit to newer and bigger houses, McMansion territory.

Much of Oakton is quite wealthy, though our neighborhood is in the lower echelons.  According to a 2010 estimate, the median income for a household was $167,512, and the median income for a family was $188,308. Males had a median income of $111,856 versus $73,254 for females. The per capita income was $65,934. About 3.9% of families and 4.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.7% of those under age 18 and 6.7% of those age 65 or over (Wikipedia: Oakton, Virginia).

Oakton is part of Fairfax County, one of the largest counties in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area.  As of 2012, the county’s population was 1,118,602, making it the most populous jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with 13.6% of Virginia’s population (Wikipedia: Fairfax County, Virginia).

my neighbor across the street
my neighbor across the street
walking down the road
walking down the road
the road downhill
the road downhill
still at the back of Oak Vale
still at the back of Oak Vale
big yards
big yards
around the corner
around the corner
now we're in McMansion territory
now we’re in McMansion territory
storm clouds a brewin' in the McMansion neighborhood
storm clouds a brewin’ in the McMansion neighborhood
flowering trees
flowering trees
nicer homes in the McMansion neighborhood
nicer homes in the McMansion neighborhood
weeping willow
weeping willow
the weeping willow blowing in the breeze
the weeping willow blowing in the breeze
back into a normal neighborhood
back into a normal neighborhood

We have a walking trail at the bottom of our hill that goes along a stream that runs through an overgrown forest.  The stream feeds into Difficult Run a 15.9-mile-long tributary stream of the Potomac River in northern Virginia.  Difficult Run runs through Fairfax County to Great Falls Park on the Virginia side of the Potomac River.

green in the stream bed that feeds Difficult Run
green leafy plants in the stream bed that feeds Difficult Run

There’s a lot of green in Virginia as it’s a fairly humid and wet place, especially in summer.  It’s certainly the opposite extreme from where I’ve been living in the desert climate of Oman for the last two years.

overgrown forest with a walking trail
overgrown forest with a walking trail
ferns
ferns

I’m surprised to find so many downed trees in the forest.  Apparently many of them were knocked down during some strong storms over the last couple of years. The June 2012 Mid-Atlantic and Midwest derecho was one of the most destructive and deadly fast-moving severe thunderstorm complexes in North American history. The progressive derecho tracked across a large section of the Midwestern United States and across the central Appalachians into the mid-Atlantic on the afternoon and evening of June 29, 2012, and into the early morning of June 30, 2012. It resulted in 22 deaths, widespread damage and millions of power outages across the entire affected region (Wikipedia: June 2012 North American derecho).

Someone, probably people who live along the stream bed, came in with chain saws and cut the trees into manageable pieces.  Apparently the trees were blocking the path following the destructive storms.

ferns and downed trees
ferns and downed trees

Here’s a part of the stream.

the stream
the stream
a hint of autumn to come
a hint of autumn to come
ferns and mossy tree trunks
ferns and mossy tree trunks
mushrooms
mushrooms
ferns and leaf
ferns and leaf

I’ve lived in this neighborhood since 1994, except for the three years I lived abroad in Korea and the Sultanate of Oman. For quite some time, I have found it to be quite dull here, and I’ve never been fond of the Washington metropolitan area.  I really dislike the suburbs;  this is all coming back to me now that I’ve returned home from living abroad.  I would rather live either in a big city or in a small town.  Suburbs seem like lifeless sprawling things that make ordinary life seem dull and repetitive and empty.

Right now, it seems I’m having a bit of hard time adjusting to life back home. 😦

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16 thoughts on “a little glimpse at our no-name oakton neighborhood behind oak vale

    1. Thanks, Carol. I hate the humidity here too. It’s been damp and gray every day this week. But still, I prefer it to that intense oven-like heat in Oman. Plus I know that fall and crisp dry air are around the corner!

  1. I lived in Saudi Arabia for seven years. When I returned I disliked the suburbs (I’m from Melbourne, Australia). I still don’t like the ‘burbs.
    It took me ages to adjust to the Australian life after living so long away from the country. It’s a BIG change.
    I enjoyed your writing about living in Oman.
    I hope you settle in well. Good wishes and happiness to you.

    1. Wow, Marissar, you lived in Saudi Arabia for 7 years? I don’t know how you did it. Still, though life in Oman and probably Saudi Arabia is hard, it did provide lots of opportunities for exploring new places within the country and for traveling abroad. I hope I don’t die of boredom here! The first week I returned was great, reconnecting with people, but already daily life here is wearing me down. I know reverse culture shock happens, and I can already feel it!

      How long have you been back in Australia? Do you finally feel settled? Do you have a blog?

      I’m glad you enjoyed my writing about Oman. I’ll love to look back on it throughout the coming years, I’m sure.

  2. I love the road without sidewalks and the damp green summer air, I can feel it! I would love that! I knew the reverse culture shock would be hard on you, and am sad that I am correct in that. I just hope the reasons for your wanderlust in the first place are not causing you grief or discontent after you were so looking forward to returning home. Almost everyone I know is gone now from Oman and I am making peace with things but oh I miss the colour green. Your neighbourhood is something out of an LLBean catalogue! It must be like a Christmas card in winter. Beautiful!!!

    1. Hi KvK! I don’t mind some amount of humidity, but this is just too much. It makes 80 degrees feel like 100! Yes, the reverse culture shock is already kicking in and I’ve been home just 2 weeks. I am reminded already of why I hate the suburbs and the Washington area. If I lived in the city, I’d like it a lot better, or better yet in a smaller city like Richmond, which I’ve always loved, but of course I need a job in those places! I am happy to be home overall, but I need to settle in and find a new routine for myself that excites me. As long as I can get out and explore, I’ll be happy, but this week the gray skies are getting me down a little. It can be beautiful here in winter, if it snows, but in the fall is when it’s the most stunning!! Can’t wait to take lots of fall pictures. I haven’t had a fall since 2010 in Korea! 🙂

  3. Good God you must be suffering withdrawal at the very least. You seem to have moved from utterly orange to utterly green, a shock in itself i would hazard.
    We have a McMansion craze going on hereabouts too. I try and balance it but not painting Casa Carmichael.

    I hope you are settling but understand how hard it is. I’m with you on the inbetweeny thing as well. Us Kiwis have an expression – living in the boon docks (shortened as we do to The Boonies) and that to me is what suburbia is and WHY I WANT TO MOVE.

    1. You are so right, mrs. carmichael. One extreme to the other!! Nizwa was too hot and dry, Virginia is too hot and wet! Nizwa brown, Virginia green, in abundance! It is a bit of a shock to be sure, although I’ve been a Virginian most of my life.

      Settling is hard and the reverse culture shock is already hitting me after just two weeks. I hate the northern Virginia suburbs, always have, and it’s funny how I forgot that when I was away. It’s why I WANT TO MOVE too! 🙂

  4. I guess it’s to be expected, Cathy. You’ve lived an “exotic” life for a few years, then that wonderful holiday with all its freedoms. It would maybe be different if you had an interesting job. 🙂

    1. Yes, wish I could be a travel writer, Jo, but I’m sure there are thousands of people who want to do that and are much better at it than I am! Oh well. Sigh! It’s going to be a long road to readjusting here in America. I’m still always wishing I was a European. Maybe if there’s a next life!

    1. I’m glad you’ve joined me here, too, Gilly. I’m sure not all houses in England are crowded together on small plots of land. At least I didn’t see that everywhere in the only 10 days I was there in 1999. I wish I could come back someday. 🙂

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