Commuting and Leisure and Shopping and Socializing and Uncategorized21 Jul 2008 12:51 pm

My wife and I have separate missions at different times in The District today but we both start the same way: walking to the East Falls Church Metro station. The scenes along the way remind me I’m someplace else where the issues remain the same. Take a look:

Not the Beltway but related: the ubiquitous HOV lane signs to expressways that let the buses ride the shoulders at rush hour at 25 mph.

The encouraging bike lineup at the Metro station. Can’t say I approve of the motor scooter in there. Park in the parking lot, dude, save this for bikes.

Not quite clear why they taped over “Covered” and “In Bus Area” but at least I know that there is “Bicycle Parking Along Wall.”

And the Metro, of course. Not perfect but they key to the kingdom when I visit DC. The outsides are looking a bit tatty these days with faded brown paint. The insides have some dingy carpeting but carpeting alone on a transit vehicle still intrigues me, coming from Chicago.

In Georgetown, where I walk from the Foggy Bottom station, plenty of people are on foot. Some cyclists are out, too, in the increasingly hot and muggy morning. A cyclist on a road bike is powering up the hill in the bike lane on Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Natch, a big black SUV gets a big idea to make a big fast move to the right to get around a car in front and almost hits the cyclist but stops in time.

Doesn’t the SUV driver know yet that no one is first in traffic? Oh, and bikes are traffic, too. There, I said it.

I’ve arrived at Georgetown in a little less than an hour door-to-door and I’m early. I forgot how much I like Georgetown and the C&O Canal and the commercial energy.

We won’t talk about the prices for now.

I walk back to the Foggy Bottom Metro to meet up with my wife for an all-too-brief visit to the Afghanistan treasures exhibit at the National Gallery. By now the DC heat and humidity is living up to its reputation. The escalator is not working but I’m at least going down.

The air conditioning is not working in the Metro car I take one stop to Gallery Place from Metro Center. It is oppressively hot.

We get the boot at 5 PM. Dag.

Off to Bethesda for dinner with other friends. A hot walk back to the Metro. On the way, we stop for a traffic light and a cyclist powers his way up the grade as we wait. These DC cyclists seem to be favoring light road bikes and lycra. Makes sense with the hills and the heat. New bike, George? I’m banned from wearing lycra, though.

A stop for flowers in Friendship Heights means finding them first, but a pedestrian points us to the nearby Giant store. We cannot find the entrance at sidewalk level. Nancy is wise: find the parking lot. Which we do. Up the hill. In the heat. I’m losing it and she suggests a cab to our friends’ house for dinner. Great idea and we do it.

The evening is fun catching up but I’m paying for last night’s late catching up. The prospect of a night walk to the Metro and two trains back to Falls Church is daunting but I’m determined to do it.

Greg offers to drive us home. We want to protest but not really. We’re happy for the ride.

The ride to the Beltway takes us past the revived Glen Echo Park, a “streetcar park” once served by the DC Transit system and like other streetcar amusement parks, built to generate traffic on car lines and boost revenue for equipment otherwise idle in off-peak hours.

The neon glows like a beacon over the streetcar they have parked in front.

The old rail right-of-way is a bike trail now.

I can live with that. Sweet dreams, indeed.

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