Wednesday, September 5, 2007

I'm driving only two wheels these days...

The long weekend has come to a close, as they always seem to do. I must say, I've been busy. Between Friday and Saturday, I estimate that I biked about 50 miles (and you should definitely avoid going northbound on 13th Street NW at Florida Ave--JESUS!--now I know why they call it Columbia HEIGHTS).

Anyway, I have Fridays off, so I decided to go riding after I put in some hours in my office. I took the Metro out to Ballston, which is at the western end of America's premier transit oriented development. This TOD, known at the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor includes 5 Orange Line stations in Arlington, Virginia. Anyway, I only mention this because it is one of the reasons my trip was slightly harrowing. Earlier this year, WMATA started operating 8-car trains (full-length) on the Orange Line during peak periods. What I have a hard time comprehending is the fact that WMATA is running 8-car trains every two minutes, and they're still packed. It's a nice problem to have, I suppose. If every transit system in the nation was experiencing these difficulties, maybe the federal government would get off their asses and realize that cheap oil is going the way of the dinosaurs that created it.

After reaching Ballston, I set out on a 20-mile journey which, of course, consumed none of the world's precious black gold (Texas tea?). I rode up to Interstate 66, where I picked up the Custis Trail, a paved path connecting the WOD (Washington and Old Dominion Trail) to the Key Bridge. In Rosslyn, I picked up the Mount Vernon Trail, and biked down the Potomac past Arlington Cemetery to the Fourteenth Street Bridge Complex. For an interesting side note, please see the Washington Transportation Disaster. Along the way, I took some pictures of Washington and Rosslyn from across the Potomac.

After crossing the Potomac alongside 14th Street, I biked past the Jefferson Memorial and down into East Potomac Park. I paused to take some photos with the submerged giant (see top photo) before continuing on to Columbia Heights by way of Downtown. I met some of my classmates for a Happy Hour in Columbia Heights at the Wonderland Ballroom, which has some excellent nachos. I called it an early night on Friday, since I was riding again Saturday morning.

Saturday, I set off on the Metro for Rockville, where I biked down to Rock Creek. I followed it all the way into Washington, with a detour to Bethesda for a new intertube for my back tire. Anyway, the ride was beautiful. It follows a greenway along serene Rock Creek for over 20 miles, emerging at the Watergate Complex (yes, the same one) near the Potomac. One of the best parts is the section which runs along Beach Drive. The National Park Service closes Beach Drive to through traffic on weekends and major holidays. Later Beach Drive merges with Cathederal Drive to form the limited access Rock Creek Parkway. Alongside the roadway is a bicycle path. Rock Creek is truly a parkway. Before riding this, I don't think I would have ever supported parkways as they were originally intended, but I don't think the traffic really intrudes into this green canyon in the middle of our nation's capital. Anyway, due to trail reconstruction, I was forced up to P Street, and found my way into Georgetown and Foggy Bottom. I hastened home in order to change and rush over to my first Maryland home game. The Terps, I am proud to say, beat Villanova, but perhaps not by as much as they should have. I was elated to learn of Notre Dame's brutal defeat at the hands of the almighty Yellow Jackets.

Above is a view of the Connecticut Avenue
Bridge over Rock Creek. The Parkway and
bike path are visible at the bottom right.

A trip to U-Street that night introduced me to a new source for excellent Washington Cheesesteaks, the Saloon.

Sunday took me to a free concert on the West Lawn of the US Capitol. Several of my classmates showed up for this excellent performance of the National Symphony Orchestra. I love Washington for its sense that all should be able to experience culture. It is a very democratic idea (unfortuntely that right has not yet been extened to residents of the District, who pay taxes, nonetheless). Anyway, we walked all the way to Chinatown in search of food afterwards, and were almost stranded by WMATA's early (11:30) closing. By contrast, MARTA operates until 1:00 AM, and Chicago's Red and Blue Lines don't close. We did make the last Yellow Line train, but we were forced to wait 40 minutes to continue to our destinations on the Green Line due to an unexplained delay.

I worked all day on Monday when I wasn't running errands or trying desperately to finish the Harry Potter series, which I did at 1:16 this morning. I'll talk more about that later, I suppose, because it is quite late, but I want to write down this bit of thought I had earlier. A good book is not merely one you cannot put down, but one you can't bear to pick up because of the thought of getting closer to the end. I am now at a loss as to what I should read. How can I follow JK Rowling's act? Only Dumbledore knows, I suppose.

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