This one is for all of you out-of-towners who gripe about DC roads when you visit . . .
I submit the following idea for your consideration: You don't hate DC. You hate Virginia.
Today I had yet another dazzling encounter with what I've come to call the "Northern Virginia Traffic Vortex." It's always a bit different, but it's always awful. Let me tell you about this morning.
We were headed to a new handicapped-accessible park in McLean, Virginia. I used to live very close to this park. I looked up the driving directions before heading out but there were, like, four turns including getting on I-395, so I really wasn't worried about the trip. Famous last words.
My first fatal error was forgetting that there is no sign to mark the ramp to get on the G-W Parkway headed north. In the abstract, I know there is no sign, but I don't use this road very often, and even more seldom do I get on this road, headed north, from I-395, that I didn't really remember it in the moment. I saw the huge sign for G-W Parkway S and realized that I was already too late. No problem, I thought, I'll just get off a couple exits up where I'll be in familiar territory and take a different route to the Parkway.
Heading up Washington Blvd. I thought to take Rt. 50. At the last minute I remembered that I wanted Rt. 50 headed back into town (the opposite direction of where I normally go). I panicked and jumped off the freeway one exit too early. It was the Ft. Myer exit. Of course there was a big event at Ft. Myer. We waited 20 minutes in the "Show Picture ID" line and another 10 minutes in the "Vehicle Inspection" line before they let me make a u-turn.
We tooled around some generic suburban neighborhood for awhile before I found a route back to Rt. 50. But guess what! There still isn't a way to get on the Parkway headed north. South we went. All the way to the airport. At least the airport had nice signs. Before long we were finally, finally headed north.
We exited in McLean (this is all in Virginia, remember) and I see the sign for my road "Next Right." Whoa! No! The next right is the CIA. That was a close call.
I forgot my camera, but I hope to take pictures another time and post soon about the really fun park. Joseph had such a great time, as did Margaret who is so close to walking.
Getting home, I thought, should be easy. Getting home is always easier. In the past I've gotten tripped up headed home from the Parkway. I always seem to run into a guy with a really big gun. I figured I'd just misread the signs in the past. This time I was really, really careful. I double-checked all the signs and arrows directing me to I-395 North. Guess where I ended up? My friend with the gun at the Pentagon. There is a sort of frontage road that does continue to point in the direction of 395. I dutifully followed it but it definitely doesn't go to 395. I don't know who made all those signs. I got dumped onto Memorial Bridge. Fine! I was thinking of taking Memorial Bridge, anyway.
At no time after crossing the bridge or before getting on the freeway in the morning did I have trouble. Washington, DC, is not all that confusing. Sure, you might end up on an avenue, but just go one block and you're back on the grid. I'm never lost in town. So next time you visit, don't blame DC!
Since this is a blog about the kids, here's a cute picture. I hope to get up lots of birthday-related pictures, soon. I need to find our battery charger and get the camera going, again.