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My adventure in College Park…

May 26, 2005, 7:51 PM

I went up to the DC area today, and, in an unusual twist of things, spent NO time above ground in downtown Washington DC.

Arriving at Vienna, one thing I quickly noticed in the North Garage was that the contractor had completed work on the first section of the garage to undergo rehabilitation, and had moved to the second section. I’m not quite sure what they did in rehabilitating it, since it looked exactly the same as it did before. Who knows. On the top level, a pickup truck was parked so badly in its space so as to make the opening for the space next to it a little too close for comfort. Thus there was this very attractive looking empty space, but it was a little too tight of a squeeze to get in there. I ended up having to wait for the guaranteed spaces to open up at 10:00, and then parked on the third level.

Getting on the train at Vienna, I rode a mixed consist of Breda 4000-series cars and CAF cars. Leaving the station, the 4000s were in front, and the four CAFs followed behind. The operator out of Vienna knew me from a previous trip.

At Rosslyn, I did my Rosslyn thing, reading the Express and then setting out once again. My mission today was threefold. First, photograph some railroad signals near Minnesota Avenue station, then visit the Infoshop, and then go find the College Perk Coffeehouse up in College Park, which I believed was where my friend Rose worked, based on what she had told me in an Email. You may recall that Rose and I first met when I was shooting my Confirmation Demonstration photo set.

So heading out of Rosslyn, I caught an Orange Line train to Minnesota Avenue. I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for, unfortunately, and my photos kind of show that. I was kind of lost. I walked a ways down Minnesota Avenue and back, and then crossed through the Metro station mezzanine and up to a bridge on the other side and photographed some more. As I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, I felt lost. I give myself an “A” for effort, but a “C” at best for results. Plus the photos were grayed by clouds.

After that disappointment, I continued on my itinerary. The Infoshop. I took the Orange Line back into downtown, and transferred at L’Enfant Plaza to a Yellow Line train to Mt. Vernon Square/7th St-Convention Center. There, I got out, and took the old street elevator to the surface. Taking the elevator saves a bit of distance, since the escalators are located south of the station, and open out at the Convention Center. Then in walking to the Infoshop, a few blocks north of the station, one would have to walk back over the same distance covered below ground, and pass the elevator at street level. So I just cut the nonsense and rode the elevator.

At the Infoshop, there was a girl sitting on the sidewalk by the entrance, and the door sported a handwritten sign reading, “Open at 2:30”. It was now 2:40, and the Infoshop was still not open. The girl and I had an interesting discussion about demonstrations, with my talking about that which I’d participated in, and she about her own. While we were talking, two more people, who were in town from South Carolina, showed up, and we included them in our conversation. Then another gentleman who I’d met twice before also showed up before the lady running the Infoshop finally showed up close to 3:00 or so.

Inside, I pulled up Schumin Web, since I had referenced it a few times outside. Showed the pertinent information. We also had some interesting discussions while at the Infoshop. Nothing major demonstration-wise is coming up right now, though, to my disappointment. But it was a good time. I even met someone who showed up in my photos of the Million Worker March. That was interesting. I departed just after 4:00, since I still had a few more things to accomplish.

So I walked up to the Shaw-Howard University station, and took the Green Line all the way to the end of the line, at Greenbelt. There, I photographed The BUS, primarily. Got a few shots here and there.

I also made use of the restroom at Greenbelt, getting the station manager to let me in. This is notable because of the item missing from the restroom: partitions between the stalls. I wish I’d gotten a photo of it, since it was rather odd. It turned what should have otherwise been a restroom for several people at once into essentially a single-seater. There were two toilets and a urinal, all without any sort of partitions around them. And it looked like those partitions had never been installed to begin with, since there were no marks on the wall or floor to indicate their presence at one time. Weird.

At Greenbelt, I turned my attention towards finding College Perk. So I took the Green Line back one station, to the College Park Metro station. Before leaving Greenbelt, the very enthusiastic-sounding operator that I mentioned in an earlier entry walked by, and we briefly exchanged greetings. Nice fellow. Arriving at College Park station, my mission was now about hunting for the coffee house. The directions from College Perk’s Web site were pretty straightforward: “Take the Green line toward Greenbelt. Exit at the College Park Metro station. Take the 83 Bus toward Cherry Hill. Ask the driver to let you off just before Greenbelt Road. Cross Route 1 and walk approximately 2 blocks North. The coffeehouse is on your left.” Upon exiting at College Park, I asked the station manager how to get to College Perk, mainly to confirm the Web site’s directions. According to him, it was five blocks straight up Calvert Street, and then one block right. He said it was walkable, or I could take the bus. I opted to walk, figuring I could save a few cents by not taking the bus. I did remember to get a bus transfer at Greenbelt, so it’s not like I’d be paying the full fare anyway, but still, it’s good to save where we can.

Not being familiar with the area, I had no idea if it was even remotely close to being right or not. I’d only gotten off at College Park station once before, and didn’t leave the Metro station’s premises at that time. So this was quite new territory for me. So we started walking.

By the way, I’m going to tell you up front what I would realize once I got onto Baltimore Avenue: The station manager, while well-intentioned, gave me bad directions. While he had the road right, it was certainly not a walkable distance, and I would have been far better off taking the bus.

So I walked through this quiet neighborhood on Calvert Road, the five or so blocks it took to get to Baltimore Avenue. Good deal. At the corner of Calvert and Baltimore, I found an interesting building: a former Howard Johnson’s restaurant! Nowadays, it’s Plato’s Diner, and has been extensively redone since then. Take a look:

Plato's Diner

What tipped me off to this being a former HoJo’s is the roof, which still looks like a Howard Johnson’s roof.

But Plato’s wasn’t my focus today. On to College Perk!

So I walked down Baltimore Avenue, more than the one block that the station manager said it would be. Wondering if I’m going correctly, I asked a woman who appeared to be a University of Maryland student where College Perk was located. She said just keep going, and it was half a mile up the road. Okay, not bad. So I kept walking. Got to the University of Maryland’s campus, which I estimated was about half a mile away, but no coffee place in sight. There, I asked a woman waiting at a traffic light where it was. Up the road, “near those traffic lights”. This put me beyond the University of Maryland campus, but not before first getting my first view of the Shuttle-UM buses:

Shuttle-UM bus

One day, I’ll do some serious photography of these buses, mostly Flxibles, and feature them on my Transit Center site. But at least now I’ve seen them in person.

And we continued. No College Perk in sight. As I hadn’t eaten lunch yet, I rectified that when I encountered a McDonald’s. So I ate a quick lunch, though it was less-than-healthy. I also got directions from the manager on duty, who said it was half a mile up the road (where have we heard that before?). However, the manager said that it looked like a house, and there was a flower shop next to it. That was helpful.

So, after having had a quick lunch, I continued. I crossed back over to the right side of the street, and continued. I ran into Greenbelt Road, and kicked myself for not having taken the bus (there was an 83 bus sitting there). A few more blocks from there, and I finally ran into the place. And it was very nice, too. Very comfortable atmosphere, and their product is good, too. I’ll definitely go again, though next time I’m taking the bus.

And then who comes in? Rose. Turns out that she was off that day, but came in for something. So she, a coworker of hers, and I all sat and talked for a bit.

When we finished, the coworker was heading out for the day, and Rose needed to go back to her apartment. The coworker offered to give us both rides, since I’d walked there, and they weren’t all that familiar with the buses. In figuring out the distance of my route using MapQuest later on, it turns out I walked just under three miles from the Metro to the coffee place. Quite an unexpected walk!

So the three of us piled into the car, and we were off! We talked about all kinds of stuff, and I even got to do the lifetime-of-smoking voice while talking about my work. That was the voice I described in my April 22 “You’ve got to do the voice correctly…” Journal entry.

And I also got a photo of Rose while we were in the car. And so here she is:

Rose in the car

At College Park, we exchanged goodbyes, and I got back on the train.

Now for those of you who don’t know, I have some regular objectives that I try to accomplish on every DC trip. Sometimes this leads to less-than-logical use of the system, but it’s fun. My regular objectives are to ride a train from each line at least once, ride each car series at least once, and to visit one terminal station other than Vienna (since I park at Vienna, the terminal objective would be accomplished immediately if Vienna counted for that). By the way, Mt. Vernon Square does not count as a terminal either, even though Yellow Line trains terminate there, since it’s not an end-of-the-line station. Now I’d accomplished the terminal objective, having headed to Greenbelt. But I’d not yet ridden all five lines yet, having so far only ridden Orange, Yellow, and Green.

So at Fort Totten, I transferred to Red, which was out of my way, but I wanted to see Brentwood Yard. So I did. Rode that to Gallery Place-Chinatown, and from there transferred to a Yellow Line train to Huntington. I was headed to Pentagon City.

At Pentagon City, which was a shortened visit due to the longer-than-expected stay in College Park, I headed to my usual spot and did the news thing.

After Pentagon City, I rode down to Huntington, which is a ride I love taking in the evening. However, before catching the train, I just had to take a picture of the crowds on the inbound platform:

Crowded platform at Pentagon City

That’s another reason I go outbound after Pentagon City – it makes for a less crowded train. In fact, the platform was nearly clear after a Blue Line train to Largo Town Center came and went.

After Huntington, in transferring to Blue at King Street, I observed that work is now well underway in extending the canopy over the platform. I think it will be quite nice when it’s finished. Pictures with the next Transit Center update.

Then from there, I transferred to Orange at Rosslyn, and then headed back to Vienna. The Vienna trip was made on Rohr 1202, though I think it would be more accurately described as “Rohr 202”. Look:

Cab door number on Rohr 1202

Yeah, the “1” was missing from the cab door.

And from there, I headed back home. At my usual pit stop at the Wal-Mart in Woodstock, I bought the “Complete Second Season” DVD set of The Golden Girls. That will be fun.

And that was my trip! I have so much fun on these trips, and you never know what’s going to happen sometimes. That’s one reason I enjoy them so much. And I got some exercise this time, too, with that unexpected walking tour of College Park, Maryland.

Web site: City of College Park local government Web site

Song: Spaceballs main theme

Quote: "It's half a mile down the road." - I heard this too many times, before finally finding the place several half-a-miles later.