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I got that new winter coat, and did some serious driving…

November 16, 2006, 1:41 AM

First of all, I had fun on my latest Richmond-to-DC trip, where I go up to Washington DC via Richmond, which takes me east on I-64, onto US 250 near Richmond, through downtown Richmond, and then north on I-95. While on I-95, I take US 1 through Fredericksburg before returning to I-95, then continue on I-95 to Potomac Mills.

Potomac Mills put me a hair behind where I wanted to be on this trip, but it was worth it. I went to the Casual Male store, and got a new winter coat. This one is similar to the one I used from 2001 up until last winter, but is a little bit longer, has different sleeve cuffs, and has a detachable hood, which my other coat lacked. The only thing that I didn’t like was the price tag: $99.99. Ouch. Then add another $5.00 in sales tax, and it starts to hurt a bit. But I like the coat, and it feels really good on me. Now I just want a really cold day so I can give it a whirl for the first time.

I also tried on a number of other coats to see what I liked. I even tried on a black trenchcoat to see how it fits. It was interesting, but it was a bit longer than I felt comfortable with, plus buttons to keep it closed seemed kind of cumbersome. Plus I just couldn’t imagine it as a “me” kind of coat. I made the Chuck Taylors very much “me”, but I wasn’t able to pull that same feat off again with the coat. Still, I know what I like, and that wasn’t it. But the coat I did pick is just going to be a dream.

I also went through the mall, which I believe I cleared end-to-end in record time. I went past the Disney outlet, and I thought, I thought that store was further down than this! Then I realized that no, I’d just cleared the mall at an amazing speed. Then on the way back down, I visited whatever stores I wanted to visit. First trip to the end is a straight walk, second trip back is to actually shop. Among other places, I stopped at the JCPenney Outlet to look for some new pajamas. Realize I haven’t bought any new sleepwear since 2001. So it’s time for something new. And I didn’t find anything I wanted. So drat. Plus the employees at the JCPenney Outlet weren’t too thrilled about actually showing someone around the store. Everyone just pointed in general directions.

So we left the mall empty-handed (Casual Male, which used to be directly in the mall, is now in an outdoor shopping center nearby), and continued on our way. I returned to I-95 for the last time on this trip, and continued north. Since I was behind where I wanted to be schedule-wise, I stayed on 95 to the Beltway, instead of getting off on US 1 to go to Huntington. Then at the Beltway, I took the outer loop to the Telegraph Road exit to reach Huntington station via Huntington Avenue. First glimpse of Metro was while sitting at a traffic light on Huntington Avenue, seeing a Breda rehab leaving Huntington on the elevated track north of the station.

I ended up getting on US 1 and going to the south entrance, since I like parking in the garage on that side. Then I took Metro on what I’d describe as an “abbreviated” trip.

At Foggy Bottom, a fellow Metro rider took it upon himself to tell me that photography was illegal and that Metro could confiscate my camera. Oooooh, did I tell him off. He probably thought he was being helpful, but he came off as uninformed, unhelpful, and a bother. I told him that unlike himself, I have researched this issue, and that the policy is that photography is perfectly legal, but tripods are not allowed. The only part of Metro where photography is illegal is at Pentagon station, and that’s not even Metro’s doing – the station is on Pentagon property, and photography is illegal on Pentagon property across the board. I’m sure Metro couldn’t care less. So I let that person have it. They backed off, and I went down the platform to position myself for Pentagon City, where the mezzanine is at the rear of the train.

Then after Pentagon City, I finished up my Metro trip, and returned to Huntington. I tried to leave Huntington, but couldn’t – as it turned out, my SmarTrip card had cracked. I figured that was probably the problem, but to do that, I had to park again, go back down the elevator to the station, and buy a new card for ten dollars (though it came with $5 in value on it). I also now have to call Metro to get the value from my old SmarTrip transferred onto my new one. But the new SmarTrip worked, and I was off!

My intention was to take US 1 over the 14th Street Bridge and follow that to M Street, where I would then take the Key Bridge into Rosslyn. Not so, as it would turn out. I accidentally missed the turn for the 14th Street Bridge, being in the wrong lane, and realizing it too late to do anything about it, and so I took an exit to reach Arlington National Cemetery and Memorial Bridge instead. So that ramp dumped me in front of Arlington Cemetery Metro station, and I knew exactly where I was, having been there before. I went over Memorial Bridge and ended up behind the Lincoln Memorial. I drove north, and eventually ended up going east on Constitution Avenue. I turned left on 18th Street NW, and had a nice drive. I went past the World Bank and Murrow Park, and past the intersection with K Street, which was my vantage point for the last part with that protest that I went to in 2003. Two blocks later when I reached M Street, I made a left. I followed M Street for a long way. I drove past the St. Gregory Hotel and the Fairmont Hotel, where we’d demonstrated last April. Then not long after that, I crossed a bridge, and the character of things changed dramatically, for now I was in Georgetown!

Of all the times I’ve been to DC, I’d never been to Georgetown. The reason is because it’s not as accessible as other areas, because Metro doesn’t go there. Back in the 1960s, Metro wanted to go there, but the area shunned it. So no Metro to Georgetown. But that’s a photo set worth doing, particularly for at night. Beautiful section of town.

I did finally find the Key Bridge, and rode right into Rosslyn. I quickly found Fort Myer Drive, and turned onto Wilson Boulevard to head west. I followed Wilson Boulevard for a while, until the turn for I-66 near Ballston. I made a stop at that little IHOP restaurant in Ballston right by the Metro. That was weird, driving up to this restaurant and parking, vs. walking from the train. But we did. Service was fast and friendly, and I was through there in no time.

And then I got on I-66, following the Orange Line. I saw only one train moving on the K Route (by this time, Metro had closed for the night), but I did see a work car between Dunn Loring and Vienna. Then at milepost 43, I switched to US 29 for the ride home. That ultimately drops you in Charlottesville to catch I-64 to go over the mountain.

And after the mountain was the most challenging part of the drive. Let’s just say that F-O-G spells FOG, which is what I got. The Charlottesville side of Afton Mountain was clear as anything. But once you cleared the top of the mountain at Exit 99, it was VERY thick. I turned on my fog lights, and slowed down considerably. Thankfully, I knew the rest of the drive very well, since most of it is the way I go to work.

It’s funny how things work with the mountains, though. It was foggy in the morning when I left, too, and then when I crossed the mountain, it was all clear on the Charlottesville side. But that was during the day, and daytime driving in fog is much easier than nighttime driving in fog.

But all in all, it was a really fun trip. I had a lot of fun, and got that new winter coat that I needed. I don’t know what I’m going to do with the old winter coat, but I’m thinking about patching up the spots where it’s coming apart, and giving it to Goodwill.

Web site: Wikipedia on Potomac Mills

Song: "In the Metro" by The Capitol Steps

Quote: And the biggest time-waster in history is Monopoly on the cell phone, since I played that in the restaurant and on the Metro, among other places.

Categories: DC trips, Shopping