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The rule on pricing at Tysons II is, “If you have to ask, you cannot afford it.”

March 4, 2012, 4:17 PM

This weekend was certainly a blast. My mother came to visit, and we went to Tysons Corner on Saturday.

The plan was for Mom and I to meet at Vienna. It made sense, since she was coming from Virginia, Tysons is in Virginia, and I could take Metro to meet her, thus only have to take one car out. And Vienna is somewhere that all of us were familiar with from countless visits to the DC area before I moved up here. So my plan was to take the bus to Glenmont and then Metro the rest of the way. First thing I learned was that Nextbus, while useful for the most part, is still very much not perfect. I left the house based on a prediction of a Y8 in 12 minutes, and so I headed down to the corner. It does not take 12 minutes to get down to the corner, but when I got there, there was no bus, and the bus that I was tracking had dropped off the screen, with the next bus not supposed to show up for 45 minutes, which would make me very late. So I ended up walking to Glenmont, because I knew I could walk there in less time than it would take to wait for the bus. I had never walked to the Metro from my house before. I had done from Metro to home many times, but never the reverse. The uphill walk was very good for working the calves, since my legs were sore by the time I got to Glenmont. I might have to do that more often. It was a good workout, and helpful on a week where I had missed a pool session.

Once I got to the Metro, I got a seat on a train, and all was well. Mom, however, for reasons that neither one of us can quite figure out, got turned around a bit, and so my lateness ended up working out for her. I don’t know if she missed a sign for Vienna or what, but she managed to get lost. No idea how. And it’s frustrating when she’s lost in an area that I’m not entirely familiar with myself. Usually, I can guide someone over the phone to get wherever they need to, but I’m not that familiar with the neighborhood around Vienna station. I know how to reach the station from both sides of I-66, I know how to get to Route 123 from Vienna via Nutley Street, and I know how to reach the shopping center with the Safeway and Micro Center in it, and I know that there’s a high school northwest of the station, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge of that area. So I couldn’t help her as much as I usually can, since she didn’t know where she was very well, and neither did I. Somehow, she ended up at Dunn Loring station, and told me as much. My response: “Good. Stay there.” After all, she managed to get to an Orange Line station, and so all was well. None of us quite know how she managed to get to Dunn Loring, though, since I would have expected, if she was going to land at a different Metro, to end up at West Falls Church, which is also very close to I-66 and easily accessed from there. Dunn Loring, not so much. I don’t even know how to get to Dunn Loring by car. Only time I’d ever been to Dunn Loring before is for railfanning, since I think station visits are just as important as riding in the first car.

One thing I noted was the escalator configuration, though:

Dunn Loring's escalator configuration

This, by the way, is how every station should be. Two escalators with stairs between them. Even for deep ones like Dupont Circle. Stairs, you see, unlike escalators, don’t break down, and are a more reasonable height between steps compared to escalator steps when walking up or down them.

Meeting up with Mom, we quickly headed over to Tysons II, since neither of us had ever been there, and so it seemed worthwhile to check it out. I didn’t quite know what to expect for Tysons II, and I was surprised at what I saw. I believe that Tysons II is probably the most expensive, upscale shopping mall that I’ve ever been to, even surpassing Pentagon City and Montgomery Mall. I’m surprised that they don’t check you for the presence of a Centurion Card at the door. No “black card”, no entry. After all, when it came to prices, the rule was basically, “If you have to ask, you cannot afford it.” There were very few things that we saw that didn’t have at least three figure prices. There was only about one reasonably-priced store in the whole place: Hallmark. And there, we found this:

That is the “Squawkin’ Egg-Droppin’ Hen”. Kind of disturbing. You put the eggs in the top, and then press the button. Then it drops three eggs out of its cloaca over the course of singing its little song. I’m sure someone thought that was cute, but it’s bordering on gross, since the focus of this toy is the chicken’s all-purpose exit path, where poop comes out as well as eggs. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I would never buy a toy like this for someone, because it seems a little too much for a toy. Gross.

Mom, however, did fairly well at Macy’s at Tysons II. She ended up getting some jeans on sale. Macy’s was a surprise for another reason, though. Look at the fire alarms:

Wheelock 34T at Macy's in Tysons II

That is a Wheelock 34T. I hadn’t realized that Tysons II was old enough to have Wheelock 34T horns (and not a strobe in sight), since the main part of the mall had a more recent Simplex system in it. But there it was. I dson’t know if this Macy’s was built as a Hecht’s and then converted in 2006, but based on the fire alarms, I would guess that the store had not seen a great amount of modifications over the years.

Then after Tysons II, we headed to Tysons Corner Center, aka “Tysons I”. That’s where we had some real shopping to do. We ended up spending all day there, in fact. We had a light lunch, since I was getting dizzy every time I stood up. That helped. Then we ended up going all over the mall, just generally having a good time. Biggest surprise: there is a Microsoft store at Tysons. Yes, a Microsoft store. It looks just like an Apple store, but the computer hardware is PC, variously Dell, Acer, and HP. They also had the Xbox, and also a tablet with Windows 8 on it. And for those of you who haven’t touched it, Windows 8’s big change is the Start Menu, but otherwise, you can find something that looks like Windows underneath all the integrated-any-device-OS stuff. Normal Windows is in there, I promise.

Mom was most amused by Wasabi Sushi, which is a restaurant in the middle of the mall where all the food comes by conveyor, and you just take what you want off the conveyor. Take a look:

Wasabi Sushi

Wasabi Sushi

The chefs place it on the conveyor, and then when you want it, you just pull it off. Then, as I understand it, they just tally up what you took off at the end and charge you for it. Seems to work, I suppose. One of these places is coming to Montgomery Mall, and so maybe I’ll get to go there with a few folks. I haven’t had sushi in ages (since college!), so it might be fun.

One of the main reasons for going to Tysons was to go to the New Balance store. According to my podiatrist, one of the reasons I’ve had so many foot issues lately is because I’m wearing improperly-fitting shoes. Most of the time, I would get longer shoes to compensate for the increased width that I need for my big foot. So the idea this time was to get shoes that are the right length and width to prevent foot issues. I ended up coming up with the shortest shoes I’d gotten in a long time: size 9½. The width, however, was 4E. So there you go, I suppose. Then one of the instructions that my podiatrist had given me was to walk around in the store with them for ten minutes. I did this, and got Mom to film me doing as much:

You can tell that Mom was not exactly as enthused about filming me as I was in being filmed, reminding me to be quiet, and then cutting it off when I was starting to have too much fun with it. Yeah, sometimes my hamming it up for the camera has a tendency to overwhelm, and I think I may have inadvertently done that and gone beyond Mom’s comfort zone. After all, when left to my own devices, I can go on for 25 minutes. Not everyone is as patient with me as I am when it comes to doing things for the Internet.

But I did walk around the store for the full ten minutes, and ended up getting the shoes. These shoes not only rank up there as the shortest shoes I’ve gotten in a long time, but also the most expensive shoes I’ve ever gotten. These shoes cost $150! A hundred and fifty dollars! This is more than twice what shoes normally cost me, and so these shoes had better last until I’m forty – at the very least.

After that, we got together with Matthew and his mother and had dinner at Norton’s. I have been to Norton’s twice, and I enjoy that place. Unlike most of the places at Tysons Corner, Norton’s isn’t a chain. There is only one Norton’s. And this is it. They do a really good job with the food, and the service is great. Plus I always enjoy seeing Matthew and his mother. That was fun. I had the cobb salad this time. That’s another thing I like about Norton’s. Their salads are actually good. In too many restaurants, it’s the case where the salads are really an afterthought, and they look like it. Norton’s actually puts real effort into crafting good salads, and I appreciate that.

So all in all, I’d say we had a fun time. Mom stayed overnight at my house, and then left for Stuarts Draft in mid-afternoon. While we were out on Sunday around Montgomery County, though, we did see the most adorable thing:

Girl scouts, dressed as cookies and selling cookies

This was in Gaithersburg this morning at a table where people were selling Girl Scout cookies. The little girl to the right is dressed in costume as a “Samoa” cookie. The little girl to the left was dressed as a “Thin Mint” cookie, but was feeling a little camera shy. Her loss, I suppose. We, however, didn’t buy any cookies, as I’m still in the process of trying to find my boyish figure.

Web site: A video showing Wasabi at Tysons Corner in action

Song: Fairfax Rap, which discusses Tysons and Norton's.

Quote: Unrelated: I was working on this Journal entry, where I dreamed that I morphed into a Power Ranger, for the Falcon conversion, and I realized that it wasn't that far off from a scene in Power Rangers RPM, where the Green Ranger in that series was as surprised as anyone that he all of a sudden became a Power Ranger. See for yourself. I love it how he looked at himself in surprise and said, "I'm a Power Ranger! I don't want to be a Power Ranger!"

Categories: Family, Matthew, Shoes, Shopping, WMATA