An occasional journal of the Life of Reilly

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Washington, DC: Capital Arrival


It seems fitting, that on our last day of cycling, we would have nothing but dampness and rain.  It was only 20 miles from Washington Grove to DC, following the Rockville Bike Trail which wound through forest that shielded us from the mania of urban traffic all the way to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  The predominant memory of the last three and a half months of bike touring is wetness in all its forms -- rain, fog, dew, humidity.  In this year, where the locals assured us was the most unusual spring and summer they can recall, we arrived at our goal wearing the bright rain gear that has served us well.

We waved goodbye to Jean-Phillipe and Nathalie as they crossed the Arlington Bridge to Virginia and beyond.  They had still over a year and many more miles to go.  We wished them the best of luck, with the certainty that we would meet again.

We walked our bikes along the Mall towards Union Station, where we wanted to catch the Metro north to Greenbelt Park.  Bikes are not allowed between 4 and 7 pm, and we missed the earlier time by seconds.  Metro attendants are both unsympathetic and unyielding and, at times, rude.  So we hung out in the food court in the basement and ate our fill of Indian fast food.

By the time we got off the Metro and mounted our bikes for the five mile ride to Greenbelt Park it was quite dark.  Greenbelt Park is a large recreation area with picnic grounds and camping, a green haven in the middle of the greater Washington DC metropolitan chaos.  It would be our home for the next 10 days, where we would use it as a base for daily trips into DC to visit the sights.  The entrance gate was closed when we arrived, and all that was visible was a lighted sign warning us about chiggers and ticks in the park.  My little headlamp barely illuminated the couple feet in front of me, and I followed John's red blinking taillight up and down the forested road that led to the campground.  Biking the roller coaster of a  road, blinded by the darkness, left me with near vertigo.

It was late when we finally found a campsite and set up the tent.  Our little tent was worn out -- the zippers barely worked and the fabric was no longer waterproof.  Both air mattresses had slow leaks.  Our fuel tank was nearly empty.  The gear just had to last a few more days.  After 3,500 miles and three and a half months, we lay in our little shelter, anticipating with excitement the wonders of Washington DC and a bit melancholy that that the trip was nearly over.  But we both were looking forward to going home where there were solid walls, sunshine, and dry air.  It is nothing like traveling to make one appreciate of the comforts of home.
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1 comments:

Pat said...

Hi Doris. Just wondering why no trip this year. Hope everything is all OK with you and John.
Pat Yackie

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