When visiting our adult son in Washington DC, I am like the country mouse in the Aesop’s Fable of “The City Mouse and the Country Mouse.”
When we planned our yearly venture, the airlines were still affected by the sequester slowdown, so we drove.
I love the arts, culture and history of the city, but I do not love the logistics. Like Dorothy said at the end of “The Wizard of Oz,” “There’s no place like my little southern Indiana village.” Okay, I’m paraphrasing, but I echo Dorothy’s sepia-toned sentiments, even though I also enjoy the Emerald City.
While the late John Denver said that West Virginia is “almost heaven,” West Virginia, although beautiful, is a long, hilly state with few radio stations of interest to me. My husband brought along his iPod, and we listened to every 70s song in his playlist.
Arriving in the city, we parked the car and only ventured out by car twice — to our son’s apartment and cousins in Virginia.
No matter what Internet map provider you chose to go to Virginia from the District of Columbia, it will route you through the part of the city where the traffic is often the most congested, around the Lincoln Memorial.
On another visit, my son and I became horribly lost while trying to find my cousin’s house. By accident we discovered the Chain Bridge which leads right to Glebe Road, ultimately only two blocks from my cousin’s house.
For this suburban/semi-rural dweller, going “the back way” is what we do in Indiana. This time we drove effortlessly to Arlington. In the past, I’ve ended up in Maryland at a gated complex with armed security guards.
On a really special episode of “Dumb Hoosier Gets Lost in Big City,” I drove my rental van around the Pentagon complex and saw the Air Force Memorial from three different directions in the same “I Love Lucy” type attempt to find my cousin’s house.
In that classic television show, Lucy Ricardo prepares a map for the Ricardo/Mertz trip to California. Did Lucy recommend the 1950s standard of Route 66 west? Of course not; her map left Manhattan and went to Cincinnati and doubled back through another East Coast city before heading west again to Los Angeles via Chicago and New Mexico.
Away from the car in DC, we use the wonderful public transportation system. Which is wonderful, except when it isn’t. I seem to be incapable of getting the right amount of money on my Metro card, and I’ve also been known to lose the card after entering. You need it to go through the outbound turnstiles.
I might as well wear a sign-board that says “Tourist. Rob me.”
The ironic twist to my tale of woe is that I started traveling early, spring break 1958. But I have no innate ability for the logistics of city life. We enjoy the accoutrements of Washington DC with our son as our guide, quite satisfied we will soon be home, nibbling on our own cheese.