Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Portland to DC, day 6: Columbus, OH – Washington D.C. (420 miles)

Departure time: 10:00am EST
Arrival Time 9:30pm EST
Penske trucks: 4
Dead deer: 1
Wish I had brought: my brain

We only had about 7 hours to drive today so we didn't bother even pretending to try to get up at the crack of dawn.

Kansas City signaled our departure from corn & field country and a re-entry into city territory. This made for more interesting scenery, but also meant that it was much harder to find empty radio stations for the Ipod adapter. We were forced to listen to the radio much of the time and it got old pretty quickly. There's only so much Justin Timberlake I can handle before my eyes get a little crazy and I start to twitch. And the 'Beautiful Girls' song became particularly torturous.

We passed through West Virginia and then out of it again into Pennsylvania for a hot minute and back to WV. They don't even bother putting up the welcome sign until the second time as if to say, “no you're really here this time, promise!” We stopped in a cute little place called Morgantown for lunch at the Mediterranean Deli and Market. Looking out the window, I spotted a woman on a Specialized road bike in full Lycra (and a helmet!). I can't wait to get home to my bike. We also had our first lesbian sightings of the entire trip. How do I know? Well, we can just tell these things...gaydar you know. Also, the “Spank Me” T-shirt was kind of a give away.

I started dancing to the cheesy 80's music inside Coldstone. When Traci ordered me to stop, I reminded her that she needed me to haul all her shit up to the 11th floor of her new apartment building and therefore I could do whatever I wanted. She had no answer for that. I got more shit for recognizing 'Waiting for a Star to Fall” in the first 3 notes.

“Ah but what's worse is that I know all the words,” I said, and proceeded to sing along. By that time she had gotten her ice cream and headed outside. She said the air conditioning wasn't conducive to ice cream eating, but I know better.

On our way back to the car, we spotted two more lesbians, making a total of four for the entire trip, all in a little West Virginia town of all places. Like Mastercard, we're everywhere you want to be.

Back in the car, we finally got out of the city so we started Traci's Ipod back up. The first song in the play list was The Chipmunk song which I think pretty much absolves me from my cheesy 80's moment.

The scenery in WV reminded me of home except that I had to snicker when Traci told me that people refer to the hills there as 'mountains.' Perhaps they are in the technically geological sense, but as far as I'm concerned, anything I could ride my bike up, doesn't qualify.

The names of the lakes and mountains were pretty amusing as well. Cheat Lake and Fairchance Rd could be reached via the same highway exit. Then there was Deep Creek Lake and finally our favorite (not), Negro Mountain, elevation 2740. We both did a double take on that one. I can't believe that with all the hub bub about sports teams names and such, no one has gotten around to protesting the moniker of Negro Mountain. I don't even want to know how it got such a name in the first place.

We got into the hills of West Virginia and Maryland and our little truck started to struggle with the climbing. The only efficient way to get up the hills was to try to get momentum on the downhill, not unlike in cycling. This plan doesn't work out so well however, when there's a state trooper sitting at the bottom of the hill.

I'm sorry officer, I was just trying to make it up the next hill. I'm sure if you average my speed over the crest, it would come out to sixty-five...

Luckily Traci was paying attention and nixed the momentum strategy.

We stopped in Cumberland on a tip, looking for a cool geology feature near the visitor's center. It was after 6:00 and the visitor center was closed so we had to content ourselves with another cheesy tourist picture.

I wonder if the people who fought and died on the very land we were standing on ever thought their history would end up on small plaques detailing battles over the railroad station? While we were reading these, I saw another U-Haul pull up in the parking lot. A man got out and pulled a nice looking road bike (and helmet!) out of the back and set off on a bike trail. I tried not to drool. Two more days...

With all the junk food I've been eating while sitting around on my ass, it's a really good thing I'm riding 200 miles next weekend. I can't wait to be moving under my own power. And when my butt starts to hurt from the saddle, I'll just remember what my knees felt like after 2994.8 miles in the car.

Our geological feature turned out not be in the town but on the road itself. The Sideling Hill road cut is just that...a big section of rock that was cut out to make room for the road. We stopped and took the bridge over the road to see both sides but unfortunately the information center was closed. Geology geeks can find more information here.

After that it was the home stretch to D.C. We couldn't go straight home though because Jess had been going on and on about a place called The Dairy Godmother that served frozen custard in the style of her childhood home in Wisconsin. The place is closed on Tuesdays so it was now or never. Fortunately they were open till 10:00pm because it took is almost that long to get there. My brain was fried from the road I guess and when I called to ask the best way to get there I repeated the instructions back three times yet still managed to omit the vitally important detail that we should get off GW parkway at hwy 395 until the last second. Of course that wasn't enough warning and little did I know that there aren't that many exits off the parkway. We took the next one and ended up wandering around Arlington with Traci in full tired/cranky/road rage mode before we finally found it.

When we walked in, the first thing I noticed, besides the fact that it was completely packed, was the huge roach crawling around on the wall above the counter. Welcome to D.C.! Traci worked in a restaurant in D.C. One summer and and she told me that roaches are more a matter of management than elimination. So I didn't let the disgusting sight put me off my goal. I ordered a vanilla custard and it was indeed very good. But I think I'll be just as happy with cake batter ice cream from Coldstone, which fortunately I can get at home.

After that we finally made it to Columbia Plaza in downtown D.C., Traci's new home. She had gotten permission for us to park in the loading dock and we had an appointment to unload the next day from 10:00-4:00. They give you an elevator key so you can completely monopolize it for as long as you need and they pad the walls as well, which seemed appropriate for our mental state after so much driving.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is a town outside Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico called Whites City. Somehow I don't think it was founded by some fella named White. I was driving down to TX last year and in another town just before crossing the TX border I was looking for a hotel, and drove through some small town in which all of the hotels had placards outside stating 'American owned.' I couldn't help reading between the lines and realizing that meant 'White owned.' Fortunately, I was not desperate for a room and was able to drive on to the next town.

Sorry to hear about your mom.

- Mick