I am about as far from the city as a girl can get. Growing up in the middle of a corn field and moving to the mountains of Vermont is how I've lived my life. In fact, I ended up in Vermont to begin with because I found the bus system to get to class at the University of Maryland too overwhelming. Two mile walk or take the gold bus to the purple bus to get to my physics class? No thank you. I'll just stick with living in the middle of nowhere.
So I did.
However, my best friends growing up did not. Shortly after high school graduation they left the rural eastern shore we called home and moved to the big streets run by public transportation and 24 hour restaurants. Now, almost a decade later, my friend Megan decided I needed to become acquainted with the urban ways of the world before I brought a child into the world and smothered her in backwoodsness.
She called it "culturing me in city ways"
So early in the morning I headed across the Chesapeake Bay. Its the great divider between the farms of the Eastern Shore and the urban jungle that is the rest of the state. I had to park in the only place I was remotely familiar with, a mall parking lot, and hop in her car so she could drive the rest of the way to the city. There was no way I could have figured out where I was going on my own....
We didn't even park close to DC, because you don't want to. Instead we parked somewhere across the Potomac near the Pentagon and took the Metro. It was from that point on that things got complicated...
From the moment we approached this gadget I was in over my head. It was some complicated map and payment system to ride the Metro into the city. Megan did the leg work and sorted out which train to take. I didn't even understand which side of the tracks I was suppose to be on to determine the right direction into the city. If it wasn't for her I would have ended up further into the suburbs of Virgina rather than the Capital.
Being the weird person I am I flooded Megan with questions... How do I know a train is coming? How do I know that its my train? Are all subway tunnels built like a military instillation? Do people actually jump off and commit suicide in front of the train like on Law and Order? After she told me a horrible story of a woman who fell onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train and crouched in an insanely small space under a ledge at the edge of the tracks narrowly escaping death I decided to not ask any more questions.
After fifteen minutes spent on the Metro where I consciously avoided touching any surfaces whatsoever after thinking of all the Sci-Fi movies I've seen portraying germ warfare and pandemics we emerged in the middle of The Lawn in the heart of the Capital.
It was hot, it was dry, and the Reflecting Pool was oddly drained and under construction. We then proceeded to walk nine thousand miles across the sites of the nation's capital. Occassionally we stopped for a photo op in front of a couple nostalgic and historic monuments.
What you can't see in these photos is that I was wearing flip flops, because I am an idiot and am perpetually wearing the incorrect footwear... especially during pregnancy and when one plans to walk several miles. We traversed one end of the city to the other from the grassy lawn to the cobble stone sidewalks of the city. At one point Megan brought up calling a cab or even ferrying a ride with this fellow who had some sort of bicycle carriage. My fear of venturing outside my normal scope of transportation led me to keep walking... and walking... God I should have worn sneakers.
After nearly being devoured by hundreds of Chinese school children near the white house, who were all clamoring for photo ops, Megan and I decided to just head for the Metro and see other parts of the area and grab some lunch since we couldn't get any closer to the White House than in the photo above. So we walked... again.
One block. Two Block. Three blocks...
We finally reached the Metro station just as I was about to declare a forfeiture and sit on the sidewalk nursing my feet. That was when we noticed the Metro station was oddly desolate. Apparently it was a business Metro station and is closed on weekends. That meant another two block walk to a Metro station. I put on my big girl panties and trucked it to the next station. Somehow God blessed my efforts and a train arrived literally the second we hit the platform and I was graces with a comfy subway seat.
After grabbing lunch, where I discovered how easy it is to ruin a soft shell crab sandwich and hard it is to park anywhere near DC, we set off walking, again. There was a theme to our afternoon. Megan was on a mission to find the famous Georgetown Cupcakes that have been featured in a show on TLC. I personally had never heard of them, but figured any cupcakes worthy of a television show would be worth it.
While Megan concentrated on getting to the cupcakes I doddled and took photos of the colonial streets. I looked at it as a way to practice my urban photography where the subjects are oh so very different than landscapes. It was also a good distraction from the mile journey we took to arrive at the cupcake shop.
I should have known that any cupcake shop Megan insisted was worth walking a mile to would be packed. Actually is wasn't just packed... it was crammed to the brim with so many people that it bordered violating a fire code and had a line outside the door a good fifty feet deep. We sat patiently in line where they gave us a cupcake menu and free water. Forty five minutes later we were finally inside and staring at hundreds of beautifully decorated cupcakes.
After elbowing for a spot at the register and collecting my six cupcakes of varying flavors from carrot cake to red velvet I bolted for fresh air and had utterly had my fill of people. There were just too many dang people around. People that stopped right in front of you as you walked. People that walked three wide on a sidewalk that barely fit two so you are forced into the street. People that bang into you with their shopping bags or talk loudly on their phones. Ugh... I was longing for my life of dirt roads and small towns.
Megan and I headed back to my car utterly exhausted. Both of us had exerted way more calories than we intended. While I may never be a city person or even prefer to visit the city at least I've had a thorough education on urban survival!