Underground


A week from tomorow, my family and I will be traveling to Washington DC. It’s our first (and probably last, with gas prices doing nothing but going up) out of state vacation ever. We’ll spend a week there, seeing the sites, taking the pictures, and generally playing the role of Idiot Tourist Family. It’s something I’m actually looking forward to, having spent so many years in the role of Irritated Local. I was beginning to feel stereotyped.

My hubby–master tactician that he is–has scheduled our week pretty well, taking into account each family member’s Must See Spots, so we can make the most of each precious moment spent in our nation’s capital. I perused his schedule this morning, though, and discovered something a bit disconcerting.

“What’s this ‘metro’ thing? You’ve got it written down all over the place. I don’t remember anyone wanting to see a ‘metro.'”

“It’s not a thing to see. It’s a way to get around the city.”

“Public transportation, you mean?”

“Yep.”

Then he explained The Plan. We’ll board a train at a station near our hotel in Alexandria, Virginia that will take us into DC. From there, we’ll hop various subways and buses as we make our way from place to place.

“Subway? You mean…underground?”

“Yes, Kel. Underground. That’s where the subways live.”

It’s funny when you discover something new about yourself. There’s no mass transit system in the boonies, so until that moment “Subway” meant “place where they sell the kind of sandwiches I can get down the road for half the price.” But there I was, suddenly confronted with the reality of spending a good portion of my vacation crammed into a moving sardine can with millions of other sweaty commuters, in a strange and frightening city…several hundred feet underneath the earth’s surface. It made me want to puke. For real. And that is when I knew.

Apparently, I’m afraid of taking the subway.

“What’s wrong with our car?”

“Nothing. We’ll leave it parked at the hotel. With gas prices so high this’ll save us some money.”

There are times when even someone as cheap frugal as I am has to ask: is saving money everything?

“Besides,” he continued, “I’m not driving in Washington DC.”

“But–“

“I’m. Not. Driving. In Washington DC.” Then he grinned. “But if you’re that opposed to taking the subway, then you can do the driving.”

He had me and he knew it. I hate city driving. Bangor–with its “booming” population of 31,000–is almost too much for me. I’ll drive all around Robin Hood’s barn to avoid making a left hand turn that doesn’t come with the safety of a ‘left turn arrow.’ In short, I’m a total wimp. There is no way you’d catch me behind the wheel in a major metropolitan area.

So, that is that. I’ll be riding a subway. For a whole week. Lord have mercy.

Still, there’s some good news. Chapter Five of Waiting for Spring is up at Readers and Writers Blog (I tried to come up with a clever segue, but drew a blank) along with the latest installments of Disconnected by J. Cafesin and Ginny Good by Gerard Jones. Check ’em out. You won’t be sorry.

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About R.J. Keller

R. J. Keller is the author of Waiting For Spring. An avid independent movie enthusiast, she was Managing Editor of The Movie Fanatic website and created episodes of the writer-centric YouTube series, Inside The Writers' Studio, with author Kristen Tsetsi. She co-hosted Book Chatter with Stacey Cochran from 2011-2014. She lives in Central Maine with her family, where she enjoys gardening, collecting geeky memorabilia, and watching other people cook. View all posts by R.J. Keller

8 responses to “Underground

  • Jenny

    On our last trip to DC with the fam we stayed with a friend in Front Royal and took the Metro in each day. It was fun. There is noplace to park in DC so the driving isn’t even your major issue. Hope you have fun but all I remember about that trip was walking 68 miles a day in blistering heat, wishing for someplace cool to sit and rest! But it’s a wonderful place to go and so moving, so thrilling. Can’t wait to read about your adventures.

  • Crystal Lynn

    The last time I was in DC I drove my brand new car. I lived in DC for 4 years in the late ’70’s early ’80’s and had no problem getting around. Until that trip a few years ago. I went with my folks to see Stephan Lang in Beyond Glory, and then took a quick ride through the city to get onto 64. Then I was at “the interection”… and a voice from the back seat (my dad) said…”Lord there is 32 lanes of traffic at this light”. (Thanks Dad, white knuckled driver said, I was really trying not to notice) At the moment the light turned, the pedestrians had the right of way, I was trying to turn, the traffic was coming at me…. All I wanted to do was click my heels three times, all the time thinking “I haven’t even made my first car payment yet”… I’ll take a snow storm in these mountains anyday (well except for now…)

    BTW I lived in DC when they first opened up the Metro. Only way to travel.

    Are you going to go to Gettysburg? Seriously, if you are, we can make the trip, it’s not far from me.

    Parrot lives in Alexandria…I do have his email.

  • Crystal Lynn

    My dad proposed to my mom on the west lawn of the Capital. I was born at the Naval Hospital

  • spyscribbler

    You seriously do not want to drive into DC. We made that mistake, and with all the blocked off roads and one way roads that are NOT marked correctly on a map, it was a TOTAL headache.

    The Metro is nice. Most of it is above ground, too.

    There’s free wireless internet on the mall, btw.

  • Matt

    Are you planning to stop in the NYC area to/back from DC?

  • Jen O

    I agree, you don’t want to be driving through DC. The public transportation in the DC/Baltimore area (I went to school in Baltimore for a while) is actually really nice and the maps are pretty easy to follow. Good luck!

  • Sid Leavitt

    All your commenters are right — the Metro is the only way to go in Washington. And, having just returned from a road trip myself, I can tell you one positive thing about getting there and back. That $4 gasoline that will afflict you has been equally burdensome on others — specifically, the lollygaggers and let’s-go-for-a-drivers who won’t be there to clog up the roads for no good reason. From Maine, of course, you’ll have to go straight through the Northeast Corridor megalopolis, but it will be a little less crowded.

    As we used to say in Biddeford, bon voyage.

  • R.J. Keller

    Hi All! Thanks for the encouragement and reassurance. 🙂

    Jenny…blistering heat. Thanks for the reminder. Shorts, shorts, and more shorts.

    Crystal Lynn…no Gettysburg this time I’m afraid. I’d rather make a Gettysburg-only trip…someday.

    Scribbler…free internet access!!! I’ll have to pack my hubby’s laptop. Whoo-hoo!

    Matt…NY is a vague possibility on the way back. I’ve got a buddy who lives in NYC we’d like to visit, but we’re not 100% sure. I’ll email you by Saturday if the answer is yes.

    JenO…good to know about the maps. I’m quite sure we’ll need ’em!

    Sid…the lack of road-clogger-uppers hadn’t even occurred to me, although it should have. Good news indeed!

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