Archive for the ‘Road Trips’ Category

Scenic Overlook? You be the judge….


For years now I’ve been intrigued by the signs for the “Scenic Overlooks” on GW Parkway. Anyone who knows me knows I’m all about great scenery, and based on the rest of the views from the Parkway itself, it seems like there might be some nice views of the river. So this weekend I finally decided to stop and see for myself what all the fuss was about. Turns out it’s not much.

Passport Office Line in DC: A Block Long Frustration

passport agency line
Passport wait – two lines long!

If you’re trying to get a passport at the Passport Agency on 1111 19th Street, N.W. in downtown Washington DC, these long-ass lines awaits you.

The line for the proletariat who are flying soon stretches all the way down 19th Street, several hundred people and a few hours long.

The line for the bourgeoisie, those with letters from their Congressmen, is relatively short if hard to get into.

Curiously, there isn’t a line for those with appointments. Probably because it’s impossible to get through to the automated appointment phone number – I know I tired for a week before I gave up.

This passport issue and renewal line is not a new phenomenon, its been here almost every day since new rules went into effect January 1 that require a passport to return to the USA when traveling to most North American destinations, including the ever-popular Caribbean.

passport office line
To the very end of the block

I know I’ve watched this line grow since our office moved to 19th and M Street and even created a Passport Line Flickr Set.

The Washington Post finally felt it was a news story on June 15th, and since then it is covering the scene almost daily with reports of the government reaction to the unfolding drama.

My favorite government reaction so far is to ask Foreign Service consular workers who are on home leave in the US to volunteer at their nearest agency. Al Kamen had a great response to that idea in today’s Post:

World’s Fastest… Native American?!

The World's Fastest Indian

Maybe I have a license plate fetish, but you can’t help but wonder if local cops can read the syllabary, let alone pronounce Tsalagi on this Cherokee Nation license plate. I still think it’s cool, even if it wasn’t on a classic motorcycle to boot.

Hang ’em if you got ’em

To follow up on Mr. Whiteside’s post from the other day regarding stupid things on the road and the government’s reaction. It seems that when the Maryland legislature said they dedicate more time on transportation issues, the voting populous had no idea what they would actually do. Well, it seems the Washington Post has covered one of the more, appealing/apalling extras rednecks and truckers add to their vehicles. But really, do politicians have nothing else better to concentrate on?

Yes, we’re talking about novelty testicles for your trailer hitch. I prefer the old classic lady recline art on the mud flaps, but, obviously, the kind of folks that utilized them wanted to move up from the Ugly Kid Joe/Calvin peeing on said “brand” stickers, and go directly to anthropomorphizing their vehicles. I’ve seen these on just about most vehicles… except for low-riders, which, well…you get the picture. I just wished somebody would add fake hooters to the “headlights” on cars… at least they’d stick with the nickname.

So How’d You Celebrate President’s Day?

So, with a holiday most associated with weird sales at the mall and made up special deals at auto dealerships.. how did you, the loyal DC Metblogs reader, celebrate President’s Day?

Gen. George Washington is celebrating his 275th birthday this Thursday, and Mount Vernon is gussying itself up for the occasion. This past Sunday, an President’s Day/Black History Month themed American Dad aired with guest shots of Abe Lincoln and the fabled Smithsonian Peanut Museum.

A number of folks from the DC area seemed to drive as far away as they could in one day and headed to an almost perfect day on the ski slopes, something January (or December, November.. oh, heck you get it) never offered. Some folks probably just bummed it at home (or at work for those private sector folks) and had their own “Butt-Numb-A-Thon” watching hours of TV or Movies. (But remember kids, you can catch all the Best Picture Nominees in one twelve hour session (yes, twelve) this Saturday at selected theaters…your own personal Oscar-themed “Butt-Numb-A-Thon”)

Ah, the Sweet Smell of Fredericksburg Gasoline

Whenever I meet someone who thinks Virginia has nothing to offer other than traffic congestion or moonshining hillbillies, I remind them that Fredericksburg consistently has some of the least expensive gasoline on the East Coast. And, as if by magic, when I leave Myrtle Beach with a full tank it will be just enough to get me to the Fredericksburg Exxon, where last night regular unleaded was just $2.19. Good times.

I don’t know the economic reasons for this. I’ll just assume they’re sitting on an oil field manned by locals wearing Civil War uniforms. In any case, until VA rest stops get Wi-fi, filling up down Fredericksburg way will be my favorite part of driving through the Old Dominion.

Christmas tree farms

If you are looking to cut down your own Christmas tree this year, check out the following sites for more information.

Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association
Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Maryland Christmas Tree Association

Source: The Post

Does anybody have any tree farms to recommend? I have gone to a place off of Belmont Ridge Road in Loudoun County the last couple of years, but am open to other sugggestions.

Weather is here, wish you were nice

Just because I’ve gone to visit my family for the holidays doesn’t mean I’m not thinking of y’all. The wall of the Raw Bar here in Key West is festooned with old license plates and I thought that just because they weren’t on a VA car anymore wasn’t a good reason to share them with you. Hope you’re all enjoying your lows in the 30s. *chortle*

Drive Through Flu Shots?

Pandemic. It’s one of those words we see tossed around without understanding what exactly it means. According to the dictionary in my handy computer, Pandemic is an adjective, “(of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world.” Such previous pandemics include the flu outbreak of 1918, which killed between 50 and 100 million people across the world.

Next up? H5N1 Bird Flu, should it cross the avian/human line. Yesterday, though, Stafford county tried something intriguing: drive-thru flu shots. The county gave out 400 free flu shots in a 2 hour window, in a drill that could be a sign of things to come. Could DC pull off a drive-thru flu shot clinic? The Parking Lot at RFK comes to mind, or perhaps several of the single lane one-way streets. But the District’s Influenza plan is strictly traditional, featuring a clinic situation. Can DC do better?

Skyline – caverns and drive

As WFY and I discovered independently, Skyline drive wasn’t yet at its fall folliage brilliance last week. By now there should be more of the chromatic radience in evidence, so this weekend’s lovely weather should be a good encouragement for you to head out there. While you’re there, maybe you’d like to take in Skyline Caverns. I hadn’t been since I was a wee lad up here on a visit from my native Miami, but when the leaves turned out to not be everything we hoped for last weekend we popped in for a visit.

It’s well worth it. The tour is enjoyable and thorough and includes the anthodites, (pictured below) something that’s a little unusual in most public tours: a phenomenon you can observe that’s still poorly understood. Apparently only forming in vacuum and with a speed that makes a stalagmite seem speedy, these pretty formations have been found in only a handful of locations in the world… and Skyline Caverns is one of those places. They’re sufficiently rare and precious that Virginia law has explicit sections in its code covering vandalism of cave formations (the Cave Preservation Act, sections 10.1 if you care…). If the tour and a cursory googling are to be believed, there’s still some arguing about exactly how and why they form how they do. Given their pace and the need for vacuum, I suppose that’s not too surprising.

Particularly interesting, at least to me, is the parts of the tour that go over some of the foolishness perpetuated in making the caves attractive to tourists. It seems like this was an epidemic in the middle 20th century – there’s similar stories about damage caused by the National Park Service in St Augustine when they filled the dry moat around the Castillo de San Marcos to appeal to tourists who expected a moat to be a water hazard, despite it only being about 1-2 feet deep. There the limestone was damaged from water seepage. In Skyline Caverns you can see places where artificial ponds were created, stalactites and stalagmites moved or worn down by human contact and other bits of oddity.

It’s worth a look, and being right by the northernmost entrance to Skyline Drive it’s not at all out of the way. Get your fill of beauty above and below ground.

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