Beyond the Barricade (East Coast Days 28-34)

StocksWe were in Washington during the days when the barricades went up. Seems that some leaders were playing a game of chicken, nuh-uh-so’s-your-old-man, or some other Junior High game and then everybody started having hissy fits. With a harrumph the sides came to a point where each wanted just to take the ball and go home which resulted in the standoff that barricaded our national parks and museums.

That sounds flip, but the choice of a junior-high metaphor is intentional. We were only inconvenienced, whereas others were impacted more. For the purposes of a travel blog, I should not digress more than this. I will only share that we had to adjust to it like other things that test our flexibility. We’ve also had to deal with water pipes, tire situations and have watched the predictions for tropical storm Karen. We can adapt to all of these, so I suppose we can work around some blame-game politicians as well.

My last post covered the social story of these same days, 28-34, about renewing with old friends. This one will cover the travel itself: The where and how and what we saw.

A beautiful day, the City in passing as we leave Long Island

A beautiful day, the City in passing as we leave Long Island

The barricades went up about halfway through these days. Prior to this, we had left our camp north of New York City to slant to the SE out to Long Island. Is there anywhere else with as much variety in as compact a space? Under storybook skies we cut into forests on two-lanes, then arced above Hudson River hamlets on soaring interchanges. Our rig bounded on aged concrete parkways then shot onto interstates hemmed in by townhouses. Lunch with dear Joan, dinner and guest room with Chris and Laura.

TireOh, and this is the day that began the saga of the trailer tires. My bad—I had not been keeping the right pressure in them. It took the patience of our friends in two major cities to endure my angst over finding replacement treads for our little pop-up, which we ultimately did. The badly scalloped wear was first noticed in NY and ultimately replaced in VA.

Signroom LBellThe next leg was an I-95 utility drive meant just to get us to DC with Philadelphia on the way. It might almost be a travel misdemeanor to give only 4 hours to Philadelphia. Cite us, yes. In truth we cannot see everything in 7 weeks’ time, so we blitzed in to Philly just for its Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. We dared not drive in hauling the trailer, but instead used the PATCO train from a station in New Jersey. We did our own park-and-ride commute while the rig rested in a NJ station lot.

Worth it, yes, worth it. I am a sucker for the old-school American history tale. I want to see the real bell, to imagine it being rung (in the days before its silencing crack)—I want to see the desks in the hall where the Declaration was signed and where later the Constitution was drafted. Yeah, sure—the cynics love to burst my bubble by de-mythologizing the Founders, that they were only very faulty humans in a gritty and real political environment.  I get this, and yet I think this makes me actually less cynical overall, to think that such a radical and noble revolution was achieved by ones not unlike the rest of us.

ArtFrom our DC base (actually Vienna, VA, with friends) we had a pre-barricade day at the art museum at the Smithsonian. This never disappoints. After the close of government our strategy shifts to state (not Fed) and private parks and museums: Camping at Pocahontas State Park near Richmond (nice!), and visiting private sites/museums (National Geographic, Mount Vernon, Williamsburg, Confederate White House).

The standards of excellence at these sites can almost make you forget the Federal ones we missed. Well, not quite. I’m a bit annoyed to miss seeing some Civil War battlefields and that we cannot camp at Smokies and Zion, but we’re also determined to have a good time, dang it.

Sometimes the barricades we must overcome are the ones we put up against ourselves.

Citizens on the Potomac

Citizens on the Potomac

Mount Vernon, Washington's home

Mount Vernon, Washington’s home

Independence Hall, Philadelphia

Independence Hall, Philadelphia

Jeff Davis's Confederate White House, Richmond

Jeff Davis’s Confederate White House, Richmond

Guide showing copy of Constitution in the place where it was written

Guide showing copy of Constitution in the place where it was written

A to B: Day 28 (Sep 28), Plattekill to Huntington Station, NY: 120 mi, 15.7 mpg, 6 hrs (3 hr lunch stop in Melville) B to C: Day 29 (Sep 29), Huntington Station, NY to Vienna, VA: 325 mi, 18.8 mpg, 11 hrs (4 hr Philadelphia side trip) Days 30-31 (Sep 30, Oct 1): Touring DC (0 miles) C to D: Day 32 (Oct 2), Vienna to Pocahontas State Park, VA: 144 mi (5447 total route miles), 17.7 mpg, 8 hrs (4 hrs in Mt Vernon) Days 33-34 (Oct 2-3), Touring Williamsburg, Richmond: 184 mi, 22.4 mpg

A to B: Day 28 (Sep 28), Plattekill to Huntington Station, NY: 120 mi, 15.7 mpg, 6 hrs (3 hr lunch stop in Melville)
B to C: Day 29 (Sep 29), Huntington Station, NY to Vienna, VA: 325 mi, 18.8 mpg, 11 hrs (4 hr Philadelphia side trip)
Days 30-31 (Sep 30, Oct 1): Touring DC (0 miles)
C to D: Day 32 (Oct 2), Vienna to Pocahontas State Park, VA: 144 mi (5447 total route miles), 17.7 mpg, 8 hrs (4 hrs in Mt Vernon)
Days 33-34 (Oct 2-3), Touring Williamsburg, Richmond: 184 mi, 22.4 mpg

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About Cal Stevens

Learning professional, a training manager, speaker, writer; two careers in helping others succeed. Travel writer for the common road trip.
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