Thursday, 24 October 2013

THE CAPITAL AND THE WAR PATH

It was another traffic-riddled day, trying to find my way through the cities towards the US capital, Washington DC. My bike mirror had been clipped a number of times by passing cars, and now the headset bearing had disintegrated. I'd improvised by using wheel bearings, but I was a little nervous because Old Saartjie (my bike) was swerving around, barely under control.
Somehow I got into Washington, and my mood lifted as I felt as though I was one of the many tourists crowding the Mall area around which everything seems to happen. The Mall is a large parkland strip in the city centre, the Capitol, the White House, and all the monuments and museums are around there. There are also paths for biking, jogging, and tourist strolling.
I wondered if I'd be able to camp on the lawns of the White House, but there was a fence around with police guards, so I just took a picture.
I went a mile or so further on, looked at some of the sights until after dark, and then I set up camp under a tree in the middle of the park. At 4-30 AM the police discovered me there (I was hardly hidden anyway). They told me that camping was not allowed, but I was permitted to be there as long as I was just sitting around reading the way that I was. (I don't know anybody who pitches his tent in a park, crawls into his sleeping bag, and then reads all night - in the dark!). Strangely enough, when they arrived there the first thing they asked is if I'd seen a bunch of joggers go by? So I carried on sleeping (or reading?) until the sun warmed my tent.
Then I packed up and cycled across the Potomac river into Virginia state, officially into the "South". The first thing I came across there was Arlington cemetery. Then I was sent on a wild goose chase by a series of poor directions before I eventually came across the bike path running alongside George Washington Parkway, all the way down to Washington's estate at Mount Vernon. From there I followed the busy Highway 1, which has become less busy the further South I've gone. This is a historic route, as it follows Washington and Co's march to victory (although according to the picture, by 1936 some had still not conceded). There are also various battlefield museums in the area. It hasn't been totally unpleasant, with some rolling hills bordered by forests changing their colours.
Right now I'm in the city of Richmond, a bike-friendly pleasant city with a university and divided by a river. I'm staying with Warmshowers host Glenn, his wife Laeticia, and their 4 young sons (things can get hectic around here!). She is a teacher, and they all cycle to school, 2 of the younsters on the long back (the older one rides his own bike, and the baby stays at home - with babysitter).
Today Glenn made an arrangement with the local bike shop, and owner Clint fitted a new headset on Old Saartjie, as well as some other emergency fittings and adjustments. So, when I leave here tomorrow I should be less of a hazard on the road! Also staying here are a Belgian couple, Maelle and Jonathan, cycling across the US, so this is literally a crowded house.
Distances cycled since my previous update have been:- Washington DC 67 km; Lorton 57 km; Fredericksburg 71 km; Ladysmith 48 km; and Richmond 68 km. The total distance which I have cycled so far on this trip is 118 335 km (73 959 miles). The total so far in the USA and Canada has been 13 709 km (8 568 miles).

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

hi ernesto,
great storys and pictures, we love your blog....
whats your plan for wintertime?where you go next?
your friends from austria

hannelies (www.loslo.net)

Irish Cyclist said...

Who minds the baby ? lol.

Elizabeth I said...

Great to catch up with you. Miss you Ernest! What are your travel plans over the next month? - Elizabeth from Tacoma