Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Home of the brave

Been a little MIA—just got back from a long weekend in DC. I'm starting to lose count of the number of times I've been to that city. Went when I was 12 for the annual 6th grade trip to Washington and Williamsburg. Went when I was 16, looking at colleges. Lived there when I was 20, for two months interning with NARAL. Visited when I was 22, interviewing for a job. At 24, running the National Marathon. And at 24, again, just bumming around. Because that's what I do best.

I love Washington, DC. That is, without a doubt, my favorite city in the United States. There's even a chance I love it more than Barcelona, and I really loved Barcelona. Before I went the last time, I was pushing myself to explain just why I loved DC. I love that the famous people you see around actually do things. I love the walkability of the city, and the stellar public transportation. I love go-getter personality of the city, with less stress than New York. I loved the time I lived there. I love the history of it. I still kind of felt like I was grasping at straws and couldn't pin down the exact why.

But now I know. DC instills in me a sense of awe that no other place is capable of. I am a godless hippie liberal, yes—but I also love this country and believe America was designed for greatness. Our founders wrote us to do great things and we have been and can be great. There are bumps in the road to be sure, obstacles to overcome. But American can and will overcome. DC tells me that. DC makes me want to be my best self so that I can help America be her best self.

And the bike share is awesome.

These stations were all over the city. Clustered closer together in some places, but I saw them as far out as King Street in Old Town Alexandria and Crystal City. I set the map of stations to my bookmarks on my phone and went off on my adventures. Capital BikeShare? You rock.

For a 24-hour pass, it was $7. That was it. $7 is like 3 rides on the metro, and this gets you access to bikes all over the city for a solid day. Each ride, under 30 minutes, is covered by your $7. Time after that you do get charged for—and the prices get up there really quickly—but DC is by design a small city. Everything is built very close together. All you need is 30 minutes, and that includes the time you pedal around looking for the station.

In the past, living and visiting DC, I've relied heavily on the Metro, but the Metro can distort your view of the city. It becomes a series of islands and how they connect is an utter mystery. I can work the underground, sure, that's not a problem, but I have no idea of the real-world relationships of Foggy Bottom to Capital Hill to Eastern Market. And now I do.

Also? Capital Hill is a hill. Like a, thank-christ-these-are-wide-tires-so-I-can-stand-up hill. Ay.

My first run-in with a bike share was in Barcelona, but it (and bike shares in general) was in its infancy and at the time was limited to only Spanish citizens—2-month tourists like myself were excluded. I like to think that I had been able to access the bike share, I would have gotten into bikes 3 years ago, but alas. I can't wait to start seeing bike shares crop up across the nation. They are a fantastic solution for tourists. You can get where you need to go, when you need to go, and it's fabulous.

Although I do credit my Dallas guts for my willingness to ride in the street.

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