Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tour de Mount Vernon

Me: "If I called my mom right now, I would say, hey mem, its me. I'm with Caitlin. Well I guess that goes without saying."
Caitlin: "Yeah, that's like saying, "I live in DC."
Well, we had another adventure again this weekend. Full of lots of pain in our muscles, silliness coming out of our mouths, and a little bit of George and Martha Washington.
I've been planning in my head of biking to Mount Vernon since last January - just waiting for a warm weather and good company. Found. So, Caitlin and I met at the Memorial Bridge that links Arlington Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial. According to guide books, the Mount Vernon trail is a wide, smoothly paved, flat 18-mile stretch that takes riders from Georgetown through Alexandria, Virginia out to the gates of Mount Vernon. We rode 17 miles together outbound to the mansion, and if we had been filmed, it surely would be the next great reality show.
We stopped after the first 45 minutes or so, making it roughly 12:45. We had already passed Reagan National Airport and were near a marina with sailboats, where we watched a solo sailor trying to right his sunfish boat after it had capsized. (it took several attempts, which was perfect entertainment while we ate crackers, guzzled water, and talked about how we were going to be sore when we got to our destination.
Little did we know. The next 12 miles or so were full of me laughing alot about how difficult it was for me to make it up a hill, which didn't help because then i would be more out of breath from the laughing. My dad left me a voicemail after hearing of our endeavor saying "well, i'm sure y'all had fun but your's just not meant for riding more than a few miles in a neighborhood. Not that i don't like your bike, i know it was a great find, but the way the handle bars and seat and peddles are aligned, i don't know how you would ride up a slight incline for a litte ways, let alone miles..."
In short, it was hilarious. We passed some pretty houses and a marsh and LOTS of interesting characters out on the packed trail. I had my handy bell that reads "I heart my mom!" on the top to warn anyone that we were coming. Once, I fell behind due to a traffic jam on a bridge near the airport, and a biker passed Caitlin ringing his bell. She thought it was me, and so she turned and said "ding ding!" he looked at her like she was crazy and said "ding ding" right back.
We made, it finally, to Mount Vernon. Soaked in sweat and starving. But it was great to see the mansion that our first president had built. He was definitely a more noble man than me, (partly because I'm not a man) - in the museum it talks about how he was offered the position of King on multiple occasions, but he always declined. He clearly loved Martha immensely, and they talked of how no one was allowed in his library without specific permission - except for Martha, who could go in whenever she wanted. We saw the last set of teeth that he used, and the very bed where he died.
Oh, I'm leaving out a few things. On our way out there, I was behind hodge podge and thought my chain had come off. So I stopped, looked at it, then sloooowly was trying to catch up. I shouted "Hodge PODGE!" so she would know where I was, and this racer dude passing me just heard me yelling but didn't know I was talking to anyone so he was like "c'mon, you can DO IT!!" i wanted to punch him. And, Caitlin told me several stories of bike crashes she's been in during our third mile or so. Like, when she rode into a ditch off a bridge. And how she still has a scar from one time she flipped over the handle bars. And then five minutes later she almost crashed into a bridge...
My chain came over at approximately mile 36. But, he-women that we are, we got it on in no time. Greasy blackened hands to prove it, too. When we got to mount vernon, prior to food and fro-yo and water and caffinated beverages, we were contemplating how to get back to this district - ferry? hitchhike? metro in the last 10 or so miles? pay some kids to ride in for us and we'll ride in the car with their parents? but WE MADE IT all FORTY miles door to door. and today i'm not quite as exhausted as i thought. but, in the guidebook, we're going to put "prepare to have a sore hiney and some curse words along the way to the symbol of American freedom and prosperity that is Mount Vernon."
To sum up, I'll leave with two final short stories. One - as we sat on the back porch of the mansion overlooking the Potomac thinking of colonial days, a six or seven year old boy asked his dad, "Daddy, were the dinosaurs around when this house was being built?" Yep, you betcha. So were those cows in that field over there, said Caitlin.
And today, leaving church in Chinatown, my wonderful roommate Katherine said to me:
"Who has been kicking Caitlin in the calves?"
"What?" I said, as I looked over at Caitlin crossing to the opposite street with our friend Joe.
"Those bruises! Who's been kicking Caitlin in the back of the legs?"
"Oh," I said. "No one. Those are from her bike pedals smacking her whenever we get off our bikes and walk."
gig em & god bless ya!

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