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User Content => Road Trips => Topic started by: Zeffy on July 07, 2015, 11:24:41 AM

Title: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: Zeffy on July 07, 2015, 11:24:41 AM
For the first time in like 10 years, I get to go somewhere out of this state that's not a school fieldtrip. The location is a weekend in Washington, DC, to explore the Holocaust Museum as well as the Air and Space Museum. It's also a diversion from some drama that has unfolded in my house the last couple of days. And yes, this is real this time, unlike the last time when parental issues basically canned that idea.

We are currently planning to stay either in Silver Spring, Maryland or possibly even Baltimore, Maryland. Being that I'm not driving, I'm not sure if my sister is comfortable driving through DC, so we may opt to take the Metro line in Silver Spring into DC proper. That being said, I'm not a huge public transit fan, so I'd rather just drive into the city itself. But that will have to be decided as the weekend comes.

I suggested staying in Arlington, Virginia, but I'm not sure if driving that side of the Capital Beltway is well, worth the frustration, as I know 495 in that area is absolute hell for the most part.

The current plan is to take I-295 all the way down into Delaware, and hopping on I-95 all the way into Baltimore. From there, depending on where we are staying, I'm thinking US 29 into Silver Spring if we are staying there, and if we end up driving into DC (which I honestly hope we do), taking that into the city. Obviously some of the locals here can recommend alternate routes to avoid the traffic, since the last time I was in DC was in 2012 with my school class.

The current landmarks to visit are:

We will be leaving on Friday - what time, I'm not exactly sure, probably at night, so traffic I would expect to be light then. The trip back will be on Sunday, probably mid-day, so hopefully traffic isn't bad considering it's Sunday. Any suggestions on routes, notices about construction, things to do/see, are greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: froggie on July 07, 2015, 11:42:20 AM
How are you with bicycling?  It's really the easiest way to get around the DC core, and much cheaper/less hassle than parking.

Given your anticipated timeframe of driving, the Beltway shouldn't be too bad, even the northwest corner that you're calling an "absolute hell".

If you'd prefer to drive into the core and not take Metro (which, given that they're shutting down the Red Line between Farragut North and NoMa this weekend for trackwork, isn't a bad idea), I'd suggest leaving VERY early and parking near the 14th St Bridge.  The parking lots here (https://www.google.com/maps/@38.878273,-77.0369227,18z) don't have time restrictions...most other NPS parking has a 3 hour limit.  But these lots will fill up quickly on a weekend.  They're a bit away from a lot of the things you want to see, but there's a Capital Bikeshare dock next to the Jefferson Memorial.  When I'd take trips back to DC, I'd usually park there and unload my own bike.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: Zeffy on July 07, 2015, 02:50:54 PM
Well I haven't biked in a long while... and I've barely biked in an urban environment where there's lots of people. I just noticed that the red line is going to be shut for trackwork after 3 PM on Saturday, which conflicts with us getting back to our hotel. I'd MUCH RATHER NOT take a bus. I have an aversion for public transit, being that I like to not be around large groups of people if I don't have to within a confined space.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: froggie on July 07, 2015, 03:02:31 PM
Quote
Well I haven't biked in a long while... and I've barely biked in an urban environment where there's lots of people.

With what you're trying to do, you basically have 4 choices.  And this is just around DC, to say nothing of going to/from your hotel:

1)  Walk.  A lot.  Lots of miles.
2)  Bike.
3)  Take the local bus circulator along the National Mall.
4)  Drive and attempt to find parking in relative vicinity to your destinations.  This will be very difficult/time consuming in some spots, expensive in others, and impossible in some cases.

Quote
I just noticed that the red line is going to be shut for trackwork after 3 PM on Saturday, which conflicts with us getting back to our hotel.

Per WMATA (http://www.wmata.com/rider_tools/metro_service_status/advisories.cfm?AID=5040), the Red Line shutdown is actually all day Saturday between the Farragut North and NoMa stations.  If you stay in Arlington, though, the Orange and Silver Lines will have regular service.

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being that I like to not be around large groups of people if I don't have to within a confined space

If this is the case, then perhaps you shouldn't visit DC, because you will definitely run into this at the museums.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: jeffandnicole on July 07, 2015, 03:08:15 PM
My personal preference is to find a hotel near one of the Metro rail stations, and take the Metro in (taking into account what Froggie said).  You can do this in either Maryland or Virginia.  Yeah, it's not going to be the best of situations if you don't like being around large groups of people in a confined space, but then again, that's probably what you're going to run into throughout the weekend in DC.  Overall, hotel rates will be cheaper outside the city, but it all depends on your lodging preferences.

Staying in Baltimore is a bit of a hike to get to DC.  And if she's not comfortable driving into DC, then Baltimore isn't going to be much of a treat either.  As long as you approach Baltimore and/or DC after rush hour on Friday, you'll be fine.  If you had to stay within a city, I'd just choose DC as once you get to the hotel, you don't have to move the car again until Sunday.

Sunday will be another story.  95 will be filled with vacationers and other people that have no clue where they're going.  It will be crowded.  As you approach the toll plazas, don't be surprised to encounter congestion - especially the $8 toll in Maryland.  You'll probably spend a considerable amount of time in Delaware approaching DE 1 to the 95/295 split as well.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: Zeffy on July 07, 2015, 03:13:05 PM
If this is the case, then perhaps you shouldn't visit DC, because you will definitely run into this at the museums.

Buildings I can deal with. It's trains and buses that I just despise.

Per WMATA (http://www.wmata.com/rider_tools/metro_service_status/advisories.cfm?AID=5040), the Red Line shutdown is actually all day Saturday between the Farragut North and NoMa stations.  If you stay in Arlington, though, the Orange and Silver Lines will have regular service.

We already booked a hotel in Maryland, before I found out about the Red Line closure. The one in Arlington was CHEAPER with higher ratings. No one listens to me, though, so that's the price we pay, I guess.

Sunday will be another story.  95 will be filled with vacationers and other people that have no clue where they're going.  It will be crowded.  As you approach the toll plazas, don't be surprised to encounter congestion - especially the $8 toll in Maryland.  You'll probably spend a considerable amount of time in Delaware approaching DE 1 to the 95/295 split as well.

Maybe it'll be more prudent to take an alternative route then coming back. Any good alternatives to 95/295 to get back into New Jersey?
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: jeffandnicole on July 07, 2015, 03:21:06 PM
Per WMATA (http://www.wmata.com/rider_tools/metro_service_status/advisories.cfm?AID=5040), the Red Line shutdown is actually all day Saturday between the Farragut North and NoMa stations.  If you stay in Arlington, though, the Orange and Silver Lines will have regular service.

We already booked a hotel in Maryland, before I found out about the Red Line closure. The one in Arlington was CHEAPER with higher ratings. No one listens to me, though, so that's the price we pay, I guess.

What's the cancellation policy?  If it's 72 hours, you have up until this evening to cancel.  (I'm constantly switching hotels, so I never book a non-cancellable rate)

Sunday will be another story.  95 will be filled with vacationers and other people that have no clue where they're going.  It will be crowded.  As you approach the toll plazas, don't be surprised to encounter congestion - especially the $8 toll in Maryland.  You'll probably spend a considerable amount of time in Delaware approaching DE 1 to the 95/295 split as well.

Maybe it'll be more prudent to take an alternative route then coming back. Any good alternatives to 95/295 to get back into New Jersey?
[/quote]

The trouble with Sundays in the summer is that they are big travel days, so you'll probably find heavy traffic no matter where you go.  Any alternative route will take you a bit out of the way.  You could take 40 or 1 but have to deal with the traffic lights.  95 is bearable; just be prepared for some congestion here and there.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: froggie on July 07, 2015, 03:24:16 PM
Quote
Buildings I can deal with. It's trains and buses that I just despise.

If that is your preference.  Just keep in mind that trains and bicycling are the easiest ways to get in and out of the DC core, with walking and bicycling the easiest within the core.  Driving to everything is simply out of the question for reasons previously cited.

Quote
We already booked a hotel in Maryland, before I found out about the Red Line closure. The one in Arlington was CHEAPER with higher ratings. No one listens to me, though, so that's the price we pay, I guess.

Parking at Metro park-and-rides is free on the weekends, so one alternative would be to drive around to one of the Orange Line stations with a P&R (namely Vienna or East Falls Church), and take the Orange Line in.

Quote
Maybe it'll be more prudent to take an alternative route then coming back. Any good alternatives to 95/295 to get back into New Jersey?

None that don't add mileage or traffic signals to your route.  The most feasible, taking 50 east to 301 into Delaware, adds about 20 miles but still involves a toll (at the Bay Bridge) and you'd still be dealing with traffic in Delaware trying to get between 301 and 295.  Alternatively, you could take I-83 north from Baltimore to US 30 to US 222, but that adds almost 50 miles.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: 1995hoo on July 07, 2015, 09:19:17 PM
If you're thinking about taking the Metro in from Maryland and you want to go to Air and Space and to the Holocaust Museum, you could try parking at the Greenbelt stop and riding the Green Line. It would avoid the Red Line issue because they do not share track, and the Green Line stops at L'Enfant Plaza, which has an exit a block away from Air and Space, so you wouldn't have to change trains. (Smithsonian is the closest to the Holocaust Museum but is a longer walk from Air and Space. The Holocaust Museum is still an easy enough walk from L'Enfant Plaza, though—you just walk seven blocks down Independence Avenue, cross 14th Street, and go half a block to your left.) Greenbelt has a direct exit from the Beltway IF you're coming from the direction of I-95 and College Park. If you're coming the other way from the BW Parkway, you have to exit and go through a few streets. (Gov. Hogan wants to turn it into a full interchange, but that's some years away.)

The other possibility out of Silver Spring on the Metro is to ride the Red Line to Fort Totten and then change to the Green or Yellow Line downstairs.  This also avoids the Red Line closure. The lower level of Fort Totten is interesting because it's unique in the DC area in that it's the only platform that's both underground and outdoors (it burrows into the side of a hill, but not all of the platform is in that tunnel portion).

In terms of driving, on weekdays the Kennedy Center garage is super-cheap if you're in by 10:00 and out before 7:00—if you meet that schedule, it's only $10 for the day. (My wife works across the street from there and people at her office all park at the Kennedy Center instead of their own building because it's cheaper.) I do not know whether this rate is available on weekends. I kind of suspect it isn't because the idea of having it on weekdays is surely to make money using what would otherwise be an under-utilized space. Since they have matinee performances on weekends, the same rationale doesn't apply. Either way, though, it's easy to get to and from by using either I-66 or the GW Parkway in Virginia. You'd walk four blocks to the nearest Metro stop (Foggy Bottom). There's a good roadgeek opportunity en route—you can get an excellent view of the ancient I-66 sign bridge from Juarez Circle across the street from the Saudi Arabian Embassy.

Another parking location I can recommend is convenient to a lot of decent places to eat—the Techworld garage at 801 I Street NW (sometimes spelled "Eye Street" to make it clear it's the letter "I," not the number "1"). It's under the Renaissance Hotel and you enter from I Street between 8th and 9th. I park there all the time for Capitals games at Verizon Center, which is a three-block walk from there. The Gallery Place Metrorail (Red, Yellow, and Green Lines) is two blocks away and Metro Center (Red, Orange, Blue, and Silver Lines) is about four blocks away. It would probably cost $17 to park there for the day. It's a huge garage and I've never seen it filled up, even during busy times like when the Auto Show is underway at the nearby convention center. There are a load of restaurants nearby because of the sports arena. It's not unreasonable in my mind to walk from that area to Air and Space—it's about the equivalent of 11 blocks. The Holocaust Museum is about 7 blocks further. I don't think 18 blocks is a horrible walk either, although a lot of people around here would surely disagree. I guess I've walked around New York enough that I view walking as part of being in the city.

I could also tell you where there are 12-hour parking meters for 25˘ per half-hour, but I don't recommend tourists park there because you have to walk through a very rough neighborhood to get anywhere. I park there regularly to go to Nationals Park, but I know the area and I know which streets not to consider walking down. Under no circumstances should you consider walking downtown from those meters.

I can offer driving directions to any of these if you want, though I won't be on the forum during the workday tomorrow.

One tip on driving in the District—there are speed cameras. If the cars with local plates abruptly slow, you should too even if you don't see a cop. Maryland also has speed cameras in work zones, but by law they have to give a 12-mph cushion so it's easy to avoid running afoul of them by watching your speed in the work zones.

froggie is absolutely right when he says you cannot plan to drive to all the various locations and expect to park close. Parking is limited and can be pricey, and on-street parking is just too much of a crapshoot and is strictly enforced in terms of time restrictions, meter fees, etc. if you drive to downtown, you're most likely going to have to pay to park in a garage, and then you'll need to do a lot of walking, take the Metro, or pay for taxis.

One thought on the Metrorail: There's a free iPhone app (don't know if it's available for Android) called iTrans DC that will give you all the service alerts. I use it because I can set it for push alerts on my commute. It's saved me a lot of trouble several times when the trains weren't running due to various incidents. Obviously as a tourist you wouldn't boer with the push alerts, but you can still use it to view service advisories.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: froggie on July 08, 2015, 06:59:46 AM
Hoo:  I specifically didn't mention the Green Line (as well as Pentagon City), because the Green, Blue, and Yellow Lines are all at 20 minute headways this weekend due to other trackwork.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: 1995hoo on July 08, 2015, 07:20:05 AM
Hoo:  I specifically didn't mention the Green Line (as well as Pentagon City), because the Green, Blue, and Yellow Lines are all at 20 minute headways this weekend due to other trackwork.


Fair enough, but I figured he at least ought to be aware of the option. If the person doing the driving really doesn't want to drive into the city, trains running 20 minutes apart are better than no trains. (Other than holiday weekends and cherry blossom time, it's hard to think of a weekend when there ISN'T track work.)

Edited to add: The part about his sister being reluctant to drive in the city is also a reason why I mentioned the Kennedy Center, aside from the weekday $10 fee. It's easy to get there from the Roosevelt Bridge and there's a direct ramp back to the bridge when you leave. Weekends aren't subject to the confusing reversible-road system on Rock Creek Parkway.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: noelbotevera on July 08, 2015, 07:51:18 AM
To take clueless idiots out of the question, you could take US 1 all the way to Baltimore, get on I-695 or MD 295 to MD 100, over to I-97, and take US 50 west into Prince George's County. The real problems here would be downtown Baltimore...

Metro related, you could use a bus from your hotel, transfer if needed, to a stop at Independence Avenue SW and 9th Street SW. Both museums are nearly the same walking distance apart. That stop is on the south end of the National Mall.

If you want to drive in there, from US 50 WB, either take US 50 into the city to US 1, or, you can hook around the Anacostia River. The Anacostia requires taking US 50 WB to DC 295 SB, over the 11th Street Bridge, and you will be at I-395. Take I-395 south towards Exit 1 (US 1), OR, take I-395 south to exit 6 and hook up via C Street SW to 3rd Street SW. 3rd Street heads up the east side of the Mall, but you can take Independence Avenue SW to get to the west side...
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: froggie on July 08, 2015, 10:40:57 AM
Disregard whatever noel said, Zeffy.  He obviously didn't read your stated preferences (avoid buses) or where you're staying (not in PGC), nor does he really know the DC area like Hoo and I do, otherwise he wouldn't make suggestions for movements that in reality lack the ramps to do so (i.e. I-395 South to Exit 1).

Quote from: 1995hoo
Fair enough, but I figured he at least ought to be aware of the option. If the person doing the driving really doesn't want to drive into the city, trains running 20 minutes apart are better than no trains.

I don't disagree, but I'd suggested taking the Beltway around to one of the Orange Line P&R stations specifically because the Orange and Silver Lines don't have trackwork this weekend.  If he's as uncomfortable with taking transit as he mentioned, I'd think shorter headways would be better for the anxiety issue.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: 1995hoo on July 08, 2015, 11:31:36 AM
Well, now he has a good analysis of options and can discuss it with the driver.

Edited to add: I haven't looked up whether there's any work affecting the Silver Line, but it occurs to me that the McLean stop is super-easy to reach from the Beltway and has a big surface parking facility (don't know whether it's free on weekends). Going there avoids I-66 traffic.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: Zeffy on July 08, 2015, 12:28:57 PM
Disregard whatever noel said, Zeffy.  He obviously didn't read your stated preferences (avoid buses) or where you're staying (not in PGC), nor does he really know the DC area like Hoo and I do, otherwise he wouldn't make suggestions for movements that in reality lack the ramps to do so (i.e. I-395 South to Exit 1).

Quote from: 1995hoo
Fair enough, but I figured he at least ought to be aware of the option. If the person doing the driving really doesn't want to drive into the city, trains running 20 minutes apart are better than no trains.

I don't disagree, but I'd suggested taking the Beltway around to one of the Orange Line P&R stations specifically because the Orange and Silver Lines don't have trackwork this weekend.  If he's as uncomfortable with taking transit as he mentioned, I'd think shorter headways would be better for the anxiety issue.


Of all transit options, buses are literally at the bottom. Trains are much more preferred than buses, so you can see why I don't want to take the red line. The plan was to catch that line since it was near our hotel, but bleh, it looks like we'll have to transfer lines. I'm okay with walking - I need to do it anyway.  :pan:

Quote
I could also tell you where there are 12-hour parking meters for 25˘ per half-hour, but I don't recommend tourists park there because you have to walk through a very rough neighborhood to get anywhere. I park there regularly to go to Nationals Park, but I know the area and I know which streets not to consider walking down. Under no circumstances should you consider walking downtown from those meters.

I know Southeast DC is the worst place in DC, probably as bad as some of the worst areas in Trenton, but which other areas should we avoid? I believe we'd be out before it got dark out, but I'd definitely like to know which areas to avoid if we do stay a bit past dusk.

To take clueless idiots out of the question, you could take US 1 all the way to Baltimore, get on I-695 or MD 295 to MD 100, over to I-97, and take US 50 west into Prince George's County. The real problems here would be downtown Baltimore...

I'd really rather not ride US 1 through Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. The only idiots I'll deal with is on the return trip, and even then I'm from New Jersey, where idiots are plentiful, so it probably isn't anything we're already used to.

So with the red line out of commission, is it a better idea to leave early to park somewhere in Virginia, and take the orange or silver line to our destinations? I'm looking at the maps on the WMATA site, and I'll admit, I'm terrible at reading subway maps. Or would it be more prudent to find another stop in Maryland?
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: jeffandnicole on July 08, 2015, 01:04:30 PM
I understand you probably don't want to mention the specific hotel, but would you mind mentioning the town you're going to stay in, so us clueless idiots can figure out a better way to get you into the city?
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: Zeffy on July 08, 2015, 01:40:45 PM
I understand you probably don't want to mention the specific hotel, but would you mind mentioning the town you're going to stay in, so us clueless idiots can figure out a better way to get you into the city?

Silver Spring, Maryland is where our hotel is booked as of now. It might be slightly out of the Silver Spring limits, but the general area is the same.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: froggie on July 08, 2015, 02:18:25 PM
Silver Spring doesn't have limits (it's not an incorporated place), and the mailing addresses using Silver Spring stretch well north of the Beltway.  Can you at least narrow it down to major roads?

As for areas in DC to avoid, given your main itinerary, there aren't really any places that scream bloody murder.  DC's poor reputation is just as much talk as it is reality (and I'll go so far as to say that Hoo is overestimating the problem a little).  You should be able to range anywhere from Nats Park to Georgetown to Adams Morgan to U Street to Capitol Hill to Navy Yard without a problem.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: jeffandnicole on July 08, 2015, 02:43:23 PM
The Prince George's Plaza Metro Station looks like it may be relatively close to you.  It's the Green/Yellow lines so they will have the 20 minute headways, but if you're lucky the trains will run about 10 minutes apart, reducing your wait.

Or really, you're probably not all that far away, and can just drive into DC and find a place to park.  Obviously thousands of tourists do it every weekend anyway, so it's not that huge of a deal.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: 1995hoo on July 08, 2015, 02:58:01 PM
I don't believe I overstated anything. I referred to one particular area in which I park regularly that he should avoid because it's a rough neighborhood, but he wouldn't likely go there anyway unless he wanted to use the 12-hour parking meters (if you want to know, it's the area between Buzzard Point and the ballpark—the Syphax Gardens housing project). I didn't say anything at all about any other areas being dangerous. Of course there are some, but tourists would not be likely to enter those areas, so they didn't bear mention. That was one small paragraph of my much larger post.

Regarding Prince George's Plaza—the Yellow Line doesn't go there on weekends. Trains turn back at Fort Totten. The Yellow normally only goes out the Greenbelt part of the line during rush hours on weekdays.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: froggie on July 08, 2015, 06:04:00 PM
Just seemed like you were painting a bigger paintbrush than was actually the case.  I've biked through that area a number of times on 4th, P St, and Half St and never had a problem, though to be fair it was daylight hours when I'd pass through.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: noelbotevera on July 08, 2015, 06:19:29 PM
Disregard whatever noel said, Zeffy.  He obviously didn't read your stated preferences (avoid buses) or where you're staying (not in PGC), nor does he really know the DC area like Hoo and I do, otherwise he wouldn't make suggestions for movements that in reality lack the ramps to do so (i.e. I-395 South to Exit 1).
I only know parts of NW Washington, a little bit more near the Capitol, and a slight bit of VA and MD. But I have a curse of short term memory, and it has been about two or three months. We actually tried driving there on I-395 once, but then forgot that exit 1 was not SB. Oops.

And yep, I am -this- lazy at wanting to read stuff.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: Zeffy on July 11, 2015, 05:44:59 PM
Popping in from Silver Spring. Had quite some fun with the metro system actually, definitely not as bad as I first thought it would be. The red line was pretty vacant from Glenmont (the station we parked at) compared to Fort Totten and L'Enfant Plaza on the yellow and green lines.

It was hot, like really hot so the heat took its toll on both of us throughout the day, plus a lot of the attractions were packed, but we still had a decent time. After tonight we are going into Baltimore to visit the inner harbor before going back into Jersey. I'll update when I get back to my computer and not from my iPhone.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: 1995hoo on July 11, 2015, 09:20:30 PM
Hate to say this, but today wasn't really all that hot.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: Zeffy on July 12, 2015, 06:51:34 PM
Hate to say this, but today wasn't really all that hot.

To each their own, I guess. Humidity and heat just kills me, as I am naturally much warmer than most around me already.



Well, that was a fun trip, and hopefully since I'm working now I can start making more like this one on my own. I'll go through the trip itinerary:

DAY 1
We departed at 6:00 and went to a local McDonalds in Hillsborough for dinner. After spending about 25 minutes poisoning our stomachs, we proceeded down US 206 onto I-95 South. From there, we crossed into Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania, I-95 remained relatively free-flow until we entered Philadelphia. Construction on the highway had caused some congestion which delayed us by about 25 minutes. After that, it was smooth flow once again into Delaware.

Once in Delaware, traffic continued to flow nicely, until the I-295 interchange. I've never seen so many cars who literally are fighting to get over at once. It was kind of harrowing honestly, because we almost got taken out by someone who didn't look trying to get into the lanes for I-495. While I wouldn't have paid the obnoxious toll in Newark, my sister didn't care, and maybe didn't want to drive back roads at night, so we continued south past the toll into Maryland.

Once in Maryland, both of us were thirsty and could use a rest room break, so we stopped at the Chesapeake House rest area. I got to say - Maryland has extremely nice facilities for this purpose. The only thing I disliked was the rather expensive prices ($3 for a soda? Really?), but everything else was fine. There wasn't much to say as we continued south out of the rest area until we entered Baltimore County. As we approached the tunnel, they were doing some construction work, so traffic slowly built up, but not enough to cause any major jams. As we continued through the Fort McHenry Tunnel, there was more road work on the other side of the tunnel, which caused a small 10 minute delay to get through traffic. Ultimately though, the roadwork didn't impact us too hard, and Baltimore is really pretty at night, so I didn't mind staring at it while we waded through traffic. We also got to use the new I-95 Express lanes as we waded through Maryland, another pleasant experience.

Continuing through Howard County, we entered Montgomery County via MD 200 / the Intercounty Connector. It was a pleasant experience to drive the new ICC. It is a rather nice roadway, and the toll prices aren't even that bad. Our exit was US 29 / Columbia Pike, so we didn't have to use the ICC for too long. From there, we zipped around back streets until we got to our hotel. Then we chilled in the hotel room, and went to sleep. Except that soda I drank at 9:00 was too much caffeine and I'm pretty sure I didn't fall asleep until like 4:30, and woke up at like 8. Oh well. I wasn't even too tired when I woke up.

DAY 2
After we woke up, we ended up driving to the Glenmont Station to catch the Metro into Washington. We also were hungry, because the hotel charged $12 for breakfast, which we thought would be complimentary. I've only ridden a subway once before, and I don't remember it, so it was kind of interesting to ride it. Ultimately the experience was fine, except for almost missing the train entirely and nearly getting squished by the closing doors. Don't ask. Thanks to the work on the Red Line, however, we ended up transferring at Fort Totten to the Yellow Line. We rode the Yellow Line, which was way more crowded to L'Enfant Plaza. I also learned that standing up on a moving subway train - is NOT easy...

The station at L'Enfant Plaza is rather nicely built, and we took to the street at 7th Avenue / Maryland Avenue and began to walk towards the Holocaust Museum. Thanks to the humidity though, I started sweating a bit too fast for my own liking. There was not much shade walking down 8 or so blocks, so it only got better once we got into the Holocaust Museum. There was a wait though, so we went to the Cafe in the Museum (or rather, next to it) to grab a bite to eat. After that (about 2 hours), we proceeded onto the next destination. I decided it wouldn't be a far walk across the Constitution Garden / National Mall, and it wouldn't either, except for the fucking sun and humidity making it uncomfortable as hell. There was plenty of tree cover though in some areas, though by the Washington Monument, there was very little. Ultimately, we spent about an hour and 15 minutes viewing all of the monuments in the Garden. The next destination was the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and the walking had killed both of us, so we opted to wait half an hour for the Circulator bus to drop us off where we wanted to be.

After spending about an hour and a half at the museum, we debated going anywhere else, but the walking and heat and taken it's toll on both of us, and combined with my lack of sleep and the fact we didn't know how crowded the Metro was going to be, we decided to head back to Silver Spring and find something for dinner. Most of the restaurants in DC were too pricey for our tastes, plus all we wanted to do was relax. The Yellow Line was PACKED, but once we transferred to the Red Line, there was practically no one on the subway. We ended up pulling back into Glenmont at about 6:30, and from there we went to a TGI Fridays close to us and returned back to the hotel. Then, I ended up taking a shower and watching Storage Wars until I fell asleep at around 12:20.

DAY 3
The final day of the trip, we packed our bags and checked out of our hotel room at about 10:00. The plan was to eat breakfast at an IHOP close by, but the wait time was ridiculous - upwards of 45 minutes. No thanks. From there, we got back onto the ICC to take us back onto I-95 north for our last destination - Baltimore. None of us predicted the traffic from an Orioles game, however, so we had to contend with that once we got into Baltimore City limits. From there, we took I-395 to Pratt Street and found a parking garage in the Inner Harbor area. We walked around for a bit and went to the National Aquarium, and got a bite to eat. The Aquarium actually had decent food, much better than I was expecting. After viewing all the exhibits and whatnot, we left the Aquarium, walked around the Inner Harbor some more, and got back into our car and headed back to I-95 for the trip back to New Jersey.

Heading back up, we encountered some congestion that cleared up after 5 minutes. We stopped at the Maryland House rest area to purchase some soda and use the restroom. Not too far from getting back into the car, however, we ran into some stop-and-go traffic that resulted in about a 25 minute delay. After that though, we were cruising along until we hit the I-295 interchange in Delaware, where I suggested we take that back home. Well, it was a good idea in theory, but...
(http://i.imgur.com/9pRaWw9.png)

...we ended up adding another 20 minutes to the trip. Once past the bridge though, we took 295 all the way back to I-95 South, and from there, back to US 206. Then we went home. Yay.

Here's a summary of some new clinched and partially clinched routes:
NJ - I-295 (clinched)
PA - I-95 (clinched)
DE - I-295 (clinched) | I-95 (clinched)
MD - I-395 (clinched) | I-95 | US 29 | MD 97 | MD 150 | MD 182 | MD 650

I'm in the process of sorting out the photos from the trip. A lot of them are crap quality, thanks to being taken from my phone. I'll post that whenever I get that finished.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: froggie on July 12, 2015, 07:55:12 PM
It's kinda too bad you went back to Glenmont for dinner.  There are scores of decent and relatively inexpensive restaurants around DC (some of my favorite are in Adams Morgan, along Barracks Row, and along H St NE).
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: Zeffy on July 12, 2015, 08:15:31 PM
It's kinda too bad you went back to Glenmont for dinner.  There are scores of decent and relatively inexpensive restaurants around DC (some of my favorite are in Adams Morgan, along Barracks Row, and along H St NE).

We weren't sure which ones were not only close, but cheap and overall a good experience. That's why we opted to go back into Glenmont for dinner. I plan to go back when it's not ridiculously humid and hot out so I can walk a bit more and sample more things.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: NJRoadfan on July 12, 2015, 08:47:11 PM
Looks like DRBA got it on a contract to buy VMSes with the NJTPA, same exact signs and structures..... just painted green. That single lane closure is long term for bridge painting. I had to deal with it last month, but there really wasn't any backup.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: Zeffy on July 12, 2015, 09:00:12 PM
Looks like DRBA got it on a contract to buy VMSes with the NJTPA, same exact signs and structures..... just painted green. That single lane closure is long term for bridge painting. I had to deal with it last month, but there really wasn't any backup.

It's very possible. One thing I noticed though with the DRBA signs is that they don't seem to use the FHWA fonts like the NJTA does:
(http://i.imgur.com/X79L4qS.jpg)

In general, there was a lot of traffic from Maryland northward today. There was much less heading down in Maryland, but it looked like today that was also not the case, with decent amounts of traffic going both directions all the way to Exit 60 on I-295 in New Jersey.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: 1995hoo on July 12, 2015, 09:27:10 PM
Heh, I totally forgot about baseball. Baltimore was hosting, and nicely losing to, the Nationals, so the crowd was far bigger than normal up there due to a lot of people coming north for the day. (Not us. We played golf. May have been a mistake since I felt dizzy and lightheaded several times during the round.)
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: jeffandnicole on July 12, 2015, 10:20:45 PM
The Delaware Memorial Bridge signage is kinda like that kid that wants to act cool by using phrases that were cool 5 years ago.  I believe every time I've crossed into Delaware, one of the signs has stated "Click It or Ticket"...even though there's no Click it or Ticket campaign going on.  And you see above what you get when you enter New Jersey.  Not "Welcome to New Jersey", but rather "Buckle Up America". 

The one lane reduction on the NJ-bound span has resulted in heavier than normal amounts of traffic congestion.  It could be the visual distraction of seeing the towers completely wrapped in scaffolding.  The 1st tower you encounter leaving Delaware was completely wrapped up in white plastic, which was taken down over the past week or so. 

I don't recommend taking 95 toward Philly because of that traffic congestion.  There's almost always some significant delays with that construction zone.  295 in NJ is a much faster route (not to mention higher speed limit).  Of course, if you are wanting to clinch certain highways, I understand the reasoning for taking such a road...even though that congestion will still waste some time.

Quote
Once in Delaware, traffic continued to flow nicely, until the I-295 interchange. I've never seen so many cars who literally are fighting to get over at once. It was kind of harrowing honestly, because we almost got taken out by someone who didn't look trying to get into the lanes for I-495.

You would've encountered the traffic from 495 prior to the traffic from 295, so I think you may have mixed something up here.  And going South, there's no ramp to go from 95 South to 495 North.

I'm guessing you used EZ Pass at the tolls.  Do you recall if the EZ Pass Express lanes were 65 mph thru the toll plaza? 

Highway prices for a soda.  That's why looking for a Wawa off of 95 in Maryland is so worthwhile!

The standing on a moving subway is definitely something that'll catch you off guard the first few times you do it.  Eventually you shift your weight and prepare, although there's always an unexpected jerk or tug that'll catch you offguard.

Which hotel did you stay at?  It should've been in the hotel details if the breakfast was free.  Generally, the higher the hotel is in its hotel chain (ie: Marriott vs. a Fairfield Inn), the more likely the breakfast isn't complimentary.

Baltimore is an enjoyable city.  From a roadgeek standpoint there's numerous flaws, but the city itself is easily walkable with plenty of restaurants and things to do.

How'd you enjoy the 295/76/42 interchange construction?

You will probably have a better time in DC - or almost any city for that matter - in the spring and fall.  I sweat easily as well, although looking at DC's weather on Saturday, it was mid-80's, mostly cloudy, and the humidity was fairly low - only around 50%.  Drinking lots of water and Gatorade helps.  Many tourists aren't used to city conditions, which includes walking long distances on sidewalks, and don't drink enough - or they only drink water, and don't get enough electrolytes.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: 1995hoo on July 13, 2015, 07:29:06 AM
The subway in DC is known for a fairly herky-jerky ride that makes standing somewhat more difficult. The train operators seem largely incapable of stopping the trains in a smooth manner or of hitting the marks on the platform—more than half the time, they'll pull into a station, then announce the train will move, then jerk the train forward two or three times in small amounts. Of course I understand why tourists don't know to expect it, but it still puzzles me how many regular commuters stand up as soon as the train approaches a station and then act startled when the train jerks forward and throws them off-balance.

Last week the trains were extremely crowded in the afternoons, which didn't help either. Thursday I felt like my arm was getting yanked out of its socket as I tried to hold the overhead rail while my wife held onto my other arm for lack of anything else to grab for support.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: jeffandnicole on July 13, 2015, 08:11:35 AM
 
...while my wife held onto my other arm for lack of anything else to grab for support.

 :bigass:
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: froggie on July 13, 2015, 10:41:47 AM
Now that ATC is slowing being rephased in (after being taken out because of the 2009 Red Line crash), there should be improvement on the "jerkiness".
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: 1995hoo on July 13, 2015, 12:40:35 PM
What's interesting is that the 7000-series train that's running on the Blue Line stops much more smoothly even though it's under manual control. I don't know why, but one of the train operators did say it's a much easier train to operate (he didn't explain why and I didn't have time to ask).
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: noelbotevera on July 13, 2015, 01:03:28 PM
A full four months have passed since I've been to DC, and yet, no new orders on older stock are being built. It's kind of needed, given how DC is really touristy. Road-wise, in the DC suburbs, I-270's traffic was horrid south of exit 22. Usually, it is pretty much free-flowing for its entire length. Capital Beltway is full of people who drive WAY too fast for design standards (seriously, on our way home from the Wiehle-Reston E. station (yep, tried a new way into DC other than Shady Grove), there was 3 miles for us to make it to I-270 (coming from around exit 41), we barely missed exit 38, I-270). Hope you had more luck than my family Zeffy, because driving in the suburbs is pretty gosh darn horrid.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: jeffandnicole on July 13, 2015, 01:15:20 PM
there was 3 miles for us to make it to I-270 (coming from around exit 41), we barely missed exit 38, I-270). Hope you had more luck than my family Zeffy, because driving in the suburbs is pretty gosh darn horrid.

What? 

After entering near Exit 41, you literally have to merge over only 1 lane.  You couldn't do that in a 3 mile span?
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: noelbotevera on July 13, 2015, 01:57:42 PM
there was 3 miles for us to make it to I-270 (coming from around exit 41), we barely missed exit 38, I-270). Hope you had more luck than my family Zeffy, because driving in the suburbs is pretty gosh darn horrid.

What? 

After entering near Exit 41, you literally have to merge over only 1 lane.  You couldn't do that in a 3 mile span?
We were somewhere on the right lane (Pennsylvania laws are gonna kill me). Add fast paced drivers to that, then yes, it is a real pain in the neck (seriously, doing that is easier said than done).
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: Rothman on July 13, 2015, 02:36:37 PM
there was 3 miles for us to make it to I-270 (coming from around exit 41), we barely missed exit 38, I-270). Hope you had more luck than my family Zeffy, because driving in the suburbs is pretty gosh darn horrid.

What? 

After entering near Exit 41, you literally have to merge over only 1 lane.  You couldn't do that in a 3 mile span?
We were somewhere on the right lane (Pennsylvania laws are gonna kill me). Add fast paced drivers to that, then yes, it is a real pain in the neck (seriously, doing that is easier said than done).

Huh?
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: noelbotevera on July 13, 2015, 02:48:59 PM
there was 3 miles for us to make it to I-270 (coming from around exit 41), we barely missed exit 38, I-270). Hope you had more luck than my family Zeffy, because driving in the suburbs is pretty gosh darn horrid.

What? 

After entering near Exit 41, you literally have to merge over only 1 lane.  You couldn't do that in a 3 mile span?
We were somewhere on the right lane (Pennsylvania laws are gonna kill me). Add fast paced drivers to that, then yes, it is a real pain in the neck (seriously, doing that is easier said than done).

Huh?
whoops, wrong state.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: davewiecking on July 13, 2015, 07:47:15 PM
Getting on the Beltway at Cabin John Pkwy-Exit 41 (in effective lane #5 at that point), and you need to be in either lanes 1 or 2 (or HOV lane 0 when it shows up) to get onto I-270Y towards 270. More than one lane to move over, but something that thousands successfully do every day. 4 advance HBGS's (HUGE BGS) to warn you in which lane you should be driving to head upcounty. I wouldn't say that traffic is way too fast for design standards, but perhaps fast given the traffic volume, and complete lack of lane discipline by the Nestorers...
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: 1995hoo on July 13, 2015, 09:11:09 PM
I think what I tend to find most annoying at the I-270 exit y'all are discussing is something that happens all over the DC area: People who drive down the two lanes that continue on the Beltway and then slow to a crawl at or near the gore area in an attempt to shove over and cut the line onto I-270. While I dislike tailgating and I normally do not do it, this sort of situation is one exception—if I'm in extremely slow traffic in the lane that's exiting and you're in a thru lane and you try to cut over a solid line because you didn't want to wait on line like everyone else, I will pull up close behind the car in front of me to box you out. This is a different situation from when a lane ends. There it's entirely appropriate and correct to use the entire lane that's ending and merge at the end. But in the Beltway Exit 38 situation, the people are in a thru lane—their lane doesn't end, they just think their time is more important than everyone else's.



Either way, if noelboetevera was coming from the Reston Metro stop, he would have had to have entered the Beltway in Virginia, most likely at either the Dulles interchange (I think it's Exit 45 now? I still think of it as Exit 12!) or Georgetown Pike (Exit 44). True, it's possible he could have gone over Chain Bridge and looped back out, but I find that unlikely, both because it's well out of the way but especially because you cannot legally turn left onto outbound Canal Road/Clara Barton Parkway from Chain Bridge. So if he entered the Beltway in Virginia, the driver would have had a good seven miles to move over towards the left; also, most drivers will have moved at least one lane to the left on the American Legion Bridge due to all the merging traffic coming from the GW Parkway.

But, in fairness, depending on who the driver is, where he's from, and his driving style, the Beltway can be intimidating if you haven't driven on it before or if you haven't done so very often. You certainly have to be prepared for aggressive driving that may be unnerving if you're not used to it.



Hate to say this, but today wasn't really all that hot.

To each their own, I guess. Humidity and heat just kills me, as I am naturally much warmer than most around me already.

....

See, during the summer in DC, it's not unusual to have days when the temperature is in the mid-90s, the humidity is high such that it feels like it's over 100°F, and the air quality is bad so the sky looks hazy and grey instead of blue (the TV and radio weathermen will refer to a "Code Orange" or "Code Red" air day to warn people to limit outdoor activity; there's also an even worse "Code Purple," but I think I've maybe heard that invoked one time at most, if ever). This summer just hasn't been all that bad so far, other than all the frigging rain! It rained again about an hour ago as I type this. The rain certainly doesn't help with humidity. But at least the TRULY super-hot days are rare too (two years ago we had a day when it felt like 121°F).

Saturday wasn't anything like what I just described, which is why I said it was a fairly pleasant day. By that I meant it was a pleasant day considering the time of year and where we are (July in DC). I'll never forget the time it was so hot the day before July 4 that when I was walking from the Metro to my office, I could feel the heels of my shoes—we still wore suits to work back then, so these were hard-soled business shoes—sinking into the pavement as I crossed K Street.
Title: Re: Weekend Washington DC Trip (7/10 - 7/12)
Post by: Zeffy on July 13, 2015, 09:21:54 PM

I don't recommend taking 95 toward Philly because of that traffic congestion.  There's almost always some significant delays with that construction zone.  295 in NJ is a much faster route (not to mention higher speed limit).  Of course, if you are wanting to clinch certain highways, I understand the reasoning for taking such a road...even though that congestion will still waste some time.

Quote
Once in Delaware, traffic continued to flow nicely, until the I-295 interchange. I've never seen so many cars who literally are fighting to get over at once. It was kind of harrowing honestly, because we almost got taken out by someone who didn't look trying to get into the lanes for I-495.

You would've encountered the traffic from 495 prior to the traffic from 295, so I think you may have mixed something up here.  And going South, there's no ramp to go from 95 South to 495 North.


Maybe. Possibly. Definitely.  :ded:

Quote
I'm guessing you used EZ Pass at the tolls.  Do you recall if the EZ Pass Express lanes were 65 mph thru the toll plaza? 

Yep! It was a nice convenience. The AET-gantries are a really nice addition to tolling plazas.

Highway prices for a soda.  That's why looking for a Wawa off of 95 in Maryland is so worthwhile!

Quote
The standing on a moving subway is definitely something that'll catch you off guard the first few times you do it.  Eventually you shift your weight and prepare, although there's always an unexpected jerk or tug that'll catch you offguard.

So I noticed! The Yellow Line was packed though, so I had no choice. I found out the best way to alleviate it is to lean back against the car (I leaned against the map while grasping the pole).

Quote
Which hotel did you stay at?  It should've been in the hotel details if the breakfast was free.  Generally, the higher the hotel is in its hotel chain (ie: Marriott vs. a Fairfield Inn), the more likely the breakfast isn't complimentary.

Baltimore is an enjoyable city.  From a roadgeek standpoint there's numerous flaws, but the city itself is easily walkable with plenty of restaurants and things to do.

We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn. The breakfast was $12 there.

Quote
How'd you enjoy the 295/76/42 interchange construction?

It was nice. There wasn't any backups, and everything is clearly marked, so there's no confusion really.

Quote
You will probably have a better time in DC - or almost any city for that matter - in the spring and fall.  I sweat easily as well, although looking at DC's weather on Saturday, it was mid-80's, mostly cloudy, and the humidity was fairly low - only around 50%.  Drinking lots of water and Gatorade helps.  Many tourists aren't used to city conditions, which includes walking long distances on sidewalks, and don't drink enough - or they only drink water, and don't get enough electrolytes.

Very true. I should've drank more water instead of the copious amounts of soda I drank over the weekend entirely.