Sunday, May 12, 2013

From the Metro to the C&O Canal

A smoking cab driver with lots to say took across the Bay Bridge to the outskirts of Annapolis. It's idyllic in and around the Academy. However, The pastoral agricultural scene on the other side of the Chesapeake Bay has given way to Metro DC. Annapolis reminded me of reaching Danbury, Connecticut where it appears idyllic and green, but the driving style becomes aggressive and impatient and that if a bicycle is present it may slow things up. On this trip I have found the suburban driver to be among the most impatient. So much time spent in the car getting to and from.

Too close to DC for comfort.

I made it to a town called Bowie and Camped in a forest full of curious deer. In the morning I rode as far as I could into the District then took the Metro which should  have been fast but for a three hour wait to let the rush hour get over. The Metro workers were among the least helpful people I've met on this trip. I asked about attitudes of metro people from a Retired Lt Col I would later meet cycling. "I've lived in both NYC and DC and there is no comparison. NYC folks are much more pleasant...they will look at you. Here, people are looking down."

It was a warm sunshiny day. I took few pictures and made my way towards the Potomac and the C&O canal path. The path was busy with folks who made their way out for the day to run, skate, walk or cycle. No touring cyclists the first ten miles of this winding canal, dreamed of by George Washington but ground broken by John Quincy Adams in 1828 ....but by 1850 railroads had made this an impractical system of lock houses, locks, mosquitoes and mud.

Six guys in ages ranging from early boomer to late boomers with shiny bikes and expensive equipment were just starting out making the trip from Georgetown to Pittsburgh. The rains of recent days had left the path fairly muddy. The paces varied. In the next twenty five miles I would be asked by various of these riders if and how long ago others had passed. Towards sunset, one early boomer appeared to be interested in pushing the group onward to Whites Ferry where I would eventually spend the night.

Luckily, I did just that because the heavens opened and further messed up the trail. I decided I had experienced enough of the trail and wanted a non-mud route. I had seen turtles sunning themselves, great gray herons, deer, snakes, enormous carp sloshing in the muck of the canal. It was good for 35 miles but no more given the extra miles, mud and lack of services.

Whites Ferry is Just that. Mr.White operates the last of its kind and his employees take you on a ferry attached to a wire and a tractor to save thirty miles. No bridge, and people in these parts--although close to DC--like it at way. Except with flooding today there is no I go towards Winchester Va.

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