Driving down 395

Today, I took a wrong turn on the way home from work and ended up at the mixing bowl.

I found my way back home to Arlington by taking I-395 and I found it a most interesting stretch of highway. First, can I say how cool it is to be driving on mile 0 of a highway. In order to get to mile 0 of I-66, I’d have to go all the way to Straussburg, and for I-95, I’d have to go to the North Carolina/Virginia border.

For the first two miles or so, construction was taking place on the highway so everything was relegated to one line. Why don’t they do their construction at night (as in between midnight and 6 AM)? That’s an interesting question that perhaps someone should investigate. Maybe someone at NBC 4 News wants to incorporate it into the traffic report?

Between miles 2 and 3 there was a sign that said “Speed limit enforced by aircraft.” No, I am not making that up. And here I thought, the GW Parkway’s policy of radar enforcement was a little excessive. It doesn’t strike me as cost effective to build an entire set of radar speed detectors when you can just station a police car along the highway, so you can imagine my feelings about using an airplane to detect speeders. How the hell is an airplane going to identify your license plate? I think that must have been a joke, or maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me.

Exit 5 (the exits and miles coincide) is King Street which happens to hit Route 7 at the one point in its entire stretch where there isn’t traffic congestion. When people say they hate the traffic in Northern Virginia, they’re usually just talking about Route 7.

Exit 6 is Shirlington Circle, which could make for a great amusement park ride, if it weren’t a highway ramp.

Around Exit 7, I started thinking about those Yellow Cylinders that line the off-ramps. You know, the kinds that you also see at construction sites that are made of plastic. Are those to cushion the impact if a car goes out of control and crashes into one of them? I think that if I was swerving out of control on I-395 and there was absolutely no way I could avoid a car crash, I think I’d just aim straight for those plastic cylinders, because it kind of looks fun. It looks like go-karting.

Around Exit 8, the new Air Force Memorial by the Pentagon comes into view. So does the Navy Annex. I keep hearing it is going to be torn down but I hope not.

If you take Exit 8B, 27 East, you come across what I believe to be the most beautiful view of Washington D.C. on the Virginia side. You gotta sneak a peak quick because it falls out of view as you turn past Columbia Pike.

I didn’t get off there, though. I went straight for the GW Parkway at Exit 10. To get to it, you get off at the left lane. The left lane, you say? Yes sir. It’s one of those little pranks that the highway planners must have pulled on us when they were building the highway and for that reason most people never get to the left lane in time.

If there’s a theme to this article at all, it’s that driving is always an adventure. Even if it’s in your hometown, driving is a great way to learn about the nature of a place.

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