Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Not Just for School Kids

Late Friday Hubby and I decided to go into Washington, DC to visit some of the Smithsonian Museums on Monday. The thought of driving 45 miles through weekday traffic did not appeal to us at all, however. With a little research, we learned that Virginia Railway Express (VRE) has a line between Fredericksburg and Union Station with several morning and afternoon trains. “Great!” we said. “Let them do the driving.” Being novices at riding commuter rail, we decided it would be wise to purchase our tickets and check out the nearest station on Sunday afternoon as all the trains leave the local station to go into Washington before 7:30 AM. (Being more of a night-owl, I don’t function well at those early hours!) More research revealed we could purchase “senior citizen” tickets at half price. (That was good news. Who doesn’t want to save money these days?) The next hurdle was to locate a ticket vendor who would be open on Sunday afternoon as the commuter rail stations are open only on weekdays. We found one there was one in Fredericksburg, so after church we headed out to get some lunch and to purchase our tickets. After that we found the train station and checked out where to “validate” our tickets to actually ride the train. Sunday evening we found our backpack and selected a few “necessary” items to take along—camera, ID, VRE schedule, map of the National Mall area, camera, a snack (in case of low blood sugar), water, cell phones, and a few grooming items (girls need such things). We figured we’d look like school kids lugging around a backpack, but we needed to have those items with us. We decided to swallow our pride and look silly for sake of convenience. Monday morning Hubby woke me well before my body wanted to be awake and I stumbled through getting dressed. We ate a quick breakfast of cereal before grabbing our backpack and hopping into the car for the ride to the train station. We found a parking spot and headed for the waiting platform. To my surprise, we saw many people with backpacks. Well over half the people waiting had backpacks plus others had large tote bags or computer cases—even a few with wheels and handles. Soon the train arrived and we boarded. We had a relaxed and easy ride into Washington—no traffic to deal with. Actually, I don’t know why anyone wants to drive in day after day. The cost of the ride was no more than what one would spend on gas, not to mention parking and the aggravation of bumper-to-bumper traffic enroute. We had a wonderful day exploring three of the Smithsonian buildings—and we saw more people there lugging their backpacks. A little after 4:00 PM we caught the train back ahead of the rush of late afternoon commuters with their backpacks and we enjoyed another hassle-free trip. I think it’s safe to say,“Backpacks aren’t just for school kids anymore!”

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