Taking The Scenic Route


May 14, 2012, Washington, DC: We don't have all day, at least most of the time. And then there are days like Saturday when, well, we do. Do you take the scenic route then or do you mindlessly race from point A to B out of habit? Several years ago, a police officer stopped me in Melbourne, Australia and wrote me a ticket for crossing an empty street during a red light. On foot. My instinct was to apologize and tell him I was in a rush. As soon as I said it, I realized I had nowhere to be for more than a week. He asked where I was from. I told him New York.

Nowadays, I try to remember to go slowly when I can. It remains the best way to see a city, even one we see every day. On Saturday, we spent the morning milling about around Eastern Market, running into friends and chatting outdoors. The walk morphed into one of those runs around the Capitol and the Botanic Garden, the kind that includes stops and starts for phone calls and photos.

Later, we left home at 2:30 p.m., our only goal to be at a friend's house across town three hours later. We usually get there in 15-20 minutes and instead we took all afternoon. We pedaled bikes down to The Wharf to catch the American River Taxi. We enjoyed a leisurely boat ride out of the Washington Channel, around Hains Point, and past the memorials up the Potomac. We disembarked in Georgetown and walked two miles, through the waterfront park where kids ran through the fountain, uphill and through hoards of shoppers on M St., and across the university campus as parents helped their children move out for the summer.

On those rare occasions when you've literally got all day, I highly recommend the scenic route.

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