Sunday, September 27, 2009

Talk To Me, Shirley!

Day Six: Friday, Sept. 11, 2009

Point of Rocks to Washington DC

Would you believe the day again dawned cloudy with the threat of rain? I'm beginning to see a pattern here.

While the innkeeper Chris was preparing breakfast we took some time to explore Laurel Lodge.

Can you see why we liked it so much? Dave really liked the jar that was kept filled with cookies for guests.



The view from the back porch was incredible. If you looked really close you could see the Potomac meandering through the valley. Because the house was situated on the edge of a hill/cliff it was almost like being in a treehouse. Do you think they would let me move in? I would bake cookies for the cookie jar in the foyer. I promise.


It was time for breakfast and it was well worth the wait. We even had two courses. That was one more course than any of the other places we had stayed at that week. I think we all agreed that this was the favorite B & B of the trip. Thanks, Laurel Lodge.


It was time to head for Point of Rocks. That morning, yesterday's decision to ride that extra 12 miles seemed like a very wise choice. If it rained the way it was threatening to that morning the ride today could be slow and muddy.

Are you tired of unloading bikes yet, Dave? I know I'm tired of watching.


Some last minute adjusting was done.


As the bikes were being unloaded and adjusted Chris was giving Rosy and I some last minute instructions. We were nervous about today's trip to DC. Until today we really hadn't seen much traffic and keeping two cars together had been relatively easy. But today would be a different story. Shirley, our GPS's, had been reliable. They didn't always agree on the same route but when my Shirley was forced to follow Rosy's Shirley my GPS had never failed to adjust. Chris said we would have to bear right two times but other than that it should be an easy drive into the city. I'm counting on you, brother, to be right about this. We don't need any surprises today.

Directions were given and bikes and riders were ready. It was DC or bust!


Hey, do you guys need a Shirley? There seems to be some confusion on which way you're going.


That way. Jack is going that way.


They're off!


Hold on. What's that, Chris? "We're going the wrong way. We're supposed to be heading in that direction." Someone better stop Jack or else he'll be in Pittsburgh before he knows it.


Looks like all of the guys are headed in the right direction so now it's time for Rosy and I to fire up our GPS's. It seems like there may be a problem. Both of our Shirleys are saying that there will be a toll road involved. Chris didn't say anything about toll roads. We both had I-Passes. But the question was did they work where we were going? We didn't know. My I-Pass has worked in Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, and soon-to-be Ohio. But here? We both agreed if for some reason we got separated we would just continue on by ourselves. We were sure we would both eventually end up where we were supposed to; The Hilton Garden Inn in Arlington. We were off. But, unlike the boys, we started out by going in the correct direction.

While we made our way to Arlington the boys were exploring White's Ferry. There used to be 100 ferries operating on the Potomac; this is the last one still in operation and is still quite busy. The guys in the photo had also started riding from Pittsburgh the same day we did. Periodically the guys had run into them on the trail. They would see them one more time this day near the end of the towpath.

whites ferry, 9.11.09

Rosy and I had made it to the tollbooth that Chris hadn't told us about. We had decided earlier that we would just go through the cash lane and if our I-Passes worked it would flag us through. As we got close to the toll booths I realized I didn't have exact change and couldn't follow behind Rosy who was in the exact change lane. No worries, I just got in the lane next to her. Or so I thought. When I came out of the other side of the tollbooth (our I-Passes did work) Rosy was nowhere to be seen. Okay. Just drive slow and she is sure to catch up. No Rosy and now I have come to a split in the road. Right? Left? I don't know. Talk to me, Shirley! No response. All I could think of was Chris saying you will always go right. So go right I did. When Shirley started to recalculate my route I knew I had chosen wrong. I didn't know it at the time but Rosy saw me driving off in the wrong direction but there was nothing she could do about it. I didn't have time to ponder my dilemma because I immediately faced another split in the road. Which way? Talk to me, Shirley! No answer so I choose right. She recalculated which means I had chosen wrong again. Thanks, brother. I had a beautiful drive into Arlington and without much trouble found the Hilton. As I circled around the block for the second time looking for the entrance who should drive through the intersection in front of me but Rosy! We both had made it. We found out later we had driven into Arlington from two different directions.

As we made our way to Georgetown to look for the end of the towpath the guys were making their way down the towpath. Their next sightseeing stop was Great Falls Park.

great falls, 9.11.09

Many people consider the Great Falls of the Potomac to be the most spectacular natural landmark in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Here, the Potomac River builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through the narrow Mather Gorge. This dramatic scene makes Great Falls Park, located just fifteen miles from the Nation's Capital, a popular site with local residents and tourists from around the world who are visiting the Washington area.

The falls consist of cascading rapids and several 20 foot waterfalls, with a total 76 foot drop in elevation over a distance of less than a mile. The Potomac River narrows from nearly 1000 feet, just above the falls, to between 60 and 100 feet wide as it rushes through Mather Gorge, a short distance below the falls. The Great Falls of the Potomac display the steepest and most spectacular fall line rapids of any eastern river.

great falls, 9.11.09

The guys were somewhat disappointed. The falls weren't falling. Chris had been there just a few weeks before and said the falls had been spectacular. This just means we'll have to go back.

The guys had one more bit of sightseeing to do and then it was the final push for the end. And what was that last bit of sightseeing? It seems this had reared its ugly head again.

the rock, towpath, 9.08.09

Yes, Dave hit another rock. This time he flew off sideways and landed in the bushes with his bike on top of him. His friends were useless because they were laughing too hard but some guy on his way to his fishing spot heard the commotion and came running to help. He pulled the bike off Dave and was the one who kept asking if he was okay. Is there anyone out there watching out for my husband? Laughing while he is laying in the bushes? I am shocked. I would have at least waited until he was back on his feet.

Meanwhile Rosy and I had found the towpath in Georgetown and were making out way toward the end. We kept counting down the locks knowing we had to get to Lock One. As we walked closer to the end we came upon this:

georgetown, md, 9.11.09

We found out later that at certain times of the year this boat is in operation. They even use mules to pull the boats just like they used to. Today, obviously, it wasn't in operation. Another reason to go back.

We walked just a little further and look what we found:

georgetown, md, 9.11.09

The end of the towpath! After 332 miles we had found the end. Now we just had to wait for the guys. As we walked back up the path we ran across two very muddy, wet guys with bikes. So we asked them, "Is this really the end of the towpath?" They assured us it was. They told us that they weren't riding the distance they did without going to the very end. They had started the day in Harpers Ferry and said that it had poured. We told them our guys had started 12 miles further down the trail and were hoping they had missed the rain. They assured us the guys were surely as soaked as they were.

When we saw the guys later that afternoon we asked the how wet they had gotten. They hadn't. They had managed to avoid the rain the entire day.

As we continued on my cell phone rang. We had service and it was Dave. I excitedly told Dave we had found the end of the towpath and were waiting for them. "Do you see the stone monument with a zero on it?" Noooo. We have a problem. We weren't at the end. What to do? There were no signs directly us from that spot. Luckily Rosy had remembered seeing a visitor's center so we made our way there. The girl in the center confirmed what Dave had told me. We hadn't found the end. We got directions and continued on our way. I have to say this was very poorly marked. There was nothing to indicate where to go. After crossing roads, under bridges, through a park, a shopping area and around and behind a boathouse we finally found our final destination. We needed Shirley. Those poor guys we had met earlier. They never did know that they hadn't biked the towpath to the very end. Maybe it's just as well.

We called the guys and gave them the directions as best we could and settled in to wait. We would spend an hour standing and watching from this spot. We weren't going to take a chance of missing their grand entrance.

end of towpath, georgetown, md, 9.11.09

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