Today’s travel tidbits:
- The motel has a do-it-yourself waffle machine.
- Cheapest gas: $1.99 in Laurel, MD. Prices increased to the south.
- To Maryland drivers, honking is equivalent to foreplay. The tone is closer to the gentle “pip” == “excuse me” you’d hear in Seattle than the naked aggression of a gristly New York cabbie.
- I didn’t have my camera or cell phone with me today because the secret facility I visited this morning prohibited them. Even in cars. (There were no car inspections, so I don’t know how they would enforce this otherwise.)
- The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum has the original Apollo 11 capsule and SpaceShip One.
- If you park on Independence Avenue at 3pm and deposit $2 in the meter, the meter will show you have two hours. 3pm + 2 hours = 5pm. However, your car will be towed between 4:30 and 4:40pm. (The signs are confusing.)
- Most unusual question received by DC’s Finest: “What area code is this?” (These three digits are essential to dialing the number from the non-cameraphone.) I suppose it would have been worse if we asked him: What year is this? Where is Sarah Conner?
- It’s very noisy calling from the side of the road like that. Listening to ten minutes of stuff about driver’s licenses and social security only ratchets up the stress. Pressing zero, *, # repeatedly will eventually yield a helpful message indicating the office is closed. “Office hours are 9a-5p, Monday through Friday.” Yaaah, thank you for that valuable information.
- If you can resist hanging up, throwing the phone or generally making the situation worse, The secret Towing Number is revealed thirty seconds later.
- The car was reparked with a $100 fine (pay by mail please). Our map was still in the car.
So, while there are some cool landmarks, my experience has been soured by the aggressive enforcement of poor signage. Even after the reality set in that the car had been towed, we still took several minutes to figure out why. In teeny tiny print, the meter indicates parking until 4pm. The three signs 20 feet away offer a confusing array of arrows and contradictions.