Diversions come in all shapes and sizes. The key is to expect the unexpected and roll with it. This is a story about the best laid plans going awry and the fantastic result.
Last year, I gathered a group together to celebrate Judy’s birthday at Bobby McKey’s, a dueling piano bar in National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Knowing that drinks — many of them — would be in order, we decided driving was out of the question.
Now, a little geography lesson for those not familiar with the Metro
DC area to put this story into perspective. We live in Alexandria, Virginia, in what we like to call “Old Town Adjacent.” That is, we’re a short walk from
historic Old Town Alexandria, a cornucopia of cool shops, pubs and
restaurants. It’s history traces back to Colonial times, when it was
a major trade center on the Potomac River. Across the river lies
National Harbor. With it’s 180 foot Ferris Wheel (called the
Capital Wheel), hi-rise hotel and conference center, and modern
mixed-use urban development rising out of former swampland (and soon
to have an ultra-modern MGM resort casino), National Harbor stands in
sharp contrast to the quaintness of Old Town. Linking the two locations
is the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge, greatly expanded in the 2000s.
Fortunately, there is a water taxi the runs regularly between the Old
Town Alexandria waterfront and National Harbor. For our return
trip, we planned to use Uber, a car sharing service that is growing by
leaps and bounds in many large cities. It’s particularly helpful
here, since many Maryland taxis won’t take fares into Virginia,
since they’re not allowed to make pick-ups in Virginia.
We had a blast with our friends, drinking, singing and making fools
of ourselves for four-plus hours. When it was time to leave, we
stepped outside into the still summer air and pulled out my phone
to use the Uber app and got…nothing.
My phone was dead.
Diversion! We decided to take advantage of the beautiful night
and walk home…across the bridge, which is always something we had
wanted to do.
It was a long walk. The bridge span, not counting approaches, is
just over a mile long. But there is something particularly romantic
about strolling across a bridge span as midnight turns to morning,
even with cars whizzing by at 60 mph (don’t worry, there are safety
barriers between the roadway and the walkway). The lights of
Alexandria and of DC farther in the distance dazzled. We craned our
necks as the occasional 737 or regional jet airplanes soared over
our heads on final approach to Reagan National Airport, making us
dream of trips to come.
By the time we got into Virginia, our feet were killing us, and we
hailed a local cab for the balance of the trip.
But we didn’t regret our decision. We got to experience something —
together — that few people do while they speed along on their
GPS-guided path. Diversions are about taking the time to try
something new and experiencing our world in whole new ways. Try it sometime, you never know what you may experience, and life should always be about experiences.