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    Driving Around
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  • Published: Feb 9th, 2008

I’ve been in Washington, D.C. for a couple of weeks.  While this is not my first time in the city, it is my first time staying for any length of time.  It’s a great town, with lots, and lots to see.  It’s the seat of democracy for the United States. 

However, I have been almost driven to the brink of total insanity because I’ve had to drive to many of the places I need to get to in D.C.  I’m a New Yorker, born and bred – and for my money, there isn’t an easier city in the world to get around.  Everything is lined up in a nice grid.  Numbered streets travel up and down, avenues go across.  You’d be hard pressed to get lost in NYC.

Washington D.C. is another matter altoghter.  It was designed by Pierre Charles L’Enfant the same man who designed Paris.  The city is designed on a grid, so to speak – with numbered streets going one way, avenues going another, and other avenues going on diagonals, intersecting with grand plazas, circles, and goodness knows what else.   You can find yourself driving down one street, discover you can’t make a right turn (whoever heard of not being able to make a right turn on a street), find yourself driving three more streets down to make the right you wanted a mile back.  One would think it would be a simple matter of making the first available right turn, then making another right to go back to where you wanted to be in the first place.  Oh no – that would be way to simple.  Instead you find yourself endlessly going down one way streets, making bizarre u-turns, only to find yourself hopelessly lost and driving around Dupont Circle with no way off the circle.  It’s crazy.  As if this wasn’t enough to make your head turn like the excorcist child – they change the directions of the streets during rush hour.  Need I say more???

What’s the craziest city you’ve ever had to travel around in?

8 Responses to “Driving Around”

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  1. Kim
    on Feb 10th, 2008
    @ 6:40 pm

    Oh Maria! You know, DC actually sounds like it set up a lot like my town. We’ve got one-ways, dead ends, no turns and rules for certain roads at certain hours. AND just to make it a little more of a mess, they’re building a super new highway that’s going to cross 2 or 3 counties! Craziness? Definitely!

  2. Buffie
    on Feb 10th, 2008
    @ 7:41 pm

    Hey, Maria, at least the streets are not all named the same. Ever driving in Atlanta — there are hundreds of streets called Peachtree. It can get really crazy if you are not from around here. Construction here is non-stop. Those orange cones are always somewhere on the interstate.

    I hope you make it home safely and with some sanity left!

  3. Gannon
    on Feb 11th, 2008
    @ 5:39 am

    As far as insane driving goes, Naples, Italy is in a class by itself! We lived there for two years, and I count myself fortunate that I being killed in an accident! The Italians are laid back about almost everything, but driving is not on that list. But I figure now I can handle driving just about anywhere!

    Picture a four lane road, that during rush hour becomes six lanes of traffic! Good thing the Italians drive tiny cars! Mamma mia!

  4. terrio
    on Feb 11th, 2008
    @ 9:44 am

    I have been to DC just once and travel around it from time to time but I never want to drive right through it. I’m sure I’d never survive. The traffic on the interstates around the city already drive me bonkers. Pittsburgh does that “change the direction of lanes during rush hour” thing. I don’t like driving in downtown Pittsburgh and I lived there for four years. My sister is still there and I just avoid it whenever possible.

    Driving in Nashville is what convinced me to wear a seat belt at all times as those people are crazy. But here in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area, we have that roads named the same thing going on. There are at least three or four Princess Annes and then you have Chesapeake Blvd which is not in Chesapeake, Deep Creek Blvd which is not in Deep Creek. You get the idea. I can travel from my house to the beach on Mount Pleasant, North Landing, Princess Anne, and General Booth Blvd but in the entire trip, I never turn off the same road. It’s crazy!

  5. Keira Soleore
    on Feb 11th, 2008
    @ 11:43 pm

    Driving in Asia is a case of hit-n-miss. Street signs? Who knows. Traffice lights? Who cares? And then there’s the unprecedented view of a cow placidly settled in the middle of this busy street, and every driver accomodates it without harming a hair on the cow’s head.

    Congratulations on the reason your were D.C. Hope it was a success.

  6. barbara_bergin
    on Feb 12th, 2008
    @ 9:51 pm

    You’re absolutely right about D.C. I lived there for a year. Fortunately my apartment was on a bus route that took me directly to my office on…Dupont Circle. And D.C. is doubly difficult because none of the buildings are taller than the capitol building so you can’t get your bearings based on a skyscraper.

    But it is a grand city and the massive hulk of buildings that define our great country’s government seat make me proud.

    Barbara Bergin
    author of “Endings”

  7. Melissa
    on Feb 14th, 2008
    @ 4:14 am

    Atlanta is probably way worse. Most of the streets are one way, but then they also try and number the streets which doesnt actually go in order so 14 in not next to 15. You have a time and a half trying to get around to the High Museum since it’s not in the middle next to the underground.

  8. MaryKate
    on Feb 18th, 2008
    @ 7:17 pm

    Geez! I skipped the blog for a week. Maria, I *LIVE* in DC and work downtown. Are you still here??? If so, we need to get together for a drink, girl!


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