Detour: Washington D.C., MD

Sunday, July 16, 2017 (Day 74)

I rose early in anticipation of the train. Also the porter, who came around to unlock the waiting room doors and empty the trash bins. They did not seem to mind me much. I spoke to a local who said I needed to order the train ticket online or by phone. I used another hikers phone over coffee, wrote down my confirmation number, and was ready to depart!

Arriving in Union Station was like arriving at a town mall; bustling with travellers and neon-signed vendors and specialty shops and shoe-shiners, cafes and buffets.

I exited quickly, in search of a T-Mobile. I had roughly two hours to procure a phone and return to Union Station to catch the only train back to Harper’s Ferry.

I glanced at my hand scrawled notes, trying to make sense of the curving streets and correlating signs and the quadrants by which D.C. is organized. After some wrong turns and kindly received inquiries, I found myself at the store front.

New phone, new plan, confirmation of qualification for promotional deal, blah-blah-blah…and done!

I had 15 minutes before the train departed. I hopped on the free public transit that pulled up just as I was exiting the store. well that’s a good sign, I thought. I ordered a train ticket online as the street car pulled towards the station. I hopped off the train and ran. Right, down the stairs, to the left. Wait. Stairs? No stairs? How do I get down. I turned in a circle frantically. The descending escalator was wrapped in caution tape. For a brief moment I considered trying to run down the ascending stairs. No. No, that would be foolish. I turned to security “How do I get downstairs?”. He pointed to an elevator. I hurried over. Someone at the far end of the floor was making their way over as well. As a group, us elevator riders waited. Finally, the door closed. I shot out for the exit that led to my desired train. The pole and ribbon roped line-former was empty. I tried running through its guided formation. The Amtrak employee said “Hurry, no time, go under”. I did, all the while knowing what would happen. My sleeping mat caught beneath the ribboned barrier, pulling me backwards. I was stuck. The employee came to assist me. I made it through and was running towards the train, when I was stopped by the manager. It was preparing for departure. I was too late. The doors had closed. Technically, the train left one minute early…

So…looks like I am in D.C. for the night.

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