Thursday, June 09, 2005

Dependent on a PC in DC

The six in my family recently went on a weekend vacation to Washington with Mike and Linda and their two children. The ten of us decided it would be better to rent a van so we could all drive up there in the same vehicle. That decision alone made the weekend a great time as we split the driving responsibility and didn't have to worry about keeping up on the interstate and in the madness that is DC traffic.

To help even more, I took my laptop with my trusty mapping program with built in GPS capabilities. It saved our bacon once or twice. We were able to find upcoming reststops and restaurants while on the way there and back, which was nice with the collection of under-sized bladders in that van.

However, our dependence on the computer came back to bite us on Friday night. We were hungry after spending all afternoon on the Mall. We wanted a nice dinner, preferably steak. I input all the information in the computer and we decided to try out Don Shula's restaurant. Off we went with visions of dining on giant porterhouses in a great football themed restaurant.

However, in our first time driving IN the city (the hotel was in Arlington with a Metro stop just two blocks away), we ran into trouble right away. Mike went the wrong way out of the hotel and had to do a three-point road turn in traffic. Then we missed the very first turn and went entirely in the wrong direction (note the initial blue line away from the green).

We soon came to realize that DC must have passed some signage laws that rival Statesville's. If there was a street sign at all, it was located in several different places and never in the same place from street to street. Even the major highways are not well-marked. To make matters worse, several streets run either on top of one another or very closely parallel. When those two considerations meet - that meant we missed the turn. And we missed many.

We spent a lot of time on M Street. We saw the Watergate Hotel at least four times. We saw all four sides of the Kennedy Center. We saw parts of Georgetown that we did not want to see.

Take a look at the map above (you can click on the map to enlarge it). The GREEN line is the direct route from our hotel to Shula's. The BLUE line is the route we actually took. We were all laughing pretty hard except for the wives - they were fairly put out with out attempt at masculine trailblazing.

Finally, after about sixty minutes of driving all over DC, we pulled up beside Shula's. We then realized all that driving was for naught because even if we could find a parking place among the limos and Lexuses (Lexi?), they wouldn't let us in the fancy restaurant with our sandals and shorts. We later found out that Shula's is one of the five best steakhouses in America.

Have you ever just felt defeated? That was us. We decided to go the Outback route and there was one about 3 miles from our hotel. We winded our way back there but were told it was a ninety minute wait for a table (which means we would've been eating right then if we'd gone there first!). By this time, we were ready to dine on gum and poptarts and call it a night. It looked like our dreams of steak were shot.

But right beside the Outback was a Thai restaurant so we ordered some takeout, took it back to the hotel and ate out of the containers with borrowed plastic forks from a nearby pizza restaurant.

Later, the men redeemed themselves. On the way home, we found a McDonald's off the beaten path for some early morning coffee and then finally got that steak on way home (thanks to the computer and Ruby Tuesday and a side-trip of about 4 miles).


Mike Cline said...

I was glad to be a part of this fiasco of male determination. Yes, the wives were hungry but the men were on a mission to prove our true masculinity by NOT asking directions. Besides, we had snacks in the motel room. So Jeff, call me the next time you want to hone your skills of navigation, I will again gladly be your driver.

Bruce Roberts said...

Hey, is this a foreshadowing of our upcoming trip to Pittsburgh? Is it still upcoming? You guys got me all jazzed up for this thing, it's already on my Outlook Calendar, don't back out on me now. We probably should make some definite plans. Hey, let's bring Mike along.