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Mount Rainier Rental Car, Here I Come

Mount Rainier Maryland -

This morning I’m picking up a rental car. Until now I’ve gotten around Mount Rainier, Maryland, and throughout Washington, DC, by bicycle and by foot. It has been a badge of honor, one I wore for 22 days.

Given the day, I’ve walked miles from Maryland into the city, miles from bus stops to the house where I’m staying, miles from this destination to that. The nearest buses don’t follow posted schedules and instead arrive when they like. Sometimes the bus is an hour or more late.

Walking into the city, waiting for the bus, and riding the bus are complicated by other factors. People. As a single female, I get catcalls, hoots, hollers, and prolonged visits from groups of guys who want to “chat.” Civic-minded folks on the streets caution me to be careful. I’m told to “be careful!” ten or more times a day. Rarely do I come home after dark, as the two-mile walk from the Metro stop to Mount Rainier (when the bus doesn’t come) feels unsafe. In some ways, I felt safer during my solo weeks in Guatemala, one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

Bluebell, the bike I’m borrowing, has been my transportation alternative. The bike is a rusty, crusty Free Spirit from the ’70s if I had to guess. It’s stuck in one of its three gears, and it squeals each time the pedals rotate. I’ve ridden Bluebell to the bus stop, coffee shops and grocery stores in Hyattsville, and seemingly every possible location downtown. We’re tight, Bluebell and me.

But even Bluebell has her limits. For example, DC has its share of what I’ll call “bike-hostile” streets, busy downtown thoroughfares with no bike lanes and drivers with no patience. I expend two kinds of energy on Bluebell: (1) physical energy to get her going and (2) mental + emotional energy to deal with weaving cars, parking cars, angry drivers, drivers on cell phones, traffic circles, one-way streets, streets that turn into highways without warning …

I’m not abandoning the Metro, the buses, the walking, the cycling. But enough’s enough. Rental car, here I come.

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