Day 7
October 13th, 2004
King of Prussia, Pennsylvania

Just like I promised I slept in today.  I was up early but drifted back to sleep, I wanted to enjoy the morning.  It felt good not to be rushed to go anywhere.  I finally got out of the bed about 10am.  I don't have any bad habits to support by rising early, so I took my time.

I called downstairs and was granted an extended checkout.  I wanted to run, but NOT on the rickety treadmill, instead I took the elevator down and went out on the streets for a 3 mile run.  The weather was cool and cloudy, good running weather.  I logged 3 easy miles out and back, on a crowded business parkway near the mall.
On the way in I stopped for a granola bar and Diet Dew.  

When I returned to the room, I took a shower and starting packing.  If not for the luggage cart the loading would have been a pain.  

"On your way back south Mr. Boutin?"  The desk clerk chimed as I dropped off my key.  "Matter of fact I am,  see y'all on my next trip through."

The 1300 fired right up and I swung my leg over.  The weather was cloudy and cool again, but nothing like a few days ago.  I layered a sweatshirt under the Roadcrafter.  I funneled the 1300 to 78 and went 495 to join the mayhem on I-95 South.  Just like yesterday the interstate floated me over the ghettos and row houses.  I was riding along looking inside the second floors of the nearby tenements.  The feds brought 95 right through the neighborhoods if they had to.  The unlucky ones were the jokers that weren't bought out, and had to stay.
I skipped gassing up, I still had a half tank.  I wanted to wait till I cleared the city.

I-95 is ugly, just no other way to put it.  It is 4 lanes each direction of dirty cars, dirty landscape, and dirty talking motorists.  I eased to the far left and pointed the 13 south. 

I paid my tolls into Delaware, and a few minutes and miles later I was in Maryland.  I stopped at the Chesapeake Service Center for gas at the Exxon and a bowl of red beans and rice from Popeye's.  I had to skip the fried chicken.  My hope is to return home with a minimal weight gain, I'd be happy if I only picked up 2 lbs.  I know I have to be good now, because its going to be really hard in the Blue Ridge.

For the first time this trip I remembered I can access weather and news using my phone's browser.  Cingular has a nice multi media deal bundled with my phone package.  I lifted it from the table and worked the buttons, and wala!  Real time weather radar for the area!  Weather scan had light rain a little south of DC but nothing serious.  Technology is wonderful, I cursed myself for forgetting to use my phone for other than talking and a alarm clock.  I was almost finished when a text message came in from one of the guys at work.  He wanted to know where I kept the stats on the food budget.

Traffic increased proportionally the closer I came to Baltimore.  I had to make a call on what to do when I reach the city.  I-695 around? Or take 95 through the center?  I had to throw the dice.  If the traffic is backed up 695 is the way.  I reasoned it was close enough to rush hour, so took the by pass.  

The loop around the city is long, add 30 miles if you take it.  Today I should have followed my instincts and sliced right through.

I left Baltimore and was in DC so quick, I thought I was teleported.  I dutifully got on the Beltway to begin the long trek around the District.  A light rain began to fall, just where the radar said it would.  Traffic began to build, and soon I was in a stop and go shuffle. 
At exit 7 I noticed a mangled, black crotch rocket, on the side stand.  The owner was nowhere in sight.  He obliviously leaned the exit too hard and the wet, oily surface that lurks on such ramps, made him pay.

The interstate peeled away from the beltway and I stayed on 95 South to Lorton.  Been this way so many times I can do it blindfolded.  I bolted for the HOV lane when it came into view, and zipped past snarling rush hour traffic, saving myself about 30 minutes.

I took the Lorton exit in the late afternoon light, and rode up Silverbrook Rd to my brother in law's home.  I've always enjoyed stopping in when I'm in passing through.  I enjoy my niece and nephew, and David and Cathy are great hosts.  I even have the code to let myself in the garage.  

Michael and Megan are in the yard playing, and freeze when they see me ride up, comleting a 198 mile day.  They run to me and help bring my gear inside.  I'm immediately asked the kind of questions only kids ask.  "How long ya stayin?  Lets go get some cookies, take me for a ride."

Once inside I relaxed with family.  We had a nice steak dinner and conversation.  David's house has all the stuff a Long Rider needs.  Big screen TV, surround sound, computer access, my own bath, comfortable bed.  Doesn't get any better.

In the Northern Virginia suburbs, everyone goes to bed early.  Most of these folks work 60 hour weeks, and that's not counting commuting time.  These people are on their way to work at 6am, leaving any later and you won't make it in the office till after 8.  I took a glance out the window, and the houses were dark and quiet.  
David and I watched the debates and when they were over I planned my strategy for next days ride.  If the weather is bad ( guessers say its possible) I will lay over a day.  A rain squall is 500 miles west of North Carolina.  I f I can beat it, I'll shoot for Gatlinburg, using the same route as always.  If nothing else I can aim for Roanoke, stop for the night as it passes over, then finish up on Friday.  Always good to have options.  

With that settled, I checked email ( about 80, most of it spam) and surfed the net.  I went to bed about 12 looking forward to the next day.