Gravelly Point

October 23, 2006

he said, (17 days ago)
If you ever fly to Washington National Airport (Reagan, not Dulles or BWI), then be sure to have a window seat for the River Visual Approach. For landing, be on the left side for the view of downtown D.C. But be sure not to stand up during the approach or you’ll be considered a terrorist.

Oh, at the end of National Airport’s runway is Gravelly Point, which is where you take your date after hours to make out on the river as deafening airplanes land on top of you.

So, Sunday I cycled the [more than] Four Mile Run to Shirlington and from South Arlington up along the river, crossed the Key Bridge into Georgetown, and made my way to Dupont Circle. I took the Mount Vernon Trail around National Airport, and I must say Gravelly Point can be stunning in the day as well:

You pass a small dock and parking lot before you break out into this vast open field that overlooks the Potomac and monumental D.C. on the other bank. Pedal traffic on the trail is brisk and children on the field fill the aural void between landings with their spirited play.

As you round your bend, the aircraft rounds its river run, aligning you both in a sort of post-9/11 catharsis, and you have to brake to avoid collision with awestruck pedestrians paused mid-path with their own premonition of collision. When you’re a pebble’s throw from the safety decal on landing gear still in-flight, do you have the cerebrum to resent the media-frenzied image of your generation?

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