Where in Maryland is…?

Chronicles of life between DC and Baltimore

On Saturday, I drove to Bethesda for a 9 am car appointment, at which point they told me to come back when the car flashed a message that I needed a service.  Because I do mostly highway driving, this could be at 8,000 miles.  I also learned that my car tells me what the tire pressure is, making my previous attempts to check it with a manual gauge, largely useless.  I quipped that this was the first time I had a car that was smarter than me.  While there, I had them fill my tires with air to bring it up to 35 psi, recommended during winter.  The service agent sent me to Starbucks for a gingerbread latte while I waited.  Bethesda is nice — really nice.  Not at all like College Park, which, barring the lush, green University of Maryland campus grounds, is flat, crowded, and even dingy in certain parts.

I had a few hours to kill before lunch in Ellicott City.  So I went shopping at Wheaton Mall, close to Silver Spring, bought jeans at Express and boots which actually fit my legs at Macy’s for cheaper than Zappos.  I’m starting to see the issue isn’t so much the width at the top as it is the width through the ankle and leg.  Plus, “knee-high” boots on me don’t really come up to my knee, so they don’t actually hit the widest part of my calf.

By now, I was running late.   I programmed the Ellicott City address in my Navigator but it gave me some odd instructions to pursue internal highways.  I though this can’t be right, pulled into a really residential area, and asked someone who seemed to be working in the nature park how to get to I-495/95 towards Baltimore.  He pointed me in the right direction, and after a while, my GPS adjusted to give me expressway directions.  With all this turning around, I seem to have hit some gravel, and my car felt a bit bouncy.  I thought I could have a flat tire.  But my fuel was low so that could have explained it too.  I pulled off into an exit into a residential street and checked.  There seemed to be no problem.  I kept driving.  It seemed like I was out in Duluth, GA or or in the depths of Eagles Landing [btw, the video is hysterical] — lots of trees and really big houses.

Life in suburban scapes comes with its pros and cons, much like living in the city.  I’ve lived in London twice, the first time just off Waterloo Bridge.  This is not advisable, not only because it was allagedly the hotbed of the Russian mafia, but because I had to walk to walk all the way to Covent Garden for a teeny tiny Tesco Metro or Sainsbury’s.  The second time, I lived at Canada Water, and greatly enjoyed my proximity to Super Tesco, which was literally in the backyard of my flat.  This area and Bermondsey was about as quiet and residential as it could get, while remaining affordable and close to central London.  Both were areas where imperial ships used to dock with goods from the Americas (timber from Canada, hence Canada Water) and India.  It was a 15-20 minute Tube journey to Bond Street, a trek I made often for shopping!

This is the view of Super Tesco from my London flat. I have better photos of this view, just not digital. I just wanted to highlight the nearness. The tall buildings in the background are Canary Wharf.

In Boston, I lived not so much in the suburbs, but at the the extreme outskirts of the city – one year in Brookline, and the next year in Somerville.  Neither are Boston proper.  It would have been amazing, ideal, and expensive to live just near Fenway Park.  Without a car, if I’m not a 100 metres from a grocery store, I apparently don’t buy groceries.  Throw in the snow, and forget it.

The nice thing about Somerville is the small specialty stores. This place had the best cheese and great wines at affordable prices.

I think there’s always a tension between “Where’s my Target?,” my huge grocery store, and ample parking and . . . nearness to the city.  Having a car largely solves these problems.  That’s how I lived in Atlanta, and I enjoyed every minute of it – being able to work and hang out in the city, but being able to come home to a quiet place where I could pick up all my essentials at the local Publix without stress.  Because let’s face it, New York is the only city in the U.S. with really good public transportation.  DC is good, but it covers a small geographical area.  I’m enjoying exploring the area, particularly as Maryland destinations often figure into “Bones” episodes,as the fictional Jeffersonian is based in DC – Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Silver Spring, Friendship Heights!  I know exactly where all these places are now.  As for where in Maryland I am, that changes every few hours 🙂


3 thoughts on “Where in Maryland is…?

  1. The service agent sent me to Starbucks for a gingerbread latte while I waited.

    There’s a Starbux near the car servicing? Nice.

    Oooo there’s an Aeropostale at Wheaton Mall.

    I programmed the Ellicott City address in my Navigator but it gave me some odd instructions to pursue internal highways.

    Did the GPS ask if you wanted the fastest route? Or any other options indicating that you may like a scenic route? When I was driving back from DC a few years ago, I hadn’t paid attention to the implication of the question about if I was pressed for time. Thus, the GPS instructed us to take a scenic route…which was indeed scenic and also a bit creepy. —Narrow road flanked by farmland—

    I think there’s always the tension between “Where’s my Target?,” my huge grocery store, and ample parking and . . . nearness to the city.

    …where’s my option of three different Starbuxes to go to… There are places in Atlanta that promote and sustain no-car or minimal car usage: VA Highlands and Decatur. I would like to include the Midtown environs of Ptree Street between Spring Street and Ponce de Leon in there too, but the ample parking isn’t so ample.

    Furthermore, what VA Highlands and Decatur have that those Midtown areas do not is a more solid community identity. Sure, many of the people that purchase goods and use services there are passing through and may live outside-the-perimeter, but if you take them out, you’d just be losing customers, not residents.

    Because let’s face it, New York is the only city in the U.S. with really good public transportation.

    I agree completely.

  2. I need to see if I can program my GPS to give me expressway routes.

    Btw, Maryland drivers are SLOW. I don’t understand why people drive at 60 in the left lane. If you drive at 70 in Atlanta on the left lane, people will give you dirty looks. You better be driving 80 to drive on the left lane!

    I also forgot to caveat my post with the fact that I was comparing largely OECD/developed country cities, and scenarios which apply to most walks of life. Everyone goes to Target.

    The scenarios would vary significantly in Chennai, where given socioeconomic status, I’d likely have someone to drive me around and even buy groceries for me, or I’d go get them at corner shops and vegetable stalls for cheap, or larger grocery stores.

    And in Nairobi, where I’d no doubt have to have a car, need to learn to drive right-steering on the left side of the road (I had a dream about this), and go buy my own groceries.

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