Sunday, October 13, 2013

Furlough Run on the National Mall

I went on a very slow 5-mile  "furlough run" yesterday on the Mall to see all the things that are closed. Nobody bothers you as you run on the pathways, although signs do announce the area is closed and direct you to not enter. 

There are barriers in front of Lincoln so you can't go inside that, the same with Korea, and Washington is closed anyway due to the 2011 earthquake. Nobody prevents you from filing by Vietnam or seeing its statue, or entering WW2 by its side entryway. 

None of the Museums are open, of course, and the Carousel is silent but I think it would be closed for the season anyway.  The water fountains that aren't broken still work.   My favorite pocket park is passable and apparently still maintained.  

(Running through the Pocket Park last spring with friends from work.)

After drinking my morning coffee and a full bottle of water I felt the urge so I entered the Capitol's Visitor Center (the Main Hall is closed), saying I was going to the House Gallery, and used its restroom. In answer to my expressed hope that two Capitol Police officers I passed were getting paid one said, "No sir" and her companion added, "We will though, eventually." (I translated this to, "We're working for free for now going on half a month.")

In the Capitol, I got on an elevator with two young women who pushed the button and we started ascending.  I said, "We found something in Washington that works!" which they thought was so funny that they said they were going to tweet it. 

A section of Capital Hill was closed as they fixed the raising street barrier which got destroyed in last week's tragic car chase.  I told the standing-by Capitol Policeman that I thought the force did a great job in that incident from what I have seen in various accounts (and from what I know and feel as being a former police officer) and he seemed to appreciate that, or at least he acknowledged my statement.

Everyone was unfailingly polite and the tourists I talked with were cheerful enough, and I also ran into some running friends of mine from my old running club who I hadn't seen in a long time (one looked at me wonderingly when I hailed her until I called out my name at which point she said, "Peter!  The beard, I didn't recognize you.") .  That would be my furlough beard, starting to come in thickly now in the 13th day of being out of work with no paycheck coming in to enable me to pay my bills.

It was a lazy, stop-filled fun run and I didn't even notice that it was lightly raining much of the time.  There are worse places to be than dysfunctional Washington D.C.

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