Aging and All Those Airplanes

On Friday, Shawn and I took our first trip to IKEA as a couple. It was relatively uneventful. We pretended to pee in all the fake toilets and generally looked so at-home in the fake rooms that people started asking us for directions. Any arguments we had were minor. I mean, I was totally right about which plates were the best, but since they technically belong to Shawn, I allowed him to make the final call.

Anyway, the trip was actually frustrating for another reason entirely. It had been years since my one and only previous visit to an IKEA, and the store was not quite as TOTALLY AWESOME as I remembered. I have been dreaming of a round bed ever since I pranced by one in an IKEA circa 2006, but in 2016 there was no dream furniture item and slightly less prancing.(Ok, maybe there was more prancing. Growing up is overrated.) As we left, I said “Hmm, I don’t think IKEA is as exciting as it used to be.”

“Or are we just not as easily excited?” Shawn replied. We both sighed at this commercial representation of our declining vitality. (Since I’ve been instructed to include a Princess Bridge reference in every post: life is pain, highness. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.)

The snazzy modern furniture in the snazzy model rooms had lost their magic, and I couldn’t help but focus on the creepy pictures of random families hanging on the fake walls. I mean, who are those people? They don’t look like professional stock image models. Why did they agree to have their pictures put in IKEA? Did someone just google “pictures of families” and print them out on computer paper? Are the subjects of these photos customers? Employees? Does IKEA force their employees to have their photos hanging in the store? They even had an ultrasound picture! (There was a $3.99 sticker on the frame, so I assume someone is selling a highly discounted fetus.)

…Umm, I don’t really know how to transition from discounted fetuses… Is that an airplane?

IMAG0088 (1)

That probably is an airplane, if you are at Gravelly Point Park, which is a nice, wide-open space bordering the runway of National Airport. To get there, I suggest taking the lovely bike/walking path along the Potomac called Mount Vernon Trail. It has the perfect balance of tranquility and feeling like you’re going to die by falling off a rickety wooden bridge or colliding with another biker when you go through a narrow underpass.

The DC skyline – Gotta love those height ordinances!

Being a real, fancy writer, I did my research about this place after-the-fact. Unsurprisingly, most people on tripadvisor were very satisfied with their visits to Gravelly Point Park. Some, not so much. For instance, BCTravel091 had other ideas of what she/he/they would find there instead of “no beach just grass covered and some dirt.” I am really sorry that BCTravel091 has yet to find the elusive “close in place to tan” but I’m not sure why there was some expectation of Gravelly Point having a beach. After all, it’s not called Sandy Point, and a beach on the Potomac sounds like a great way to kill a bunch of tourists by making them think it’s ok to swim through the toxic sludge.

BCTravel091 also writes “Lots of planes overhead which is cool if that is what you came for.” …That is what I came for, BCTravel091, and it was cool. I also came because I have become a lazy slob and needed an excuse to go for a bike ride (shout-out to Conte’s Bike Shop for making this possible by fixing my wobbly front tire).

Poor little planes who will never grow up to be as big as the jumbo jets.

Moving on: OverPackd (packed so much he no longer had space for an e in his username) says “I’ve been running straight through Gravely Point ‘Park’ without stopping for 5 years.” …Wait. Hold on a minute. 5 YEARS OF RUNNING WITHOUT STOPPING!? HOW HAVE YOU NOT FALLEN DOWN DEAD?! DON’T YOU NEED REST?! ARE YOU MAN OR MACHINE?!  …Also, I’m slow, and I rode a bike through the “park” in about 2 minutes. How have you not made it to the other side yet? Are you sure you’ve been running “straight through”? How slow are you running?!? Has someone called the World Record Book?

Anyway, Packed-Too-Much had a few complaints about this “park.” She/he/they said “It’s an ok place to watch planes take off, but that said, its not really a peaceful place to hang out or have a picnic, being that there are jumbo jets flying overhead every 15 seconds.” In response, I’d like to say: “OK place to watch planes take off? It’s a pretty GREAT place for this kind of activity!” But I hear what you’re saying (though not well, given the noise from the jumbo jets). Of course, I’d rather have a picnic with jumbo jets flying overhead than try to sleep in an apartment that was built directly in the take-off path. Might as well use this space for something. Also, watching the planes fly low overhead provides an extra adrenaline rush when you realize that you are standing in a place where you probably have the highest chance of being hit by an airplane. (At least, from what I’ve heard about airplane crashes, I’m pretty sure a few hundred yards from the end of the runway is not the safest place to chill.) If I were on a 5-year, reallyyyy slow run through a relatively barren park, I’d probably get bored and start making up games for myself where I imagined the planes were chasing me. But that’s just me. You, OverPackd, have probably reached that elusive runner’s high/nirvana years ago and don’t need any mental games to motivate you.

This is the photo that got me put on a watch list.

Packing-It-All-in  also had a few words to say about the amenities at Gravelly Point. This is where we learn that the quotation marks around “park” are due to the lack of water-fountains (or the presence of “NO WATER fountains”). It seems that parks = water fountains. While I never thought to define parks in this way, I agree that an urban space full of runners (especially runners who haven’t stopped for 5 years!!) could be well-served by the addition of some watering holes. I would donate to a Put Water Fountains in Gravelly Park SuperPAC (I assume projects like these are SuperPAC-funded in the Washington metro area). While water fountains are a definitive feature of parks in Sir/Madam-Packs-A-Lot’s opinion, it appears the presence of port-o-potty’s are a big turn-off. Unfortunately, for once in my life I did not actually have to pee, so I cannot refute his/her/their claim that “they’re yucky.”

Last but not least (well, maybe least) in the “poor” and “terrible” ratings, we have a man who called Gravelly Point an “Awful spot”  and managed to also dis a local kickball league he once played in (and was probably kicked out of for attitude problems). “First of all that league is a joke,” he says. (BURN), “but what really set it apart as all time bad was using Gravelly Point as its location.” (DOUBLE BURNNNNN.) We can all thank Mr. Pessimism for his warning to “get ready for BUTTLOADS of mosquitos and chiggers and the like.”

I don’t believe any mosquitos or chiggers or the like got into my butt, but I’ll go check and get back to you. Until then…

This post was sponsored by Bertha’s Mussels

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