Two Down, Three to Go
As I see it, an aging suburban Virginia baseball fan has five ways to get to Nationals Park: (1) from Virginia, take Metro to the Navy Yard; (2) ride Nats Express from RFK Stadium; (3) Anacostia Metro Park-and-Ride, with a quick trip to Navy Yard; (4) take Metro to a Blue Line stop such as Capitol South, with a short hike; or (5) park up on Capitol Hill, with a long hike.
The two methods I've tried -- taking Metro to Navy Yard and riding the Nats Express -- were pleasant experiences, and I'm hoping the other three will be as well.
I rode Metro from Virginia to the Navy Yard for the Saturday exhibition, and it was a breeze. Of course, arriving three hours early for an under-attended exhibition is probably not the acid test. It did teach me, though, that the Navy Yard station is well-run, with helpful attendants. It's significantly smaller than the cavernous Stadium/Armory stop, so expect to rub elbows with a lot of fans. As I'm sure you've heard, the ballpark exit escalators will be heading UP ONLY before games, and DOWN ONLY after games.
If you're fighting the tide, walk a couple of blocks up M Street to the distant entrance, or face the wrath of Metro. It's a short walk, and you can see the development in the immediate vicinity. For thirty years, the neighborhood was a disaster; it now looks like it could be a real hot spot, like the Penn Quarter. But I digress. . . .
The Nats Express was a breeze. Once the snow plows cleared a spot on Sunday night, we walked by the many happy tailgaters toward the stadium, where six tour buses were waiting. Nats employees counted the number of people to fit on each bus and quickly ushered us in. We sat for no more than three minutes. The bus then slipped onto the Southwest freeway and whisked us to Third and M.
The Nats attendants were incredibly friendly (and so was I), but that led to some grumbling when we got a welcoming speech upon arrival at the park. I think that everyone assembled knew that the big collection of lights, flags and Secret Service agents were decent clues to finding the stadium, but our unnamed "ambassador" took no chances.
Neither of the games so far was typical, and I suspect I got a distorted view of what awaits. But at least I know how to find my way around the obvious options.
I'm eager to try driving to the Anacostia Metro stop and use my mega-cool Nationals Metro SmarTrip card For those of us who feel like we have to drive, that parking lot -- within one Metro stop of the game -- offers a great compromise (at least on paper). If anyone has tried it, I hope you'll leave a comment and let me know how it was. Next Wednesday night will be the test run for me.
Later in April, I'll try leaving the car at my Clarendon office building and then take Metro to Capitol South. The walk from there to the ballpark looks scenic [read: ugly], but should only take about 12 to 15 minutes. On a crisp spring night, that will probably be the perfect solution.
And if I need a ride home, maybe I can catch one with Ryan Zimmerman. He's on record as being a big fan of his Clarendon neighborhood, and that makes us neighbors.
What do you mean, you doubt he'll give me a ride?. . .
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