The TripTic said “take Exit 43, George Washington Memorial Parkway.” At Exit 39, the GPS said: “In Point Five miles, turn right onto Cabin John Parkway.” It beeped. How nice, a shortcut around the hellacious traffic. We turned. The lights of the Beltway fell behind us. Ahead, all was dark. It was raining, somewhere between a drizzle and light rain. One or the other, who can tell?
Suddenly a ship sailed out of the night, black sails spread wide. Glowing letters on her bow read Marie Celeste. The road was dark, and lined with dark, wet trees. There was very little traffic.
Ahead, our lane was blocked. We could only bear left, watching for traffic coming from Maryland or Virginia. We turned. We came to a fork in the road. We went right, and the signs said: Clara Barton Parkway.
“Cabin John Parkway,” the GPS Lady said. “In Point Five miles, continue right on Cabin John Parkway. So we did. The road was dark, and wet, like black glass. Five planes lumbered overhead, propellers laboring. Navy planes, Avengers I think. We came to a barrier that sent all traffic to the left. We came to a fork in the road. We took the left-hand way, and entered the Clara Barton Parkway. Still raining.
The GPS Lady identified Cabin John Parkway once more, and directed us to turn right onto it. We turned. The dark closed in. There were no lights behind the trees, no houses, no streets, no exits. There were no deer crossing signs, but Judge Crater rode by on Shergar. The road ahead of us was still closed, so we turned left and drove uphill, in the dark and the drizzle. We came to a fork and turned right. Clara Barton Parkway.
“In Point Five miles, turn right onto Cabin John Parkway.” We turned. We saw no cabins. There were no lights, but only the wet blacktop, fringed with wet trees. Another plane drummed over, a Lockheed Electra, the kind Amelia Earhart flew. Well, we were expecting to be near Reagan Airport. Onto the Clara Barton Parkway once more.
“In Point Five miles, turn right onto Cabin John Parkway.” The men carrying the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders must have gotten the same message from their GPS.
“In Point Five miles, Cabin John Parkway, turn right. Beep.” But we pressed on to Exit 43, scooted across a dozen lanes of Beltway traffic, and went on to Arlington via the George Washington Memorial Parkway. We circumnavigated the hotel four times, found the underground passage into the parking garage, figured out which hotel we were checking into, walked around the block, crossed the street, crossed back across the street, crossed another street, crossed the Hyatt lobby, went down two escalators—and made the World Fantasy Convention in time for the Ice Cream Social.