Day 26: Urban Hobo

My Travelon Bag

Dear Reader:

Still babying my foot, I pretty much stuck around Arlington today. It was Tuesday, though. Which makes it allergist day and a trip to the village of Ballston.

Arlington is an “urban county,” and at twenty-six square miles is the smallest county in the U.S. Rather than towns and cities within the county, Arlington is composed of neighborhoods or “urban villages.” Ballston is a business area with high-rise apartments, office buildings, some government offices (the Nature Conservancy has its headquarters here, for example), and Marymount University. And, of course, the hospital.

Virginia Hospital Center

Finding my doctor’s office was easy two weeks ago. Today I took a longer look around the grounds. The neighborhood around the hospital is composed of single-family homes–mostly cute, brick cottages–some with wooden shutters, some with window boxes, most with pretty, cottage garden landscaping. The bus route goes down 16th street, onto Glebe Rd, and in three minutes you can be in the downtown area where you can find shops and restaurants, including an IHOP next to the Ballston-MU metro station.

Sightseeing Essentials

No matter where I go, I take my baby-blue Travelon bag. Here are the essentials for “urban hobo-ing.” A bottle of water. A great bag. A city map. A metro map. A hat and sunscreen in case you want to walk around anytime after 11 a.m. A book. Books come in handy when you waiting the metro and there’s not much of interest to look at. A good book is a welcome distraction when you are waiting twenty minutes for the bus to arrive. Books are a great place to put your eyes when you are snuggled into a crowded metro car and everyone is working really hard not to look at each other. Or at least get caught looking at each other.

Puts the Pocket in Pocketbook

I picked up this bag at Mardens right before our trip to Hawaii a few years ago. After the trip, I stuck the poor thing in the back of my closet and forgot about it. When planning what to bring on this trip, knowing I would be using a Smartrip card, I remembered this gem of a bag and dragged it out into the light of day. Voila! It’s been perfect! The back pocket is large enough for my city map, my Frommer’s guide to D.C. and a novel.

Flapper Chic

The front flap is magnetized to keep it shut and protected even in close quarters like subway stations and crowded museums.

Inside the Flap

Lift up the flap, and you have access to a zippered, see-through pocket where I stash my entry key card, apartment key, and mailbox key. There is an easily-accessed pocket for my Smartrip card. It’s a cinch to lift the top flap, reach in, slide the card out, swipe it, and then slide it back in. Slick! There’s also a cell-phone pocket. Zippers on either side of the cell phone/card area . . .

Safe Room

. . . can be zipped-down to open up a safe pocket for credit cards and cash.

Roomy Storage

Between the leather handles (this thing sports handles AND a strap so you have carrying options) is another large zippered pocket big enough to hold water bottles, a spare book, a folded-up hat and/or small umbrella, maybe even a snack.

I cannot praise this bag too much. I take it everywhere. I sling it across me like a messenger bag when I bike into the city. I slide my arm through the handles and clasp it against my body when I’m at the mall or a crowded area. I let it flap against my hip when I walk down to the grocery store and come back loaded with three canvas bags of food-stuffs.

The Healing Garden next to the hospital

Most apropos to this blog, the bag carries my camera through which I have been viewing this new world. I worry a bit that the camera is becoming a crutch, easing the pain of finding just the right word to describe places like the “Healing Garden” outside the hospital, a place of circular walkways and curving flower beds, a round fountain, colorful annuals, and soothing greenery.

Waiting here for the bus is no chore. Especially since I have a book tucked in my bag to keep me occupied.

6 responses to “Day 26: Urban Hobo

  1. I think your pictures are a good compliment to your writing. Nearly everyone like a well illustrated book–why not a well illustrated blog! 🙂

  2. Well, I do think the pics make the blog more interesting. I love taking the photos, too. Thanks for continuing to read!

    • Leave it to Marden’s to find a great bag!!! 🙂

      • I know, right, Donna? Mardens is the best!! I looked on the Travelon website and didn’t see this exact bag, but some that were similar were on there. I’m glad I have this one. I do need to find some cleaner for it so I can keep it nice. It’s getting a little grungy from use.

  3. It’s so fun hearing about your adventures! That garden is beautiful, and you take such nice pictures.

    I hadn’t realized Arlington was a county. Virginia has a strange system in which cities are separate and distinct from counties. You cannot be in a city and a county at the same time. Currently, cities are not allowed to annex surrounding areas. There’s been a fair bit of grumbling about the situation, as the boundaries of local government fall on lines that no longer make sense.

  4. Julie, that is interesting. Do counties have “towns” with their own governments? Or are all towns governed by the counties they are in? I think I’ll do a little research on this. It’s fascinating. It seems to me that Arlington is a county that is also a city, but I guess it doesn’t have a “city council” but rather a “county government.” From what I can tell so far, this is a very progressive place. They’ve done alot with trying to become a sustainable city. Lots of talented people here. I’m pretty impressed.

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