Bucket list ideas: Cross the Potomac; belly up to the Bard


Max and Pat Christopher drove across every bridge that crosses the Potomac River. (Courtesy of Pat Christopher)
John Kelly
Columnist May 21, 2012

It’s called a bucket list: the things people vow to accomplish before they kick the proverbial pail. But life goals needn’t be too dramatic. Last month, I wrote about a Washington lawyer who vowed to swim in all 50 states before turning 50 — and did it — and I invited readers to send in their own goals and accomplishments. I’ll be sharing them over the next few days.

Some may seem challenging. But some are downright achievable. Read about them, get inspired and share your own goals at washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.

John Kelly writes "John Kelly's Washington," a daily look at Washington's less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section. View Archive
Bridge work

Around here, we cross the same stretches of the Potomac over and over again. But the river is 383 miles long, and there are more ways to cross it than just the Woodrow Wilson or the 14th Street Bridge. About 20 years ago, Max and Pat Christopher of Gaithersburg decided to cross it everywhere you can.

Well, everywhere you can do it by car, foot or regularly scheduled ferry. They didn’t bother with the 17 railroad crossings. They utilized all 30 road crossings, took White’s Ferry from Montgomery County to Loudoun County, and even walked over the Potomac via the footbridge for Appalachian Trail hikers near Harpers Ferry, W.Va. And of course, they’d already ridden Metro’s Blue, Orange and Yellow lines.

“It made wonderful weekend outings for us,” Pat said.


Lucy Gallimore was studying English at the University of Tennessee when she became smitten with the Bard of Avon. (Courtesy of Lucy Gallimore)

They did it over the course of about six months, starting close to home and moving west. The source of the Potomac is at the Fairfax Stone in the mountains of West Virginia. The river empties into the Chesapeake at Point Lookout.

The Christophers’ favorite bridge was the Oldtown Toll Bridge, a one-lane bridge near Paw Paw, W.Va. It’s the last private toll bridge across the Potomac and can only be crossed at low water.

“There’s always a little diner you can have lunch in, some rocks to look at,” Pat said. “In West Virginia, we found a coal seam along the road that we followed. We were exploring.”

Max passed away in October, but Pat will always have the memory of the bridges they crossed together — in life and over the Potomac.

The play’s the thing

There are a lot of reasons Lucy Gallimore loves the work of William Shakespeare. The main one, she said, is “the way he gets inside people’s heads.”

She means the way Shakespeare gets into his characters’ heads, but the Bard of Avon certainly got into Lucy’s head, too. She has seen stage productions of all of Shakespeare’s 37 plays. All 17 comedies, all 10 tragedies, all 10 historic plays. (Well, actually she saw a production that combined the three parts of “Henry VI” into one, but we’re still going to give it to her.)

“He really speaks to thoughts and emotions that are universal,” she said. “I love his language.”

It should come as no surprise that Lucy was an English major. It was at the University of Tennessee that her love of Shakespeare was kindled. She traveled to England the summer before her senior year and got to Stratford-upon-Avon. She didn’t have tickets for the show in the Bard’s birthplace, so she stood in line hoping to snag a seat.

“The people there were so kind,” said Lucy, 68, of Burke. “When they found out I was from America, they said, ‘Go to the front of the line.’ ”

Lucy was able to tick “The Comedy of Errors” off her list.

She’s seen performances in Oregon (“The Tempest”), Colorado (“The Taming of the Shrew”) and Washington, where she and her husband are regulars at the Shakespeare Theatre.

The well-known and the obscure: “Timon of Athens,” “Troilus and Cressida,” “Coriolanus.”

Lucy’s favorite? “Probably ‘Hamlet,’ because my favorite quote of all time comes from ‘Hamlet’: ‘To thine own self be true . . .’ That’s kind of what I live by.”

She waited years to see her final play — “Henry VIII” — then found out she had missed a performance by a week. “I hadn’t read the notice in the paper. Then when it popped up again, I said, ‘Okay, unless I’m practically dead, I’m going.’ ”

She snagged “Henry VIII” on Nov. 14, 2010, at the Shakespeare Theatre. Her quest was done. Lucy always said she wanted to see all of Shakespeare’s plays before she died, and now she had.

“I was almost afraid to see the last one,” she said. “But I’m still alive, obviously.”

To read John Kelly’s previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/john kelly.

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