Sallie Twentyman, Vienna
DG: Metro cars trap odors. Once upon a time, it seemed like a great idea to have carpets and padded seats. Metro was designed to draw drivers to transit at a time when the car was king. The idea was to create an environment that would resemble the interior of a car.
Metro does periodic cleanings of the carpet. But imagine how your wall-to-wall would hold up if you held an open house for the neighborhood every day. I think this is one more area where the designers of the system failed to envision the day when it would no longer be young. Heat, humidity and rain bring out the worst in the car interiors. Some riders are more sensitive than others to the interior smells. I’m only moderately sensitive — no allergies — but I’ll board a train at the front or the back, where the newer cars are located. The new cars on order will be of a radically different design inside. No more carpet. No more padded seats. They will strike many riders as more utilitarian, but they should be less odiferous.
After I printed a letter about vacation driving routes to New England [Dr. Gridlock, May 30], many readers wanted to join me in playing travel agent.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
A reader from Rockville asked about alternate routes to Cape Cod, and I would like to add to your advice. First, from Rockville, the best way to the Pennsylvania route you describe is Interstate 270 North to Frederick to Route 15 North to Harrisburg, Pa., where he can get on Interstate 83/81 North to Interstate 78. Rather than going north to Interstate 80 while in Pennsylvania, I suggest staying on I-78 East into New Jersey and then taking Interstate 287 North. The reader could then continue on I-287 to the Tappan Zee Bridge. Somewhere between the intersection with I-78 and the bridge would also be a good halfway point to spend the night, particularly up near the Hudson. There are lovely places on either side of the river.
Colleen Moore, Gaithersburg
DG: I’m reluctant to send drivers west before returning them east, but many travelers have endorsed Moore’s route to Frederick and Route 15.
It’s a scenic route up through the Catoctin Mountains, and it skirts Gettysburg before moving on to Harrisburg. It adds some miles, but if you’re retired, like the Rockville couple who are on their way to Cape Cod, or you have an extended summer vacation, this may be the route for you to avoid Interstate 95 and some of the heavy traffic near New York.
Try the ferry
In my summer travel suggestions, I sometimes mention the ferry between Lewes, Del., and Cape May, N.J., as an alternative route to New York and New England. But here’s another voyage you could try.