Sunday, April 30, 2006
WHERE: Sunday Source's Metro train trip returns to explore the north half of the Green Line's 21 stops, from Greenbelt to Mount Vernon Square/Seventh Street-Convention Center.
WHY: Salamanders in love, the Wright way to fly and masks out of Africa.
HOW FAR: 10.68 miles, or 23 minutes without stopping.
On the Green Line, watch where you step -- you don't want to squish a salamander looking for love. Greenbelt's Indian Creek, the first stop on the Metro Adventure Express, is a hook-up haven for spotted salamanders, who come to the vernal pool ISO a mate. "This is their local neighborhood bar," says Patricia Blankenship, chair of the Citizens to Conserve and Restore Indian Creek. However, the critters are the J.D. Salingers of the amphibian world. Wildlife scouts might have better luck searching the wetlands and enchanted forests for more social denizens: beavers, deer, frogs, turtles, dragonflies. Or, follow the foghorn honks of Canada geese; the loudmouthed birds drown out even the rumble of the train.
To earn your own wings, skip the feathers and upgrade to propellers. The College Park Aviation Museum is floor-to-ceiling flying machines, including the Berliner helicopter (circa 1924), the Cro-Magnon of choppers. For hands-on activities, learn why planes don't fall out of the sky; the easy answer involves a vacuum nozzle and a plastic beach ball. Stay aloft a little longer by piloting a 1911 Model B Flight Simulator ($1 per ride). Soar over fields and lakes until your five minutes are up, or your plane eats dirt.
So typical of the airline industry: The museum doesn't offer food service, not even a tiny bag of peanuts. For a snack fix, disembark at Georgia Avenue-Petworth for the Everlasting Life Health Complex. Touting "food for people, not for profit," the neo-Woodstock store is big on organics and vegan treats (they even squeeze the dairy out of cheesecake). In addition, a handy chart will help you balance your nutritional book. For magnesium, stock up on cashews or broccoli. Zinc: Start popping pumpkin seeds. Zapped of Vitamin D? Snatch a couple of sunbeams, which are on the house.
When the lights come up on Rorschach Theatre in Columbia Heights, you might be tempted to call out, "Amen." The troupe is housed in the Casa Del Pueblo Methodist Church, but its plays can be slightly sinful. In the past, the devil has had a cameo role, and the current Tony Kushner show, "A Bright Room Called Day," dramatizes the rise of the Nazi party. Not exactly your kindergarten Christmas pageant.
Still on a cultural roll? Get smart about African crafts at Howard University's Gallery of Art. The school's collection spans the continent and includes such ceremonial artifacts as masks, healing figurines, fertility sculptures and talisman, some of which have poetic maxims. A bitty bird turning his head toward his tail, for example, nudges viewers to, "Look back in the past to retrieve what is forgotten."
But now, dear riders, it's time to move forward, to your final stop at Hostelling International Washington DC. The dorm-like facility, near Mount Vernon Square, has a lounge area where you can mingle with travelers who most likely came from lands not accessible by Metro. If it's the first Wednesday of the month, venture over to Mayur Kabab House for a night of travelogue telling. When it's your turn to talk, impress the crowd with your Shakespearean story of two salamanders who fell in love in Greenbelt. Andrea Sachs
Metrorail's One Day Pass costs $6.50 and is valid weekdays after 9:30 a.m. and all day on weekends and federal holidays, until the last trains depart. Passes are available online ( http://www.wmata.com/ ) or at the electronic kiosks in all Metro stations.
Road Trip maps are available online at www.washingtonpost.com/roadtrip, as are addresses and hours of operation (be sure to check before you go). Have an idea for a trip? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.