Key Bridge, Washington DC (north walkway)

Monday, January 17, 2011 |

It's back to Key Bridge in Washington, which we walked across back in June, but this time we're going over the north-side pedestrian path. Have you ever gone over a bridge one way, and then coming back have it seem like a totally different experience, with different views, etc? Well, Key Bridge was like that for me, with views up the Potomac River and into Georgetown this time rather than down river to the monuments in DC. But I think there was more to it than that.

The last time I walked across, it was in June, a nice early summer day for Washington DC, about 90 degrees but with low humidity. Lots of people out using the pedestrian path. This time it was about 40 degrees out and, following a whole lot of days with freezing temperatures, the river below had a nontrivial layer of ice on it. There was no water movement on the surface, although it was clearly not "frozen over." I don't know if it's true or not, but I've heard it said that the movement of water below a bridge causes the brain of somebody looking down to have to keep re-equilibrating ever-so-slightly to keep balance, and causes some people dizziness or distress. I will say that looking down at ice seemed a lot easier for me than looking down at moving water. So, just like a walk down through the same nature trail must be a different experience every time, certainly for those who are into that sort of thing, so can be a walk across a bridge.

Proof that it was a layer of ice down there, a boat that I believe is called an "air boat" went up and down the river, under the bridge, while we were there (see photo above right). It kind of skimmed along the surface and was propelled, it would appear, by a powerful looking fan. Could be fun. Probably some serious wind chill, though.

So, a third of a mile walk across the river, then a third of a mile back. Not too long fortunately, given the cold. Maybe about 80 feet in the air. Nice wide sidewalks and high, though open, railings. I'll give it a lower scariness rating than going the other way, a 9 in total, because of the ice. So I guess it gets a rating of 3.5 for height, 1.5 for length, and 5 for width (those open railings), and a (seasonal) adjustment factor of -1 for the winter ice. I may have to check this side of the bridge out again after the thaw. But there will be more people out, and other things will probably be different, too. Never the same experience.

For more information on the bridge itself, see the previous post.