Thursday, September 15, 2016

Colored Lights below Dupont Circle

On Sunday I was in DC to meet with DCUE for another photo session in the trolley tunnels under Dupont Circle, but on my way down I had to stop first at The Pure Pasty to grab lunch. They had just opened and as I walked through the door the aroma of freshly cooked pasties wafted about me,  my mouth watering instantly. This tiny bakery come cafe, owned by an English guy, cooks the best ever traditional Cornish pasty this side of the Atlantic. I smiled at the sign on the counter, "Don't tap on the glass, you'll scare the pasties."
Lunch was about 5" long and packed with ground beef, root veggies and plenty of pepper wrapped in a rich flaky pastry. It was a heft package but was delicious and well worth the wait. I'm lucky if I get here once a year, it's a battle against traffic to reach this haven of goodies, which in hindsight is probably a good thing as far as my waist is concerned.
Later in DC I was surprised at the lack of crowds and wished I'd driven in rather than using the metro. Being the 9/11 anniversary there had been a marathon run in the morning and would be other events taking place throughout the day. I'd seen folks at the metro with flags draped around them or wearing patriotic colors to show their allegiance. I was expecting hoards of people and traffic but the city was relatively quiet. I got off at an earlier stop on the metro so I could walk a mile to Dupont Circle.
  I came across this magnificent building and had to stop and take photos. Heurich House, or The Brewmaster's Castle, is open for tours but reservations need to be made so I'll have to put that on my 'to do' list. It looked amazing inside too from the website photos.
 This interesting mural was across the road, called The Toy Theatre by Peter Waddell. More about the artist here.
In Dupont Circle, I toured the shoe shops, finding an incredible pair of boots which I may have to go back for, and checked out the farmers' market.
There were loads of these posters on poles, and I wasn't sure if it was a joke or should be taken seriously but at least he had a more endearing countenance than the current candidates. The park had chess tables so I wandered over there to watch the players who were in deep concentration. They were all heavily involved in their matches, their eyes never leaving the board and scarcely noticing me as I clicked a few shots.
13 of our group turned up for the event and we were led down into the dark, humid depths below the streets, a few passersby curiously watching our descent to the tunnels below.
There was lighting in this area so we could set up our equipment. We were told of the layout and what we could find as we walked around the circuit as most of it would be in darkness. I set up my camera, turned on my flashlight and started walking. I had a fair idea of what I'd find since I'd been here 5 years ago.
I wondered if this was a portrait of actual guys that had been playing chess above us in the park.
A new addition to the tunnels were stacks and stacks of white plastic balls, stuck together in cube shapes and then piled up. I learned afterwards that they had been part of an 'art piece', but were now being dismantled. My first thought was, what a waste of resources, but the article images were more interesting than what had been left here today.
I played around with some light painting which kept me busy for a while, but it was really dark down there, making it difficult as I juggled different lights and gels.
I was pleased to see these doors still in place with the trolley cars etched into the glass...
..but was rather surprised to discover a dentist chair in a dark cubicle...
...and then this book, which I didn't pick up.
The place had been trashed quite extensively since I'd last been down here, yet maybe that was part of dismantling, I wasn't sure. but I didn't hang around the areas that had piles of debris, broken plaster board and wiring on the floor, although some of the guys seemed to find things to photograph here.
I went deeper into the gloomy depths where the tunnel was cleaner. but it was so hot down here. I felt sticky and clammy, rivulets of perspiration ran down my forehead as I concentrated on my camera settings.
I was also quite surprised that I didn't bump into any of the others on my travels. Apart from one guy near the end of my shoot, who had to wait a few minutes while I quickly set up some shots of the double-mouthed tunnel. I wished I'd had a little more time here but I didn't want to keep him waiting and he was standing right behind me so I moved on.
Having come full circle, I took a few more photos of the plastic balls, seeing a heart shape in the last image, then decided I'd had enough. I'd only been down here for 90 minutes, half of our allotted time but really didn't want to wait for the end, I was craving fresh air. A couple of the guys who were milling around the start point felt the same as me so we asked to be allowed out. It was like a prison release as we burst from the doors up into the bright sun and cool breeze. I walked briskly through the park, stopping at a CVS to buy 2 bottles of water, gulping a whole one down immediately. Then sitting for a few minutes on a bench in Washington Circle Park, I smiled as I watched the grackles lolloping across the grass, alongside baby starlings who were learning how to grub for food. Finally a ride home on a packed metro train, filled with Nats fans celebrating a win against the Phillies, most likely a completely different atmosphere from that which was filling downtown that day as DC remembered 9/11.

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