Silver Line selfie: From Leesburg to Nats Park
“Two hours,” predicted another.
“There's no way it's under two hours,” I added with an air of unjustified certainty.
Wrong. All wrong.
One hour and 33 minutes. That's how long it took to commute via Loudoun County bus and Metro from downtown Leesburg to the Navy Yard-Ballpark Station during Friday rush-hour to watch the Nationals drop a 2-1 offensive struggle to the Philadelphia Phillies.
The route: Snag a Loudoun Transit bus at the corner of Harrison and Loudoun streets in Leesburg. Get there by 5 p.m., the bus departs promptly at 5:05 p.m. and it's the last one of the day. Around 5:30 p.m. (hopefully), the bus will arrive at the Reston-Wiehle Silver Line station; from there, take the Silver Line to L'Enfant Plaza, hop on the Green Line and you're a couple quick – and crowded – stops from the ballpark.
I strolled through the gate at Nats Park at 6:49 p.m., providing 16 minutes to arrive comfortably in my $5 nosebleed seat (I'm one with the people) and, most importantly, grab a $9.75 Blue Moon tallboy before the first pitch.
Using the Silver Line and Loudoun Transit made heaps of sense. It's hard to imagine traversing via car from Leesburg to Southwest D.C., even taking the Dulles Greenway, finding parking and making it to the gate in an hour and 45 minutes on a Friday afternoon.
Time, of course, isn't the only consideration. There's money, and my route was a bargain. Taking the bus is only $1.50, and the one-way Metro ride was around $6 (I can't say exactly because I just threw $10 on a SmartCard). Comparatively, gas to D.C. is probably $7 or $8 one way. Parking near the stadium for a Friday game-night is about $20.
But there was one major league hitch. Quickly after engaging in the Nats-Silver Line experiment, I realized there was no way to return to Leesburg using the same route until Monday – Loudoun County buses don't run to and from Leesburg to the Wiehle Station late Fridays or on the weekends. Now I savor the District's sites like everyone else – I count the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, the National Cathedral and José Andrés' barmini among my favorites – but it'd be nice to at least have the option of returning home without shelling $40 on a cab from Wiehle to Leesburg. Fortunately I have a few good friends in D.C. (and Tinder) and was able to shore up lodging for the night.
Over all, the one-way experience was a delight. Were it possible to return to Leesburg as swiftly and reliably as I arrived at the stadium, there's no question I'd make the trek again. But I guess we'll have to wait until 2018 for that luxury -- when the Silver Line lands in Loudoun. And by that time, we can just skip to Ashburn for a Hounds game (Why are you guys laughing?).