I guess I was about 12 when I started riding a bicycle. This was a regular adult bike. They didn't have those kid-style bikes that kids ride now.
I used to go off riding by myself for hours, going miles and miles away from home.
A few years later I realized that I didn't have to always go riding off into the countryside. I got to be more interested in riding into downtown Washington. It wasn't such a dangerous place then, and I rode my bike all over the city.
One day -- I suppose I was about 15 or 16 years old -- I had ridden down to where the Capitol Building and Library of Congress are. A year or two later, I would start going down to the Library of Congress to work on term papers for high school and pursue my various rather arcane interests -- in mathematics, literature, philosophy. At that time, a high school student could walk into the library, find what he wanted in the card catalog, fill out the little slip, and about an hour later the books would be delivered to one's desk. I couldn't check them out, of course, but I could read them there until closing time.
Anyway, this was a year or so before that time, and I was just down there looking at all the buildings. And as I looked at Union Station, it suddenly occurred to me that there was no reason why I couldn't get on a train.
So I locked up my bike, went in and bought a round-trip ticket to Baltimore. I had the choice of the Pennsylvania Railroad or the B & O (Baltimore and Ohio). Over the next year or so, I rode many times on each. (In Baltimore, they arrived at different stations.)
Getting off the train at Baltimore, I started wandering through the streets. I thought it was really interesting, being in a different city. I suppose I must have done this for about an hour or so before it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn't the faintest idea where I was.
So I started walking back in the general direction I'd been coming from, and after a while, to my relief, some of the things I saw seemed to be familiar, and then I found the train station again.
I took the train to Baltimore many times after that. But after that first time, I always paid careful attention to all the street signs, and I never got lost again.
My parents had no idea, of course.