A map of my walk, with mile markers.
This last weekend was a bizarre exception to normal DC summer weather. On Saturday, it rained two inches steadily all day, without any thunder or lightning. And Friday through Sunday the high temperatures were in the seventies. Finally, on Sunday, I decided I had to take advantage of the nice weather to go for a long walk. However, when I started out, I was only planning on walking five or six miles: that it turned into a nine-and-a-half mile walk was purely an accident of my misunderstanding of local geography.
I started out my walk by walking two miles west through the University of Maryland campus to the confusing intersection of Campus Drive (which runs roughly east-west through campus), Adelphi Road (which runs north-south), and University Boulevard (MD-193), which makes a nearly ninety-degree turn here, from running south along the western side of campus to running nearly due west. Here, I started west along University Boulevard, which I followed for the remainder of my walk.
The next three miles of my walk were the most interesting, as I followed University Boulevard through the border between Takoma Park and Langley Park, a three-mile stretch known as the “International Corridor”, which is to be served by three stations on the Purple Line if it ever gets built. It certainly could use a more transit-oriented and walkable retrofit: right now, it consists of a six-lane highway lined by shopping malls whose parking lots connect to form de facto service lanes. Despite this, there was very heavy foot traffic on the narrow sidewalks and quite frequent bus service that seemed to be heavily used. I passed by the construction site where the Takoma-Langley Transit Center is being built, as well as an incredible number of tasty-looking Mexican, Salvadoran, and Indian restaurants. I also got asked the time in Spanish by an old lady who presumably saw my watch. Unfortunately, my Spanish sucks, but I hope that my answer (tres y cuarenta for 3:40 pm) was understood correctly. I really need to practice more.
At the end of the International Corridor, I should have followed the planned Purple Line route west along Piney Branch Road. Instead, I decided to keep going west on University Boulevard, convinced that I would reach the Red Line along Georgia Avenue fairly quickly. However, I didn’t realize just how far north University Boulevard runs from this point on, and it turned out to be a four-and-a-half mile walk through residential areas of single-family homes fronting on University Boulevard. After passing through the small and—after the International Corridor—anticlimactic commercial district of Four Corners, there was nothing else of note until I finally reached Georgia Avenue in downtown Wheaton, where University Boulevard, Georgia Avenue, and Viers Mill Road meet.
The last time I’d been to downtown Wheaton was about seven years ago, when I passed through on a bike ride up Sligo Creek to Wheaton Regional Park. I was surprised by how much more urban and vertical it seemed than last time. And a little jealous of the twenty-four-hour Safeway grocery store adjacent to the Metro station. My legs were too sore from walking nearly ten miles for me to look around much, though, so I descended the longest escalator in the Western Hemisphere into the Wheaton Metro Station to ride back to College Park.