Monday, April 09, 2007

A Walk in the Park—from Maryland to Columbia Heights

Last Friday night, we went to my friend Taylor's house in NE for a little Spring party. At least, that was the idea. Instead, it was 30 degrees outside and we were all packed inside. Thankfully, we had a Wii to keep things interesting.

So the Bride decided to leave early with some friends who were driving. I stuck around for a while, trying to stay as long as possible while still being able to Metro home. So at 2:25 or so, I pack it up and head out the door, right as the snow starts falling.

I halfway ran/jogged across the miserable Giant/Home Depot parking lot at Rhode Island and through the acres of parking until I saw a northbound train pass through. I walked the rest of the way and got up on the platform at about 2:35. The Bride called while I was on the platform and I told her I'd be home in about 20 minutes or so. After watching a southbound train pass (more on that later), I hopped on a northbound train to Fort Totten. I know outbound trains run later than inbound ones, but I was pretty sure there was an inbound Green/Yellow line at about 2:50 or so from Fort Totten.

I was wrong. Uh oh.

The last one left at 2:44, meaning that when I got off the red line at Fort Totten and sprinted downstairs, I missed it by about 4 minutes or less. (Which also means I would have been better off taking that soutbound red train I saw to Gallery Place since the last green/yellow train comes through there at 3:15 or so.

As I ran down the escalator and saw the display sign on the platform with no trains listed, the station manager came on the loudspeaker and informed me that I was a dumbass. Except she didn't embarass me and instead just told all of us that there were no more Green or Yellow line trains going south. I thanked her quietly for the good graces.

By this point, the snow is really coming down. So I go over to the trusty street maps and without breaking stride, take a peek at which way to walk to get to New Hampshire Ave, which I know will take me all the way to CH.

I see one cab in the massive Ft. Totten parking lot, with a girl getting in the back. I don't have any cash with me, so even if I do manage to score a cab somewhere, I'm doing the dreaded post-midnight ATM visit somewhere on the way home, which is akin to begging someone to jam a gun in your ribs and empty your bank account. At least that's what I tell myself so I won't ever be stupid enough to make any ATM transactions after dark in the District. (or anywhere, for that matter)

It's just a bad idea.

So since I barely glimpsed at the street map, I failed to notice/remember that the green/yellow line runs east/west at Ft. Totten, and not north/south like I'm thinking in my foggy, sleepless, wine and cheese-saturated brain.

Upon walking through the parking lot, I promptly make a right turn instead of a left turn, heading back under the elevated red line track, which should have tipped me off that I was going the wrong way. Did I notice? Nope. So I tried to constantly head to my left while walking north on 3rd, and then 2nd NE, and eventually did get to New Hampshire Ave, where I was heading for.

Now here's where I get even stupider. I've managed to turn myself around in circles so badly that I probably couldn't have told you which way was up. So I turned right on New Hampshire and walked for three blocks until I saw Eastern Avenue — otherwise known as the road that lets you know you're about to be in Maryland.


So after whapping myself on the forehead, I walked the last 50 feet up to the intersection, and crossed it, so when I told all my friends this story, I could tell them about how I walked all the way to Maryland, and then back home.

Here's my route so you can see just how stupid I was:

As you can see, my wrong turn cost me at least a mile if not more. I didn't think I could cut across Gallatin Street and through the park, which would have saved me, oh I dunno, say a mile? Although I would have been a little leery about walking through the park at 3 in the morning. (More than walking all the way home from Ft. Totten at 3 in the morning, right?)

The snow is really falling as I start heading back SW on New Hampshire. My brown coat turned white with all the snow sticking to it and my hair was soaked. About 20 minutes down NH Ave, a cab passed me going the other way and slowed waaaaay down to see if I waved him over....

This is where my stubborn cheap streak comes in. I waved him on, figuring I didn't walk the wrong direction for 20 minutes and make it halfway home from Ft. Totten to end up paying 10 bucks for a cab ride home. So I waved him on and continued my pattern of running 2 blocks and then walking some. Ok fine, I was just running one block and walking 3. Geez.

About an hour and 15 minutes after I got off the red line train, I walked in my front door on Meridian Place. And let me tell you, I was tired. So I of course went back to our DC map to see how I had erred because I just couldn't sleep without knowing. And then I went to bed.

I started thinking about how far Taylor actually lives from me as I was telling him this story while we sat in the Verizon Center for the Caps game Saturday. (Can I tell you how sore I was just trying to walk 7 minutes to the CH Metro at noon just 9 hours later?) I suspected that I could have walked all the way home from Taylor's, and not only would I have gotten home sooner, but it would have been a shorter walk.

Thanks to, you can see that I was right. And so are you: I am an idiot.

My route, including stupid right turn: 4.35 miles
Walking straight from Taylor's with NO wrong turns: 3.51 miles