In front of me on the ridge line is a flock of crows, feeding and socializing and soaking up the warmth of the late afternoon sun. At my approach the small black sea parts. Some merely hop aside, while their more cautious brethren lumber into flight and make an escape toward the farther shore of the icy stream below. The wind begins to gust. I put on my knit cap and jog. About every half mile I slow to a walk, take a time hack, capture a GPS coordinate pair, and then resume running.
The trails I'm following are along the waters that feed the Anacostia River. First there's Sligo Creek, then Northwest Branch, followed by Northeast Branch, and finally Paint Branch. A narrow paved hiker/biker path parallels the streams. It's a mid-January Monday holiday, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today is another tiny experiment in personal horizon-expansion, this time between Chez ^z and the University of Maryland where #1 Son Merle lives. He came home this weekend to play the organ at the local chapel and to let me do his dirty laundry --- every parent's thrill. Now the rest of the family is driving him back to the dorm. I set out two hours ago to try the journey on foot, via a more circuitous but more entertaining route than the street system.
Aside from a few near-miss experiences at road crossings, the run is sweet, cool, and uneventful. I nibble a candy bar, sip from my water bottle, flex my fingers, and trot through neighborhoods of little brick houses and big apartment complexes, interrupted by woodsy areas and industrial zones, flood control berms and railroad overpasses, playgrounds and power-line rights-of-way, fenced-off antenna farms and unkempt baseball fields.
It's the backside of the town, so to speak ... and it's not an unattractive view. No glass-facade skyscrapers or public monuments. Just places where real people work, play, and live.
For the record, and to help anybody else who may wish to find the way:
|39:00:58||077:01:58||Sligo Creek Trail (SC) marker "2.5 mile", just north of Forest Glen Road near Holy Cross Hospital|
|39:00:39||077:01:42||SC "3.0 mile" post, inside the Beltway, not far from a golf course|
|39:00:28||077:01:14||SC "3.5 mile" post|
|39:00:13||077:00:53||SC "4.0 mile" post|
|38:59:59||077:00:39||SC crossing of Wayne Avenue|
|38:59:45||077:00:21||SC crossing of Piney Branch Road|
|38:59:43||077:00:22||SC "5.0 mile" (stripe on path)|
|38:59:09||077:00:15||SC street crossing near back entrance to Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park|
|38:58:51||076:59:22||SC crossing of New Hampshire Avenue|
|38:58:37||076:59:13||SC crossing of line (painted on path) between Montgomery County and Prince George's County|
|38:58:25||076:58:57||SC crossing of East-West Highway|
|38:58:17||076:58:49||SC crossing of Riggs Road|
|38:57:50||076:58:43||SC "0.5 mile" marker, near Green Meadows Community Recreation Center|
|38:57:32||076:58:23||Junction of Sligo Creek Trail ("0 mile") and Northwest Branch Trail (NW)|
|38:57:18||076:58:19||NW "2.0 mile" post|
|38:57:12||076:57:58||NW crossing of Queen's Chapel Road|
|38:57:10||076:57:51||NW "1.5 mile" post|
|38:56:59||076:57:26||NW "1.0 mile" post|
|38:56:49||076:56:57||NW "0.5 mile" post|
|38:56:47||076:56:45||NW crossing of Rhode Island Avenue|
|38:56:43||076:56:31||Junction of Northwest Branch Trail and Northeast Branch Trail (NE) ("0 mile")|
|38:56:58||076:56:06||NE "0.5 mile" post|
|38:57:19||076:55:48||NE "1.0 mile" post|
|38:57:42||076:55:33||NE "1.5 mile" post|
|38:58:03||076:55:18||NE "2.0 mile" post|
|38:58:27||076:55:13||NE "2.5 mile" post|
|38:58:55||076:55:13||Junction of Northeast Branch Trail and Paint Branch Trail (PB) ("0 mile")|
|38:59:07||076:55:34||PB "0.5 mile" post|
|38:59:19||076:55:52||PB "1.0 mile" post|
Apologies for inadvertent errors in the above. All coordinates are in WGS84 datum; latitudes are North, longitudes are West. Don't use this information for life-critical medical applications, nuclear reactor control, ICBM targeting, or anything else untoward, please ....