“Greater” Gallows Road parallels the Beltway almost from Springfield to Great Falls. Base image from Google.

Pick a medium-to-large road, preferably somewhere in a suburban area. Not a long distance highway, but something more local. Ignore its names. Follow it straight through every intersection until you can't anymore, in both directions. Where does it take you?

That's the game. That's all it is. Really, it's just an excuse to explore and be surprised.

I started thinking about this recently while looking at Tysons Corner on Google Maps. I noticed that Gallows Road and International Drive, two of Tysons' largest roads, are effectively one and the same. And then I realized I didn't know where either of them ends.

Gallows Road and International Drive in Tysons. Image by Google.

Heading north, International Drive becomes Spring Hill Road and ends just shy of the Potomac River, really not very far from Tysons at all. In the other direction, after heading south through Merrifield, Gallows Road becomes Annandale Road and then Ravensworth Road. It gradually becomes a totally local street lined with detached houses, until it loops around, intersects with itself, and eventually dead-ends as Jervis Street, a little north of Springfield.

Gallows Road's unceremonious end. Jervis Stree near Springfield. Image by Google.

Pick a medium-sized road and go to town

For the game to really be interesting, you have to pick roads that are neither too big nor too small. Everyone already knows that numbered US highways go through multiple states, and the majority of streets in suburban subdivisions go nowhere. The most pleasing results are the surprises.

For example, how far do you think you can get from The Wharf without turning?

Play the game and tell us what you find!

Dan Malouff is a transportation planner for Arlington and an adjunct professor at George Washington University. He has a degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado and lives in Trinidad, DC. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post. Dan blogs to express personal views, and does not take part in GGWash's political endorsement decisions.