Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 1 of my Adventure

Day 1

          Upon leaving the touristy village of intercourse PA, loaded up with all the neccessitities of survival, GPS, Blankets, box of peanut granola bars, CD's, Snow chains, I headed out into the arctic gale that was sweeping across the nation. It was with a feeling of exhileration and anticipation for the unknown i set out feeling like Roand Amundson the polar explorer. I quickly located the vast array of CD's I spent all yesterday burning and slid Dire Straits into the CD slot. The beats were on and I was rollin through snow covered amish land. I cut south through Maryland on Interstate 83. Once I crossed over the Maryland border and all hints of Amish buggies encumbering the roadway were gone. I felt like I could relate to what was happening around me in a more understanding light. I personally find Amish people arrogant and critical and although hard working and tough,  their life-style is pointless; failure to adapt to society and hold onto the plain life of grain grinding, hand miliking, plowing and sowing is nonsensical when the rest of society has advanced for a reason. That aside I rolled into the capitol building around 9 am and the true enormity of the adventure I had just undertaken was beginning to hit home. I was a man without a plan. Tom Pety's hit song came to mind and I felt a connection with it's lrics I was indeed "lost in the great wide open, a rebel without a clue". I was like a wild buffalo roaming outside the herd; I also enjoyed that feeling, like the world was yours to conquer, I had saved up all summer and it felt similar to that of a 19th century fur trapper before setting off into the western frontier.

          I had been glancing at the GPS plastered to my windshield for the duration of my southward trek and been noticing my lil' arrow making headway and cutting away the miles, once the GPS let out the shrill sound "you have reached your destination", panic instead of releif set in. I was still on the outskirts of a spiderweb-like maze of confusing roads  and didnt know where anything was, and my directionally challenged mind was spinning. I figured WTH, i'll wing it. It was at this point after playing around with some features I noticed tourist attractions and I  plugged in the capitol building into my GPS. I plugged in parking in and my eyes widened "nearest parking" 2 miles. I'd have to hoof it. I found myself parking way over by the waterfront and was 1.1 miles away from the historical sites according to "Wilson" my GPS, aptly names because I knew it would be a great companion just like the volleyball Wilson was for Tom Hanks. I opened the door ajar and was immediately greeted with a piercing blast of cold air, I thought dang, I'm not ready for this yet, shut the door, reached back into my box of peanut granola bars and mowed down, thinking, "so this is why ppl vacation in the summer, makes things like getting out and walking enjoyable. I said well, here goes the beginning of something great, I re-opened the door and stumbled out. I had a significant distance on foot and felt it in my legs after the first big hill, my breathing had just become labored, i knew I was out of shape but how bad was becoming more clear. I bought some hot cocoa from a large black woman in a stand who told me to stay warm and called me hun, which did nothing to my ego, deflating me to that of a child, I re-call being put off. I wandered the steps of the Jefferson building cocoa in hand, tyring to quickly down it due to the impending sign that said "no food or drink after steps, the first healthy swig was completely witless and the scalding hot substance burned my esophagus. Though my ego was soon restored after shooting my empty cup at the garbage bin from the second step and scoring on the first shot, I  told the security guard "im a baller". I got a courtesy laugh. I pocketed my muffin and moved on. From the top of the monument I could see the Lincoln memorial and Washington monument. The Inside of the Jefferson memorial was coated in marble and some famous lines  etched into the surrounding walls. The panels showed Jeffersons quotes about self evident truths and the inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I then walked around the man made inlet of water and found signs leading to the holocaust memorial. Upon entrance I found a grotesque and alarming reminder of how evil and inhumane the situation regarding the extermination of european Jews was. Men, Woman and children were just thrown in chambers and gassed, takin out stripped and shot, all these accompanied with Jews gripping accounts of those that managed to survive extermination camps; stories that landscaped the hallways into open areas of historical holocaust objects. One exhibit had thousands of shoes of the victims, another  a railroad car which shipped the Jews out, I pictured being inside it with a mass of humanity knowing you were going to be slaughtered like livestock, the mental image was revolting. I walked out with a new appreciation for being a 21 year old in America instead of a Polish Jew in 1942.

          I then proceeded to the Washington Monument, as I was waiting in line I heard the security guard say "hey anyone have any knives or anything?" I suppressed a laugh, maybe it was the careless whimsical way he said it,as if expecting  someone concealing a knife to say yeah I have 3 or 4 my wife has 2. Halfway up the elevator I saw stones  of past presidents embedded into he stone surfaced, the tour guide explained these were gifts sent over after the war from other countries. Once up the statue I had a birds eye view of the fog obscured city. Following  the descent from the monument, I trudged on toward the toward the Lincoln Memorial, who I personally  think was a vastly more important figure than Thomas Jefferson, why he got his own memorial instead of a shrine? I am not entirely sure, although his intelligence was remarkable, and his library the largest compilation of books any American had or ever will accumulate in a lifetime. I witnessed part of this collection at the Library Of Congress. As far as aesthetic appeal the library of Congress was the most visually alluring structure in DC. The ornate architecture combined  with embedded paintings was what I found to be to a  tribute to the engineering prowess of manmade establishments. By Far my favorite DC building. After frequenting the Library of congress everything else seemed dim and modest. I did not have time to go through the smithsonian and missed out on a variety of other historic landmarks and features, however I had been there before 7 years prior with the family when I was small geek middle school kid and our science team competed at nationals at a location nearby, during that trip we toured most of the city and smithsonian.

           I left historic DC and headed back to my car. Feeling tired and cold, I folded back into the car and headed out my destination lying somewhere south, where exactly? I couldn't be sure, this was cold here, and the further south the less violent the approaching storm would be. I hit Interstate 95 south to Richmond. Upon arrival I located a Starbucks with my GPS. The Starbucks to me throughout this trip were like oasis's in a dessert. There was wi-fi to connect to, Coffee to drink and my location to upload on facebook to anyone who cared. Coffee was a big added perk might I add. I also enjoyed getting a pulse of the culture around you, seeing the people. that walked in and listening in on some stories. I heard the distinct southern drawl throughout the coffee shops and eateries of the south. Seeing the Cracker Barrel's again was like a blast from the past, from 8 years back when I last trekked through here after a national sciece tournament with my friend Colton and fam. Memories hit me again: Chess in the car, license plate wars, a running tally of who could get the most states, when semi's drove by, fights ensued; we named the shakers who liked "move" alot and be crazy, the shaker' down and boogy village, we thought that was the funniest thing since sliced bread. I distinctly recall hitting every Abraham Lincoln site on that trek and it became a running joke that we despised him. Good times. The rolling green hills of virginia were scenic and I wished I was driving through them in the fall when all the leaves were auburn instead of gone. When I arrived in Richmond; the town seemed reticent and uneventful with a large core of industry within the city. The housing and brick buildings were interesting to me due to living in the Pacific NW where the oldest piece of history  is an Indian artifact. history there has just been around, 300 year old buildings were still standing. I then headed south to Durham and Greensborough, travelin a few hours at night to get to Greensborough. I realized again  finding plush and adequate sleeping was no longer a certainty as  hotel cuisine was not always a cost effective option. I looked up a Sportsman's warehouse and bought a sleeping bag. I slept in a Target parking lot.. The sleeping arrangement was always a struggle, I folded down the seat and manhandled the 60-70 lb suitcase to the passenger seat as well as my other luggage and slept diagonally my legs and sleeping bag protruding into the trunk. And it was cold

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