The road less traveled…

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Snail Mail: Taking a break from the A.T. and hiking around the nation’s Capitol

Day 1

While in D.C. we stayed with my friend Brian, who I met a few years ago in New Zealand. He was kind enough to offer us a place to crash on such short notice and was able to spend some quality touristy time in D.C. Of course we did the typical touristy stuff: went to the archives to see the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, walked around the mall checking out all the monuments and the White House, and went to Starbucks for a non-existing Frappuccino Happy Hour! Thanks for getting my hopes up Brian.

We later ended up at the Air and Space Museum where the boys got a little too excited about everything and dashed off in separate directions. I eventually found them and somehow got roped into a free planetarium show with a lecture following.

I found myself excited about the Planetarium show. It brought me back to the days in Astronomy class during my 1st year at college. I was also pleased with the idea of sitting in a comfy chair, and a dark room where I might “rest my eyes” a little bit after a long day of walking around D.C.

Surprisingly enough, the lecture afterwards was also more interesting then expected. At times I felt like Penny in the show, “The Big Bang Theory”, completely lost in a world of scientists, physicists, and other people fascinated with Black Holes and GRB’s. Then I realized that I was learning a few things. GRB, for example, stands for a Gamma Ray Burst, which is an explosion in space that happens when a supernova collapses, eventually forming a black hole. The lecturer, Neil Gehrels, is an astrophysicist and the Chief of the Astroparticle Physics Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. He was very smart and used a lot of big words, but hey, I learned a few things and it was fun.

Day 2

Today we split up and started doing out own thing as the boys were both interested in returning to the Air and Space Museum and I was not. I went to the Portrait gallery and wandered around the art museum while waiting for my friend Amanda from Baltimore to meet up with me. Amanda and I worked with each other on cruise ships for a couple of years and were even roommates for part of that time. Once we met up, we had no interest for museums anymore, so we found a pub and started our afternoon of catching up and sharing fun stories. After a couple of expensive beers at the pub we decided to find a 6-pack and a sunny place to sit to continue our conversation.

Finding the 6-pack was easy; pouring the beer into my empty water bottles without making a scene, not so easy. We walked into McDonalds to “use the bathroom”, but it was one of those places in the city that the bathrooms are literally only for customers and a token was required. Luckily Amanda was wearing her University of Maryland shirt and the security guard started talking to her about U.M. and then gave us a token for free. Pouring beer into plastic containers in a McDonalds bathroom…check!

We found a lovely grassy knoll near the Navy Memorial with a relaxing fountain in the background. Sprawled across the grass and leisurely drinking our beers while reliving the good ‘ol days of ship life…sigh…it was a really good day.

After our beers were gone, we relocated to a nearby restaurant for some cheese nachos and Happy Hour. Avatar and Ratbucket met us there and after a tearless, but still sad goodbye, Amanda went back to Baltimore and the rest of us took the metro to meet up with Brian and his work friends.

It was more of a quick appearance for Brian’s sake. We split a bucket of beer, Avatar stole someone’s popcorn. We said hi to some of Brian’s friends and his boss, and then jetted to another part of the city to Breezy and David’s place for dinner. David made an amazing Thai dish and we all had a wonderful time chatting about this and that. I practically drooled over their massive library of books and Breezy forced me to take one, making that 3 books that I was carrying in my pack. Love the extra weight, thanks Breezy!

Day 3

For breakfast we went to Safeway before going to the metro and I loaded up on a bunch of dairy products! Yogurts and fruit smoothies! I miss having a normal intake of dairy so sometimes I get a little carried away.

The rest of the morning into the afternoon was spent at the Holocaust Museum. I’ve been there before and was definitely touched by everything I read, saw, and experienced. It was an emotional rollercoaster just like the 1st time I was there, and at the end of it I was feeling drained. It was really interesting watching some of the student tours walk through and see their reactions. Some of them zoomed thru nonchalantly, while others were deeply affected. Its sad to think that in a few years the last survivors of the Holocaust will no longer be around. After that, the museums and memorials will be all that’s left to tell their stories. If you ever make it to D.C., take the time to visit this museum. You will never forget it.

After the museum, we were feeling a little down and decided food and beer would help. While walking past a restaurant, there was a table that had just left and there was still a basket of chips on the table. Avatar walked past, hesitated, retraced his steps and took the chips from the table. This may seem unthinkable to some but for thru-hikers, its food and this kind of happens often along the trail. One of Avatar’s friends from college joined us for Happy Hour and after a few drinks and the weight of the Holocaust hanging on our minds we began wandering aimlessly around the D.C.mall. Eventually we just laid down on a patch of grass near all these sidewalks and took a little siesta. We were looking more and more homeless by the minute.

While we were waiting for Brian to get off work, we swung by the Air & Space Museum for a couple of hours. Brian has been amazing in letting us crash at his place and even offered to get us back to Harpers Ferry and camp out with us for the night.

On the way back we stopped for a 12-pack of Yuengling beer and once we found a section of trail, started searching for a campsite. We hiked a while in the wrong direction and ended up going uphill before we decided to turn around and try the other direction.

After going about 0.8 miles, we found a great spot right along the river. We had a great campfire with some pleasant guitar music provided by Ratbucket and stayed up late. I woke to a gorgeous view of the river with the morning fog rolling off the water and a family of ducks wandering the shores.

After just a few days in the city my senses were on overload. There was so much over-stimulation going on in the city that I was truly pleased to be back in the woods. It felt like I was home.

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June 19, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. We all love your updates

    Comment by pat & Frank Chavet | June 21, 2012 | Reply


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