Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Almost Heaven

A couple of weekends ago, Jesseca and I decided to get out of the city. I guess it wasn't until this trip that I realized just how much I missed being out and about in the woods. Washington DC is treating my exceedingly well, better than I may deserve, and certainly better than I would have expected. But while it has monuments they are nothing compared to mountains. The reflecting pool is nice, but it's no lake, etc. My frustration with being confined to a city must be nothing compared to that of a lifelong resident of Alaska. I grew up in and among sprawl. She grew up with Applebees, sure, but it was next to a fucking mountain, and I have to assume only accessible by dogsled or snowshoe.

So we made plans to rent a car and head to West Virginia. The day began fairly early with us heading over to Union Station and picking up the car. As a relatively poor guy, with some vague belief in environmental causes (I'm pretty sure it's in that order), I wanted to rent the smallest car available. Instead we ended up with an HHR. It's not unlike the PT Cruiser. It handles pretty well, though it has god-awful visibility. It's like driving while wearing a knight's armor. Oddly enough as we left Union Station, Tom and Ray Magliozzi were talking about how great the HHR was. Right about that time, coincidentally, I just happened to decide that I didn't mind driving it nearly as much as I had before. Funny how those things work.

We made our way to Ikea where I promptly fell into a bit of a funk. Realized the last time I was in Ikea was with Jen, and under very different circumstances-- made me sad. But you know what, that's just going to happen, and I'm getting better about having it just be something that I let wash over me, instead of swimming in the currents of self doubt and obsession.

In fact, Ikea ended up being tons of fun, for any number of reasons. I've found that the time I spend with Jesseca is remarkably hassle free. It's pleasant and easy. And she is truly understanding of my little freakout moments, though I have to imagine they're really hard to deal with (hopefully they'll be less frequent in the weeks to come). Ikea was a special treat, no matter my mental health. Think of it miles of well designed furniture, all seemingly cheaper than makes sense. I wanted to get a duvet, duvet cover and a bookshelf. We found a fine flarke bookshelf. Later after some agonizing and lots of squeezing, I settled on a quilt and still later on a cover. Pretty good deal, all things considered.

After Ikea we headed out to Virginia to watch the OSU-Michigan game with Susan. It was a great time, made that much better by getting to watch an OSU win.

Then we finally, at 4PM headed west. Leaving Virginia on our way through Maryland to Shepherdstown, Maryland. The drive was easy and uneventful. We found the little town and settled in for the night. No camping for us, it was all king sized bed. Not a bad deal for a person who until about 2 weeks ago was sleeping on an airmattress. We went to dinner at a cute little place, and then spent the evening lazing around the room watching the Food Network. Bliss.

Next morning we headed towards Sharpsburg and into the mountains. We hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail (Annapolis Rock). The entire hike was something like 5.6 miles. A nice hike. At the crest the trail opens out onto a wonderful view of the valley punctuated with some really nice rocky outcroppings. We saw what I have been assuming (though JKD can maybe confirm) were buzzards. Or maybe turkey vultures. Hideous creatures. They should be cross bred with puppies or something to increase their attractiveness quotient.

Photographic evidence of birds, and that we in fact hiked and "summited."

Jesseca and I are the ones who don't look like horrifyingly mangy birds that would eat your soul.

After hiking we returned to Shepherdstown and ate at Stone Soup, a local organic place. One of the best meals I've had in years. Now some of that is probably a function of fresh air, hiking, and pleasant company. But my garlic and herb roast beef sandwich was transcendent. But when complemented with a Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout it was almost heaven (with apologies to John Denver).

Lunch was followed by a drive around the Antietam Battlefield. It took me nearly 20 minutes to realize that the markers with CSA on them referred to the Confederate States of America. For some reason this caused me to fly into a rage. That there was this battle field, where 23,000 men died, and we still have this deferential view of the South. You know what, fuck off. You tried to leave our country. They tried to destroy this nation that they now pretend to be overly patriotic about. Irrational, sure, but man was I livid. Thousands and thousands of people lay dead beneath me, and the heirs to that legacy are busy explaining that it's not hatred, it's heritage. Even if I granted the argument that the symbols of the Confederacy are not the symbols of racial violence and oppression...they're still the symbols (the flag) of an army which tried to destroy this country, and slaughtered 12,000 American soldiers in a single day.

The actual cemetary is surprisingly small and, to my thinking, fairly unimpressive. I believe I may have violated some basic principle of human decency, by setting up my camera and taking this photo of Jesseca and I. Not sure that's teh right thing to do. But it came out pretty well, so maybe it's worth it.

After Antietam we drove back to DC. At this point in the trip I'm loving having a car. I am seriously considering bringing Norman (my white saturn) to the District. Having a car would be so wonderful, I am thinking. Then I tried to park the HHR. And I was quickly returned to the world of harsh realities. Namely, I live in a neighborhood where trying to park on a regular basis would cause me to stroke out.

All in all, it was a pretty terrific weekend. Good purchases (I love my duvet), good games (go Bucks!), good company, good weather, good bed, good tv, good hiking, great food-- pretty hard to argue with 48 hours spent in such good conditions.

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