Miles total: 1126.0
Currently laying in a bed...
Today was a good one. We took the Metro and did the normal walk-around-the-Mall touristy things, including taking a while in the Museum of Natural History, which is always a personal favorite. I accidentally stumbled into the geology section, but they had a pretty cool corner about the Appalachian Mountains. So I think it was meant to be! Other than that, I took it easy and enjoyed the extremely low humidity. Here's another story about my romance with the mountains to fluff my word count for the day.
The Origins of Rooster
Part II: Asheville
Another couple of family friends, Cecil and Leta, live in the western North Carolina town of Asheville. When I was in middle school, they invited us to visit them. Driving in to the city was pretty cool. It's sort of situated on the flat bottom part of a bowl, with mountains rising up around the sides. I loved looking out in the distance in town and seeing the hazy blue mountains. It's not that I particularly wanted to go climb them; I just thought they made a nice background. Again, the cool air was really agreeable. My family and I would visit Asheville more frequently after that. We came back right before I started college. This time, it was August and I was way more concerned with physical fitness than I had been in 7th grade. Nonetheless, I contented myself to run laps on a nearby fitness loop for exercise. I was driving back to Cecil and Leta's, cresting a hill and dropping down, when "Carolina in My Mind" by James Taylor came on the radio. It was perfectly corny, but at that point I don't remember having a cynical bone in my body, so I was feeling it. Again, my eyes drifted to the mountains in the distance. The closest I came to going on a hike during that trip was visiting Chimney Rock, a precariously balanced piece of mountain that seems to stand by itself. It's a popular tourist attraction, granting views of the surrounding area from up high. There's even an elevator straight up to the top through the stone. I don't think I knew that I could probably see all the way to the ridge where the Appalachian Trail ran. Still, I always looked fondly towards Asheville, jumping at any chance to visit while I went to college in the eastern part of the state. Only later did I start to go outside and explore those mountains to the west. For the time being, I liked the idea of mountains all around, like wallpaper in the sky. They looked nice and gave the town its flavor. There are stages of infatuation with the Appalachian Trail, and some hikers begin their thru-hike attempts at this level. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with that. It is an interesting statistic, however, that about ten percent of northbounders quit after the first three days of hiking. Many of them say things like "It wasn't what I thought it would be." I'm sure that if you plopped my senior-year-of-high-school self on the Appalachian Trail, he might say something similar. I wasn't ready to fly yet!
Pictures: view from the Lincoln Memorial; Woolly Mammoth pose; Appalachian Trail exhibit.