Well, we left Boston on Friday, a day earlier than we'd discussed, vetted, voted and planned. We'd packed the car thursday night, expecting some sort of packing issues that would require some 3D tetris-style maneuvering all day friday, followed by some hard decisions about what should and should not be brought. However, 30 minutes after we started, all of our stuff fit perfectly, and we could even see out the back window. We tried to think of reasons to stay in Boston friday, but couldn't think of any good reasons to stay besides trying to say goodbye to a ton of different people, and that just sounded like more work than anything else. Trying to see someone, spending a few minutes with them and then taking off to see someone else-- it's not quality time, its not a quality good bye, and it doesn't represent the friendship very well, y'know? You're not a friend, you're an item on my itinerary. Things like that make me feel like a jerk, so my solution is always not to do it, which might make me an even bigger jerk, I'm not sure.
So we went to the bar and saw a whole lot of people that I hadn't seen in a very very long time and drank and sang loud songs. Colleen bought me two beers at the same time and tried to lure us into staying friday with promises of fresh baked cookies and more beer. Another friend tried to get us to stay till saturday afternoon so we could participate in a neighborhood-wide water pistol fight, but Steve and I, we are two rolling stones, baby. This bird you cannot chain, etcetera. We left friday morning.
We drove down through horrible traffic in NY, NJ and Delaware (Such big traffic for such a little state!!) and grabbed dinner at a shopping mall in some suburb of DC with Steve's friend. Steve had been working for Dept of Homeland Security, and his friend was working for Dept of Defense. I felt like such a Washington insider. Did you know Julia Childs was a spy? Apparently she was, and threatened to tear the nuts off some poor DoD employees unless she got some codebook. Or something like that.
We kept driving to Shenandoah Nat'l park and got there after the sun had set. It had been a 12 hour day, so we set up the tent and went to sleep. The next morning we woke up and went on a quick 5.5 mile hike. The trail didn't seem like a big deal, just a little loop near the campgrounds, but we saw THREE bears, and heard others in just that little duration. Granted, they were baby bears climbing in trees and near brooks, but baby bears--they don't travel alone. We hoped we weren't between them and their momma, so we clapped loudly and sang songs like 'Someone's in the kitchen with Dina', but changed the lyrics to 'There's a bear over there oh my God, there's a bear over there I kno-o-o-ow, there's a bear over there oh my God, please don't eat my face!'
From there we traveled south to Asheville NC where we stopped in Asheville Pizza and Brewing Co for dinner, which was mighty tasty. We then drove west to the Smoky mountains. They really are beautiful. We saw a herd of elk on our way into the park-- they are huge!! I thought they were moose with no antlers at first. We kept on into the park and set up camp with the sun still up. We started a fire, broke out my flask of whiskey and a guitar and settled in for the night. The next morning we went on another 5 mile hike, which was very easy and nice, and saw another much larger bear. They really don't seem all that scary, although apparently they'll charge from time to time. I would probably pee myself. The last mile or so of the hike was just rows and rows of old abandoned houses in the middle of the woods where old timey millionaires had their vacation homes. It was cool, like being in a ghost town.
From there it was a quick 4 hour drive to Nashville, where I am presently. Well, not exactly Nashville, we're in Christiana TN, 45 minutes away. We're staying with my friend Evan, who within the last two months decided to rent an old farmhouse in the Tennesee country side. Its a really nice place. We drove into Nashy for dinner at a sweet BBQ joint, hung out at a bar and then went to a bluegrass jam for a little bit before heading home. Today, we're just gonna hang out in Nashtown, maybe go to the Grand Ol' Opry, and then crash my friend Mike's bday party. I don't think he knows I'm here.
To be continued!
Ride to Seattle: Episode 2: New Orleans!