Wednesday, November 28, 2007

On the road again...

If you think it's been awhile since I updated the blog, you're absolutely right. However, during the time since the last post I rented a car in southern Virginia, drove to NJ to surprise the family before spending last Wednesday driving to visit my friend Josh and his family in Atlanta for Thanksgiving, where I spent four days, before driving back to VA. So I've been busy. On Monday I picked up the hiking at the Enterprise where I dropped off the car, and then spent the day doing planning and catching my breath before the last two days.
Which have been the longest two day stretch of the hike. 27 miles yesterday, 26 today. Highlights included crossing into North Carolina, getting a photo tonight with five lovely Hooters waitresses, and the resumption of the great US-29 feather mystery. Second only to my blondeness in terms of weird things I've seen, for the past 200 miles along US-29 I have been hiking past feathers on the road shoulder. I had noticed this back in Virginia, where it went on for days on end, but it resumed again today once I came back to US-29. I can't imagine why this is happening, particularly since many of the feathers are rather large and they seem to be from sea gulls. They're far too big and too white to be chicken feathers, and their size somehow precludes my one hypothesis- that a truck somehow carrying pillows sprung a leak. If you have an explanation, I'd love to hear it, but for now I'm flabbergasted.
I also just realized that I had finished the last post with a teaser. The cool thing I referred to then was an interview I did inside Monticello with a camera crew sent from Jeopardy to interview me as part of a series they're doing on following up the goings on of past contestants. I don't know when it will air, although it might not be for almost a year. However, they're also putting together a 2 minute briefing to send to news stations in cities through which I'll be passing.
Like Greensboro, NC, where rather than using what Jeopardy put together, a camera crew came out to interview me today by the side of the road. After dashing out of Hooters and rushing to my favorite motel chain, Hampton Inn (they're the cheapest chain that has complementary internet access for guests) I arrived just in time to watch myself. The anchorwoman referred to me as "a familiar face" which made me chuckle, and hopefully some people will log on and donate after seeing the clip. A link to the story is found among the links at the bottom of this page. Meanwhile, a gang of teenagers listened to tales of my journey at dinner- and then gave me $25 for Fisher House. Coupled with a $20 bill I found on the side of the road, it made for a profitable as well as a productive day.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Odds and Ends - Also New Pictures in the Mid-Atlantic and Signs Part 2 Albums

I'll start with an odd- clearly the most unanticipated side effect of having hiked close to 1300 miles in the last four months is that my hair is getting lighter by the day. I had noticed this phenomenon for some time during past summers, but right now, I'm decidedly blonde. I don't really quite know what to make of this.
And now for an end, as in purpose, as in the Fisher House Foundation. Back when I was in the DC area I had an opportunity to visit Fisher House Foundation headquarters over in Rockville, MD and tour one of the 38 Fisher Houses nationwide, namely the first one ever built, which is at Bethesda Naval Medical Center. Not that I was ever in any doubt as to the amazing spirit and enthusiasm of the people that work for the Fisher House Foundation, but I came away positively floored at their commitment and their drive. Their work is so vital to our disabled veterans and their families and they deserve our utmost support and gratitude for what they do. The two guys who showed me around, incidentally, Derek and Steve, had both spent time in Iraq, and Steve is about to head back there voluntarily. Thoughts, prayers, and donations to Fisher House, my friends...
Hikewise, I've been booking it over the last five days. I've covered over 100 miles in that short amount of time, and will have to keep a pretty good pace up all the way to Savannah, where I need to be by December 20. However, the last few days have also featured some of my favorite hiking of the entire trek: verdant Virginia horse country, lots of historical markers (most of which, sadly, focus on one war or another), a stop at Montpelier- the home of James Madison, and tonight dinner with a friend down here in Charlottesville. And tomorrow morning, I'll be doing something really cool- more on that next time.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Hiking Through Washington- A Capital Idea

Hello once again dear readers and armchair hikers and apologies for having been less than diligent in keeping my blog updated as often as I should. Henceforth, I promise things will improve- if only because the number of urban distractions for the remainder of the hike will certainly be far fewer than the number I faced in the Boswash Megalopolis.
But oh what fun distractions are! One of my favorites was being in DC for Halloween- usually a holiday I celebrate with as much zest as National Pickle Relish Day. Through a friend, however, I heard a rumor about the possibility of a group going trick or treating at the various embassies. Having not gone trick or treating since seventh grade, I was a little worried if I still had it in me, but the international relations aspect of it won me over. Though my friend backed out at the last minute, I nevertheless went over to Dupont Circle, where I met some other revelers, who, like me, were wondering where the group was meeting. It took a bit of asking passersby if they had seen a marauding costumed horde in search of embassies, but eventually we caught up with the larger group, and after paying the ghastly fee of $40 had a great time. The $40 actually was more than worth it, as included in the evening was a 3 hour long tour of the neighborhood where the embassies were with lots of interesting stories. As far as the embassies go, we got candy from Romania, the Netherlands, Monaco, Iceland, Portugal, and China. At the Monagasque and Icelandic embassies I even got a chance to chat with the ambassadors for a few minutes. Two other things are also worth mentioning: the junta that runs Myanmar had no candy for us at their embassy, but the protestors across the street gave us candy after leading us in cheers of "Free Burma!" And if that wasn't bizarre enough, the Afghani embassy was closed, but since the organizers had called ahead, there was candy left for us in plastic bags outside the embassy. That's right: our tax dollars which go to prop up the government of Afghanistan against the Taliban are being spent on giving candy to Americans trick or treating at their embassy in Washington. Oh, and if you're wondering what I went as, well, I took my pack and poles and went as a hiker, of course.
One of the other top distractions in the DC area was having the chance to meet with Senators Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico and Robert Menendez of New Jersey. Both were keen to hear about my adventures on behalf of Fisher House (more on Fisher House in my next post) and generous with their time. My meeting with Senator Bingaman came about since I am either a second cousin twice removed or third cousin once removed of his wife Anne. They both treated me to a great lunch on Sunday and were eager to hear about my family tree research as well as my hike. And they are also to be thanked, along with everyone who has donated so far, for a very generous contribution to Fisher House.