Monday, April 28, 2008
Leaving the Sheraton after one of those complimentary hotel breakfasts, just us in an empty huge dining room while 2 women in uniform are cleaning around us. We woke up late. The ride was not fun, it’s cold this morning, the air is crisp and the freeway is packed with cars. On the other side of the road, a bunch of police units are trying to clear out an accident while traffic stand still for miles and miles in the other direction. We ride. We pass Washington DC without even seeing any of it and cross into Virginia.
There’s really nothing on the freeway to make me realize I’m in a different state aside of a red cardinal on the direction signs. It’s strange to even think about it is a different place because it’s just all the same, trees and cars and Mc Dolands . Ned stops the bike in front of a restaurant, it’s called Bombay and offers Indian food, and also looks uninviting and possibly closed. We both spot a diner sign on the other side of the curve and head there.
29 Diner is a tiny blue and aluminum spot that’s cramped with people. We wait at the counter for some people to leave and sit. It’s strange to be all geared up with leather jackets and helmets and bags full of cloths and computers in a room full of locals who are just in for their Sunday late brunch. The menu has protestant, catholic and Jewish food blessing on the back and there’s a juke box and a beautiful marble counter top. We order the biscuits and gravy and some coffee and tea and get warmer and warmer.
As we get up to leave, a man with missing teeth and long thin hair talks to Ned. He’s got food and grease on his shirt and his hands shakes badly as he’s lifting a cup of coffee to his mouth. When we go outside I ask what he said and Ned say “that he hopes the wind stay to my back”. And then he say “if there is a god, that’s what he looks like” and we drive away.
The great American War
"Look at it like this, Shadow: we are the coming thing. We're shopping malls-your friends are crappy roadside attractions."
- Neil Gaiman, American Gods
We choose the “avoid freeway” root option on the GPS, usually that leads to beautiful spots, but somehow we get on some boring highway that just cruises between one sprawl mall and another, a whole bunch of Dunken donuts - mattress store - Best buy - Starbucks. I’m bored and cold and there’s nothing to take pictures of. I think about multi diversity in nature and how, it feels as if the small restaurants with the cool signs and all the non chain store are getting extinct just like fish and birds. How what the culture is losing in that is not so much the lack of animal or places to shop but the diversity.
I think about the waitress in the 29 diner and how, when Ned asked her where we can get another jacket or sweatshirt for me, she said “Wallmart at the end of the road” right away. How just like driving a huge car and not understanding why do the prices of gas are going up and why are there less wild life than there used to be. Buying in chain stores is ruining one’s own culture and destroying the economical balance of one’s own community.
I think about America and how it seem to always be in some war between different parts of it, how it sometime feels like the only way this country renew itself is by waging a war against what used to be here before, whether it’s The natives, nature, it’s own people or its own economy. Like some strange contained fires to burn all the old wood so that there’s room for new ones.
The great American war of now, is not so much between nature and manmade, but between manmade and manmade. An all somehow like in all the great American wars, you always know who’s going to win, and usually it’s the bad guys.
Blue Ridge parkway – Shenandoha
We took the itinerary from the trip off the Hearly Davidson’s website, so though we knew this is about the root we wanted to take, we didn’t know the details. This was the first destination out of 16 that the guy who made this root send us to. The sky line PYW. As we were getting near, it got more and more clouded and the guy at the entry to the park, said that it’s supposed to rain later. We went in anyway. Just as we got inside the park, we saw a dear, standing then running back into the wood. It felt like a good start.
We started riding up a mountain and stopped in the first view point, where we knew there’s a beautiful view to the valley below, but couldn’t see it with all the mist around us. The trees were still all bare from winter because the top of the mountain is so much colder then the bottom. We went on. And it was getting very misty. We were riding inside a cloud, seeing only this grayish white wall of cloud in front of us from which trees were rising as we got closer to them. It was beautiful and frightening.
I didn’t know whether I should panic or just be amazed at the beauty of it all, Ned was riding very slowly, following the yellow line in the middle of the road. It was a strange and peculiar feeling, knowing that this is probably one of the most dangerous things I’ve ever done in my life an at the same time, being so calm and feeling so peaceful, all this light around me and trees and nothing but the engine sounds to hear. My visor was fogging so I lifted it, it was very cold, it wasn’t raining, well, not exactly, but the air was so moist, tiny droplet of water just accumulated on my jacket and pants and gloves and making me wet and freezing cold.
From within the forest, a deer came out, looked at the road, blinked and run back inside. Another one, from behind one of the ledges were running fat, parallel to the road, all I can see was his strong neck and head popping as he galloped along us for a bit. Looking into a strange looking branch a white and brown barn owl, was staring into the road before swooping into the darkness of the heavy forest. It was like nothing I have ever experience before, not even like a movie or a book, but just this very strange frightening experience which is somehow intimate and somehow much bigger then myself.
I had no idea how long the road is going to be, or how fast we were going. My brain kept making up scary scenarios about getting stuck in there, not being able to go on because the visibility is zero and having so wrap ourselves in the sleeping bags to keep warm and wait for rescue. There was no way to get to another place or road but to ride the whole thing through, this undefined distance that would only get more and more cold and more and more dangerous as darkness falls. It was already 7:00 and I thought about the bears in the bears in the forests and how if something happens to us right now, nobody will know about it till it’s too late. And I thought how even if I do die now because the bike hits a deer on the road, I don’t mind so much, because all this is such a special moment I wouldn’t want to miss it.
Eventually we made it through, the valley bellow was still very misty, but as we came closer to the highway, it cleared a little bit. Ned pulled over in the next gas station to fill up, I went inside and got a cup of coffee which I couldn’t drink, I was too cold and every zip was scolding so I threw it out. We checked in the nearest motel and went into the bath right away, slowly getting all warm and tired and still not quite believing this whole thing really happened.