Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Purfuit of Happineff

Town names such as Upperville, Middleburg and Centreville might lead one to assume Virginia is uninspiring. Don't be fooled.

My Sunday drive to Shenandoah National Park took me past miles of charming historic towns scattered along a landscape dominated by some of the most magnificent trees I've ever seen. When I reached the park, I was tempted to continue driving (in part, so that I might see more of this beautiful state and, in part, to savour the relief that the car's airconditioning offered from the stiffling heat). Instead, I parked the car and pedalled my way along the Blue Ridge Mountains, which constitute the backbone of the park. Great pavement, low traffic, spectacular views; this is a gem of a ride. I wanted to ride until dark, but my exhausted water bottles demanded an untimely return to my car.

Tragically, I only went for one more ride after that. It was on one of the many spectacularly well maintained bike paths in the region, along the Potomac River toward Mount Vernon. To me, a bike is the ultimate symbol of freedom and happiness. How fitting that I was on the same road as was travelled by the early Americans to protect those same principles.

Mount Vernon was formerly the estate of George Washington and is now a privately run education center / tourist attraction / yankee holy land / cash cow. Waiting in the lineup to tour the mansion, I pretended to be unphased by the heat. My charade was foiled by the steady gush of sweat from every pore on my body, which provoked questions from strangers, including 'You not from aroun' here, are you?' and 'Ma'am, you gonna be aight?'. Seriously. I don't think I sweat that much when I run.

Walking around the estate was inspiring. I couldn't help feeling a degree of envy toward American's for their recognition (and glorification?) of their rich history. This was reinforced by my visit to the National Archives. As an aside, as I was looking at the Declaration of Independence, I laughed to myself as I recalled an episode of Cheers in which Woody Boyd ran for Boston City Council. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you'll just have to trust me as I can't find a clip of it on youtube.

The icing on the cake for this trip was a fourth row seat for a showing of Hamlet at the Shakespeare Theatre in DC last night. That guy is so clever.

I will definitely be back (next time, perhaps, in the winter).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, if standing in line at the estate of George Washington is as taxing as running might I suggest that perhaps you should be running a little harder?

June 21, 2007 at 9:37:00 PM MDT  
Blogger tori said...

hmmm, yes, perhaps I mean "jog", not "run".

June 26, 2007 at 6:30:00 AM MDT  

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