Monday, November 26, 2018

Maryland Rocks: Part 11- Dragged Off By The Cult

Looking at the endless parade of headlights zooming by and the promise of warm food off in the distance, I felt very glad that I had new batteries in my very expensive Petzl headlamp. You could buy something like it for $10 at Walmart, but we had the good stuff and used those headlamps quite a bit. We were going to need them on this part of the journey. The notes in the Guthook app on my phone warned that the busy little two-lane blacktop had no shoulders, so I assumed that meant we might have to walk a bit in the woods...what I did not understand was they meant there were ditches right next to the woods and that was the only place to walk. So, while we were walking with cattails up to my neck, the main thing my headlamp was doing was looking for snakes. I'm not really sure if they had snakes in Virginia, but I was pretty sure if there was even just one in the whole state, I was looking at the best place to find it. It was a rough 45 minute slug through the muck and I was very glad that I was wearing my waterproof boots, although I had no idea if they were snakebite proof...I need to check that next time I make such a purchase. Paul, meanwhile was thinking hard about a cigarette break with a real fountain coke, with crunchy ice, instead of feeling the icy water soaking his socks in his top-of-the-line hiking sandals.
By the time we reached the Gas Station/Convenience store that seemed as busy as any WaWa where I live, we were ready to take on the road crossing. It was probably just as dangerous as the first time we crossed it, but after the long walk in the ditch, the promise of good hot food made any risk worth it.
Soon, we were getting warm inside a store stuffed to the roof with things I would love to eat, the only problem was picking what sounded best. Paul had found the fountain machine and was already asking the lady at the grill if she would change her gloves before working on his hamburger....I decided to hang back a few minutes so, she wouldn't associate the two of us together and sabotage my hamburger as well. There wasn't much chance of that as we were the only two people around wearing backpacks. The other customers in the store looked at us as if we were homeless, and I could understand why. It was pitch black outside, and the temperature was dropping like a rock. People at the gas pumps were wearing light windbreakers and dancing around, trying to keep warm during the process. My guess was, nobody took the forecast seriously and dressed for the previous day's weather. 
A few minutes later, we had our Styrofoam containers in our hands, only to realize that there was nowhere to sit and eat. Thus it was, that I found myself sitting outside on the curb, shivering, and wolfing down my burger and fries. If we had a hat or bowl out in front of us, I'm sure some of the customers coming and going would have dropped coins in it. I chuckled to think if only the lady from a few days before could ask me about white privilege right now. Sure, I had a credit card, and I pretty much knew that I wasn't going to die of exposure tonight, but I wasn't positive about that. There were no Ubers or taxis in this place. At one point, an old beat-up pickup truck stopped a few feet in front of us, and a toothless guy rolled down his window and laughed out, "Hey, you guys want a ride out to the middle of nowhere!?" I replied, "No thanks, we already did our scary stuff tonight."
A few minutes later, a pickup truck full of Mexicans in shirt sleeves pulled up and they all headed into the store, checking their pockets to see if they had any change for us.
I knew that our cult group driver was coming to pick us up, and take us back to their camp and everything was going to be.... actually, I had no idea. Let us just say that I was way out of my comfort zone. The main thing I was really hoping, was that somebody at the gas pumps would take pity and offer me a ride home to sleep on their couch in front of the fireplace, while we watched Netflix and ate popcorn.
Instead, what happened was a raunchy old Suburban pulled up next to us and a grizzly old guy leaned out the window and said, "You, two the ones that need to get picked up?"
Paul said, "Yeah! Let's go", while I slowly realized that I could not think of a good alternative at that moment....

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