Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Maryland Rocks: Part 6- The Harper's Ferry Mystery

It seems like no matter how many times in life we are told to not make decisions based on too little information, we do it anyway. Definitely one of these 'sweeping generalizations' as my college professor called them, was deciding we knew what we needed to know about a person by merely looking at them. For example, could you look at the bald-headed guy named Kelly Slater and know that he is one of the foremost pro surfers in the world? Nope, because we would be looking for some young guy with long bleach-blonde hair. And so it goes on the trail. 
We are looking for skinny young guys with big beards and rough-looking backpacks. Certainly not what I was seeing in front of me right now. In fact, if I could be allowed to make another snap judgement, I was looking at a trio in a delta formation, looking much like a movie poster. In front, an older gentleman with just a hint of gray above his ears, expensive-looking, gilt-framed glasses and somehow looking like he just left his office job even though we were miles deep in the woods of the Appalachian Trail in West Virginia. He was flanked by a young woman of some exotic background, looking hot and fit, and probably with a handgun in easy reach, not that she needed it to take care of anybody that was a problem. On the other side was a nerdy-looking guy that had an ill-fitting pack and clothes that looked a bit oversize. I guessed he was the computer guy in the crew. Somehow I knew that the girl and the nerd would take a bullet for the old guy if necessary, but it was possible that I had been watching too much television. All that was missing was the helicopter sound of Marine One hovering overhead.
What in the world were people like this doing in the mountains? It turns out that I knew way less than I thought about West Virginia. Much like people I have met, when they find I'm from Flori-doh, that start laughing about our vote counting, alligators, and every other stupid thing that makes the news, I had judged West Virginia as being full of nothing but hicks and coal miners...and hick coal miners.

As we made the long 3 mile trek from the trail into Harper's Ferry, I started to realize the truth. We were walking along the river, with the sun coming down into the late part of the day, seeing the bridge off in the distance. I knew a warm bed and a good meal was coming so my spirit was up. What was strange was that we started encountering serious long distance runners. I say serious, because in Florida, I'd run 5 miles in 100 degree heat and call it good. These folks were carrying small packs with water and food, so I'm not sure just how far they were going, but the weather was great for it. Occasionally, a mountain bike would speed by, and I'm not talking about some redneck taking a swig from a whiskey bottle while riding his Walmart special, I'm talking about $2000 bikes and hardcore looking riders that were almost a blur as they passed by. "Hmmmm, they must get some tourists from the city out here.." I said to Paul and Andre. Mostly, I was preserving my voice while Paul and Andre carried on an animated conversation. Paul was explaining his Trumpster views while Andre soaked it all up, much like an alien wanting to learn more about the strange ways of humans.

We finally reached the bridge and the town of many tourists. The best part was that we crossed the bridge almost at sunset and it was probably the view that made me happiest about Harper's Ferry. A few minutes later, we were walking through the old town, which is kind of a St. Augustine-lite. Then we came upon this quaint old train and a large parking lot. "That sounds like fun!" I said, and then found out from a local that this was not a fun train, but a commuter train to Washington DC. Suddenly, things started making sense, the traffic, the people, and the possibilities. I found that DC is a VERY expensive place to live, and West Virginia is the LEAST expensive place, so you might find an old 1880's saltbox house with a Land Rover parked in front of it or a country store with cafĂ© tables outside with important-looking people sipping their lattes.  I heard stories about grand new neighborhoods with large acreage for the rich folk that wanted some room with their gated community. We found a couple of places to eat, and sure enough, they were all pricey.....unfortunately, Paul would have none of that...

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