Monday, December 3, 2018

Maryland Rocks: Part 14 - The Last Good Meal

We were feeling pretty good about this trip. We survived 'The Roller Coaster', the super cold night, and finally being taken in by a cult group. All we had to do was to hike 8 miles over rock-strewn fields and hills that would seem extreme in Florida, but were nothing compared to what we had experienced. It was 8 miles back into Harper's Ferry, where a warm bed and a good meal, hopefully served with a beer or something better. Paul had cut back on the smoking and was feeling pretty good about the prospects of making it home with some cigarettes left over. All that was left was navigating these huge fields of rocks.

It was as if some giant had come along and kicked some a small mountain to pieces. You could walk for a mile at a time without touching anything but granite.
A funny thing about the Appalachian Trail. It is considered to be one of the better marked trails in the world. I remember reading that you really don't need a map to find your way, but there have been many comments from other backpackers that the trail seems very well marked when you are hiking on what looks like a jeep trail, but get yourself in these large rockbeds in the woods, where you can't even see a trail, and where's the white blazes on the trees then? My thought at the time was there was some guy with a 4 wheeler with a long pole and a paint brush on the end. As long as he could drive his four wheeler, there was going to be a lot of white blazes...or are least that's what it seemed like. We sure spent a lot of time checking our GPS's to make sure we were going the right way...I'm pretty sure you COULD get lost.

We finally made it to the large bridge that spanned the Potomac and entered into Harper's Ferry, and unbelievably, the first business we came across was our hotel! We got lucky with an early check-in and found our friend Andre was in town. We arranged for a meet-up at the Anvil Restaurant and enjoyed an afternoon drink while he brought us up to date on his equipment and his new plan for food for the trip. His mom was helping by sending nutritious, lightweight good stuff. I'm certain that by the time he reached Georgia, he'd be in better shape that I ever was.
Andre took off to get ready for hitting the trail the next day and we set off to explore the town.

I was getting hungry and Paul wanted a fountain coke in the worst way, so we decided to head in the general direction of the convenience store on the edge of town, stopping along the way to check out good places to have dinner. Unfortunately, I could find nothing that would satisfy my brother. The restaurant that really looked good was the Canal House. As we approached the small building, a middle-aged man was heading out and noticed us. "You can't go wrong!", he said. "The grilled cheese is great and the tomato soup is homemade!". Another man came out the front door and said "There you go again, overtipping. How many times have we talked about this?"
Paul turned to me and said, "No, I am not eating grilled cheese and I'm real sure they don't have fountain cokes in a place like this!"
So it was that we hiked down Washington Street until it became almost dark and the realization that the Anvil restaurant was a long way back and we had only just gotten to the 7-11 . By this time I was starving. 
Paul broke into the run and was already at the fountain machine before I got the door open. To be fair, for a 7-11, this place was loaded to the ceiling with stuff to buy and food to eat. I'm sure it was almost always busy. Unfortunately, it was just outside of the  nice part of town and we were now in the section of falling down buildings that weren't getting repaired any time soon. 
 A young woman with long brown hair and no indication that she was a country girl was cheerfully working behind the counter and helping two truck drivers while I drooled over the array of junk food rolling around on little stainless steel cookers on the counter. She saw me looking and I said, "No way you have pepperoni pizza?" She smiled and pointed to a large windowed container on the other counter that had two lonely pieces of pizza just sitting there in the glare of infared lamps.
I heard a wail from the other side of the store as Paul called out "Hey, you need to switch the tanks on the coke!" 
The young woman turned from me for a minute and called out "Yeah, it's been broken all week. Both Coke and Pepsi. We do have Diet though." 
I heard a sound from Paul that was made me think of a moose snorting. I suggested that he get a bottle of Coke and pour it into a cup of ice and he looked back at me as if there is not one person in the world that would ever do such a thing.
In the end, our last wonderful meal in the great town of Harper's Ferry, was sitting on the curb to the side of 7-11, me chewing on day-old pizza, while Paul sipped on a fountain Orange Fanta, and we gazed at a falling apart double-wide house trailer with rusting axles where there should have been wheels. I tried not to think of steaks and margaritas, and all of the other things in life that I hoped to have. Paul looked over from his microwave cheeseburger and said, "Well at least this is better than $8 for grilled cheese and tomato soup!"
Slowly I turned...…

----The End-----