Posted by: athike2011 | August 11, 2011

Blog Catch Up–Virginia, Shenandoah National Park, West Virginia, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Massachusetts

I got my new laptop power adapter today, so I’m going to post everything from the last few days here. I am also now in Massachusetts, where I will be for a while during my funding replenishment. I am going to try an work as many hours a week as I possibly can to get back on the road ASAP, but until then I won’t be doing “new” updates. That being said, I have done a lot of traveling in the past, and have lots of pictures and stories of things that I haven’t shared, at least in this medium. My plan is to do a post every day or two with pictures and or stories of those travels, then once I get moving again, or do something worth posting about here, I will do that. Again, than you to everyone for all your support and interest in what I’m doing, it means a lot.

Day 27

My plan for today was to hike up to McAfee Knob and camp out up there to catch a sunrise tomorrow. After spending an hour or so at Starbucks working on my blog I headed to the trail head. Sadly, about half way there the sky opened up. By the time I got to the parking area it was raining so hard there was no way for me to even get my gear out of the car and packed up without it getting soaked. Unlike on the trail where I had to walk in the rain, or if I were at home, or had a home base where I could get soaked, throw all my wet gear and wet dog in the back of the Subaru and head home, it’s not so simple when sleeping in the car. I decided it wasn’t worth being cold, wet and uncomfortable.

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I headed back to the blue ridge parkway and started driving. It was clear for a while on this side of the mountains, so I figured maybe I would go for a bike ride. The hard part about that on the BRP is that it’s either a really nice new road, or old pothole filled road that isn’t exactly ideal for riding. People do ride the whole thing on a regular basis, but if I’m only doing a short day ride, I might as well pick a nice part. I found a section that looked really good, but I like to park at the bottom of a big uphill so I have the fun, easy part at the end. I drove down a perfect, brand new 7 mile downhill section, but right as I got to the bottom it started pouring again. A bit frustrated I kept moving on towards Shenandoah.

My backup plan was to go camp out on Cedar Cliffs, an area which I cowboy camped on my second longest day of the AT, just outside of Waynesboro, VA. Again, once there, the thunder and lightning made sleeping on a cliff seem like a poor idea. Instead I headed into Waynesboro to indulge in a guilty pleasure discovered when I was here last, Mings Buffet. On my way into town I called my cousin Emily who lives 20 miles the east in Charlottesville to see if she was around that evening, as I hadn’t planned on being there.

After dinner I started to head to Walmart for the night, as I hadn’t gotten ahold of Emily. Luckily right as I pulled into the parking lot I got a text from her telling me to come over. It was only a 30 minute drive and well worth it to see Emily and Scott, not to mention having a bed to sleep in. They have a dog named Winston who definitely remembered Sierra, and is the only dog that I’ve met who likes to play just as rough as her, and somehow has more energy. Sierra made herself right at home by pounding two bowls of water then getting really excited while playing and peed on their floor a bit. After a bathroom break, she drank more water, ran around for a minute or two and threw up a healthy amount of the water she just drank on their floor as well.

As she seemed to feel plenty at home, we put the water bowl away, cracked a few beers and talked about travels and what we had missed since the last time we hung out. Emily and Scott had work and the morning and I had to keep driving, so we made it a relatively early night.

Day 28

Scott had to be at work long before either Emily or I woke up. When that did happen we let the dogs run and wrestle around for a bit before she headed off to work. I drove around Charlottesville a little, and got some gas before heading back to rockfish gap, where the blue ridge parkway enters Shenandoah National Park and becomes Skyline Drive. The gourmet grocery store where Emily works happens to be right on the way back to the gap, so I made sure to kill enough time until it opened at 10am so I could stop by and say hello/goodbye and check out the store.

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It is a pretty cool store, for those of you in the bay area, it reminded me of a much smaller, countryish version or Market Hall in Rockridge. I wandered around for a few minutes, admiring things like the boxes of lemonheads candies, which have a 25 cent price printed on the box, with a 35 cent price tag tactfully placed over the printed price. I found a delicious looking blackberry limeade and a pretty delicious looking salami, which though I probably couldn’t afford, I also couldn’t pass it up. Emily offered to buy me one of their sandwiches, an offer I couldn’t pass up. I went the the arugula, tomato, mozzarella, balsamic vinaigrette, prosciutto sandwich. When I went to pay Emily refused my money, and told me it was on her. I thanked her very much and told her she really needed to come out to Washington once I get settled so I can get her back for some of her hospitality.

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After my amazing sandwich we drove the remaining few miles to the National Park. Though it turned out to be an amazingly beautiful day in Charlottesville, I could see as I headed west that there were clouds looming on the other side of the mountains. Shenandoah was only partially covered in clouds, but was still WAY clearer than any day I had hike through it, as it rained for 5 days straight. I stopped at an overlook to take a few pictures as this was the first real view I ever had in this park. I chatted with a couple doing a tandem bike trip through the park and gave them a few hiking suggestions before continuing on my way.

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I found another perfect place to go for a bike ride, which ended at the bottom of a hill with a wayside parking lot. I parked and left Sierra with some food and water. I went into the wayside to pick up my Shenandoah National Park sticker for my roof box. They have these stickers at this park that say “Hiked it, Liked it”, which was a frequent topic of discussion among AT hikers, as most of us didn’t enjoy it  all that much. I mentioned to the woman working the register that they needed stickers that say “Hiked it, it rained for 5 days”. She laughed and said we were lucky the weather held out this long today. With that I got my stuff together quickly and headed out on my ride. I only got about six or seven miles when the rain started pouring down on me out of no where. I don’t mind my bike gear getting wet, as they aren’t clothes I wear in any other situation, but I with Sierra being outside, I would rather the rest of the day not be spent with a soak wet dog in the car. I rushed back trying to beat out the rain, which was now headed the same way I was. I stopped for a brief moment as I noticed my bike odometer had just passed 1,000 miles! It took a little too long for my liking (just more than a year) but I guess all that pesky hiking and those winter months got in the way a bit.I managed to beat the storm back by about 40 seconds, and get Sierra into the car before it started pouring.

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It was strange driving the rest of Skyline Drive as the AT crosses Skyline 28 times, and at almost every point I could remember being there, who I was with, where I stayed the night before, etc. I really remembered the wayside I passed towards the end where it rained so hard that day that I was wringing ounces and ounces of liquid out of my socks when the power went out before I could order my food.

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From there we went to Harpers Ferry, WV, which is where the ATC (Appalachian Trail Conservancy) is located. The guy who was working there was the same guy who was there when I walked through. We spoke for a while and shared stories of hiking, and I told him about what I had done since. The main reason for my visit to the ATC was to get the email addresses and photos of some of the folks I hiked with from the photo registry at the ATC.

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I spend the night in Fredrick, MD, the closest town to Harpers Ferry with a Walmart to sleep at. This is also when I realized I lost my laptop power adapter.

Day 29

At this point I had no real plans as to what I was going to do between here and MA, as I have seen most of it, and like a lot of this section of the north east, in my opinion, it’s really nothing special. a whole lot of nothing really. I had to drive through a few places I had never been before so I figured I might as well stop and walk around exploring a little bit while I was there. First on that list was Baltimore. All I know of Baltimore is what I know from the TV show The Wire, which as it turns out wasn’t too terribly far off.

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Baltimore is, or at least wants to be portrayed as a hectic crime filled town. There are four plus cameras on every corner, not regular traffic cameras, but security cameras, along with signs on every corner and in every store front letting you know you’re being watched. Somehow this made me feel less secure than if they hadn’t been there. I walked around for an hour or so taking pictures, but that was about all I could handle of Baltimore, at least without much spare income or knowing what unseen sights I might have been missing.

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Toll roads. One of my least favorite parts of the east coast. These things are all over the place and their roads are still in awful shape, not to mention they take the most out of the way route to get anywhere. To get from Baltimore to Philadelphia you have to drive through Delaware. I think this is the only reason anyone goes to Delaware and they know it. As such it’s $4 just to enter the state for the brief period you are in it. The interstate passes right through Wilmington, one or two notable cities in the state, so I figured I might as well take a picture of the skyline to get my $4 worth.

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It’s not much further to Philadelphia, another city I have never visited. It is an interesting place, very claustrophobic. I liked it a lot more than Baltimore, but everything is so packed in, there are all these brick homes with no space in between them, just tall enough you cant see over them, on small one way streets with cars parked on either side leaving you barely enough room to drive, and this is seemingly endless.

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Again, I wasn’t sure exactly what to do in Philly. I drove around for a while and decided getting a cheese steak was the way to go. I found two places that both seemed like the best there was in town, discounting the Gino’s and the place across the street, which are both just tourist traps. I ended up deciding on Steve’s Prince of Steaks and Chink’s. I figured I would just get a small sandwich at both places so I could try to takes. I started out with Steve’s, which was good. The meat was tender and greasy, which is how it’s supposed to be, but in all honesty, it was nothing that special… I was a bit disappointed.

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Next stop was Chink’s, which I was really hoping would be better. Sadly, it was somehow worse. The bread, which is supposed to be soft on top, with a little greasy crunch from the flat top on the filling side, was a crusty bread. Not really ideal for this type of sandwich. The meat was probably higher quality than Steve’s but it was much tougher, again, not what you want for this type of sandwich. In my humble opinion, you are better off going to the cheesesteak store in Berkeley or Oakland, they are far superior.

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After lunch I took a look at my bank account, which somehow had decided to drop $300 in the last 24 hours, I guess there were some piled up unprocessed transactions. Luckily I had a full tank of gas, so I called up my friend Sunita and told her I was showing up early. I high tailed it up to MA for the evening, which was fine, seeing as I wasn’t planning on a NYC stop and there really isn’t a whole hell of a lot in between that I haven’t seen before.

8/11/11

Now I’m in MA, we have a bachelor party this weekend for Eli, which we will be going to Providence, RI for. Then next weekend is the actual wedding, lots of faces I haven’t seen in a while will be there, and it should be a good time. Gas out here is way to expensive so I am going to try and ride my bike just about everywhere I can, though they don’t have the most bike friendly roads or drivers out here.

I turned in my application for Trader Joe’s, where Sunita works part time, and they are currently hiring, so with any luck, within a few days of the wedding I will be working and saving some much needed cash. Another fun note, I bumped my iPhone off Sunita’s desk last night and managed to shatter the back of it. I’m going to the Apple store today and going to try an convince them to fix it for me free of charge as it barely fell two feet. We will see how it goes.

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Also, I thought it was kind of interesting, but this is approximately the route I took on my drive in whole.

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Responses

  1. Oh Sierra. It’s a good thing everyone loves her 🙂 Despite the bodily fluids


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