Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, something will invariably alter your plan. Sometimes it’s something major, more often it’s the little things, such as writing a daily story about your day as you walk to a park. I had it all planned out, kinda knew what I was going to write about this evening, and then a couple hours of life threw it all off its course, as I arrived at my destination, Middletown, Virginia.
I was a little sad today as I walked out of the Shenandoah Valley at its northern edge. The Blue Ridge mountains drop quite abruptly to the east, the Allegheny’s keep on going to the north, but the valley opens up and gives way to tolling hills. The week within has been magnificent, and to think I almost walked the other route. I never would have known what I have missed, but now that I’ve lived and seen it, I’m really pleased I made the decision to stay in this valley and, though it cost me some distance, payback was in the form of spectacular views, cool people and a memory, now 6 hours old, that will be with me always.
I can’t pinpoint what prompted my starting to think about this, perhaps it was the old homes, but I spent most of my walking hours thinking about how wasteful society has become, and specifically, how wasteful this society is. I’ve walked by hundreds of abandoned buildings and houses, all seemingly in very good shape. I’ve also walked by several dozen new residential developments and new homes and wonder,,, why are we building all this new stuff while we allow the old structures to just fall apart? Wouldn’t it be better to fix and restore what is already there? If I were King, I would give great incentives to people or businesses willing to restore, and charge great premiums to people insisting on building new. I probably wouldn’t be altogether popular among developers, but I’m not concerned, only because I’ll never be king. I don’t want to be king, I just want to have a king that runs my country and agrees with me most of the time, that’s all. I have yet to find, by the way.
We waste buildings, but we also waste a whole bunch of other stuff. Depending on who and what you read, the US wastes somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of their entire food supply, literally billions of tons of food every year. And at the same time, again, depending on who you read, somewhere between 12 and 14 percent of Americans face hunger every day, a term they call food insecurity. So what’s wrong with this picture? I don’t know enough about the food distribution and storage systems to offer any solutions herein, but to throw away food when people nearby are hungry just doesn’t seem logical, and certainly not right. Along my route, I have unfortunately seen poverty, more than you’d imagine. And with that goes hunger, and perhaps I’m being a little too idealistic, but how difficult would it be to repackage and re-distribute food to the needy? And, at least hunger satisfied, allow them more time to find improvement.
I grew up in an environment where very little was thrown away - most everything was saved and reused. As a child, I spent quite a lot of time with Anita. Anita was part of our family since the late 1950’s, when she rang the doorbell at my parent’s little house, in response to a little sign my Mom put on the gate, basically saying “need help”! Hers is a whole other story, but she was my best friend as a child. Anyway… Anita saved everything, and not only that, put it all back to use. You name it: plastic containers, jars, wire, materials, all were included. Yet here we just throw it out, unconsciously, or simply without care. If I were King, reducing waste would definitely be on my top ten action list.
It is very appropriate that I am staying at the lovely Wayside Inn in Middletown, built in 1797. This place has been used and reused for 222 years, and it is nothing short of totally cool. It is purportedly “America’s Oldest Motor Inn”, which I don’t quite understand, because it was built before motors existed, but regardless, definitely a lodging highlight. To begin with, I was greeted by one of the kindest dogs I’ve even seen. He was hanging out behind the old check-in desk, but got up. came over and greeted me, gave me a little hug - just kind of leaned on my leg. That set the stage for what was a really nice evening.
I had to chuckle when I entered my room, and on top of the dresser was this… If you look closely, it’s a special edition of the National Geographic Magazine, entitled “The Search for Happiness”.
It’s easy… all you have to do is put a backpack on and walk to New York… it’s working for me.
After shedding backpack and powdering my nose, I headed down my Lee Highway 11 to Nana’s Irish Pub, a block away. I figured I’d help out that little local brewery down the road in Dublin of which I wrote last week. Downstairs is the coolest little old bar. Had a great chat with Austin, Scott and another nice guy who’s name went away with the second Guinness, sorry, but thanks for the nice conversation. Then I headed back to the Inn for supper. I had a choice between live country music or live bluegrass, and am so glad I chose the latter. It was so so cool… bunch of guys and gals, guitars, playing really cool bluegrass. Had a good dinner there, but what was the coolest part of if all was the fact that I was by far and away the youngest dude in the room :-)
Fast forward about twenty four hours. I had every intention of finishing this account this morning, took my laptop down to the breakfast area, set up at a table in the sun, and fortunately, didn’t touch it. Instead, I had a lovely conversation with Becky, my Innkeeper! We sat and listened to one another for over an hour. Met Paulette, whose family has somehow worked at the Inn for seven generations, Luz, from Guadalajara, and Sydney, recent college graduate and excited soon to be bride. All were smiling. ‘Twas a great morning, and glad I could take, for I only had 12 miles today up to Winchester. I miss my mountains, not used to this flat land anymore!
I’m looking forward to a day off tomorrow, my last day in Virginia. I have a few little errands to run, including the addition of some cold weather accessories. So much for orange shorts… it’s a little nippy, not quite cold, perfect walking weather. But tomorrow I will rest, and prepare for the final assault! I must say, I’m really struggling with the thought that this journey is coming to an end.