Monday, May 16, 2011

Service as Patriotism

I've taken an unexpected detour from my plan to join Pete on trail. His need to make time has been a part of my decision, but more important to my decision is a long held dream of mine. Since I was little, I've wanted to visit all our countries' National Parks. This part of the country is so ripe with parks and monuments that I can't help but choose to road trip to as many as I can.

Since starting I've visited Harpers Ferry, the Gettysburg war monument, Fort McHenry, the Hampton House, The Catoctin Mountain Park, and the Eisenhower Retirement Farm.

One of the things I am struck by, while walking the homes and trails is the relationship our sense of Patriotism has with service. At Gettysburg we honor those who died in service during the Civil War. The Eisenhower site documents the years of service he gave as a soldier and a president. Even the Catoctin Mountain Park recognizes the service of the men in the CCC and WPA during the depression in creating many of the roads, trails, and shelters still in use today in the National Parks System.

However, it isn't just the people and places that these parks memorialize that epitomize this dedication to service. It's the men and women serving as park rangers, tour guides, bus drivers, and even school chaperones who represent much of what it means today to serve their country. They work to keep history available to us and to make it come alive for us.

As Americans, we are raised with the idea ingrained in us that it is our duty to find a way to serve.

How do you choose to serve? What can we as a people do to continue to recognize our history, both good and bad?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Easy, sunny days

I've made it back to the East Coast. Pete's attempting the four state challenge today (4 states, 40 something miles, 24 hours). That's a little too much for me, so I'm spending the day at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. I've walked most of the beautiful town, and now I'm taking a short break at a beautiful vista of the Shenandoah river up by the Murphy Farm.

So, my question to you is, if you could travel to any National Park in the US, where would you go?

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Writer's Block

Two months.

Almost two months to the day since I got off trail and said I'd be posting regularly until I got back on. I haven't written a word since. I'll be back to the AT next week.

We plan our lives. We make choices, often sure of what the outcome will be. If you're OCD like me, you know exactly what your plan is 15 minutes after you've made a choice.

But, sometimes life throws the metaphorical curveball. Sometimes, life, like the playground bully, takes your plan and stomps up and down on it, laughing in your face.

What you have to remember is, "all journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware." To unlock this secret, though, you have to commit to the journey without assuming you know the destination.

I find myself in this situation. I've hiked 300 miles. In joining Pete, at Harper's Ferry, I'll have skipped around 800 miles. I am now and will remain forever a section hiker. I'm not ever going to thru-hike the AT. I'd like to go back and home the missed sections, but I'll never be a they-hiker.

To many people's eyes, (and sometimes in my own) I have failed. I took a year off my job (which I may not be able to get back). I am poorer than I've ever been. I have $1000 to survive on until August when I, hopefully, go back to work.

Did I do it all for nothing?

I guess it depends on how you measure success:

Yes, if I measure by completion if the original goal, completing the whole trail, I failed.

But, really what's the value of hiking over 2000 miles. None, on its own, except perhaps health.

The value is not in walking every step but in learning something while doing it. This I've done.

Hiking was harder for me than I ever thought. I cried more than I thought I would. It's been colder, longer, and more mentally taxing than I imagined. It's also been more wonderful.

It's been harder on my relationship with Pete than I ever thought possible. But, It's taught us how to communicate through major conflicts.

This journey has taken me to places far from where I ever thought I'd go, but surprisingly, it's also taken me back to where I was to begin with.

The biggest shock is that the same place could look so different.

*Quote by Martin Buber