Posts Tagged 'Job4125'

Blue Ridge Mountains

Ahh… Fleet Foxes.

Anyway, today was mostly a driving day, so there’s not that much to tell. Coasting down the highway populated equally with churches and strip joints, West Virginian territory gave way to her fairer sister. Job and I arranged to meet Diannao halfway, at Staunton. More on that in a sec. To make a day of it, we decided to drop by the Luray Caverns on the way.

I link the site because my camera is sorely underequipped to deal with that sort of environment, so I don’t have any photos myself. They’re great caverns, though: vast and deep, with over a mile’s worth of walking and some truly spectacular sights, chief of which to me was a large, shallow pool that is so still that at first your eyes don’t catch the ceiling’s reflection; it seems just a pit with stalagmites in. Then something might drip, or the placid surface ripple at some disturbance, and suddenly the exquisiteness of the illusion is made clear. Other notable features included several impressive, millenia-old formations, and an organ that had been wired to ‘play’ carefully-selected stalegtites – the largest musical instrument in the world.

We drove through the very pretty scenery to Staunton, where we met Diannao and had some burgers at a place called ‘5 guys’; a classic American diner. Good stuff. From there, more driving on to Roanoke, and here I am at another house. Tomorrow I move on to Knoxville.

Yes, Virginia

What a lovely day.

It was super-hot in Philadelphia, and super-humid in DC (we were startled at the feet of Abe by a 10-second storm), but West Virginia today afforded temperatures ranging in the mid-twenties, English style. Held not unwillingly in the concrete fists of cities so far, I today got back in touch with some more natural surroundings. Job, who sports some rather roguish, vaguely intimidating stubble and looks somewhat like a swashbuckler in training, drove me out to Harper’s Ferry, which is on a wide, sweeping river. The place was full to capacity and the road down had actually been sealed off, but we found parking a ways further up the road and made our own way down to the water’s edge, where there was almost nobody (a much superior option, I think). The water is very shallow until a sudden plunge in the middle, and so we left our shoes on the rocks and picked our way as far out as we dared. All very bucolic. Also very bright, so apologies if these photos aren’t the best.

Hi-res pictures will be uploaded and linked to at a later-date =)

After an hour or so there we trekked back to the car, then scaled a nearby mountain until we hit an outcrop a few hundred meters up. The view was a little hazy, but still expansive. Driving back, we stopped off at the Washington Memorial – the very first built to him, yet somehow still only constructed in the 1930’s – which gave us our last great views of the day, surveying the surrounding valley right until the fields rolled up against the distant mountains.


A good day. Slow, relaxing, and another few things I would have never have found without the hospitality of the people here.

Das Capital

Raise the star-spangled banner and absolutely keep off the grass: Welcome to D.C.

Everything looks better in Black and White

Everything looks better in Black and White

Feeling much, much better this morning, ‘Toons and I were packed up by about half eleven and headed to the Capital. Of course, without the benefit of the day I had to give up to the lurgy, we had to keep things a bit whistle-stop, but in the process I got a totally unexpected and hugely interesting insight into the administrative process of the Greatest Argument on Earth. A cousin of ‘Toons had tagged along with us, and he happened to know a chap who worked in Cannon House, which meant that, after my usual trouble involving metal detectors and belts, I got to take a look at what a lot of tourists don’t see: the actual machinations of Congress. The chap who accompanied us on the often-dizzying underground network of tunnels that branch out, labyrinthine, under the streets of the legislative Hill was an intelligent, articulate, and clearly passionate guy who was currently trying his damndest to deal with the red-hot public healthcare bill crawling its way through the system.

‘It’s a monster,’ he said, ‘we’ve got a bill going in last night at 11pm – we’re sitting every day at the minute, every day – going in at 800 pages and coming out with 1200… I read the first 340 pages, but…’ I ventured the opinion that perhaps treating legislation as a sort of high-speed tennis deathmatch might not be conducive to long-term results, to which he performed a sort of all-body shrug and said ‘it’s just too fast, it’s all moving too fast’. Certainly there was a pervasive bustle in the air, and a lot of harried-looking folk in suits, despite the sweltering humidity. I hope they’re tailored to be breathable.

In Cannon House, each of the four sides of the quadrangle holds offices for State Representatives. So at some point Arnold Schwarzenegger has had his name – and might still? I think he’s still in office – on one of those brassy plates. Which makes me happy. Edit: Whoooops, Mr. Terminator is, of course, a Governor. My bad. Walking past Michele ‘Crazy Eyes’ Bachmann‘s name, though – less so. ‘The heck, Minnesota? =(

Each room in Cannon House is pretty interesting too, from what I could make of it. Not many doors were open. But New York, for example, was all royal blues and creams, very neat lines, very businesslike, very, uh… Daily Bugle. Meanwhile, another office, the State of which it was representative of slipping my mind temporarily, was rather more laid back, with a gentle daffodil motif, soft green leather chairs, and a rather more unhurried approach to things. Oh, and Georgia, for some reason, had a welcome mat.

It had a peach on it.

It was cute.

Anyway, after that genuinely fascinating experience with the animals of the political zoo, we headed topside, caught the metro to a couple of stops further down the mall, and saw some of the bigger sights. Namely, the Washington Monument, which I’m sure I need not link, and which no building in DC may out-tower in height, the reflecting pool, the war memorials, and Abraham Lincoln’s statue. These things have been done to death and I shan’t pretend I have anything to add, but truly: stirring stuff.

We didn’t make it to Arlington, unfortunately, nor to the spy museum, but I got to see a lot that I wouldn’t have otherwise thanks to unforeseen contacts. I hope this is a pattern that repeats itself as I go!

Passing back through Union Station, with Politico in one hand and The Onion in the other, it seemed a fitting juxtaposition. How can so much be entrusted to so few, and those few be so reckless with so much? The chap from earlier did say this: ‘If we took out the 20 most Liberal and the 20 most Conservative senators? Yeah, we’d get a lot more done’.

So I’ll leave you with that.

News from West Virginia tomorrow.

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