I have a friend named Keith. We grew up together. I haven’t seen him in years. He lives in Alexandria, VA. I biked there to see him. Yep, it’s that easy. My relationship with Keith in high school was mostly reduced to getting punched in the balls and watching Tourette’s guy videos at an inappropriately high volume. In Electrical Tech class we used to burn holes in the table with a soldering iron. One time we hooked my nipples up to a mechanical generator and my heart felt weird for the first 4 periods of school. So naturally, the decision of stopping in Alexandria to see Keith again was an easy one to make.
It had been about 600 miles since the last time I cleaned my body and clothes. I was rancid. When I got to Keith’s I spared him and his roommates the burden of having to undertake my unnatural musk by taking a long awaited shower.
We ate some wings, caught up on our lives, and reminisced about high school daze. Keith now works in the Patent Office and lives in an apartment with central heat. He’s making things happen and getting things done.
Being that it was Memorial Day weekend, there were a fair share of backyard parties and grills charring beef patties. I know that’s not the purpose of the weekend, and it became much more evident in a city with such a strong military presence. So we still managed to drink, eat copious amounts of beef and socialize. But after the third or fourth game of flip cup, I stopped and took a few moments to reflect on how fortunate we were to be able to enjoy this day. I try to disassociate myself from America’s political realm because of the absurdity that ties in with it. And I don’t really support the government’s idea of war or it’s necessity. But I do understand the sacrifice people have made so that I can spend time at this BBQ and not have to worry about any sort of foreign threat. Getting to spend time with Keith and meeting all his friends was pretty great. I missed Keith. It was nice to see him. Plus his friend Jackie made this dish called Rueben dip. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a deconstructed Reuben in dip form. To know that this exists, reaffirms my faith in the human race.
As always, I moseyed on out of D.C., but not before checking out some of the sights near the mall. I almost got arrested too. I was staring at the White House on my bike when a guard told me I couldn’t stand in the spot I was in. I got uppity, told him this was a public space and I could stand here freely (which was the truth). He told me I had to move or I would be arrested. I begrudgingly accepted the fact that stubbornness is exceeded by a desire to not be in handcuffs. But still, I left D.C. with a different perspective on our freedoms as Americans. It wasn’t better or worse, just different.
So I ended up in Laurel for the night. I camped out in what I thought was a safe location in the woods behind the library, but I awoke to three pops. POP POP POP. Then an immediate whizzing sound past my hammock followed by an intense pain in my right kneecap. I freaked out. I thought someone shot me. I checked my knee. No blood. I then unzipped my tent only to see a silver mustang peel out and orange paint on my hammock. I had been shot…with a paintball gun. Apparently I wasn’t as deep in the woods as I thought. I’ve been shot at before. Outside of Asheville, I was shot with a pellet gun multiple times as I stopped to eat a banana. Spit on, cursed at, run off the road. I’ve experienced it all. Now I can say I was shot at by a paintball gun. Clearly I was not welcome in Laurel. So I wiped the orange paint off my hammock, packed up and got the hell out. I just wish I could have seen who shot me. Eh, it doesn’t really matter. I wasn’t that mad, just shocked. And relieved too. I mean that could have been a real gun. I’m content with the welt on my knee as opposed to a hole in it. Plus now I’m in Baltimore with my friend Courtney, and it’s tough to get mad when you’re seeing so many old friends.
Total Ascent: 2969 ft.
Total Ascent: 1704 ft.