Yesterday was a lazy one for me, which given the trail ahead of me, is probably a good thing.
Chuck and I took a bus to Brookland and went to breakfast before he went off to work. It was another old dive with character, and I’d be fine if I keep going to places just like it here and there along the road ahead.
I intended to go see the city a bit more, but instead went back to the apartment for a few hours to just relax. I’m starting to feel that perpetual tiredness that touring brings on, and I won’t say no to a little bit more rest than usual.
I made it out in the afternoon to head towards the National Mall, and opted for the Metro with the rain. DC has some pretty modernist subway stations, and I forgot how deep underground they are.
And clearly I was greeted with quite the line. It was worth it though; this was an amazing museum that celebrated native populations and also offered regret about the uglier elements of American expansion in the last few hundred years. I was particularly moved by the exhibits on treaties between tribes and the federal government throughout history…and how the United States has broken most of them.
I then made it to the exhibit on the Great Inka Road…
I couldn’t help but think of all the bike travelers that have been through that land, and are even riding down South America now. It made me feel weak to be nervous about this next leg (more on that in a minute).
By this time it was about 4:45, and the Smithsonian museums closed at 5:30. I decided to swing by the main room of the Air and Space Museum, strictly for nostalgia.
This place blew me away as a kid, and I imagine there aren’t many kids that wouldn’t feel the same. But seeing all this highfalutin space gear didn’t do much for me but make me nostalgic for family vacations to DC when I was a kid. I had vivid memories of the food court particularly for some inexplicable reason, so I hit that up for some coffee.
The industrial operation at the food court was intense:
And these white bars crisscrossing all over the place have been burned in my memory for decades. It’s weird what we hold on to.
I strolled through the exhibits just a bit before closing time, then headed back to the apartment. The rain was coming down too much to enjoy a stroll, and I needed to rest. At the subway station I saw a front page that made me reflect on the white guilt experience I had a few hours earlier:
So I’m about to start packing up at Chuck’s place to head down to start the C&O Canal Towpath to Cumberland, MD. I am nervous about this. There was a healthy amount of rain yesterday, and apparently there was plenty of rain this past spring, which is going to make the towpath a mud pit. Chuck rode this trail last year and has told me the first two days are going to be rough and I’ll probably be covered in mud… Something I’m not thrilled about. I’m worried about making enough progress with all the wetness, being able to keep in touch with everyone with poor cell signals, and of course the unknown. I don’t know why I’m letting it all get to me. During planning I was thrilled to ride the C&O. Now it’s just giving me anxiety. I think I just need to ride it and stop thinking so much and remember that whenever I’ve gotten nervous on the bike in the past it’s always worked out. Time to pack up and finally start heading west!