Harper's Ferry Here We Come (AGAIN)!

“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today”

Malcolm X

State 2: West Virginia - June 8th 2017

We decided to sleep in at the Hilton until noon, and then caught the shuttle down a winding hill and across the street to the Dodge dealership to reunite with our Rosie! A few moments later, and about $1000.00 poorer, we departed Elkins for our last stop in West Virginia's, Harper's Ferry. Thirty minutes into our trip, we once again passed the Town of Harman, and saw Linda outside of her shop. Rosie gave her 3 sharp horn blasts, and we saw her waving at us in our rear view mirror. We wish we could have stopped, but we had some serious ground to cover.

We made it to Harper's Ferry, WV at 4:00pm. Our intended destination that day was Harper's Ferry National Park, but I took a brief detour to do a little dream building. When we were planning for our current journey, we didn’t just wake up one morning, look at each other and say “What do you wanna do today? I know, lets quit our jobs, live in a van, drive around the US in a path that resembles an abnormal EKG reading, and let’s leave today!” That would have been just a tad irresponsible, although it would have made a hell of an amazing story! We started saving, talking, planning, and researching for over 2 years before we actually left. There were lots of things that we knew would be outside of our control on the road, so we focused on the things that were physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually within our control. For example, we knew, that we would only have a 1 square ft fridge on the road, so we bought a 1 sq foot dorm fridge to get use to for the past year. We also enjoyed our power bill dropping to $35.00 per month after we unplugged our gigantic side by side fridge. The transition from stationary life, to nomadic life has not been as bumpy as we thought. Now that the planning for this cross country trip has transitioned in to the action phase, I am now looking to plan for the next journey in my life. I decided to stop at the at the Appalachian Trail Conservatory in Harper's Ferry.

It has been a dream of mine for many years to attempt a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail or "AT". The Appalachian Trail is a 2100-mile trail, and is the longest hiking-only trail in the entire world! It goes through 14 states, beginning on Springer Mountain in Georgia, and ends in Baxter State Park in Maine. While there are many ways to hike the trail, a thru-hike is the entire length of the trail in one year usually takes about 6 months to complete. Only 1 in 4 who attempt a thru-hike of the AT actually complete it. The Appalachian Trail Conservatory, not only serves to preserve and manage the AT, but the Conservatory serves as the psychological half-way point for the AT as well. The actual halfway point of the AT is about 70 miles east of Harper's Ferry, WV. There were 2 thru-hikers there the day we visited, but they didn’t feel like talking. I can’t say I blame them. They had just completed hiking 1000 miles, and it was 100 degrees outside when we visited the conservatory. The youngest person to thru-hike the AT was 13 years old. In 1990, a blind man, aided only by his seeing eye dog, completed a thru hike of the AT. It took him 8 ½ months to complete, and he averaged 40 falls a day. Lori has long stated she has absolutely zero interest in hiking the trial, and I could never live without her for 6 months to hike the trail on my own. As of now my dream of hiking the AT, is still just that. I do take comfort in the fact that the oldest man to ever complete a through hike of the AT was 87 years old! I will stay as physically and mentally fit as I possibly can until the day comes when it is my turn to attempt a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.

After leaving the conservatory, we headed toward the Harper's Ferry National State park! I wish we had more time to spend in the park, but we got there late, and it was 100 degrees outside. The park is absolutely amazing! The buildings and the streets are restored to what they would have looked like back in the 1800’s. What I really liked the most about the town is how they took the restaurants, ice cream stands, and souvenir shops and placed them inside of restored 1800’s buildings! It’s very surreal to walk down a street that looks like it came right out of a history book, and then enter the 21st century by walking into one of the buildings to enjoy a soft serve vanilla cone.

Harper's Ferry also has a very interesting history. Up until the Civil War, Harper's Ferry, WV was the sight of the US National Armory, and during the Civil War it was occupied on 5 different occasions. Many historians consider the actions of John Brown at Harper's Ferry to be the unofficial start to the American Civil War. Most people do not know who John Brown was, and I was among them until my visit. In some history books John Brown is a hero, and in others he is a trader. John Brown was a slavery abolitionist, who believed the only way to end slavery was through military action. On October 16, 1859 John Brown lead a group of 18 men who attacked the US Armory in Harper's Ferry which contained over 2000 guns. His goal was to capture the guns, march south, arm the black slaves and start a revolt that would end slavery once and for all. The reason you likely never heard of John Brown is because, let’s just say... things did not go exactly as he planned. To make a long story short, while he did capture the armory, the US militia cut off his escape route out of town, and the Marines stormed the armory and captured him. He was placed on trial for treason, sentenced to death and hung in the gallows. The armory John Brown invaded and where he was captured is pictured.

We have had a blast in West Virginia, but it is now time to look forward to the next state on our cross country journey. First we need some rest and relaxation, so we will be camping for the weekend. State #3 will be Virginia, and their motto is “Virginia is for Lovers”. I think it’s kind of sales pitchy slogan, and they could have done better with a motto that actually said something about the state. Seriously. When you think of Virginia is lovers the first think that pops in your mind? What do I know, I haven’t been there yet! Maybe it is true: we will soon see!