Saturday, November 19, 2022

Of Trails, Volcanoes, and Thanksgiving

Today was a perfect day to get in a long run at the High Bridge Trail in Farmville. I had an absolutely fantastic time. 

Because the weather was perfect for being outdoors -- sunny skies with a temp of 42 -- I was surprised that the parking lot was so empty except for my car. 

Then I remembered that most chain stores started their Christmas sales today. Or maybe the thing keeping people away was the bright red paint job of my new "chariot of fire." Seriously, I do love my new Passport. I bought it mostly because I am a man, and men have to live with their egos all the time. You see, I bought my Honda Odyssey 6 years ago because it was the only vehicle I could find that allowed me to simply chuck my bike in the back without having to take off the front wheel. However, where I live (Southside Virginia), real men do not drive Honda Odysseys. Around here, manhood is measured by one thing and one thing only: the make and model of the car truck you drive. I did not realize it at the time, but purchasing an Odyssey meant semi-permanent social ignominiam. All that is now over; I have now arrived! No, a Honda Trailsport isn't quite up there with a Ford 150 or a Chevy Silverado. But it will do. 

Pride restored. 

Leaving the parking lot, I made my way to the trail. Ain't it loverly? 

Of course, the highlight of the High Bridge Trail is its namesake, the bridge itself. 

Below it flows the mighty Appomattox. 

Nearby is a place of historical importance, and being an American history buff, I had to stop and check it out -- the Confederate earthworks that were overrun during the Battle of the High Bridge a couple of days before Appomattox. 

Know what this reminded me of? It reminded me of just how important topography was in the Civil War. Today, armies have global positioning satellites and computer-generated topographical maps to figure out where they are and where the enemy might be hiding. Civil War soldiers, including their commanders, had to figure things out the hard way. Even period maps could not answer such basic questions as, "What's the highest point on this ridge?" or "What is the terrain like along this river?" It's been truthfully said that had there not been a McPherson's Ridge there might not have been a battle at Gettysburg. 

Think about it. It was by a strange fluke of topography that I happened to have been born and raised on an inhabitable island in the middle of a vast ocean. Oahu is made up of two shield volcanoes, now extinct, that eventually coalesced to form an island with two mountain ranges -- the Waianae to the west, and the Koolua to the east. Eventually the eastern edge of the Koolua range collapsed and slid into the sea, leaving behind a caldera known today as "Windward Oahu." It was thus a matter of pure topography that I happened to have surfed during my growing up years, as would anyone who grew up on a beach that had a shore break, a reef break, a point break, and an island break. 

Goodness, how did I get from an empty parking lot to volcanoes and calderas? I just find all of life so interesting, don't you? One reason I love to run so much is because during your run something happens to you. You begin to open up to the whole wide world around you. You begin to notice the beauty of this great planet we live on. You appreciate the strength that God gives you to stand up in the morning and get out of bed. Not a day goes when I don't count my blessings. I have never before in my 70 years of life had so much to cherish and appreciate. 

The Thanksgiving season reminds up to give thanks. (Duh.) It's a reminder of something we should be doing every day. I ask myself all the time: If this was my last day on earth, am I living and doing as I should? Maybe, just maybe, the single best way not to take life for granted is by noticing little things like beautiful trails and historic landmarks. 

Such zany reflections, I know. Right now I have to go and deep clean the house. I've been putting this off long enough. 

Feel free to send sympathy cards and donuts. 

Happy Thanksgiving,