Wednesday, December 3, 2014

43. Americana

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that if you do your long distance hike somewhere not in America you're going to encounter significantly fewer small American towns. In fact, I might go so far as to say you will encounter exactly zero small American towns, when you're somewhere that is not America. I don't think I've ever typed that word so many times in one paragraph, let alone in my entire life. AMERICA.

One of my favorite things about my experience hiking the Appalachian Trail was being able to spend time in tiny towns that I otherwise never would have seen. Because it's Appalachia, there were a fair amount of old mining towns that had fallen on hard times. Some of the towns felt stuck in a time warp, things moving just a little slower than the world around them. Right before I left on my adventure I had been living in New York City, so I had lost sight of the beauty of small town America. Not that I didn't appreciate it, but I didn't ever get to see it.

The air was different somehow. Maybe it was the proximity to the mountains, or maybe it was because it felt like everyone in these communities actually saw one another as real human beings.

Moving northward, I got to see the subtle, interesting changes in village atmosphere from the South to the North. Every community, regardless of its relation to the Mason Dixon line, had its kindness and its hardness. The warmth and the cold came out in different ways, but it was all there. There wasn't a single town in which I had a bad experience. Every little bastion of civilization had a unique charm. Not every town had a man named Froot Loops living permanently in a motel, offering to give me a free tattoo in room 102, but then again, not every town is Pearisburg.

Not every town had a giant brontosaurus statue in between the library and the gas station, but then again, not every town is Glasgow.

Here are some of the most odd, but lovely, little bits of Americana along the Appalachian Trail.

You need to click on this photo to read the captions around the dog.

Clever Girl

1 comment:

  1. I love this post…thanks for sharing. I am so happy I discovered your blog. It is funny and very entertaining. .I love quirky little towns and townspeople. The people in small towns are mostly kind,helpful and interesting people (sometimes odd). When I was in my early 20's (a very long time ago), I took a cross country trip from Maryland to California and back with my sister and best friend; our favorite places were little towns and local mom and pop restaurants and sometimes a spooky, quirky hotel.