Long Walks On Leafy Streets

6/16/2017 Sligo Creek Trail, Silver Spring, MD. Photo thanks to Hugh Byrne.
I am writing this sitting in my tent in the Patapsco Valley State Park on the outskirts of Ellicott City, MD. It is close to sunset and the area around my tent is pretty quiet and sheltered under some very tall and leafy oak, tulip poplar and other trees. I am camping here tonight just to take a break from everyday life and have a little quiet and solitary time. Last week I took care of Prashant by myself for several days, so I feel like I have earned this. But seriously this is the first time I have been away from home for more than a day trip in the last couple of years since just before Prashant was born, as mentioned in previous post. But I am not backpacking as I said because I didn't have the time to prepare.

It is nice to be away from the concerns of everyday life. I had been making some progress in my research but as always the more you progress the more you see ahead of you. I am pretty sure I am not chasing a mirage this time, but it is painstaking nevertheless.
I have also been a bit saddened by the shooting of a Republican Congressman and the general chaos in the American body politic. After a satisfactory run in the somewhat warmer and more humid morning I started feeling better. Once I got out of Washington, DC I felt even better. After I got to this campsite I took out the old and rusty but still trusty tent of mine. It had been so long since I used it, so I was worried that it may take me a bit of time and some help from the crumpled and faded manual but to my own surprise it all came back to me and I assembled the tent in no time, even more efficiently than before. Maybe I am getting smarter or more grown up. I must have gotten this tent about twenty years ago. It is so long I canít even remember. I had driven to this place near the Pocomoke river on a whim and bought the tent at the closest Walmart. It is called Ozark trails, perhaps because the Walton family come from Arkansas. Since then upon Nicoleís request we have bought a new tent but I didnít have time to dig it up last night. Assembling the tent brought back memories of the times I camped on the Assateague Island with my father and also, more vividly, the first time Nicole and I went on a camping outing, just a few months after we met.

After setting up the tent I went for a little walk in the park. The campground is quite well maintained, including the bathrooms. The presence of trees all around me and the sound of the birds took me to another place. I had already forgotten all my worries. I wondered how it is that I have been getting worked up about little things. The world will be okay, and my research will be fine, one way or the other. Coming here I was a little worried that I will encounter some strangeness. That was one reason why I rented a zipcar instead of taking the train (other than the fact that in that case I would have had to backpack). People from all parts of America camp at the state and national parks. I have seen confederate flags at Janeís Island when we camped there. But I firmly believe, as Obama does, that Americans overall are a great people and the people I met today have only strengthened that belief.

I took some photos from a scenic overlook and then took a trail down to the river. At one point I lost the trail and took a shortcut. It was quick but also very steep and slippery so much so that at times I didnít have the nerve to walk straight down and slid myself carefully with my hands and also holding on to some trees. I sat down by the rushing river for a little while. I will post pictures from this outing soon, on my Flickr page.

Earlier in the day on the way to coming here I had stopped at the Columbia Town Center. I was quite impressed by the way the town has been designed with lots of greenery and several lakes with walking paths and parks built around them. Even the Whole Foods was very elegantly laid out with an eating area looking out at a lake. Later I found out that this building was designed by Frank Gehry! While walking around the lake at one point I went over a little stream. I stood there watching some dragon flies chasing each other over the waters rippling over the smooth rocks. For a few moments I was aware of nothing else. I could have stood there looking at the water flow, all afternoon.

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