SEA TO SHINING SEA: Washington, Frostburg and space

July 30, 2013

DAY 76 & 77 - July 28 & 29 - 281 years following the birth of George Washington.

When George wasn't chopping down cherry trees and flinging silver dollars across the Potomac, he sallied westward into the Appalachians and beyond.  Surveying, fighting French and Indians, establishing forts at Pittsburgh and other strategic locations, he embodied the spirit and ambition of energetic young Americans seeing endless opportunity and adventure to the west.

We've been tracking backwards in the footsteps of people like Washington, Lewis and Clark, Sacajawea, Daniel Boone and so many others whose exploits and accomplishments seared their names into our national history. That's what we humans - and many other animal creatures do: follow - or track back - in the footsteps of others.  (The way of the Tao is yield, the direction of the Tao is return. Like following a flowing river backward to its source.)

We have footsteps all over the world now and on the moon too. Mars next?

We ate dinner last night with Kelly and Tommy on the grassy courtyard behind hip and chalky Dante's on the main drag here in Frostburg.  Tommy coaches lacrosse for the university.  He said Frostburg would like to drop State from its name as Salisbury did a few years ago, but that would leave it with FU and that's just too loaded to overcome.

Kelly studies river otters and is on her way to becoming a national authority.  Just as there was concern about wolves and caribou when wolf protection discussions coursed through the west decades ago, so too comes the talk about fish populations when river otter protection is discussed.Kelly will be working with whitewater rafting companies out west to gather information about otters and their habits.  They said they would be glad to help but only if she would do some rafting with them.  Tough work, but someone has to do it.  Carry on.

Tommy talked about a young man who works for NASA that he met on the trail one day.  "Smartest man I ever talked to," said Tommy.  (I didn't take it as a slight.) The man monitors and controls satellites from his lap top.  "He talked about the huge amount of fuel it takes to launch the satellites and then the slight little nudges required to keep them orbiting.  He also said while we're fighting wars overseas, there is great work being done in space that never makes the headlines."

And so the river flows.

Off to Cumberland today.  It used to be Maryland's second-largest city behind Baltimore and was named the Queen City.  Frostburg, at about 2,200 feet altitude - is cool and gets lots of snow but was actually named for a family of Frosts. They call Frostburg Maryland's Mountain City.

Pittsburgh tonight, Portland, Maine on Thursday and then the same in reverse - back to Cumberland - before we continue our coastward quest.  Bicycles, trains, airplanes and automobiles.  Gathering no moss.

And into August.  Holy smoke!

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