Tuesday, July 17, 2007

a friend from the past pops up out of the blue

It was just a few days ago, in a post about waking up early, that I said "The day before our comprehensive exam in the English Dept. as undergrads, a few of us drove from Staunton to Charlotte and back [274mi each way]." The next day, and unrelated to reading that line, one of the people on that drive friended me on Facebook! Totally out of the blue, and really cool. At least I think she was one of the four people on the trip. If she wasn't, it doesn't matter, because she's someone I randomly think about every so often. She was one of my best school chums for awhile.

20-minute-cliff, aka milepost 19 on the blue ridge parkwayAnd now that I think about it, it wasn't the day before our exams. It was darn close to it though. [Cut me some slack. It was 15 years ago!] The day before our exams, we went to 20 Minute Cliff. During Spring semester, a bunch of us would go up to 20 Minute Cliff, aka milepost 19 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and just hang out and read. Here's a 360-degree virtual tour, and over the wall, which you can't see in this photo or the virtual tour, is a large white rock (the top of the cliff). The cliff face itself is a straight drop down. It's not terribly high. I've walked to the bottom and looked up (not being a climber, I've never climbed up the cliff, but people do). The cliff is so named because in the summertime, the setting sun hits the cliff 20 minutes before it goes down behind the mountains. So, back in the olden days the farmers in the valley below would know when to start packing it up and heading back to the homestead. Most people think spots in the mountains + college kids = drinking, but we didn't do anything of the sort. We read. So, the day before the comprehensive exam, a few of us took our Shakespeare/Chaucer/Milton and hung out all day on the cliff. I don't think we actually read all that much, but it was less stressful than sitting in the library.

The Blue Ridge Parkway parallels the Appalachian Trail. One thing we all knew about our friend Nina was that her goal was to hike the AT. As years passed and I fell out of touch with everyone (that happened almost immediately, actually), there were just a few people I wondered about and Nina was one of them. I wondered if she ever hiked the AT. She sure did, in 2000. Here's her trail journal; it's a good read.

It's not a surprise that her trail journal's a good read, as she was the best of the English majors at our wee school. She was the only one who achieved super-special honors on her comprehensive exam, and all the faculty loved her. Me? I did not achieve super-special honors and only half the faculty loved me. I think they were all disappointed when I was the one to go to a PhD program (which I immediately quit) and not Nina. But hey, I'm in one now...I just needed those 15 years to get my head on straight.

Anyway, Nina went off and wrote a book, too: 50 Hikes in Louisiana. And she seems to have married a totally swell fellow who, oh, just freaking walked across America.

I am happy to have found my old friend Nina. She has a blog which I know several of you will like, so go check it out.

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