by Dwayne Phillips
Pulaski, Virginia – It is a nice small city with a population of about 10,000 people. I remember walking in from the north (as the road goes). There was the Volkswagen van parking lot. I never figured out what that was. I also remember a large furniture factory that had been closed. That was depressing.
My wife Karen and I walked around in a few circles downtown. Pulaski has a pretty good downtown where almost all the storefronts are occupied. A few too many for my taste were campaign offices (the election of 2008) and government-run aid programs. I guess when you have closed factories you also have government-run aid programs.
Karen and I split up, she took the car south three miles to a parking spot, and I started walking. First, I stopped in a little used book store. I bought a Coke and looked around for just a few minutes. There wasn’t much to my liking, so I started walking. There was a nice minor league baseball park on the edge of town.
And then I started walking up the hill. Soon the climb was pretty steep. And then the road started the classic switchback pattern. This way, sharp curve, that way, sharp curve. I was a bit worried about some of those sharp curves. On half of them I was walking on the inside of the curve. There wasn’t much room between the edge of the curve and side of the mountain. If a car came around and edged a bit too far towards me. Well, I could slide up the side of the mountain, and… Fortunately, that never happened.
After 20 minutes I stopped worrying about the curves and started wondering about when I would reach the top of the hill. I had walked up hill on prior days for half an hour, but only half an hour. Plus, the hills I had walked before weren’t this steep and didn’t have the switchbacks. I was tired of this.
After another ten minutes I met Karen. I asked her how much farther it was to the top of the hill. Karen isn’t good at judging distance and time. She didn’t have an answer. We kept walking. We kept walking. We kept climbing.
An hour from the minor league baseball park we reached the top of the hill. There was a large parking area at the top of the hill. It had a great view of the Draper Valley to the south. I don’t recall being able to see back into Pulaski. The hill and the trees blocked the view. There was a tall, old chimney up there on the top of the hill. I never learned why it was there. My guess is that there was a small building up there built during the Depression (the great one back in the 1930s) that had a fireplace for heat.
The best I can determine, the top of the hill was at 2,800 feet elevation. Pulaski was at 2,000 feet elevation. I had climbed 800 feet in an hour. That is an 80-story building, right? How many flights of stairs is that? Are you kidding?
Anyways, at 2,800 feet and this latitude it would be pretty cold in the winter. A large fireplace would be a good idea.
Then came the big disappointment. I figured that I could now run down the hill. Hills are, after all, the same height on one side as on the other? Sorry, but no they are not. The downhill side seemed only has as tall as the uphill side. Look at a terrain map on Google and see for yourself. Rats.
Taking a walk was a lot of fun. It wasn’t much fun switching back and forth for an hour walking up that hill. Since then, however, it has been a lot of fun recalling that afternoon.