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Thanksgiving Morning, 2008

By Allen Affeldt

When FRIENDS’ Director of Membership Services, Virginia Ehrich, asked me to write a few words about my 23 roundtrip rides on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and 45 half-trips to Fancy Gap, over the last 15 years, the sights, sounds, smells and lateral G’s I have pulled all came back in an overpowering smile. I thought of my favorite moment of Zen that occurs during each trip late in the second day, usually, of the 4-day trip. It happens on a straightaway and I don’t know for a moment or two if I am going up a gentle hill or down a gentle hill. I know I’m not on level ground, but my spatial orientation has been interrupted. Happens every trip, as does the big grin that goes along with the feeling. I remembered thunderstorms I had been caught in, at over 5,000 feet, that blow in so fast you couldn’t escape their fury. I thought about lightning exploding around me, and how the hair begins to stand up on your arms as the electric field builds around you while parked at an overlook, since it’s raining so hard you cannot see to ride. In this situation, I am usually trying to decide if I should get under a big tree for shelter or stand in the open. I typically end up doing my best impression of Paul Newman in “Cool Hand Luke,” refusing to get into the prison truck, challenging “The Old Man” to let me know if he’s out there or not.

Thanks Blue Ridge Parkway for giving me some of the finest memories of my life.

May the four winds blow you safely home.

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