Stats to Date:
Total Miles:7981
Total States (& Districts):13
Total Oceans Touched:1
Car Problems:1
Total Times Lost:6
Day: 19 Location: Washington, DC
Telling us to obey instinct is like telling us to obey 'people.' People say different things: so do instincts. Our instincts are at war. Each instinct, if you listen to it, will claim to be gratified at the expense of the rest.
-- C.S. Lewis

I want to apologize in advance for the abnormal length of this journal entry. A lot happened today -- stuff that I just couldn't delete and feel right about it. Secondly, I want to thank all of you who have sent encouraging emails/phone calls. When you spend as much time alone as I do, every bit of contact with familiar friends or even random supporters is appreciated! Which is part of the reason today was so good... At 5:30am, I was up and so was the fog (Surprise, surprise). I drove 25 minutes or so to the entrance of Shenandoah National Park.
Ahhh... Shenandoah, isn't she beautiful?

No, really -- it was a beautiful area, as you can see from some of the other, less foggy pictures. In some places, it was so foggy that I came really close to slaying my second baby deer (which would not have been good -- since my brother gave me a guilt trip about killing one of Santa's Reindeer when I hit my first one on Christmas Eve) -- even at 20 miles per hour, you couldn't see the deer before it was too late. Luckily, I stopped just in time for it to scurry out from under my bumper... after which, I got some good pictures. I gotta be honest though, I bailed from the park the first chance I got (45 minutes or so) because of visibility and my desire to get to D.C.

But I must break from the play-by-play here -- I haven't shared a lot of my personal lessons that I've learned from God on this trip because it's either completely out context (and difficult to incorporate into a play-by-play journal) or (more often) its just too personal. But today, I really hit on something I feel fits right along with the theme of this trip... and it has to do with "performing for an audience of One." I am naturally a people-pleaser... I like to make people happy and I like to be liked... but when I began planning this trip, it didn't always please people. Some were against it, some thought it was dumb, some thought I was dumb and even worse, some people were just not interested. Negative reactions like that are mission-killers for people-pleasers... and if it weren't for my many positive supporters, I'm afraid it may have killed mine. Therein lies the danger of performing for your peers/family/friends. You may get more applause in the short-term that way, but you will likely miss the role you were made for... but when you live for God's approval alone, He'll give you a role you never dreamed you could play -- take just about any "hero" of the bible: Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, Jesus. The same kind of people who now admire these men, would have been among those mocking, discouraging and persecuting them during their lifetime. They stand as examples for our generation because they refused to perform for their generation -- they performed for an audience of One. That's an easy lesson for me to hear, but much harder to live out. Following Christ means you will find persecution -- Jesus promised us that. Our opportunity is in how we respond. Granted, I was not persecuted for this trip at all, and it's not even an overt "Christian" thing to do -- but sometimes God first trusts you with a free-throw before he gives you a chance at the game winning shot. Resume Play-by-Play.

So, while I was thinking about all that, I noticed a truck stop and decided I needed to go for it -- that's right, my first truck stop shower. I pulled in and started asking questions -- turns out that showers are FREE (my current favorite word) when you buy gas. I already had a full tank, so I paid the $5 for the shower (I felt I was getting a bargain compared to the $7 shower rip-off) and it was glorious. I was ready for D.C.

So I kept driving down the highway, resisting the temptation to stop at the National Firearms Museum, and made my first stop at the Arlington National Cemetary. It really was a memorial in itself, with white headstones for as far as you can see... most of them soldiers who had died fighting for our country. I was walking along on my way to the Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial, reading random headstones when I got a phone call from my old Fish Camp partner April. She made my day when she told me she had been picked as a co-chair. It was hard to keep a solemn tone when I heard that -- she is very deserving and will do an excellent job! Congratulations, April. After the USMC memorial, I walked to Kennedy's eternal flame and spent a minute there... as I was walking down the stairs to go to the Tomb on the Unknown Soldier, I looked up to see none-other than James Benham '01, who was a zip in my outfit in the Corps when I was just a little fish. He has been following me this whole trip (online, that is) -- so it was completely random that we happened to run into each other in Washington, D.C. (he was in on business). We talked for a while and at the end of our conversation, James reminded me that Aggies always "take care" of each other. On that note, I left the cemetary to go have one of the best meals I've had during the trip at a restaurant in Downtown, D.C. (after seeing the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which was very impressive.) Thanks James.

I had seen most of D.C.'s major attractions before -- but I swung by most of them anyway. My favorite is the Vietnam Memorial. As you walk into it, you sink lower and lower as the list of names inscribed on the wall gets larger and larger. It's very powerfully done. Oh, and the Lincoln Memorial Myth I mentioned yesterday: Debunked. I couldn't see anything. Finally, I got to the last part of my day, which consisted of the International Spy Museum. Very cool. At the beginning, they have you assume a "cover" which you must remember throughout the tour in order to take tests, gain your "mission" (more information) and then later exit the enemy country to go home. I have to brag a little -- I got 100% of my stuff right... I don't know why the CIA hasn't called me yet. I could come in for an interview at Langley tomorrow. If you're ever in D.C., three words: International Spy Museum.

Before calling it a night, I went to a restaurant where my friend Chris told me lots of Aggies hang out -- but I didn't see any, so for some reason, I decided to head back to my truck. I got to the garage (where I parked for $14!) at 9:10 and the guard (Alex) called me over. "Hey, are you leaving or can I lock up?" "Lock up?" I said. "Yea, we close the metal gates at 9pm, open again at 6am" as he pointed to the metal bars that I obviously missed on my way in.

I'm going to give you a second to think about that... here's a hint: I live in my truck.

Thats right, 2 minutes later my truck would have been behind bars and I would have been sleeping on a park bench. Instead, I got my truck out, paid Alex and made a new friend (and a new follower). I told him all about my trip and he told me some of his story -- he's from Somalia and has been living in the states for four years. Very smart and very nice. Thank God he stayed a little late tonight. Finally, I made it to Borders (so I could type this journal) just in time for the smug Borders lady to lock the door in my face. So I went back to my truck, which was parked in a local neighborhood -- and randomly tried my wireless card. Turns out there's four wireless networks to choose from, right where I was parked. When God shuts a door, he opens a window.

I know that was a lot to digest -- I condensed it as much as possible. I actually left out a few other events, which I may mention tomorrow if the Art Museum and the Holocaust museum aren't much to talk about... plus I felt rushed to type this considering it's 1:30am now and I tired from walking around all day. I hope this entry was coherent and enjoyable.
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