Vacation report

The vacation was fun; getting back into regular life this morning was not. I was very close to not going in to work today, but I thought if I stayed home, I might start fretting about work things that I need to take care of, so I’d be better off going in and doing something about them. I’ve done that, and now I can begin to catch up on blogging.

I did all the things I expected to do: I rode my bike, went on a hike, did some reading, bought some books, and walked around Asheville, NC — we stayed in a cabin about a half hour north of the city. The bike ride was great: 1 1/2 hours or so of long, gradual NC/TN hills (we were a few miles from the border between the two states). On that ride, we discovered an Appalachian Trail access point complete with parking, so the next day, we drove the few miles up to the trailhead and hiked 6 1/2 miles to the top of Big Bald Mountain, my first experience of a bald. This has rekindled my obsession with the Appalachian Trail; I really, really do want to hike the whole thing at some point in my life, not necessarily all at once, but in small sections, a bit at a time.

The hike reminded me, however, that I haven’t been doing many long hikes lately; I walk a lot, but not 13 miles up and down mountains. I had sore quad muscles for two days afterwards, and I hurt my foot wearing shoes without enough arch support. The hike was most definitely worth the pain, but I have to remember once again (I forget this over and over) that being in shape for one sport (cycling) does not mean I’m in shape for something else (hiking).

Bcause of my sore foot, I didn’t get the chance to walk around Asheville as much as I would have liked, although I saw a bit of the city. This weekend was Bele Chere, a large street festival with tons of music, vendors, food, street performers, etc., so a perfect weekend to visit. I saw some of the festivities, and spent a lot of time in used bookstores, one of which specialized in rare books, although it had some affordable books too, and another a bit more downscale with a big selection of cheap paperbacks. I prefer the latter type of store; while it’s fun to look at old, rare books, I’d rather spend my time checking out books I might actually buy and that I’d feel free to write in.

I came back with three books, although I saw others that were interesting. In used bookstores I feel torn between my habit, beginning to fade away, of not buying books until I’m ready to read them, and my desire to snap up everything that looks good. I don’t want to spend money on something I may not get to for years, but I also don’t want to regret not having gotten something enticing. Anyway, I picked up a hardcover copy of Cynthia Ozick’s essay collection Quarrel and Quandary; she is someone I’ve never read but have been meaning to for quite a while. Also, Labyrinths, by Jorge Luis Borges, a recommendation from bloggers, and Richard Holmes’s book Footsteps, a book about writing biographies. I read something recently that said Holmes is a wonderful writer of biographies, someone worth reading no matter what his subject is, and this book about writing biographies seemed fascinating, and it focuses in part on Percy Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft, two people who interest me very much. It’s also about Robert Louis Stevenson, whom I hardly know anything about at all, and I’ll be glad to find something out. So, some good stuff, I thought.

I also spent an evening with a friend of mine I’ve known since college who lives in the area. We spent part of our time browsing through books in yet another bookstore, this one with new books, talking about what books we like and what we don’t. It’s a very nice way to spend time with a bookish friend, don’t you think?

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