Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Inclination versus Synclination and What is good for your Constitution

While talking with a friend the other day, I used the word "syncline" and they accused me of inventing it. Oh, if I could only receive a by-line for a slick word in any one of the academically recognized dictionaries. It would add a codicil to my will that it would be noted on my resting spot at Calvary Cemetery. Following that, I would immediately force my appearance on NPRs "All Things Considered" in a New York nanosecond.
For your reference:


Earlier I blogged about the incredible historic and lovely ride I experienced coming back from Pittsburgh the "long" way along Route 40.  Once it merges with I-68, you have the thrill of seeing the Slideling Hill Exhibit in Washington County, MD.  IT IS SPECTACULAR. Now, don't get too excited, it ain't no Grand Canyon, mind you, but it is awe inspiring seeing structural geology of a mountain right in front of your nose.
(Photo credit: Paul Breeding, 1988)

Thoughtfully, they've build road side parking and a sweet exhibit building explaining to you that you are   looking at a mountain with a surgically removed notch. This particular slice is wide enough for a six-lane highway to pass through quite comfortably. Oddly enough for you consumers, they also have a gift shop where they sell rocks....probably from China. At a distance, one might think they are approaching the  Cumberland Gap, but it ain't that either. It is the Sideling Hill Exhibit and worthy enough of being known far and wide by those who may travel by it.

(Photo credit: Scoop Murphy, 2010
Please note: Ms. Murphy did not have the benefit of a helicopter, much like the cheap boost Mr. Breeding relied on some 22 years ago. Ms. Murphy had to rely on good old fashioned levitation.)

Now for the second part:     THIS IS AN INCLINE:

Built in the 1870s for worker transportation, these cable cars are actually "working museums" operated by Pittsburgh's Port Authority Transit. How fortunate they know the importance of keeping these going as how could they be replaced. People still depend on them to commute from Duquesne Heights and Mount Washington into a second means of going into the city. Some walk across the Smithfield Street Bridge, others hop aboard a bus, or stroll to a local business at Station Square at the base of the near ladder-like tracks. Vertically challenged? Check out the Duquesne Incline (3-tiered cars pictured on the right) or the Monongahela Incline (single level, bright red cars).


So, off on a Saturday's thrill ride in the Virginia countryside with dear friends, Mr. and Mr. Pumpkinhead. (No, it isn't Halloween) and a mystery person. This person is a digital ghost who wants nothing of herself on the web. It took three emails, an in-person conversation, and a long telephone call, armed with a 2010 calendar in order for us to smooth out our collective calendar, but it finally arrived. We traipsed off to pay homage to James and Dolly Madison: the fourth official "power" couple in the United States. These folks were so early on the stage that they didn't have a concern about dinner crashers or people jumping the White House fence, unless you were the British coming to burn it down.

Montpelier's second floor served as Madison's library and probably the spot where our very Constitution was sketched out by this founding father. The room was chock-filled with tomes on government structures conceived throughout written history and they served as his reference point. Montpelier is situated 22 miles from Charlottesville, so I imagine he was still wrestling with dial-up Internet back then. It was handy that he had his own "ly-berry" as we say in Pittsburgh.

One issue with some of those books was the early graphics. Dolly was quite the hostess and usually too busy to pay attention to the mail Madison may have received. Unfortunately, a few of subjects did come to light during the recently televised interview with James and Dolly. In the wake of Barbara Walter's retirement, Scoop has been kind enough to pick up the torch. Needless to say, Dolly was taken a bit off guard, so James had to go to bed without his ice cream that night. 

Scoop is proud to report that she was able stay on the property, in a guest home built by the DuPont family, when she attended several intensive workshops on the Constitution. It was an absolute thrill and honor to be able to walk the gardens, sit on the manse steps, or watch the horses in the adjoining pastures early in the morning and later in the evening. It is different being there as a tourist. Time is a buzz kill.

Lafayette gave the Madisons a tree (type I can't recall) in appreciation of their friendship and hospitality. It is still healthily enjoying its position of overlooking the property. Now, don't get me started on that Lafayette character. I think after he helped out Washington by squeezing the Brits at Yorktown he must have surfed his way all over Virginia, never paying rent again. I know Alexandria has several addresses proudly claiming him as a long term visitor rather than a resident. Translated: he never paid, unless he gave you a tree, perhaps. Please know I have nothing but respect for Lafayette and all his contributions during the Revolution. He was the ace in the hole when we needed him, so please don't think I don't value him. This "Biz Marquis" was certainly singing "You, you got what I need" as he traveled the Old Dominion. I just wonder what the Marquis did for a W-2 form following the war.
The entire day was lovely. Weather cooperated with the usual Virginia heat, coupled with some humidity, and accented by a good old fashioned downpour for the drive home.

Mr. Craig Pumpkinhead was a delight at the wheel; but then again, he had the full benefit of an experienced co-pilot who doubles as a near authority on Virginia by-ways and roadside attractions.

Mr. Mark Pumpkinhead gleefully accepted the starring role playing "Miss Daisy. No media hog here, my friends. Forever leaving the limelight to others, he uses every technique possible to deflect attention. Before closing, I would like to call your attention to the color-coordinated navy-and-white polo shirts. All I am going to ask is this: if you were going to purchase a new car, and you were in the back seat of this one, what exterior/interior colors would you select. Take a wild guess, my posse.

So, enjoy your week, my lovelies. Go turn up your air conditioning and chill.  Think of me.  The ordered HVAC unit is due to arrive. Meanwhile, I be here enjoying my new sauna and the mini-fan keeping the heat at bay so my laptop won't ignite.  Please be warned: I do believe I am back in the blogging saddle again.

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