View of the Wetlands From Wildlife Drive in Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

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Tuesday was hot. Humid and hot, and I woke up kind of dreading the thought of a bike ride, to be honest, so I left the hotel early so I could get some miles in before the heat really laid in. Oh, I’m so glad I did. I drove the bike out to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and followed the signs for the bike route. I took my right onto Wildlife Road, paid my one dollar entry fee, and then I was at the edges of the earth, which is how wetlands feel to me, both land and water, and the road set precariously and temporarily between the two. Dragonflies zipped all around me, and red-winged blackbirds were everywhere. I saw more herons and egrets than I could count, and the smell–the smell!–was so *clean*. I snapped this picture from an overlook, but if I’d taken the picture facing the other way, there would have been more water, and a stand of trees in the foreground. That’s the thing with wetlands–you have to be there to see it all, and what you see will be different in a heartbeat. I rode away from this lookout, took my left back out on the main road, and was joined by flapping herons and young eagles just barely above my head (or that’s how it felt anyway) and it was all so fantastic I heard myself actually say out loud, “this is magic,” because it was. I extended my ride as long as I could, relearning, again, that if you’re traveling fast and easy, you just might have a tailwind, and you’re going to have to pay it back going the other way. I spent the rest of my day in the car, following ghosts down back roads and getting myself good and lost trying to find the end of Hoopersville Road. So many lives lived and being lived on the same shifting ground.

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