Now that I am safely to the West of the Appalachian Mountains, I shall here describe what I learned during the past two weeks, when I barely had any Internet access and spent my free time largely reading a single book.
1. The Appalachian Mountains look beautiful from an airplane window.
2. The Washington Monument and Capitol Building can easily be seen from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
3. One can get a good aerial view of the Pentagon for a few seconds when taking off from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
4. Pigeons fly around freely inside the terminals of John F. Kennedy International Airport.
5. One can see almost all of Long Island and most of Connecticut from an airplane window about 20-30 minutes after taking off from JFK International Airport, flying in a northeasterly direction.
6. It is apparently impossible for me to adjust to time zones, even after nearly two weeks. I found it absolutely impossible to sleep throughout the entire night and stay awake throughout the entire day on any day of my Ride.
7. Moscow remains mostly a hellhole. One gets the impression it is little more than a collection of sheds, broken wooden and barbed wire fences, graffiti, randomly-located metal drums, smoke, and dreary-looking concrete structures.
8. Smoking should be punished by death.
9. Between one half and one third of Moscow residents are smoking right now (by my estimation).
10. Tobacco sales should be punished by death.
11. Gomel’, Belarus’, is illuminated by numerous neon lights.
12. The only redeeming features in all Moscow are the Metro, the sufficiently modern airport bathrooms, and the hotel breakfasts.
13. Paul Johnson’s History of Christianity (the one book I read during my Ride) is okay on origins, good on the Middle Ages and bad on the American War of Independence (I dislike the term ‘Revolution’). It is excellent on America (and just about everywhere else) from 1950 to 1975. It is also a history of Western Christianity, not of Christianity.
14. Religion can be a force for good. If one can absolve religion of its good works, one can also absolve it of its crimes.
15. Stray dogs wander freely around Sheremetievo Airport.
16. Water bottles are more expensive at Sheremetievo Airport than at even JFK.
17. At least one escalator at JFK airport is broken. The condition of the airport is a national disgrace.
Needless to say, my trip covered Moscow, Gomel’ (“l” as in “leeway”, not as in “liberal”), and a city in Russia located at roughly the latitude of Wasilla, Alaska.