Bill Bryson

“I remember reading once how some Stone Age Indians from the Brazilian rain forest with no knowledge or expectation of a world beyond the jungle were taken to Sao Paulo or Rio, and when they saw what it contained-the buildings, the cars, the passing airplanes-and how thoroughly at variance it was with their own simple lives, they wet themselves, lavishly and in unison. I believe I had some idea how they felt.

It is such a strange contrast. When you’re on the AT, the forest is your universe, infinite and entire. It is all you experience day after day. Eventually it is about all you can imagine. You are aware, of course, that somewhere over the horizon there are mighty cities, busy factories, crowded freeways, but here in this part of the country, where woods drape the landscape for as far as the eye can see, the forest rules. Even the little towns like Franklin and Hiawassee and even Gatlinburg are just way stations scattered helpfully through the great cosmos of woods.

But come off the trail, properly off, and drive somewhere, as we did now, and you realize how magnificently deluded you have been. Here, the mountains and woods were just backdrop-familiar, known, nearby, but no more consequential or noticed than the clouds that scudded across their ridgelines. Here the real business was up close and on top of you: gas stations, Wal-Marts, Kmarts, Dunkin Donuts, Blockbuster Videos, a ceaseless unfolding pageant of commercial hideousness.”


Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods
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A Walk in the Woods A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
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