West Virginia, I had you in my sights.
You were nearly vanquished.
I climbed your ancient mountains, trodding them down to dust.
I navigated your confusing county routes, numbered like fractions from hell.
I silenced your endless lawn-chained hounds, who once barked so ferociously at every little thing.
Your ruffians and hooligans scattered from the road ahead of me, never to be seen.
Today, just one day away from crossing your Western border into the great state of Ohio,
I thought I had you won, West Virginia.
But alas, you had one more trick up your sleeve.
Maybe it was poison in my local wildflower honey,
or a bloodborne pathogen from one of your hideous ticks.
Or maybe I just caught a flu bug.
For eight miles, I fought you still.
With every step, my head throbbed and my stomach lurched.
I threw up a little in one of your precious rail tunnels.
And though I rest today in a warm, luxurious bed,
attended to by the fairest maiden in the land,
it is a bittersweet comfort – a reminder of my weakness.
I should not have doubted you in those final miles, West Virginia.
Tomorrow, we shall meet again on the battlefield of the North Bend Rail Trail.
Next time, I will not be so merciful.
Hang on, I have to throw up again.