While this is probably going to sound a little crazy, I ran to the sun yesterday. Before I expound upon this further, let me first preface this story by saying that my morning running excursions have become so much more enjoyable now that Jesse and Sam have moved into town. Jesse and Sam are two new BFA staff members who have come all the way from Oklahoma to work with the support staff at the school. They live on the top floor of an apartment just three houses down from the Garni House. And the best news, Jesse just happens to be a runner! It is such a blessing to have a friend waiting for me outside at 6:30 every morning so that we can run up the German mountains together before language class!
Well, my story begins on one of those such mornings. Jesse was waiting for me outside the Garni in her gray pullover and green running gloves. Mornings have been pretty chilly here in Kandern. I suppose you could say that August in Kandern is similar to October in West Virginia—cool during the mornings/evenings and hot during the day. Anyway, I come out of the Garni to meet her and we decide to run up Sauweg and towards Rainweg. Since I arrived about a week earlier than Jesse, I have the advantage of already knowing a lot of the trails. As usual, the run on Rainweg was lovely! We could even watch the sun rising over the crest of the mountains. After about 3 miles, Jesse decided to head back towards home since she is still getting back in shape and adjusting to the hilly German trails. (I think I have a bit of an advantage since West Virginia is good deal more hilly than Oklahoma!)
Well, I continued on the trail another mile and a half through a long patch of wooded area and then some rolling hills and an open field. At the bottom of the one of the hills, I encountered a very peculiar sight for the middle of the forest. There was a huge silver orb on a pole in the middle of the field. Just in front of the orb was an informational plaque which was labeled “die Sonne.” This title was followed by a paragraph of scientific facts about the Sun and the surrounding universe. As I continued down the trail, I soon found Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. It seemed that all were built to scale according to the circumference and location of the model sun. Therefore, Earth was about the size of a marble and was suspended above a plaque approximately 150 meters away from the giant silver sun. Below each model planet was scientific description and an accompanying picture.
Now if you know anything about me, you can probably guess that the first thing I wanted to do was to discover the location of all nine planets. But, regretfully, I was already over a half mile past my allotted running “turn-around” point. Which basically meant that if I wanted to make it to language class on time, I would have to turn around as soon as possible. So, I sadly waved good-bye to the solar system in the woods and traveled back up Rainweg to home.
But, the story doesn’t end there! The same afternoon that I discovered the Sun, a few of my roommates decided to go hiking in the mountains. Near the bottom of Sauweg, on a path that I have run nearly every morning since arriving in Kandern, they discovered Neptune! To think, I had run past it all those times and never noticed it before. The craziest part is that the model of Neptune is a good four miles away from where I found the Sun! It seems to me that our solar system is way more vast than I have ever previously imagined! So now, I have a new running mission: to discover all nine planets before the start of school. Saturday’s goal: Pluto hunting! :)