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Scenes from Syria - Virginia

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For the past week, Americans have been flooded with images of young children and adults foaming at the mouth. Eyes sealed shut from the effects of chemical weapons, people gasping for breath and dying as cameras filmed the atrocities. Lines of bodies wrapped in white sheets, the spectacle of death viewed by many as they sit on their comfortable couches or kitchen chairs and watch the news. Meanwhile, my country readies its arms and steps into its favorite role - world police. Tonight President Obama will make a speech to the nation to sell his military agenda for Syria. Obama - a master and persuasive orator. However, the majority of Americans don't support action in the region and I doubt anything our fearless leader says tonight will sway the polls or advance support for military intervention.

Today I'll show you scenes from a different Syria, a small town located about one hour from Washington, DC. Almost all of these photos were taken from my iPhone or from the window of the car while in motion, so quality isn't the best. The town is located in Madison County, Virginia and population statistics are hard to find. One site says the population of Syria is 238! It's small town America at its best, surrounded by views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and pastoral landscapes. A serene and completely different way of life.

1. Perhaps this looks similar to the landscapes in many Russian provinces? Tiny houses and cabins sit on huge masses of land.

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2. Lots of farms, horses and cows in the area. Agriculture and farming - the main occupations of residents.

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3. In Syria, almost everyone drives around in a pick-up truck. I've never noticed this special tag "Farm Use" before.

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5. My family sometimes drives here on Saturdays or Sundays to visit Graves' Mountain Lodge, the main attraction in the town. The Lodge offers a lot of events, festivals, and a huge home-cooked meal for a cheap price. All you can eat - the American way! :)

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6. The menu varies each weekend, but the service style is always the same. Waitresses bring out huge bowls of food and everyone at the table shares. They constantly refill the bowls, until everyone is stuffed full. On this day, we had chicken barbecue, lima beans, macaroni 'n' cheese (my favorite!) and fresh baked rolls. Dessert was an apple strudel.

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7. I can't say the decor of the Lodge is appetizing. Dead, stuffed animals hang everywhere! Taxidermy - probably a lucrative profession in this area. Maybe this bear escaped from Russia? :)

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8. Sly fox, but not sly enough to avoid a bullet, death and posthumous stuffing.

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9. Lots of black bears in Syria, so the bear theme is common in the Lodge gift shop.

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10. After the meal, you can lounge on rocking chairs or swings on a huge wrap-around porch. My mom and dad relax. :)

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11. The main activities in the area are fishing and hiking. Kids come to the pond and try to catch trout. If you're lucky enough to get a bite and reel it in, you pay for your fish by the pound. I don't remember the cost, but it's very cheap.

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12. Lots of American rednecks in Syria. Now "redneck", it's an interesting term. I don't equate rednecks with gopniks. In general, American rednecks are country folks, not delinquent alcoholics or thugs. They simply live a rural lifestyle, but still work very hard to support their families and community. I think some of my family members even fall into this category.

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13. I don't know how many of you fish, but it's a common activity for American kids and adults. I love this photo! Brother and sister in camouflage, competing for the biggest fish.

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14. When I was a kid, my dad made my sister and I hook our own worms. On this trip, I discovered a lot of kids now use corn. It's not the same! Every child should go through the rite of passage of hooking a worm and having its guts spill out on your hands. I suppose kids today are more delicate and polished, less willing to get their hands dirty.

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15. Apparently corn works, Aidan caught a fish!

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16. Boy scouts at the pond. Readers previously informed me the Soviet equivalents were known as "young pioneers."

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17. Typical house in the small town.

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18. Very common for the American flag to hang on the side of the home, or from a pole in the yard. The homes are well-maintained, though some are abandoned.

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19. Most properties are surrounded by natural streams and mountain views.

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20. Some families name their properties. I like this one - "Bright River."

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21. I mentioned earlier that this is redneck central. However, it's still America, and you'll find a lot of ethnic diversity even in small towns. Here, an Asian family eats noodles on a grassy area by one of the streams.

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22. The town itself I've rarely explored, mostly because I'm usually here with my nephew and it's impossible to keep a five year old boy entertained while walking the streets. There are a lot of antique shops here, an old cemetery, and mom and pop grocery stores.

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23. Abandoned store.

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24. Wonderful, roller-coaster roads here! In my first Russian post, I made a big deal about the quality of the roads in your country. In America, we're simply not accustomed to shitty roads. Even in the middle of nowhere like Syria, we still have excellent pavement infrastructure.

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26. Abandoned school bus on the side of the road. I didn't notice school buses in Moscow during my February trip. Do Russian schools pick up kids in buses, or are parents responsible for dropping them off at school?

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27. I love living in the Northern Virginia area. You can be in the middle of farmland, the mountains, or busy city life within one hours drive. My State also is home to Shenandoah National Park. In autumn, I'll go there and photograph the famous Skyline Drive. It's a scenic mountain route that's beautiful when fall foliage is at its peak.

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I suppose many people would be extremely bored in this small town, but it's a nice weekend escape for me. Now we sit and wait to see whether America will start bombing a very different Syria. What do you think? Is it justified, or should we mind our own business?

Comments

south_of_broad
Sep. 11th, 2013 08:22 pm (UTC)
Without Palin we wouldn't have so many hilarious quotes and she "can see Russia from her back porch!")))
I know , Republicans have nothing to offer. The whole 2 parties system is broken and corrupted.
My thinking is that the present resident of WH is screwing up so badly that anyone associated with him will have no chance in the election, like it happened with McCain.
I have a couple of the favorites from my "camp", but don't think my personal preferences are gonna make any difference.)
peacetraveler22
Sep. 11th, 2013 08:24 pm (UTC)
Palin is excellent comedy relief! :)) We'll see, I believe the next election will be interesting!

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