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When I lived in the Chicago suburbs, the world felt infinitely flat. In some ways, that was great. It made long walks and bike rides a lot easier, but if I wanted to put in more physical effort on a hill, I’d have to drive somewhere, which always struck me as ridiculous.

North Carolina has been different. There are mountains in the west and the piedmont in the middle. We live near Charlotte, and while it’s far from mountainous, it sometimes feels that way compared to the Chicago area. Add to that the fact that the apartment we rented last summer was on the third floor, and our new place is three stories, and the upshot is that elevation is a much bigger part of my life than before.

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