Day 155 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 1696 Hiked yesterday: 18 Trail Miles, Miles left to hike: 487
First, to Kaci: Thanks for joining us for the rest of Chipmunk's hike. I'm sorry to hear that injuries took you and your hiking partners off the trail this year but I'm glad to hear you have a plan for returning to the AT. FYI, my family and I truly admire and respect the Warrior hikers, too ... please tell the ones you know that we appreciate all they've done for our country.
Second, to Aunt Carol, Tom K., Doreen and the rest of you crazies who love your ice cream with a side of Chipmunk ... thanks for your comments. They cracked me up and made me visualize all of you rushing out for Haageun Dazzs! But I have bad news. If Chipmunk does switch to Hoaogen Daszi, someone is going to have to send me the correct spelling ... otherwise, I'll have to keep spelling Hauggin Dzzaes whichever way I come up with ... my spellcheck just keeps underlining it without offering feasible suggestions as to how to spell it correctly.
Third, to Gmom, thanks for the words of support. Chipmunk read them and smiled and said, "Nice."
Here's a link to his story: http://theharlemvalleynews.com/9067/45738/a/oldest-man-on-the-trail (Photo Credit: The Harlem Valley News)
We awoke to cool weather again and I got up first, as I always do. I found my flip flops quickly after my feet touched the cold camper floor. I started boiling water for coffee and "goat"meal, using the small stove vent cover light only so Chipmunk could snooze until her breakfast was ready. Once the water was bubbling hot, I poured it into the oatmeal bowl and then added coffee to the stainless steel french press style coffeemaker that has accompanied us on many an adventure. I thought about how nice it is to have purchased something many years ago that was so well made and functional that it qualified to be shipped from NJ to Hawaii and then to Florida during our last few home moves.
It's great to have something reliable and made to last instead of the very disposable and disappointingly short lived items that I find on most store shelves these days. And, before you think, "you have to pay to get quality", although I typically agree with that line of thought ... this coffee maker is a mid to lower priced Stainless Steel Coleman item.
For the record, I can't find the item any more. It seems to me that if an item is well made and outlasts its predicted "life cycle", manufacturers end production of it ... possibly to increase sales of newer, less reliable products? Any way, my point is that we live in a world of ever shrinking resources and ever growing landfill issues. If we removed or reduced the corporate greed that drives the shorter life cycle of a product, the majority of consumers would not only have better products, our long term "earth situation" would be better, too.
Papa Chip worked on re-filling her water supply while I pulled her AT Guide sheets for the day's hike ahead. 3 Second Delay drove in to the hiker parking lot and within minutes the two of them were ready to hit the trail. We gave Chipmunk hugs and kisses and then asked her and Amy to stand in front of the AT kiosk for a pic. They both pretended they were "explorers" and I snapped the pic.
Well, kinda. Since the old phone and the new one need to be "synced" at an AT&T store, I decided to have it shipped to an AT&T store. The Customer Service rep I spoke to at AT&T's 800 number, said that I needed to "alert" the store that I was having it shipped there and to tell them to contact me when it arrived; "do this or the phone might get shipped back to the central warehousing". No problem ... I'll just call them. I dialed there number and after pressing all the right numbers for the prompts, I was placed on hold. I put the phone on "speaker" and proceeded to do other tasks. After 15 minutes on hold, Papa Chip and I decided that it might be quicker to drive the 10 minutes South to the store and tell them in person.
I arrived at the Rutland, Vermont AT&T store and walked in to see that no one was on their desk phones. I noticed a few clerks chatting with one another. There were also a few clerks helping clients.
I looked around and glanced down at my cell phone which was still ticking off "on hold" minutes and was now at 25 minutes. I approached an AT&T worker who dismissed me immediately by saying, "Have you signed in?" and directed me to a rep with an iPad. I approached her and as I tried to explain that I was "on hold", she glazed over and launched into her "what's your name and what issue are you having today?" as she kept her head down and started typing feverishly. I said, "my name is Tammy and I need to alert you that I've been on hold for over 25 minutes." She looked up and said ... wait for it ... "That's impossible. You can't be on hold. We don't answer our phone."
I actually took a physical step back, looked at her and said, "You're a PHONE store. You DON'T answer your PHONE?" As she was staring at me for my "crazy" question, one of the "milling about" reps stepped towards me and said, "Well, we can't answer the phone AND help customers in the store." Again ... a step back, as my brain tried to sort out and embrace this ludicrous approach to customer service. While I stood and pondered it, the first rep with the iPad said, "Can I get your name? and what's the problem you're having today?"
After realizing that there was no way I could make them see that having a published phone number that customers could call and then be left on hold indefinitely was ... well, ... BEYOND RIDICULOUS ... I gave my name and said, "My name is Tammy and my problem is that I can't get you to answer your phone and be alerted that I'm having a new phone shipped here, without having to drive here." She smiled and said, "OK, Tammy, a professional customer service representative will call your name shortly." I stepped back, looked at the "milling about" reps, watched as they chatted with one another for a while, then one looked at her computer screen and called my name. I approached and she said, "What can I help you with today?" I explained that I needed to "alert" them that I was having a new phone shipped there and that I needed to know AS SOON AS IT ARRIVES because I needed to "loop back" and get it BEFORE I drove further north on this trip where I'm following my daughter on the Appalachian Trail.
She glazed over, smiled and said, "OK, we'll take care of that." Then, we stood staring at one another silently. Finally, she said, "Anything else?" And, I said, "No." Again, she said, "OK." I stood there a while longer and finally said, "How will you be contacting me when it arrives?" She said, "Oh, I'm sure someone here will contact you as soon as it arrives and it's checked in." I said, "OK. With a phone call? or an email?" She said, "Yes." (I didn't even flinch when she answered the either/or style question with a "YES") I said, "OK. Which number will you be calling me at?" She said, "Your number." Then, I said, "Which is??"
After a few more "Abbott and Costello" style questions, she finally realized that all she had was my first name; no account number, no phone number, etc. to contact me. Finally, I suggested that I write my phone number down, along with my name and the phone model that would be arriving. (It took some time to find a piece of paper and pen.) I did that and also included that I needed to be contacted ASAP since I didn't want to travel any further North before looping back to get my new phone. She smiled, took the paper and looked at me strangely and said, "Is that all you need?" I smiled and said, "Yes. So you'll call me then AS SOON AS IT ARRIVES?" She smiled and said, "Absolutely. If you want to call us to confirm, you can do that, too."
I turned to leave and said, "Wait a minute. I can call you?" She said, "Yes." I said, "Great. What number?" She rattled off their phone number while I looked down at the screen on my phone ... which was still "on hold" ... to the phone number she was reciting. I shook my head, hit the end button on my phone and headed for the door.
When my phone rang, minutes after leaving the AT&T store, I half believed it would be the AT&T clerk calling to tell me she realized the bizarre nature of what had just transpired ... but 'twas not. It was Chipmunk! She called to update me on her and Amy's location and to let me know the hiking was going well but that it would probably be after 7 pm by the time they'd finish. It was great to hear her voice and it definitely changed my mood instantly. It's easy to dismiss whatever "garbage" crowds my busy brain when I hear one of my children's voices. I listened as she told me how the two of them were talking in funny voices, adding "r's" and "w's" to all their words. The ended the call by saying, "Arrr mah Gawwd" (translation: "Oh my God"). I was still chuckling after I hung up.
We took care of the rest of our in town errands, did a little sight seeing and then headed to the trailhead. We arrived shortly before Amy's husband, Wayne, arrived. He stood outside and talked to us while I did dishes and Papa Chip worked on a minor camper repair. When it started raining, we invited him in but I think he took one look and figured there wasn't enough room for 3 adults in the "toaster" sized po' white trash truck camper. He said, "No, I'll just pull on my rain gear." He went to his car and returned with full military rain gear and we all resumed talking as if there weren't buckets of rain falling on Wayne.
Amy and Wayne, thanks again for making our Vermont time so much fun! (and yummy, too!) We look forward to seeing you both again. Maybe some skiing at Stratton after Chipmunk finishes up playing in the woods? More about that later.
Chipmunk changed out of her wet clothes, devoured a plate of pasta primavera (complete with more veggies from Wayne and Amy's garden) and hit her bunk by 9:30 pm. She had put in a solid 18 mile hiking day and was asleep within minutes of her head hitting the pillow.
If you enjoy reading the story of our adventure, and you’d like to send some “Trail Magic” to Chipmunk, click on the “Donate” button at the upper right corner of today’s blog post. Chipmunk maintains a twitter account: @openlymtngoat where a common hashtag is #GoChipmunk . She (or we) will try to answer any questions you may have about her hike and this family adventure.
Thanks again for all your support,
Mama Chip, Papa Chip, Chipmunk and her dog, Chocolate Chip
(Tammy, Jay, Neva and Coco)