Day 131 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 1378 Hiked yesterday: 9 Trail Miles, Miles left to hike: 805
With our morning duties done and our meet up spots chosen, we had a big hug and a kiss and then she headed into the woods. I watched for a long while and then headed into town for Wifi and blog posting. My new friend, Theresa, had recommended the Village Buzz Cafe, noting that they offered great home cooked meals and very good coffee. I found it easily and it lived up to everything she said.
When I was near finished with my online work, Theresa walked in the door. I smiled immediately and told her I'd hoped she would stop in so we could talk again before Chipmunk and I headed out of town. She joined me for a cup of coffee.
Theresa had to get on with her day and I mine so we had a nice hug and said goodbye. As she left, I thought to myself, "hmm... there really were many reasons we were supposed to become friends." Thanks, Theresa, for turning my focus back to what's really important about the people I meet.
I offered them all drinks and they were quite pleased to have a cold drink. The noon time sun was warming up the air and it was about 85 degrees. I asked where they were all from and how they knew each other. Fat Toodles and Etc. are siblings from Florida and they said they've adopted RYLU along the trail. They got along famously and were fun to chat with. Once the mailing envelope was good to go and the hikers hydrated, they headed out.
My phone buzzed and I get a message from Papa Chip: "They changed my flight. I get into Boston at 1:00 AM." Earlier in the day, he had messaged me that his phone battery was low and would only contact me for vital stuff. I thought for a moment and then texted back, "Tonight??" and he replied "Yes". I texted, "No problem, we'll be there to get you."
Hmmm.... no problem?? I looked at the time and it was mid-afternoon. Chipmunk was still hiking and should be at the meet up spot by now. I texted her and told her the change in plans; that I needed her to meet me ASAP. Sometimes, she really takes in what's around her and her hiking slows down. A few minutes after I sent the text messages, Chipmunk arrived. I told her the change in Papa Chip's flight and we talked about a new plan.
Our plan to get a campsite and showers had to be shelved. We needed to eat dinner, fill the truck with diesel and get started on the 5 hour drive ahead of us. I told her that we should probably drive as close as we can to the airport and find a safe spot to park and snooze while we waited for word that his plane had arrived. She heaved her pack and poles into the back of the truck while I walked Chocolate Chip. She changed into clean clothes and cleaned up, brushed her hair, etc. We searched and programmed the Google Maps on my phone and Evil Vengeful Rosie for Logan International Airport in Boston.
As we drove, Chipmunk noticed that there was a "5 Guys" burger place and asked if we could stop there for dinner. I pulled in and as I parked I noticed that the back door to the camper was open. This was not a big surprise to me; the handle and latch have not been working well for a while. The camper is old or as my mom would say, "It's on its last leg." I fooled around with the handle and felt like it was pretty well latched. I debated duct taping the door shut but tossed that idea out when I visualized a giant wad of duct tape wrapped all the way around the truck and camper.
We ate dinner and got back on the road. The sun set as we got into Massachusetts and as the oncoming traffic's headlights shown through the windshield, I realized I probably should have cleaned the windshield when I fueled up last. If I was in Jersey, I could have stayed in my seat, had my diesel pumped for me and had the windshield cleaned .... ALL FOR LESS PER GALLON THAN I JUST PAID IN NEW YORK! UGH!
About an hour down the road, a car pulled up next to us and signaled us that something was wrong. Luckily, it was just the back door on the camper again. I eyed a spot to pull over and I hit the brake a little harder than I should. Ironically, the sudden jerk of the truck slammed the back door shut! Woo hoo! I rejoined the traffic and drove on. Isn't it nice when life's little problems take care of themselves?
I drove to a Dunkin' Donuts about 10 miles from the airport and parked. Chipmunk and I went in to use their bathroom and for me to get a coffee. Afterwards, I locked up the cab of the truck and joined Chipmunk and Chocolate Chip in the back for some rest until it was time to head to the airport. (I had pre-checked the Logan "cell phone waiting lot" rules and apparently they are pretty strict, allowing cars only 30 minutes wait time.) Knowing the Chip Mobile would not fit under the low ceilings of the parking garages ... the Dunkin' Donuts seemed like the ideal place to wait.
Chipmunk fell quickly asleep with Chocolate Chip next to her. I laid in my bunk but found myself wide awake with butterflies in my belly about Papa Chip's return. To occupy the time, I engaged in a few Facebook exchanges and before I knew it, it was 12:30 am. I quietly climbed out of my bunk and woke Chipmunk with an important message. I told her that she could sleep in her bunk but that if the back door opened, she was to stay in her bunk. She nodded agreement and fell back asleep quickly. I climbed out the back and secured the back door as best I could.
I drove to the airport and after only 2 laps, I found Papa Chip with his bike box and luggage standing on the curb. I pulled up at an awkward angle, suddenly conscious of my driving techniques. I put it in park, jumped out and hugged him. We had a nice kiss and then he pointed out that I was blocking other cars with the big camper. We loaded his bike and luggage in the back and then I hopped back into the driver's seat. After he closed the door, he came around to the driver's seat and it suddenly hit me: "Hey, I don't HAVE to drive!"
We set the GPS to the trailhead where Chipmunk ended the day before and we talked for a few hours before I started nodding off. He assured me he was awake so I laid my head on his thigh and contorted my body across the bench seat of the truck and fell sound asleep. He awoke me as we drove down the road towards the trailhead. It was light out and my contact lenses were not willing to budge. I blinked several times and told him where I thought the parking lot was. We parked the truck and decided we could all use some sleep so we didn't wake Chipmunk. We climbed over the bike and the luggage and into our bunk. We assumed the same sleeping positions we've had for the last 17 years: I on my right side, him behind me with his left arm around my waist. We whispered the same thing we've said before drifting off to sleep, too: "I love you." The only difference? This time there was a beard that tickled my neck a little before I fell sound asleep.
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)