Day 95 Appalachian Trail, VA Miles Hiked to Date: 963 Hiked yesterday: 9 Trail Miles, Miles to Katahdin: 1220
First, Thank You, Sheena and Phil for your generous donation. Sheena, I concede. You won this round. FYI, Chipmunk's face lit up when I told her and she said, "MOVIES?", which is the perfect trail magic: Chipmunk cools down in a/c, rests her feet and legs and is wonderfully entertained all the while. We saw "The Lone Ranger" and since it was still warm out after it ended, we also saw "The Heat". Both were good movies with a healthy dose of laughs. Thanks!
Second, Thank You to Jen A.W. in PA for the heads up on the news article about an Appalachian Trail hiker who was rescued from the trail in Lebanon, PA area. The weather has been difficult to hike in: 90+ degrees and humid. If it's not bad enough to be walking in that, imagine walking with 25-35 lbs. of your stuff on your back. Ugh! I really don't know how they all do it. FYI, Chipmunk assured me that she is staying hydrated and refilling her water pouch whenever it gets close to half empty.
After coming off the trail yesterday, Chipmunk, Chocolate Chip and I headed North out of Shenandoah National Park and drove towards Front Royal, VA. All 3 of us were excited to see old friends who live in the valley near Skyline Drive. We drove thru the beautiful country side and winding roads until, in spite of Evil Vengeful Rosie, we found their house.
About 8 years ago, our families met on a cruise ship during a trip to Alaska. When we brought our girls to the Kids' Program on board, we met and became instant friends. Not only were we both home schooling our daughters, but at the time, we were all homeless. We had sold our home in New Jersey after I received an $8200 tax bill and declared that I no longer wanted to pay more in taxes than my monthly mortgage in a town that didn't have a police station, a library and that never cleared my road when it snowed. Just before the housing bubble burst, we sold it, banked enough to buy a property later and took off in our RV to show Chipmunk and the Editor a chunk of our country they'd never seen. Our friends, Rick, Lynn and Eleni also sold their house and were having a custom home built for them, which wasn't quite finished ... so, we were all merrily homeless.
As we drove along yesterday, I realized it had been about 2 years since we saw them. They came out and met us during our family bike ride; Wow! time passes fast. In the meantime, we kept in touch with Facebook, emails, etc. I had recently seen a FB post about (their daughter) Eleni's singing career and I couldn't believe my eyes. She's a beautiful talented teenager now but I usually picture her as the little girl with the big beautiful brown eyes and curly hair who sat across from Chipmunk at so many of those cruise ship dinners, both urging us to finish talking and take them to the Kids Club.
We arrived to big hugs from Lynn and Eleni. Chocolate Chip was excited, too, because her old friend, Oliver, was running around all of us, until I opened the truck door and set Chocolate Chip on the driveway. They immediately did rounds of butt sniffing, Chocolate Chip thrilled that Oliver the Corgi was one of the rare dogs that she could sniff without needing a step ladder! After the pups were satisfied all was in order, we headed in the house and started catching up on all the stuff that's happened in our lives since last we saw each other. Lynn started prepping garlic bread while I stirred the spaghetti and the girls talked and laughed, discovering they are both "Directioners" (fans of One Direction).
After dinner, the girls put swim suits on and headed down to their pool. Lynn, Rick and I brought a bottle of wine and some glasses down to the pool and talked and laughed until we realized it was 11 PM. That's the latest Chipmunk and I have been up in a long time! But, I was having such a good time, I just didn't want it to end. The girls headed upstairs, showered and dressed for bed. Eleni had made up the guest room for me and the girls slept together in Eleni's room. Ahhhh... a real bed! I may not be a hiker, but I do appreciate the difference sleeping in a real bed makes. What a nice treat during this crazy "life on the road".
I drove Chipmunk back to where she left the trail for her last small section in Shenandoah National Park. She said she felt tired and we had agreed that we'd keep the hike under 10 miles so that we'd both have more time to visit with our friends in the evening. Once she was on the trail, I drove to find the meet up spot and after comparing two GPS maps, I found it pretty easily. It was on a paved road ... YEAH! With a parking area ... Double Yeah!
Since that went so well, I decided to drive ahead and find the next day's meet up spot and save it in Evil Vengeful Rosie the GPS. I also found that easily enough and pulled in to a shady spot. I decided to make some phone calls when I heard a voice coming from the trailhead. I got out and walked over to find the hiker, Tune, talking on his cell phone. He looked up, smiled and nodded. While he talked, I pulled a cold Coke from my cooler and when he hung up, he readily accepted it. I asked what happened to his "24 hour hiking" plan and he said he just couldn't do it; was too tired after hiking in the heat. I told him that I saw one of his old hiking partners, Gma, and he lit up and said, "Where?" So, I told him all I knew and said, "I'm sure you're both going to find each other soon."
We sat and talked and then I said that I needed to post the blog at a fast food restaurant with WIFI. I asked if he needed a ride into town and he told me that he would love to go to the fast food place if I didn't mind. Soon his pack was in my truck and we were headed into town. We found a shady parking spot and went into the Burger King in Front Royal. We chatted as I typed and then we heard thunder and a loud rain shower started. He looked at me and said he was really glad he decided to come into town with me. I wondered if Chipmunk and the other hikers were in the line of the storm and if they'd find it a hassle or a welcome relief from the heat.
Soon, Chipmunk joined Gma, Tune, Earl, Little Bird and me at the trailhead. She looked miserable and told me that she definitely has a cold and is achey. I hugged her and took her pack from her. She rested for a short time, chatted about the trail with the other hikers and then we said our good byes. Tune decided to ride into town with Gma's friend, Earl, and thanked me for letting him hang out with me. The pleasure was all mine, Tune.
Before we drove away from the trailhead, I texted my friend, Lynn, that we were on our way to meet them at a local winery where her friend was performing. I followed the country roads past several wineries while Chipmunk brushed out her hair and attempted to "freshen up". When we arrived, I found a shady place to park the truck and Lynn greeted us to let me know that dogs were welcome at the outside tables where they were seated. We walked to the table where we found Rick and Eleni relaxing under an umbrella on the hot sunny patio. Lynn poured me a glass of Sangria and the girls quickly fell into chatting and showing each other funny things on their cell phones. (Doesn't it look like Chipmunk's hand is permanently stuck in "cell phone holding" mode??)
Chipmunk and I were so glad that we got to see her perform and see the crowd's reaction to her; everyone clapped and demanded more. FYI, Eleni is releasing a CD in October and we hope to celebrate her musical success along with Chipmunk's hiking success when we pass back through Virginia on the way home. If you'd like to know more about Eleni's music, visit: http://www.elenimusic.com/home.cfm (www.elenimusic.com)
After the music ended, we all decided to grab a bite to eat in town before heading back to Rick & Lynn's. I had an Eggplant Parmigian sandwich which the waitress graciously obliged me and added spinach to it .. YUM! It was late when we got back to Rick & Lynn's so Chipmunk showered and hit the sack. Lynn, Rick and I talked until we, too, had to give in and go to sleep. I fell asleep quite content: good friends, good day.
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)