Day 123 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 1287 Hiked yesterday: 0 Trail Miles, Miles left to hike: 896
First, to Rosie (not Evil Vengeful Rosie the GPS but very cool, smart, funny and irreverent Rosie), it was wonderful to read your message. I swear we must have been sisters in a former life. Thank you for your generous donation ... I think I'm going to buy male user friendly sock detergent with that! And yes, we do lose track of the days here. More often we dread Saturdays, instead of Mondays, when roads, stores, trails are all more crowded with the weekend warriors.
Second, to Tom, Wendy, Mona and Doug ... thanks for all your support of Chipmunk! And for letting her lend her voice to a cause important to her: reducing the stigma of mental health issues among teens.
In the pic to the left, Danika is the hot dog, Aunt Janice is the slice of pie (not a surprise since she often steals dessert right out from under you if you're not careful) and with her head peeking above is Chipmunk. We horsed around for a while out front and then went inside and had some really good food! Lesley had their very well priced ($2.49) Hot Dog and a slice of Pie (Homemade Pumpkin!). Aunt Carol had pie, too ... with mustard! I had a fruit, nuts and goat cheese salad ... YUM!
While we ate, I heard the story of their long 2 1/2 hour ride from South Jersey up to us ... after Lesley had car issues, they commandeered Pop Pop's car and were given instruction on the mundane (blinkers, etc) and not told anything about the tricky shifter, the "I'll bet you can't open that" gas cap, etc. They didn't let any of that stand in their way and arrived laughing and having a good time.
Chipmunk and I contacted Tom and asked if we could lend support to their organization by interesting media in Chipmunk's quest; and letting her speak out about the mental health issues of teens. They were all on board with the idea and they did all the legwork (Kudos to Leo of HFMH!) to coordinate the day's interview with the Pocono Record. I encourage you to check out their website: www.hikeformentalhealth.org They are one of the few organizations who utilize 100% of their donations for their mission, as per their website: "Eighty percent of the hike donations provide grants that enable scientific research aimed at alleviating suffering from mental illness and Twenty percent of the hike donations support preservation of wilderness trails."
Chipmunk is aware that depression affects some of our family members, including me, and I'm proud that she took the opportunity to share her views. Amongst the 10 or so people gathered around, most every one of us could name family members struggling with mental illness of some kind.
On the way up from home, they stopped at a Wegman's (a huge store I've yet to visit, but I want to now!) and they all picked out goodies, including: S'mores treats, Tastykake Cupcakes & Krimpets, munchie snacks, sodas and more! In addition, Aunt Carol brought us her Kindle to use plus some books in print. It's pretty cool that they drove so far and brought so many wonderful things for Chipmunk, me and her fellow hikers. Believe me, the hikers love the mysterious Aunt Carol, Aunt Janice, Gmom, Lesley and Danika ... you guys are legends amongst them! AND US!
When all the signing was done, the interview done ... we asked Chipmunk what she'd like to do. Without hesitation, she said, "Let's go to the mall!" Danika got a big smile, too and we all climbed into the vehicles and headed to Stroud Mall.
Meanwhile, Carol, Janice, Lesley and I headed to Garfield's for some nachos and an appetizer sampler. We all tried to catch up on what's going on in one another's lives and Lesley told us she's now a Zumba instructor. I told her I'd never seen it and would she please show me; she declined, explaining that it's very physical. Hmm. She also mentioned that there are special pants with tassels on the buttocks area that help you check to be sure you're shaking your moneymaker the right way. Still not satisfied, I did get Lesley to agree that she'd show me when we pass back through South Jersey.
While we ate, Aunt Carol demonstrated her facial spoon hanging trick (see yesterday's blog) and I realized that Chipmunk's talent might actually be a genetic thing! While I was distracted, I think Aunt Janice stole my dessert.
We really laughed a lot and it felt good to hang out with all of them! After about an hour, the girls returned and ordered full dinners. When the waitress asked if they'd like dessert, they agreed to split one decadent chocolate dessert. When the waitress delivered it ... she brought 6 spoons and the madness ensued. Unfortunately, Aunt Janice took my spoon, too. That, Janice ... LOVES DESSERT!
As Chipmunk and I drove back towards the trailhead, I realized that I hadn't posted the daily blog! OOPS! Chipmunk noted that there was wifi available at the Stroud Mall so I looped back around and posted the blog there while Chipmunk squeezed in a little more "mall time". Afterwards, we got to bed a little later than usual and both of us slept very well. Very content. It had been a very good day, filled with very good people.
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)