Day 145 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 1564 Hiked yesterday: 19 Trail Miles, Miles left to hike: 620
First, to Kevin L., thank you for the generous donation. When I told Chipmunk she had some Chipmunk Bucks, she said, "Woo Hoo! I want to go to the One Direction movie at the end of August and maybe some pizza!" Thanks again for your support!
Second, to Barbara: I'm sorry for not being able to take your call yesterday and I can't wait to hear about this offer for Chipmunk "after her journey". I'll text you after I get the blog posted to see if it's a good time to talk.
Third, to all of our readers, thanks for humoring me as I "whined" a bit in yesterday's blog. I do find writing this blog to be very cathartic for me. In all honesty, as I look back over the last 5 months, all the good about this adventure far outweighs any of the occasional annoyances.
As she got ready to leave, she gave Papa Chip a big hug and then turned her attention to Chocolate Chip. The two of them have quite a connection to one another and I think they both miss each other during the day. I, too, got a big hug and a kiss from Chipmunk before she put her pack on to start her day.
Once she had the right gear on, she headed to the trailhead and into the woods. We told her we'd see her at the meet up spot and watched as she walked deeper into the woods and disappeared from our sight. Once we got back to the truck and started driving, Papa Chip said, "Something is definitely wrong here." I hadn't noticed anything but he noted that the speedometer had stopped working and the volt meter was now hanging around 8 instead of between 10 and 12, as it was the day before.
He pulled the truck into a parking lot and decided to call the parts place where we'd purchased the alternator from days before. The gentleman who answered remembered us and told him that there was a possibility the alternator was faulty. He said he had another one in stock and that he'd exchange it if we brought it back. Soooo... we set the GPS for the address in Millerton, NY and drove just over an hour back to the Brick Block Auto Parts Store.
Along the way, he realized that the truck was no longer shifting into overdrive either. Uh oh. Papa Chip looked worried about that one, figuring that the transmission issue couldn't be related to the alternator issue. I'd like to say I didn't start worrying ... but I did. Papa Chip can fix just about everything but transmissions is not his specialty. He can drop an old one out and replace it (with hassle) but repairing one on the fly isn't something he's done before.
Papa Chip removed the old "new" alternator and walked it into the parts store, where the new "new" alternator was waiting for him. He brought it out and began working quickly. I was surprised at how quick the changeout occurred. It's pretty cool watching him "get in the zone" when he's working on vehicles.
We thanked the fellow for his help and he apologized that the first alternator didn't work out. Papa Chip and I were polite and said we understood that it wasn't his fault; that they buy parts and re-sell them with little control over the quality of the items. He nodded and wished us well as we drove off.
We had ridden a short distance down the road and Papa Chip said, "Hey, look, the speedometer is back." So, the speedometer (even on this 20 year old truck) must somehow be tied into the electrical system. A short distance later, Papa Chip said, "Did you hear that?" I strained my ears and shrugged. He said, "It just shifted into overdrive. It must have an electronic trigger on the over drive portion of the trans; probably wasn't getting enough juice from the last alternator." PHWEW! Dodged a bullet there! So, we didn't have a transmission problem ... YEAH!
On another occasion, we were at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio. We got onto the Mean Streak roller coaster and the lap bar just wouldn't go down far enough to "click". When the attendant came by and I quietly suggested that I might need to get off, she basically ignored me and yelled, "Get Igor!" Within seconds, a tall, muscular man with looks matching his name appeared beside our coaster car. He pointed to me with a questioning look on his face, got a nod from the attendant and then without warning, he pressed his hand firmly down on my belly and pulled hard on the lap bar until it clicked loudly. The bar was now lodged between the stretch marks from having my first and second child!
Without acknowledging the shock on my face, he stood straight up, held a fist in the air and yelled, "Clear!" As the train rolled out of the station, I registered the looks of shock and some laughter from the onlookers. I was humiliated and about to cry when Papa Chip said, "What do you care? You don't know those people; you're never going to see them again ... AND, you're riding the roller coaster you wanted to ride."
It took a second to shift gears emotionally but I knew he was right. Most of the time, my weight and size doesn't bother me or stop me from doing all the things I want to do. I've been over 200 lbs. since Chipmunk was born and it hasn't stopped me from skiing, roller skating, bicycling, hiking, etc. In fact, Most of the adventurous stuff I've done in life was done while at or around the weight I am now. Before you send comments letting me know that it's unhealthy to carry this amount of weight ... I'm aware. It's something I've battled for quite some time and if you ask me, losing the weight may be a Herculean task I have to take on soon.
As we waited, I got a phone call from my girlfriend, Sheena, and her timing was perfect! She always seems to call when I've just had a less than pleasant day (see yesterday's blog). We talked and laughed and I felt so good by the end of the phone call that I didn't really mind returning to the laundromat. I took a beer from my cooler and when the clothes were dry, I found that folding them while sipping beer made the whole experience that much better. Years ago, during a trip out West, we stopped at a laundromat next to a bar in Montana. When we walked in, we realized that the two were actually "open" to one another and that there were cute specials listed for "suds and suds". I mentioned to the bartender how fortunate it was to find just such a combo while traveling. He then told me that most of the laundromats he knew of in the area were combo laundries/bars or at least right next to one another. Hmmm... just hearing that made me like Montana that much more. Beer doesn't go well with all of life's tasks but it sure makes a trip to the laundromat better!
Once the bag was loaded , Papa Chip delivered it to the camper and we headed towards the midday meet up point. We found our way their easily and Chipmunk arrived shortly after we parked. She ate a sandwich quickly, drank a little soda and hugged and kissed us goodbye, noting that she wanted to get the 19 miles done before dark. I liked that idea and watched her hike away. She had put in 12 miles by then and looked pretty strong.
After Chipmunk resumed the trail, we drove toward town and our phones dinged, letting us know that we'd reached the edge of "civilization". We have AT&T and have been disappointed by how often we don't have a signal, sometimes even while standing in view of an AT&T cell tower. I checked my phone and received an awesome email message ... I'm dying to share it with all of you but I've been asked not to share the details until at least September 3rd. So, around Labor Day, check here for a cool message about Chipmunk.
Papa Chip and I told her how proud we were of her for having hiked 19 miles and come in by 7PM! She settled into the seat of the truck and started removing her boots. I told her that we could park there for the night or if she'd like, we could go to a local mall.
Her head that was bent down as she unlaced her boots suddenly snapped upwards. "There's a mall near here?", she asked. Papa Chip said, "Yeah, about 10 minutes away. Do you want to go?" She jumped off the front seat and said, "I've got to clean up and change first." She half ran to the back of the camper and then we heard cabinet doors opening and closing, water running at the sink, stuff being dug through and shifted around.
When we arrived at the small, local mall, Chipmunk said, "What time do you want to meet up?" I almost objected to separating since we hadn't seen her much that day but I got it. She's a teenage girl and she wants to walk around and look at stuff teenage girls look at. We set a time and then she walked away pretty quickly ... well above her average hiking speed! Papa Chip and I checked out the Eastern Mountain Sports store and a few others. Around 8:45, we reconnected with Chipmunk who was trying on outfits at the Target anchor store. She didn't find anything she couldn't live without so we made our way to the truck.
After dinner, it was obvious that the long day was catching up with Chipmunk. In the truck ride back to the trailhead, she was nodding off. We parked and when we walked from the front to the back, she walked a little awkwardly saying that her feet were a little sore. She and I climbed into the camper to change for bed while Papa Chip walked Chocolate Chip. We were both practically asleep when they returned and Papa Chip locked up the cab and camper. It had been a long day, full of ups and downs for all of us. We're looking forward to day #146 tomorrow.
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)