Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Yes, I am aware that we have been delinquent bloggers - sorry. It seems that the warm weather and longer days of summer make life busier - why is that? Since our last post after the beach, it has been life as usual in our household - until this week. Sydney and Abigail will be turning the big 2 this Saturday (please save your applause until the end of the post...), and Rebekah and I have been preparing the house for the family party, designing the cake, et cetera and et al. The girls are so excited - not - but they have begun to show the new side of 2ish behavior; you know mood swings, willfull lashing out, and crying for no reason comprehendable by an adult. Our girls have always been...well, girls...and I am sure that some boys are like that, too, but as we hang out with other's kids around the girls' age, we have clearly defined them as "more energetic" than most. The following is a saying that a friend of a friend gave us that reminds us of our place as parents in their lives: "Young children have intense feelings and needs and are naturally loud, curious, messy, willful, impatient, demanding, creative, forgetful, fearful, self-centered and full of energy. Try to accept them as they are." Some weeks I will look at our fridge, where it is posted, and read it almost every day. I would add "...because they are God's children and are wonderfully made." Enjoy the above pictures of Sydney and Abigail enjoying life. (more pictures on Flickr)

Monday, June 11, 2007

We are back from a week at the beach, and we are happy to say that we almost forgot about normal life! Sydney and Abigail loved playing in the big sand box on the Gulf and had their first experience with the ocean. The seas were calm one day, and we were able to put them both in floats and ride the waves. Of course, we spent lots of time a the pool and chillin' in the condo. More pictures on flickr....and more pictures to come once Gigi and Grandaddy return with their camera (our camera fogged up one day on the beach and no pictures of the Grandparents with the grandaughters were salvagable.)

After not seeing Scooter and Wild Bore for a couple of weeks, they showed up in a shelter just north of Pearisburg, Virginia on a cold and rainy night in late April. These guys were witty Dartmouth graduates who enjoyed trivia, history, current events – and everyone enjoyed being around them. I was excited to find out that night in April that these guys would be on the same schedule and pace as mine for the duration of our thru-hikes. We had some great experiences together with trail magic – slackpacking and hitch-hiking – town stops and hostels like Rusty’s Hard Time Hollow on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and ate some great meals together. Rusty’s was a hostel that is near and dear to thru-hikers hearts because it is a “work for stay” opportunity and because the hostel lives off of the land – spring water, composting toilet, farming, etc. As a part of the American Cancer Society fund-raising effort, Scooter and Wild Bore had events set up that involved barbeque with all of the fixings.

As a thru-hiker, an All-You-Can-Eat buffet or free barbeque is wonderful. On the AT, hikers face the dilemma of food weight – if you carry enough in your backpack between resupply points to fill up on each meal, your pack will weigh so much that more energy will have to be extended. In essence, thru-hikers burn more calories each day than they can ingest, so they rely on big meals in town or the occasional trail magic for a caloric binge. The Shenandoah National Park in northern Virginia was a caloric binge for me. The AT follows the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Park, and we passed a lodge, restaurant, campground (with barbeque-ing tourists), or hostel every day! While in the Park, I noticed a shift – in service, food options and hospitality. “5.15.97 We have been comparing the North and the South the past few days. Everyone else is from the North and they expected the changes – the short answers, lack of hospitality, no sweet tea or refills on sodas, different menu items (no grits, biscuits and gravy, etc.), different restaurant chains…The hospitality is the big thing that gets to me – I prefer the South!” I quickly learned to live with it and expected it – and my spirits were lifted by all of the good food. Maybe it was our aroma that affected how others responded…”5.16.97 Yesterday, I shaved – yes, I had to…well, I didn’t have to but it was more than two months [of growth] and you couldn’t tell from 5 feet away! I am still going to let my hair grow out – I’ll just have to wash it more. I did get a shower yesterday, but I already smell again.” The temperatures quickly turned and summer was in full bloom – 80’s and 90’s during the day did not help the smells either.

966.5 miles down as of May 19, 1997. I also hiked with a guy from Pennsylvania in May named Cowanesque. Cow was a 45 year old, Auto/Diesel College grad, excavation business owner, and Boy Scout Troop leader with a couple of kids. He was a very quiet and introspective guy, but we enjoyed each others company while Boar and Scooter were slackpacking or off to another friends wedding or conducting fund-raising events. Cow and I strolled through the Caledonia State Park in Pennsylvania on Memorial Day – “5.26.07 Fooled again! Poor man’s Pizzeria, 0.5 miles away, and closed on Mondays. Agh! At Caledonia State Park now and the grill should be open. But it’s not – and even worse all of the people on their Memorial Day cookouts haven’t even recognized that we are hungry thru-hikers…Not only is the grill closed, the restrooms are too! No coke machine either!” Can you tell that I had food on the brain at all times? I participated in a thru-hiker tradition in the Pine Grove Furnace State Park that involved food and is worth mentioning – I consumed an entire half-gallon of ice cream in one sitting! And I have the wooden spoon to prove it! This was a sort of right of passage and a celebration of half way – 1,080 miles complete on May 28, 1997. In 75 days of hiking, I took 5 “0” days with no hiking; averaged 14.4 miles a day; slept in a shelter 57.5% of the time; 20.0% in a tent; and 22.5% in houses, hostels, and motels; had only 8 days of rain; 2 days of snow; and I completed 37 sheets (74 pages front and back) in my journal and had 37 more sheets to the back cover!