Friday, June 22, 2012

Happy 50th Birthday To Our Son ... 1 Day Late

Dear Mr. McKinley,

Your birthday was yesterday (Summer Solstice). You turned 8, which is 50 in cat years (old man, you are).

We didn't forget your birthday, I promise. I just didn't have a chance to blog. Even if we forgot your birthday, you shouldn't be surprised. This is in line with our behavior this year, what with us disowning you and taking in a foster kitty to replace you. But, as I said before, I know you are well cared for by Nana & Papa. And I know deep down, you have no desire to come live with us anyway.

Well, hope you had a nice summer solstice birthday. Maybe you got high on catnip and then collapsed in the hot sun.

Love, Mommy & Daddy

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Happy 1-Year Anniversary!

This time last year, we set off on our greatest adventure of our lives (so far).

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Aren't you lucky? 2 posts in one weekend!!!

My sister (QuickQuestion) traveled 376 miles by train, bus and car to surprise me for Memorial Day Weekend!!! She, Deal, and my parents were in cahoots to work out the incredibly complex logistics planning. My sister is about as directionally challenged as Deal is. In fact, I'm no sure who is worse. So for her to change trains, buses, etc. to get to me was a big feat. But it was worth it to me (and I think her)!

Let me tell you about my sister's visit to our place. It was 90 degrees the whole weekend. We do not have air conditioning at the lodge. I am not an entomologist, but I'm pretty sure we have every species of insect around the lodge. Add to it that sometimes our place can get very stinky and dirty with all the hikers.

I believe all of this adds up to my sister's worst nightmare.

But, she was a trooper and we had a great time!

I think I was the most surprised I have ever been. On Friday night, I was covering the hostel while Deal and our summer intern were both out on shuttles. Or so I thought Deal was out doing a shuttle. His pickup of the hiker from the train station was an hour late and I told him, you better charge more money!!! Little did I know, he was picking up my sister. Later that evening, I see him drive up and he is waiting at the front door of the lodge and when I went to let them in, I said something to Deal and turned to the "hiker" to say "hi" but did a triple take! I was so confused to see my sister standing there!

On Saturday, the three of us went to the Valley Fest Beer & Wine Festival. Fun times, despite the heat. Every beer and wine sample was matched with twice the amount of water to battle the heat. The bonus was that Carbon Leaf was playing!!! 

On Sunday, Deal left to meet his sister and uncle at a From Good Homes concert that took place a bowling alley ... in Brooklyn! Neat venue, but far away, although Deal would probably drive 1000 miles to see FGH in a rest stop bathroom if he knew they were playing there. 
So QuickQuestion & I were on our own for girl time. We spent the evening at the hostel and I told QuickQuestion her job was to be the "meet & greet." She played the role famously, introducing herself to everyone by her "trail name" Quick Question. It was funny to watch and observe her when she didn't have a clue what people were talking about and was nodding and agreeing ... blue blaze this, white blaze that, slackpacking ... there's a whole jargon for hiking. We had about 15 people staying with us and our fellow SOBO friend Foot-Z stopped by to hand out some trail magic. QuickQuestion got a nice taste of the hostel life, which she describes as "interesting, but SO not for me."

I cannot be more thankful for my loved ones making these arrangements behind my back. It was a pick-me-up I needed!!

I paid the surprise visit forward because Deal & I came to NJ for 24 hours to see my dad, who got out of the hospital last week after a heart attack and 3 stents ... he is up to 11 stents; I believe this is a record. The truth is, Deal was coming for a FGH concert (I do not kid about these things) and I decided to tag along for the ride.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Celebrating 75 Years of the AT ...

The weekend of May 18-20 (yes, I realize that was 2 weeks ago), Deal & I traveled down to Damascus, VA for Trail Days, an annual celebration of long-distance hiking.

This could not have happened without 3 things:
1) Scott/Redwing & Marie/Hopeful, the former caretakers, coming in for the weekend to cover the incredibly busy hostel. They told us from day 1 we should go away for Trail Days and put it on their calendar for coverage.

2) Our summer intern. Because we have more people here on a consistent basis, it's nice to have an extra set of hands for the workload!

3) Soyjoy. They paid for us to go to Trail Days (not that it is very expensive) just so we can hand out more and more Soyjoy bars!! And that we did! We handed out probably 500 bars to hungry and grateful hikers!

It was fun to be back in Damascus. For those who don't know, the trail walks right through the town, so we walked through in September. And we each ate one of these on our own. This time around, we split it and had some leftover!!

Trail Days was awesome. We really didn't know what to expect, but it exceeded our expectations. There were some really good presentations about long-distance hiking, including one from Jennifer Pharr Davis, who holds the supported hiking record for the AT ... she did it in 45 days. We did it in 141 days. Oy.
 Besides the presentations, we got to see some of our fellow Class of 2011 Thru Hikers, including 2 SOBO guys we hiked with in Maine (they ended up getting behind us and finished in November and December). We also met a bunch of other SOBOs who were behind us and said, "I know exactly who you are! I read all your shelter register entries!"

 Trail Days includes a hiker parade in which the townspeople soak the hikers. Which is why we opted out of the parade. It was really fun to watch though!

 We bonded with the vendors and all the hostel owners, exchanging stories and getting a very important lesson on the proper way to fold sheets. This has made our life so much easier.

All in all, a very awesome experience and we hope to go back sometime. It is great to be part of the trail community and not just as a hiker. There was a place for current hikers to sign in where they are on the trail ... it made us see that there is a very large bubble of people headed our way!!!!