So a lot has happened since I last posted. Sorry to be so sporadic with these entries, but I've been a little unorganized. I'll start from where I left off in Shenandoah National Park:
The rest of the Shennies were uneventful until the morning I was rolling into Waynesboro. I had high hopes for the Ming Garden Chinese buffet I had first heard about in Maine from two guys named Cake and Stiltz. That is I had high hopes until I started getting stomach cramps. Then as the day progressed the list of symptoms grew to include nausea, chills, fever, headache and fatigue. So, I only ate 4 plates and soup-a vast drop from my 6 plates and soup in Gorham, NH. Without going into graphic details, I thought I had Giardiasis, complete with all the normal, lovely and familiar effects. So I holed up in a hotel room after hitching into Charlottesville. Then it mostly passed. Thank you baby Jesus. So I toured UVa and reveled in feeling better by drinking a smoothie (baby steps).
I was able to meet up with Ashley, my friend from the ChoLo back in Asheville. After staying with her for 2 days and meeting some of her lovely friends: Gus, Maya, and Ruth, I felt much better and even had my appetite back for some part. We had a great time around town and generally being lazy. While I was there I had a chance to visit Woodberry Forest, my high school about 10 minutes from her house. It was really amazing to be back after almost 5 years without so much as a word to or from anyone there. A lot was the same, but there were a lot of changes. Not the least of which was apparently me: not a single person recognized me without my prompting them. I guess I have changed a bit in the last half-decade.
I left there all smiles and feeling stronger all the time and made for Bronwyn's house. She's an older British lady who my parents met while living in Charlottesville (which is where they met while my dad was teaching anesthesia and my mom working in the ER as a nurse). She is an amazing cook and I left there with some fresh eggs and pears from the farm where she works. I spent one more night in Waynesboro before meeting my mom, who had to be in Charlottesville for a meeting. We had a great time, and after another night in a hotel (this time on her dime) and 3 good meals she deposited me back at the trailhead so I could keep on. And that, friends, is how my night in town turned into 6 1/2 unintended days off.
Back on the trail, things were a little tough to get back into, but after a week I cruised into Bearwallow Gap where I met my mom's cousin and was joined by mommy and my brother, who I hadn't seen since February. You see, he had been in China studying at the University of Shanghai and has just returned to the U.S. Another zero, great food and 19 episodes of How I Met Your Mother (which is an amzing show, by the way) later, I got back on again and headed South to Pearisburg.
The trail was nice but the heat kept me below 20 miles a day for most of the past week. There have been some significant stops and beautiful views: Mcafee Knob (I promise you know what it looks like: a rock sticking out about 10 feet over nothing below. If you've seen a picture of Virginia tourism or the A.T. in VA this is probably the one), Dragon's Tooth, Timker Cliffs, Hay Rock and plenty if others that just popped up along the way. Don't worry I have plenty of pictures if you want to see when I get back. If you don't, I won't force you to sit through the slide show. I watched only my 3rd sunset and my 1st sunrise of my trip from Rice Field Shelter just outside of Pearisburg.
Pearisburg: went to the Pizza Plus lunch buffet and ate 26 pieces of pizza, > a dozen cheesy breadsticks, a salad and 2 sodas in under an hour. I even squeezed in 2 games of Galaga, my favorite (and probably best) video game of all time. I then waddled over to the Plaza Motel and checked in where the proprietor did my laundry for me! Then I proceeded to sit in my room and watch T.V. for many hours while many beers were consumed. Did you know that the only thing on after 2 A.M. is jail specials? Why is that? Oh well, it was nice to take a break after a big push over the last few days to make it to the P.O. before it closed on Saturday. Thanks to Gena, mom, May and the Jeffries for your mail. Some was delicious, some made me laugh and it all made me smile.
Which brings me to right now. I'm writing you from Wood's Hole Hostel, an old mid-19th century chestnut homestead in the middle of a National Forest. They've been taking in hikers basically since it was rediscovered in the 1940s. It really is a little slice of heaven in the middle of nowhere. With no TV and no cell phone reception or bars or anything else around, I've done everything I have meant to for the past week and more all in one day. I can't tell you how amazing it is to be in such a lovely setting all alone to relax and regroup. I wanted to meet Michael and Neville, the owners/operators of this special place, but they've been off in GA over the weekend so I decided to stay over one day in hopes of catching them and one of their legendary meals. The fact that it's been raining since yesterday was certainly an influence. That and I'm meeting my dad to hike for a few days together through Grayson Highlands. There are feral ponies there!
600 miles left, friends. The landscape looks more familiar and the smell and colors of autumn are upon me here in the woods. I'm getting anxious to be home, but at the same time don't want this Odyssey to end.
My next planned stops are:
Erwin , TN 37650
Hot Springs, NC 28743
Does anyone have an extra LEAF ticket for free or cheap? Or if not either of those, does anyone have one at all?
Can anyone pick me up in Hot Springs on October 14th or 15th and take me into Asheville?
As I get close to home, I'd love for any of you to join me for a day or night or two. If you'd like to or have an answer to any of the above questions, let me know via email or texting or calling me. The ticket would be huge and I would love you forever.
I already love you all forever,