June 27, 2011

Good Morning from Connecticut!

Upstate here.  How are things in SC?  Loop and I are feeling absolutely capital here in Connecticut.  The rain has moved out, the sun is up, we're dry and clean and our bellies are full of homemade french toast (and sausage and blueberry Vermont maple syrup!).  This morning is our last with Pam and Bob (Loop's parents).  They flew up from SC to see us, and we have spent two days now in a cozy Bed & Breakfast in the small town of Kent.  And folks, let me say it again...the generosity and support that family and friends have shown us out here is so humbling.

But, let me back track a bit--the last week out here has been so full, and there's a bunch to catch up on.  Last Sunday, Caboose, Loop and I crawled out of our tents to start what would be our last day hiking with Caboose.  We had camped (rather by chance--mainly owing to running out of daylight the night before) right on a huge, westward-facing cliff that gave us a nice view of the failing sunlight over the surrounding mountains.  Looking back, I don't think we could have asked for a better 'last day' for Caboose.  We were blessed with plenty of sunlight, moderate temps and the most beautiful terrain we've encountered yet.  I tried to write something in my journal that would accurately depict the NY landscape, but as usual my words fall short of explaining the picture in my mind.  The dirt path would wind left and right, up and down through a shady old hardwood forest, where the beeches grew close enough to create a patchy canopy, but were sparse enough to allow the greenest twelve-inch-tall grass to cover the entire forest floor.  Then, the path would turn steeply upward and climb bald rock (leading sometimes over, sometimes under and even through the granite outcroppings) until it left the forest completely and topped-out onto a sunny bald, where the rock and blueberry bushes seemed to be in an endless battle for ground space.  And back down into the beech forest, all the time skirting the perimeter of a glacial lake, riddled with lily pads.  You can imagine how ready we were to appreciate this type of scenery after spending two weeks staring at our toes, hopping from unstable rock to sharp rock in the Pennsylvania flat lands.  After an entire day of this NY beauty, we made it to the foot of Bear Mt.--our final climb, where we were to meet Lt. Col. Austin for a day or two (or four, haha) of rest. Sadness, gratefulness, pride and about a million other indescribable feelings poured in as we summited Bear Mt. and I realized that my (and Loop's) time with our fearless team leader had come to an end.  It seems like yesterday morning that we were walking down the back side of Springer Mt. in Georgia, looking northward across the hundreds of miles ahead of us--not knowing what on earth the weeks ahead would hold.  But, our parting was made more pleasant by a few decompression days of Austin hospitality, West Point Academy walkabouts, New York pizza, New York City hang-arounds, time with old friends (and new friends), slackpacking, more selfless Austin hospitality, home-cooked Mrs. Austin meals and sweet-air conditioned-dry sheets and warm bed-type rest.  God is good.  Loop and I moved out on Thursday morning (yes, we spent four whole days with the Austins), and it seemed fitting that two miles into our hike, a seven-hour long down poor began.  There must be some sort of cosmic, AT scales, where if you tip the balance by spending too many days in comfort and niceness, you have to pay it back with a few days of toughness and borderline misery.  Nothing is intolerable though.  Especially when you know that in three short days, you'll be meeting Pam and Bob at a Bed & Breakfast!!  I know, we're spoiled.  We won't make any bones about that.  Guilty.  Spoiled rotten.  Loop's good friend Colin (and his trusty Dachshund, Bobby) drove down from Buffalo to spend Saturday hiking with us.  We did less hiking and more relaxing in civilization--eating at bistros, buying old books at a library sale, and other highly-rugged and manly outdoorsy-type things.

So, it is with full stomachs, and rested legs and spirits that Loop and I are leaving Kent, CT and the Cookes this morning.  I think that we (as in humans) just naturally resist change, so it's always with hesitance that we embrace turning a page and starting a new chapter of anything.  But, we know that change will bring new things--possibly great things, perhaps some bads, but mostly just different things.  And Loop and I will charge onward into this new leg of our journey with enjoyment and wonder.

As always, thank you to our followers and supporters--we truly would not be out here if it weren't for you.  A special and huge thanks to the Lt. Col and Mrs. Austin for putting us up during your rest/recoup days.  Thank you Josh for coming home to see us and show us the city.  Thanks Collin for making the drive--good to see you again.  A tremendous thank you Pam and Bob for the wonderful lodging and meals.  Thanks lastly to our drop box senders--Andy and Cindy, Honey, and OD and Cat.  We love and appreciate you all.
All for now.  Be blessed and stay joyful.  Caboose, we miss you! 

*Caboose here, adding pictures from Simpsonville (: 

Prima Pizza
Prima Pizza -- delicious, New York-style Pizza! Thanks Mr. Austin!

The Chapel at West Point
the Chapel at West Point 
[one of my favorite things that we saw!]

Me & Mike on the way to NY
Me & Mike on the way to NY 
[thanks for driving Josh!]

The boys strollin' the streets of NY
The boys strolling the streets of NY [in their matching blue (:]

Delicious! [morning snack of course]
YUM! Morning snack of course! 

"Blogworthy" - Josh
"Blogworthy" - Josh

Me & Mike in front of Radio City!
me & Mike in front of Radio City! 
[ignore the greasy-ness, please! it was HOT in NY!]

Sorry ladies, the one on the left is taken (:
Sorry ladies, the one of the left is taken (:
[Thanks to Josh, we have this lovely picture to remind us of our time in NY...I'm thinkin' it may possibly make our Christmas card?!]

Mike, checkin' out the seals at the zoo in Central Park
I LOVE this picture. We were walkin' through the zoo in Central Park -- the zoo keepers were doing a show with the seals .. Mike was totally enthralled by them! (: 

Mike & Lego Indiana Jones
Mike & LEGO Indiana Jones! 
These incredible LEGO people were at FAO Schwarz Toys [I've never seen such expensive toys in my life!]  

Me & Jack Sparrow [so dreamy haha!]
Me & Jack Sparrow [so dreamy! haha] 

Brock, Josh, Me & Mike on top of the MET!
Brock, Josh, Me & Mike on top of the Met!

Celebrating my being done with the trail!
We met up with Alexa once she got off work ... had pizza at Lombardi's & headed over to Gatsby's for celebratory drinks -- the boys wanted to toast me home! (: 

So long NY
so long NY
[I'll be back!]


  1. Ha ha that picture of Mike is nothing short of epic. It was awesome having you guys here. Miss all of you already. See you in 2012.

  2. Matt and I are enjoying reading about your trip and seeing your pictures. We are also selfishly excited about seeing Caboose soon back in Athens. David sends big wet kisses and a toothy grin. We all send our love. Happy trails!

    Matt and Amanda