Friday, July 24, 2009
Sassy left the trail on June 17th and we didn't expect to see each other until early September when I summit Katahdin. 6pm this past Monday, I call Sassy in MI and let her know that Wheeler, Bonesey, Rocket and I are renting a car and driving up to Manchester, VT for a hiker party. I of course tell her how much I love her and miss her, and then I ask her if she would like to drive the 16 hours to see me and hang out for a few days. Sassy considers my request and is then on the road not more than 12 hours later thanks to Sassy's parents, Joe and Marmy. I have such a great wife!
Oops... Wheeler just called and it looks like everyone is ready to get back on the trail after six days off.
Sassy will try and update the blog soon, otherwise, I'll keep all of you on the up and up the next time I'm at a library. Please check out updated pictures at:
Friday, July 17, 2009
First order of business: Dasek VS. Appalachian Trail – Dasek, 1455 miles; AT, 722 miles. I’m leaving Kent, CT just as soon as I finish this posting. I'll be in MA by Sunday morning.
Dick Ludwick was the Mayor of Unionville, NY (pop. 561) for 12 years until this past March. Throughout his term, he noticed how the town of Unionville was not terribly friendly to passing thru-hikers who stopped in for a night's rest or supplies. The desire of helping hikers was further instilled when he found himself broken down on a rural highway in the White Mountains of NH. His wife, a long time sufferer of Multiple Sclerosis, was also with him in the car. Unable to leave his wife behind and get help, they were fortunately brought to the rescue by a passerby in a pickup. Dick and his wife realized that they could help out weary hikers the same way he and his wife were assisted in the Whites. During this period, much of his time was devoted to his wife and coping with the MS. Sadly, she passed six years ago after 44 years of marriage. I can easily see that he loved her more than anything.
In the late summer of 2007, Dick opened up his home to hikers. He originally called it the Mayor's House changed it to The Outhouse Hostel when he did not run for another term. He has a modest two-bedroom ranch home with 8 bunks in the basement. When I arrived at his home, he told me that the first order of business was to kick off my shoes and grab a cold Budweiser out of the cooler. The first Bud is on the house, the second through fourth are 25 cents each. Not a bad deal! After I completed the difficult task of consuming the first beer, I grabbed a second and took it into the shower. Here I contemplated if life could be much sweeter at that moment. My clothes were all thrown into the wash and I got to wear one of Dick's bathrobes while I had my third beer and gobbled up a plate full of Sloppy Joes and bean salad. Once dinner was finished, Dick had the other hikers and me come into the living room where we watched a DVD of mobile phone salesman, Paul Potts, singing the opera Nessun Dorma to clinch victory on the British show Britain's Got Talent. I won't get into the story behind him having us watch this, but the agenda was to make us realize we can complete the trail as long as we believe in ourselves. He has probably shown this same video 300 times to hikers, and he sat with six of us for over an hour and spoke about his wish for us to achieve our dreams. He spoke with such passion and conviction I would have thought this was the first time he done this.
The night concluded after the third beer and much conversation with Dick and his passion for helping hikers. I should note that he personally has never set foot on the AT and thinks hiking is ludicrous. I caught a good night's sleep and woke up at 6:30am to breakfast and coffee. All of this for the ridiculously insane price of nothing! All hikers have the opportunity to donate to the hostel, but it's not expected.
I should also mention that Dick has two gentlemen named Bill (in his early 80's) and Butch (around 50 years old) who handle most of the day to day tasks around the Hostel. Bill does 95% of the cooking and swears like a sailor with a bad case of Turrets syndrome. Bill previously lived in a retirement home and was in a bad financial situation. Dick met Bill when delivering prescription drugs and invited him to live in his home in March 2008. Butch handles more of the administrative tasks and is the one often assisting hikers by driving them to outfitters and stores.
The point here is that all three of these gentlemen have found a passion and a reason to get excited about life. At the end of the day we need to find what gives us joy. These guys have it through helping us hikers. The Outhouse, formerly known as the Mayor's house, was the by far my favorite hostel on the trail.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
I'm watching an epic Wimbledon final match with Roddick and Federer. The 5th set is tied at 10 games each and they're playing at such a high level. I wish I had this level on fitness on the unyielding AT.
Two “Zero-days” to celebrate Amurrica (George W style) and I’m getting back on the trail in a couple hours. I’ve been hanging out with a good group I met at the hiker feed in Duncannon, PA. Trail Angel Mary (in the tie-dye) was largely responsible for putting on the feed that attracted 50 or so hikers. After the feed, we ended up at the Doyle Hotel for music and $2.25 22oz Yeunglings. Then, Trail Angel Mary fed us, put us up in her apartment, and slack-packed us last Sunday. Slack-packing is when you bring only the necessary food and equipment to hike for the day and leave the rest of your equipment (tent, sleeping bag, extra food, etc…) with someone. Usually, I end up carrying only about 10lbs as opposed to 30-35lbs. Anyway, I ended up hiking with them all week last week and it looks like I’m going to split off from them today. Ziggy Stardust and Thin Mint, the husband/wife combo wearing the red and gray tank top, are getting back to their teaching jobs. Wampus Cat, the taller girl standing behind Thin Mint, is starting grad-school at Colorado State. Zen (the big guy) and Fat Kid (not really fat and not in the picture) are taking a couple more days off to procrastinate getting back on the trail.
I’m in good spirits even though I’ve been away from Sassy for two and a half weeks now. Sassy and I both agree that I belong on the trail; the thought of leaving the trail unfinished does not sit well with either of us. Hiking with the group and taking the last couple of days off with them has been very refreshing and I think I’m in excellent shape mentally and physically to bust out some miles. The plan is to get into NJ on the 7th and then cruise through NY and make it into CT by the 16th to catch up with my old hiking buddy, Bonesy, and then possibly see my aunt and uncle in Stanford.
Dasek vs AT: Dasek-1233 miles; AT – 946 miles
Check out updated photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/22604179@N06/
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Spending time with my grandma in her kitchen is one of my favorite things to do. She has such a wealth of knowledge when it comes to cooking, baking and the techniques/tricks that go along with them. Grandma had several lemons she needed to use up, so today she taught me how to make lemon curd which is something I've never tasted until this afternoon. It's delicious!
The ironic thing is the many recipes that I just printed off a couple of days ago that call for lemon curd: cream puffs with lemon mousse & blueberry sauce, coconut cake with lemon curd, fresh lemon mousse... Is your mouth watering yet?
This will be a recipe I use for the remainder of my cooking days.