Monday, June 08, 2009


In the last blog I gave you a hint about something I’ve always wanted to do – a dream of mine (other than seeing Washington, DC and getting published again). Did any of you catch what I mentioned?

Now before you go back and see if you can find the clue, I’ll save you the trouble. My dream has always been to hike the Appalachian Trail (all 2,174 miles). Start out in Georgia and traverse the hills and valleys on the rugged trail towards the finish line in Maine.

Sound crazy? Yes, but it’s still my dream and I fulfilled it today (well I should say a small portion of the infamous trail). Let me give you a play by play.

R. and I climb into the car ready for a day of hiking. We’ve got water, granola bars, maps and Randy and Hazel. What more do we need? Nothing. We've got it under control or so we thought.

As R. drives to Shenandoah National Park (via Front Royal, VA) the rain comes. Our familys' song goes from "On The Road Again" to "Rain, rain go away. Come again another day." And our lively chant works (for a while).

Now's a good time to share a funny before we start our trek on the Appalachian Trail. R. makes his way through the picturesque town of Front Royal and he spies the Visitor’s Center sign. A couple more blocks there’s another one, but this one says, Visitor's Center Here (see picture below).

“You can’t be serious,” I hear R. mumbling as he gets out of the car to check out this interesting phenomenon.

I can’t resist making this a Kodak moment, asking R. to pick up the receiver. He complies without question and poses (see picture above again). You might notice he doesn’t seem to be enjoying the moment. That’s because he’s getting ready to yell at me.

“Would you hurry up? Some guy’s keeps saying hello.”

I want to laugh, but contain myself and we get back in the car. So much for a cheery heirloom picture to hand down to the ‘kids’.

Our travels continue and we find the REAL Visitor's Center. The nice gentleman there gives us more maps (like we need them) and tells us Front Royal is having a craft and wine fair today. It's early so we stroll through the booths, but nothing catches my eye. I'm ready to get hiking.

R. turns onto Skyline Drive and pays the fee to enter Shenandoah National Park. With yet another map to add to our collection, we're ready to find the Appalachian Trail.

As we've already noticed - the trail is not very well marked. We actually missed it somewhere in Georgia. I thought they'd have a honkin' sign announcing where it crosses the road. Guess oversized placards don't go hand in hand with the pristine beauty of nature.

Instead of missing the trail again, we stop at Dickey Hill ranger station and ask Ranger Rob for the precise place we'll find it. He point to the spot on the map and sends us on our way.

Speaking of Ranger Rob (or whatever his name is), this is a good time to segway to another photo opportunity. This involves one of God's creation and the sight of it almost made me turn and flee the national park.

Notice the man's hand in comparison to the wasp. I don't know about you but I believe we're talking mutant creature here.

R. quickly diverts my attention to the map and my GOAL, which is only 10.3 miles away at Compton Gap (per forest ranger-remember I didn't want to miss the trail). I forget the anomaly and we are on the road again.

Truly, people, I didn't think 10.3 miles could stretch so long, but they did. Then again, it might have something to do with all the stops we make for more family Kodak moments.

At exactly 10.3 miles R. pulls into the trail head and I'm only a few feet from the Appalachian Trail. I want to do a happy dance, but other hikers are hanging around their cars and I don't want to embarrass myself. And I guess kissing the ground is out of the question too, but I sure wanted to do something to show my utter delight.

We walk a few steps and my little feeties touch the Appalachian Trail. No words can express the joy I feel and sharing it with Mr. R. - is truly another dream come true. Thank You, Lord!!!!!

The fog settles in around us as we start our hike. The park's beauty is breathtaking. I'm in awe, but that doesn't stop me from babbling on and on (like that's a surprise). "R. I can't believe we're on the Appalachian Trail. WE ARE ON THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL!"

He doesn't say anything and I think I know why - he's as overwhelmed as I am. I decide to put a lid on it and enjoy the peace and serenity surrounding us. Again thanking the Lord - this time for giving us (me) this gift of His wondrous beauty.

It starts to sprinkle, but I don't care. It's magic out here in the forest and I don't want to miss a moment of its splendor.

All too soon our day is over, but we know we'll be back. Next time we'll spend more time on the Appalachian Trail (maybe even hike all 2,174 miles - you never know).

Stay tuned for more adventures in our Back East Bloglog.

Love ya,

PS: I almost forgot - I found the perfect stick for R. to use as a walking stick. Totally amazing how much it helps on the trail. So at the Elkwallow ranger station, he bought me my very own. COOL. Now we're official.
And who can forget the 'kids?' Randy found his very own walking stick, too!


DebbieDoesLife said...

Great day!! Don't you love getting to scratch something off your life list? You need to find Bill Bryson's book, A Walk in The Woods. It is a hilarious tale of how he walks the ENTIRE trail (or almost). You would love it.

Janice Thompson said...

My favorite is the picture of Randy and Hazel. I'm so glad you guys are having fun! Thanks for the updates, girl!

Annette O'Hare said...

Hey Janetta! I'm so happy that you finally got to walk on the trail. That picture of you walking out of the mist is fantastic! Oh, and Randy with his walking stick is absolutely adorable. Love you!

Braden and Anna said...

I love seeing all the pics of you guys!!! I miss you two!!! That photo of the wasp is ridiculous! Love you!!