My days in Troutville Virginia were lazy days. I stayed up watching some oh so coveted television and eating the oh so coveted fruits and vegetables. Wanda treated me one last time at the home cooking restaurant down the road and then she dropped me off at the trail intersection. After saying our goodbyes, I did what I ritually did before leaving town, I called the family. I remember talking to my dad but I don't remember what we talked about much. He wished me a safe journey and I was on my way again.
Over the next couple of days, I got to meet some really great people. First off I met Eric and Mary. Both of them were West Point grads and both had been to Iraq which offered up perspective on our Middle East matters. Largely they were huge in letting me know what was actually going on over there with the surge, Iraqi culture, and the attitudes of the natives towards the US and their personal attitudes towards the war having experienced it first hand. Often times Eric would be telling me about his experiences and I was a bit embaressed when I had to ask questions or when he would ask me questions and I would be completely lost. The complexities of alliances, factions, places and events was like being in APUS history with Mr. Baker. No matter how hard I tried to concentrate on what Eric was telling me, it was just as confusing as our own history.
My reflection on these conversations just now tells me how much I was wrapped up in my own existence and personal goals for the first eight months of 2008. I knew about the primaries for the November election but didn't care, I heard about the surge, but didn't know the details or importance of it, then I worked day after day after day sometimes putting in 14 hours between three jobs. I worked harder than I ever have worked before and saved more than I have ever saved before and soon enough, four months had passed and it was May 5.
Eric and Mary really were wonderful people. Eric was 6' 4" 250lbs thinning on top of the skull and a full blooded Texan. Mary was about 5' 4", athletic build, short hair and wore a damn Carolina Blue shirt. I met them on my second night out of Troutville. I had pulled a 20 something miler and rolled into quite possibly the biggest damn shelter ever right at the edge of dark. They had just finished dinner and were hanging out. Eric was tuning the set to the channel of AT TV. After a while, a fire was going and we were all chit chatting trail talk, the same trail talk that everyone has. It follows loose guidelines of who you know, where you've been, something wacky thats happened in town and who you used to be.
For the next stretch into Waynesboro, I hiked with Eric and Mary farily consistently. It was more or less me crossing paths with them since their section from Troutville to Waynesboro was probablly about as hardcore as it gets. The first two nights they set up in shelters along the trail. After that, it was nothing but feather hard beds and showers for th next five nights. I don't know how they pulled it off but they managed pretty good under those harsh conditions comparable to an arctic winter.
MORE TO COME
how they wrangled 5 nights at Inns on the trail
My week off in Waynesboro
Wear a sheet, lose some sleep
AT reunion with Lonestar