I guess I could give a little back story before I dive into what we did this weekend...
my dad is 53 years old and he is hiking the Appalachian trail as a North bound thru-hiker. a thru-hiker is someone who hikes the entire trail at one time. there are some hikers that do a section at a time, weeks or a month at a time.
dad is planning to complete the entire 2,200 miles in a little over 5 months. he left on March 18th and has already completed over 700 miles. my mom drives up to visit him every two/three weeks to bring him fresh (and smaller) clothes and restock his medicine and food supplies. my brother and sister in law went up to see him in April and had such a great time. we knew we wanted to go. this is a once in a life time adventure for my dad and we want to show him our love and support every step (literally) of the way. but bringing our 17 month old on a long car ride for his first hotel stay was making me super nervous. those of you who know me are just shaking your head. I am the queen of routine. I am so glad that God opened my heart to this special weekend visit. it was so good for my soul to see my dad looking so fit and healthy. to hear his stories of the trail. to see his eyes light up while playing with durham. it was just a fantastic family time that I will cherish forever. we are so so so very proud of you dad and how hard you are working to make this dream come true and to be a good example for us. we love you.
I am not a writer, but I want to make sure I get these memories down. for my parents. for myself. but most of all for durham. I can imagine him. 10 years from now. taking a picture of him and his grampy on the trail to school for show and tell. telling his classmates about this special moment in time. I want to write it down for him.
I had an early morning baby shower, and Chris had plans to play golf so we decided to leave around lunch time. durham recently switched to 1 nap a day, so we thought he could just get in the car and nap while we started the drive. he did. for about 30 minutes. too much excitement I guess. it was a little over 9 hours including breaks to potty and eat dinner. I sat in the back seat with him and we played and watched movies on the dvd player I borrowed from a friend. we got to Daleville, VA around 10pm and checked into our hotel. Comfort inn and suites, fancy fancy. haha. I had brought the pack-n-play for durham but once we got into the hotel he thought it was time to party! it was our first semi-successful night of co-sleeping. he snuggled right between us, gave us each an hours worth of head hugs and kisses. kept making sure dada knew where his nose was, and eyes, and mouth and elbow too. and finally went to sleep. I put him in his pack-n-play sometime during the night and he woke up ready to start the day at 6am. we were not quite ready to start the day. que mickey mouse.
we showered and ate breakfast down stairs in the lobby. it was actually really good. I went for carb overload. delicious. then we packed up our room and headed over to my parents hotel across the street. they were just finishing up breakfast too.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't recognize him. who says that?! you always recognize your dad. he looks thinner. his hair is curly and longer than i've seen it in a while. his beard is full and grey. his eyes are the same. his hands are the same. maybe a little more tan than they have been in the past few years. same smile and same laugh. same dad.
we had planned on going out to the trail. I wanted to see it. I wanted him to show us. but it was a nasty day. raining and super foggy. there were times you couldn't see 5 feet in front of you. but we went anyway. it was beautiful. and in a way it was spiritual. walking where he had walked. even if just for a tiny bit of it. and obviously with no pack. it felt good to be connected. durham loved it. minus the dirty hands part. I love how in all the pictures he is trying to get his hands clean. or inspecting them for more smudges. dad and durham walked (durham was running) down the trail and their laughter just echoed in the trees. it was perfect. it was what I needed and I know my dad needed it too.
we rented a cabin at Claytor Lake state park for this night, but we couldn't check in till 3pm. so after our trail fun, we loaded up and headed to Virginia's version of bass pro shop! it was still raining and we wanted a place for d to run around while we caught up. we walked around and looked at stuff, and chased d, and let him 'pet' the animals (barf) then dad and chris dropped me and mom back off at their hotel so durham could take a nap and the boys went to get groceries for dinner.
as soon as we layed down durham was asleep. the trail really wore him out! after he woke up we 'helped' grampy get his pack ready to head out the next day. I use the term helped lightly because all durham did was eat his snacks and play with his head lamp. haha. but it was really cool to see all the stuff he had in there and see his little quirks in action. every item has its own bag. all of the food items must fit in the 'food bag' because you have to tie to to a tree so the bears wont get it. the clothes go in the clothes bag. ect. if it has a purpose then it can weigh a little, but if it doesn't have a purpose...
we headed to our cabin and got checked in around 3pm. we LOVED this state park! it was beautiful! it had a little lake beach that durham loved. the water was so cold but he didn't mind. just walked right in and started chasing sticks. there were boats out on the water and d would get so excited every time one passed by. there was a dock on the back of our cabin. he was so careful out there... and we laughed hysterically when he got down on his belly and tried to slide into the water. we stayed outside all afternoon. just walking around. playing with the baby. taking pictures. and catching up. dad and chris looked at the trail book and tried to figure out when moms next meet up would be. they think she might only be able to go one more time. but my grandparents are going to go too.
chris grilled some awesome hamburgers and hotdogs for dinner. we had potato salad, and chips and hot wings. whatever dad wanted-we had. he needs the calories since he burns so much energy hiking. I have never seen him eat so much! storing it up! great food and even better company. I loved hearing the stories and he showed us a bunch of pictures on his phone. people he has met. I have no idea how he remembers all their trail names. but he does. and their stories. his passion for the trail just shines out of him. I loved hearing about it.
mom and dad had to leave after dinner to head back to their hotel. dad goes to bed around 8pm on the trail and gets up at 6am. they need to keep him close to his routine so he can get the most rest on his 0-days. saying bye was hard. I wish it wasn't so far away so we could go again. awesome weekend.
dad, we love you. we are in awe of you. we are so very proud of you. keep it up. and we will see you soon. xoxoxo chris, pamcake and d.