Today was a great day to take a zero. Woke up next to the beautiful reservoir and then took a shuttle into the village with Josie, Brightside and Roadside. Most things in town are closed until tomorrow so the place to resupply is the gas station. The 4 of us head there where there is free wifi and outlets.
Only moments after we sat at the bar (yup, this is still at the gas station) a song came on the radio that caused the four of us to simultaneously put our heads down. The song was by Vanessa Carleton where she sings “and I would walk, a thousand miles, if you think time, would pass us by” we all agreed how glad we were to not be hiking since that song would most certainly be stuck in all of our heads.
This is where I heard the unfortunate news that a thru-hiker lost his life on Sunday when a tree fell on them as they slept. An unfortunate incident that should remind everyone that you never know when it will be your time. My condolences go out to his family. His name was Jason also. Still, if I had to go, I would much rather go on the trail doing something I love than in a cubicle or in front of a T.V. or living a life for which I settled. Makes you really think about how fleeting life is.
Not long after though, we were given good news as Josie (a hiker from England) received an email stating that she has been awarded a huge scholarship to attend Cambridge University. She was literally jumping up and down for joy which reminded me of when Maria was accepted to Columbia. Congratulations Josie!
The four of us walked up to the resort where the post office was and hung out for a bit. Free electric and wifi and a very nice room…why not. I spent some time flirting with Maria via text message because she was at work, sending out some emails and paying bills before making the brief trek back to the gas station.
As I was walking back I ran into Failure. He had just gotten into town and was anxious to get some food. We spoke briefly and he said he was gonna stay at the “Hilton” as well. It was really nice seeing him. It’s funny, a few days on the trail can equal to way longer in terms of how much you get to know a person.
Then, while drinking a beer at the gas station, in walks Not Yet! The two of us hang out for a bit, catching up on what’s been going on and taking guesses as to what state Sycamore might be in by now. It was like seeing an old friend!
He and I grabbed a shuttle back up, him to the gap and me to the shelter, he still had the brutal 1.1 mile hilly climb to the shelter to do.
When the shuttle dropped me off my eyes, and stomach for that matter, were pleasantly surprised to see Fresh Ground again!!! If you don’t remember him, he was the guy that was serving up pancakes for trail magic. Today, he was set up with sloppy joes, fresh homemade potato fries, chili dogs, cookies, potato chips, bananas, apples and kook-aid. I was in heaven!
I stuffed my face until I could barely walk and headed back to my tent to relax. I saw Not Yet hiking up as I was headed back to my tent and called out to him that Fresh Ground was here and suddenly his speed seemed to increase dramatically…not quite sure if the two were linked. 😉
I spent a great deal of time thinking about Maria today. 8 years ago today we met. I was an innocent little boy (Maria’s edit: HA!) who had been dragged out to an Irish bar for St. Patty’s Day when some crazy, but extremely beautiful, and interesting woman came up to me and told me she’d been stalking me on MySpace. (For anyone under the age of 30 reading this, MySpace was what Facebook is today and to anyone under 20, just think Instagram with less pictures).
I’m half kidding about the above. Maria and I did meet on St. Patty’s Day 8 years ago but we already knew about each other. Maria had worked with my mother for a number of years and we went to the same school. We had mutual friends but for what ever reason never met. I like to think we just weren’t ready yet, and the universe was making me a better man for this magnificent woman I was about to meet.
We became interested in one another as we found out certain stories. She had recently quit her job to do volunteer work in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and then backpacked through Central America, by herself (I told you she was amazing!). I had just finished doing the Camino De Santiago while she was reading a book about it. I guess we had also both seen pictures of one another and liked what we saw (well, I know I did anyway).
We saw each other across the crowded bar and smiled when we recognized one another. She came up to me and asked “Are you Jason?” I said yes and asked her if she was Maria? She answered yes and then said “I’ve been stalking you on MySpace.” It’s never a bad thing when a beautiful, intelligent, adventurous, and confident woman walks up to you and says they’ve been stalking you.
After that we quickly became close friends and not long after started dating. 8 years later and for some crazy reason she still puts up with me and I am truly grateful for it.
Every year, before moving to NYC, we would go to the same bar and recreate that scene from when we first met. This, unfortunately, is the second year in a row that we are apart for it. Last year I was on a business trip in Florida while she was in Las Vegas for spring break. This year she’s the sucker stuck working while I’m busy having living it up. Next year however, we’ll be together for it again somewhere in South America, in our cozy little van, Houdini. I am really looking forward to the van and having her trapped with me everyday for a year. It’ll be so nice to be able to spend so much time together.
Ok, enough with this love crap. How is everyone celebrating their St. Patty’s day??
We are Maria and Jason. Two crazy 30 somethings from New York City who decided to trade in our metro cards for a young-at-heart cargo van. Retired from being a phone company's service vehicle, Houdini, is has transformed into our home on wheels and is taking us all the way to the southern most tip of South America.
Follow along on our adventures.
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