Days 76-82 – Maria Finally Visits!

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Delaware Water Gap to Backpacker Campsite just after Delaware Water Gap

5.3 miles, 14,008 steps, 125 stories
1307.5/890.5 miles/left, 3,362,720 steps, 29,550 stories climbed
I arrived yesterday on day 75 and made sure to get all of my town chores out of the way so once Maria got here I could spend all my time with her.
When she finally arrived (the bus was late of course 😡) we gave each other a huge kiss and a very tight and long hug.  We’ve had to spend this long apart before, last year Maria went to Ghana for work and then straight to Spain for the Camino de Santiago but that time, when she returned the trip was over, this time we knew we would have to say goodbye again for another 2 months. We hugged and kissed for a while at the bus station (well in between her comments about how badly I smelled) before walking over to the hotel.  It felt amazing to see her and touch her face.  How badass does she look in her backpacking gear?!
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Delaware Water Gap is a nice little town with not much to it.  A few restaurants and an outfitter along with a couple of places to stay and some small stores make up the nonresidential portion of the town.  We spent the night (where she forced me to take about 15 showers and re-wash all of my clothing) before moving to another hotel.  The first night involved some wine and romantic music, a lot of talking about all that’s been going on and a lot of time getting reacquainted.  We did make sure to try the local cuisine of course before leaving though where she was amazed at just how much I ate.
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We ended up heading to a Day’s Inn not far away which was only a few dollars more but far nicer and had a pool as well.  The pool was surprisingly very warm and I think we spent about as much time in the pool as we did eating (probably Maria’s way of trying to subdue the hiker smell).  I think Maria can now understand what I mean when I talk about the hiker hunger.  Every meal we ate she watched me eat a large appetizer, a full meal, the rest of her meal and a dessert.  Sometimes there was another meal involved and one time after a salad, entree, my dessert and a portion of her dessert, she walked with me next door to the Dairy Queen where I ordered a large Blizzard and ate the whole thing before we made it back to the hotel!!!
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We didn’t hike as much as Maria would have liked since she had an ankle injury but we did hike a small portion of the Appalachian Trail to a spot overlooking the river that makes up the Delaware Water Gap.  It’s a nice view, even with the highway in the background.  We hung out there for a bit,  I even worked on the blog while I was up there and Maria was exploring the surroundings and climbing trees (She’s strange, I know).
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We spent most of the week eating, swimming and talking, including May 20th where we celebrated our 8th year together!!!  It’s crazy how fast the time flew but it has been an incredible, adventurous and love-filled 8 years and there are plenty more to come (I hope).  It’s so amazing to have that, and at the same time be able to go and have adventures and conquer mountains as she goes and chases her dreams and her many accomplishments (As you can tell, I’m super proud of her).
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On Maria’s birthday, we rented a canoe and went out on the Delaware river.  We were originally going to do that for our anniversary but the weather ended up being rather chilly and overcast,  but it was nice and sunny on her birthday.  We took the canoe out and rowed down the river for a couple of hours and then rowed over to a campsite and spent the night.  This was our heaven.

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We cooked and Maria did her favorite thing in the world which was make a big bonfire.  We grabbed our sleeping mats and cuddled by the fire with some great music and a bottle of Cabernet.  It was nice and relaxing just laying under the stars holding one another with the crackling fire and music in the background.  We were the only ones around for a while.  We only saw one other campsite occupied and that was pretty far away.  Like I said, Heaven.
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Those two little dots are actually eagles!
Unfortunately, the following day was bittersweet.  It started great, we woke up late and together.  We then packed up camp and got back on the canoe for some more rowing but once we docked the fun was over.  We caught a cab to the bus station and waited for Maria’s bus to come and take her away.  It was very sad, I know I’ll see her again soon but it was a reminder of just how awesome this woman is and how everything-even something as great as the AT-is just better with her.  This time I had to stand there and watch her bus take her away.
Under the awning
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After the bus was gone it was time to get back to the trail.  It was already almost 5pm so I wasn’t going to hike far just a little over 5 miles but in doing so that meant I was crossing in to New Jersey.  As if Maria leaving wasn’t punishment enough!!!
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It wasn’t long into the hike, actually right when I got back to the trailhead, I ran into some hiker buddies, Cakeboss and Akuna, which I was very surprised about.  I was hiking pretty slow though (a week off the trail, new shoes, carrying way too much food and having just said bye to Maria probably didn’t help) and it wasn’t long before I lost sight of them but we ended up at the same campsite, along with about 30 or so other campers out for Memorial Weekend.

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It does feel good to be back on the trail and hiking again but at the same time it really was hard to say goodbye to Maria.  Luckily, in a few months, we’ll have a whole year together because our relationship has been filled with way too much time apart.

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