Sunday, March 1, 2015

Hello March: Hiking the Appalachian Trail


Cynthia is JetBoil expert
gourmet breakfast prep; honey & raisins next
The Jet Boil makes a great cup of coffee with protein added and divided between us. Breakfast was a yummy peanut butter concoction of almonds, raisins, honey on rye bread from Smithsburg Market, freshly baked yesterday. It was colder than we thought; the diet coke left out froze instantly when Ron opened it at dawn; fortunately the day warmed quickly, and it soon thawed.

31 Mar, Tuesday. It is hard to keep track of the days. Up at seven AM after enjoying the brief iridescent red glow on the eastern horizon, Cynthia soon finished boiling water for protein mocha coffee with peanut butter breakfast and started hiking by eight while Ron packed up the tent. The two hour hike this morning to Wolfsville Road was warm and pleasant. Cynthia stopped several times for brief rests and excess clothing removal until Ron caught up to her. As soon as we reached Wolfsville Road and Ron stuck out his thumb in the time-honored hitch hiking signal, the very first passing pickup stopped and gave us a ride in the back (brrrh) directly to the post office in Smithsburg, Maryland. This was the first ever hitch-hiking experience for RevC (Cynthia's trail name). Before Ron could locate his ID buried in his pack, Cynthia had already forwarded our bounce box on to Duncannon, PA (for free). Smithsburg Market, Deli and Bakery offered re-supply, a great lunch, and a clean restroom. How good is that? Feeling fat and happy (how has Ron lost five pounds already!!?), we hiked back to Wolfsville Road, hitchhiking and hoping for a ride. Finally, a nice lady in an SUV (who delivered newspapers to ? her daughter? at the corner house where we stood) was charmed by Ron into driving us 1.7 miles to the trailhead. Rain started falling as we neared the Ensign Cowall Shelter, so we rested there for a couple of hours until it quit. As the rain lessened, Ron took the opportunity to do streambed maintenance on the trail & spring. Within twenty minutes of resuming our hike, the rain resumed accompanied by quite a strong wind just as we crossed the first open fields we've seen. It was a relief to reenter the woods after half an hour of wind and blowing rain, fortunately the rain was light and soon stopped. As night neared we began looking in earnest for a campsite and located a wonderfully level, flat, and soft spot surrounded by someone's private dumping grounds (mostly dead tires and wheels of all vintages). We camped off trail tonight.

30 Mar: We departed the Pine Knob Shelter saying warm good byes to our new friends, Iris and Sarafina (2 mountain goats), and Lone Bull (who taught Cynthia how to light the JetBoil this morning). We hiked past Pogo Campground, which looked like a lumber mill with newly sawn logs scattered hither and yon, having decided to get in a couple more miles to make a five mile day. The trail climbed to a ridgeline and stayed very, very rocky for perhaps an endless mile. The large boulders/ constant rocks covering the trail made progress very slow. As evening approached and weariness grew, Shakedown Cruise began to evaluate any potentially level location for rocks and brambles. Even on that rocky ridge, we finally found a level, flat, soft spot barely large enough for our tiny tent. Thankfully, the day had warmed and the wind had died, so setting up camp was quite pleasant. At six PM, group of four boys hiking towards the Ensign Cowell shelter surprised us with news it was only a couple of miles away. Hey! We could have made two more miles (but that would have exceeded our 6 mile limit). We enjoyed an excellent night of sleep, warm & toasty, sleep sorely needed after our restless nights in extreme cold.

panoramic view from top of Washington Monument

Washington Monument towers 52'
29 Mar: At 3:30 AM Ron aka Smooch aka Shakedown Cruise is updating TrailJournals. The peanut butter jar is emptied & cleaned, preparatory to transferring the messy strawberry jam (Ron likes clean fingers; clean fingers leave less food on everything, thereby attracting fewer varments to gnaw on everything). Cynthia is supposed to be sleeping warm & toasty in our room. Computer projects are now finished, time to resume mending. Jeff did indeed pick us up around 10 AM and return us to the trail. Many thanks Jeff. The morning is very chilly, and our packs once again loaded with food. The trail took us past the first memorial to George Washington built in 1827. Here we met super nice hiker, Lone Bull, a retired Health and Science teacher. After climbing the memorial and taking many photos we trekked on in chilly weather to Pine Knob Shelter (high of 49 degrees). Lone Bull had already arrived. Two lovely, charming college girls, Iris and Serafina, had built a fire. Ron enjoyed more conversation while Cynthia ducked under the down comforter inside the tent for an early night's sleep.

Scoutmaster Jeff in red, an awesome trail angel
28 Mar: SmoochSmooch's version: Oh, my, but the morning was chilly when Boy Scout troop 532 arrived. The forecast for this evening is even colder, 17 degrees with a real feel of 6. Smooch's version: Good grief, did it ever seem cold last night. We were barely warm enough in our tent & down blanket, and poor little SmoochSmooch suffered through the night with cold legs (all the while telling Smooch that she was OK). Our water bottles froze, although the layer of ice wasn't too thick to break. The young couple was already hiking out by the time we decided to brave the elements at 8 AM. It was frigid, so Shakedown first asked the other campers for the hot coffee water that they had offered last night. Many THANKS guys. Shakedown Cruise is realizing the need to keep a pen and paper handy to record names (or I guess he could learn to use the new digital voice recorder that he is carrying); the only name he remembers is Ron (imagine that). Cynthia "enjoyed" sitting bundled in the sleeping bag with warm protein/coffee drink and mittened hands. Shakedown Cruise made multiple trips to the tent, getting first food, the Body Glide for the feet, then the tent to pack. The night was so miserable that we were committed to finding a hotel by the time Boy Scout Troop 532 arrived and decided to stay. Their multiple scoutmasters were interesting and interested; they listened to our tales of trauma from the cold and volunteered that, "Jeff likes to hike; he'd probably hike back to his van and give you a ride to a hotel." And he did !! Not only that, but he also volunteered to come back in the morning and get us back to the trail where we exited. We are ever so very GRATEFUL; thank God for trail Angels !! Jeff is a premium example of the kindness of everyday people. We eagerly made the short 2.5 mile hike rejoicing at the thought of delicious sleep and another good meal at the South Mountain Inn. So here we are at a Hampton Inn in Hagerstown, and Smooch has already made a trip across the road to the neighboring Martin's grocery store to replace bear bag rope & buy pretzels. We called Jim & Joni first thing, and they picked us up at 6:30 to dine again at the Old South Mountain Inn. We all enjoyed another lovely evening. Life is Good.

27 Mar: We awoke surprisingly late, 9:30 AM, to a very chilly morning, and we took our time packing and enjoying coffee and diet coke at the office. Cynthia's knee was not an issue today. We enjoyed a much more level hike today, and our tired legs were indeed grateful. Imagine our surprise to see the hiker with dreadlocks again. His trail name is OneStep. I can hardly wait to see if he journaled his hike. He is also good friends with JoAnn and Rachel, the lovely and considerate staff at the campground. The two young hikers we saw at mid-day already had a campfire going at the Rocky Run Shelter, and another group of four cheerful guys arrived just as we did. It was nice to have pleasant weather (although chilly & windy - forecast high 49 degrees) and plenty of time to set up camp. Unfortunately all tent sites were a bit unlevel, so all night we fought against a steady slide towards the door of the tent. Lesson learned: next time feet are downhill. It was bitterly cold in the night and morning. Today we hiked 5.4 miles. This was our seventh consecutive five mile day, so according to plan, we are now allowed to hike six miles every other day.

a smaller tree house at Maple Tree Campground
26 Mar: Wow, did we ever sleep well !! And we were warm enough all night. The first day and a half went great. That is wonderfully encouraging. We were fed, packed, and hiking by 11:30 (no lie). Our legs were quite fatigued, all four of them, from the hike yesterday (that was one long uphill for our unpracticed legs), and Ron went for a quart of water to the spring 0.5 mile steeply DOWNhill this morning. Catastrophe hit midday when a large stick in the trail grabbed Cynthia's shoe lace and tripped her; the resulting fall scared the beJesus out of her (and me) and bruised her kneecap severely. Fortunately she was able to continue hiking, and by 3 PM we arrived at the Maple Tree Campground with reservations for the Bonsai treehouse. JoAnn and Rachel, staff persons are superb. Lovely place. After registering and asking about a ride to town for re-supply, a young couple of angels, Sarah and George, offered us a ride to town !! We both showered (quite a treat after two days hiking), and then George and Sarah drove us to the Weis market in town and then to the Old South Mountain Inn, where we all enjoyed a fabulous dinner.
RevC's version: The first day and a half went great. At noon, Cynthia's shoe lace caught a tree branch capaulting her into a fall onto a rock. Her knee is badly swollen but it seems to be working. We arrived at the Maple Tree Campground with accommodations in the Bonsai treehouse. JoAnn and Rachel, staff persons, are superb. Lovely place. JoAnn communicated our need to resupply to Sarah and George, a marvelous young couple who had plans to go into town. They took us to Weis Markets, and in return, we treated them to a very fine dinner at the Old South Mountain Inn, a fine dining restaurant with outstanding cuisine. Cynthia enjoyed the opportunity to eat a filet. The rain was heavy at times throughout the night; we were indeed happy to be enclosed. Pictures another day! Today we hiked 3.7 miles on the Trail and 0.4 miles on road to Maple Tree Campground.

Setting up tent in the "wild"
25 Mar: Volume 6 is going into Dropbox right this minute. Cynthia says, "It has been a nightmare !!!" The bounce boxes are packed to go to the post office now, we have been well fed, another guest at the Jackson Rose B & B (the wife & son of a section hiker) has graciously offered us a shuttle to the Trail. After four days of five-mile hikes with packs we are ready to leave despite the rain and chill. We arrived without problem at the Ed Garvey Shelter where the hiker was killed by a falling "widowmaker" tree ten days ago. Sad. Very sad. We set up tent by a lovely sunset. Peanut butter never tasted so good. As expected, there was a brief note in the shelter log from Beavis. The night was very cold, colder than anticipated; we (Cynthia) slept in our MontBell downs.

24 Mar: We hiked without packs today, south across the bridge and up the hill to the road. Returned to town for lunch at the Town Inn, then up that long hill to the Jackson Rose. This time that long hill was insignificant, a wonderful and surprising change. We are well satisfied with our prepatory hikes. Ron is now a day late finishing Volume 6. Cynthia dictates that Vol. 6 MUST be "complete" before we can commence hiking. Our preparatory hikes have gone well, no sign of excessive foot pain, back pain, knee pain, etc.

23 Mar: Again Ron arose at 5:30 AM to resume finishing touches to Volume 6 but left that to record receipts and product information into his spreadsheet. Today's plan is to hike to the Harpers Ferry Outfitters store after breakfast to see if Ron can be re-shod (they have a farrier on staff), then to Wally World for a digital voice recorder, MSM (MethylSulfonylMethane), Glucerna, etc after finishing our mandatory five miles. Today provided our first encounter with the magic and mystery of the trail. RevC insisted that we visit the Harpers Ferry Outfitters to find new hiking footwear for Shakedown Cruise. Imagine his surprise when the Cootie Queen (yup the owner has a trailname; real names Laura & Ron) produced a pair of GoLite Mountain sneakers that fit perfectly. As we lingered purchasing a few more items, a scruffy looking hiker came in wearing a large pack which he never took off; he was wearing only long shorts and a fleece despite the chilly, windy day. His mission was to find a compression bandage for his knee and then Advil. Ron asked where he was going and received a monosylabic reply, "Maine." Since Smooch and SmoochSmooch enjoy distributing trail magic, Ron told the owner to put those purchases on our bill. In the ensuing exchanges of "You don't need to" and "It is no problem; it is trail magic," the hiker suddenly asked "Are you Ron Beatty?" Reply "yes" and an immediate "Shakedown Cruise, so good to see you." This was Bevis, who had to exit the trail in 2008 with mersa. We offered him dinner at the Anvil (which unfortunately is closed on Mondays). He accepted, but by the time we left the outfitter (and realized that the restaurant was closed), Bevis had changed his mind - 6 miles to the shelter for the night. We hiked our mandatory five miles; little SmoochSmooch carried a lightened pack, but we've now done three of our 7 consecutive days limited to five miles. We hustled back to the Jackson Rose after a salad & chicken at one of the few eateries open on Monday, just in time for Ron to catch the shuttle to Wally World where he was able to purchase a digital voice recorder, MSM (MethylSulfonylMethane), Glucerna bars, some cord, and other final purchases prewpatory to hiking tomorrow.

22 Mar, Sunday: In Harper's Ferry, West (byGod) Virginia, Ron was up at 5 AM this morning in our very pleasant room at the Jackson Rose B&B, paging through Volume 6. Good God (literally, we are happy to be alive), will he ever finish this endless pursuit of editorial perfection? Sigh. More problems surfacing, more Microsoft Word idiocies to correct, and one impossible situation discovered this morning. Thank God our feet and backs and knees seem to have tolerated yesterday's hike with fully loaded packs. We realized that fully three miles of that was on concrete sidewalks through town - NOT smart. Today we will pick up the trail behind the Conservancy to limit concrete trauma. Breakfast was wonderfully tasty; Phil and Gail do marvelous work. They provided home-made fat-free brown bread to accompany the veggie omelets, fruit, and that essential fluid, coffee. Another couple of couples from Ohio were greatly fun conversationalists; we were thoroughly entertained by Rick, Chris, Mark and "Hey You". Today's five mile hike gave us great optimism; no pain, no difficulties. The hike across the bridge and onto the bluffs afforded us lovely views of the rapids in the river. On the return, as the sun was dropping, the ivy climbing one tree was glistening marvelously in the sunlight. Also encouraging was the fact that we started hiking late, 3 PAM, and still finished five miles, including decent climbs up the bluffs, well before dark. This time we enjoyed trout at the Anvil; since they are closed tomorrow, we departed with dinner (chicken & salads for tomorrow) to go.

21 Mar: Many, many Thank Yous' to Jim and Joni for their marvelous hospitality, companionship, cooking, and for taking us to Harper's Ferry this morning. The snow-covered Maryland landscape was wonderfully, beautifully surreal (even though ALL of the locals are really, really tired of it). Jim spotted some ice sculptures on the shaded bluffs beside the river as we neared West Virginia. We are ensconced at the very lovely Jackson Rose B&B, staying in Stonewall Jackson's bedroom. (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=826316837434037&set=a.729225220476533.1073741827.100001671863529&type=1) After a light salad lunch, we started hiking about noon in 44 degree temperature wearing several light layers, but within thirty minutes one of us did a lot of stripping.(Yay! More, more) We had our pictures taken at the ATC for their scrapbook; we are "flip-floppers" numbers 4 and 5 hiking Northbound (NOBO) from Harper's Ferry. We hiked a little over five miles on the AT along the C&O Canal wearing our packs. The last mile uphill from downtown must have been a fifty thousand foot elevation gain (Haha!!). The bounce box will carry a whole lot more of our stuff; we now begin to fully understand the disadvantage of carrying a few extra ounces here and another few there. Dinner (salmon) this evening was at the nearby Anvil Restaurant.

Jim's pond was frozen yesterday
safety first shoveling
My angelic weefee's snow angel for Zoe
20 Mar: We awoke to a winter wonderland. Ron shoveled snow to Jims car twice. Cynthia made a snow angel for her grandchildren with a note that getting down and up again wasn't quite what she remembered. Jim and Joni came home early to take us to Westminster, MD for dinner (on Jim's dime, THANKS Jim) at Paradiso Ristaurante with their delightful friends of many years, Helen and Michael.

19 Mar:

shock cords make it easy
Tent sans rain fly
who reads these?
You can see how heavy & cumbersome the tent is.
Not so very huge, but it weighs only one and a half pounds.
18 Mar: Ron awakened way too early and finally completed Vol. 6 !! After riding the motorcycle to IHOP Ron realized he had no money!!! He left Cynthia to fend for herself amongst mountains of pancakes and rode back to Jim's to retrieve his credit card. We shopped at Walmart. Now to put up a tent.

17 Mar: Ron again awakened early to resume final preparations to abandon the James Lea book for the duration of our full 3 seasons hike of the Appalachian Trail; Success !! all notations, reminders and status fully completed by 7 AM. After breakfast with Cynthia at IHOP in Mt. Airy, the intrepid couple of us packed nearly all our gear and discovered with dismay that the packs weighed 27 and 24 pounds respectively - each pack fully 7 pounds overweight !! Cynthia was heart broken, but Ron was more pragmatic, and we looked to the Thru-Hiker's Companion for consolation. Therein we discovered that we should be able to re-supply after a couple of days, so needed only to carry food for three days instead of a full five days, and that there were a couple of places to get water on every day for the first five, meaning that we need to carry only about a quart of water apiece for several days. Whew !! Crisis averted, the Smooches unceremoniously, indiscriminately dumped five pounds from each pack and walked the quarter mile from Jim's doorway to the road. All is well, we just need to carry no food and our weight will be fine - which is to say we are now engaged in repacking. Jim and Joni joined us for another stellar evening dining at Mt.Airy Tavern celebrating St. Patrick's Day.

16 March, Monday: Lunch at Mt. Airy Tavern with Tom Mc and Charley from Olney was the BEST! What a great duo. Charley was a WWII gunner and holds the patent for pantyhose. He is a delightful 96year old who charmed us completely. One could not meet a nicer guy than Tom who is Charley's son's best friend since they were five years old. And then we shopped for food to pack in our backpacks.

15 March, Sun: a glorious day for riding to Mt. Airy, MD--departing at 11:00 AM we arrived at Jims house by 5:30 PM having had a great lunch at Ruby Tuesday's in Richmond, VA. Surprise! Snow is on the ground with ice in the lake.

14 March, Sat: Ron rode into the Archives between raindrops returning just in time to meet with Cynthia's Lea cousins from the Raleigh area. We were very impressed with their research projects and enjoyed their company mightily! The evening was spent packing and Getting Younger Next Year.

13 March, Fri: Ron arose early to work on various projects. Cynthia slept until 8:30. The bus does not run during mid-day so we took the cab once again. Despite the extra sleep Cynthia has trouble keeping her eyes open after 2PM - but we stayed the course until the doors slammed shut behind us at 5:30 PM with hugs to say good-bye to Gay. We thoroughly enjoy the effervescent Gay -- the delightful, bubbly Keeper of the Archives. We will miss her awesome smile. Our 305 bus was late, but we were ultimately picked up for the thirty minute ride to the hotel. Because of light mist we took the shuttle to Ruby Tues'day's for dinner and walked home dry just in time for Ron to get Younger Next Year by sweating buckets. Cynthia's tendonitis is greatly improved by staying OFF the treadmill.

12 March, Thurs: Michael J. Joined us for a most delightful lunch to discuss his YDNA Lea links. Other Lea cousins in the neighborhood are going to join us on Sat afternoon for conversation and dinner. Michael drove us to the archives where we spent the day taking photos of microfilmed land surveys. The surveys now platted are very fascinating to see in real time on Google Earth. The temperature in the Archives feels like zero. It is very chilly. Fortunately, our walk to the bus stop is perfect timing for catching the 305 to the hotel. From there we relied on the hotel shuttle for a ride to Ruby Tuesday's for dinner but opted to walk back to Target and then the hotel.

11 March, Wed: rain is forecast for this afternoon about the time the Archives closes, the hotel is uncertain about the bus routes, so we opted to spend $25.00 to take a cab to the Archives today. Our time is being well spent with warrants and deeds on microfilm for the BANKSTON lands in Montgomery County, NC surrounded by Rogers land. The importance of the property location is important. Our new friend, a Rogers descendant, has software that he will use to map the BANKSTON property in proximity to the Leas for Cynthia's book. The deeds show up in real time on Google Earth, too. We will likely be riding to MD this weekend if it does not rain.

10 March, Tues: Cynthia's cousin in-law met us for breakfast, drove us to the Archives for the day, picked us up with his wife for dinner at the 42nd Street Oyster Bar and Seafood Restaurant. She had fun reminiscing with him. We had a nice email from friends we stayed with in southern Norway. Lene is a Rosemaling artist who is making unique gifts for Cynthia's 7 granddaughters. Zoe... The 14 year old is in Paris with her talented designer mom for fashion week.

9 March, Departing Columbia, SC for Raleigh. Lovely day, warm and pleasant ride. Lunch at Ruby Tuesday's en route and upon arrival.

8 March, Columbia, Sc visit with many good friends!!!

7 March, Columbus, GA to Macon GA for breakfast with Danielle and onto Columbia, SC for great dinner with our SC friends at Ruby Tuesdays.

6 Mar: Forecast for Point Clear overnight low was in the 20s. Stay posted; we'll tell you later today (Gosh is it midnight already? No wonder Cynthia is already soundly asleep. Goodnight Y'all. Omg. It was one bugger of a cold ride from Point Clear to Columbus, GA. P.S. To me beloved weefee: I love you (and get points for first I love you of March 6th - we guys go nuts over points).

5 Mar: Brrrh and Brrrh. Ron has been marveling at the red buds and lime-green roadside grasses and had planned to post reassurance to Y'all up north that SPRING IS HERE !! HA !! Spring came, winter saw, and winter conquered. Brrrh. The temperature dropped all day long from a midnight high of 58 degrees, and the wind rattled the windows all day long. Fortunately we sat the day out at the Grand Hotel at Point Clear, Alabama on Mobile Bay and thoroughly, completely enjoyed being indoors and out of the weather; hey, we were even able to walk across to the main building for dinner by using the second floor walkway. Lest you think of us as wimps, we did sally forth for a refreshing hour's walk along the bayside boardwalk. (No, we didn't see any others out walking.) Ron got in his 45 minutes on the elliptical machine although his sweat rate indicates that his heart rate did not make him any Younger Next Year. We were amazed by the Google map placement of the property of James Lea Country Line; many, many thanks to newfound genealogical junkie Tom. This evening the chef made baked sweet potato fries for us besides the redfish and veggies and dinner rolls.

4 Mar: Awake early and breakfasted early, we departed the hotel by ten-thirty. We were comfortable and not a bit cold at first, but soon the temperature climbed to an uncomfortably warm 86 degrees, where it stood when we stopped for lunch at Don's Seafood in Covington, Louisiana. We were caught between a rock and a warm place. If we took off a layer of clothing, we would be too cool, so we opted to be a bit overwarm, and consequently we sweated a bit for a bit. After stopping without sightseeing at the John C. Stennis NASA center on the Mississippi state line, we turned south onto scenic U.S. 90 to follow the stunningly beautiful white sand beaches of the southern gulf coast to Mobile Bay. It was windy and a cool 70 degrees along the Gulf Coast, and several bridges rose nearly into the sun before cresting just shy of that globe and precipitously descending back towards land and water; the views are amazing on a motorcycle. Those bridges are intimidating on a calm day; adrenaline surges on windy days. Our trip was accented by riding through the I-10 tunnel in Mobile and through a pea-soup fog past the ghostly battleship Alabama and across the bridges spanning Mobile Bay. We had an absolutely gorgeous and dry day except for ten seconds of rain once and that pea-soup fog. Tomorrow's forecast calls for extensive rain. We might stay a day or two here at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, AL. Their chefs feed us really really well - even when restricted by our no fat, no oil, no butter, no cheese diet. Salad, flounder, veggies, and even fat free dinner rolls made especially for us since Cynthia let the chef's know to expect us before we left Don's Seafood in Covington.

3 Mar: Arise and Shine! We made one last stop at the storage unit, returned the rental car, ate a delicious breakfast at the Toasted Yolk, and rode east out of town on TX highway 105 about 11 AM. The next stage of the trip is I-10 eastwards to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Me diabetic weefee Cynthia needs to eat every five hours (or more frequently), so we stopped at Don's Seafood in Lafayette, Louisiana for a marvelous meal. The day was warm with sunshine breaking through to a lovely day with only one mishap. Cynthia left her cell phone in the women's restroom at the Chevron station in Beaumont, TX, but thank the good Lord, ten minutes later it was still exactly where she had set it down. This happened two years ago in southern Texas with far less satisfactory results - but that time we were unaware of the loss for an entire hour, and we did not immediately return to look for the misplaced phone. We enjoyed dinner number two with genealogy cousin Pat at our hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn in Baton Rouge. Our itinerary calls for the next certain stop in Columbia, SC to visit friends, then in Raleigh, NC to photograph more James Lea documents until warm weather and clear roads allow us to ride safely to Mt. Airy, Maryland where we will visit Jim & Joni until they can drop us off on the Appalachian Trail in Harper's Ferry, West (by God), Virginia.

Cynthia is ready to roll!
Thanks to dear friend Jane B. for photo...!
2 Mar: Monday Morning Madhouse Packing because our Montgomery forecast changed from warm and rainy to warm and cloudy - meaning it is motorcycle riding weather !! We have a five hour ride ahead of us yet today, and we (Ron) are not yet packed; we (Ron) packed industriously until 3:00 PM when we (Ron) succumbed to exhaustion. The motorcycle bags are packed and two months accumulation of stuff went into the storage unit, but Ron is too tired; besides we are loathe to begin our ride in evening rush hour traffic. Ron's annual box of mail arrived from Clarence in Shawnee Mission late this afternoon with the requisite 2014 tax information, financial statements, and Christmas mail. Tax stuff is stuffed into an envelope for the accountant, Christmas mail goes with us on the road, and financial statements will have to wait to be reconciled until next January. We WILL depart tomorrow morning and attempt to stay ahead of the forecast miseries. Remember how Ron was too exhausted to ride? Cynthia drove silly Ron to the fitness center where he worked out aerobics and strength training for an hour and then walked home.

1 Mar, Sunday: Our AT hike approaches with good hiking weather as forecast by Accuweather for Harper's Ferry commencing March 12th. Between now and then the weather en route is pretty icey dicey. Jim S. forewarned us that ice on the roadways is 1/4" thick in Maryland. We had a marvelously good day, a great worship service at Grace Lutheran Church (Rev. Hinkhouse is inspiring) followed by brunch at the Yacht Club celebrating Steven's birthday with Jon and Barbara joining the "party." Samantha was unable to make it at the last moment.

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