Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Next Series of Unfortunate Events: Blind Dates

To continue with my story book life....

Soon after I made my home in North Carolina in 2001 the locals began to bombard me with one particular question. "Are you dating anyone?" This question is not so uncharacteristic to ask of someone my age and appointment in life, but after fielding it on a daily basis, it became somewhat of a small nuisance. There were several reasons why I wasn't dating anyone at this time, but my new found friends would hear none of them. So here begins a string of blind dates that could upset the stomach of those lacking a sense of humor, or could give fodder to those folks who revel in humor.

Of all of the guys that I was set up with, the first should have been a clue as to how the rest of my blind dates would play out. So as not to upset anyone, let's call date #1: Bob. Bob was an engineer (not bad, eh?). He had a good job, he dressed fairly well, quite attractive, and loved the outdoors. Good resume so far, wouldn't you say? I had a great time with he and some of my friends on our double date, and decided to try for a second date. In no time at all a week had passed and we were on our way to Crowder's Mountain for our second date. Crowder's Mountain is a state park not far from Charlotte that has some killer mountain trails. Bob had decided not to tell me where we were going specifically, so I had not dressed for a hike. A bit disconcerting at about 1.5 miles into the hike, my shoes pinching my feet, my jeans sticking to me like jam on toast. I was huffing and puffing, trying to play off the fact that my heart was about to beat out of my chest and my legs were screaming for more oxygen. "Bob, what is the elevation gain here at Crowder's Mountain?" I ask between gasps. The reply goes something like this, "I think it is about 2000 ft over 1.5 miles". WHAT???

Believe it or not, I continue to see Bob, even after the Crowder's Mountain mishap. I remember the breaking point. There is always a breaking point. We were out to dinner, Valentines Day, and Bob begins to tell me of his plan to live to 150 years of age. I laugh and then quickly hide the hilarium, when I realize he is serious about the age thing. Do you think you are Abram of the Bible, dude? What is this guy thinking. He then tells me how he is going to make his first million dollars before he turns 30. What? Why would you need to make a million before 30 if you are going to live forever? C'mon, Bob! Are you dellusional? Am I? Date over, relationship (the tiny bud of a relationship) ended!

Okay, so Bob was a bit off of his rocker, I do need to stop and breathe a moment. This is even crazier. Bachelor #2: Rick. A high schooler that I know tells me she has the perfect guy for me. I ignored her for a few weeks, until she shows up at my house with a phone number for Rick. She tells me that I need to call him because she told him I would. Excuse me? What did you tell this stranger? That I would call him? Who does this? Maybe this is the way high school dating is nowadays, I don't know? I delay the inevitable for a few days, maybe a week. High schooler putting on the pressure, entreating me. Okay, Okay.

What do I say if I call Rick? "Hi Rick? My name is Leslie, the girl that 'so and so' told you about." I work up the nerve, dial the number, laugh to myself, and dive in. Rick seems okay with the fact that, me, a strange girl, just called him. I don't know if I should feel relieved or weirded out about that. A few plans fall in, we still haven't met. I decide to invite him to church on Sunday. He declines, telling me that he and his friends are going to Oz Fest on Sunday and then on to Hooters for wings and beer. Okay...probably not going to be my type if Oz Fest is winning over church, and if Hooters is on the ticket. Rick surprises me and calls back, he has decided to skip Oz Fest and Hooters and come to church with me. Well, maybe there is something there. I meet Rick at church, he is quite attractive - alright this may work. Then I open my church bulletin, in bold letters the sermon title reads, "Sex in the City". What? Not the series on sex? Why is this happening to me? I lean over to Rick and give him fair warning as to what will be coming in the following moments. He seems mystified and intrigued. I am embarrassed to say the least. Why can't I go to a normal church?

We make it through the service with minimal embarrassment and blushing and head to my favorite Mexican restaurant. The day has started out rocky, but I believe it can all be cured by some killer rice and beans. What can't, really? As soon as we get our food I know I've made yet another mistake. Rick is an open mouth chewer. You know the type. Stuff food in, begin talking while chewing. And fajitas for crying out loud! I am not sure how long I had been staring at this insane scenario, before I caught myself. But then I became terribly self conscious. I can't look at his face because I am getting grossed out by the half digested food that is rolling around in Rick's mouth. So I begin looking over his shoulder, right by his ear. Maybe he won't notice I'm not really making eye contact. The shoulder thing didn't work, I became distracted by the people seated behind Rick. What about staring at his chest? No way, too low. That would be weird. It was an awful predicament to be in. I could find no solution to the problem. After a forced conversation through half-chewed food, the Sunday date was over. I vowed to never have a Sunday date again. That was just a bad idea to begin with, don't you think?

The sad part of this whole series of events is that I continue to be set up with strange North Carolina men and they are all slightly off their rocker. I mean, it can't be me, can it? Honestly, what 25 year old man talks through half-eaten food on a first date? Or who truthfully believes that they are going to live to be 150 years old? Where do my friends dig up these wack jobs?

There are many other blind date stories, of which I will save for a later time. Meanwhile, I am still looking for Mr. Right. But I'm not sure I trust my friends to pick him out for me. Would you?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

45 Day Itinerary: Springer Mt. - Damascus, VA

I know many of you have received a hard copy of this itinerary, but I wanted to post it on the blog just in case you have misplaced the original. The purpose of the itinerary is to allow you to keep track of our general progress as we move north toward Maine. I can only plan a section at a time, so this is the first section.

Location and Date
Springer Mountain (April 4)

Hiawasee, GA (April 10)

Franklin, NC (April 14)

Nantahala Outdoor Center (April 18)

Fontana, NC (April 21)

Gatlinburg, TN (April 25/26)

Hot Springs, NC (May 2/3)

Erwin, TN (May 9)

Damascus, VA (May 19/20)

If you would like to send mail to Megan or myself, you can follow the guide that I posted earlier on this blogsite. The four post offices that we will be stopping at are Gatlinburg, Hot Springs, Erwin, and Damascus. Again, please refer to my earlier post to correctly label any mail that you want to send.

A Series of Unfortunate Events: A Look into the Hilarium of My Life

You know how after you read a good book, you continue going over the really captivating or hilarious parts in your head? Sometimes I feel like my life has been a string of quite insane events, some of which seem to have been perfectly orchestrated for the purpose of producing a fictional book. But the kicker is, that these ultimately unrealistic events have actually happened to me. I find that I don't really need to read books anymore for entertainment. I find a quiet corner of the world, plop down, and reflect on the hilarium that my life seems to be, and has been for some time now.

I could start with the incident of my two front teeth. I believe this is when my life started becoming story-book material. I was 21, enjoying the freedom that comes with college living, playing softball for my university; all in all life was just about perfect. And then the accident. Quite a traumatic accident, it was: taking a softball to the face, coughing up one of my two front teeth, the other hanging on by the nerve ending. Not a pretty sight. However, after the initial drama of it all fizzled down - hilarium began. In an attempt to "save" my teeth (as if I was so attached to them that I wanted to keep them), the emergency dentist shoves both back up in my jaw. Unfortunately, he couldn't quite position them perfectly, thus my originals hung down a few extra millimeters. So here I am 21 years old, with my first set of buck teeth. Though I had never been a very self-conscious person, I began to feel a bit awkward at that point. Darn you, you strange, sweaty, dentist from Florida.

You would think that is funny enough - but the story doesn't end there, folks, I only wish it did. As soon as I was able, I visit my family dentist. After undergoing 12 root canals on each tooth over a period of a year, my dentist informs me that we are not going to be able to "save" my teeth after all. And I am okay with that, but correct me if I'm wrong, "Did we need to go through the oral surgery every month if we were going to eventually conclude that the teeth are going to get kicked to the curb anyway?" Just wondering? Caps are the way to go, according to the doctor. Alright, lets get those suckers in and allow me to go about with my life. Little did I know that the procedure to acquiring caps is quite complicated. Impressions, x-rays, 3 hour office visits. Finally, my "temporary caps" are ready to be installed. Temporary, because the real pearly whites are being made in the lab and won't be ready for a few weeks or so. Temporaries are adjusted and glued into place, I go back to my every day life of student teaching and such. Not a thought given to my temporary caps. Maybe that was my biggest error (not giving a thought to my temps), I'll never really know. But what ensued, yes, I've given much thought too since then.

The temps find a way to publicly humiliate me, I knew it! In a restaurant, eating a grinder. Could it get any worse? What is this hard thing in my chicken grinder? I spit it out, I wonder what it is, I contemplate what I see, realization hits me. Bam!! Oh, that hard white thing lying down there on my plate next to the chewed up piece of chicken, is my two front teeth. Nicely played. I now look like a hill jack from the coal mines of Kentucky (no offense Debbie). Wow, I immediately cover my mouth with my hand, pick up my two front teeth, check to see if anyone had a chance to witness this horrifying moment, take a long sip of soda, stand up masked in ultimate humiliation and walk out of the restaurant never to return.

And there you have it my friends, my first story book tale. I wish you only knew the rest of my life's tale. This is just the beginning.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Weichert & Craven

A shout out to my friends at Weichert & Craven Realty in Cabarrus County, N.C. My journey is an extension of many others' longings and desires. As I learn more about myself and others along this historic foot trail, may you also journey to new places. Thank you for your support and enthusiasm.

2 Weeks and Counting

My life in Concord, North Carolina already seems like someone else's story. I began experiencing this strange disconnect from the reality of my occupation and life situation there, starting in February. Most of the pertinent planning for the A.T. journey went into effect at the end of January and into February, consuming my every thought and feeling. Though I still had a few months to live in N.C., I quickly began to paint myself into a corner emotionally. With the start date looming closer at each passing day, my mind was absorbed with images of trail life, characters I would meet along the way, and situations I might face on any given day. And so....I had no idea what I would feel as I drove out of the state for the last time.

I'll be honest, it was hard driving out of North Carolina a week ago, knowing that the next time I will be passing through the Tarheel state will be on foot, with a 30 lb pack on my back, possibly in the pouring rain, or maybe as the trees are budding and the flowers are blooming. My life will never be the same. When I come back to North Carolina my body, my soul, my spirit will be renewed and conditioned through six months of relying only on my God and my knowledge of survival, to endure, with all of the other creatures of this earth, the beauty and the fury of nature. I will be a different person, someone with a new story to tell, a new life to live.

God promises to bless his people. I believe! Not only will I be a changed person upon my return to North Carolina, I have already been changed by the folks that live there. The abundant outpouring of encouragement and support from my coworkers and students rendered me speechless at best, and dumbfounded at worst. I have never witnessed, let alone personally experienced, the incredible power of God's love, like I did these past few months at J.N. Fries Middle School. I know this life journey of mine is God's purpose for me at this moment in time. The support and encouragement from friends, family, and even strangers is proof of an active living God. Thank you for being a part of God's plan for my life. I am two weeks from my start date, counting down the days and making the days count.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Wrapping It All Up!

My new tarptent: 28 ounces total pack weight! It has no poles, or floor. Have to shave the weight off somewhere, right? I use my trekking poles as tent poles. Check it out!
This is what I've been doing since January: dehydrating
fruits, vegies, and meat!
My freezer was nearly full of these such items.
Packing day: Saturday, March 11. Bye, Bye Concord, N.C

Megan McNutt, my mail drop angel.
12 boxes, Megan, don't forget! Thank you so much, you rock!