Currently laying in a hotel room bed...
Today is the day. The beginning of my vacation from hiking. My shin and my mind both know it. I think it's appropriate that this event happened just a little bit after the halfway mark. It'll be good to get refreshed and to attack the trail again with vigor. With a really short day planned, I again woke up late and just took my time getting ready. What I didn't count on was that the impending hiatus from hiking would be so prominent in my brain. I was impatient for every second of hiking. How much farther until the next shelter? 6.6. When will I be done? 12:30? That's FOREVER! On a normal hiking day, I would simply keep hiking and not ask questions, but today I was playing a mental game of "Are We There Yet" with myself. I couldn't snap myself out of it. I stopped by a few of the shelters along the way to break up the monotony again. The best distraction I could find was to pick a landmark from my guidebook and predict when I would get there. Alright. Six tenths of a mile to the powerline. Twelve minutes. Those amounts of time were digestible, so I was more content to walk. I did eventually reach the road. Like usual, I took the bandanna off my head, put my pack in front of my feet, put on my best I-am-a-good-person smile, and stuck out my thumb. Not two minutes passed before a couple picked me up in the bed of their pickup. They dropped me at Burger King, home of a veggie burger and the World's Best French Fries (not up for debate). The man driving offered to give me a ride back to the trail if we timed it right, but I smiled and told him that wasn't a part of my plans. Probably too big of a smile, but who cares if one more person thinks I am crazy.
After lunch, I went back to the street and performed my hitch-hiking show again, with similar success. I was in a car in about the same time. My driver took me to the library, where I updated my blog and checked up on old hiking buddies' blogs. Maybe this break will give me a chance to hook up with Dirty Mike and the Boyz, Brightside, Squints, or some other southbound friends again. I walked up the street to the Days Inn, got a room, and rinsed off my disgusting hiking clothes before I even thought of putting them in the washing machine. How much dirt can a pair of wool socks hold? I put on my rain pants and jacket, and carried my wad of dirty clothes over to the laundromat. After popping everything in the washer, I walked over to the Turkey Hill convenience store. These are new to me, but since hiking I've come upon them several times. They have 32 ounce slushies for 79 cents and these weird bagel roll-ups with cream cheese. I love it. I'm disgusting.
A mom-induced photoshoot in front of the restaurant she brought me to after picking me up
After resting up in the hotel room for a few hours, my mom arrived from South Carolina. She had driven all the way up today, navigating peak-hour DC traffic just to come visit. After a very long hug and a few motherly tears, we were off to dinner. I opted for familiarity and chose a mexican restaurant, where I knew the beans would satisfy my bottomless stomach. My mom was evidently and understandably very tired from working a long shift yesterday then waking up early to drive here. We retired to the hotel and it's almost bedtime. It's still kind of weird and difficult to sleep in a real bed with these giant pillows, but I think I'll manage. Next up: three days of not hiking. Weeeeeeiiiiirrrrrddddd.
The photoshoot continued inside, where you are treated to a beard pic
Nobo count: 2
Sobo count: 0