Our Summer Vacation – Day 1
On June 5, my wife and I embarked on a two week roadtrip that would cover 3800 miles and take us through 9 states. Our first goal was to track down my brother, Richard. He had been hiking the Appalachian Trail since March 4. We hoped our paths would cross in Damascus, Va.
Car loaded and 24 oz cups of coffee in hand, we headed east from Jefferson City. In St. Louis, Google maps took us on a bit of a strange urban route, but we survived. South on I-55 to Cape Girardeau where we turned left on a two-lane road east toward Cairo, Il.. Just across the Illinois line a passing car threw up a rock and chipped our windshield.
Welcome to Illinois!
For 20 miles we followed a woman with her left-turn blinker on. I’m sure at some point she turned left, but not before we finally got around her as we entered Whitehaven, Ky.
Our plans were to spend the night in the vicinity of Knoxville. A phone call from my brother as we were navigating Nashville changed those plans
“You got a place to stay tonight?” he asked.
“Nope” I responded. “We booked a place on Airbnb for tomorrow night but we didn’t know how far we would make it tonight.
“Well, I’m in Damascus and I have a place in a newly-remodeled hostel. It’s $50 and they only have one room left. If you want it I will have them reserve it for you” my brother offered.
“Sounds good!” I said, and I heard him talking to the proprietor in the background.
“Correction: It’s $50 PER PERSON” my brother clarified. Didn’t sound quite as good but we took it.
We got food to go at a Chick-fil-a in Nashville and got back on Interstate 40.
As the trip odometer passed 700 miles we entered beautiful southern Virginia. Before dark, we were parked in front of the Appalachian Trail Town Inn in Damascus, Va. My brother was waiting on the front porch.
It had been over 3 months since I had seen him. In that time he had hiked over 700 miles carrying a 30+ pound pack from Springer Mountain, Ga. to Damascus, Va. He had lost 30 pounds, grown a beard, and had endured the coldest Spring in years on the Appalachian Trail.
My wife and I had traveled approximately that same distance since we left home at 6 am that morning – and maybe gained a pound or two on all the snacks we packed.
We were about to get up close and personal with the A.T. It goes right down the main drag in Damascus and passed within a few dozen yards of our bedroom window.
My wife and I unpacked more luggage than everyone else in the place – combined – and set about to get acquainted with our hostel mates.
My brother, Richard Reece, aka Jed Morgensen