The moment I reached civilization in Virgina, a couple things quickly became apparent. It seems mandatory to make all pronouns plural, and above all, southern Virgina folk can talk, a lot!
Taking a refreshment break at a local gas station, we talked with a number of people, including a man named Tony, for nearly an hour. He offered us some canned foods that we declined, they’re just too heavy. However, after he drove off in his minivan, he came back shortly after to offer us a ride to the general store we sought.
Cue the theme song from Gilligan’s Island here. We toured everything, from his favorite spots on the New River to waterfalls complete with defunct water wheels both he and his children frequented in their youth.
Then on to views of wild horses, farms he worked and areas where the local kids used to grow pot in his day.
There were a lot of stories and ruber-neck pointing while winding up and down mountain roads, the sites from their past rolling behind us, and at least a few bathroom breaks…
We just rolled with it all and tried to listen to both of their simultaneous rants. Two seemingly different versions of a 30 year life together, told in no particular order or even with regard to each other.
There are no short stories in southern Virginia so far, nor is there an end. Incredibly, our 10 mile ride turned into a 5 hour tour of the whole area.
Once darkness started to settle in, as we toured his church built on a rocky summit, Forest and I accepted their offer to have dinner at their house and stay the night.
We settled down with some chicken in their living room, littered with oxygen tanks, prescription bottles and surplus goods acquired from cutting drug store coupons, while an old John Wayne movie played in the background. Then the bitching really ramped up in hilarity.
We were both of the mind to observe in amazement and embrace some creature comforts. I’m just swimming with the current, taking in the experience and the people that ebb and flow in and out of life. Hiking the Appalachian Trail should include an experience like this at some point.
At least until the point where the concerned daughter, an hours drive away, calls the police on you because she fears her old parents invited vagrant ax murders into their home. Ya… it happened.
After this situation settled, with the police never showing thankfully, we made camp in their upstairs loft and started our ride back to the trail first things in the morning. They wanted us to stay on another night, we declined.
Since we still never achieved an actual resupply run, our drive took us yet another direction, again…
Hiding any knowledge of technical aptitude to avoid getting sucked into a heated situation involving social media, for the fifth time; I started to discuss what we were most excited about next in Virginia. That being the “triple crown”, we were suddenly in route to Pearisburg, VA about 45 minutes away heading north.
The 3 second pause in the audio above was literally the only pause in spoken word since we first met them outside the gas station.
As their stories unfolded, now primarily centered around the death of their son (7 years ago) and subsequent aftermath, their constant bitching caused them to vastly overshoot our exit. It wasn’t even realized for twenty miles by anyone on board the crazy train. At that point the next best drop point for us was Catawaba. It is what it is.
Neither one of us really wanted to skip the miles, but if there were going to be miles to skip and achieve our time table, Virginia was my first choice. So again Forest and I just rolled with it.
They both teared up upon our goodbyes. My ears and brain took a needed respite, as I once again sat in silence. I took a deep sigh of relief, sitting directly on the trail while organizing my food bag for the week. I’m antsy suddenly to rip it. Must of been all the bitching. The last 24 hours felt so much longer.
One of the most iconic cliffs of the whole trail is just ahead of me and I’m excited to race up McAfee Knob.