Sunday, April 28, 2013

Closing one chapter and starting another

We are busier than a one-armed juggler these days. Even J, who never stresses about anything, felt a little overwhelmed these past few weeks. Here's a snapshot has been going on:

1) Today we drove away from the castle in the woods on our way to our new adventure working for Backpacker Magazine. The transition process turning over the reins of BD has been nothing short of muddy, but we are still leaving with bittersweet feelings. In referring to his time running the lodge/hostel at BD, a good friend put it this way and I am going to quote him: "As a job, there is nothing worse. As a lifestyle, there is nothing better." Only people in the hostel business would truly understand that. If you look at running a hostel as a job, you'll never be satisfied. 

2) Timing is everything. A woman whose 2 cats passed away this past year saw Jazzy & Gabby on the Humane Society website and fell in love with them. Then she came to meet them in person and fell even more in love. It was a match made in heaven. We couldn't be happier that they found not just a forever home, but a perfect home. 

3) They say moving is one of the five most stressful events in a person's life. Please note we have now completed our 8th move in the 11 years we have been together. The good thing is I believe J was a mover in another life. Or an expert Tetris player. He has this uncanny ability to pack a moving van (and car!) to its maximum potential. I don't think packing for life on the road will ever get easier though. I am certain in just a few days I will think of something I need that is deep in a cardboard box stored away. 

4) Although we have only lived in NoVa for 15 short months, we have developed some lifelong friendships. And these last few weeks, our friends really came through for us. Whether it was bringing us dinner, bringing us dessert, taking trips to Goodwill, mowing the lawn/doing laundry … every little bit helped and we appreciate all our friends and all the volunteers at BD. 

5) We are now on the way to MN for our first presentation!! Unfortunately, the stinkbugs followed us. We flicked one out the window in PA, one out the window in OH, one out the window in IN ... there are many more where those came from!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What it means to be sponsored

Deal is really living up to his trail name these days. What started as a joke on the AT for him showing off all his deeply discounted and free gear has now become his life. We are receiving gear in droves these days. Every day is like Christmas with a new package full of goodies.

Let this be a simple moment for me to publicly recognize the sponsors of the 2013 Backpacker Gear & Go Tour.

Therm-a-rest is the presenting sponsor of the tour. For those who don't know, they provide a full sleep system (sleeping bag, sleeping bag & pillow). Good sleep=happy hikers who can go farther.

Big Agnes is a brand we are very familiar with ... we spent 120+ nights in one of their tents!!

We have been fully outfitted by ExOfficio. We are now the best-dressed people we know.

For shoes, we have Hi-Tec Sports USA to hike in and Birkenstocks to recover in.

No more SoyJoys for us. We are switching to A3 Bars made by NOW Energy Bars.

There's also GSI Outdoors for cookware, Helinox for trekking poles and Phil and Ted's for all the times we want to take lil E out on a hike.

And where will we keep all our gear? In our Osprey backpacks!!

If you can't find us in the next few months, look in the backcountry or at your local REI, where we will most like be presenting!

Therm-a-rest flew us to Seattle for 29 hours. 29 hours! Here's how the hours were broken down:
12 hours: sleeping/eating/showers/etc
10 hours: meet with Therm-a-rest for a tour of their factories and training on their products
3 hours: eating dinner with my cousin who lives in Seattle!
2 hours: travel to/fro airport
2 hours: waiting at airport

To say our brain and bodies are exhausted is an understatement, but it's all good!!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Our Godson's Reaction to Getting Baptized

We've been to a lot of baptisms. Three godchildren each, plus a few others just to attend. We're such experts, we could teach a class on it.

But this is the first baptism where poop was involved.

It's every parent's nightmare when it comes to the baptism. The child, all dressed in white, picks the wrong time to mess the diaper.

Lil E (Julie/SILMeow & Russ/Napolean Dynamite's child) picked the exact moment before going up to the baptismal font for the blessing to not only—ahem—do the deed, but to fill the diaper beyond its capacity, if you know what I mean. White outfit now has a brown spot and Deal, being the great uncle and godfather he is, took one for the team, carried Lil E up and now has a dirty tie to show for it.

Some people are blessed by holy water, others by ...

The weekend in Chicago was a quick turnaround, indicative of the life we will lead for the next 5 months on the road. But, good, quality time, especially with the newest and cutest addition to the family. We even got to test out some of our sweet new gear, courtesy of Phil & Ted's, one of our 11 sponsors on the Gear & Go Tour.

Oh, and because I know she will whine and moan if she doesn't get any blog time, here's proof that Jamie (aka SILAdventure) was there.

Oh, and in case you're wondering where the concert fit in on this trip ... it did. Fleetwood Mac in Columbus, en route to Chicago. Never fails people, never fails.

Monday, April 1, 2013


We are going to miss a lot of things about BD when we hit the road, but probably the one that tugs at our heart strings the most are our foster cats.

We got involved with the Humane Society of Loudon County almost immediately after we moved to BD and after we realized that my parents had kidnapped Mr. McKinley for good (that's my story and I'm sticking to it).

We didn't want to adopt another cat, knowing that we would be nomads sometime again (hmmm), but we just couldn't live without felines, so we tried out the foster program. It has been extremely rewarding and fulfilling, yet so hard. You just want to take them all home and love them. We have fostered a total of 6 cats in the past year.

One died (old age).

Three were adopted.

Two remain. 

Help us find these two a home. We've had them for seven months. They are sisters, which mean they are complete opposites. Jazzy (short and stout) cannot get enough of people. She is a lap cat, but not for long periods of time (which is good because her weight tends to put your legs to sleep). She loves exploring and has been known to ward off the mice. Gabby (long and thin) is a gabber. She starts out shy, but once she is comfortable, she will follow you up, down and all around. She loves her tummy and paws rubbed. They are best friends and will be your best friends too!