Sunday, December 9, 2012

Loner and Wildcat

It's been just a little over a month now since Loner and Wildcat made it to South Carolina, so I thought I'd offer a brief update.  Even though Loner summitted Katahdin on Sept,. 28th, he spent a week in Maine with his grandparents, went back to the trail for a week to hike a portion in Maine he missed when he flip-flopped to go meet Jeanine when he flew in from Ohio - he then went and stayed with Jeanine in Ohio while she worked her notice at her job and then they took a week traveling to S.C. going on digs in Ohio and Kentucky and hanging out with friends and family.
Since they got back to SC and are back in the real world, or at least Jeff's version of it, Jeff has been working hard getting his collectible business back up and running again, with Jeanine helping, but Jeanine is also scoping out ideas and formulating plans for her own business. They live in Jeff's camper, which Jeanine has been sprucing up and he and Jeanine will travel through South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and further afield with his business.  On their limited down time, they've had some luck artifact hunting around the lakes in western S. C., took my granddaughter Kendall and I with them to the SC Artifact Show in Abbeville where they met up with some of the local you tube artifact folks. We were lucky - on the same day they were having a historic re-enactment throught the town of the civil war. Hint: Look for a beardless Loner in the video on his and Jeanine's new you tube channel.

The weather has been gorgeous so on they're off days they spend their time outdoors (or sometimes thr5ift store hunting). Recently they've both been out with Jeff's friends on a pontoon boat on one of the many gorgeous lakes in the area.  I know Jeff is missing kayaking big time, but his kayak needs some works and they're looking for a double seater.  Jeff is often asked to tell his Appalachian Trail stories when he meets up again with some of his buddies on the road or at the flea markets where he buys and sells collectibles. 
Good thing Jeanine had some experience of living on the AT, because they've been roughing it - only recently are they looking into getting their stove, refrigerator and hot water heater fixed. Out of necessity Jeanine's come up with some ways to cook healthy delicious meals on her one eyed hot plate even skillet pizza - all of which will end up in her cookbook of recipes of good and fun foods you can make on long distance hikes.
And of course we've been lucky and I get to see them about once a week as we pick back up but often talk about the trail.
Jeff hasn't wanted to be interviewed by the newspaper or be on our local TV station.  He says his Loner videos are his story.  when they can afford to get the internet, and not just have access infrequently at the library, he'll answer comments to Loner's page, but for now he's focusing on settling back in, making enough money to live on before making any big plans for the future - (although the talk of auditioning for the TV show the Amazing Race comes up pretty often). Jeanine has watched it the entire series and has s brilliant strategies for managing what gets thrown at the contestants.  And knowing her - and how she go for something rather than not - who knows? 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Loner and Wildcat come Home!!

It's been a long time coming but Loner finally arrived in Greenville, SC with his new sweetheart Wildcat on Thursday, Nov. 1st completing his Appalachian Trail adventure in an adventure!!
After reaching Katadhin on Sept. 28th as the 543rd NOBO thru-hiker, Loner visited his grandparents for a week, then went back on the AT for a week.
When he rode the bus to New York city, he took advantage of the opportunity to visit Times Square about midnight, - talk about a culture shift!
And synchronicity hit again when one of the few seats available on the bus to Ohio was right beside another thru-hiker, Tiny Dancer. They sat together and talked all the way to Ohio, where Wildcat met the bus bearing some trail magic for Tiny Dancer, who was traveling on to Texas.
 Tiny Dancer was one of the guys held up by the nutcase with a gun in  Tennessee, where he and three other guys overcame the attacker and kept him hog-tied until police arrived.
Loner and Wildcat (Jeff and Jeanine) then spent two weeks in Ohio visiting some interesting places such as the Air Force Museum and an arboretum, hiking, spending time with Jeanine's son & daughter. They also rece3ived a permit to go on a fossil dig near where the ground was being blasted to build a bridge and brought home some large primo pieces for Kendall's massive rock collection. They also had the chance to enjoy dinner with Jeanine's Ohio artifact hunting friends before packing up Wildcat's things so she could move to South Carolina with Loner.
However, they still had more stops to make  along the way in Kentucky. They stayed with more of Jeanine's  friends, where Jeff was taken on a dig underneath a massive overhang with caves and all before they headed south to meet Jeanine's mom and family.

Soooo - it wasn't until Nov. 1st that my son and his new girlfriend came up my driveway to the sound of lots of YAYS, hugs and holding back tears on my part.  It was so wonderful to see him after eight months!  And to meet Jeanine, who is delightful - smart, witty, funny, kind and creative.  She and I discovered we have a ton of things in common writing, creativity - and what fun, all thing British TV such as Dr. Who, Torchwood, Being Human, etc.!  They stayed for five days and I was very very proud to see Jeff, slim and trim, happy as I've never seen him before.

I would have blogged earlier but  we were pretty busy, attending my friend, Kay Larch's Day of the Dead art opening during our annual Open Studios Tour and then introducing  Jeanine to our beautiful city with it's many landmarks, two progressive art districts, over 50 galleries and studios, five theatre groups, an Indie film college, plenty of sculptures and the gorgeous downtown area along side the Reedy River.  All of the culture in Greenville is important to Jeanine who does photography, theater (she's already excited about our Shakespeare offering,) landscape painting, jewelery making, quilting and knitting. So lots of festivals, plays and art shows are in our future.
When we toured  our award winning Liberty Park with is suspension bridge and waterfalls, we walked way past dark, yucking it up, with Jeff, Jeanine and Kendall all paying homage to our famous massive rooted oak. Kendall took lots of photos since she has a passion and talent for photography and I was able to view our lovely progressive and constantly changing city through new eyes.
 And of course, there were lots of meals and family time. We seemed to always be celebrating  - Beth and Kendall prepared a huge feast for Jeff's birthday, Loner's completion of his great adventure and for Wildcat, whose first section hike  also called for celebration. And Kendall made an Appalachian Trail chocolate truffle cake.  I finally had a chance to give Jeff the Coca cola crate full of art and photo journals I made him of his Appalachian Trail trip and he loved it more than I expected, taking time to look at every one of the 13 journals and rereading our email exchanges of six months.  Now he and Jeanine have a place to stash their photos, keep important phone numbers and email addresses of other 2012 thru-hikers and journal their memories in case we have a tech meltdown. Jeff got to see how much Kendall and Devin have grown, when he left Devin was a babe in arms and now she walks and talks and Kendall has probably grown a foot since he left and he could see how much she had matured during the 8 months he was away.
So Tuesday after lots of hugs, Loner and Wildcat  set off on the next adventure and have started posting their adventures on a new You Tube site,  JeanineandJeff, there's a two new videos on Jeff's Carolina Arrowheads  and Loner has added one or two more videos to the You Tube video blog of his Appalachian Trail thru-hike at his site Loner2012AT.
Hopefully he'll be adding more with some updates.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Appalachian Adventure - book review

One interesting older book I found at my local library was a coffee table style book called Appalachian Adventure - From Georgia to Maine- A Spectacular Journey. edited by Alfred O. Hero; written and photographed by a team of journalists, illustrators and photographers from five different newspapers who walked the trail in relays.
I find this to be a wonderful book, full of lavish photographs, maps,extremely interesting and user friendly graphs and sidebars such as The Toll of the Trail and and reports from the various teams who climbed five different sections of the trail. In addition there are checklists, sidebars on the mountains and trail itself, from history and maintenance.
As a photojournalist and features writer for my local newspaper for four years, I especially enjoyed the graphs and sidebars, realizing how difficult it is to create one compressing the most relevant information
into an easy to comprehend yet attractive form.  I was encouraged to create some sort of sidebar for each feature article I wrote and found them to be a fun, but sometimes difficult challenge.  So I can appreciate the work these teams went into, often having to write, shoot and create the files to send to their editors right from the trail.
Each team also has different approaches and styles in telling of their first hand experiences based on what part of the trail they hiked and their individual personalities.I believe this book would be a great incentive and preparation for any future thru-hiker, more philosophical and inspirational perhaps than a guide to plan the day to day aspects of a hike. \
And even more so, I think, even more this book will be a type of support to family and friends missing their thru-hikers.  I borrowed this book from the library three times over the course of Loner's trek and then ended up buying it.  It gives Kendall, my granddaughter, a view of the hike, from a different perspective of Loner's videos and gave me more insight to many of the facts and helpful knowledge about the Appalachian Trail and what a thru-hike entails so I can more fully understand what Loner experiences throughout hiking the various states and mountain ranges.
Plus, even though I haven't written for a newspaper in years, I do enjoy it from a professional angle because our newspaper would never think of taking on a project this size.  It must have taken a heck of a lot of time just to arrange it through the five papers, The Atlanta Jounral-Constitution, The News and Observer of Raleigh, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Hartford Courant and the Maine Sunday Telegram. And that's not c0jsidering the complexity and time to deal with the logistics. In addition, I know of few journalists who would volunteer for such a job. Each team's story was published in their newspaper before the publication of the book, so they had to think on two different levels - from writing a feature story to writing a chapter in an anthology.  That's a tough call, and I wonder how much communication they had with the other teams as they went along to keep the book cohesive and then there's the difficult job of the editor and photo editor.  This is a monumental effort, and as a previous editor I can't imagine taking on such a complex challenge.
It's one of those books, you can pi9ck up o0ver and over, check out a section or just enjoy the photography. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Loner Videos at Katahdin

As I wait for Loner to make his way home by various means and routes it's starting to sink in on what's achieved. 
He's taken more than 5 million steps, some with people he'll never forget, some with Wildcat with whom he's fallen in love during this unpredictable journey, many alone.  He's learned a great deal about America and showed others more about the country they live in and the history of its evolution.  He's suffered and experienced moments of bliss unlike any he's ever imagined.  He's become closer to our earth, nature and it's creatures, even though he thought he was connected before.  He's returned to his roots and and explored places of wonder both within and without.  He's altered in many ways and may not know in years how.  For a shy, private guy he's opened himself and his soul to his followers and to someone very special beyond his dreams.  He's accomplished his dream of walking from Georgia to Maine, but it isn't over and may never be.  As many thru-hikers reveal they think of the Appalachian Trail every day and many return each year, even for just a section.
Now Loner, and the friends he's made from the Class of 2012 who have summitted Katahdin, join the few, the very few - at the moment, less than 14,800, over the history of the Appalachian Trail, out of the entire population of the world - who have ever completed the Appalachian Trail journey.
And here they are ....what we've all been waiting for the last  series of videos and Loner's summit of Katahdin.

Loner's mini photo album - scrapbooking

In a post long long ago,  I mentioned a  in a post, that I was making what they call in the scrapbooking world - a mini photo album.  I started it when loner left for his trip and have been working on it  ever since he left.  It turned out to be a collection of ten albums on the states.  I combined some of the states with the shorter parts of trail.
I'm starting to post and write a little bit about that journal on another blog so I don't clog up this one - that blog Black Swan Scrapper, is mostly for folks interested in photography, scrapbooking or altered book arts.  But just in case there are some family members or even thru-hikers who would like some sort of keepsake of their AT journey perhaps this will give you a few ideas.
Corajeanine already knows about the project but Loner doesn't read this blog (he thought it was all about my worrying) so I don't think he'll see it until he gets home in a few weeks.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Vids Loner & Wildcat Maine

Yay!  finally!! Loner must have stayed up all night to post a set of new videos. He's posted 9 more videos of his trip through the beginning of the rugged trails of Maine
In addition, we get to travel with his girlfriend, Jeannine or Corajeanine or Jean she answer to all) too from Monson to Caratunk. Jeff has given her the name Wildcat. She came to out to hike with him for a week.
There's some river fording, some mud, playing among the boulders, some climbs and falls, meeting of new friends and oldies too  - like E Z. Nomad. There's gourmet cooking  - we need the recipes Corajeanine! -  and lots of smiles.
Like the hikers say, "It's not about the miles, it's about the smiles!
And he sent me a photo of him at Katadhin!
But as far as videos, we'll have to wait for him to do another marathon editing session.  I think he may be editing some of Wildcat's footage in here too because she shot lots of those lush panoramic views.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Post Katadhin News

I've had a chance to talk to Loner when he called from his grandmother's house.   He told me that he was hiking with a group of folks and he and Texas Pete ran for two days in the 100 Mile Wilderness because they wanted to beat the rain heading into Baxter State Park.  Texas Pete Loner did a 22, 23 and 28 mile day and then another ten on the day they summited Katahdin.  Loner signed in at the Baxter State Park register as hiker #583.  there's going to be a large Class of 2012.
A large group went up Katahdin before him, but Loner went up alone later.  It was a beautiful day with blue skies and he mentioned, that at the top, his legs got jittery. He said he took videos and photographs himself because there was no one else. He didn't get down to the bottom until about dusk.
Later, Loner had some good luck with two Trail Angels who drove him to Millinocket and then the next day to Bangor where he got his ride to his grandmother's.
He's been spending time with his grandmother and her husband and his aunt and uncle and his first meal was at Texas Road House. He's enjoying his stay with his relatives, and they've been wonderful to him, feeding him great meals. Tomorrow he goes out on his uncle's boat.  He hasn't seen his grandmother or aunt in a very long time so I know he's enjoying catching up. He admits it's hard for him to be inside and he feels the need to walk. He also gets tense in crowded places such as restaurants. So he's going through a bit of White Blaze Fever.  He hasn't been able to use the internet or check messages and I know he's enthusiastic about getting back to film editing.  He's hoping to get online today at least to look at emails.  It's one of the activities, like hiking, kayaking or arrowhead hunting which put him in the zone.  He hasn't processed much yet. 
He's talked to Jeanine everyday and I know he can't wait to see her again  And I can't wait to see him too.
I'll keep you posted.