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.