Final Thoughts: Time to Stop Talking & Start Walking
It’s time. It’s finally his time.
After 20+ years of dreaming and planning, we’re down to less than two days until we will board a plane bound for Georgia. These last few days at home have been a whirlwind – both of activities and emotions. There are many last minute details that seem to be compounded by Ray’s recent retirement. Leaving home for 5-6 months is lot. Add in retirement and the associated paperwork and logistics, and well, we just want to make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed before he heads out.
This is something that I didn’t expect, at least to this degree. I haven’t felt this emotional since I was pregnant with the kiddos! My frequent tears aren’t coming from sadness or anxiety. It’s the thought of having a front row seat to watch someone live their dream that makes my eyes sweat. Damn these allergies. Ray says he is the happiest he’s ever been in his life and now he’s about to embark on this amazing adventure. People have said to me “How can you let him do this? How can he just leave for 5 or 6 months?” Honestly? There is no “let”, there is love. To see him challenge himself in this way & grow as a person is to see our love grow. It’s all about the give and take; the balance. “And now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Some of our friends and family mentioned wanting the opportunity to see Ray before he leaves for the trail. We decided we would plant ourselves at a local restaurant/bar, throw an open invite out to the universe (i.e. Facebook) and see who shows up. Wow. So many came to the “Happy Trails to OneFoot” soiree! Family, friends, former colleagues, neighbors – some we haven’t seen in many years. They all came to wish Ray well and hear more about this adventure he’s about to embark on. It was really quite overwhelming. We brought along a travel journal and asked folks to leave a note for Ray. That book is quite a treasure and is a fantastic preface to the story Ray is about to write.
Leaving family behind has to be one of the hardest aspects of long distance backpacking. It certainly is for Ray. Knowing we wouldn’t have the chance to be together again for quite some time, our daughter came up from North Carolina to surprise us with a visit for the weekend. We decided we don’t need a Thursday in November to celebrate Thanksgiving. We have much to be grateful for on this Sunday in March. And so our little wolfpack of four will sit down to a turkey dinner with all the trimmings in just a few hours. #blessed. Really, the perfect sendoff for OneFoot.
Before OneFoot puts his two feet on the trail, we want to say a heartfelt thank you to so many who have supported and encouraged this dream. These past few months, with Ray’s retirement and pending thru-hike attempt, have been really humbling. So many people have reached out to him (& us). There have been countless calls, texts, cards, messages & lunches (side note: good thing he’s walking soon!). People are awesome! Our family & friends are amazing and it’s no surprise that they are ready to cheer him on. They get Ray and know that he’s happiest when he is playing in the woods. What is a bit surprising & never ceases to amaze us is the support and kind messages we’ve received from the trail community. These people freakin ROCK! When asked if he’s hiking alone, well, certainly not in spirit! We’ve got his back, errrrr, or his feet.
Wherever this journey leads, it’s been a hell of a ride so far. Ray already feels like he’s won just for what he’s been blessed with in this life; two healthy children who have grown into amazing adults, the ability to provide for his family, and an amazing and beautiful wife (editor’s note: his beautiful wife is the editor and she’s pretty darn amazing!). We’ve dreamed of this trek & envisioned the adventure. We’ve thought about the highs and lows, the sunny days and the rain. We’ve talked about the “what if’s”. But there’s been enough chit chat and it’s time to start walking! GULP! With all these eyes upon him, we really hope he walks for a while.
And, now, as John Muir said, “The world’s big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark”.
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