The ONLY Constant Is Change
“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
Life is a Funny Thing…
…One minute you’re on the Appalachian Trail, determined as all hell to make it to Katahdin, and the next you are sitting in your “new” RV in Hendersonville, NC, drinking coffee and playing on your laptop. It’s been a while since my last post and we are officially off trail, folks. For now. Here’s why.
Jaded and Injured
I have to admit something here. In one of my first blog posts, I stated that I wanted to hike the AT to get away from the everyday routine of life. But the longer I hiked, the more I realized I had just traded one routine for another. Wake up, eat, put away camp, hike, make camp, eat, sleep. And the more I thought on it, the more it bothered me. The hiking didn’t really hurt. I’ve been a mountain biker for some years, so climbing mountains doesn’t bother me and I’m pretty fast going up. I actually like the climbs more than the downhills. I had no blisters or any other issues. There wasn’t really any “suck” for me.
It was the fact that this was just another routine that started to bug me. I wanted to get away from routine and I think this line of thinking was sort of the first step in our transition off the trail. I became jaded. Step one off of the trail.
Step two came in the Wolf Laurel/Cowrock Mountain section of the AT. Carolina’s left knee began to hurt her pretty badly, to the point where she couldn’t step down properly. The outer side portion of her knee was hurting her and I suspected it was a “CL” ligament issue. After a slow decent into Tesnatee Gap, we called for a shuttle back to Amicalola, where we got back to our car and drove Caro to an Urgent Care. After an x-ray and some knee yoga with the doctor, Carolina was diagnosed with an LCL sprain. We waited a week and resumed our hike; however, her knee continued to bother her.
We decided to hang off trail a little bit longer to see if that would help. We hung out in Franklin, NC. We also did a “test hike” on a lovely little trail called the Lower Ridge Trail, which starts in the Standing Indian Campground, to see how her knee would do.
On the subject of the LRT, let me just tell you, readers, that the Lower Ridge Trail is NO. FRIGGIN’. JOKE. It’s uphill, VERY STEEPLY, for about 5 miles. I didn’t eat very much in the way of breakfast (or anything) that morning and we figured there would be plenty of water sources since it rained, so we only brought a liter of water each. I almost died. At least, I thought I was going to. And it didn’t help that the landscape near the top looked like a barren, burnt wasteland from Hell itself.
As we neared the top, I started feeling VERY weak. I could barely walk and my legs were shaking. I started to projectile vomit all of the liquid in my system. I tried eating a Snickers, which was promptly thrown up. All hope seemed lost. And then Caro broke out the apple slices. Apple slices are what saved me that day, folks. Green apple slices with caramel dipping sauce. More specifically, these guys right here:
I have remained eternally grateful to green apple slices from that day forward. Anyway, going up and down mountains was still hurting her knee pretty badly and we realized it needed a significant amount of time to heal. Neither of us had any interest in going back to Miami. We needed to do something in the interim. Being off trail with no home, I was blowing an insane amount of money staying in hotels. We needed a place to live and we needed it fast.
Recreational Vehicles Are Awesome
Our plan after our hike was to get an RV and park it somewhere near Asheville, NC. We decided the best plan of action would be to head back down to Florida and look for an RV. Our Craigslist searching didn’t last very long and we ended up purchasing a 30 foot Fleetwood Tioga from a nice family down in Eustis, FL.
Since we were in Florida, we figured it would be nice to see my kids and Caro’s parents. Her parents had never been to St. Augustine before and my kids were dying to go back. So, we drove the RV from Eustis up to Compass RV Park in St. Auggie and parked the RV for a test run. Carolina’s parents drove up for the weekend with my two little ones and we had a fantastic time bar-b-queing, drinking beer and exploring the city. Her dad and I also spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how to get the damn awning down and back up again.
Now, if you’ve never owned an RV, there is a very steep learning curve. I’ve never owned one before, so I was learning everything on the fly. Driving the RV was a piece of cake and so was hooking and unhooking everything in the park. Operating the RV off of the generator, however, was tricky. These generators are finicky. For instance, if you don’t turn the AC off before turning the generator on, you will spend 2 hours trying to figure out what the hell is going on in the Florida heat. It so happens that if the AC is on when you start up the generator, it will overload the generator. It trips this breaker on the generator and the AC won’t run. Lesson learned.
All in all, this thing is a bad ass tiny home on wheels and we’ve loved the hell out of every second that we’ve had it. It gives us options. If we get a bug up our ass and don’t like our current view, we can unhook and go somewhere else. And we own it. No rent and no mortgage. This is our first step toward our ultimate goal of a life of self sustainability.
Staying Put… For Now
We are currently parked at a nice little RV park in Hendersonville, NC with some pretty amazing views of the mountains. Here’s one from our deck:
We are 20 minutes from Asheville, our favorite little town. There is hiking FUCKING. EVERYWHERE. Seriously, we could probably hike a different trail everyday for a year and then some. This will allow us to stay in shape and get Caro’s knee in hiking condition. And the best part: EVERY DAY IS DIFFERENT. There is no routine. We literally wake up whenever the hell we want and say, “What do you want to do today?”
We do plan on finishing the AT. We are going to hang out here in NC and I’ll probably work a part time at a local brewery or something to pass time and save more money. There are half a million breweries in The AVL to choose from. Caro has an interview at a salon in downtown AVL for a receptionist position. Next March we will store the RV, jump back on trail and finish what we started. Hopefully, Carolina’s knee will be good to go by then and I’ll have a different view of the whole “AT thru hike” thing.
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