Monday, July 28, 2008

Hikers Hit the City

No, you haven't stumbled upon the wrong blog. It's just that now.... you find us backpack-less in Times Square zipping about via taxi, train and subway! One minute we are walking in the woods, the next we are shouting to hear ourselves talk. That's just the culture of the trail.

New York City may mean hubbub, high prices and crazy drivers, but it also means really, really good food! Observe:

Jack Johnson's "banana pancakes."

Look familiar? This is the diner in Seinfeld where Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer always eat. This is for you Mom. I had a really good cheeseburger because the "Big Salad" wasn't really calling my name.

Jessi Greer and her boyfriend Mike have so graciously hosted us in the city this weekend and it has been a huge blessing. Thanks guys! Here's Jess overlooking the East River not far from her apartment.

Sidewalk art.

A smooch before the subway. Man, all the time, more than ever, I think, "Thank you God for giving us each other!" Even though we have had our share of really intense fights and conflicts on the trail, we constantly rediscover what it means to be best friends. (Cue segue into me giving major kudos to Dustan for all those times he has mildly annoyed me by striking up yet another conversation with a hostess, cashier, dude pumping gas, etc. etc.)
Because the most exciting thing happened right at the beginning of our attempt to get into NYC. We crossed the Hudson River, caught a hitch into Peekskill, hopped on a train and as we get our seats Dust says, "I think I saw the guy up there from Project Runway. I'm not joking." So I'm like, amped and I make him go up and see and sure enoooooouuuuugh:

AHHHHHHhhhhhhh!!!! There he is folks: Daniel Vosovic. Thank you Dust for being extremely outgoing. And yes, I realize you can only appreciate this if you know Project Runway, one of the all-time best Emmy-award winning reality shows on TV. I immediately called my sister.

And then we settled back to enjoy the view of the Hudson all the way into the city, where we met up with Jess and Mike in Grand Central Station. What a joy ride hiking the trail is turning out to be!

Ok, here are a few parting shots since I'm playing catch-up.

Me hiking in Maryland.

Produce in the pack is always a sign of leaving town.

Blackberries by day...

....blackberry pancakes by night.

Brahma's Mama hiked with us for 3 days! Here she is toughing it out.

These are rocks we climbed up coming out of Lehigh Gap - note how small the houses are way down below.
Self portraits in a swimming hole.

Frog on a log.

Dustan enjoying a hitch with Mama Maple (Canadian) in the background.

I liked that hitch too because it had just started to rain.

Crossing into New York
Our wonderful tent overlooking New York from Prospect Rock. Campsites like these are wonderful gems that make the trail so grand. When the sun went down we could see the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge on the horizon. When I peeled back the rainfly in the morning we were greeted by the pulsing glow of sunrise.

Tomorrow we will hop back on the trail on the other side of the Hudson River where we left off and we'll have about 3 hiking days left in NY. After that we'll be in Connecticut. Can you believe it??

I just want to say thanks again for all of the comments, voicemails, emails and real mail that we have received from family and friends. Glad to know we haven't totally fallen off the radar! We are hoping to finish the trail sometime between mid to end of September. Until then, we'll keep you posted on all of the remaining adventures from here to Maine!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Helloooooo from Unionville, NY!

I have not been online since Linden, VA. Talk about a long stretch with no internet - even more challenging has been the huge stretches between water sources!

We are now at mile marker 1,333. That number is cool but what's even better is that Katahdin is only 843 miles away. We say that to each other alllll the time, ever since the countdown started that our destination is less than 1,000 miles away. 843? We so got that.

Right now we're at the mayor's house. The actual mayor of Unionville takes hikers in, does their laundry, feeds them dinner and breakfast, gives them a place to sleep, takes them all over the's really nuts. His wife had MS for 20 years, was in a wheelchair for 15 years and after she passed away about 5 years ago. Since then, he's blown open the doors to his home to "keep him young." That means from about March to about October he is a full-time host. It would wear me out, but he loves it. He has 2 friends here who help him. One guy used to be the maitre'd at Grossinger's - he's the one who made us breakfast and dinner. :) Nice.

One thing to mention - Unionville is in NY but only because we temporarily jumped the border. We're still in New Jersey but in the next 2 days we will be in New York for good. (Then Connecticut, then Mass, then Vermont, then New Hampshire, then Maine). We will soon begin our deli-to-deli hop. Heck, we may even bus into NYC and see The Lion King on Broadway. That's kinda a joke, kinda an option....

What else. Ok, we reunited with The Thinker after being temporarily separated when I got a funk for 2 days. So, the divorce is not final. We caught up when HE got Big D and spent some time on the mend. Now we're hiking with a big fun group. On and off: Thinker, Cayenne, Tailgate, Vachon, Spidey, No-Amp, Green T and Feral. We LOVED Stroudsburg, PA. I saw Mamma Mia! and Dust saw The Dark Knight. It's nice to dip in and out of civilization periodically!

Dustan's mom (Brahma's Mama) came to hike with us for 3 days. What an adventure! I have tons of pics but of course I have to hurry it up because the mayor's house is pretty packed and some people are a-d-d-i-c-t-e-d to Facebook.

Last thing - Longshot is not hiking with us anymore, he's super speedy. But I meant to link to his blog - so you can follow him.

If you want to send mail, send to

D/B Balkcom
Post Office
Salisbury, CT 06068
Hold for AT thru-hiker

Thanks for all of the comments! It's great to hear from everyone.