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[at-l] Wanchor Report

Once again I've spared you minute-by-minute reports of recent phone calls.=20
=A0Suffice it to say that Jon made Front Royal on time--and in time to share=
room again with Dave "207" who'd arrived before Jon.

Jon enjoyed the luxury of the Shenandoah's--regular restaurant meals. =A0He=20=
at most of the lodges, making 5 out of 6 possible restaurant meals. =A0He=20
actually ate most of these meals with Dave, who always seemed to be arriving=
on about the same schedule. =A0True to form, Jon groused that the restaurant=
meals take too much time--usually an hour to get in and out. =A0

Jon reported that, as usual, the very unafraid deer were everywhere. =A0His=20
most unusual animal encounter was with a very aggressive crawdad positioned=20
in the middle of the trail, waving his claws and challenging Jon. =A0

He's been getting started hiking every morning between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. Hi=
"best" morning was a 5:15 start. =A0He called one morning "lazy" as he didn'=
get going until 6:10. =A0He quits each night between 8:45 and 9:15, although=
says at that time he usually feels as if he could keep going forever if the=20
light would hold. =A0Whenever possible he takes a short nap at noon. =A0As I=
said, he's a Timex watch; he just "keeps on ticking."

Last night the archangels Southern Harp and Travelin' Man (George & Mary Sue=
picked him up at Ashby Gap and whisked him away to Round Hill, VA. =A0They a=
housesitting in some impressive digs on 80 acres there. =A0Jon and another=20
hiker named Jed enjoyed the Roach's fabulous hospitality and were treated to=
some of Mary Sue's beautiful songs. =A0Jon said they had a great time and Je=
(a union autoworked from Detroit) was MOST impressed with the whole evening.

This morning George took Jon to where he could rent a car, and Jon drove int=
DC to have dinner and spend the night with his brother and sister-in-law, To=
& Marilyn. =A0I hope they know what an honor that was--this was only the thi=
complete day off in the two months he's been hiking. =A0=A0=A0

Today I spoke with Dennis Lewon, the Backpacker magazine assistant gear=20
editor who's Jon's contact for the gear he's testing. =A0Dennis, and possibl=
some others, will try to meet Jon at Wind (I think it's Wind) Gap in PA.=20
=A0They plan to bring in a dinner, take some photos, and possibly camp and h=
a bit with Jon the next morning. =A0When I told Jon on the phone, he was VER=
happy at the mere potential of his photo hitting Backpacker. =A0I keep tryin=
to tell Jon that he's NOT going to be the centerfold, so no use in getting=20
his hopes up. =A0Can't you just see it, "Jon 'Wanchor' Phipps, Mr. July."=20=

Forgot to tell you that in Waynesboro he finally scored two new hiking=20
shirts--both from his usual "tres elegant" hiking shirt source, a thrift=20
shop. =A0(And he was complaining about having to pay $3 for each shirt.)=20=
looks for button-front shirts in darkish plaids made of poly/cotton blend;=20
find the right shirt is like the search for the holy grail. =A0The pants he=20
uses for trail work come from the same elite source. =A0

FROM THE HOMETEAM;  Tonight I prepped the box for Ironmaster's.  He'll be=20
half the way there and I'm half the way through maildrops.  True confession:=
I'm actually half glad it's still two months till he comes home again.  Ther=
are a whole bunch of domestic projects that aren't done yet.  Thus far this=20
has been the easiest separation in the almost six years we've been doing thi=
life.  Maybe it's easier because (1) I'm getting used to it:  I know the=20
routine and I know what to do to keep myself happy, or (2) Jon was in=20
residence the longest he's ever been--a whole year, or (3) I'm getting a hec=
of a lot more independent, or (4) I'm more sure than ever that he's actually=
going to come back and not head off into the wild blue yonder when this hike=
is over.=20

It may come as a rude awakening to both the hiker and the hometeam, but life=
at home goes on when the hiker is away.  Life for the hometeam expands to=20
fill the gap his/her absence has left; or at least I've learned to make my=20
life expand that way.  When Jon did the PCT I e-mailed and talked a lot with=
a woman in Idaho who's husband and daughter were doing the entire PCT that=20
year.  About two weeks after Jon got home, Chris called me and we had anothe=
true confession:  it was hard to make life over again when the hikers came=20
home.  The hometeam begins to get used to making their own decisions without=
a "by your leave" from the absent hiker.  The hometeam learns to enjoy=20
turning on the bedroom TV if she can't sleep at 3:00 a.m.  The hometeam=20
learns to like eating frozen dinners when she doesn't feel like cooking--and=
not washing the dishes for an entire weekend.  The hometeam learns to enjoy=20
having sole control over everything from the TV remote to  the choice of=20
paint for the family room.  As much as you miss them, it's also kind of=20
liberating to be on your own for a while.  So, when the time comes for the=20
hiker to return from the hill, don't be surprised if there's a bit of=20
adjustment after those wonderful, glorious first few days that hiker is home=
 I can only imagine the difficulty for those hometeams who find their hiker=20=
changed person after the hike; at least Jon always returns the same person h=
was when he left.

Tiime to hit the hay,

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