Day 65 -May 11 2017 – 0 miles – Narrows VA
The four of us woke up in the morning around the same time. Flashfire half jokingly mentioned taking a zero. Zeus almost immediately agreed. I looked toward Stoat to see what he would say, knowing that his first thought would be to reject it. The long, sickness induced, stay in the hotel early in the trip caused both of us to have an aversion to staying in a hotel and not doing anything. He was more adverse to it than I was though, and he really wanted to hike.
I did some quick calculations and figured it was 167.4 miles since our last zero. Taking an unexpected zero wouldn’t be the end of the world. I mentioned this to everyone and that seemed to help Stoat feel a little better about taking a zero. Not much better, but maybe a little. Stoat eventually said, “I’ll do whatever everyone else is doing.” It wasn’t a resounding yes, but it was good enough for me. I thanked him and got busy doing nothing.
Zeus asked Allen if we could stay another day and he said we could. He even gave us some coffee and a cinnamon roll. Zeus also asked if we could get a ride into the nearby town of Pearisburg. Allen said If we didn’t mind helping him move something on the way there he would gladly give us a ride.
When we were ready to go, we let Allen know and he brought us over to the place across the street. There was a large commercial grade printer that need to be moved to another location. Between Zeus, Stoat, and I we could get it into the pickup. Flashfire documented the process.
After we picked it up we drove over to a storage building. I sat in the cab on the way and got to know Allen a little more. He had owned a construction company at one time then had bought the hotel and renovated it. I got the feeling that Allen had his hand in a lot of things around town.
After we unloaded the printer Allen drove us to the strip mall in Pearisburg. There was an all you can eat Chinese buffet there that everyone except for me wanted to go to. I figured if Stoat was willing to give up a day of hiking I could eat at a place I rather not go to.
After filling up on vast quantities of chinese food we walked around the area a little. Across the street from the strip mall was a hotel that was filled with thru hikers. We went over to see if we knew anyone.
Standing outside were two hikers that Flashfire immediately recognized. Rockstar and Steam Machine. They were both from the east part of Germany and Flashfire had met them once before. I had learned from Flashfire that, even though Germany was now one country again, there was still some animosity between the east and west sections.
Flashfires English was so-so, it was much better than our German, and it was getting much better every day. But it must have been really nice to be able to talk to people in her native language. She was really excited to see them and talked to them for a while. Towhee and Jaybird were also there and Jaybird gave us several good tips about how to get a permit for the John Muir trail.
After we talked for a while we called Allen and he picked us up. We went back to our room to relax. Stoat went out for something and when he came back he found this.
We had all gone into a food coma and had fallen asleep.
Later that evening we found out that dinner was available for purchase in the dining area and that there would be a jamboree afterwards. We said yes to both.
When it was time to eat we sauntered over to the dining area. It was filled with locals including people who lived in the building. Apparently the hotel also had apartments available as well.
We chatted with several people. Everyone was very nice. The dinner, while good, wasn’t filling enough for us and we winded up snacking on whatever we had around.
While we finished up dinner, music started to drift in from the other room. The jamboree was about to begin.
What started off as a few people playing instruments turned into a full blown jamboree as more musicians showed up. The players were setup in a circular fashion and someone would call out a song and they would play it. We were witnessing a piece of genuine Americana in the heart of Appalachia. It was almost like traveling back in time. I wondered how much longer the tradition would last. I thought, “Would the next generation do this? Would the next one after that? Am I witnessing something that will be soon fading out of existence?”
Flashfire had a big smile on her face and said, “Isn’t this great! This is why I hike the Appalachian trail! This is the real America!” She was right on both accounts.
Allen had given Flashire a glass of moonshine and she offered a taste to everyone. I had expected it to taste like high test gasoline but it didn’t. It actually tasted sweet and refreshing. It either didn’t have much alcohol (not likely) or hid it really well. Either way I only had a few sips.
While we were sitting there listening to the music we also talked with several elderly onlookers. They made sure to let us know that the,” Leader of the group was in his eighties and could you believe it?”
Flashfire told one of the ladies that we were sitting with that I play guitar. This got relayed to the group leader and he came over to me and asked if I wanted to play. I told him, ” Thank you but I am enjoying listening.” When he persisted I said “I’m from New Jersey. I don’t know how these songs go.” Although the songs were simple they were also easy to screw up. I didn’t want to be the outsider messing up the jamboree. He smiled and said he spent some time in New Jersey and liked it, then called out another song and got back to work. Stoat said I was being a wuss and should have at least tried to play along. He was probably right.
The jamboree went on for a long while. Throughout the performance our tramily would mill about the hotel and eventually come back to the jamboree. Tramily is what a group of hikers that hike together call themselves. Its a joining of the words trail and family. Our immediate tramily included the four of us. Other hikers would be considered part of the extended tramily, but the four of us were the heart of it.
Later we would find out that Allen had talked to Flashfire several times throughout the night. Flashfire noticed that a woman on the other side of the room was giving her dirty looks. When Flashfire asked him about her, Allen said,” Oh don’t worry about her. She’s just my Ex wife”
That night the tramily fell asleep to the sounds of the jamboree still going strong.