Hey, folks. Long time, no see. My American sojourn — that was my fifth but easily the best — is over and I’m back in southeastern Korea, still slightly jet-lagged, taking naps throughout each day, and dreading my return to school tomorrow. I’m not exactly depressed but a lot of the colour has been drained from my life.
Fortunately I have a lot to look forward to, lots of planning to keep me busy — and almost a thousand pictures to edit. Not to mention blog posts to write. I neglected writing about my time in New York while I was there because the living of it was far more engaging. I’ve also had no time to keep up with the blogs I follow; apologies, and normal service will resume shortly.
So get ready for a dozen or so roughly chronological posts about my New York adventures. Meanwhile, here’s a summary and a few pictures of my almost-month in the States:
* I attended the best wedding I’ve ever been to (for some reason I don’t get invited to many): my hiker mates Dude (David) and Trouble (Catherine), in a gorgeous snow-shrouded girls’ camp on the side of a frozen lake.
Was warmly welcomed by their families and friends. Stayed two days. Enjoyed a two-day hiker reunion with my excellent PCT gang from 2010.
Met and fell almost instantly in love with Dude’s sister, Kate. She’s so wonderful, SHE NOW HAS HER OWN TAG ON MY BLOG.
* I later learned that Kate had been stalking me/following my blog for some time. This meant that she knew about my various quirks, or most of them. A tip for the unlucky in love: start a blog. Much easier than starting a rock band, less painful than internet dating.
* Nine of us followed the New Year’s Eve wedding with a pre-dawn hike up a snowy Adirondack mountain.
It was beautiful and magical. I was drunk and sleepless and wracked with love agonies. Even ibuprofen is powerless against the love agonies, but stomping through the snow helped, and the joyful camaraderie of the trail soothed me somewhat.
* Oh, yeah, I broke the very long beer fast. No regrets. So many local brews to savour, and good folk to drink with. I am now on the wagon again. Nothing here would compare.
* The hikers departed. I spent a couple of days in a beautiful old farmhouse, the fields under snow, a fire flickering in the living room.
It’s the home of Nemo & Pouch, two hiker friends of the newlyweds who took me in despite never having met me before the wedding.
* I moved into the newlyweds’ little cabin, inconveniently considering it was their honeymoon. Meanwhile, after a few days of misery, my favourite stalker and I revealed our dark secrets. All was beautiful in the world. Again. Dude & Trouble took off at last for a few days of Adirondack snow-hiking and camping, which in our twisted milieu we know as a “honeymoon”.
* I moved into Kate’s place.
I was saving a fortune on hotel rooms.
* I got to know her family, enjoyed a few Sunday dinners, visited her sister Kristen and brother-in-law Doug, a potter who made each of we PCT-ers a beautiful souvenir mug. Kate and I explored the nearby cemetery near the Saratoga Battlefield.
* We made a fantastic pilgrimage to the town of Woodstock and after a long drive managed to find the festival site at Bethel.
* Did a ton of driving with Kate. She was such fun to drive with, and the image of her steering one-handed, one leg tucked up on the seat, singing along to classic rock or 80s hair-metal, sipping coffee, still makes me smile. OK, there were times I cringed in terror, but what’s love without a bit of danger?
* I changed my plane tickets and ditched Cambodia. Two more weeks with you-know-who. Not a tough decision.
* I took the Amtrak down to NYC at last. Spent a few days with another PCT pal, Joe Howell, aka Chief Daddy, his lovely wife Missy and their Boston terrier Chief.
They live near Central Park on the Upper East Side, a brilliant location. Joe was a terrific host and guide — hell, he is a guide, with his hiking outfit Wilderness Rocks.
* The Met. Central Park. The Village. New York pizza. New York diners. Trader Joe’s. REI. The amazing Fairway supermarket. Coffee. Four and a half days weren’t nearly enough, but I missed my gal. I filled those days, anyhow.
* Caught up with another hiker friend, Paparazzi, from the Appalachian Trail, 2004. He came in from Massachusetts, we met in Central Park and hiked that thing thoroughly while we talked.
Then we trekked to a diner he vaguely — very vaguely — recalled, and he bought me dinner.
* I bought two iPads and and a new iPhone at the buzzing Apple store at the southeastern corner of the Park.
* One of my urban-walking highlights, I pulled off a 32-mile loop of the entire island of Manhattan in about 11 hours of fast, almost non-stop walking along the Hudson, East and Harlem Rivers.
* Back up to Saratoga Springs to hang with Kate and her family. We got her internet hooked up, I presented her with an iPad, and we were set to talk face to face when I finally split. Those were good days; we savoured each one. Even trips to the store were enjoyable. We drank a lot of coffee and ate tons of bakery treats. Each night we would sit talking, sipping chocolate stout, having a blast.
* At last, the dreaded Friday. Up at 4:15 for the four-hour drive south to JFK. A painful departure. Sleeping pills, an empty seat next to mine: I’ve had worse flights.
* Korea. “Home” again. Cafe wifi, Skype, Face Time (TM): K and I have talked each day. The future looks bright. Absolutely radiant, in fact.
Stay tuned for details, pictures and surprises!
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote