Man, oh man, I really didn’t anticipate the response I got from last Thursday’s post. I was thinking of my last day of work as more of a step in the process, not the last step before falling into the abyss of my trek. I’m feeling a little sheepish, especially since I’m writing from Virginia Beach, not the A.T.
Thank you to everyone who wished me well. And I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to put up with pre-trail Jordana for another week or two since I’m not finished getting ready and still have plenty to do and share. Look in the next week for posts on prepping my mail drop boxes and loading my pack. For the time being, I just want to give you a brief update on the past few days.
On Friday morning I loaded up my Ford Focus with the last remnants of the apartment that I hadn’t yet moved. Between the mattress pad and the many pillows, I’m pretty sure I would have been well cushioned in case of collision. Knowing that I was leaving, April worked from home that day. I was in good spirits until just before 11am when I had to unring the keys to the apartment and the mailbox, at which point I choked up, knowing that I was leaving my home for the last time.
As I drove through town on my way to the highway, I purposefully spoke out loud trying to distract myself. “I know you’re going to miss me, but I won’t be gone forever. You’re going to be so different when I see you next. All your teenage angst and acne will be gone. You’ll be all grown up.” Hey, don’t knock it ‘til you try it. I spent the next three hours calling everyone I could think to. “Who will answer her phone in the middle of a Friday? I need to talk to someone.”
When I arrived in Virginia Beach, I took a long nap, which effectively resolved the “I’m so sad that I left my whole DC life behind” blues. Apparently, I was just tired.
Saturday and Sunday were a whirlwind: unpacking my car, starting on mail drop boxes, to Target for toiletries and first aid stuff. My little sister Lani came down from Richmond for a visit and for mandatory Swedish massages and sushi (thanks, Mom). When we kissed and hugged goodbye on Sunday before she left, Lani said she’d try to visit me out on the trail, so really it won’t be long before we see each other again.
On Sunday for lunch, I decided to try out my new JetBoil stove. My friend Caro had given me a mostly empty fuel canister to use so that I wouldn’t have to buy a new one, and it did the trick. I started by filling up the JetBoil’s measuring cup to the 1 cup mark with gluten free quick oats. I then filled the cooking cup up to the marked 16 ounce line with water. After screwing in the cup to the burner and the burner to the fuel canister, I opened the gas valve and clicked the auto ignition button.
The flame immediately caught at the spark, and in less than two minutes I had steaming water ready for the oats.
Just to test it out, I let the oats bubble over, but really the lid held tight without much of a mess.
Within five minutes from when I started, I had thick, piping hot oatmeal. Magic!
On Sunday evening my friends Mele and Ryan came over for dinner. Before they arrived, I was able to cross off another item from my list. A few months ago, I’d heard about this chemical called Permethrin that apparently kills ticks and other bugs on contact. The reviews I read on Amazon were really positive. The chemical, which I was able to find in Walmart’s outdoor/hunting section for $10, is meant to be sprayed on clothes and dried for several hours. It is then effective for up to 6 washes in the laundry and/or 42 days.
Donning disposable gloves and safety glasses, I took my hiking outfit and my pack outside and laid them on the ground. After saturating both sides of each article, I draped them over the chain link fence to dry. Since there was extra left in the bottle, I then coated my base layer long underwear and short-sleeved shirt. When I pulled the lot down this morning, there wasn’t even a hint of a chemical smell, which had been a concern.
I don’t know if anyone’s been paying attention, but it seems like there’s a bit of a cold snap along the trail right now, in particular toward the starting point in Georgia. I’m not saying that I want to turn into a dork-cicle or anything, but I do know that cold winters keep the tick population in check. If that’s what happens this year, I’ll do my best to stay bundled up and to appreciate my good fortune. If not, I’ve got Permethrin as my first-line defense. And, worse comes to worse, I have a prescription dose of doxycycline to treat for the dreaded lyme disease – and any other bacterial infection, for that matter. My pack may be a couple ounces heavier, but I’m thinking better say than sorry at this point. I’ll let you know if I change my mind after a month of hiking.