Had a great time back in Milwaukee for my sister's graduation from dental school. I'm so happy for her and proud of what she has accomplished. It's awesome to think about the fact that my sister is now a doctor! The entire time back in Milwaukee was filled with so many good things.
My college buddy, former fellow Quad employee, and all around good friend, Kenny, picked me up from the airport late Friday night when I got in. When we got to his house, we enjoyed some new Lakefront (my favorite) beer, called Wisconinite, while getting a tour of his place. Can't believe he's been a homeowner for a year now. That's some serious grownup stuff there! We caught up for a bit then hit the sack. Woke up the next day and went to breakfast at a good local joint. After that we went back to his place to take care of a few things, then headed to REI to pick up some new gear for the trail. Picked up new shoes, as mine were giving me problems in the toes, new socks because 850+ miles have taken their toll on mine, a cheap carabiner for hanging my food bag PCT style, and a Steripen water purifier. Trying out Wrightsocks for the first time after a recommendation from a friend, trying Brooks Cascadia trail runners that I had read good reviews on before starting the trail, and bought the Steripen because it was on sale for a good price. Mom and Dad are holding onto the Streripen should my current water filter give me any more major problems. If not, I may return it to REI. Love their policy!
Went to sort through my clothes that had been sent from Amy in Cali, and I noticed a lot were missing. Kenny came from around the corner with all of my dress clothes on hangers. He had taken them to the cleaners and had them all ready for me! What a guy! This far off the trail, and running into some great trail magic! Thanks again Kenny, you're a great friend!
Soon after the REI trip, I was dropped off at my sister (Carolyn) and brother in law's (Aaron) apartment, and the rest of my family showed up soon after. Aaron's family was there soon too. We hung out for a bit then went to a restaurant to get some great pizzas. After that we headed to church, then went back to the apartment to have cheese balls, crackers, fruit, and ice cream. I was in heaven with all this good food! After that, went to Carolyn's hooding ceremony, which was followed by yet more food at a reception. All really good times spent with both my family, Aaron's family, and a few other of Carolyn's friends. Crashed at a hotel that night, then the next day was the graduation ceremony, which was actually the best one I've been to. Hank Aaron was the guest speaker and gave a really good speech. After that there was a luncheon with some good food and a slideshow. At this, my sister officially became a doctor! Just crazy, but in such a good way!
Later that evening after Mom, Dad, and Kristin headed back home, Carolyn, Aaron, Kenny, and my friend Chelsea from Quad met up at Wicked Hop (a really cool restaurant in the 3rd Ward in Milwaukee) for a drink. Tried a Lakefront beer I haven't had before called Poison Arrow. That night I crashed at Care and Aaron's apartment on the old couch cushions (couch had been taken to dumpster area). Only slept for a few hours before catching a bus at 1:30am to get to the airport for my 4:55pm flight. It was my only option other than a cab or Kenny coming to pick me up really early. Wasn't too bad, but I was really tired. Found a darker area at the airport behind a sign and slept on the floor from about 2:30 to 4:45am, then boarded and headed to Charlotte. Had a few hour layover so I sat at a restaurant area and ate my fruit and read my AT guidebook. At one point I happened to look up and right in the walkway was a couple that goes to the church my family goes to back home. By the time I could respond, they'd started walking away. I jumped up and tapped her on the shoulder (probably scaring her). I called her my her name, and at first she didn't recognize me with my beard, but then she knew who I was. How crazy running into someone I knew!
Got back to Charlottesville and the section hiker I'd hiked with the precious week, and Coffee picked me up and we went to Washington DC. Somewhat a last minute trip, but my shin wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped so I figured another day might help. Got to have lunch with my friend Cara and finally meet someone I worked with quite a bit on the phone, but had never met. We had some great pizza and beer, and Kayla and her husband Josh picked up the tab. Totally unexpected, and we were all very thankful. I'm gonna say that's some more trail magic, just a little off trail ;) After dinner, Coffee, Zion, and I went to the National Mall and walked all around to look at the monuments. I'd been here in 8th grade, but enjoyed it and appreciated it a lot more this time.
Crashed in DC area for the night, then went to Target to resupply the next morning, and surprised Coffee with his first visit to REI! Good times!
Got back to the trail and started hiking a little later than planned, around 9:20pm. A little nervous going into Shenandoah at night knowing that this will be one of the most likely places for us to see bears. Made it about 3 miles in and called it a night. Both of us were tired.