At 5:30 in the morning, Cartwheel declared that she needed to pee and. climbed over me to get out of the tent. I rolled over and went back to sleep. It turns out that she was really sneaking out to pick me a bouquet of wildflowers to fill my birthday morning mug (a plan she had conceived the night before).
So I awoke to some birthday flowers and a special breakfast. RobinHood presented me with the wooden spoon that he had been whittling for me.
When I was seven, I thought that was the luckiest age you could be. I spent my eighth birthday in tears; sad to leave seven behind, I declared that I never wanted to be eight. Now, at the completion of my fifth septade, I’m at least five times as lucky. After my special birthday breakfast, we enter another new state (Virginia) and cruised into Damascus. On the way, we discussed some birthday symbolism. The AT this year is 2,185 miles (each year it changes as they add switchbacks or re-route eroded sections of the trail). So in base 727, the trail is 34 miles long (there are 10 kinds of people in this world, those who understand binary and those who don’t). We figure that because I’ve successfully finished being 34 (in base 10) this year, I can’t help but finish a hike of 34 miles (in base 727) this year.
In town, we went to the Blue Blaze cafe for a delicious lunch (3/4 lb. burger with bacon, cheese, mushrooms, fried onions, and peppers, a side of onion rings and a sampling of the local stouts). Then we made our way over to the house we rented with a bunch of other hiker friends (Damascus is known as the friendliest town on the trail, and is also on a number of major long and short distance bike trails, and is well set up for transient guests- we rented they four bedroom, three bath “Outdoor Inn” with washer/drier and full kitchens for $150 for a single night, because the house slept 12, it was quite inexpensive).
We had a relaxing birthday afternoon, mostly eating drinking and being merry. I was even presented a tall can of beer with 35 birthday candles rubber-banded around the top. The kids watched a movie. Everyone consumed the requisite quotient of ice cream. There was even a rumor (started by 12%) that the local Dairy King was running out of custard (this rumor caused a veritable stampede of hikers to rush out of the house). In Town, unlike on the trail, I do not walk around with all my possessions on me, so I was without camera for most of these festivities.
Saturday was spent perusing the local outfitters, replacing some warn out gear, mailing home some winter weather gear, and ogling the newer lighter versions of the things we don’t really need to replace yet. The kids watched another movie, the parents went grocery shopping. The kids spent lots of time hanging out with new hiking friends (including an expert whittler). Mama Bear made stir-fried vegetables for dinner and pie for desert. After dinner we headed to the hills to get a few miles in and avoid waking up in the same spot two morning in a row.