Three posts in one day, wow! Well this isn’t really me, except for this intro. Jeremy called this afternoon and we had a nice Skype session. Rosalie was in high spirits, twirling around half undressed after a chocolate treat. At one point he mentioned the pictures in my first post of today and expanded on the North Carolina story. It struck me that the date was within the time frame of Zach’s diaries. After we finished our conversation, I looked up the September 2012 file and found this description of their holiday:
September 16, peaceful detachment
Yes, it has been a little while since I’ve been here but this time, I have a decent reason. Last weekend, I took my vacation to visit Jeremy, and it feels very very long ago. But I’m going to recap as best I can:
Thursday I got up very early and drove to the ATL. The only real highlight of the trip was taking the wrong exit and going through NOLA instead of bypassing the city. When I got there Thurs Jeremy and I played catch out front, watched TV, and then went up to Ted’s where he works and had extreme milkshakes. Basically, we just sat at the bar and discussed different milkshakes and booze combinations and then asked the bartender to blend them for us. They were fantastic and although I don’t think the booze added much, it was still pretty damn good. I would make the argument that they tasted so good because of the heavy cream included, LOL.
Friday, we got up and drove up about an hour and a half towards the South Carolina/GA border and rafted Section IV of the Chattooga; the river had been running pretty low and it was billed to have some class V rapids along with a lot of III and IV rapids. It was pretty damn fun, although the lack of water made it so that it wasn’t as heart pounding pulse thumping as it could have been. Jeremy made a good point that enjoyed big water more than technical rapids and I have to agree with him. But, with that in mind, it was a banner day: brilliant weather, water that felt good, hardly any actual paddling, and it was just me and him and couple guides in the boat so the conversation was much better than it would have been if we had any gringos. So that was nice. After rafting, we got back on the road for Greenville, with plans to meet Greg for dinner and to crash at his place. As we were driving, we realized we had some time to kill and we were driving right through Clemson, so we stopped for a little while and checked out the campus. It was gorgeous; a small town pretty much with nothing else except the university going on and it just felt peaceful, even with the buzz of a football game that was scheduled for the next day. I immediately loved it. After Clemson, we got into Greenville, met Greg, went out to Thai food and then pretty much passed out.
We got up the next morning (Saturday) with plans to meet Kevin Lausch and go to camp and Brevard. We ate at the Golden Corral breakfast buffet (heavy) and then drove up to Kevin’s camp, which is outside Traveler’s Rest. It was fantastic to see him and randomly Turbo was there as well, so it was a mini-camp reunion. Randomly, Katie Sidman texted me the night before, which was the first time we had talked in probably 2-3 years. After chatting with Kevin for a bit, we hugged him goodbye and went up to camp, where we spent a little while at Pretty Place paying our respects. When we were there, it was overcast so the views weren’t exactly tremendous but it was still a powerful experience to revisit a place that is so deeply entrenched in my heart. After Pretty Place, we drove down into Brevard and had lunch at Pescados, which Jeremy loves but I find pretty average. After Pescados, we drove out into Pisgah to Big East fork, where, for the first time in over five years, we hiked the same trail that I took campers backpacking on during that magical summer. We did the same exact route too and got up onto Shining Rock Ledge where the views are enormous and powerful. The mountain forest is as beautiful as ever. It was an intense hike when it was all said and done: about 7 miles and around 3,000 feet in elevation gain; I was sore. After Pisgah, we were trying to connect with Kelley Clifford and we didn’t really have any definite plans. We elected to go back into Brevard (rather than go towards Asheville) and made the decisions to buffet at Twin Dragons, since we were both ravenous after the hike. At this point, our day had pretty much gone according to plan and I was quite pleased. Then, Kelley decided to meet us in Brevard and got us an in to sleep at the Dill’s in Hendersonville, which was a huge upgrade over our plans to camp somewhere on the side of the road. So we crushed some Twin Dragons (as epic as ever) and then met Kelley at Dollies (a slightly overrated ice cream place but still deep in my heart) and then went out to the Dill’s, where Kelley also was staying. At the Dill’s we stayed up late and drank good IPA’s that Jeremy had brought and had big conversations with Mike Dill and Kelley. I was exhausted and looking forward to the big bed they had prepared but we still stayed up late and loved the conversation. As I write this now, I recall something else: when talking with Mike and Kelley: a feeling of kinship. I found myself saying the words: what we all do professionally, thus implying that we have similar missions. And we do! We are in the business of making people’s lives better. It was a cool moment and it made me realize the inter-connectedness of my camp connections and my rec sports connections.
Saturday was heavy and Sunday we got up, Kelley cooked us breakfast, and then we were on our way to Gorges State Park and Turtleback falls. We found it with a little difficulty, hiked the 1.5 miles down to the falls, and then spent a little while sunning ourselves on the rocks before taking some time to do the water slide over the falls. I hadn’t been there in over 4 years, when Jeremy and Ashley and I had all met there for a 4th of July weekend (that was transcendent in its own right. Also was the last time I had seen Kelley). Anyways, the sun was out, we were the ONLY ones there and it felt very special, as though were an exalted being for enjoying the majesty of those hidden waterfalls. After doing the slide 5 or 6 times, we hiked back out and got back to the car, where we then drove back to Atlanta. At this point, Jeremy and I were doggone tired but we had planned another Epic Mealtime fest for that evening, involving Tequila and mexican food. The problem, however, was that it didn’t flow as nicely as it did when we did it at xmas and Jeremy invited a bunch of really annoying work friends over and they pretty quickly put me out…so after he and I cooked, I basically hid away from the party and chatted with Ashley, who was also pretty annoyed. So it didn’t exactly go as epically as the first time but was still pretty damn fun, overall. It helped that the giants were on TV that night and beat the dodgers, so my mood was improved. I slept in the next morning and then left ATL around 930 and drove back to BR, where reality awaited.
It was an intense 4 days, which is how I like it. Although taking vacations like that don’t exactly make you rested, it was crammed full of good memories and happiness and we didn’t waste much time sleeping. My axiom of the short but crammed vacation still proves true.
One thing about this trip, perhaps above all else: the beauty of that region is still amazing. Although Jeremy is a big proponent of the West, where everything is bigger and more savage and in many cases, just as beautiful, there is something so magical to me about the forests and the waterfalls and the feeling that I’m in the middle of the jungle. And the air! The cold crisp mountain air, even at the beginning of September, just felt right.