Amazing Boardwalk

Thursday, June 1st - 32nd Wedding Anniversary
Appalachian Motel, Vernon, NJ (1357)

Although the sun set quite beautifully last night, we saw no reason to believe we would be beset by the mother of thunderstorms. Rolling, cracking, shaking lightening fists at the earth and sky. A bolt struck the ground not far from where we slept, and I swear the shelter lifted briefly before crumping back to its foundation. Followed by roiling, wind whipped rain. Trail Director had totally wrapped himself up, including netting on the face, to avoid mosquitos so I hope he was dry. I didn't get wet, but did shuffle closer to the back of the shelter.

I left the shelter at 6:10 to once again clear skies.
Not a snake, a millipede, they like to scurry across rocks (and, yes, I work to avoid stepping on them)
The trail is muddy and slick, as are the rocks and the autumn leaves which still litter parts. Take it easy to avoid a fall.

Arrive at Route 515 and snack a bit. A man stops in his his white SUV, takes his dog out, and starts to walk down a wood boardwalk ahead of me. Finish snack and catch up with him about 3 minutes later.

He tells me the story about the boardwalk, saying it had been built 35 years about by 160 volunteers, including himself. The reason was that the AT followed the state road, but the road is too busy and put hikers and drivers at risk. Not sure who paid for the work, but he seemed to infer it was paid by the local residents. 

The boardwalk is quite intricate. Not only is it long, but it has parts that jut out where wooden benchs or chairs are available to rest at en-route. Over a stream they built a suspension bridge. The whole system is very well maintained, but he said there was an effort underway to replace it with a new cedar walk. He didn't think he'd participate in building that one. 

Tells me he's retired now from IBM and he and his wife a summer place in Booth Bay, Maine. He turns to return to his car, and I thank him for the history lesson.

About 9:30 and I'm near the roadway where the motel should be able to pick up, so I call. They aren't particularly happy to hear from me so early, but say someone will be down in 15 minutes. I finish the last bit, and wait under a tree while a group of women talk excitedly about everything other than the walk they are getting ready to do.

Driver arrives, it is the wife of a husband-wife team managing the motel. When we arrive she says she can get me in a room now (10 AM) for $10 more. Happily agree. For another $10 will do laundry, so pass that over.

Laundry arrives, and with shower done and clean clothes, head off to find lunch and supplies. 

Clean, however briefly.
There is a series of restaurants and a grocery store about a mile away down Route 94. Start out, and pretty quickly realize I'm going to have to be careful. The road is very active, and drivers are used to being able to cut curves reasonably close. So I go into Frogger mode, crossing back and forth to be as visible as possible around curves. 

Make it to a Chinese/Japanese fusion restaurant that looks good, and it is. Then back track a bit to get to supermarket. Its pretty well provisioned (it can be a disappointment to find a store that doesn't have hiker ready food).. Also get snacks and drinks for the motel. The cashier asks if I'm hiking the AT, then goes into a super animated dialog about how much she loves the trail, and would do it more now don't you know but the knees, the knees can't handle it.

Try to find a taxi or public ride share car (Uber) so I'm not hauling plastic bags of stuff down that road, but no luck. Walk back weighted down.

Dinner would be at a pub, but when I get walk there, it looks like it had closed within the last few days. A company's rep is untangling the hoses from a soda system outside. I walk further to a pizza place that serves a monster "mini" pizza for $8.

Deb sends a picture with the anniversary flowers I sent. They look great! She's a keeper.

Plan tomorrow and the days following while noshing on Pringles and Pepsi.


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