A long, long time ago, in a not so distant land… oh, who am I kidding? I am 2,298.4 miles from the street I grew up on! Thanks, Google.
Moving along… while growing up in, then small Katy, Texas, I met the Beauregard Family. They lived a few blocks away in the neighborhood and their youngest child and I hung out quite a bit growing up. Bryanna and I didn’t attend the same school, but we were close in age and we had like-minded parents. Her father was a chef; I feel the good food should be noted (haha!). It was a win-win all around. She had an older brother named Kellen, but he and I never spent much time together. He was closer in age to my older sisters, in fact. Nevertheless, we did spend time together the three of us, once in a while. Kellen later graduated and went off to join the service, later moving to Hawaii.
Flash forward ohhhh, I don’t know…. 10-15 years?
I was browsing Facebook (yeah, I’m guilty!) back in May when his mother’s post about him caught my eye. He was hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, or the AT as the “through hikers” call it. That blew my mind! Who in their right mind would hike that far? How far is that?! It’s 2,181 miles. It begins in Georgia and ends at Mount Katahdin in Maine. It is the longest continuously marked footpath in the world. That’s amazing! What kind of dedication that would take, I could barely fathom. I had to know more. I added him on the popular networking site and I began to follow his journey first hand. The photos he posted were simply stunning. Views you couldn’t pay for. Jaw-dropping. Awe-inspiring. Priceless.
I began to think about how far from Texas Mt. Katahdin was… even more so from Hawaii.
“I must be the only person he knows in Maine.”, I thought to myself.
I wrote him a short note letting him know that Katahdin wasn’t too far from my current living situation and that if he needed anything when he finished his trek, I’d be there for him. September came quickly and I was getting antsy for his arrival. I couldn’t wait to meet him again and hear about his adventures through the wilderness.
When I got to the park, I found out we agreed to meet on a trail head that was closed for maintenance. Oh no! I went up to the next one and looked around for him. I saw a guy that couuuuld be him, but I decided to check the trail sign-in. He’d been there, to the summit, and back! When I turned around to see if he was still sitting at the picnic table, he was no where to be found. Crap! Heading up to the Ranger Station, I ran into a few of Kellen’s, or Howzit as he’s know on the trail, fellow through hikers. They pointed me toward the picnic table I had just been at. The Ranger told me that he may have hitched out.
Driving out of the park, I regained cell service and was able to receive messages again. He had left with a local to a diner in Millinocket. I headed his way.
(I had the best black bean burrito I’ve had since Texas. That should be noted.)
He spoke of locals all along the AT who would come out and support all the hikers. I thought it was beautiful that strangers all came out to show their support for the hard work and dedication of these adventurers. Kellen told me that one group of people came out along the way and cooked everyone breakfast. Eggs, bacon, BLUEBERRY pancakes! Other hikers ahead of Kellen even left behind, what the hikers call, “trail magic”. Trail Magic is defined as an unexpected act of kindness, is a quintessential part of the Appalachian Trail experience for many long-distance hikers. It could be a Pepsi, a bag of snacks, or even a cooler full of fruits. Socks, hats, a quick stitch in your pack. A ride to town, a warm shower, and even a hotel stay. All trail magic.
After catching up, eating, and signing the ceiling, Howzit and I hopped in the car and headed North.
He was stuck with me the next few days, so I decided to show him the St. John Valley. We woke up early and I had to first introduce him to ployes and REAL Maple syrup. If I am showing him Maine, I am showing him what we are known for, damn it. Too bad blueberries were already out of season! Instead, we skipped stones on Long Lake, went back road driving in St. Agatha, and even to the potato fields in Frenchville. I came up to a sharp curve in the road and put my hazards on, parking the car. Kellen had a most bewildered look on his face as I began walking towards the field of dead plants.
“You coming?“, I shouted as I walked.
He replied with, “Can we be here?”
“Do you see any farm houses? Get out of the car and c’mere!”
I began to push the dirt away from the base of the plant and pulled out what I wanted to show him. A white potato. I told him these are what keeps this area of the countryside alive and sort of thriving. He had never seen a potato plant, or pulled one from the ground to eat it, fresh. Mission: Accomplished.
On the way home, we stopped at the store and picked up food to grill. Even the local Farmer’s Market had fresh veggies to offer us. We scored one of the largest zucchini either one of us had ever seen! The food was great, the company was superb, the conversation intelligent, and the beer was cold. It was a blast catching up, but we had to leave for Portland in the morning.
6 hours after hitting Route 11 South, we arrived at the Portland Jetway. I hugged him goodbye and wished him safe travels backs to Hawaii. I kinda wanted to take a picture with him, but didn’t wanna be that weirdo. Ha!
Today, I was actually thinking of him on my drive home from the lake. I was wondering if he found a place to live, a job… all things he gave up to go on this massive excursion. I’ve been stashing a few things I want to send to him, but needed to ask for his address.
I pulled into my driveway and leaned up against my door, was a small box. I have been known to have a few glasses of wine and buy camera gear on Amazon, so I was confused when I first saw it. I picked it up and shook it and I knew it was multiple items right away. I didn’t see the label at first, so I set it inside and got my kiddo out of the car.
Once inside, I flipped the box over and saw it was from my favorite through hiker, Howzit.
He sent me my own Trail Magic!
Anyone up for double rainbows in Hawaii? I could see my toes in the sand riiiight there.
Thanks so much for taking
care of me. I can’t image what
kind of expensive nightmare getting
home would have been without you!
That was some trail magic of the
Keep in touch and let me know
if I can ever do anything for you.
We’re known for our taters and you’re known for your coffee and Macadamia nuts, apparently!
The Asian candy in here intrigues me. The Ume Candy… was amazing… until I decided to crunch down on a plum seed. Nevertheless, I finished sucking on whatever goodness was stuck to it. Wish I could read the label. Off to Google…
Eliza enjoyed the Asian gummies of various flavors, and I am partial to the Lychee candy. The little one also mowed the Hello Kitty marshmallows with chocolate. Apparently, they were too good.
Those chocolates? I’m not sharing those. With anyone….
I’ve already eaten more than I care to admit at this point. I cannot WAIT to try the Hawaiian pancake mix. He was raving about it when we were making ployes. Pretty excited.
Moral of the story, kids… Do good things. Pay it forward. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This box of surprise goodies made my week. It really lifted my spirits. Be the reason someone smiles today!
Off to pack his box of goodies now!by