So here’s a quick run-down of the text parts, so you can skip parts you’re not interested in.  I start out with a run down of the drive down and picking up Ryan, some pitures/videos of that, then a bit about making/mailing drop boxes, a disappointing Dicks, some trail magic, a bug in the parking lot, a bush in the parking lot, and then after the pictures, a rather long rant on a poor pizza experience, followed by a probably shorter rave about the Red Carpet Inn (which I’d stay at again anytime).

I left REALLY early in the morning on the 12, not super intentionally, but it’s one of those things were I go to bed intending to get some sleep, and either can’t sleep or wake up early and can’t get back to sleep ’cause I know I have plans for the next day and I could just get in the car and get going now… so eventually, I did.  I got to a point along one of the roads near the trail (PA 850 I think ), and then parked the car, and walked out the trail to meet Ryan heading towards me after he packed up and started hiking.  Here are some pictures of the signs in the parking lot, and of the trail as it passed through a few fields and into the woods.  And of course, of Kyle and Ralf as we walked.  And something that was not a pinata (… or however you spell pin-ya-tah… the thing of candy you whack open with a stick).

 

 

And some videos of the hike…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here come the next days pictures…These are of the parking lot where we dropped Ryan off.  I’m sorry there weren’t a lot of exciting things that went on while I was there… we went to some stores to renew Ryan’s supplies (I’m pretty sure he got a small frozen chicken and stew vegetables because that’s totally backpacker food!) and see if we could find any new socks for him to replace the Darn Tough socks.  Unfortunately, the Darn Tough socks, after a few years of good service have suddenly had a personality switch or something and decided to try to melt his feet starting at the toes….naughty socks.  And some people might think sound a bit like oh boo-hoo, but you try even just walking around all day with what seem like acid burns…open sores… on your feet, even try it without a heavy pack on a rocky and uneven surface where you literally can’t stop walking for another few (or more) miles…not fun! Your feet are really important, anywhere, anytime, but they’re usually kind of a big part of say, walking 2,000+ miles.

Wednesday night, Ryan had put together 2 drop boxes from the supplies I brought down with me, to make sure they were the right size for the terrain he was traversing currently.  He’s making much quicker time despite the rocky trails, because they seem to be a lot less vertically motivated, so this was a great chance for him to tinker with the typical drop box contents so he’s not carrying tons of extra food. Thursday morning, we stopped at the local post office to mail them to the next two stops.

Speaking of Thursday morning, we tried to find some socks for hiking in at Dick’s…you know, the well known, sporting goods store… where apparently you are only able to find socks for track running, golfing, soccer playing, and other stuff like that.  However, despite having hiking boots, backpacks, sleeping bags, all sorts of camping and hiking and tenting paraphernalia, they don’t have socks for hiking in…?  Yah, following the previous day’s pizza fiasco (more anon), and the morning’s attempt to find stores where they were listed on the GPS (like the Verison store…again, more anon) that rubbed me the wrong way.  I’m a bit disappointed with Dick’s’ versatility (if Dick’s is technically the whole name of the store, if I make it possessive, because it ends in an s already, I just add another apostrophe?).

We had also picked up some more fuel for Ryan’s stove on Wednesday, he uses Denatured Alcohol, which you can get in Walmart in the paint area…but you get a bunch more than a single (or married in this case) Ryan needs in his pack, and I can’t mail that stuff, so we decided to do some ‘trail magic’… which is essentially unexpected and/or anonymous nice stuff happening for hikers.  For example, when we arrived at the parking lot, there were a bunch of bottle water and cans of tea all lined up along the trail, left there for hikers.  Since there wasn’t a trash there, the used cans and bottles (3 of each) had been tidily lined up at the end of each row.  That’s the nice kind of hiker, the kind that leaves a good impression in town!  And so, since the hotel we stayed at gave us two bottles of water as part of our stay when we checked in (nice of them! and more on them anon too), we added the rest of the fuel and the bottles of water to the line-up.  I also decided to take the empty bottles/cans, and recycle them when I got home.

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Ryan spotted an insect, which turns out to actually be one of the ‘true bugs’, a subset of the group of critters called insects (they’re also in that subgroup with leaf hoppers,  aphids and I think something else).  I took some pictures because he wanted to know what it was, he said he’d seen other ones, bigger ones on the trail.  I said I wasn’t sure what it was, but would try to find out.  So about 1/2 hour of searching on the internet, starting from, as I told Ryan at the time, “my brain keeps saying ‘assassin bug’ for some reason” got me as far as: I’m pretty sure it is indeed some kind of assassin bug, and from it’s posture and the way it holds it’s bum all curled up, it’s probably not an adult one.  From what I found, I don’t think it’s actually poisonous if it bites you (dunno if you can eat it…I’d rather not) but the group of bugs called assassin bugs gets their name based on their behavior.  They’re predators, and they apparently catch other insects or whatever they’re going to eat, swing their stabby sword/narwhal like mouth part away from their ‘neck’ area so it’s pointed away from their face and sort of downwards and stab the bejeebers out of their prey until it’s dead…then suck the juices out of it. Soooo, it was mentioned that you don’t really want to handle them as they’ll try it on you if you irritate them, and it tends to hurt.  A lot. So, lookee but no touchee!

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Ryan and I also spotted some berries, both in this parking lot and the one we were in yesterday.  They’re on a shrubby thing, and he wanted to know what they were… and I told him I had been meaning to find out, as I keep seeing them places but don’t know what they are.  I think they were what, as a really young kid, the group of kids I hung out with at day care called “bird berries” but I was pretty sure that was not really their name.  We (the kids) also thought they were probably pretty poisonous but never were dumb enough to find out.  I tried to take a few pictures of them at the second parking lot, but between having Jezza in his pouch, Kyle’s leash in one hand, Ralf’s in the other, and trying to manage all that and the camera, I didn’t get great pictures.

DSCF7663I’ll try to get better pictures later if I see them again (of course, now I’m looking, I won’t find any).  After another 1/2 hour or more snousing around on the internet, I think they are some kind of Asian Bush Honeysuckle… but I’m not convinced and sure yet, let alone sure of which one of them they are.  I’m pretty sure they are an ornamental gone rogue, and not a native plant then.  Even as a kid, we were pretty sure they were not wild plants.

Here’s the rest of the pictures (and the ones I just used, to give them some context).

 

 

And here is the last picture my camera took on the trip…

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Also,  it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t talk about some dairy product, and I like pizza (despite not being teenaged <chronologically> anymore, nor am I green, and I have no shell). So on Wednesday evening, for dinner, we decided to try to find a pizza place in town, which was an issue (after already failing to find a Thai place that was open, or a Chinese place with menu we liked).  For some reason, my GPS unit had been populated with stores which weren’t where they were in the GPS… we did try to find a Verizon store which took us to a Target… and we found 2 alleys with no pizza places in them, just back yards or closed general stores… And to make it more fun, things could be ‘2 miles’ from you when they listed it by distance, but then when you plotted a driving route, it’s more like 20 minutes because they’re only a little way away…across the river, but the bridge is a lot farther away…(what’s with that TomTom?)… and then we ended up calling the next one on the list which did seem to be on our way back to the hotel to see if they indeed were still around, and then found them.

I do have to give a small disclaimer here:  I  was running on about 4 hours sleep max, had a long and busy day, and was feeling a bit …tired.  So, well. Yah.  Remember how I was super totally excited about the pizza place we ate at when I went down to Damascus for Trail Days to see Ryan? …well take that smile and sort of flatten it out…maybe even turn it upside-down a bit.  Ryan has said that he hasn’t had good pizza since Georgia (where we also had pizza which was good enough to be going on with).  He says there are plenty of places that hikers rave about, but he thinks it’s because a lot of hikers, by the time they get to town are ready to eat just about anything that hasn’t been recently re-hydrated, and will like it even more if it’s cheap or comes in vast quantities to match their hiker hunger.

In this case, at this place, in Duncannon, PA, Ryan’s pizza from the place was pretty good in his opinion, and looked (and textured) a lot better than mine, as he had gone with the regular crust (…?hand tossed or something? I can’t remember), and that was kind of thinner than I preferred, from my best guess.  The menu up on the wall was down for renewal, and the menu brochure thing that you’d get at your table from the waiter/waitress didn’t have pictures.  I like pictures if I haven’t been to a place, because pizza can be a lot of things, so I’d like to see what it’s going to look like.  No joy there, this time.  Guesses only.  And not only do they serve pizza, but they serve stromboli, calzones (one has ricotta cheese?), sandwiches, salads, … and I forget, maybe pasta too?  Too much information for my poor, tired, hot, hungry brain… so I settled for something I thought would be safe, a cheese pizza with thick crust, which they call Sicilian style and charge an extra $3 for… However, I don’t know if they use a different dough, or if the pan and cooking style change the nature of the texture, but it was just blech to me.  It was not nice and bread-chewey, it was more well, greasy fried crunchy sponge texture where the crust touches the pan, brown and crusty where the crust was exposed (and it was a square pizza for some reason), too little sauce even for my preference, the inner crust had taken a textural step toward biscuit (as in biscuit and gravy) in a grainy/crumby sort of nature.  And oh yeah, the cheese.  Despite posters on several walls saying how awesome the place was because they, unlike the large chain stores (don’t get me wrong, I don’t like Pizza Hut either, but it’s because of the crust, I like their cheese fine), this independent pizza joint uses ~the finest Italian cheese~ (I’m not sure if they used the phrase “money could buy” but you got the impression they wanted to).  That’s great but I’d rather pay less for the pizza and maybe have you use local cheese… and put a tad more on, eh?

Now remember, I wasn’t in a great mood, somewhere between tired-cranky and tired-hungry and tired-tired.  And so I may have been a tad more critical of the pizza than necessary…especially since it was probably high 80’s – low 90’s and I was also really warm, and the pizza was just out of the oven hot.  That being said, even after we got to the hotel and I had let it cool off (I decided to wait to try it for real until it and I were cool), I still have many times more pizzas that were better than that than were worse, and I personally wouldn’t order that again. I’m not sure I’d eat there again. Ok, when I tried to share the crust with the dogs….they basically didn’t want it either…instead of greedily and happily gobbling it down like usual, they either dropped it and left it for hours, or left it in their dish for hours.  They did like Ryan’s crusts. Ryan, like I said, was happy enough with his, and I do have to mention to be fair, the place had very friendly staff, and while we were there, several regular customers came in, ordered things, and ate them happily.  So, overall I think the problem isn’t that the place sucks, it’s just I’m incompatible with their style of pizza. And that’s the reason I’m not going to take a picture of the pizza box (which actually is a generic box, not a personalized one with the business name on it) to share, or to try to investigate the pizza joint listings on my GPS to try to remember their name. I’m not trying to change your mind about their food, just share a bit of my experience if you’ve bothered to read this far.  Also, this is yet another reason there are a lot fewer pictures for this visit than for trail days… less exciting stuff happened, and a lot fewer cool things to take pictures of.

And instead of ending on a sour note, I’d like to mention here (and thank) the hotel we stayed at.  It was the Red Carpet Inn in Duncannon.  It was reasonably priced, was totally cool with pets, not only pets, but large dogs, and not only that but having a 3rd pet added when we checked in.  They were nice about offering to let us check in early if needed (we didn’t need to but they did offer it in case we needed).  When we checked in, they gave us each a bottle of water as part of our stay, the room had the typical little coffee maker and the stuff to go with it, the little bar of soap, tiny shampoo and lotion and stuff, a working (and quiet) air conditioner, all that jazz, even a refrigerator and tiny microwave!  I think the worst thing was the wifi, and only because it was a little slow, so it was hard to watch netflix on it, but they had great selection on the TV so I just watched food network instead, and a bit of HGTV.  My favorite aspect of the motel, which may sound a bit odd, was that it was kind of homey.  It wasn’t trying hard to look like a 5 star motel with fake granite overlay, and it wasn’t hideously expensive because they decided to make their counter out of some expensive rock.  I liked that it wasn’t fancy or overly glizty, or all shiny and new.  They had plenty of lamps and lights, with many different switches so you could have varying and adequate levels of light. It was lived in, tidy, up, and what needed to be there was there and did what it needed to do, but because it wasn’t replaced before it was broken just because there was a new trend or hype, it wasn’t super expensive to stay there.  So, well done Red Carpet Inn, I’d stay again anytime, and recommend you to all my friends, family, and to anyone reading this.  Thanks for a great night!

And thanks for those who have made it to this and read all the way down here! Have a great day/night!

 

 

 

 

 

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