As you probably noticed, last week was one of the most challenging weeks I've had on the trail. And by challenging, I mean it was hell. However, as I have learned time and TIME again, the AT giveth and the AT taketh away. And man did the AT giveth this time! On the 19th, I had all but given up on my goal of going to NYC. However, I woke up the next day, pulled on my "Big boys don't cry" pants, laced up my "I hate walking sometimes" boots, and hiked 23 miles - heat rash, toe and all. That Saturday actually turned out to be a really good day, and I was feeling great until I got a call from my Dad late Saturday night. My whole world once again came crashing down when he informed me that my free place to stay in the city was no longer available. I hung up the phone and immediately sent texts to every thru hiker I knew looking for a place to stay, or at minimum some new ideas. Sunday morning I woke up to a text from my good friend Sriracha, whom was just a few days behind me. She said she had a family friend in the area that was going to pick her up that day and take her close to the city, and that I was welcomed to join them! At the time I had no idea what the plan was, but I immediately jumped on the opportunity anyway. If I was going to make anything work, it was going to be now or never! Sriracha and her trail angel, Harriet, come and pick me up at at the predetermined road crossing. I literally ran the last three miles so that I wouldn't be late! Harriet turned out to be one of the sweetest trail angels I have met on this entire trip. In fact, I am going to take this opportunity to thank her for all her help and hospitality. She gave me a ride to and from the city, picked me up at 2 a.m., did my laundry (3 times! - they were pretty bad...), and gave me a place to stay Tuesday night. Sometimes people's kindness is literally overwhelming out here. She took me and Sriracha to a great little diner on the outskirts of the city and we ate as we discussed our options. Sriracha was only going to stay one night at Harriet's and then go hike the next day, but as fate would have it, Wendy and his family were vacationing in Manhattan through Tuesday morning! Seriously guys, what are the odds?! I get a random, last second ride to the city just in time to catch the Dents in New York? I don't know how the stars could have possibly aligned this well. My only explanation is that the Appalachian Trail truly is a magical place, even if it likes to torture you sometimes. I quickly asked permission to stay with the Dents through Tuesday, and Harriet agreed to drive me to the Subway station. I was actually going to the city!!
The next two days were absolutely picturesque. I had so much fun with Wendy and his family on Monday. We went to an amazing pizza place near Times Square called John's Pizzeria. Seriously the best pizza I have ever had, and my first slice of truly authentic New York pie. We then went down to south side of the island to see the new World Trade Center Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty, all by water taxi! We wrapped up the day by checking out the USS Intrepid and heading back to Times Square for dinner. At this time I would like to extend a huge, warm thank you to Wendy's parents. Thank you so very much for allowing me to stay with you in the city, and more importantly, treating me as if I were your own son for the day. I had the best time hanging out with you. Your generosity cannot be overstated and was much appreciated.
I ended the day by going to Citi Field to watch the Braves take on the Mets, which I am not ashamed to say is the the whole reason I even wanted to go to NYC in the first place. The game was absolutely incredible come from behind win for the Braves that ended with a spectacular game saving catch by Jason Heyward! Surprisingly however, that is not the reason this was such an unbelievable night. I previously mentioned that the AT is a special place, and you are about to read why I came to that conclusion. So I am standing under the over hang in left center field watching the final few outs in the game when I notice a Braves fan next to me. We begin chatting about the season when he inquires about my Saints hat. I quickly mention that I grew up in Greenwood, MS and was raised a Saints fan. When I mention that I was from Greenwood, the man hesitates, then tells me that he is with someone about my age from Greenwood. He goes to get his friend and introduces him as Tyler Floyd - which just so happens to be my childhood best friend from grade school!! Oh my good lord in heaven, are you kidding me?! I haven't seen Tyler since my going away party when I was 10 years old! I never in a million billion years would have imagined I would have run into him at a Mets game in New York City! Seriously, what are the odds of that???
Tuesday was nearly as awesome as Monday. I start the day by going up the Empire State Building to the 86th floor! I then go and meet Sriracha in China Town, and we go and eat Dim Sum at the Golden Unicorn before heading over to Little Italy for gelato and cappuccinos. Talk about an amazing lunch! Dim Sum is a crazy experience. For those that do not know (I didn't before Tuesday), Dim Sum is basically a Chinese style buffet where they bring carts of food around to your table. I had no idea what most of the food was, but it was all delicious! Shortly after our incredible lunch, we meet up with two of our other thru hiking buddeis, Tumbleweed and Fool Hardy! Tumbleweed is the comic book artist, Jessi Sheron, that I have mentioned in previous posts. As fate would once again have it, she has just recently gotten her first ever comic book published! We all went to a comic book store on Times Square to see her very own comic book on the shelf! What an incredible experience that must have been for her! I am proud just to know her at all and be there for that experience. Just amazing.
Well guys, the above is truly a reader's digest version of my time in NYC. Unfortunately I haven't even talked about my time on the trail since the city, but rest assured, I am having a blast! I am actually going to get to see my good friend Darby in Boston next weekend! Laissez les bon temps rouler!
p.s. I'll post some pictures in a little bit. I'm on a computer and my pictures are on my phone and quite frankly I'm too lazy to do the transfer. Cheers!