December 1999 - April 2000
On the morning of 1 December, 1999 Ginny's brother Jeff showed up at the restaurant while we were eating breakfast. I think he left Phoenix somewhere around 0400. But he had an ulterior motive - and since he was early, we had some things we needed to take care of, too.
First was to pack up and drive to Hachita so we could talk to Pat Harris at the Egg Nest. He took pictures of us and showed us the map for the location of the "official" trailhead. We know we'll be back here someday - maybe we'll try that route next time.
After the Egg Nest stop, we drove down the road toward Antelope Wells, then did some back road wandering. Which included getting on the wrong road and pretty well stuck until Jeff discovered that his son had left the front hubs misadjusted and he really didn't have the 4WD he thought he had been using. After he fixed that and we dug the truck out, we went back to the road and headed for Phoenix. Had a beautiful sunset on the way. We did OK until we crested the ridge coming into Phoenix and saw the lights - and Jeff made a casual remark about 6 million people living there. And that's when I lost it.
Yeah - me -- personally. I got this "closed-in" feeling. Like there were too many people breathing the same air. Like being trapped in a nightmare. And something inside me just curled up and went into hiding.
The next couple of days in Phoenix included a lot of eating and reading, a haircut, a gun show, and planning how to get home - the slow way. We were looking for someplace we could settle down and live for a while, so we planned on doing some travelling.
In the meantime, we had dinner with Ginny's brothers one night, and went to a concert by Esteban another night (the man plays a mean guitar).
Then we rented a car and drove to Tucson to visit Ginny's Mom for a couple of days. Of course, we hiked around Tucson. We also visited Willis Whoa Jarvis at his permanent campsite near Sonoita. We were supposed to have met Willis in Wisdom, MT during our hike, but we missed each other by a couple hours.
After returning to Phoenix, we flew to San Francisco where we stayed with Tom Fox, Jim's brother-in-law. We explored - north along the coast and hiked at Point Reyes; south to Sunnyvale where we hiked in the local parks; then had dinner one night with old friends from the GE/Martin/Lockheed days back East. We may all have learned some new and wonderful aspects of the seamy side of the Space business that night.
The next day we climbed all over Tom's boat. He'd found it in Tahiti with the bottom stove in on one side, bought it cheap and had it shipped back to the States as deck cargo on a tramp steamer. He intended to fix it and sail it - long distance, blue-water sailing. But it was still some way from being seaworthy.
We flew back to Phoenix for one night, then caught a plane for Houston to visit Ginny's father and stepmother. We stayed there through Christmas, including one night at the theater, and a lot more eating. Jim even gained some weight back.
Through all the travelling, there was a common purpose - "Where can we live?" And the answer was - nowhere we'd seen so far. Too many people, too busy, too noisy, too much pollution, too much traffic - TOO MUCH!!!
We were back in Maryland for New Years Eve - staying with Jim's brother Bill's daughter, son-in-law and the crumb crunchers. It was a little crowded because Bill and Janet were also staying in the same small condo. It was only for a couple of days until after New Years, though. On New Years Eve we were with a small group at a friend's house and they offered to let us move back into the same house we'd moved out of seven months ago to start the Trail. The deal was that Jim would get the house ready for them to sell and the rent would be minimal.
So we moved in the next day. And two days later, in the middle of a major snowstorm, the oil tank ran dry. Another adventure!! We moved into one small room with an electric heater, a mattress on the floor, the computer in the corner and a bathroom. And that's where we lived for the next 4 1/2 months. It was a perfect fit for our "hermit" nature.
We had intended to get the truck and drive to Florida, then to Vermont (and several dozen points in between) to visit friends and continue the search for someplace - anyplace - that we might want to live. The places we'd seen during our travels over the last month hadn't impressed us. But by this time, our "hermit" natures had taken control - and we decided a 5,000 mile road trip was "REALLY" not what we wanted or needed.
We'd missed the ALDHA Gathering in October because we were still on the trail, but we did go to the PA Ruck. And we were both just freaked by the sheer number of people at the hostel. It wasn't a "bad" weekend, but it was certainly strange. This was OUR function - we'd started it, nurtured it, fed it, kept it alive - and we weren't comfortable with it. Too many people in one place. For me, more than two people in the same room made it overcrowded, if not claustrophobic.
Ginny found a job with a temp agency, Jim started the cleaning and repair work on the house and trucks, and we both got into planning and preparation mode for the PCT. For a while, after we got to Phoenix, it was a close thing as to whether we'd go to the PCT or back to the CDT. When we left New Mexico, we'd said: "We won't make any decisions about what to do next until we get back to Maryland." And then, of course, we proceeded to talk about which trail we should walk in the Spring. So by the time we actually got back to Maryland, the decision had already been made. We were headed for the PCT.
Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!!
So in April, we happily moved out of the house and caught a plane for San Diego where Brick Robbins picked us up and delivered us to Campo the next day where we started the PCT.
And we're still looking for that "magic" place that we can "settle down" and be happy. Gotta wonder if we'll ever find it.