Monday, July 25, 2011


On Thursday, I took the train into Neshaminy for backpacking in the Appalachians with m'boys, aka Kevin, Jake, Bubba, and Austin. Bubba and Kevin were at the station to greet me with hugs and a ride to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 2. Kevin's mom saved us seats while we toured their mall and went to Dollar Tree for snacks. A mall's a mall, but your own mall is filled with your friends, as we ran into Ryan, a friend of Kevin's. We didn't have time for knock-off DDR, unfortunately, but that meant it was time for the movie.

Okay, now I've been divorced from Harry Potter culture roughly since the day the seventh book came out. In the meanwhile, I was a Potter kid. I went to three or four book releases; I dressed up; I bought auxiliary merchandise. In any fiction, I love the construction of worlds. It's something J. K. Rowling had a knack for. In the fifth book, she departed from vivid descriptions of the culture and commerce of the wizarding world to focus on character development. Unfortunately, her characters were cardboard cut-outs of "I'm not interested." It was a big part of my childhood, but I moved on. That said, I cried three times during the film.

After that, we played Trivial Pursuit Junior at Kevin's until Austin was free to go swimming. It's very encouraging to rock the junior version. Austin has a salt-water pool, which was different. I was glad to see his pug, Pug, again. It's like an even more exaggerated version of a normal pug. Swimming, some food, and finally, bed time. The next day, Kevin went into Philly to get his passport, so I hung out with Bubba and ran errands. On the self checkout, I rang up my apples as bananas so I would stay under $7. It felt good and bad. We headed to Jake's to grab a backpack. Mrs. N missed me apparently, though we'd only met twiceish. That visit lasted longer than expected. Blah blah blah, I napped, we went to the meet up point to join the group of fourteen, we left. I quickly made a sing-along playlist, and got to belting as soon as we hit the highway. Two and a half hours later, we were lost, but close to the campsite. Bubba is the best driver of the bunch, so the woods were no match for the Outback.

It was rough stuff setting up in the dark, seeing as we got to the campsite after midnight. I slept outside on a picnic table, though not for lack of a tent. I kept my boots on through the night and experienced both unpleasant heat and chill under my sheet. In the morning, I started the fire and talked with Austin until everyone else woke up. We set off for the hike pretty quickly, and it retrospectively seems like a short time. We were drenched in sweat the entire time, and there were points where boys wrung out several ounces of sweat from their shirts. All in all, we hiked a little under ten miles of the Appalachian Trail, Pine Grove Furnace south to Caledonia and the return. The best part of the day was heading to the lake afterward. It was a horribly overrun tourist destination, but beautiful none the less. The first roped off section ended at 5', and the deeper portion at 30. We had a contest where we'd start where we could stand and swim along the bottom into the deep abyss. It was freezing once the depths hit below ~20'. Kevin, wearing goggles, reported that there were schools of fish in the murkier depths. Although there were three life guards on duty and our camping group alone consisted of four and a half lifeguards, visibility ended at 7', and we made jokes about dead bodies at the bottom.

We left to make our campground dinner of pre-packaged, dehydrated chicken noodle soup and beef stroganoff. The night lasted a while. We were reprimanded by the park ranger for noise during chirades, of all things. My moment to brag about: during the second round of sardines, I was the sardine, and hid at the picnic table with the three people not participating. Two separate people came to the table asking if I'd been spotted. I was declared a genius and only found by one other sardine until "it" got me. Kevin, Amanda, Rachel, and I had a good conversation out by the bonfire, and we hit the hay. Unfortunately, our staged bear attack on the girl's tent went poorly. I joined them for Never Have I Ever towards the end, but excused myself of exhaustion. Sleeping was much much better that night.

On the way back, we had a better sing-along. Bubba and I had some really great notes, and he sang harmony in a way that made me jealous. At one point, Austin even made a little clap of approval. Back in Neshaminy, we hit up the Cracker Barrel for lunch-breakfast, and I was on the train home three hours later.

4 mosquito bites
No sun burn
No poison ivy
One great trip