I will give river updates as they come to me. Day 1– Huntingdon to McVeytown.
As promised, we woke early.
After meeting Evan and Helena in the back lot of Rothrock we headed into the dawn for an early breakfast at Tops where some of us ate enormous Belgium Waffles and others of us laughed.
I took it as a good sign that this guy was parked right out front.
In the pre-departure hours of Jake and Jeff’s Excellent Adventure I was reminded, as I often am, of how wonderful our friends are. Over coffee in that slanting first light through great mirrored windows or, later, shaded from mid-morning’s fullness on the back porch of the shop, feet up, sipping from mugs still we laughed much, created conjecture about where Jeff was, admired Jake’s packing strategies.
We watched the two businesses into which our lives are so intertwined, Boxer’s and Rothrock, slowly creak into the workday, readying for another dazzling spring weekend in Huntingdon. The blues channel played at the bar, stools still up, when I went back and forth through the kitchen to get more coffee or update Tony and Paula as to the trip gentlemen’s departure plan, soup stirring, onions chopping. Phones started ringing at the shop, air hoses were dragged out of the basement, and Dakota showed up for work wearing this. I became further convinced of the universe’s plan for us.
Then, Jeff came.
It was a grand send off. To make the trip truly door to door, Jake and Jeff carried their vessels across the 4th Street bridge over to Riverside Park where they packed three weeks of provisions into their hulls and said happy goodbyes.
They slipped into the blue Juniata, and I waved at them and called a farewell as I crossed the bridge and waited for the train to pass, screaming and unfocused, so close to the tracks.
Following their departure I disappeared from view too, north and east rather than their south and east, and within a few hours I was drinking coffee again, this time with JQ and Momcat as we watched The Silence of the Lambs and waited until we could be with our family again, to sit all together and to hug and to laugh and celebrate our grand, spunky patriarch with his wise eyes and hand holds. My fellow trail gypsy pioneer woman sat next to me at dinner as we all traded stories, plotted, smiled as a table about eggnog and Captain America. I was so warmed to be with these people whose features I share.
After navigating the snaking, black roads that lead to our ancestral home, we arrived to find Sarah in the driveway, her orange sweater and rose smell and hugs abundant. Wine, John Prine, and the annual Easter rat decorating party followed, with Erin and Garrett beaming in their entries from New Mexico.
It is Easter now, we are together in as numerous a group as we can be this year, with our loved ones in deserts or rivers, interstates or hospital beds. I am thankful for all of you.