Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Day 1-Flight to Reno, Nevada

It all began over a year ago on the Appalachian Trail; I decided goals I had in life, a road trip cross country which I had dreamed of since high school, WWOOFing ( check it out!), hiking the John Muir Trail, and so on. As you all know, after the completion of the trail, I embarked on a 29 loop cross country adventure from Connecticut to Los Angeles and back. What you don't know, is shortly after I WOOFed on two different farms in Vermont. Each were for 13 days, and each taught me invaluable skills and lessons. While away, I got a text from Scout (Anna) who I had met on my Appalachian Trail journey in the Smokies. We hit it off right away and kept in contact through the duration of the trail, and after. She asked if I still wanted to hike the John Muir Trail in September; I hadn't thought or planned to, but here I had someone willing to go with me, should I go? I was a bit overwhelmed trying to plan out another hike in only a couple weeks, while being still on a journey WOOFing, and with no wifi or cell service at my current farm residence. It was tough; but we decided to start planning. A new lightweight pack was ordered, a bear canister, new shoes, and other miscellaneous items. I was extremely excited for this just over 200 mile journey, but something was holding me back. I read post after post, news articles, and saw photos of the current wild fires, smoke, drought, and even the Boubonic plague?! My carefree persona was surely battling with reality. Multiple times on the AT (Appalachian Trail) I felt like quitting, I was miserable, I wanted it to be over; but I knew I would finish. Starting a journey like the JMT (John Muir Trail) with conditions such as the ones I cannot control, could have me forfeiting something against my will. I couldn't think of anything worse than to hike 30, 50, or even 100 miles and have to retreat off trail due to health reasons or terrible views. Anna and I expressed our concerns back and fourth, and for awhile we had the attitude of; lets just go and see how it is and decide from there with the chance of a backup plan if needed. For awhile this was adequate, but my stress and anxiety grew as the start date did too. We finally decided that we didn't want to sacrifice not only tainted views on one of the most breathtaking trails, but our health either. We decided to change plans and take on a 22 day road trip exploration. On my first road trip back in April; I wasn't able to see the North West due to my route and timeframe. Flying into Reno, this gave us the opportunity to see Redwood National Forest, Seattle, Portland, Napa Valley, and more! We quickly grew excited for our new plans. The rental was booked to pick up after our flight at 4:30, a high school friend reconnection was formed and able to pick us up and house us for the night, and our bags were packed. September 1st came quickly, and so did 5:00am. Felix took me to the airport for my 8:00am flight to Charlotte, North Carolina enroute to Reno, Nevada. I had two suitcases going under the plane (one of which I had to pay extra for the weight of it) and my carry-on new pack. The flight was short, and the middle seat was open next to me sitting in the asle seat. Once we landed, I got off to use the restroom and buy an overpriced turkey sandwich. My flight was at the same gate; same plane so I sat and waited eating half of my sandwich. When we re-boarded, again the middle seat was open which was nice. The prior flight we didn't get any snacks, only drinks; to my surprise this flight we didn't either. People bought Pringles and cookies and sandwiches around me and I tried to close my eyes to fall asleep. Seems since they are buying a new plane each year they can't offer complimentary snacks on US American Airways. We encountered a time change, and I was trying to figure out how much longer the flight would be; surely it should only be 30 more minutes or so. I hear the pilot come on the intercom and say we are preparing for landing shortly so I figured we would be landing in a half hour or so, and then I hear him say we have an hour and half left! What a long flight it has been, I think over 3 hours and my first one was about an hour and half. We landed in Pheonix and I had to walk from gate A20 to A9 which wasn't bad. I stretched and tried to stand as much as possible before my final flight into Reno. I was really dreading getting on the plane and partaking in another take off and landing. Even though I was in zone 1, I waited until they were boarding zone 4, no need to sit any longer than needed. As I boarded the plane I saw that there was no one sitting in row 8 which I had an asle seat once again for. I sat in the middle seat hoping to be able to sprawl out and have the whole row to myself. I heard them say everyone was aboard and I was trying to not jinx my excitement, I sat sideways in the window seat with my legs up on the other two seats; a woman came up and said she thinks this is her seat, so I asked her what seat and she replied "11C." Mind you, I didn't pay attention to the number but focussed on that my seat was C so I gave her a confused look; and she quickly realized this was row 8 and not 11, phew! My dreaded flight is slowly seeming better and better. After realizing we have been stationary for awhile; I hear the pilot come on and say we are having technical difficulties and tech is being sent in to oversee the issue that pilots are not authorized to, great. Guess it was a bad idea to go to ground zero yesterday before a day of flying. Sitting anxiously, about 20-35 minutes later we finally start moving; the pilot mumbled something a few times over the intercom but the hell if I knew what he was saying. The flight was the best one of the day; not only because it was short, the last one, or that I had the whole row to myself, but also because the whole flight I was able to see the landscape. Getting off the plane however was something I was looking forward to; I texted Anna and she was waiting at the bottom of the escalator by baggage claim, seems her flight was a half hour early and mine a half hour late. I spotted her and all of her bags and was relieved; now I just hope mine got here! We sat to wait for them and I got a text from Jonny saying he would be here in 15-20 minutes to get us; perfect. My suitcases were within the first 20 bags to come out which was relieving. We stepped outside and it was, hot. Jonny picked us up in the next 5 minutes and it was so good to see him! We have lived down the street from one another since grade school and have been really good friends since high school. Though, like most things life takes over and friendships dwindle after college. Jonny and I reconnected on Facebook just before we planned to hike the JMT (and that's totally not why either.) Seeing him was like no time had passed in between which was a great feeling. He has always been the nicest kid ever and I'm glad to see he hasn't changed, except for the chinchilla he is growing on his face now. We loaded our luggage into the car and headed for the Avis the rental car place. Jonny said he would meet us back at his apartment and take our bags, what a gentleman! We proceeded inside to cross the t's ans dot the i's and before we knew it, we had a Chevrolet Impalla. Back at Jonny's apartment, we settled in and he asked if we wanted to grab a drink; of course but I needed some food if I was going to drink. It was 5pm here which meant it was 8pm Eastern time and I had been up since 5am; I was hungry, tired, and didn't know what to do with myself. He suggested a bar that had amazing avocado fries and I was sold. The three of us hopped in the rental and drove downtown. As we walked in the bar country music was playing and I was already sold. We grabbed some seats at the bar and there was a buy one get one on all bottles plus $2 tacos. I bought our first round as a thank you to Jonny and ordered two pork tacos and avocado fries for us to share. The bartender was super chill and joked about marrying Anna but she was too young for him. The food was phenomenal and Allie, Jonny's girlfriend met us after a half hour or so. It is so awesome to see that they have found each other and someone as awesome as Jonny has found someone so nice as Allie. We toasted with the bartender before he told us he had to run downstairs quick which I replied, "no worries I'll tend bar for you." Which they got a chuckle out of. There was a ski shot behind the bar which I knew nothing about, had never done or seen one. Jonny asked how much it was and before we got an answer our bartender friend was taking it down for us to pour tequila in. There were 4 shot glasses attached to the ski and we all stood in position to take the group shot. It was a great experience with friends new and old. We headed back to the apartment for "dinner" which was like 11pm back home for me. Anna did some research and we settled on tomorrow we would head 6 hours 45 minutes to Shoshone Falls in Idaho while Jonny and Allie made vegetarian Pho. We both felt right at home at Jonny and Allie's apartment and they were very accommodating, we had a huge blow up mattress, delicious Pho, and Anna even got to hold her first rat! After being up for at least 18 hours it was time to call it a day, tomorrow morning we will pack and head off to our first road trip destination!

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