AT Thru-Hike #29 – Just To Be Your Man

Baby lock the door and turn the lights down low Put some music on that’s soft and slow
Baby we ain’t got no place to go
I hope you understand
– Josh Turner, from Your Man

Days 40-42

I awoke on the day I would be reunited with my wife! Although it had only been 40 days in the wilderness, I missed her even more than I did while I was deployed to Afghanistan for nearly six months. I can’t explain that, but maybe it’s because there is more solitude on the trail, and I’m more in love with her today than I was in 2007.

Lake Wautaga
Wautaga Lake
Passing Time with Feathered Friends
Passing Time with Feathered Friends

At the bottom of the hill, I discovered some… Trail Magic! Yes, some 2015 thru-hikers had left a cooler of ice-cold sodas and I helped myself to a 7-Up. After a whopping .4 mile hike that took all of 10 minutes, I sat down at a picnic table near the swimming area at the scenic Shook Branch Rec Area on Wautaga Lake. For the next 2.5 hours, I would feed crackers to ducks and geese and their offspring, inventory my food, and think about the arrival of my gorgeous  wife!

I’ve been thinking ’bout this all day long
Never felt a feeling quite this strong
I can’t believe how much it turns me on
Just to be your man

Our View
Our View

After 2.5 hours which felt like 10, Lil Jan pulled up in our Lil Honda Fit! I was curious to see if she would be in a yellow springy dress like I had requested. (I have a thing for yellow springy dresses even though she tells me they are out of fashion.) Like an angel sent from heaven, she jumped out of the car, wearing a stunning yellow springy dress, and came running toward me faster than I’ve ever seen her run!  Wow!  Just wow!

There’s no hurry
Don’t you worry
We can take our time
Come a little closer
Let’s go over
What I had in mind

We embraced and kissed and my heart just melted. One of the geese teared up.  She looked sooooooo good! I felt bad that I was a stinky, nasty hiker who hadn’t showered in days. If that bothered her, she didn’t let on.

Before heading to the lakeside cottage she had rented for 3 nights (3 nights!), we went into Hampton to grab lunch and then to a small country grocery store. She was getting our food for the cottage and I was re-stocking my trail food. As she perused the food options from aisle to aisle, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I was stalking her without her knowing it. She looked so good. Someone once said, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.”  I had four such moments just watching her check the expiration dates on sandwich meat an aisle over.  Her yellow dress was the brightest thing in the store, maybe even the town, and I was the luckiest man alive.

As we drove toward the cottage, we stopped by our pickup point and gave ice cream sandwiches to Brief Thief and another hiker….I think it was Bevo.  The 30 minute drive seemed to take 3 hours. I was torn between wanting her to drive safely on the curvy mountain roads and wanting her to go all Crazy Taxi. We finally arrived to an adorable cottage overlooking Wautaga Lake. It had everything we needed, including a secluded hot tub with a view of the lake. I had planned to pick her up and carry her across the threshold, but was too exhausted after lugging her 90 pound suitcase up the stairs. Once inside, my mind raced as I processed so many competing priorities…close the sliding door I had just opened, put the ice cream in the freezer, take a hot shower, drink a quart of milk, get caught up on family news…

Baby lock the door and turn the lights down low
Put some music on that’s soft and slow
Baby we ain’t got no place to go
I hope you understand

I’ve been thinking ’bout this all day long (40 days actually)
Never felt a feeling quite this strong
I can’t believe how much it turns me on
Just to be your man

The next 3 days would be the most relaxing and satisfying I’ve ever had. Lil Jan fed me all of my special food requests, pampered me, massaged me (even my feet!), and stretched me. The hot tub was piping hot and quite refreshing for my aching body. As for the conversation, it was exhilarating and breathtaking (even for a long distance hiker). She brought me up on family news like never before.

Ain’t nobody ever love nobody
The way that I love you
We’re alone now
You don’t know how
Long I’ve wanted to

Lock the door and turn the lights down low
Put some music on that’s soft and slow
Baby we ain’t got no place to go
I hope you understand

Hot Tub Magic
Hot Tub!  Just what the doctor ordered!

I am so richly blessed being married to Lil Jan. She has encouraged me so many times in so many ways in the 3+ decades I’ve known her. The three magical days and nights on Wautaga Lake are just the latest example. She is a wonderful Christian mom who raised two outstanding young men. She is the kind of friend that everyone deserves to have at least one of in their lifetime. She is a nurturer, a giver, and a leader. She is sexy, funny, and a talented singer and speaker.  I learned recently she is even comfortable handling weapons at a firing range!  Who knew?  She is the only person on the planet I could live in a 32′ house on wheels with and never grow tired of it.  It’s a cliché, but without a doubt she makes me want to be a better man. She dazzled me the first time I met her and has only grown more beautiful through the years. If you are wondering whether 6 months on the AT can hurt a relationship, I say “not this one”. We’re in it for the long haul…til death do us part. So just how does it feel to be her man? Take us to the end, Josh…

I’ve been thinking ’bout this all day long
Never felt a feeling quite this strong
I can’t believe how much it turns me on
Just to be your man
I can’t believe how much it turns me on
Just to be your man

(And then I put the ice cream sandwiches away.)

Fob

Lil Jan on the Porch
Lil Jan on the Porch

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4 thoughts on “AT Thru-Hike #29 – Just To Be Your Man”

  1. Honey, that was the sweetest thing I’ve ever read! I am so happy to be “your woman” and to have you as MY MAN! I love you!

    1. Glad you liked it! Back on the trail tomorrow…about 3 days to Pearisburg. Happy (early) Mothers Day, just in case I don’t have good reception Sunday. I love you!

  2. We saw you in the parking lot near the campground at Laurel Creek. We enjoyed meeting you and laughing at your stories. Especially of how you got your trail name. It was a pleasure to have a snapshot in time that our paths crossed. We wish you a successful and safe time on your thru-hike and we would love a summit picture from Katahdin when this journey is done.

    1. It was so great meeting you guys and your Trail Magic was as perfect as they come. You certainly honored J-Bird’s memory.

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