Keeping it Real

The Trail makes an honest man out of me

When I called my Mom yesterday she answered “Well, Hello Wal-Mart Shopper!” This is not just and honest statement because I was shopping there that day but a well deserved dig at one of the biggest snobs out there. Me. I’ve worked hard and made a decent living which has led me to some of the finer things in life which I quite enjoy. Thank you very much.

Settlers Schoolhouse

Back in Atlanta I wouldn’t be caught dead in the places that I now run to. I typically prefer custom rather than off the rack and can have an hour’s long conversation about the best pour over coffee bars inside the perimeter. That’s a clever insult of course – they don’t have pour over outside the perimeter. At home, my favorite places are (in order):

1. Dancing Goats Coffee Bar

2. Alon’s Bakery

3. Sid Mashburn Clothier

On Trail my favorite places are (in order):

1. Dollar General

2. McDonald’s

3. Wal-Mart Super Center (the bigger the better)

Cool footbridge outside Marion, Virginia

The Trail has a special way of teaching you how to keep it real. When you’ve been hiking 15 miles a day for 10 days and eating nothing but dehydrated meals out of a bag, Wal-Mart looks, feels and smells like Shangri-La. Everything you ever wanted under one roof. It’s clean, friendly and affordable. Except for the creepiness of the front door greeters it really is a great experience. Don’t get me started on Dollar General. I am convinced that their retail model was designed by a bunch of cheap dirty thru-hikers. It just fits so well (like a custom suit from Sid Mashburn). Last week, a fellow hiker stormed out of Ingles and headed over to Dollar General because those dirty thieves were charging .79 cents for a packet of dehydrated coffee. Outrageous indeed.

It’s official – 25%

I will most definitely go back to shunning these honest brands when I get home. But in the meantime, let’s just say that I was wrong about most of what I said about these places. I will always have a special place in my heart for the candy isle at Dollar General but I’ll have to drive at least to Marietta to get my fix. Oh, the fear of being spotted slumming outside of a Whole Foods.

Spring afternoon on a Virginia farm

Our hike today was great. We got started around 8 and climbed up to meet the fog at the top of our first climb. For the next 10 miles, we meandered across the bright green farm land spread across the gorgeous rolling valleys of western Virginia. These farms are amazing to see from the high ridge lines on the Trail. The farm grass at this time of the year is an electrified neon green and the fields pop out between the breaks in the tree cover that are just starting to bloom.


Bob met us at lunchtime and had our clean clothes for us and ran us back into town so we could go to Dean & Deluca and Neiman Marcus. I mean McDonald’s and Wal-Mart. After lunch, he drove us back to the trailhead and we were enveloped back into the sweet Virginia countryside with full bellies and heavy packs. We found a nice campsite next to a stream and finished dinner just in time to duck into our tents to wait out a strong thunderstorm. We are staying warm and dry and will turn in early without a fire tonight. I called the front desk to schedule my turn down service. Still waiting.

Is that grass painted on?

6 thoughts on “Keeping it Real

  1. Did you get a chocolate for your pillow? Be sure to visit the breakfast buffet after a nice hot shower and massage. Keep smiling and have a great day.


  2. This hike and real adventure definitely gives you a different perspective on your present world and daily environment. Not too many people voluntarily leave their comfortable space and enter a new and challenging environment. Love your honesty and ability to embrace each new day with enthusiasm. Love and hugs.


  3. Was worried about you guys during that thunderstorm last night. Happy to hear you got through it! Lots of thunder and lightning at our place.


  4. Love it Drew! I’ve enjoyed all your posts from your incredible journey! My attempts to comment have not always been successful though. I’m WordPress challenged.


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