The holidays have come and gone again. After a nice low-key Thanksgiving here in Louisville, we drove up to Ellicottville, NY to visit Kait’s family for Christmas. They live in beautiful ski country, and Christmas is always pretty magical up there. We plan to spend our last 2 weeks before the Walk up there, hiking in the mountains as much as we can before we hit the road.
Christmas weekend was a perfect opportunity to get away from work, take a deep breath, and get some serious thinking done about how to start this trip on the right foot. We took long walks in the wooded mountains surrounding the tiny little picturesque town. Kait’s parents have two very intelligent, energetic dogs, and her sister Eryn and her husband Ben have a pup of their own. Together, we romped through the snow with our five dogs. Frisbees and flying snowballs filled the air. I have yet to meet a dog that doesn’t love snow – even Grace was running and chasing the other dogs. I even saw her pick up a frisbee and toss it around in a most undignified manner.
On Christmas Day, we unwrapped presents given by friends and family to support us on the walk, including lightweight cold-weather clothes and a Steripen for emergency water sterilization. My parents helped me purchase a backpack for Kait that actually fits, which is a pretty significant item to cross off our checklist.
I am notoriously bad at keeping secrets from Kait – especially fun secrets, like surprise gifts. I couldn’t even keep it a secret when I was working on her engagement ring. She, on the other hand, somehow manages to pull off amazing surprises for me all the time. The Backpacker’s guitar she got some friends to chip in on for my birthday? Never saw it coming. For Christmas, Kait contacted Linny Kenney, the cross-country rider who inspired our Walk, about my gift. Linny is an accomplished painter and leatherworker, and she created a beautiful, one-of-a-kind handmade leather guitar strap for me.
The strap is painted with Linny’s interpretation of a piece of art that Kait made during our undergraduate years, and it is perfect for the Walk. I think the strap makes my horrible guitar-playing sound better, too. Thank you, Linny. It’s an honor to have a piece of your work to take on our pilgrimage.
My God. It’s already the 1st day 3rd day 2nd WEEK of January. We are less than 2 months from our departure date, and the to-do list just keeps growing.