In the middle of nowhere

Got a chance to head back to the Lehigh River Gorge trail this past week. Best decision I’ve done in a long time. Just the perfect day. The trip didn’t start off that well, but you were there to guide me in the right direction. I know that. I was driving up around 7pm Friday night when the outfitter called to tell me they couldn’t get me on the 1pm shuttle back from Jim Thorpe because they don’t do that ride. He said he would make an exception for me being a “party of one” and I could get on the 11am. So I woke up Saturday around 615am, I was going to go back to bed cause I felt like I didn’t have to be out this early, but then I just had to get on the road to the trail head. I kind of got excited. Threw my gear on and got out the door. I grabbed a granny smith on my way out. It was freezing out up there. About 40 degrees. I grabbed a gallon of water and then drove to White Haven where I believed the start of the D&L trail head was. It was around 7am and boy was it quiet. I got on the trail and just got going. I saw two people that first mile or so, but then for about the next hour, I didn’t see anyone. It was cold and gray, but the sun started to pop out. I had many conversations with you and Pop Pop. Once I could smell the “pinees”, I just laughed and thought of Pop Pop. So I get to a clearing about 5 miles in. I am standing near a picnic table and it’s just beautiful. More so because I can see the sky. Most of the trail is covered by trees obviously, but this part is wide open. So I am just grabbing some water and I look over and I see this thing on the ground. I only knew two men in my life to use this “thing”. Pop Pop and Pop Malin. So I walk over there and a damn hanky is laying there. There was not one other thing in the 4500 acres that I saw during my ride that was a link to “man”, but this hanky. I really just knew it was a sign that Pop Pop was out with me for my ride. The ride went great. As I got further down the trail, I saw more people and the sun was coming through and the water was rushing. I was stopping to take as many pictures as I could. Around mile 16-17, I realized I would be cutting it close on time and just had to start hustling at a faster clip. Grabbed that granny smith out of my daypack and ate it while I was riding. It was a struggle those last few miles cause I was starting to cramp up, but I made it and with ample time. The shuttle picked me up and I had a nice relaxing ride back to the top of the trail head. Really was an amazing ride and really helped my state of mind. I was just so thankful for the trail, the ride, people saying good morning as they passed and just people being at ease and relaxed. It’s really amazing what a group of strangers can do for you when they present an air of ease and calm versus being agitated or trying to just be quick about everything. I keep going with the phrase slow down. I think I am getting there. I thought of you often that day. I thought of so many different things. Since Halloween is getting close, I thought about how you would decorate, how you loved seeing us in our costumes, and how we loved bringing candy back. I can’t even imagine the boys or Lucy not seeing you on Halloween. It just seems so strange. I look at them and I’m like, “why do they have to miss out on such a great person….” I went to Mr. Gamble’s funeral. It sucked being in there again. I felt so bad for them. I saw their whole family and just thought about Bobby. I said to Mrs. Gamble, “I hope when he got to Heaven, the first person to greet him was Bobby…” I thought about it as I drove away. He gets to see his son who he hasn’t seen for about 25 years. In the strange way that death works, those good people see the good people they loved and lost and part of that makes me happy. I looked at some of the pictures they had set up. Some great pictures from a long time ago. Different times. Simpler. Seem to be more peace and more empathy and more love. I am glad I remember that time, but I think I see a change. I think it really just is a matter of who you decide to surround yourself with. As I get older, I literally have no time for the dramatic or people who just “me, me, me”. It’s weird how people can even be like that. I keep thinking about your selflessness. Your giving nature and your constant will to help your family in so many ways. I realize that people like you are the ones that end up being truly beloved when they leave us. Same as I do Mr. Gamble. Just a solid guy who loved his family. I hope you and some other special people were the first to greet him in Heaven; where I know you are and now he is. Saturday was really great all around. I am getting there. More to be done. XO Bobby 


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