Emmaline here: I was able to meet Jeff in Hot Springs, NC thanks to the thoughtfulness and generosity of Wendy and Greg and their family who suggested a “road trip” since they had never been to Hot Springs and why not go meet up with Jeff there to check on him?
Soooooooo…off we went to Hot Springs, NC! What a quaint, lovely little township! There is no stoplight in this four block town, just a flashing yellow light warning truckers that if their rig is over 30’ they won’t be able to traverse the road ahead, find an alternate route. As Jeff said, the only red traffic signal in town is the flashing red light of the railroad barricades at the railroad crossing when the train comes through town!! Back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Hot Springs was a well-known, very fashionable resort to which folks traveled to enjoy the hot springs mineral baths (hence the name, “Hot Springs”). There was a very elegant hotel there and a bathhouse where one spent an hour or so in the waters…much like our hot tub experiences today. The elegant hotel has since been destroyed by fire and the bathhouse is a ruin of wall and pool, but you can still schedule a time at the resort to experience the beauty of idyllic surroundings and the warmth and comfort of the hot springs. While there is no longer a hotel on site, there is a spa for massages and facials and along the banks of the French Broad River are private Jacuzzi tubs that overlook the river and are filled with the 102 degree water from the springs. One can spend an hour in the tubs listening to the songs of the birds and the rapids of the river, enjoying a view of mountains and meadow. There’s no television, no sports, no radio blaring…just the music of God’s creation which is sufficient in and of itself to bring peace and comfort.
We found Jeff waiting for us at the Iron Horse Station Hotel which faces the railroad and, as the name would indicate, is styled after the railroad. The rooms are Pullmans – one bed, 2 chairs, a small table and a bathroom – much like you would find in a Pullman railroad car. We also found him sick…he had been sick since he arrived in Hot Springs earlier that week when he met with Judith, a friend of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, who had expressed an interest in meeting Jeff and talking about his hike and its purpose and to provide a meal. It ended up, she not only provided a meal, she provided shelter while he fought his illness – seems he didn’t pay attention to the water like he should have – and finally succumbed to Judith’s and my nagging and went to the medical center in Hot Springs. He got better from the water related issue, but succumbed to sinusitis from all the pollen and wood smoke. Sooo, being the nagging wife that I am, I marched him BACK to the clinic on Saturday where Kylie prescribed some antibiotics and sinus and allergy medications that helped with all the symptoms. When we left Hot Springs on Sunday, Jeff was much better.
I met the folks Jeff had been learning to know over the last week. What delightful, interesting people they are. I know that the hikers are a major source of revenue for the town and are appreciated for that alone, but there’s more. There is truly an interest in the hikers themselves…are they faring well? Do they need assistance with anything? May I pray for you? Good, caring people. Thankfully, they were there when Jeff needed comfort and succor. I hope I have similar opportunities along the trails of my life…
Wendy and I found a wonderful gallery full of artisans’ work that was so creative, unique, and beautiful. If the guys couldn’t find us anywhere else, they came back to the gallery to look for us! Usually, that’s where they found us.
We left Jeff on Sunday. He was feeling much better, planning to spend the day doing laundry (thank goodness!!! Phew!), resting and preparing to leave Monday morning for the next leg of his hike. I heard from him last night that he had reached the shelter in good time and was feeling well and was pleased with his stamina after having been off the trail for so long. He is about a week behind his planned schedule, but will probably be able to make up some of that time.
Thank you for your continued interest, support and encouragement.
Jeff sent these thoughts to me for me to post. Enjoy:
“There are many thoughts that cross one’s mind traveling down this remote highway called the AT. A person can ponder in great or small detail, all of them. The past few days have added to the litany of revelations that, so far, I have experienced in my brief time of travel. Today, as it happens, is Sunday – the Lord’s Day – and it is very appropriate to note the value and necessity of friends – nothing really earth shattering or significantly religious – just friends.
We all need friends. Most of us, alas, spend our whole lives accumulating what we think are friends and the quantities of same which we number in the hundreds. For a few of us, that may be the case. I think, though, that most of us are fortunate – blessed is a better description – to find just a few along the way. There isn’t the time or space here to deliberate the definition of or just what qualifies as a friend. For this weary and often lonely foot traveler, I would offer one possible suggestion: During our lives, acquaintances come and go. Brief encounters, moments of joy and support, comfortable exchanges of time and conversation are the typical parameters for what qualifies as “friend” moments. There are also those encounters which last months or years and are deeper, more soul-enriching relationships. They both serve their purposes don’t they – the brief and the long friendships?
My revelation and the point of this thought is not to debate which is better. What is important – at least to me as I’ve pondered – and experienced in the last few days especially – is the source of those relationships. The brief and deep are both gifts, I believe, from God. Whatever path or paths we find ourselves on, He seems to know just who or what and how we need these relationships and for how long.
Like all gifts, it really isn’t the size or the value of the gift that should matter; it’s the thought. Whether a friend or an acquaintance, it’s the thought – His thought that counts. It’s nice to be thought of, isn’t it?
(Dedicated to Bobby, Genia, Judith, Greg, Wendy, Kylie, Jared, Megan, and Tommy – Thank you.)”