We woke up for the first time in 3 weeks back on our own timeline. There was no job to report to, no more trees to load, or semis to deal with. We spent the morning packing the bike and organizing the insane amount of gear that spread throughout the house. Finally by lunchtime we were packed up and said goodbye to the place we called home for several weeks.
Headed over to the loading yard in time to say goodbye to the friends we made over our time spent working side by side with these hard working men. Knowing how truly short lunch is we quickly said goodbye to everyone and took dozens of pictures with the guys. Thank you for adopting us Raul, Cero, Salvador, Huventino, Bernabe, Felix, Jesus, Ermilio, and everyone else!! After our photo-op we made our way over to the office to say goodbye to Ann, Carrie, and Leslie. We spent a bit of time talking and saying slow and long goodbyes. At 2pm we realized that if we didn’t leave we would be spending another night.
We headed up the hill to return a muffin tin and pickup my bandanna that was left at our first night’s fiesta. Partly up the hill we realized we never got a photo with Carrie and turned back down the hill. We arrived just in time to catch Carrie and Lewis before they headed into the fields. Lewis gave us better directions to West Jefferson and exchanged information for the future.
Our final stop was in the field office to say goodbye and attempt to get a picture with John. We talked for a half an hour and were invited back with the possiblity of a raise next year! Thanks for the opportunity and the accommodations John
We worked a minimum of 10 hours a day, 7 days a week and journaling while working was impossible due to the shear exhaustion we faced every night. With that said we wanted to write about our experience and not everything will fit in a concise form. Many of the memories we will cherish were:
- Hiding in the office with Ann and Carrie munching on hot chocolate, coffee, and baked goods that Carrie would bring in from Boone.
- The sight of every little silver minivan and the hope that it was the tamale man.
- Driving trucks of every condition to go fetch trailers, getting them stuck in the mud, or struggling to back into Mouth of Wilson or the loading bays.
- Pounding the occasional beer in the middle of the day to take the edge off.
- Fighting the clutch on the yard dog to keep it from bucking.
- Explaining our crazy plans to the countless truckers and making friends with Paul and Barry.
- Learning to drive a 10-speed tractor trailer.
- Harassing Cero about why we would load and unload a tree several times.
- Locking Raul in the trailer and threatening to send him to Florida with the trees.
- Gathering more and more clothes from Ann and Regis in our attempt to stay warm, eventually resorting to hand warmers.
Goodbyes said, we were finally on our way. We headed Lewis’ advice and took the longer flatter route leading out to NC-16. We followed NC-16 for 12 miles into Jefferson. The road was faster and busier than we would like, but we got a late start and needed to makeup some time. In Jefferson we stopped at a small church cafe and shared a cookie.
Feeling a little lost and stressed as the sun started to set we made our way into downtown West Jefferson; we stopped at the only place we could think of Rose Mountain Butcher Shop! We stopped in to meet our old friend Ann Rose who offered to let us sleep in the butcher shop. In addition to putting us up in the shop Ann invited us to join her at Boondock Brewery for dinner. It would seem the brewery is the hub of West Jefferson.