Tipton, Iowa – October 21, 2012
I opened the package my dad sent. Three pairs of gloves poured out even though I only asked for one. He sent me a fleece face mask too, just in case I needed it.
Gesh’s parents had us over for dinner tonight. They live just down the road and made sure I wouldn’t leave without being stuffed full of roast beef, potatoes, homemade applesauce, and two big slices of spice cake. We sat around the table and talked about the trail where Gesh met the love of his life, a woman named Junkfood who he married a few years later.
In Coon Rapids, just north of the Twin Cities, Grimace’s mom took me in for the night. We ate ribs and peach cobbler and talked about Grimace’s wedding to another friend of mine named Badpacker, BP for short.
Beef Stew’s mom met me on the banks of the Mississippi in Winona. She skipped out of teaching school and borrowed a coworker’s car because she wanted to say hi and make sure I didn’t need anything.
Gesh, Junkfood, Grimace, Badpacker, and Beef Stew, I almost forget they’re nicknames coming from a mispronunciation, a nutritionist’s nightmare, a purple sleeping pad, a backpack with the biggest gloves in the world hanging off it, and a can of soup, but to those people at the other end of the phone calls home, the ones who scribbled address labels on boxes and spent nights watching the weather a thousand miles away, they’ll always just be Josh, Cris, Nick, Erin, and Jeff.
And when they need gloves, they’ll get three pairs