Monday, September 14, 2009

Moravians: More Than Just Cookies

This week I received my 2nd and 3rd sponsorships!!  My aunts Giovanna and Maria (Dad’s sisters) sent a lovely note and donation to help me with the expenses of preparing for the 3-Day event.  I also received a donation from Dana Lassiter who, in addition to lending me her precious Joplin for most of the summer, has been my constant cheerleader and route finder.   I will be using their donations to purchase the next few things on my wish list: some snazzy walking socks with extra padding in all the right places, a camp style pillow to rest my tired little head, a head lamp so I can see my way to the potty in the middle of the night, and appropriate sports specific under garments.   Maybe I will wear labels all over myself like the Nascar drivers so I can recognize my sponsors.  Sneakers sponsored by Mom and Dad who love me head to toe; Porta Potty Light by Dana who I have shared many embarrassing bathroom stories with; Brassieres, appropriately, from my crazy aunts…  Thanks to you all!

I have to give a shout out to Teri Carpenter, a friend and personal cheerleader. Teri and I met several years ago through Dana and have enjoyed many fun times-always characterized by laughter and joy.  Teri is the life of any party-especially a Wolfpack tailgate!!  She has also cheered me on all year during my weight loss journey.  Now it’s our turn to cheer for Teri, provide the laughter, and offer support.  Teri first appeared in my blog as one of the first people to donate to my fundraising efforts.  Now she will join the list of women and men that I am honoring with my walk.  During a routine mammogram, Teri learned that she has breast cancer.  This morning (Tuesday) she will have surgery to remove her tumor and I’m sending the most positive thoughts to the hands of the surgeons-they have a gem of a lady on their table!  Cheers and Kisses to Teri and the Carpenter fellas, Craig, Justin, and Cameron, as they take the first steps toward beating this disease.  Teri is keeping friends and family up to date through a CaringBridge site.  Please follow her journey at and type in tericarpenter (one word) to view her page.

I have updated my personal page to include a picture of Teri.  I will be updating this image each week with a picture of one of the people I am honoring with my walk.  Please send me a digital picture of the people you have donated on behalf of.  I will recognize them in my weekly blog and on my page!  To see my page, click on the pink link to the right that reads:  Jenn Latino’s Walk Page.

I HAVE BEEN ON AN ADVENTURE THIS WEEK!  I walked in 4 cities in 7 days!  Last Sunday I wrapped up my Labor Day weekend with a walk in Raleigh, NC.  My Tuesday and Thursday walks were in Columbia.  This weekend I visited V-Lowe (Valerie) in Winston-Salem where I did my Saturday walk before we traveled to Asheville and did the Sunday walk from Asheville to the quaint town of Black Mountain, NC.  Whew!  I can’t tell you all of the stories that accompany these journeys in the span of 1 blog, but here are a few of the highlights.

V-Lowe lives near Betharbara Park, site of the first Moravian settlement in NC.  In anticipation of my travels, I contacted the park and learned that there were 175 acres of trails and historic space to explore.  Great!!  Who knew that there was more

to the Moravians than just cookies?  The walk was more of a hike.  Since Betharbara is on historic land, most of the trails are natural-rocky, sandy, booby trapped with tree roots, etc.  But the scenery was beautiful!  Along the journey I saw the site of the original settlement mill and what they claim is the 2nd oldest graveyard in the country!  I included a photo here of the cemetery and have posted more photos on my facebook page in the 3-Day album. 

I was alone for most of my walk through Betharbara.  The weather was beautiful but Wake Forest had a 1pm home game so I assume all of the otherwise fitness enthusiasts were pre-gaming.  I did share part of the trails with a group of bird watchers-Genuine birdwatchers, complete with binoculars, bird identification charts, cameras around their necks, and vests with 100 pockets.  Birdwatchers aren’t much for talking.  Note:  When greeting birdwatchers, it may be better to simply smile and give a “good morning” nod than to yell out, “Good Morning!”  From their silent reactions to my greeting, I got the impression they were not pleased to see me in my conspicuous neon green backpack and bright pink shirt.  I came across the birdwatchers on 2 occasions at about mile 6 and then again near mile 14.  I was making my way back and they were in the exact same location, still looking up, and still completely silent. I’m certain that bird watching is NOT in my future. 

I was able to snap a picture of the birdwatchers but it was not easy.  I was stealth with my paparazzi skills.  As I approached the watchers for the 2nd time, I pretended to stop and admire some of the wild flowers that were growing on the trail and used my phone to snap a shot.  Can you imagine if they had caught me?  How do you even explain that?  “I’m sorry that I was taking your picture without your permission.  It’s just that I have never seen a group of people stand so still and so silent for so long!  I had to capture the evidence for my blog readers!”

Here is a quick run down of my animal spotting (excluding the birds) in Betharbara:  4 turtles, or maybe the same turtle was following me around; 3 snakes-clearly a different one each time; at least 6 mice though I finally stopped screaming and just held my breath and ran when I saw one. Yes, I held my breath!  I couldn’t risk breathing in mice air!

After my walk, V-Lowe and I made our way to Asheville to visit the venue for her May 2010 wedding.  I won’t ruin the magic for those of you who will be attending but I must give you the preview that the directions to the location will include references to the emu farm on the right and a warning to avoid the llama pen on the left.  Yes, emus AND llamas!  (More photo evidence on facebook).

Sunday morning V was willing to join me for a 5-mile walk.  This is shocking to those of you who know Valerie.  Valerie chases 4-year olds all day, every day so she is no stranger to fast movement.  However, she prefers to wear flip-flops 365 days a year, and after 9 years of friendship, I wasn’t sure she actually owned sneakers until Sunday morning.  V was in charge of choosing the route so we walked from her grandma’s cabin to the town of Black Mountain.  It was a perfect morning for a stroll through small town USA.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if Andy Taylor walked by whistling and carrying his fishing pole.  Every store in Black Mtn is a “mom and pop.”  The streets were not very busy on a Sunday morning and we had a great time looking in the windows of all the specialty dessert shops, boutiques of garden goodies and trinkets, and the general store.  There was a coffee shop that was open and it was clearly the hot spot in town.  There were about a dozen folks having coffee, reading the Sunday paper, and enjoying the cool morning.  We stopped in for a glass of OJ and a restroom break, grabbed an outside table, and got a glimpse into the life of the Black Mtn. locals.  It was definitely the kind of place where everybody knows your name.    

Walking in these mountain towns (okay, calling WF a mountain town is a stretch but it was at least 15 degrees cooler than Columbia is even in the dead of December) got me pumped for our October 23rd-25th event.  The crispness of fall gave me a boost that I have needed and with the company of a friend, I enjoyed every step of the journey.  If the weather for the event is as perfect as it was this weekend, and I know the company will be grand, we are in for a great time! 

While I didn’t complete all of the scheduled miles for the weekend, (I couldn’t be a rude guest and spend the entire weekend walking!  We had emus to see, llamas to visit, and about 10 restaurants to hit in a 2 day period.) it was WONDERFUL to explore some new spaces. I can hardly believe we only have 5 more weeks of training before the New Kids on the Walk hit the Atlanta highways!  I can’t wait to see what kind of folks we meet along the way.  I’ll have my camera strategically aimed and ready so that I can share all the memories with you.

This week I completed 30 miles and 55,522 steps.  That brings the totals to:  355 miles and 695,144 steps.  

The adventures continue this weekend in Charlotte, NC.  I only need to do a 10 mile Saturday and 6 mile Sunday.  Any recommendations for a park or trail in the Charlotte area?

Happy Stepping!


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