Terry, a kind and hospitable (not to mention talented!) stained glass artist
Randy, a friendly, skilled woodturner with a knack for making the most savory milkshake a thru hiker could ever want!
Hansel and Gretel met this lovely couple at the very beginning of their journey and Terry and Randy have been following them ever since, making sure to connect with me so as to coordinate a pick up for when the siblings arrived into their hometown of Gatlinburg. I am sure Terry was quite surprised to see that they made it. I received about four worried emails from her about the weather and distance Hansel and Gretel would have to overcome in order to make it to Gatlinburg by the 6th. But they did it!
After being picked up at the trail head, Hans and Gretel inquired about cheap places they might be able to spend the night.
"Yeah, our house!" Could there have been a more wonderful response?
Terry and Randy took such wonderful care of our hikers! Not only did they drive them around town to run all their errands, they also took Hansel and Gretel to the old fashioned soda fountain where Randy works part time. Gretel had been craving a milkshake and you better believe Randy was happy to oblige! One mint chip and one turtle tracks milk shake, coming right up! Hans also downed a sarsaparilla for good measure.
At the post office, Hansel and Gretel picked up a package of love from home. Inside was a collection of "trail games" conceived by Mommo (that is what we sometimes call our mother), a lighthearted poem or two, some fancy and fun trail food, brownies (because everyone needs some sort of cake on their birthday), and last but certainly not least, a box of candles wishing Gretel a very Happy... Retirement??? Hmmm, I think someone did not read the box right before making that purchase! Oooops!
The whole crew had a delicious lunch in town. Terry later commented to me over the phone in her endearing southern accent, "I have never seen such darn skinny people eat so much food in my life!" Hansel and Gretel have reported that they are hungry most of the time that they are on the trail. One hour after they eat they are already talking about when they are going to eat the next meal. The really long hikes are tough since their diet mainly consists of high calorie bars, beef jerky, GORP (good old raisins and peanuts), dried fruit, and fig newtons.
At night, the four of them sat and chatted over popcorn. Thursday morning, Terry and Randy took our hikers to the Cracker Barrel for a hearty breakfast where they had the most delicious granola pancakes! For the first time in her life, Gretel actually finished off Hansel's plate! Not only were their bellies happily full, the sun was shining and it was about 75 degrees as they hiked back into the woods. Good bye snow!
Terry called me after sending them off to let me know they were back on the Trail. Before hanging up the phone, Terry said to me, "You have some very special siblings," and I couldn't agree more!
We are all so thankful for the selfless kindness that Terry and Randy showed to Hansel and Gretel this week. Their hospitality was more than anyone could have hoped for. People with compassion like Terry and Randy make this world a better place!
By the way, you can see Terry and Randy's art at their website: autumnviewstudio.com. Their work is truly beautiful! What a talented couple!
Some pictures of the Gatlinburg adventure:
Milk Shakes at Randy's Old Fashion Soda Fountain
Picking up packages from home!
Terry and Randy's beautiful guest room!
The best hosts on the AT! Randy and Terry pictured between our hikers.