Before describing the fabulous day we had running the Blue Ridge Parkway, I want you to know 1st Lt. Jonathan W. Edds...
John was the middle of three sons born to Barry and Julie Edds. Joel was his older brother. Josh was younger. All three boys graduated from the U. S. Military Academy (West Point). John entered West Point in the fall of 2001, just before the terrorist attacks September 11th of that year. When he entered West Point, none of us knew anything of the seemingly endless wars that were about the occur.
John and our daughter, Laura, met via my sister and brother-in-law. My brother-in-law taught at West Point. They were so impressed with John, they thought he might be a great match for Laura. And right they were. It was a long-distance romance except for a summer spent in Boone when John took an internship at the Watauga County DA's Office. We loved John already, but that summer our family really got to know John and learned how special he was.
I'll share just one of 1000s of tidbits that I could share... Every time John and Laura went out to eat, at some point in the meal, John would prepare a fork of food for Laura with "the best bite of food on my plate". Every dad wants his daughter to find a man who will treat her like a queen, John was that man.
I was the minister at Laura and John's wedding in Boone in 2005. In the ceremony, I used the following quote from the movie Shall We Dance. The quote was Beverly's (played by Susan Sarandon) answer to the question, "Why do people get married?"...
"We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet... I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness'."
John's life meant so much to us all.
John deployed as a part of "the surge" in 2007. In August 2007, he transferred from a tank platoon to become the platoon leader of a scout platoon. However, even before he took over as platoon leader, the Humvee in which he was riding was hit by an IED killing him instantly. August 17, 2007.
He is buried at West Point. The second member of his graduating class to be killed in action in Iraq (if memory serves me correctly).
The following was written by a reporter just days after the Battle of Gettysburg. The paper had a list of soldiers killed in the battle, The reporter captured in the fewest words the impact of a soldier's death...
Every name [of a fallen soldier] is a lightning stroke to some heart and it breaks like thunder over some home, and it falls a long black shadow upon some hearthstone. Gettysburg Compiler, July 7, 1863
That's what Memorial Day means to our family.
The rest of the story is much better. Our daughter, Laura, has since met another wonderful man, Jeff--he too an Army Officer, now retired. And this dad has experienced the joy of his daughter finding two men who treat her like a queen.
Day 1 Run
I don't know how to make this transition other than just dive in...
We had a great day running under sunny skies. The run began at Hwy 16 near Glendale Springs and ended at Grandview Overlook near Parkway School. Almost 3000' of net climbing slowed us, but we took it easy and finished the day with a burst with easier terrain south of Hwy 421.
The "we" was Terri Marshall and me. Terri and her husband Craig drove up from Charlotte. Terri and I ran; Craig hiked the Mountain to Sea Trail. Terri is an awesome runner with 36 marathons and ultra-marathons to her credit. And she is a cancer-survivor. It's amazing to me that she was undergoing chemo just 2 years ago; today she's running 20 miles. She was great company for a run; however, she probably has hearing loss in her right ear after I talked all day.
But we also had lots of fun on both ends of the run. We had guests to greet us at the start in Glendale Springs and a whole class from Parkway School to greet us at the end. See the photos and descriptions below.
Here are details of the run... https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1191193697
Photos and Video
The App Ortho Photo of the Day
Ms. Lacy, Ms. Holt, and Ms. Waterman's fourth grade classes at Parkways have been following the RelayWithRay Blogs. When we approached Grandview Overlook, we could hear the cheers. We crossed the barrier between the Parkway and Hwy 421 to greet the kids--cheering and sign-waving. It was so much fun. Many thanks to the teachers, the students, and the school for welcoming us like they did! High Country Press was there. The HCPress news story along with many more photos is online.
Picking one photo from the day cannot tell the story. I added four photos here. See more photos on http://www.BRPWeather.com/. On BRPWeather.Com, zoom the Google map to the region between Glendale Spring and just south of Deep Gap. We took probably 100 photos today, we'll put as many as possible on BRPWeather.Com. By the way, you can upload your photos to BRPWeather.com also; just click on the Photo link and follow the process--it's quick and easy!
Here are the videos: 1) the start, 2) a video of Michael Bell on Dulcimer (made by Denna Miller who became our support crew after Rhonda was "called" to Raleigh), and 3) the reception from Ms. Lacy's class at Parkway School.
We did not have time yesterday to get photos from Glendale Springs, but we did today. The Church of the Frescoes is an amazing sight and an amazing story. If you have never seen the Frescoes, you have to go!
Today was one of the most scenic since we began. And it's right in my own backyard practically. From Hwy 16 we climbed to E.B. Jeffress Park with great long range views all the way. Cascades Falls in a prat of Jeffress Park; however, we did not venture down that trail today. After Jeffress Park, we descended to Deep Gap with continuous amazing views both east and west along the route. After crossing Hwy 421, it's back up then a more rolling terrain; however, one awesome view after another continues.
Deep Gap of course was home to Watauga County's most talented and famous resident ever--Doc Watson. We miss Doc, but his music will never pass.
And, we ran past the road leading to Appalachian State's Dark Sky Observatory. They have Public Nights frequently, check their website for details.
The Day 15 run is going to be in my home court... The Run begins at 8 AM. Starting at Grandview Overlook (MP 281.25), we go through Bamboo Gap, Aho Gap, Thunderhill Overlook, Blowing Rock, Moses Cone Estate, Julian Price Park, and end at Milepost 300. That's 4 miles before the viaduct. Here's a link to the plan... http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/341034831.