Thank you for your interview, Andi. Can you tell us your story?
Sure, I was out running one morning, and I had this spectacular idea. I get some of my best ideas when I’m running. I thought about how I’m always exercising to lose weight, and my friend Jess is always dieting. If we combined the two, we would both lose weight -- guaranteed. So I found a way to do that – we would hike the Appalachian Trail. I know you’re thinking that’s a big commitment, but our kids are practically grown, gone to college and coming home for the summer. That’s a tough transition when college kids return home, so I figured we’d be better off laying low on the Appalachian Trail. And that’s how it all started.
Can you tell us about one of your most distinguishable features?
I’m pretty tall, 5-foot, 10-inches, and maybe that makes me a little bit clumsy. If we go to a restaurant, I’m bound to leave it with some sort of smudge on my face or spill on my shirt. I’m kind of big for the indoors. That’s one of the reasons that I love the natural world. Those towering trees look tiny on those undulating mountains, and I look even smaller.
What makes you laugh out loud?
My girlfriends. We’re all so hilarious, I don’t know how we can’t be stand-up comedians. When my friend Jess and I talk about our experience on the Appalachian Trail, I start laughing so much that I can’t finish the story, like the time that Jess suggested we try doing a downward dog yoga position in the rain.
What is the trait you most not like about yourself?
A lot of times, I’m selfish. I think about what I want and try to achieve it without considering how it might affect others. I mean, I spent so many years as a mom, always putting the kids first. I deserve some me time, don’t I? But I’m working on being more thoughtful. My time on the Trail taught me that.
Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?
I think the author was a little tough on me during parts of the book. I may be a bit competitive, but when that’s written down it looks worse than it is. I mean, I only wanted to keep hiking faster to finish the trail. Some other people hiked faster and I wanted to keep up. I didn’t mean to leave Jess behind, and I especially didn’t think it might ruin our friendship.
If you could change one physical thing about yourself, what would that be?
Ha! That one’s easy. My thighs. No matter how much I exercise, I can’t get rid of that pudge in my thighs. I always look a little bit like a Woolite bottle, you know, how it’s thin at the top then flares out at the bottom.
What is your favorite weather?
It sounds strange since I live in Florida, but I love a morning with a cold snap, the kind that gets your blood flowing, like in the autumn. If I can go for a run on a cool morning, I feel my cheeks get pink before I’ve taken a step. Afterward though, I have to get home pretty quick or my clothes, wet with sweat, will make me freeze.
What’s your idea of a perfect meal?
Oh my gosh. I had so many days to think about this when I hiked the Appalachian Trail, and I still can’t narrow it down. The meal has to include a Coke. When you’re hiking the trail and feel the energy draining from you, there’s nothing better than a Coke with some sugar and caffeine. Maybe a nice hamburger and French fries. The hamburger bun golden and soft on top of some lettuce and a fresh red tomato slice. The French fries would be hot, hot, and so crispy. Then for dessert, something deep chocolate, like chocolate mousse, where it’s almost too rich for your tongue.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a professional basketball player. I had all these older brothers and they’d let me play basketball with them I thought that was heaven. Then when they grew up and moved away, I still felt like they were with me when I went out to the street and threw the ball at the crooked hoop with that tattered net.
If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today?
I’ve always wanted to try paddle boarding, you know, where you stand on a surf board and paddle. I’d have to do that so I could mark it off my bucket list. Then I’d gather all of my family and friends on the beach. We could swim or kayak, watch for dolphins. And when the sun started to set, we could light a bonfire and gather close together to watch the colors fade into the Gulf of Mexico. That would be a spectacular last day.
About The Book
Title: Trail Mix
Author: Paulita Kincer
Publisher: Oblique Presse
Publication Date: August 30, 2014
Format: Paperback / eBook
Genre: Women's Fiction / Travel / Adventure
Buy The Book:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/trail-mix-paulita-kincer/1120455801?ean=9781312462502
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZUB3qqLWTQ
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In the tradition of Wild by Cheryl Strayed, comes a novel of two suburban women who decide to hike the Appalachian Trail, escaping their lives as moms and wives in search of nature, adventure, and the ultimate diet plan.
How does a woman know what she wants after spending 20 years thinking about her husband and children? Sometimes it takes a distraction from everyday life, time to examine the forest before the trees become clear. With no previous camping experience, Andi and Jess begin the 2100-mile odyssey from Georgia to Maine. The friends figure life on the trail can't possibly be worse than dealing with disgruntled husbands, sullen teens home from college, and a general malaise that has crept up in their daily lives. At the very least, the women are bound to return home thin.
Raindrops trickled down Jess’ nose. Her sodden boots plodded along, squooshing the mud with each step.
“Why did I do this?” She threw her head back, her face raised in lament to the sky. The hood of her rain poncho slipped off. The empty forest around her offered no answer, just a steady rain. Then, far above the treetops, she glimpsed a bolt of lightning streaking toward a nearby mountain and heard an answering boom of thunder. She cringed and scuttled faster down the trail.
For nearly two hours, since the wind first whispered its urgency through the leaves, and the raindrops began to fall, Jess had been hiking through the thunderstorm with no place to stop and dry off. No place to get warm. No offer of coffee or a dryer where she could heat up her clingy socks. She walked alone on the Appalachian Trail.
Like being in the middle of labor and deciding she didn’t want to give birth after all, Jess could not turn back. Well, she could turn back, but she would find only more of the same -- woods and rain and an endless trail.
This adventure was all Andi’s idea. As Jess trudged through the forest in the unrelenting rain, she blamed her best friend and hiking companion, Andi, who had pushed the hike as a great way to lose weight. And, when Jess’ teenagers took off for the summer leaving a big gap where the role of mother used to be, she thought a hike with Andi might fill that space. Andi, who, with her long legs, strode ahead, maybe miles away by now, claiming she had to hurry to the nearest shelter to keep the tent dry. Andi had tucked Jess’ poncho around her pack before presenting her back for Jess to return the favor.
“See you at the shelter,” Andi had called. “Only about three miles farther.”
In the city, a three-mile walk might take 45 minutes, an hour if she stopped to window shop. Here, in the mountains, it could last days as she climbed up peaks and descended into valleys. Oh, who was she kidding? She would never walk three miles in the city. She would get in her car and drive.
The thunder crashed louder, and Jess eyed the spiky greenery of a large fir tree. She could take cover under the tree, be a little bit sheltered. Even as she considered taking refuge, she stumbled past the tree, walking, walking.
Tears joined the rain on her face. She felt trapped. No exit ramps in sight. She could only continue to walk.
The wind ripped at her poncho as she climbed slippery stones that had been placed to form stairs. At the top, the wind gusts grew stronger and tried to push her back down. She hurried on along the ridge. Her walking poles dug into the mud that edged the rocks along the path.
On this crest, she stood exposed to the wind and rain and lightning. Rhododendron bushes lined the trail below, but the only plant that dared to peek through the crevices on this crag was a lone sycamore tree. If Jess could escape this bare slope, the trees ahead would provide an arching umbrella across the trail. As she started to descend with the trail, her boot slid across a slick stone, and she toppled backward in slow motion. She wheeled her arms, trying to right herself, but could not stop the plunge until her backpack hit the ground, and she landed – thump – on top of it.
This was supposed to be a diet plan, not a death sentence, she thought, lying on her back like a turtle on its shell, her arms and legs sprawled helplessly at her side. I may drown. The downpour pummeled her full in the face, but she lacked the energy to sit up, free herself from the 30-pound pack, heft it onto her back, and start the hike again.
As the rain doused her face, she slipped one arm from her pack and turned onto her side, away from the sky. For just a moment, she allowed herself to rest, curled into the fetal position beside her pack. A tingle began in her spine, and, in the moment she pondered why—everything went black.
About The Author
Paulita Kincer is the author of three novels, The Summer of France, I See London I See France, and Trail Mix. She has an M.A. in journalism from American University and has written for The Baltimore Sun, The St. Petersburg Times, The Tampa Tribune, and The Columbus Dispatch. She currently teaches college English and lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and three children.
Connect with Paulita:
Author Website: paulitakincer.com
Author Blog: http://paulita-ponderings.blogspot.com/
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