Around 10:30pm a car pulled up to the library and then quickly drove off. Five minutes later it was back with two police officers. The woman got out of her car and I said "was that necessary?" She replied "I just want to return my books and you scared me". She left and the cops came over. I told them about my walk and they ran my ID. After it came back clean, they said it was fine to stay the night.
People here are very concerned about late fees. Someone returned a book at 3:30am. More people came and went as the sun rose and prior to the library opening. When the library did open I used the restroom and filled my water bottles then headed out of town.
I walked on the same road all day. Mostly passed farms and a few residential areas. Around Hebron a man invited me inside for a soda. I drank three. He gave Brown some food and water as well. We continued on. My destination was the truck stop off highway 65. There is a Dennys and Pilot Flying J and a few other fast food options there. I set up camp behind the trucks and Arby's.
I got Brown a roast beef sandwich from Arby's and I went to Dennys. After I ate I read my book and eventually went to bed. It rained overnight.
Wednesday morning I woke up and went to Dennys again. They have a two dollar menu. I then packed up and sat outside the Pilot gas station charging my phone and reading. While sitting there someone gave me their leftovers for Brown. He got french toast, pancakes and sausage.
There was a guy asking for gas money. We were talking for a bit. I was about to offer him gas money for a ride when the manager came over and kicked him off property. Turns out he wasn't using the money he was getting for gas. Once my phone was fully charged, I began walking. Yes, along farm roads. Until I reached Crown Point.
If the country is in a housing recession, this town doesn't know about it. I walked through several new neighborhoods and many under construction. New schools, the hospital has a new wing. There was a lot of construction on the south side of the town. Once passed that, walking down Main St was lovely. Large mature Oaks and maples and homes in all different styles from different decades. All with character and charm and nicely manicured. The downtown area is also nice. The old store fronts had businesses rather than being abandoned. Nice town.
As I walked further through town, I passed a Domino's. An employee came out and called out to me and gave me a medium cheese pizza for free! A few blocks further I reached the Erie-Lackawanna trail head. There's a Walgreens at the trail head. I sat outside on a bench and began to enjoy my pizza. A car drove by and a guy got out and said "no offense, but are you homeless". I really gotta work on my image. I told him no, I am hiking across the country. He was going to offer assistance, I declined and thanked him. It made me happy that he stopped to help what he thought was a homeless man.
After Brown and I finished our pizza we jumped on the trail. While walking a man on his bicycle stopped to talk and walked a bit with me. He's a veterinarian and was kind enough to check out Brown's paws for me. We chatted a bit and then he was off. Roughly two miles up the trail I found the picnic pavilion I planned on camping at. I finished reading my book while waiting for it to get dark. A cyclist gave me a protein bar. Once it got dark I set my tent up. Richard, the veterinarian came by with some cookies and medicine for Brown. It was so nice!
After he left I went to bed. Figured I'd have to be up and out early since this is a popular trail.
Thursday morning we packed up and headed down the trail. It didn't take long for the mosquitoes to smell me out. We had a small swarm following us. Up the trail a bit I ran into Bill. He hangs out in a pavilion in the town of Griffith. He's a bike mechanic and helps people out for donations. He said he would do it for free because he loves meeting and helping people but the city made him get a permit. Anyway he has mosquito repellent handy and lets me use some. We chatted for awhile and then I finally got moving.
I continued up the Erie-Lackawanna trail and parted with the American Discovery Trail. The ADT doesn't head into Chicago. I was headed to Wolf Lake to camp but I ended up only making it to Hammond. A man waved me over from the side of the trail. I was weary at first but the fire station was right there. Well within ear shot of my whistle. He asked how far I was traveling and where to. I told him about my journey. He's a homeless Vietnam Veteran. Him and another vet sleep in a small clearing off the trail hidden by trees. He suggested that I camp out with them for the night.
I said OK. While the two of them drank their dollar beers, I listened to stories about the war. They were impressed with my cook stove. I was sad that they didn't even have tents or tarps. They just strung whatever fabric they could find over the tree branches and spread more on the ground. With what little they had, they were offering me their gloves and ear warmers. I refused, I knew they needed it more than I did. When one of them went to sleep, I turned in also. The other guy stayed up talking to himself.
Friday morning when I woke up, he was gone. The other guy was going to grab some coffee so I gave him a couple bucks to grab me one as well. As soon as I finished packing up he came back with the coffee. He reviewed my map and offered some advice. He grew up in Chicago and is very familiar with the area.
I originally was going to grab a hotel in Chicago for two nights. However, there's a huge conference in town. The affordable hotels were booked up and everyone else raised their rates on the weekend. I couldn't find anything affordable. I decided to get my rental car early and sleep in it for a night.
I headed out and soon ran out of trail. I walked through mostly neighborhoods until Wolf Lake. There I hopped on the Burnham Greenway trail. Again I ran out of trail and made my way to the car rental place. Unfortunately, you need a credit card to rent a car from Enterprise if you have an out of state ID. I only have a debit card. There was a Hertz next door, so I tried there. They do it but were out of cars. I felt devastated. How would I get out of Chicago and down to the southern leg of the ADT? I was at a loss.
While sitting there I saw some people returning cars so I figured I would check back. They had one left but were reluctant to rent it out. Probably 1) because I look homeless, 2) you aren't supposed to have pets in the cars and 3) because the car had definitely just been used to transport weed. He said he would put on the paper that the car smelt like smoke, so I wouldn't get charged. The car smelt like weed, not smoke.
I drove towards the city on Lake Shore Drive. Slight traffic when I got there, but I didn't mind. It allowed me to look up at the buildings. Just past the main downtown area, I stopped in a park and people watched. Then tore the car apart and found a lighter, an ice cream sandwich wrapper, natural male stimulant and a small amount of weed. I swear there's more in there, the car still smells of it.
I drove back south through the city and caught the sunset over the skyline in a park. I decided it would be to difficult to sight see the next day. With a dog and a car, I would be limited. I settled for just a driving tour of Chicago. I made for the highway and headed south. Moving that fast is pretty scary. The milage you can cover in a car is intense. I drove until one in the morning and pulled off. There's a hotel there so I parked there and camped out in the car.
Saturday morning I woke up and entered the hotel through a side door. I ate as much as I could, then hit the road. I reached Evansville and found a park to hang out in. I also found a Barnes and Noble across town. This town is very spread out. I got the third book in the series. Went for dinner at Golden Corral. Binged. Ended up back at the park reading. Probably going to park in a hotel parking lot tonight. Get some free breakfast again in the morning.
Thank you readers and people I've met this week. Thank you everyone for the kindness you've shown me.
"Oh darling, when it's you I see in headlights, driving down the golden highway. And salvation in the beauty of some brace. And the deer is gone without me to the valley of surrender. There is still another world along it's tracks"