Monday morning I woke up. After coffee and breakfast I said goodbye before heading out the door. I followed the road up the hill. I made the mistake of turning onto the first trail I saw. Either way it was taking me west through the woods so I followed it for awhile. I reached Hutchins Creek and followed it south until I found the river to river trail. The river to river trail then went back north. I could have stayed on the trail I was on and ended in the same spot. Slight waste of time.
Either way I reached the trail head and the last forest trail for some time. I'll be on roads until St Louis and a bike trail through much of Missouri. Anyway we trekked down a couple of gravel roads to Route 3. I followed that road into the town of Grand Tower. I stopped at the gas station for a root beer and then headed to the campground.
Devil's Backbone is a campground right on the Mississippi River. Despite storm and river flooding warnings, I set up close to the river. Every ten minutes a barge goes by. The wind was rather strong but the rain didn't come until after I fell asleep. No flooding though.
Tuesday morning we woke up and Brown's pad had a crack in it and he was limping. I knew we would have to take the day off. It was frustrating because this was only our second day back on the trail.
I sat around most of the day; reading, tanning, eating, and watching the barges go by.
Wednesday morning Brown was walking better. I put his shoes on and he was clumsy for a minute. Once he got the hang of it he was doing fine. We left Grand Tower and headed out on Rte 3 towards Chester.
We take a thirty minute break every three miles. It's a little difficult to find shade along this road. Often I find myself in somebody's yard borrowing shade from a tree. I passed a small bait/convenience store. I got a root beer and an ice cream sandwich. Brown jumped in the pond out back to cool off.
I sat out front and the guy who worked inside (possibly the owner) came out. He sat and talked to me for awhile. He spoke a lot. Barely a moment of silence between thoughts. My favorite story he told was when he was in Vietnam. I've met a few Vets on my walk; their stories are always very intriguing. After an hour we continued walking.
I made it to Crain Baptist Church. Once there, I took Brown's shoes off and his pads were wet. His pad that had cracked was soft and shedding the cracked portion. There was an additional deep chunk that had come off from being wet and soft. I cannot make a decent pace stopping every other day for healing. I also feel awful for putting my dog through such pain.
I decided that the best way forward is on bicycle. I returned to Alto Pass to stay with the friends that I had made there. They have a family member who does long distance touring rides. I was able to get a wealth of information from him. I'm currently in the process of purchasing a touring bicycle and dog trailer. I wish I could continue on foot. My fear is that I will see less and have fewer interactions on bike. However, it's a necessary evil to continue forward without putting additional strain on Brown. Maybe I'm wrong though, maybe I'll be able to see more by being able to deviate further from the trail.
I haven't owned a bike since I was a child. This will change the dynamic of my journey but I'm going to roll with it. It's important to be flexible in life and accept and adapt to the circumstances that confront you.
Since returning to Alto Pass, I've ordered a bike and trailer; attended the 35th annual Tomato Fertility Party; went blackberry picking; went canoeing/kayaking, bike riding and enjoyed the hospitality of the locals. I hate not moving every day but if this is part of the journey, so be it. I keep myself busy by cleaning the house. One day I rode the bike to a local farmers market. I spotted golden cherry tomatoes, $1.50/pint. These would be $3 or $4 back in DC. So I bought three pints and was popping them in my mouth on the bike ride home.
Today I rode my bike to Bald Knob. Atop sits a giant cross. Peddling up the ridge reminds me that this bike dynamic will be challenging, I look forward to it though. Until I roll out of town, I'll continue to enjoy the amazing summer produce, especially the local peaches.
It's a bizarre sense of comfort and anxiousness to be stationary. It's nice waking up on a soft bed to coffee and a hot breakfast each morning. However, everyday I feel like I should be walking, exploring.
Thank you readers.
"What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us."