Thursday was a zero day. I ended up doing my laundry in the sink and laying in bed catching up on season four of Game of Thrones. For dinner I went to one of those huge Chinese buffets and binged.
Friday morning I woke up and headed downstairs for breakfast. I went back upstairs and packed up then hit the road. Two hours into my walk it started to rain. I passed through the town of Gaston and sat under an awning for awhile to let the storm pass. While sitting outside of this building I met the kind ladies that work inside. They loved Brownie and watched him for me while I grabbed a coffee from across the street.
After the rain died down, I headed out of town. I walked for about five miles along farms to the next town, Matthews. I located the library/community center/musuem/police station building. None of those services were open so I headed around back and sat beneath an over hang. No sooner did I get under the over hang when it started to hail. Small, slightly larger than rice. It was brief and I set my tent up afterwards and settled in behind the community center.
Saturday morning I woke up early fearing that the playground or library or police station would have people coming around. No one came. I had a ten miles of road walking before I reached the trail head. The rail trail couldn't get the trail to connect due to adjacent land owners who are given first right. The farmers along this section of abandoned rail line purchased the section of old rail making for road walking or biking in this area. Thanks...
The trail starts back up in the town of Jonesboro. As soon as I hit the trail head it began to rain. I pulled out my tarp and draped it over Brownie and I. It had seemed like forever since I had a dry day and I felt worn down. When it stopped I continued walking. I reached Marion the town I had intended on camping in.
There was a park in along the trail and I decided this is where I'll camp. It was early still and I saw on my map that there was a store nearby. I walked to Family Dollar to buy some water and chips. As I sat outside the store eating it began to rain again. A woman saw me feeding some to Brown on her way in the store and came out the store with dog biscuits for him. When it stopped raining I headed back to the park. Since it was still early I sat on the picnic table reading. A young boy of thirteen came up and began talking to me. He talked so much he barely paused between sentences and subjects. Sitting with him was slightly exhausting. When his sister walked by she told him not to talk to strangers. I thought this would get him to leave, but he stayed. Eventually his parents came by and I could tell by the way they screamed his name from the car they were upset with him. Probably for talking to strangers.
When it was just before dark I set my tent up behind some trees. I settled in and fell asleep exhausted.
Sunday morning I woke up early again. Fearing that because I was in a park people would be out and about. Not a single person. I packed up and began down the trail. After a distance the Cardinal Greenway trail gives way to the Sweetser Trail.
This trail is short and soon I'm back to road walking along massive farms. The roads cut through at square mile intervals, making each farm 640ish acres. Not a single tree lines the road and I'm to walk twelve miles to reach the next trail head. I had plans of camping somewhere along this stretch. However, that is easier said than done, when corn fields stretch right up to the side if the road. I checked my map and saw a church a little further up and decided to head a half mile off the trail to camp there.
When I reached the church, a few people were left packing some stuff up. I went in and told them of my walk and asked if I may camp out back. They were very kind and said of course. Thank you Miami Howard Mennonite Church for your hospitality. I set my tent up by the playground, cooked dinner and listened to the horse and buggies riding by. The clipity clop of their hooves makes me giggle. After some reading I was off to sleep.
Monday morning I woke up as a car pulled into the church parking lot. I went inside to use the restroom and met the pastor. Ben was very nice and listened to the story of my journey and offered me coffee. After I packed up I headed off to finish the stretch of road before the next trail head.
Just a mile shy of the Nickel Plate Trail a woman pulled along side and asked me if I needed any food. I always need food. I said yes and she said she'd meet me up the road a bit. She drove back home and filled a bag with cliff bars, nature valley bars, water bottles and mini muffins. So kind! When I reached the trail head I sat on the bench and devoured half of what she gave me.
While I was sitting there a woman working for Edward Jones was going door to door. She spotted me and came over to chat. One look at me and you can assume I'm not a target audience for investment brokers. However, she came over anyway. We chatted and I learned a little about her life. She's from a few towns north of here called Peru. Where there is a circus musuem. A family tradition, she joined the circus when she was young. She lived in China and shot her husband out of a cannon for many years before returning state side. What a crazy adventure to have when you are young, I thought!
Anyway, after a while I started walking again. I was headed to the town of Bunker Hill. When I reached the town I looked at my map and saw a park on the opposite side and headed there to make camp. As I walked past what was once a main street with shops, now all empty, I met Jeff.
I told him about my walk and said I was going to camp at the park. He said that he just bought two of the buildings on this street with intent to fix them and sell them. He offered me to stay in one for the night. Six thousand square feet, I felt like a king. We chatted for hours, Jeff is an incredibly interesting guy with some good ideas. He has a future philosophy for better infrastructure and city development that demands fewer resources and has put it into a book. Newopolis. He even gave me a copy for free. You can also check out Newopolis.com.
Hours later he went back to his building and I to mine. I ran over to the convenience store for some ice cream before bed though.
Tuesday morning I was walking Brown when I saw Jeff outside. He gave me an apple, a banana and a granola bar and said he'd be back with coffee. Sure enough ten minutes later he was back with coffee. We again talked for a few hours before we both decided we needed to get on with our day. I thanked him for letting me stay and assured him I'd keep in touch.
I hit the trail and walked for six miles before hitting the town of Peru. Just off the trail is a Kroger. I've been craving watermelon for days and decided I had to have some. While inside I ran into Jeff again. He had come to Kroger to grab lunch since Bunker Hill is too small for anything but a convenience store. While I was sitting outside eating my watermelon with a spoon he came out, gave me two cheese sticks and said goodbye.
I called my good friend Brad who I've known since kindergarten and miss very much. After the watermelon and the conversation I walked back to the trail. Brown was tired and just wanted to lie down so I extended our break. While sitting there reading, I met two guys who work for the Nickel Plate Trail. We chatted for a bit about my walk and they told me what to expect ahead.
The next few miles were slow moving as Brown needed to stop and rest every thirty minutes. The day was much hotter than it had been. Three miles later I gave him another full hour break. We still had six miles left though. It was later in the day and this part of the trail had plenty of tree cover. We powered through the last section only stopping once for twenty minutes.
I reached the town of Denver and saw that in the park I planned on camping in, there were children's baseball games underway. I found a pizza/ice cream place next to the park and ordered a medium pizza with brocoli. I ate the whole thing giving Brown my crust. I met the owner and he gave me a free soda! He's a nice guy and gives free ice cream to the kids after their baseball games. He told me to swing by in the morning if I needed to use the restroom.
After the games ended I went back to the park. There's lightening in the sky and forecast for storms all day tomorrow. Two dry days are all I get? I guess you can't win them all.
I'm grateful for every day. Each day I wake up and know the challenge I face. Yet I gather my strength and carry on. My feet blistered and sore. My back and shoulders ache. Each day drags on and on, dull and boring, the steps I take seem endless. The time seems to pass slower and slower. I don't know what keeps pushing me forward. I have nothing at the end of this road. I'll be spent financially when this journey is over. And yet every day I put on my heavy pack, put one foot in front of the other and I march.
Thank you readers. Thank you to those I met this week. Those who have provided food, shelter, money and conversation. You all brighten my day like you wouldn't believe.
"I’m losing sleep. I’m losing friends. I’ve got a love/hate/love with each city I’m in. I’ll count the hours, having just one wish. If I’m doing fine, there’s no point to this."