Thursday, September 27, 2012

I'm alive lol

Sorry there have not been any posts in a while, but it was difficult to get online in AR and MO. I am in Missouri and doing well. I will tell some stories and post some videos in a few days (if my camcorder still works--it got wet). Arkansas Ozarks were wonderful, but some crazy animal stories. So check back in a few days.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The past month

Sooo...people thought I was injured or just stopped walking. Sorry it has been so long since an update. I have tried. The last month has been very interesting! Some things have become clearer. Animal encounters have been more intense. Meeting more people (mostly good). So, some random stories...

Stores and towns have been more spread out...up to 30 miles without seeing a store. Or talking to people. Weather has been bad, with plenty of storms and high heat. At one point I was under a bridge for 2 days waiting out storms. Then I walked about 5 miles and stayed under another bridge for 2 days. I've been running out of food and water because I cannot carry enough. I can deal with not eating (I always have a bag of dum dums, which helps), but the water situation got crazy at times. In the heat I was going through 1.5-2 gallons a day. I drank a lot of creek water. Twice I was out of water and about 5 miles from a major town and someone rode by and gave me water. Prayers answered.

I was studying my map one day and heard a car stop in front of me. Heard a lady yell "You hungry?". Looked up just in time to see a lady throw a bag at me and speed off. It was a Sonic hamburger. The next day a lady and her daughter pulled up and gave me a chicken wrap, fries, and tea from McDonalds. They talked to me for a bit...very sweet. A high school couple saw me on my phone and pulled over. The guy asked me if I was selling stocks on my hobo blackberry lol. They got out of the car and talked to me (actually it was more like us joking on each other). Got some much needed laughs. His girlfriend gave me half a can of coke and some doritos. The next day she found me and gave me 2 cans of coke. 

I was out of water and walking a very dangerous road south of Liberty. Drinking some nasty creek water. At one point I went down to the creek (it ran along the road for miles) to refill a bottle and came across a snake, so no water that time. Nasty stuff in the creek later, so no more water. So a good half day without water, and about 4 miles to town the next morning. I was hurting pretty bad, came around a corner, and right there was a beautiful site lol:

I kept seeing a weird tree. Anybody know what this is? 

I was taken in by a pastor and his family for a while in Pulaski. Went to Revival. The walk really affected a lot of people...made them rethink their faith and how much they trust God. I was told by a few pastors that my walk was a ministry and a calling from God. That's a lot to take in and process.
These are my friends in Pulaski. We were in Davey Crockett State Park, and 4 of them had just gotten baptized. 

I was walking along and a lady pulled over and said she liked my hat, and asked if I was going to Hippie Hill. I was out of water (of course lol), so she offered to take me to a natural spring and to hippie hill, where I could spend the night for free. So I got in the truck. I keep forgetting her name, so I just call her "hills". So, "hills" takes me to an awesome natural spring
She said there is a big cave where the 2 holes are in the video. Then she takes me to hippie hill.  We walk around a bit. Meet some young people that have a band called the humps and the blackouts. hills bought a cd for her, and one for me. she later stole a bandana from me in exchange. there are more dogs on that hill than you can count!! people are very nice, but to me, it was sad seeing people living with no electricity or running water.  that's all I'm going to say about it here.....
so, hills and I went to the store to get some supplies for some of the people. this is a video of riding with hills, in the hills, listening to the cd: 
I stayed there for the night, and hills got me the next morning and took me back to the natural spring and then back to my path.  This is a weird tree-growing-on-another-tree at the spring:   She was crazy, but she was cool. During my night on the hill, storms were moving past us, and you could see the lightning slowly moving around us. Cool light show all night.
If you want to know more about this adventure, email me. 

After that, the hills were more spread out, and I entered the land of Tennessee Walker stables. One after another. For days. And days lol. 

I saw the birthplace of Davey Crockett, the home and museum of Sheriff Buford Pusser (remember the old Walking Tall movies?), and Shiloh battlefield.
I had a very creepy man keeping tabs on me for over 50 miles. Very creepy!

I had a pack of coyotes surround my tent one night, including at least one of them sniffing my tent. They were mad about something. I have seen a few copperheads. Had an angry fox one night (I'll try to get more vids like this one so you can know what it is like to be woken up by an angry animal lol). 

It's been a hard month but a fun month. I'm excited that I will soon have a major state behind me as soon as the hurricane passes (TN is the 3rd widest state, I believe), but also sad that I am leaving TN. It is a beautiful state, with plenty of natural attractions and history, and my family has roots in TN going back to the 1800s. So it will be a bittersweet departure. Arkansas is next, which will be the first state that I have never stepped foot into. 

We are about 1/3 across. Still can't believe it.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Memphis! (it's about time, slowpoke!)

I have finally arrived safely in Memphis!

It has been very difficult to update because: the last 2 libraries I was at, I tried and the blog crashed the computers when I tried to post...and, finding a library has been difficult. Either they were closed, or so far off the main road that I just kept going. Storms have been a problem. Same for the heat. But I am alive and well, and 1/3 across the country. I'll try to update with some stories very soon. Arkansas next week..yee-hah!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

more vids

Trying to show how I see the world every day...

Just walking along in TN, through my eyes:
A short 3 part series, showing where I camped, what it looked like from the road, and a bridge over a lake I walked over first thing in the morning:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

video test

Shot a few videos, testing the camera to see if it will be worthwhile...

NC, on my own highway:

Orbit Falls in TN:

more to come

Monday, July 23, 2012

Crossville, TN

Crossville might be the best stop yet! I made it to the library early in the morning, and walked out to a storm rolling in quickly. I met a hitchhiker who had just rolled into town, hoping to meet his dad (for the first time I believe). Met another guy who lived in the woods here in town. And then I met Shannon. Shannon approached me and asked if the giant pack was mine. She wanted to know what I was doing, and we struck up a conversation. She was an awesome person to meet. Very good, positive energy, intelligent. She's from VT, just passing through. We chatted a bit, and then the storm hit. We enjoyed what I felt was a comfortable silence as the rain came pouring down. It was a nice peaceful span of time, just sitting next to her while a downpour came roaring down around us. At least we were dry. She handed me a note and went inside to use the library's facilities. When I looked at it later, it was a passage by John Updike that was very fitting. Before she went inside I gave her the blog address, so hopefully she will drop by and say hi when she returns to VT. Wonderful person!!
Someone told me about a mission in town, so I went to check it out. Got to stay the night after eating a great meal (eat until you're full!) and attending a nice church service. Everyone was friendly and made me feel at home. They had a lot of questions about my journey, gave me some good advice, and some of them envied me. As they said, it's a calling. Just do it. I slept on a cot in the back of the chapel.
The next morning, there was a big breakfast followed by 2 church services and a giant lunch. Since I was stuffed and it was the afternoon, I decided to stay another night. Glad I did. Saw a 2 year old girl celebrate her birthday, and 3 people got baptized, including my new friend Matt. In the afternoon, we all hung out on the back porch talking. Then the Mennonites came over to lead the evening service, followed by a wonderful dinner they had prepared. It seemed like half the Mennonites went onstage to sing, and it was amazing to listen to. No instruments, good harmonies. Very peaceful. They were very wonderful, friendly people. Wish I had more time to talk to them. Then back to the back porch. We had some good conversations going on, and the subjects were varied...the Bible, aliens, trees, angels, traveling. Very thought-provoking. Stayed a second night and left the next morning.
To my new friends Sarge, Matt, Steve, Nick, Thomas and the rest of the gang at the Miracle on 4th Street, I thank you for your friendship and hospitality, and your generosity. We will all meet again someday in another world. Take care my brothers.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

somewhere in TN I go

Just went through a few towns in Roane County that are pretty nice. There is a big lake and a river curving everywhere. People are friendly, area is beautiful. There are a few nice parks on the water. Usual weather...very hot and then a nasty storm.
I was interviewed at a local newspaper, so we'll see if they run a story on me or not. Kind of cool.
I went into a store for a cup of coffee, and when I came out, there was $2 on my pack. I have no idea who left it. Just a random act of kindness. Strangers have donated more than friends so far, which is kind of funny to me. TN is far behind NC so far. I should start a post about roadside donations.
I'm trying to finalize my route to Memphis. Might go through Murfreesboro on the way. I should be in small towns for a while, so no idea when I will come across a library and be able to update things on here. So bear with me. I am behind schedule, wet, and tired.

Looking back on Knoxville

So...Knoxville took forever to get out of. When I last posted on here, it was last Monday in downtown. I walked outside and a storm moved in quickly. I talked to a few people getting off work from the federal building next door. They were fascinated by what I was doing. With the time of day and the weather, I decided to try the homeless shelter for the night. It was less than a mile away. I'm glad I did. Quite the experience...
As I approached the shelter, I had to walk under a lot of overpasses or bridges. It was like something out of a 1970's cop movie. I came across an angry drunk dwarf (seriously), who was cussing out everyone that went by him. There were people everywhere!! Some were rolling cigarettes and selling them in little sandwich baggies. One young couple was rolling cigs onto old filters. Pretty bizarre. So I made it to the shelter. You walk in, and it looks like an airport terminal. There are bags stacked everywhere. Backpacks, suitcases, trash bags, a little of everything, all around a big circular desk in the lobby. I showed my id, filed out a basic questionaire, read and signed a rules sheet, and I was in. Here's how it works...they serve 3 meals a day. You can come in for those, but then you have to leave again. You have to be at the shelter by 6:30 pm (I got there at 6:28). Until 9:00, you can sit in the chapel area (both sexes), or, you can hang out in the courtyard (males and females are seperated outside). So I went to the courtyard, and it looks like a smoke break in jail. Men of all ages and looks, standing around and smoking, talking. Most pulled out little baggies of smokes (like the kind I saw for sale outside). Talked to a few people, and as you can guess, you get all kinds. There are the obvious drunks and drug addicts. There are people with serious mental health problems. And there are people who are trying, but took a wrong step or 2 in life. A few of the guys I talked to had jobs. Some did not care. They hung out in the downtown area all day, begging for money, coming back to the shelter to eat.
At about 7 or so, they started taking groups of guys up to the beds. You could go or wait. When you go up, you stop at a counter and get a towel and washcloth and head for the shower room (showers are mandatory). You shower, get dressed, turn in your towel, and get assigned a bed and get sheets and a pillowcase. Then you enter the dorm. A huge, huge room! I counted about 150 people in there that night.
Once you have your bed, you can hang out there or go downstairs and go outside or in the chapel. Lights out at 9:00. You can imagine the sounds of that many men sleeping. I had trouble sleeping and went into the bathroom area to the sinks, where other guys were because they could not sleep or they needed to charge up phones and whatnot. Finally got about 3 hours of sleep. You have to be out of the dorm by 7am. Went downstairs and got in line for breakfast (biscuit, oatmeal, applesauce, and some kind of fried chicken piece). And 2 cups of the hardest coffee I have had in a while (loved it lol). While in line, a blonde girl in front of me started talking to me. She asked how my first night was. (New people stick out badly.) So we started joking around. Then some harmless flirting. We sat down together, ate, and went our seperate ways. Never heard her name. So now I can scratch off "flirt with cute girl in a homeless shelter" off of my bucket list :-)

Headed back towards the library to double-check the city map. This time they would not let me in because of my pack. It was too big. Other people from the shelter could get in with 3 or 4 backpacks because each one was small. Mine was not allowed on property, even though it was the day before. So, off we go into west Knoxville...the longest road of businesses I have ever seen in my life. Usual weather...very hot, and then a nasty storm rolls in. I think I saw every store I could think of, and every restaurant I could think of (except for Denny's and Golden Corral, of course) on this road. It's insane. I was lucky to find 1 tiny patch of woods to camp in when the storms came back. And there I was, in my tent, from Tuesday night until Friday morning. Just waiting for it to stop raining so I could leave. Everything wet. Out of food and water. Just stuck there. So, I was happy to leave the area on Friday.
Knoxville is an awesome town. I could see myself living there, because it has everything you need.
But now it's just a blur in the past.

Monday, July 9, 2012

and the heat is on...

Almost 2 weeks now with temps of 95 or higher. I am wilting, and my clothes stink lol. My kingdom for a laundromat.
Glad to have Knoxville in my rear-view mirror now. Nothing against Knoxville...nice town, and it would have been fun to spend a few days exploring it, but it is so big area-wise.

Not a whole lot to talk about really. Last time I was in Jefferson City. I left the library and decided to splurge for lunch at Burger King, since I have only had 4 hot meals on this journey, and 2 were at Brad's house. The cashier told me doing a Gump was cool. A few big redneck guys thought it was cool. One of them bought me a bacon sundae...that thing is the bomb! Get one while you can!
Loaded up on food at Dollar General, and as soon as I got all packed up a severe storm hit. Power was out in minutes. I had to wait about 3 hours. A guy came up and talked to me. Said he had a heart attack and a stroke, so he couldn't tell me anything about the road I was going on (as far as what lay ahead). He said he did not use his oxygen tanks (he was chain-smoking lol) because God came to him in his coma and told him to do whatever he wanted to do. It was ok. He kind of creeped me out a bit. Finally he walked away, and he was replaced by a flamer from Indiana who kept complaining about the heat wilting his queen skin. I finally said the heck with it and started walking in the rain.

Was talking to a guy the next morning outside a gas station while we had coffee. He was homeless and got turned around. Now he owns his own business and does a "wheat patch" ministry, delivering food to homeless people around Knoxville. He was a great guy to talk real as it gets. He asked if I had enough food and water because he wanted to help me but didn't have any cash on him.
Later that day a lady pulled over and gave me 2 bottles of cold water. She asked if I wanted "one with ice" and the accent when she said ice made me burst out laughing. She just gave them to me and sped off. A guy did the same thing the next day. Just handed me 2 bottles, smiled, and drove away. So, I got some notecards, and I am going to write down what I am doing and the blog address on them and give them out to the people that do random acts of kindness for me and speed away too quickly. I will make a thread just for them to respond to. Very interested in hearing their side of what happened.

So far people in TN are very nice, and they take things in stride. When I tell them what I am doing, they think it's cool, but they are very non-chalant about it, like it's no big deal. Compared to people in NC, who looked at me like I was crazy. And every road seems to look the same. Lots of fields and pastures, not many clumps of trees, low hilly terrain, and mountains in the distance.

I almost stepped on a queen snake this morning. Gave me quite a jolt. Tried to get a decent picture of it.

Hurt myself yesterday morning trying to leave camp. Trying to stand up from flat ground with my pack is like watching a turtle on its back trying to get upright. I grabbed a smallish tree and tried to pull up and the tree came down on my head pretty hard. Many bad words came out of my mouth.
Still looking for that hiking stick, but nothing so far.

Sorry this is so boring, but the last few days have been boring...just walking and sweating.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Memphis bound!

What a diffreence a few days can make!!

So, I went exploring Hot Springs, only to find that I had already seen it all lol. Not much there. No strip malls, no traffic lights. Just about 20 or so businesses downtown. Found an incredible hiking store where I could have easily dropped $500 in an hour. They had everything!! Including a great cup of coffee, and a bottle of sarsaparilla to go with dinner later that night. I met some old guys in town for a high school reunion and they were bragging about walking the AT before it was the AT. Next thing ya know, I looked up, and here comes an old guy walking the AT (it goes right through town). It was a really cool sight. He didn't want to take a break and chat though. So, I climbed a big hill on the way out of town and found a big rock that they are setting up for some kind of memorial or something. About waist-high, maybe 4x6 feet...perfect rest spot. Heat was killing me (guy at the welcome center said it was 109). A lady stopped and I recognized her van from a picture in the hiking store. She is like a hiker shuttle service to a hiker hospice. She said I was a perfect photo opportunity sitting on the rock, so she took a few shots of me. Now...where will those photos show up???

Got out of Hot Springs, walked into TN right into a bridge that was out. Tried to cross it and got caught (lol). Long detour later and I found a store, tried to call Brad, and no phone service. Crappy! So I walked and walked, still nothing. Finally got a hold of Brad at about 7 or so. Camped out, and found out the heat had really got me, because I selpt 11 hours straight. And I mean straight.
Hooked up with Brad the next day for 3 nights, and what a difference it made! 3 nights of perfect sleep in a great bed, hot shower, clean clothes, a great friend to hang out with. Heat was over 100 so we stayed indoors most of the time. My feet healed and I feel like a new person.
I also got an awesome care package from my mom, including new shoes (which have made a big difference in my stride!!), protein bars, new hat, more vitamins and socks and other goodies. You rock mom!! So I am reborn in a sense as far as how I feel and how my body feels.
Took the wrong road leaving Brad's, and I am now in Jefferson City (oops lol). Hoping to skirt Knoxville tomorrow and find a Target there for trail mix and energy bars (they have the best mix selection of anywhere I have seen). Then the road will take me to Memphis!! I cannot wait to see it. Going to try to find time to see the Civil Rights Museum while I am there (which is at the hotel where MLK was shot, btw). If nothing else, I want to see that. Goal is to be there before July ends. About 420 miles to go...If I can stay at around 20 miles a day, July is doable.
Need to call my great aunt and see who else is in that path.  So off I go to load up on food at Dollar General. Just found a road atlas for the whole country so I am set.
By the way, it's still freaking hot lol.

Thanks to those of you who are spreading the word about the blog on facebook and other sites. The hits keep rising here. Came close to 200 hits the other day! Don't be afraid to log in and say hello. Your comments keep me going strong.
Later peeps!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Hot Springs, NC

Hello from Hot Springs, last town on the map. I will hit TN in a few hours, after I explore the town for a bit. The Appalachian Trail runs through here, so I am looking out for other walkers, because you just never know.
Last 2 days have been busy with many people honking their horns at me and yelling encouragement. I guess they think I am heading to the A.T. lol.
I'm tired, hungry, sore, and in shock that my time in NC is almost over.
Going exploring now while I can.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


 From Day one. I took this as a sign lol.


 The boo-boo that refuses to heal.

 hawky, I've been waiting for you!

 Mile markers between Kerr Reservoir and the Tom Dooley area. It was like a game trying to find them. most were hidden by something, like tree branches, weeds, a fence, a guardrail. As you can see by my pack, guardrails are my friend. I can back up to it and just ease my pack off.

 Dinner!!  (just playing) Second turtle I pulled out of the road. I have seen 3 of this species. Anybody know what kind it is? The third was under my tent 1 night. Poor little guy, I thought he was a rock. He was ok the next day. We talked it out.

 I saw this and got so excited! Tom Dooley museum? And a Daniel Boone cabin? And a blacksmith shop? And then, after walking down a side road to it.....

 Letdown. I was very disappointed. Seemed like something somebody built to try to scam some bucks. And they are only open on the weekends, like 3-5. They could have put the hours and prices on the main road sign. hawky was not amused.

 Tom Dooley. He's everywhere.

 Pineola Road. The worst road I have ever been on. This is the recent one with nothing but bugs, going up and up in circles. A lot of trails up there, mostly to waterfalls and lookouts. I was trying to be confident and say "yeah, I got this like a boss!". Didn't last long until I was screaming bloody murder lol.

 This was at a community rec center near Fort Defiance. I was out of water and far from a town. Again, hawky was not amused...

 Plaque for Laura Foster (Dooley's victim). Her grave was across the road in a pasture. Couldn't get in. Well, I could have, but I would have had to jump a fence, so I didn't.

Right off the main road. I was taking a break here, and a lady pulled up and gave me a bottle of ice-cold water. She was into what I was doing. She said she did the entire Appalachian Trail when she was younger.
The structure on the right is actually an open's jam-packed with hay.

I'll try to post more pics. hard to keep a charge on the old cell phone I just use as a camera, so I have missed a lot.

Random stuff

Came across a library and decided to take a break since my hamstring is killing me, and I need a charge on my ipod lol.
When I got back to the hotel yesterday after the library (left my pack there), I found out the owner was a major packer when he was younger. He walked all over the Hawaiian islands and lived off the land. He showed me some cool walking sticks he had. One was a custom-made aluminum one. Another one was from a cedar tree from Hurricane Dennis (lightning strike). I talked to him for about 30 minutes. Awesome guy. Just a coincidence he was a packer? Nope lol.
A few people told me about Hot Springs, which I should hit on Friday afternoon (last NC town on the map...crazy). The Appalachian Trail goes through it, so they are used to packers and generally treat them very nicely. There is also a big hippie population there. (I was told to let some hippies take me home for the night, because they might let me use one of the hot springs hot tubs for free lol. I could use it.)
My toes are bleeding and oozing gunk for some reason (someone asked how my body was holding up). I think they are cramped up because my shoes are so worn out. (The hotel owner got onto me for not having a proper hat, shoes, or walking stick.) I have some heavy damage on my soles that keeps building up layer upon layer, and it is creeping between my toes. This morning I could barely walk between my toes being so sore, and my left hamstring being a very tight knot. Goody's back and body pain knocked all the pain out in about 10 minutes.
I was telling my mom that I could barely recognize myself in the mirror at the hotel. Not used to mirrors anymore, and after shaving off my NHL-playoff beard, I just looked funny. My chipmunk cheeks are gone. They are now very taut, and my eyes are big like a muppet. I have lost a lot of weight...some fat, but a lot of muscle mass too. I was always very thick around my shoulders and upper back, and now a lot is gone. So I need to think about taking in more protein, rather than just concentrating on carbs. Thighs are leaner. Chest is leaner, and you can see all of my ribs, which just looks weird on me. Overall, I feel fine. Obviously I have a lot of aches and pains, and the feet are a problem. Shoulders are scabs where the pack straps go. But I'm ok.
Mentally I am in a far different place. I can already tell the difference in the way I think and the way I look at things. Things can concern me, but fears went out the window weeks ago. Shyness is pretty much gone. I've always been quick to laugh, and I am even more quicker now. I laugh at myself a lot. I wave to almost everybody that goes by me. I get more horn honks now.
The police have finally taken an interest in me. For about the first 5 or 6 weeks, not a single officer pulled over to talk to me. And now, when I am in packer country, they all want to check me out. I just give them my id as soon as they pull over now. They have all been friendly.

I want to thank my family, especially my mom, for giving me so much support. I don't think my mom understands what I am trying to do and what I am looking for, but she is talking to people about it and trying to understand my thinking, and I think she is getting closer. And she is spreading the word about the blog (biggest day was over 90 hits!) through church and facebook and whatnot. I love you mom!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

the agony...and the ecstasy

Wow!! What a time it has been lately lol!! Not sure where to start.
Let's see...I am wayyy up in the mountains. Currently about to get out of Spruce Pine, which is a cool little town. Very spread out. More on that later. So where have I been?

I went through Wilkes County, which is famous for being the site of Tom Dula (Tom Dooley). Lots of markers about the crime in Wilkes and the next county (Caldwell?). I saw where the murdered happened, passed near his grave, and I could see Laura's grave in a field. More of a pasture that I could not get into. I also came across a really cool historical marker. It was the old kind (big slab of concrete about waist high with a bronze, I think, plaque on top). It showed a map of where I was, and where 2 of Daniel Boone's homes were located (both less than 2 miles away). I was wishing I had a big piece of paper so I could do a rubbing of it. Would have been really cool.
Everywhere I have been lately kind of blends in together. I have to look at notes I make on my map to remember where some things occurred. My poor NC map is about to fall apart lol. I should do a decoupage with it someday on a big table or something, along with the other maps I use. Might be a cool project in the future.
Highlights since I last posted:
--A couple pulled over in a truck and gave me $5 to buy a cold drink at the next store. They had seen me walking earlier and felt sorry for me lol. They gave me a lot of encouragement for what I am doing.
--I was taking a break on the "Tom Dula" road (what I call it) on some firewood. A truck pulled up from the house I had just passed (more a farm, really). I got up and walked over and apologized for stopping on his land and the guy held up his hand to quiet me and started smiling. Then he gave me a pack of cookies. And a pack of crackers. And a BIG piece of homemade apple pie in a ziploc bag (and it was cold). And then 2 sodas. He did it all 1 at a time, and I guess my face was lighting up because his smile got bigger and bigger and he was laughing at me. He said I looked like I needed a snack. And this was at about 9am lol. We talked about what I was doing, and talked about God (people love to talk to me about God, it's really cool!). Basically, this guy saw me through his window, got some stuff for me, and drove over to give it to me, check on me, and then went back home. How awesome is that??! Gotta love farmers!
--A guy pulled over because he thought I was a Mexican looking for a job. The way he said it I was kind of offended by what he was saying about Mexicans. We talked for a bit and he thought I was crazy.
--It rained about 2 or 3 times a day for several days, which means I try to find a tree to hide under, pull an emergency poncho over me and my gear that I sit on, and wait it out. So very slow progress, and nasty smelling clothes (that damp smell). So, a few days ago, I came across a creek with rapids in the National Forest (forgot the name of it, I'll remember later). Apparently this was the place to be on Saturday! I found a nice spot to myself where I had to walk (stumble and slip, that is) down a steep path, and at the bottom was a nice spot of flat rocks, rapids, and a calm pool about knee deep. So I rinsed all of my clothing out in the creek. Better to smell like a river than ammonia and mildew, right? I had some earth-friendly soap and washed as much as I could, and spread everything out on the rocks to dry in the sun. Then I waded into the water, and it felt sooo good! My camera battery was dead, so no pictures, but it was a perfect spot. After about 2 hours or so everything was dry, and I started thinking about continuing on down the road. Storm came out of nowhere and soaked everything before I could pack it all up. About 20 minutes later sun was out again, so I went slipping and sliding back up the steep path to the road. The next few miles were nothing but about a hundred cars and trucks parked everywhere on the road, and people swimming, fishing, and tubing. It was crazy. By the way, this was a dirt road with deep thick brush on 1 side, and a long slide down to the creek on the other side. I was on this road for 2 days. And it rained about 4 times the first day, and 3 times the next. Brutal. Had to pitch my tent on a mountain side, so I kepy sliding in my sleeping bag in my tent. Could not sleep, and it rained the whole night and got me all soaked again. Miserable lol.
The next morning I finally found Mortimer, after getting some very bad directions. (This was an area where my map was worthless, because a town on the map is just a community. So, there might be a gas station, or there might just be a few houses. The roads are not marked as far as Route 66 or whatever, and the map just has a road on it. And not many people to ask for help. I was flagging down cars for a few days, and most of the directions I got were wrong. So I lost a lot of time. And I was getting aggravated. So anyways, I finally come across Mortimer. There is a tiny store, if you want to call it a store lol. And a campground that they run in back of it. And people flock there and sit on the porch and hang out and whatnot. I found the owner on the porch, and this guy was just awesome!! Him and his 2 friends that he had grown up with who were visiting. The guy felt sorry for me. Gave me a big cup of coffee, breakfast (scrambled eggs and sos on sos I have ever had by far), and a big piece of homemade pound cake, which was the best I have ever had. He went over my map with me. Gave me some great directions for that day (a shortcut over some mountains), explained what I would encounter (steady elevation!!). He said my path would be the hardest, but it would have the greatest rewards as far as views. He thought I was crazy and he kept laughing at me, but it was all in good fun. This guy had a heart of gold. He tried to load me up with more stuff before I left but I declined. He was wearing a shirt advertising his store there (it was awesome. an old man fishing, and "beautiful downtown Mortimer" above it. I got his card, and I'm going to have to order one, especially after all he did for me). So then his buddies come over to the porch to hang out before they leave. One was up there doing some amateur mining in the area, and he showed me his finds. He's really good at finding gems!! The other guy comes up, and the owner told him what I was doing, and he said "That's awesome bro!". When he found out where I started, he said the same thing. This guy was a joy to talk to. He rides across states twice a year on a skateboard to raise money for charity. He has done over 100 miles in a day on a skateboard (custom built downhill board). He's incredible! He gave me some cool tips, including chewing on pieces of ginger root, which acts as a natural ibuprofen. So I picked some up yesterday, and I'll try it out today.
So, got to where I was going the next day, near Linville Falls. Two days of walking on a dirt road, uphill, on mountains, with nothing, and I mean nothing, in sight. I was getting very aggravated. I was told to go on this route, turn left at a church, and then do it again, and I would be near the Blue Ridge Parkway and I could decide my best route for Spruce Pine. It was about a 10 mile walk to Jonas Ridge, he said. Well, I must have been going very very slowly up those mountains, because after about 6 hours I was getting furious, wondering where these churches were. A few times I threw down my pack in pure exhaustion and started screaming lol. And then I saw a bear in the woods and decided to shut up. It was almost dark, and then there they finally were...the 2 churches...almost both of them in sight at once. And the storm pulled in.
Nexy day, bad directions...I wasted about 5 or 6 hours walking all over Linville Falls and the parkway because nobody told me that the gas station I was looking for was not in town, it was a few miles the other way.
So, yesterday, I had to get to Spruce Pine and the Wal-Mart there to pick up a moneygram for a new cell phone (thanks family!!!). I was told Wal-Mart was wayyy out of town, and I had to walk 11 miles to town, and then about 4 or 5 miles to Wallyworld from what I was told. And after wandering aimlessly for a while, I really got started at about 1pm. So I'm freaking. Will I make it there in time? So I get to town around 6 or so I think, and I see the road going to Wal-Mart, and I'm wondering if I will make it. I took very few rests, so I'm dead tired, and I can see long rolling hills. I felt defeated. Then a lady pulled over. She had seen me walking earlier while she was taking her gradndaughter to pottery class. Asked if I was ok. Told her my deal. She said she needed to go to Wal-Mart anyways, so she took me there. It took longer than expected (about half an hour) to do everything I had to do, and when I came out she was waiting patiently for me. I asked about a buffet, and she said there was an awesome Carribean place downtown where I could really get a bang for my buck. So she dropped me off there. This lady took over an hour out of her day to help a complete stranger get re-settled. (Took about 20 minutes to get to Wal-Mart...this town is really spread out lol). I could not thank her enough! Had an awesome meal at the restaurant, sitting outside, watching lazy downtown traffic. They recommended the Turkey Monster sandwich so I got it. 10 oz of turkey, then swiss, spicy mayo, 1000 island and cole slaw on 3 pieces of sourdough. With a hugh side of curly fries and pickle. It was one of the best sandwiches I have ever had lol. Lady was super nice. A couple walking by saw my gear and talked to me. It was getting late (close to 8...gets dark around 9). They said if I had been in a tent for weeks, they knew how to cheer me up. Gave me $50 and told me about a small hotel down the road. How awesome is that!!!!!
So, guy cut me a deal for $45. Got a room and $5 from a 5 minute conversation with strangers. Incredible.
It was an old hotel, but a long hot shower, a shave, a baseball game on tv, and a comfy bed have me feeling like a new man.

So, like the title of this post...God is looking after me. I went through days of pure agony. I was angry and frustrated. I yelled. I slammed my pack a few times. And then the ecstasy of complete strangers doing wonderful things that were not expected.
God teaching me lessons. So now, no matter how bad it gets, I am going to do my best to remember that the worse things look, the better they will be soon.
On to Burnsville! TN is close!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hello Mountains

Finally get some library time lol. Hello from N. Wilkesboro, NC. Mountains all around me and they are beautiful but slightly intimidating. Been a while since I have been able to update, so what has happened?

Let's see...Winston-Salem. Hmm, not a good experience there. Coming in from the east, I walked through the slums. Just a dirty and poor area, but nice enough people walking by. Then it slowly transitioned to downtown, which at first looked like a bomb had been dropped and everybody disappeared. It was a starnge place to walk, like everything was shut down and everybody disappeared. Then downtown started looking cool (this city drastically changes from east to west). Found the library, and it was a weird set-up for computer time. You had to watch for your number to pop up on a big screen. Felt like I was in an airport or something. Had 2 teenage boys wearing dresses (seriously) near me. One said he liked my tattoo.
So, I leave the library and go to the Salvation Army. I was hoping to pick up some canned food, and maybe get a night in the shelter, so I could get a good night's sleep, a shower, and maybe some laundry done. So I walk a lot of blocks down a steep hill and get there. Lots of empty 40 bottles in bags all over the grass. There was a lady outside. I told her my name and started asking her for food and then she cut me off and said they serve the community at 4:45 (it's about 2:00 now). She goes inside. So, I calm my nerves and try to go inside, but you have to be buzzed inside, and it didn't happen. So, I sit and wait. And I watch everything, and I talk to a guy that was trying to get a cup of water. He said that they have 2 shelters (one here, and one up the road). They give out meal tickets there. You need a meal ticket to get a meal. Without a ticket, you only get a meal if they have enough. He starts telling me the lowdown on how everything works. Very weird. So, people start pulling in around 4:15 or so. People pulled up in new cars. people were watching youtube videos on their new cell-phones. They had bags of snacks and 2-liters that they just bought. It was crazy. These are the people living at the shelters. So I talk to this guy in front of me. He was about to lose his home, so he moved into the shelter. Has his car, phone, clothes. Has a job. Works and goes home to the shelter. Eats the free meals every day, and eats with his own money too. He rides the S.A. bus from the other shelter to this one to eat.
I came away from it all feeling very disgusted. And then I had that long walk uphill.
Once you get out of downtown, it's a pretty town. Lots of old houses and a historical district. It changes quickly from slums to quaint little college town (Wake Forest is there). Took forever to walk out of there.
And then, hills. Lots and lots of hills.

Nothing exciting to talk about for a few days. On Sunday I found a cool church in Ronda (Ronda Baptist Tabernacle). Lots of friendly people and they made me feel like I belonged there. That church pew was the best seat I have had in weeks. After the service some of the guys were asking me about my walk and everything. It was a very nice time, and it lifted my spirits for the rest of the day.

My mind is drawing a blank now. Haven't met many people. Just a lot of curvy hills and dangerous roads. And now the real fun begins. I have mapped out my plan and should be at Brad's in 12 days (a Sunday). Hope to make it to church and then find his house and relax.

Not sure where the next library is. 6 days away in Burnsville as far as I know. I'll be on when I can.
Pray for me on these mountain roads.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Reidsville, NC

What's up peeps? Relaxing this morning in downtown Reidsville, NC. Cool farmer's market downtown with big crowds. Nice to walk around and browse, even though people look at me like a band-aid in a swimming pool. Big motorcycle rally going on, with a bunch of Christian cyclers. Pretty cool.
last few days have been awesome. On Thursday, I was taking a break in the middle of nowhere (as usual lol). A guy on an old Harley rode by me, looked at me, and circled back. He pulls up by me. Young guy, maybe mid-20s. Biker vest, with the name badge "LOCO". So he look so peaceful just sitting here...what's going on brother? So I tell him what's up, what I'm doing. And he totally gets it!! We talked for about 30 minutes, and he completely understands what I am doing. We talked about God, nature, being spiritual even though you are not a perfect human, even got into a little existentialism. The guy's name is Clay. Best person I have met on the trip so far. We could have talked for hours, but he was late to begin with. Kindred souls talking in front of a young pine tree grove on a dirty back road. It was awesome!
Had to beat up a snake on the road yesterday. Wouldn't leave me alone. Think it was a lack snake, not sure. About 2 feet long. Kept following me and going for my feet. I ran over and found a big stick and put him out of his misery. Sorry Mr. Snake, but I just don't like your kind. Stay away from me and we'll get along just fine.
Yesterday, my lunch was bought by a few strangers. First, a man of about 50 or 60 slowed down by me and stopped. He handed me $6 and said "put that in your pocket boss", and drove away before I could say anything. About 30 minutes later I was walking around a very long curve, watching a young guy on a tractor round up the hay and line it up. He finally gets off the tractor and walks up to me, gives me $10 and says "I don't know how far you're walking or why, but you just turned down 2 rides so something is going on. I hope this helps." And he walked away as soon as I said thanks and bless you. A little while later a lady pulls up, give me $5 and says bless you before roaring off. So, $21 in less than half a day. And it helped, because the only store I ran across was expensive. I was desperate for a hot lunch and some cold beverages (water bottles were empty, could not find a water source), so the money helped refuel me.
It's crazy how nice and generous people are to strangers. They just give and go.
And I get a big kick out of it, because of all the things people have stopped and given's all by people of other races. White people have not given me a single thing. It's all been African-Americans, and 1 Asian. And they are the ones that want to talk to me about what I'm doing, too. It's a funny world.
Not sure what road I'll take out of Reidsville...probably head down through Winston-Salem instead of all the small towns. I have a few choices as far as which route to take. Whichever one feels right I guess. I'm off to find a laundrymat. Not sure what town I'll be able to check in from next, probably W-S, and that will be on Monday or Tuesday. It's a long walk.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

NC will never end.

Will I ever make it out of this state? Lost a day to thunderstorms yesterday, but otherwise I'm getting 20+ miles a day now. Still lots of big hills and curves. I'm in Yanceyville and there is not much here. Looking for a cheap buffet somewhere and I just can't find it. The next Golden Corral I come across is in serious trouble.
Nothing else to report really. More people offering rides, and look at me like I'm crazy when I refuse. I'm still like a local celebrity at the gas stations. People crowd around me asking questions because they have seen me for a day or two. They laugh at me, but they think it's cool and they wish me good luck.
It's cool camping in the woods in the middle of nowhere. Lightning bugs are the only light. Lots of strange animal sounds. I try to set up my tent so I can see through a little break between the branches and gaze at the stars. You can see the Milky Way out here. It's gorgeous. I can't wait for the dessert night sky.
Later peeps. I'll try to say hello from Reidsville tomorrow. After that the road is gonna get crazy. I'll finally be off of US-158W, and I'll have to keep changing roads. And mountains. Oh boy, the mountains.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Shopping Cart--a moral dilemma

So...I keep thinking Catherine Li had the right idea about what wheels to use. She pushed a shopping cart across the country. Easy to throw all your stuff into and just push and go. Most people have used the top end baby strollers (outfitted with better wheels and whatnot). I want a shopping cart to make life easier. And, when you get out west where things are so spread out, and the desert, you need plenty of food and water on you at all times (like about 15-20 gallons of water). Shopping cart is the perfect vehicle.
But, how to get one? Just take it? Most people do. It's stealing, but I would return it in San Diego. It would be helping a good cause. Homeless people have them and they have obviously not been arrested for it. Would I? It's a moral dilemma. Because if I just go to a Wal-Mart or target store manager and explain everything, of course they have to say no because of company policy. But if I just borrowed one, would I be a criminal? Would a cop stop me? It's a moral dilemma.
And about an hour ago, I came across a Wal-Mart shopping cart on the sidewalk here in Roxboro. I was tempted, but I left it alone.
What do you think?

Soul chickens

My friends know I love birds, especially crows (soul chickens). They're fun to watch. Very clever and comical. I have seen crows every single day since I left, and they often are within 10-20 feet of me. When they get that close, I talk to them. I will make a sound (pretend you are kissing someone...that smooch sound lol). I do it 3 times, and wait for them to respond. I keep doing it until they make 3 sounds back. Then I change it to 4 times, and they respond 4 times back. Then back to 3. It trips me out. It makes my day every time that they figure it out and talk back the right amount of times. I call every crow Charlie.
Some old saying about crows guiding your soul from one world to another, so I like seeing them every day. Like my little guardians flying around.
And what is the deal with a mockingbird always winning the fight with a crow? It happens every day.

The Flip Side

So, apparently there is a magical line starting in Oxford, NC...because once you hit Oxford and go west, people are wonderful! And I mean wonderful!!!!
Oxford is a pretty little town. Very spread out. Everyone stopped to ask me what I was doing while I was walking downtown. A very nice police officer helped me with some directions and advice on the town.
I found a Wal-Mart (about a 4 hour excursion far out of town). Cleanest Wal-Mart I have ever seen. The kid rounding up carts held onto my pack for me while I was inside. Picked up another rolling cart and a few much needed supplies, so I am picking up steam again...about 20-22 miles a day. Found a Dollar Tree and loaded up with some killer cheap food. I was amazed!.
Leaving Oxford, I was walking down a street that was like a dream. Old houses (circa mid 1800s). Beautiful lawns and landscaping. probably the most beautiful street I have ever walked down. I was in another world for about 30-45 minutes. I thought about taking a few pictures, but I realized that there was no way I could capture the essence of it all with a few shots. I was reminded of the scene in Saving Private Ryan, near the end, where Ryan asks Miller to share the memory of his wife trimming rose bushes, and he says no, that one I keep to myself.
Just outside Oxford, I took a break at a gas station. A guy hanging out (working?) there. He asked me if I wanted a swallow of beer because he had some around back lol. I declined. He kept asking me, I kept saying no. He was nice but kinda scary.
Oh, and at the Wal-mart, I was talking to a guy about music. Told him what I was doing, and how I had not heard a song since I left...just snippets as cars passed. So we say goodbye. When I got to the front of the store to check-out he approached me and gave me a little am/fm radio that you wear with an armband. He said I needed some tunes. I was so shocked and thankful I thought I would cry. Very cool!! So now I have music! When I got outside I was checking it out. First words I hear when I turned it on? "If you leave/Don't look back/I won't waste one single day" (If You Leave by OMD). Appropriate. Later on I was in the middle of nowhere, just rolling along, and Bruce came on (Hungry Heart). Just a fun song to sing along to. So there I was, surrounded by endless fields of corn, belting out some Bruce Springsteen. It's the simple things.
Yesterday, as I was walking along, I saw a farmer cutting some hay. He saw me and turned off his tractor and asked what I was doing. We talked for a minute and I continued. We kept the same pace for about 20 minutes, and he turned his tractor off again and called me over. Now, I usually don't tell people I am walking the entire country, because of the looks I get. Once I hit TN I will tell them, because then they will know I am seriously doing it. For now, I just say I am heading toward Knoxville, which is true. That's the first friend to visit, and people actually talk to me about it all. Easier for them to wrap their brains around I guess lol. So, we're having a cool conversation about the area, the wildlife, how beautiful the scenery is, how tobacco and beef cattle are the money staples around here. I could have talked to this guy for hours. Very intelligent and nice, and a great old country laugh. So I started to leave, and he made me take $10. Told me there was a store up the road with great hotdogs, and I should stop there for lunch on him. I thanked him and shook his hand (like shaking hands with a tree trunk!), and he said "just remember the boy from North Carolina". That little span of 5-10 minutes is what it is all about. Just meeting a great person and sharing a little knowledge and laughs.  Now, if you don't know southern dialects, you have to understand how NC is pronounced. I'm from Virginia, but I pronounce it Fur-gin-nyuh. He pronounced North Carolina "Nor Care-line-uh", and you drag out the Care for a few extra seconds. So I was glad I got to meet the boy from North Carolina.
Later down the road, a guy bought me a pint of ice cream (dang it was good lol), and 3 people offered me a ride to wherever I needed, or some water or lunch, anything at all they could do for me. Two of these people offered as soon as they pulled into the parking lot of the store. Just incredible kindness!! Met some nice people.
I usually take a break at stores because there is shade, I can refill my water bottles, and peole talk to me because they have seen me walking...especially the dump trucks and logging trucks, who see me for days at a time.
So right now, the walk has turned into a full blast of goodness, which is what it should be.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Still in NC

NC is a long state. I think I have seen 2 days without rain on my journey. Highway 158 has got to be the most unfriendliest stretch of road in America. I have met 3 nice people in 2 weeks on this road. I'll be glad to get off it.
Hard times but I am prevailing!! There is nothing in these towns really. I have some McDonalds coupons but I haven't seen one since VA lol. Rain has soaked me daily, and my gear. My tent has that slightly wet day-old clothes smell. Nothing I do helps it. I spent a day making a makeshift clothesline in a field trying to dry everything out and the smell just seemed to get worse. I smell like a wild animal. maybe that's way (here's the really cool thing lately)...deer come up to my tent at night. And I mean right up to it! One poked me through the tent 2 nights ago with it's head. I unzipped my tent and shined a flashlight around the corner, and there was a good sized deer within arm's reach. We stared at each other and then it snorted and walked away. Scary, because it could have hurt me (and my tent), but incredible that it came up that close. I hear them every night outside my tent now, and it makes me feel safe, because if anybody else was around they would run away.
And after being robbed in my tent, safety is a big factor. I make sure nobody sees me when I dash into the woods to set up my tent for the night, and I even place a few branches on top of it for camouflage. Losing $90 was losing 2 weeks of supplies.
Sooo, (sales pitch lol), if you have been thinking of donating now is a good time. I should be at my friend's house in Tenn in 2-3 weeks. I need new shoes and a new cart, and plenty of food. I am going to transfer the donations to my friend's account a few days before I get there, so he can transfer it into his account and pull it out of the bank and get me some much needed cash.
Until I find another library, enjoy life, and thanks for walking with me. I'll try to have more pics next time. I only get 30 minutes online right now.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hello from Roanoke Rapids, NC

Hello everyone! What a trip it has been so far! Thunderstorms every day. Scary traffic making my progress a few yards a minute for the first few days. I am finally getting about 18-20 miles a day now, even with thunderstorms in the afternoon.
My route is currently in no-man's land. Towns that do not exist anymore, or only have a gas station. I have not seen any kind of grocery store, restaurant or fast-food joint in 4 days. I'm hungry lol.
Cool wildlife is everywhere. I have stopped traffic to rescue a baby turtle from a 4 lane highway (not sure what kind he was bright orange), been chased across a highway by a cottonmouth, seen wild turkeys, a bald eagle, baby woodpeckers, muskrats, deer, bear tracks, and was swiped at by a snapping turtle while balancing on an inclined shoulder.
Been in my tent every night except for the first when I was in the city with nowhere to go. It smells bad lol.
On day 2 my left foot looked like a dog had chewed up a rawhide and then glued it to my foot. It is healing and my feet are used to the mileage now.
People stare at me when they drive by. Very few people wave back at me. A few people have offered me rides and gotten mad when I declined. Total donations so far have been $20, 2 Hardee's apple pies, a can of pepsi, a cheeseburger, and a slice of pizza.
I have learned the best place to ask about a spot to sleep in a small town is the fire department. They have hooked me up 3 times and looked after me.
I'm tired and hungry but I'm having fun! See ya soon. And buy me a bottle of water ;)

Friday, May 11, 2012

one more day

Why is it that people want to drop a bombshell on you when you are saying goodbye? You've had plenty of time to tell me something, and now you tell me the day before I am leaving? What in the world lol. People are strange. Anyways...hitting the road tomorrow morning. Been a long crazy day today.
A little bit of good news...Sandy has decided that he wants to make the trip. He misses the desert sands. I could use some silent company.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Hung out with 2 very cool friends last night. The best friends in the world are the ones that you don't see or talk to for a while, but when you do, you just pick up where you left off. I had not seen 1 of them in about 2 months, and it was as though we had hung out the day before. Same connection. Same reading-each-other's minds. People on the same level having intelligent conversation and some great laughs. That's what friends are.
Also saw another friend, and we were talking about US history and how the truth never really gets into history books sometimes. She was at Kent State when everything went down in 1970. Very cool insight into what happened.
I guess that is what my journey will be...gaining a different perspective on things. Looking at the world in a different way. Meeting people from all walks of life and talking to them, human to human.
Two more days...two more days...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

4 more days

Four more days and the journey begins. So much to do!!!
Still haven't decided on the route. Seattle area up north, or warm and beautiful San Diego to the south?
Northern route would be cold, depending on how fast my journey is. Really don't want to be walking up there in October or later. Southern route would be the opposite...across the desert. Hot or cold? Grizzlies or scorpions? Could just go straight across and wind up in San Fran...nothing wrong with that either. I'll probably just decide when I am mid-country, around Kansas or Oklahoma. I have no deadlines. Just as long as I hit the Pacific Ocean.