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 toast...best 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!!!

1 comment:

  1. Mate you are really incredible. I loved reading that post and like the twist about bad does turn out good. A big well done to you bro.