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.