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!