Love this guy!
After 8 days down at the Morgan farm we were ready to head out and give the new shoes a try! Leslie sent me two pair of ASICS which I already had at home and we went to Myrtle Beach to the Fleet Feet store, recommended by my friend and crosser Tom Griffen, to have my feet fully checked out for the shoes. Ended up buying a pair of Hoka shoes which have made all the difference in the world!!
First day out on the re-start was great. I had absolutely zero pain in my ankle! The weather was great and, although I had no idea where we were going to sleep that night, I was in great spirits. I was in communication a lot with another crosser and all around bad-ass Lindsay Monroe. Lindsay and I will probably talk a lot for the next several months as I’m pretty much following her same route until New Mexico which, I believe, is where she headed north and I will continue west. This was going to be my first night of stealth camping and I was a bit nervous. We kept that day short and only did 8 miles to a place called Salem. It wasn’t really a town but a place where a couple of highways come together. There were a few houses and a church and a mini mart about 1/2 mile away. Where these three roads come together the land in the middle formed a giant triangle. It was heavily wooded and two of the roads had construction going on. We decided to camp that night in that giant triangle of public land. We waited till the sun just started to go down and made our way in, found a great spot and pitched our tent. I have to admit that I was extremely nervous all night. I wasn’t afraid of bad people or animals – it was clear from the spot that people didn’t hang out there and certainly no animals were around. There was plenty of forest and swamp on the other sides of the roads for the animals to live but, nonetheless, I was “hiding” from everything hoping not to get caught or…I don’t know. Whatever. It was just nerve racking. Around 3 am we were woken up by some construction workers who didn’t mind that we were there but they needed us to leave so they could start their work for the day. Scared the crap out of me! So, we packed up and were walking at 3:30 am.
Our first stealth night camp spot
Walking at 3:30 am brings mixed feelings. It was DARK on that highway with swamps on both sides which was kinda spooky but all my lights on Alexa were shining bright and it was awesome because I only saw a car about every 20-30 minutes. The road was totally ours and we were able to make good time with all 3 wheels and 6 feet on asphalt. We had a big goal that day – make it to Lake City where we had a Couchsurfing host for the night! But it was 19 miles away and this would be our longest day yet. I was supposed to keep my miles under 10 for the first several days but, in this area, this proved to be impossible. There was literally NOTHING between me and Lake City except swamp. OH – and dogs. WTF??? Surprised I didn’t add this in my earlier blog.
Nearly every house along this highway has dogs. Mean dogs. Or, maybe they just seem mean because most of them are off leash, dirty and as soon as they see us they run all the way to the street within a foot or so of us threatening to eat us at any moment. This really sucks. Worst part of walking is dealing with territorial dogs off leash. I have seen at least 25 dead dogs on Hwy 378 right in front of homes. Why do these people let their dogs off leash to just attack as they see fit and/or run out on the road to get hit by a big truck or car? I seriously don’t get it. So, I devised a defense plan. I have my big knife and bear spray attached at my hip and I have my walking stick untethered across my handle bars. First line of defense is the walking stick. Second, if they get too close, my hand goes to my knife and bear spray. I’ll have one off my hip real quick. I’d prefer to use the stick but will grab the knife as #2. Bear spray will definitely stop them but it could also blow right into me and Wink if the wind is blowing towards us so that’s my last line of defense. So far I haven’t had to use the knife or spray but I have used the walking stick several times and just point it at the dogs and they usually back off. With the goal of “just keep walking” when this happens it’s not easy to manage Alexa, the walking stick, Wink (who’s usually in defense mode), play dodgecar and have an eye on the beast that wants to eat me. How about this idea – put your damn dogs on a leash people!!
OK, I’m done with my irresponsible dog owner rant. My walk to Lake City, besides the dogs, was great. Another day of good weather with only a few moments of rain but nothing worth stopping for. We powered on. We made it to Lake City by noon and had 5 hours to kill before Amber and Jessy, my Couchsurfing hosts, would be home from work. We sat outside at a cool little place downtown called Baker’s Sweets. They were super friendly and, since we were the only ones on the back patio, they let me unload my cart and I decided to pack up a bunch of stuff and send it home. My cart was too heavy. Way too heavy. I sent 20 pounds of gear home that I just didn’t feel I needed and the difference was amazing! Cost me a little bit of money but well worth it.
Amber and Jessy were great hosts. They actually went out for the night and I crashed super early. It was supposed to rain the next day and we had 22 miles ahead of us.
We woke up really early, around 6 am, and headed out. I left a thank you note and got on the road. I was going to race the clouds all day. Rain was expected for about 3-4 hours around 1 pm and I wanted to be as far into the walk as possible. Our destination was a Days Inn about 4 miles past a town called Turbeville. Yes, another motel. Imagine if you will my mindset right about now. I am not a camper or an outdoorsman. I am not a survivalist. I am not Bear Gryls is what I’m trying to say. So, with swamps all around me, mean dogs and the memory of the three guys I encountered on day 2, I’m still just worried about stealth camping. I’ll come around. The Days Inn had horrible reviews but I did not care. Right when I was coming out of Lake City I stopped to talk to a Sheriff who had seen me for awhile. His name is Joseph Henry. We chatted for a bit and he was going to put word out to his Sheriff buddy in the next county over about me. About 10 miles into the day a car pulled over with a very nice couple who had seen me earlier, read my website and gave me $5. Their names were David and Nicole and they lived nearby. Wink and I were headed to a little market up the road for lunch when another truck pulled into the median and called me over. His name was Tommy and he gave me a pocket bible and some money for lunch. He was such a nice guy and, within 1/4 mile, I met him and David and his wife. I love this!! We made it to the market and had a bite. We had about 12 miles left and it was getting cold and a bit drizzly so we needed to get movin. And movin we did!! We made it to Turbeville (which, by the way, is a dry town with a lot of boarded up shops). The joke I guess is “Don’t speed in Turbeville”. Get it? Anyway, we turboed through Turbeville and, with 4 miles left, made it to the Days Inn. And guess what? David, the guy from earlier in the day, was there waiting for me! This was 12 miles past the point that I met him and his wife! He said they had gone home and read my last blog post and learned of my ankle issue and he handed me a bag with water bottles, protein bars, beef jerky and a bottle of Tylenol! I love those guys!! I hope they connect with me on Facebook so I can thank them one more time. I was so tired when I saw him at the hotel. I hope I thanked him enough!
Turbeville site seeing.
Great name!! Wished it was open
I just love the happy flappy Now Hiring sign for the “correctional institution”
I left the Days Inn early the next day. Another big day ahead of me. Plan was to get to Sumter, SC. That was 19 miles away with the plan of staying two nights there. After 3 long days I need to stop and take a zero day to let my ankle rest. It’s not hurting that much but I need to be mindful. To be honest, 19 miles was pretty easy. My legs are definitely stronger. After walking for only 9 days my legs are pretty damned hard!! I’ve started doing push ups at the end of my days because my upper body is being pretty lazy (except for the shoulders – those get a pretty good work out maneuvering Alexa on and off the road all day). We stopped about half way and I decided to make lunch with my JetBoil and start to use up these “instameals” I have in my cart. I had Lasagna with Meat Sauce and made a cup of Starbucks InstaCoffee. Not too bad! I love jerky and power bars but I’ve had A LOT of that in the past few weeks. OH how I miss Lisa’s cooking back on the farm!! Looking for a hotel in Sumter to relax for a day I found a few that were dog friendly but only 1 downtown and, of course, it was a bit pricey. Luckily I had two people sponsor these nights (you know who you are and I love you!). Also, this guy stopped me at a mini mart earlier in the day and we talked a bit and he gave me a wad of cash to put towards my hotel in town!! So, what the hell!! I’m staying at the Hyatt in downtown Sumter for 2 nights! And the management here has been awesome. Kimberly is the PM Manager and was on duty when I arrived. I sat at the bar where she was working and her boyfriend was also there having a beer. I had a glass of wine…or two, and ordered Chinese food from next door. We sat and ate and drank and talked a lot. Wink pretty much slept at my feet and she asked if he was a service dog and I said “Of course he is” and so I didn’t have to pay the dog fee at the hotel! Sweet!! I layed in that big comfy bed and watched a few movies while Wink slept. I received a Facebook message from Officer Henry that said he would like to create a chain of communication from county sheriff to county sheriff as I walk to help me out. He had already talked to a few other buddies of his who were Sheriffs in the next county. I crashed HARD and loved every minute of it. So, today is down day. I’m going to walk around downtown and see some of the historical sites and relax. Tomorrow we stealth camp again. We have 43 miles to Columbia so I need to split that up. Again, nothign between here and there but a lot of churches. I’m going to reach out to my Sheriff network (now that I have one!) and hope to get some help setting up camp at one of the churches or this little mini mart halfway.
Alexa points to Sumter so I’m going to Sumter!