5 Day Walk, 8 Day Rest, A Few Doctors Appointments and Some Awesome New Friends
February 2 – February 14
Sorry for delay in posting to the blog. It’s harder to do than posting on FB and I need good WiFi to upload pics. I’ll probably update this blog every couple of days rather than daily. Keep an eye on FB/IG for daily stuff. So, this will be a long post to get you up to date.
My first five days walking could be perfectly defined as the good, the bad and the ugly. Mostly really good mixed in with some, shall we say, interesting moments. On day one I had to say good bye to my son and that was insanely hard to do. I’ve said good bye to him a dozen times as he’s gone back and forth from college but this one was different and we cried and hugged for a very long time. We both know there are dangers involved with this journey and that probably added to the emotions. I love that man, my boy, with all of my life and will do everything I can to be safe.
I also said good bye to the Holden family who hosted us for 2 nights. Josh was a great host – flew all the way from Chicago to be a part of our journey! He let us stay in his beautiful home and had his whole family over for dinner and the next day to see us off. His sister Leslie hooked me up with friends in NC who are hosting me on my 4th night. Just a great family all around.
My friend Chris West, a guy who crossed the US in 2016, walked my entire first day with me and I was very thankful for that. He showed me a few things I was doing that needed some attention and adjustment but mainly to keep me safe. Things like – you don’t need to look at me when you talk to me – look at the road! If you need to stop to tie your shoelace or deal with the dog or whatever, pull far off the road and never turn your back to the cars. Just little things like that. I was definitely talking and looking over at him and I did stop to do something with my wheels inches from that white line. Dumb things but things we do every day in life. Look at the person you’re talking to. Stop in your tracks to tie your shoe. So, yeah, Chris taught me a thing or two. He walked me to my hotel and we went for pizza and beers at a local brewery called Red Hare.
Februay 3 – Day 2 was my first alone day and it didn’t start well. I started out the day with an interview with a local newspaper reporter, stepped into the drizzling rain and headed up a very pretty, rural road that Google sent me down. There were houses about every hundred yards or so but it was a Sunday and I never saw a car or a single person. About 2 miles into the walk, rain coming down, the quality of the road started to diminish. The road became a mix of broken asphalt, deep tire gouges and dirt/mud. I stopped to consider my forward movement and was very quickly flanked on both sides by two men from the houses on either side of me. The approached quickly and moved in front of my cart. One asked where I was headed. I explained what I was doing and that I intended to continue up the road but wasn’t sure if it was going to get worse. I only had about a mile left on this road until it connected with Hwy 130 which would get me to my destination later that day. The talker of the two guys told me, flat out, that I was NOT going to continue on the road. I was confused and asked why. He pointed to a No Trespassing sign nailed to a tree on his property line and here’s pretty much how our conversation went:
“You ain’t from around here are you?” “No, I’m definitely not” “Do you see that sign?” “Oh, yeah, I see it. I promise I won’t cut through your property.” It was at about this time that I heard a large truck pull up behind me and stop. The driver stayed in the car. It was raining pretty hard but not cold. I was very worried at this point. “Well, when you ain’t from around here you should assume that No Trespassing includes the road, too.” “What? Is this a private road?” “No, it ain’t, but you ain’t goin down it.” “OK, no problem. I’ll turn around and go back.” “Yes you will.”
With that I spun my cart around and headed back the 2 miles I had just walked just to get the F off that street. On the way down nearly every resident was on their porch watching me. Two guys were out closer to the street so I stopped and asked, “Hey guys, this road goes to Hwy 130. Is it private? I thought I could walk down there?” “Well you caint!” (Purposeful misspelling to attempt to add their accent). So, there’s that. I caint walk down that public road for a reason I will never know.
So I had a lot of work to do. Headed down to another highway that would lead me to the 130. This route added several miles to my day and the rain wasn’t letting up. I finally got to the intersection of the 17/130 only to realize that I cannot safely get across the overpass. No other way over the 17 for miles and miles. Still raining. Wink and I walked to a gas station not far away, sat and ate a bit (we were already 7 miles into our planned 10 mile day and we hadn’t moved 1” closer to California or our destination for the night. I finally approached a young guy fueling up his truck and asked him to follow behind me with his hazards on so I could get over that bridge. He asked why, I told him what I was doing, he laughed and said, “Hell yeah! That’s cool, I’ll do that!”. So we did that. And got to the other side safely. The rest of the day was really great.
A few miles up the road a car approached me from the front and pulled over about 100 feet ahead of me. Naturally I got worried considering my earlier encounters with the locals. But this big man got out with a bag in his hands and a huge, friendly face on. He introduced himself and said, “I won’t assume that you are homeless but I was at one time in my life and I wandered around with my dog. I saw you an hour or so ago and couldn’t stop thinking about you out here in the rain so I went home and made you some sandwiches and cookies and grabbed some oranges. Not sure if you’re a beer drinker but there’s a few Bud Lights in the bag, too, and a Tupperware with some dog food.” This man made my day. We talked a bit. I ate all the food but saved the beers for later. I didn’t need any problems drinking beer on the side of the road.
I finally made it to Ash where Richard Morgan picked me up and took me out to his farm about 7 miles into the country. I was introduced to the Morgan’s by Jessie Grieb and Mike Plante – two crossers they hosted just a few weeks earlier. My night was made up of lots of food, cold beer and relaxing on their huge patio. Lisa – Richard’s wife and Jess – their daughter, treated me to a warm, welcoming home which was so far out that Wink could just run wild on the farm with their two dogs.
February 4 – I left the next morning with the plan of going about 15 miles towards Whiteville and Richard was going to drive out and pick me up so I could stay again. What an awesome blessing! That day on the road was awesome. The weather was perfect and there was so much to see. I crossed the Waccamaw River and a lot of really beautiful farms and small shops. Drivers were respectful of me encroaching on their road and 99% of the time they moved well over to avoid me and allow space. The entire day was spent next to a marshy swamp on my left. Wink and I stopped to watch a bunch of turtles hanging out on a branch and Wink jumped a foot in the air when they all suddenly scurried along the log and into the water. I don’t think he was expecting them to move. Not much further up the road we stopped again to watch a beaver work hard on building a dam. I’ve seen this on TV but to watch it happen in front of me only a few feet away was pretty cool! He was working so hard collecting branches and road side trash. We made it back to the Morgan’s house and slept well that night. I felt great. I was actually walking across America. I think it really hit me that night.
February 5 – Day 4 I was dropped off at my stopping point by Richard and continued towards Whiteville where I was going to be hosted by the Wheatley family. It was another 13 mile day but the scenery was a bit boring to say the least. Not a lot to see but that dang swamp! I found myself searching for bodies. No clue why I just assumed at some point, near a swamp in North Carolina, that I would find a body but I was determined to do so. No body. BUT, I did see a few ladies sitting on their porch across the street. I waved and they hollered out a nice hello. One asked what I was doing and I shouted back a brief reply. She jumped up from her seat and ran across the highway to sit and talk with me for awhile. She just couldnt’ believe my story and got a tear in her eye. Her name was Regina and she was so incredibly nice. I moved on after a hug and, about a mile or so later, Regina pulled up beside me and gave me $20 and wished me well. A few hours later, as I was pulling into Whiteville, Regina showed up again to check on us. We talked for a minute and I just fell in love with her. She went out of her way twice to make my walk that day fantastic. We are now connected on facebook and chat regularly. I made it to the Wheatley residence and met such an amazing family. They have a beautiful home and two really great kids. Mary and Brent, their two wonderful kids Emma May and Price and Brent’s mother Kay took me in and made me tacos and we told stories and it was just a great night.
February 6 – Day 5 was going to be a good 15 or so mile day. My foot was hurting a little bit but we were in great spirits and ready to charge on. The Wheatley’s were so kind to offer to come pick me up at the end of my day and let me stay another night. At about mile 13 my left ankle got super hot, like someone was pouring really warm water into my shoe. A few steps later the pain came and it came on strong. Knocked me flat on my ass. I hobbled a few miles to the off ramp and called Mary for help. She arrived a bit later and took me home. We talked to a few doctors and, based on the facts that I thought I had been dealing with plantar fasciitis since December, the belief was that I had a tear in my foot. I thought it was game over. I called Lisa and Richard Morgan and asked if they would come pick me up in the morning so I could make plans to get home. That was a rough night. The Wheatley’s took me out for BBQ and Sweet Tea (my first taste of that!) and tried hard to get my spirits up. I was very upset and sad that everything I had worked so hard for was over so quickly. I had a restless night and was picked up the next morning. Back to the Morgan Manor to plan my return.
February 7 – Day 6 I made plans to rent a car and drive home. I was not in a good place. Enough of Day 6.
February 8 – Day 7 I woke up and decided that there was NO WAY I was quitting. It was a Friday and I found a doctor – Dr. Kibler – who is an ankle and foot surgeon. He saw me that day, did a full exam and took x-rays and, turns out, no damage at all to my tendons or ligaments. But I do have one hell of a heel spur. Doc gave me the blessing to continue my journey but did warn me of the pain I would have to manage and some ways to do it. He also strongly recommended a change in shoes. I was relieved. Completely. I was NOT done yet. I took the weekend to chill and ice and saw him again on Monday. More laser therapy and feeling a bit better. Holden came out the next day and stayed with me at the farm. We had a great dinner and the next day my new shoes arrived and we went to Myrtle Beach to get another, different pair strongly recommended by another crosser named Tom Griffen.
So, here I sit on Thursday, February 14, 2019. Valentine’s Day. And today my valentine is the road. I’ve re-routed a southern approach to California to avoid steep inclines. My friend Lindsay Monroe – a bad ass two time crosser – is helping me with the route and hopefully joining me in Oklahoma (for some reason she loves it there). I’m starting in a few hours from now from a town in South Carolina that’s the same distance from the beach as the place where my ankle gave out, just in a different direction.
Long post but you are now up to date. Love to all.
Last night of my healing week. May I follow this sun all the way to California