Monday, June 5th, 7:25 a.m. – Departed from Chubby’s Sports Bar And Grill in Pine City, MN.
Conditions – Temp – 52* / Wind – NE at 5 mph, increasing to 10 mph later in the day, remaining NE into the evening. / Sky Conditions – Clear skies. Blue sky’s and brilliant sunshine throughout the dayTemperature reached 78* in the late afternoon.
5:00 p.m. – Arrived at Rush Point, MN, 18.0 miles, 48,700 steps, 467 miles remaining.
The first week on the walk felt like it had been very successful. 100 miles in five days was all that could really be hoped for, and I had survived to tell the tale. After taking a couple days off on the weekend, however, getting started again wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped. The first few miles went by quickly, but the rest of the day seemed to drag. I put on new shoes to start the week, and they made my feet a little sore. That certainly didn’t help the mood.
Because I was still relatively close to home, I was able to spend Sunday at home in Duluth, Minnesota. Early on Monday morning, Jill and I piled the trailer into the car and drove back down to Pine City, Minnesota so I could resume the walk where I had left off. The morning was grey and cool, and it was hard to say farewell again after being together for only one day. Reluctantly, at 7:25 a.m., I started heading south on Highway 61 again, and Jill headed back to Duluth. While a wonderful adventure, this walk puts a lot of distance between Jill, our girls and me, and it isn’t always the easiest to manage.
By mid-morning, the clouds began to break, and the blue sky that followed helped to buoy my spirit somewhat. Walking amongst the farm fields, I found my thoughts returning to the days of my youth growing up in southwestern Minnesota. As a boy, the objective was always to escape the work of the farm and the fields. As an older man, though, it is possible to appreciate their beauty. As I passed field after field, red-winged black birds chirped in the tall grasses and a gentle breeze blew out of the northeast, carrying the sweet smell of freshly turned earth and nearby dairy farms across my path. In what seemed like no time at all, I had covered the 9 miles to my first stop of the day: the Rush City Regional Airport.
In the middle of a work day, small regional airports can be pretty quiet places. Arriving in the late morning at the Rush City Airport, I found that to be the case. In a way, it was a relief. I had a bunch of work to catch up on, and certainly didn’t mind the piece and quiet of the airport building. I sent some emails, did some writing, and generally relaxed through part of the noonday heat while admiring some of the black and white art on the walls. It felt good to get caught up a bit, and I left the airport feeling accomplished and satisfied.
The walk into Rush City, Minnesota only took about 30 minutes. My plan was to stop at the Grant House in the middle of town for lunch while waiting out more of the heat. There were only 8 miles left to walk in the day, and I was looking forward to arriving at my destination early in the evening for a change.
There was one thing, however, that was weighing on my mind: I wasn’t at all positive where I would be staying for the night. The little village of Rush Point – my destination for the evening – didn’t seem to have much to offer in the way of “lodging” for me. I made the decision to head there just the same, believing that there must be someplace I could set down for the night. As I did, the heat of the day began taking its toll; my energy was quickly leaving me, and my feet were not at all happy. The country I was passing through was beautiful, but my state of mind made it difficult to appreciate.
At approximately 5:00 p.m., I arrived at the village of Rush Point. I spotted a softball diamond with a shelter and picnic tables and headed directly there, mostly in an effort to get off my feet. Sitting in the shade for a while, I contemplated putting my tent down and staying right there for the night. However, it lacked water and electricity, both of which I was in need of. After letting my feet cool off and breath for a spell, I continued on to the main part of town and the Rush Point Store.
The Rush Point Store is one of those places often found in the central and northern Minnesota lakes areas. Part bait and tackle shop, part gas station, part grocery store, it serves as a hub for the surrounding community. I immediately went inside and talked to Larry (the owner) to find out if there was any place nearby I might put down a tent. With the exception of a possibility about three miles to north, nothing came to his mind. I explained that I was on foot, had walked 18 miles to get there, and asked if I could simply put a tent in the store’s back yard. After some careful consideration, he decided that would be ok, provided I remained some distance from the store near a garage toward the back of the property. Deal! I offered to pay for the night, which I knew he would refuse. I made a purchase and left the change from a $10 on the counter so at least I could feel better about accepting his generous offer. The tent was pitched, I crawled inside to finish catching up on “administrative” tasks, and slept like a king once they were finished.
The good graces of people like Larry are what I was counting on when I planned to do this walk. Each and every day so far, my predictions have been proven right. When I explain to people what it is I’m doing and why, they bend over backwards to help out. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: THIS is who we are. A society of people with big hearts and a desire to help one another out when we can. I can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow…