Day 10 – Walk Without Fear, Write Without Fear

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Friday, June 9th, 6:05 a.m. –  Departed from the Emergency Operations Training Center in Minneapolis, MN.

Conditions –  Temp – 63* / Calm, increasing to 10-15 mph out of the SSE by late afternoon. /  Sky Conditions – Clear but hazy, thickening cirrus and stratocumulus clouds throughout the day. Temperature reached 82* by late afternoon.

7:20 p.m. –  Arrived at Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis, MN, 19.8 miles, 53,00 steps, 383 miles remaining.


The Walk through Minneapolis

I decided that for Day 10 – the part of the walk that started in northeast Minneapolis, went directly down Hennepin Avenue through downtown and ended at Minnehaha Falls – I would simply let the pictures that were taken tell the story. It was an amazing walk fueled by the energy of the city itself, the diversity of which is evident in the photographs. The images that were captured with a camera – and especially those in my mind’s eye – will be carried with me for as long as I live. I hope the collection below will give you some idea of how impactful this day was on the Walk for New Wings, and how beauty can be observed and enjoyed in so many different ways! The images are in no particular order. Have a look at them, then read on below for some observations I’ve been able to make after being on the road for 10 days, both about the logistical challenges of the walk, and my personal struggles in writing about the experience.

10 Days Worth of Observations about the Walk

Good Things, Bad Things, Disturbing Things

Good Things

  1. I have found the goodwill of people to be an amazing constant.  From little boys donating bags of change to people giving me food and supplies to people stopping me on the road to say, “Nice job!”,  everyplace I’ve gone, there’s been support for what I’m doing, and a willingness to help me in any way possible!
  2. I’m losing weight. Apparently over the course of being in college for a few years, I gained more than just knowledge…
  3. I have a new appreciation for my home, my loved ones and the many cool people in my life. I love and miss you all!

Bad Things

  1. There is an appalling amount of garbage on our roadsides. As I got closer to the Minneapolis area, the amount decreased, but was still significant. I understand that some of it is blown there by the wind, but not all. Please dispose of trash and recyclables appropriately!
  2. Pain – I came to this realization at the end of the first week: Pain is part of this experience. Deal with it, or go home.
  3. Days seldom work out as they are planned. Especially when trying to find places to sleep, the process can be, shall we say, trying…

Disturbing Things

  1. Especially in the first week of walking, a significant amount of the garbage on the side of the road was alcohol related. I was under the impression that more progress had been made about the dangers of drinking and driving! Also, I have seen hypodermic needles and those little orange caps from them in every county so far. This is not good news either.
  2. The dye in my Duluth Trading Buck Naked underwear is unstable. On those really hot days when I sweat for hours on end, my buttocks turn the color of my underwear! Should a file a complaint? Some of the colors don’t mix well…
  3. Lastly, I’ve never minded spending time by myself. However, I believe that a limit may have been reached. Not that I’m losing my mind or anything. It’s just that some of the things my mind conjures up after countless hours alone in the sun are suspect even to me! No worries. I’m working through it. Maybe I’ll get a dog…

Writing Observations

Walking 20 miles a day AND keeping up with social media and a daily blog is challenging to say the least. The blog especially is quite time consuming, and there are times when my mind is so tired or in such a state that I can’t even tell if what I’ve written is good or bad. Concerning the blog, then, I’ve come to a couple of realizations. First, aside from grammatical and spelling errors, it’s going to be what it’s going to be. While I would love to have someone go over it with a fine tooth comb, that is never going to be a reality. What I post stands, and that’s just the way it is. So again, I say to myself, deal with it, or go home.

Secondly, and more importantly, the style of writing in my blog has been slowly changing. While initially it felt more like I was “reporting” my daily occurrences, more recent editions include more introspective. I imagine there will be more of that in the future. I feel almost as if I’ve been holding back in a way, and that’s not fair to me, or anyone reading what I write. Future editions are likely to include more intimate details about my feelings and observations throughout each day, in addition to the physical trials and tribulations of the walk on a relatively personal level. I’m no superhuman. I don’t want anyone to think I am. So I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes you’re going to read about my green buttocks, and we’re both going to have to be okay with that. For my part, I do feel better for having warned you…Stay tuned!







Day 9 – Adjusting to the New Dimension

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Thursday, June 8th, 9:50 a.m. –  Departed from the AmericInn Hotel in Ham Lake, MN.

Conditions –  Temp – 73* / Winds – NW at 6, remaining northwesterly throughout the day, increasing to 15 mph by late afternoon. /  Sky Conditions – Clear skies with spotty cumulus popping up towards afternoon/evening. Temperature reached 82* in the late afternoon.

9:15 p.m. –  Arrived at the Emergency Operations Training Facility (EOTF) in Minneapolis, MN, 18.6 miles, 53,100 steps, 403 miles remaining.

It’s been discussed that, when moving into an urban area like Minneapolis/St. Paul, there are noticeable changes in pace and energy. In the case this of walk, the changes in physical environment require an adaptation of traveling style as well. Traffic lights are long; road crossings can be time consuming, and eat up a bigger part of the day. Motorists move quickly and are sometimes unforgiving as well. More care must taken to safeguard one’s self, and a raised awareness of surroundings becomes critical to survival. Temperatures become more of a factor too, as concrete and asphalt absorb the heat of the sun. By late afternoon, the heat radiating up from the pavement can easily exceed 100 degrees.

The morning’s walk began quite beautifully. I was refreshed from a night in a hotel room, skies were clear, winds were light and I was excited about moving deeper into the urban environment. The plan was to get as close as possible to downtown Minneapolis, but still find a place where I could put my tent down for the night. That proved to be an interesting challenge, and it weighed on my mind as the day progressed.

There was one thing I was really excited about: no more walking on Highway 65! From Ham Lake south, it was possible to move on surface streets, making the experience a far more pleasant one. As I began moving in the soft, late morning light, I couldn’t help but notice the beauty of my surroundings, although a different kind of beauty from what I ‘d been seeing. Meticulously cared for parks, parkways and green spaces seemed almost too neat and tidy, but were a great pleasure to walk through. Especially at first, I felt very much like a visitor, and took it all in as any tourist would. Its beauty, though, lulled me into a sort of false sense of security. It was too easy, and caused me to let my guard down.

Moving out of Ham Lake and into the suburb of Blaine, the landscape began to change. The rolling, tree-line parkway I’d been traveling on gave way to vast open spaces, grid-like street patterns and a more industrialized area. That change was accompanied by the disappearance of sidewalks, and finding a suitably safe route became more and more challenging. My initial destination was the Anoka County – Blaine Airport, and the roads I had chosen to travel on to get there left me with little choice but to move across grass boulevards, making the task of pulling the trailer a much more difficult one. By the time I ‘d covered the 7 miles to the airport, it was early afternoon, the day was heating up, and a break was definitely in order.

It was at this point – arriving at the the Anoka County – Blaine Airport – that I found myself really struggling to maintain an optimistic attitude. I was missing my home, my cat, and most of all, Jill and our two daughters. I began realizing how much I sometimes take for granted at our beautiful home in Duluth, and how much I was longing for its comforts. It was also the in between day. I knew that Friday – the next day – I would be seeing Jill, have a few days off to play in Minneapolis, and be able to recharge my personal batteries a bit. For the moment, though, things were looking pretty grim, and pulling myself up and out of it wasn’t an easy task. There’d been no uplifting moments in my day, and things I was trying accomplish just weren’t being realized. In the end, I did the only thing I really could: put one foot in front of another, and believe that things were going to improve in the very near future.

To get to the Anoka County – Blaine Airport, I had diverted somewhat to the east of the natural route into downtown Minneapolis. The next part of my journey was planned to follow the Mississippi River directly into the downtown area, so I began backtracking to the west to meet the river and the Mississippi River Regional Trail Corridor that follows it. Even though I’d made attempts to secure a place to be for the night, I’d had no luck, and that was definitely not helping my mood. Walking to the west also meant walking directly into the baking afternoon sun, and I could think of little else but to get into the shade of the beautiful, mature hardwood trees lining the Mississippi River and my route to the south. Reaching them helped me to smile, and as evening fell and the day cooled, my mood began to  improve.

One of the best parts about summer is that, as daylight turns to twilight and the intensity of the day fades, the evening world begins coming alive. A sort of “second wind” in a summer day’s routine, it is especially noticeable in an urban environment. People come out to play and socialize, nightlife comes alive and a different type of electricity is in the air. Revitalized with that energy, my journey south along the river continued. Even though I was within 65 blocks or so of downtown Minneapolis, I still didn’t no where my landing spot for the night would be. Somehow, though, it mattered less. Enjoying the beautiful evening became the highest priority.

Taking a break around 7:00 p.m. at the Islands of Peace Regional Park just north of Hwy 694, I evaluated my options. There wasn’t going to be any sort of campground or legitimate place for me to set up a tent, so creativity was once again going to be in order. I knew there were places along the river where a tent could be “hidden” in the woods, but I wasn’t crazy about the implications of doing so. As the area along the river is relatively industrial, my hope was that I might find a business that would let me stay on a small patch of grass for the night. At the very least, it would be safe.

Occupying many blocks between the river and the paved trail I was walking on was Minneapolis Waterworks property. Peering through the fence that separated it from the trail, all kinds waterworks equipment and infrastructure could be seen. I couldn’t help but think that, if only there was a way to get on the other side of that fence, there may be the possibility of talking to someone about staying there. Then, without warning, the scene beyond the fence began to change. Waterworks equipment was replaced with fire fighting equipment, and almost immediately, I recognized what I was looking at.

As a truck driving instructor at Lake Superior College in Duluth, MN, I had worked out of the Emergency Response Training Center (ERTC) in Fond du Lac. What I was seeing through the fence was all too familiar. This was a firefighter training facility of some kind! A fenced and gated facility, I again thought to myself what a wonderfully safe place it would be to spend the night f I could just get through the gate and talk to someone. I learned a lot about the goodwill of firefighters working with them at the ERTC, and felt confident they would help me out once I explained what I was doing. My paced quickened in anticipation of what I might find when arriving at the entrance.

Turning the corner on 37th Street N.E., I saw it: an open gate at the entrance of the Emergency Operations Training Facility (EOTF). In the parking lot just inside the gate were several cars; the building was lit and looked open. Things were looking up. I shot across the parking lot to the main entrance and tried the front door. Open. All I needed to do was find someone to talk to in order to secure my lodging for the night. Therein lied the problem. There was no one to talk to. I walked the entire building and facility looking for any sign of life, and found none. The place was deserted…

I found myself with an interesting dilemma. It was already after 9:00 p.m. There wan’t going to be any better place around than the EOTF, and I was sure if they knew my story, staying there would be no problem. On the other hand, I didn’t want to put my tent down, only to have someone wake me in the middle of the night, or worse yet, come and close the gate, trapping me in the facility. After careful consideration, I decided to put down my tent in an out of sight place, in hopes that the gate would still be open in the morning. I set an alarm to wake up before sunrise, and slept a difficult and fitful sleep due to the large, loud railroad switching yard just across East River Road, and my worry about being able to get out in the morning.

At 6:00 a.m. the following morning, I walked back out of the open gate. To my knowledge, no one ever came to the facility, except for the young firefighter coming in through the gate as I was walking out. He had the most confused look on his face. Someday, I will explain… For the time being though, it will remain something of a mystery to both of us, and I will be adding the EOTF to my list of places and people to thank who have no idea that they’ve done so. It was an interesting end to a not so great day. Quite comical in a way. One can just never know what will happen next…

Day 8 – A Change in Energy

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Wednesday, June 7th, 7:35 a.m. –  Departed from the McDonalds restaurant in Isanti, MN.

Conditions –  Temp – 54* / Winds – Calm, but increasing to 10 mph out of the SE with gusts up to 20 mph by late afternoon. /  Sky Conditions – Thickening cirrus clouds overhead and to the west. Temperature reached 87* in the late afternoon, with heavy thunderstorms passing through the area around 10:00 p.m.

6:30 p.m. –  Arrived at the AmericInn in Ham Lake, MN, 22.0 miles, 61,200 steps, 422 miles remaining.

Minneapolis, St. Paul and their surrounding areas have a different kind of energy than the more rural parts of the state. There is a subtle change that can be felt when approaching the sprawling urban area, and not simply a difference in the volume of traffic. The city seems to operate on a slightly different frequency; the pace is quicker, the stakes seem higher and there is an overall uptick in activity. When nearing the Twin Cities, there is always a point at which I begin to feel this change. Today, even though on foot, the transformation occurred as it always does. By the end of the day, I was completely immersed in it. Perhaps even a little too much.

The morning began with the usual routines: pack up the tent and gear, find a restroom and get something in my stomach. The McDonalds in Isanti, Minnesota suited my needs perfectly. While having some breakfast, I charged up my phone and planned out my route for the day. There was a particular concern with the day’s walk: no matter how many ways I looked at it, I couldn’t seem to find a way to avoid the heavy traffic of Highway 65 without adding a significant amount of miles to the day. To make matters worse, I had already reserved a hotel room for the night at the AmericInn in Ham Lake, Minnesota, leaving no options as to where I needed to get to in the evening. I kept looking, but resolved myself to the fac that I would most likely be walking on Highway 65 at a most undesirable time of the day. 

Shortly after leaving the McDonalds, I made a planned stop at a VFW with a small, shaded park attached to it. I needed it do some foot care, and in a restaurant hardly seemed like the appropriate place to do so. Like many VFWs, the park had some old military equipment on display, including a large trailered gun and a tank. I sat there in the shade, caring for my feet and imagining the horrible conditions the soldiers who manned those pieces of equipment must have endured. With respect and admiration, I gently put my shoes back on and began the 21-mile walk to the AmericInn. The heat of the day was already beginning. It seemed there was no time to lose.

Walking south out of Isanti, I was completely amazed by how rural the area was. I had always though of Isanti more as part of the metropolitan area, but found that to be anything but the case. Waking down Unversity Avenue, I passed old farmhouses with age old gardens, horse ranches and beautiful homes set far back into the woods. It was difficult to believe the beginnings of a major city were just a few miles ahead of me. Beautiful flowers and serene settings caught my eye at every turn as I slowly worked my way south.

Particularly captivating on this morning were the skies. High cirrus clouds sometimes referred to as “mare’s tails” approached from the west, painting a stunning sky as they stretched completely to the western horizon. In the flat, wide open spaces, the scene were so large that it could scarcely be comprehended. I kept stopping simply to gaze at the sky, feeling a part of something much larger than I could every comprehend. My spirits were really high, despite the fact that I still had concerns about what lie ahead towards the end of my day. 

Shortly after midday, I reached the East Bethel Community School and sat down in the shade for a much needed break. While the morning had been beautiful, it had also gotten warm. Had it not been for the steady southeast winds helping to keep me cool, I’m not sure exactly what the outcome might have been. As it was, I felt parched and dehydrated, and drank a half gallon of water in the cool environment of the school before sitting down in the shade outside. After a thirty minute break to collect myself and return to a somewhat “normal” state, I again struck out into the early afternoon heat. I reasoned that the breeze would keep me cool, water was easily obtainable and the earlier I could get to my destination the better. There were 10 miles still between me and my destination. Of those 10 miles, it was the next 4.5 that could be reasonably accomplished on back roads and city streets. 

When I reached the end of that 4.5 mile segment, I again sat down in the shade to reevaluate my route. Not surprisingly, no new alternatives had magically appeared since the last time I’d looked. I was left with little choice but to get myself onto the shoulder of Highway 65 and walk against rush hour traffic in the nearly 90 degree heat for the remaining 5.5 miles of the journey. There seemed no point in deliberating any longer; I launched myself out onto Highway 65 and made the best of it. I got a lot of really crazy looks! That made me smile, and helped me get through it. Honestly, my biggest concern was causing an accident. With all the drivers gawking at me as they passed, the likelihood of them losing focus on the road increased dramatically. I heard tires screech more than once…

While doing this walk, every part of every day cannot be a beautiful walk in the country. Much like in life, the good has to be weighed against the bad, and sometimes things that are less than desireable have to be accomplished. A positive, upbeat attitude goes a long way during those times, and remembering the beautiful moments doesn’t hurt either. I survived to to write the story. All in all, it would seem that I accomplished my goal. The transition to an urban environment was not any easy one, but I believe tomorrow will be a less challenging day. We will find out soon enough. See you out there…

Day 7 – When Options Dry Up

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Tuesday, June 6th, 7:20 a.m. –  Departed from the Rush Point Store in Rush Point, MN.

Conditions – Temp – 48* / Wind – NE at 5 mph. By late afternoon/evening, winds became 10 mph out of the SE. /  Sky Conditions – Clear skies and brilliant sunshine. Not a cloud in the sky! By late afternoon, temperature reached 81*,  high cirrus clouds on the horizon W and NW.

8:45 p.m. – Arrived at Isanti, MN, 22.5 miles, 62,100 steps, 444 miles remaining.

Since this crazy, long walk began, I don’t believe there has been a single day that turned out quite like it was planned. That’s not to say that things haven’t worked out just fine at the end of the day. The trick seems to be having several options for a place to sleep and ways to get nourishment. I always carry some food, so that part is relatively easy to manage. Places to sleep are another matter altogether. Sometimes those that seem highly likely begin disappearing into thin air, and as they do, the likelyhood of finding a good place to get some rest diminishes proportionately. A little creative thinking can go a long way at times like those, especially when darkness is falling.

This day started as a beautiful walk through the country. The sun and wind were both on my back, and the temperature felt nearly perfect. There is just something about the blue light of the morning, the damp air and the smells that come with the rising sun. After walking around 5 miles, I found a shady place on a gravel side road to take a load off, drink some water and have a snack. There was a freshly mown hayfield across the way, and the sweet smell of cut clover filled the air. As I relaxed in the shade, vehicles driven by what looked to be mostly local folks came and went through the nearby intersection. A rooster pheasant crowed in the field across the way, but attempts to photograph him were completely unsuccessful. After 15 or 20 minutes of resting in the shade, I gathered my gear and continued west.

Just before reaching Highway 65, I looked up to see a squad car approaching me on the shoulder. As it came to a stop, John – an Isanti County Deputy – stepped out of the car and came up to me with a curious look on his face. After the standard set of questions had been asked and answered appropriately, he informed me that  a concerned motorist had spotted me on the side of the road and called it in as a “suspicious character.” I got a big kick out of that, but understood how it could look that way. After explaining what I was doing, we had a good laugh, he put me in the system in case someone else called, and we both went our merry ways. Even though I really didn’t see anything all that wrong with where I took my break, I am now more particular when choosing such spots.

Back on the road again, I turned left on Highway 65 and headed towards Cambridge, Minnesota. It was only about 4 miles in front of me, and I was glad of it. I was hungry, and looking forward to a good meal. The first place that came into view on the outskirts of town was the Everday Cafe. It fit the bill perfectly, and I wasted not time unhooking the trailer and making my way inside, anticipating a tasty meal and an icy beverage.

After enjoying a delicious bacon cheeseburger and fries, charging up my phone a bit and rehydrating myself, I made my way to the front counter to pay for the meal. The Cambridge Municipal Airport was my next stop, and I wanted to get there as quickly as possible. While I paying for the meal, Gene and Mindy (manager and server) began asking questions about the trailer and what I was doing. After explaining my purpose and where I’d come from, both enthusiastically offered to help in any way. My water bottles were filled with ice water, and just as I was about to leave, Mindy ran out and handed me to wonderful oatmeal cookies. It was such a kind gesture, and they were devoured as soon as I got to the airport.

The building at the Cambridge Municipal Airport may not look like much, but it was a great place to spend a few hours cooling down and writing. Until I was ready to leave, it was completely deserted, and it was easy to get work done. As I was wrapping things up, a gentleman named Gary Laurich came in, and we struck up a conversation. We talked about what I was doing, aircraft hangers and homebuilt aircraft. Gary made a donation to the walk, and offered me a place to stay should I need it when I arrived in the northern suburbs of Minneapolis. The conversation was most interesting, and we both sort of lost track of time. By the time I was headed out the door, it was after 5:00 p.m., and their were still 9 miles ahead of me. It seemed pretty late, but I felt confident about arriving in Isanti and finding a place to sleep there.

The remaining miles seemed to take a very long time. Worse yet, when I arrived in Isanti and had a look at a park where I though I might pitch my tent for the night, what I found was a giant soccer complex and no real opportunity for me to spend the night there. Having little choice, I continued on to the main part of town, all the while searching on my phone for any kind of lodging in the area. From what I could see, there were no hotels, parks or campground in the area, and my suspicions were confirmed when I asked someone who was working at the local McDonalds. By that time, it was after 9:00 p.m., and the light of the day was fading quickly. I was dead on my feet, and desperately needed a place to sleep.

When walking out of the McDonalds, I spotted a church on the other side of Highway 65. With no other real options, I headed there to see if I might find a place to put down a tent and get some much needed rest. I had considered churches before as a last resort, but had never actually stayed at one. As expected, the church was dark and empty, so I went around to the backside, pitched my tent as quickly as possible and crawled in and went to sleep. I’ve added them to my list of people and places who I will later acknowledge for helping me, even though they were completely unaware that they did so. I feel like I owe this particular church in a big way. If not there, I have no idea where I would have gone.

When traveling long distances on foot, things seldom work out like they’re planned. Having options is great, but sometimes even they run out. In the case of Day 7, I had completely exhausted my alternatives. Perhaps in the future I can learn to plan farther ahead, or at the very least, pay closer attention to the time!


Day 6 – On the Road Again…

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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…

Day 5 – A Major Milestone

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Friday, June 2nd, 8:00 a.m. – Departed from the Field of Dreams Airport in Hinckley, MN.

Conditions: Temp – 54* / Wind – Calm, but picking up out of the SSE to 10-20 mph, becoming gusty later in the day. / Sky Conditions – Blue skies with high cirrus cloud to the east and west. By evening, cirrus clouds were thickening to the west, signaling the approach of another system. Temperature exceeded 85* in the late afternoon.
5:50 p.m. – Arrived Pine City, MN. 18.2 miles, 45,650 steps, 485 miles remaining.

Day 5 was a big day on the walk. I reached the 100 mile mark when arriving in Pine City, Minnesota! It wasn’t a particularly hard day, but the temperature really shot up in the late afternoon; there was a bank clock in downtown Pine City that showed 87 degrees. That combined with walking directly into the sun for most of the afternoon made things really uncomfortable, and yielded a pretty good sunburn. Getting off the road and into an air conditioned building couldn’t come soon enough.

The day started out nice. It was only a short three mile walk from the Field of Dreams Airport to Cassidy’s Restaurant in Hinckley, Minnesota. I had some breakfast there, charged up my phone and was back out on the road by about 10:15 a.m. As I stepped out of the restaurant, I could feel that the day was really heating up. I hooked up the trailer and headed west to meet up with Highway 61. Once there, I turned south and started the 9 mile journey to Beroun Crossing. Not so much a town as it is a freeway exit, the plan was to meet Kim McKeller there so that she could walk the last part of the day with me to Pine City, Minnesota. Kim is my partner Jill’s mom, and we’d been planning it since the walk started.

The first four miles went quickly. My spirits were high, and it was comfortable walking with the southeast wind blowing on my face. I took a break where Highway 61 crosses Interstate 35 to the east, finding a nice place in the shade to enjoy some water and a snack. While resting there, I noticed a fenced in area just off to the side of the road. it turned out to be a cemetery for the original settlers of a town called Mission Creek. No longer in existence, the small village was completely destroyed in 1894 by the Great Hinckley Fire. Had I not stopped where I did, there is no way I ever would have seen the cemetery. For those passing by in vehicles, it’s just too well hidden. I also found out later that, in the process of exploring the historic site, I walked right through poison ivy. I’m not particularly susceptible to it, but still was affected by it. Note to self: Pay attention where you walk!!

The plan was to meet Kim at the Marathon Gas Station at Beroun Crossing at 2:30 p.m. The growing heat of the early afternoon was really slowing me down, so we decided that 3:30 would be a more appropriate time. I wanted a break in the shade before finishing up the last 7 miles of the day. Arriving at Beround Crossing at 2:05 p.m., I found Kim’s husband Tom McKellar waiting for me there. He bought me a Gatorade and and some salty munchies, and we sat in the shade and talked about “things.” It was good to see a familiar face, and I really appreciated the company. At around 2:45 p.m., Tom had to leave. We said our farewells, and I happily waited in the shade for Kim to arrive. 

Arriving at 3:30 p.m., Kim looked like she was ready to go walking. We wasted no time getting started. I knew it was still going to be hot, but there were only 7 miles left! We walked and talked, and the time passed quickly. In no time at all were looking at the city limit sign for Pine City. At that point, we still had a mile or two to go, but seeing the sign raised our spirits and quickened our pace. I could feel the sun burning my arms and legs, and I wanted out of it as soon as possible. 

We walked the sidewalk through town until reaching Chubby’s Sports Bar and Grill. The air conditioning combined with ice water and cold beer was a truly divine combination. My skin felt as if it was on fire, and it took some time for my body to cool down. Kim bought dinner in addition to making a generous donation to the walk, and we celebrated my reaching the 100 mile mark. It felt great! The best part, though, was yet to come. My partner Jill was on her way there to meet us as well, and when she walked through the door, my world felt right again. Does absence truly make the heart grow fonder? It did for me…

Thanks to all who followed along with me through the first week of this interesting challenge. Because of all of you, I never feel as if I am alone. I’ve already been asked several times if I get lonely out here. The answer is, “Yes, I do.” But it’s not nearly as bad with the encouragement of those who care. Red Green said it best: “We’re all in this together.” Thanks everyone, for a great week!

Day 4 – Dangers of the Road and the Long, Hard 8.3

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Thursday, June 1st, 8.55 a.m.- Departed from the Squirrel Cage Motel in Willow River, MN.

Conditions: Temp – 51* / Wind – Calm, but picking up out of the NW to 10-20 mph and becoming more gusty later in the day. By evening, the winds were again calm. /  Sky Conditions – Clear skies with patchy clouds. The blue skies and brilliant sunshine were very much like yesterday, but today it got much warmer. Temperature exceeded 85* in the late afternoon.

7:10 p.m. – Arrived Willow River, MN, 15.7 miles, 45,750 steps, 524 miles remaining.

Today on the road was something of a roller coaster. When leaving the motel in Willow River via the Willard Munger State Trail, I was happy, well rested and optimistic. Jill had come down to see me the night before, bringing a few items I requested and helping me to eliminate some unnecessary ones from my pack as well. It wasn’t possible for her to stay the night, but I was most grateful for the chance to see her. Even two days apart had seemed like a very long time, and with her presence fresh in my heart and mind, my steps were lighter, and the morning walk was beautiful and effortless. The trees were a brilliant green, the skies a deep and endless blue and the air smelled of lilacs in full bloom and sun-warmed pined needles. It was the kind of morning one imagines and hopes for when planning an adventure such as this.

Sometimes the most spectacular things seen spending time in nature are anything but the largest. As I learned in my Nature Writing class with Yvonne Rutford at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, there are fascinating worlds to be observed on the miniature scale as well. As I happily strolled down the trail on this particular morning, a tiny but fascinating spectacle stopped me dead in my tracks. A column of ants roughly an inch wide was crossing the paved foot path under my feet. There were thousands and thousands of them, and they continued to emerge from the grass on one side of the trail. In a hurried but organized fashion, they streamed across the pavement, making me think that it was “moving day” for this society of ants. I’ve never seen anything like it before, nor do I expect I ever will again. Here’s a link to the video I took of this rare sighting: I would encourage you to check it out!

After traveling four or five miles, I arrived at the small town of Rutledge, MN. The intensity of the late morning sun had already increased significantly, and it seemed that a break in the shade was in order. This was also the place where I was planning to leave the Willard Munger State Trail and instead walk on the shoulder of Highway 61. It gave me a much more direct line to Sandstone, Minnesota and to my eventual destination for the day: the Field of Dreams Airport in Hinckley, Minnesota. Passing through the quiet little town with a population of only a few hundred people, I searched for any place I might relax for a few moments out of the sun.

My search led me to a tiny bait shop/convenience store, the likes of which I had not seen since I was a kid. I asked the owner if he would mind my sitting down in the shade on the side of his store, and he agreed without hesitation. Feeling the heat of the day, I purchased  a couple of electrolyte enriched waters and consumed them as I rested. Even though it was only 10:30 a.m., the temperature had already climbed to nearly 80 degrees. I finished the waters, had some salty snacks, and prepared to continue on with my day. As I hooked up the trailer and began moving, the establishment owner and his friend (sitting in chairs at the front of the store) began asking questions. I explained what my journey was all about, and as they listened with fascination, I asked if I could take their picture. The owner was reluctant at first, but his friend assured him that there could be no harm in it. I offered to step back and take a picture that showed less detail, and the deal was made. They were a couple of pretty cool old fellas, and wished me nothing but the best as I departed south on the shoulder of Highway 61. It was at that point that the bliss of the morning walk began to slowly erode away.

The Dangers – Because Highway 61 runs nearly north and south, there was little opportunity to find shady areas. The farther I went, the less shade was available, and I could feel the sun draining my energy and burning my skin. My goal was to get to Sandstone, Minnesota, but it soon became apparent that walking for three hours in the midday sun to cover the 9 mile route was not going to be possible without some sort of a break. After about an hour and a half of walking, I was seriously looking for a place to get off my feet, get into the shade and sit out the worst heat of the day. The temperature had risen to 85 degrees, and the light breeze at my back was doing little to keep me cool. I marveled at the fact that, just 48 hours earlier, it was everything I could do to stay warm!

At the intersection of Highway 61 and Highway 18, I found the Country Fit Fitness Center (pictured). While it may not look like much of a place to take a break, it offered the shade that I was desperately seeking, and a means to get free of the sweltering pavement. I sat in the shade offered by the eave of the building for nearly two hours, waiting for the worst of the heat to pass while re-hydrating myself. At 2:15 p.m., I gathered my belongings and returned to the shoulder of Highway 61 to cover the remaining 4.5 miles to Sandstone, Minnesota. I set out feeling more refreshed and optimistic, but far more wary of the effects of the sun.

Through out the earlier part of the day – and during the rest of the afternoon – I began encountering a hazard that I had anticipated, but not really seen up to that point: dogs. Especially in the country, I expected that dogs might come running out to the road to harass me, and during this part of the walk, they most certainly did. From small poodles to giant german shepherds, no less than nine dogs came barking and chasing after me. I had prepared for dog attacks by researching their behaviors, and by arming myself with the same “puppy pepper spray”  that is on the belt of many postal carriers. Although it was in my hand several times, I did not have to use it. Based on the numerous dog run-ins on this stretch of road, I made a pact with myself to keep a keener eye out so as to anticipate their movements. Most of them are just curious, but some of them appear to downright mean. I’d rather not find out which they are…

I arrived in Sandstone, MN around 3:45 p.m. Because I hadn’t really had a solid meal all day, I was looking forward to sitting down in an air conditioned restaurant and enjoying a big lunch/dinner. Amy’s Country Cafe in Sandstone, Minnesota had been my destination all along, and I was excited and relieved to arrive there. At that time of the day, there were relatively few people in the place, and I was able to spread out, relax and have a good meal. At about 4:30 p.m., I finished up, collected my gear, and prepared to finish up the final 8.3 miles of the day. My server Melea wished me the best of luck, offered me some nutritious beverages for the trip and sent me on my way feeling really good about what I was doing!

The Long, Hard 8.3 – Most of us learned when we were small children that the shortest distance between to points is a straight line. Generally speaking, that wisdom holds true. However, in the case of this walk, the shortest distance isn’t necessarily the safest, easiest or least offensive route to travel. There’s a learning curve involved with an adventure like this one, and the 8.3 miles traveled between Sandstone, Minnesota and the Field of Dreams Airport in Hinckley, Minnesota taught me some valuable lessons.

The Old Military Road travels south out of Sandstone, Minnesota.  The road is nearly a direct line between there and the Field of Dreams Airport in Hinckley, Minnesota – my destination for the evening. At some point along the way, it turns into the Government Road, but there’s no appreciable difference in its quality. It’s a rolling, curving, tree lined gravel road that is relatively well traveled by local residents. 8.3 miles of walking would normally take me about 2 hours and 50 minutes to complete. This particular stretch took nearly 3.5 hours, and I was nearly at my wit’s end by the time I’d finished it. Here were some of the important lessons I learned:

  1. Never, ever again travel on gravel roads.  Fast moving traffic throwing up rocks while passing very closely is not a good thing. Also, breathing gravel dust while working significantly harder  pull the trailer through soft gravel really takes the fun out of things.
  2. When traveling just before sunset on a gravel road that cuts through the forest, one should expect to be harassed by a mosquito or two. In some cases, one should expect to be swarmed by mosquitoes. The latter was the case. Had it not been for the TerraShield bug repellent given to me by my good friends Jeff and Selma Stephenson, I may not actually be writing this at all, or it might be written in crayon. I can handle a few mosquitoes. This was an all out assault. Apparently there isn’t a lot of “fresh meat” that’s stupid enough to walk down that road. I was popular…
  3. LISTEN when people warn you not to take a certain route. Others had suggested that a different route might be better; I had even driven the road in advance and seen the potential for problems myself. Yet there I was, covered in dust and sweat, and getting more and more aggravated with every step I took. Never again.

There was some light near the end of the tunnel: a small black bear popped out on the road in front of me, and I was able to get a picture of him. Honestly, though? I’ve seen bears before, and a lot closer than that one. It was cute, but really not worth the agony. Huffing and puffing my way up out of the woods to see the Field of Dreams Airport was a sight for sore eyes. For the record, they weren’t the only things on me that ere sore.

Exhausted and frustrated with myself, I walked on to the airport property. I was greeted there by Brian Weidendorf, owner of the airfield. He made sure I was well taken care of for the evening. I got a shower, pitched my tent in a beautiful spot by a pond and watched a stunning sunset while pondering my difficult and sometimes dangerous day, and the series of questionable decisions that led to it. Live and learn, right? I learned a lot on Day 4. Thankfully, I’m still alive to write about it. Hopefully, I will make better decisions tomorrow.

Day 3 – The Heart of the Matter

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Wednesday, May 31st, 10:45 AM- Departed from the Barnum City Campground in Barnum, MN.

Conditions: Temp – 54* / Wind – NW at 10 mph, gusting to 20 later in the day /  Sky Conditions – Clear skies with patchy clouds. Today was what we call in the aviation world a “severe clear” day. Winds became more gusty in the afternoon, but calmed down by evening. Blue sky’s and brilliant sunshine were a significant change from the past few days. Temperature reached 70* in the afternoon.

7:10 PM – Arrived Willow River, MN, 15.7 miles, 45,750 steps, 524 miles remaining.

It will never fail to amaze me how one day in northern Minnesota can vary so much from the day before it. On the first two days of this walk, my challenge was to stay warm and find places to get out of the wind. Today, my highest priority was to regularly get out of the sun and consume considerably more water than the previous two days. Much like our Midwest weather, the mood and events can vary significantly as well.

Today was slated to be lighter day for me. With only 15 miles of walking planned, I felt like I could get a slower start on the morning. I took the time to dry out my gear in the sunshine, rearrange the trailer’s pack and generally relax a bit before I departed. I also made time to have a really big breakfast at a local establishment called the Rustic Diner.

The Rustic is one of those places that exists in many smaller towns. It is where the locals go; prices are fair, portions are big, and the conversations are spirited and warm. It is the heart of the community. When I walked through the door, I knew I was a visitor. But in a place not much larger than many people’ living rooms, it didn’t take long to feel welcome.

Kathy – the only server in the place – had her hands full keeping up. She moved swiftly and efficiently about the place, calling everyone by first names and making sure that no cup of coffee went empty (she is the person standing in the upper right portion of the picture).

After finishing my breakfast, I took out my phone and keyboard and began to work. In doing so, I explained to Kathy what I was doing, and that I surely would appreciate being able to stay awhile and do some writing. Kathy obliged, and in fact offered me a place to plug in so I could keep my devices charged. Other customers began taking an interest in my story as well, asking questions about why I was doing this, where I was going, and the kinds of challenges I was facing. This group of people didn’t know me from Adam, but welcomed me into their home. I couldn’t help but think that this behavior – offering a complete stranger an inviting place to spend a few hours – is the essence of who we are. Yes, we are a country. But when it comes right down to it, we are people. As individuals, we get to make the choices of whether or not to be inquisitive, to get to know someone, or to lend a helping hand. Thank you Kathy, and everyone else at the Rustic, for making feel welcome as I continue to get farther from my home.

By 10:45 AM, I’d packed up my gear and was again working my way south. By midday, I’d reached the town of Moose Lake, MN, and the sun was beginning to take its toll on me. I stopped at the Holiday on the “main drag,” got myself some lunch and found a shady spot to enjoy. In spite of the fact that this was a shorter day mile-wise, it was already beginning to feel long. When I’d finished my lunch and was feeling sufficiently regenerated, I returned to the trail and continued south.

My next planned stop on the Willard Munger Trail was the Moose Lake Airport. By the time I arrived there, I really needed a break. After being in the midday sun for the better part of four hours, the shade and coolness of the airport building was most welcome. The airport was very quiet. Sometimes they’re like that. One day they might be a flurry of activity; another day, there isn’t a soul in sight. Today, things were pretty quiet, and I truly appreciated the fact that I could just sit and catch up on some “paperwork.”

By 4:00 PM, I made my way back out the trail. I can honestly say that I wasn’t too enthusiastic about it. I had eight miles remaining to reach my goal for the day, but would much preferred to have simply stayed where I was. There was a reason for me to move on, however. Jessica Langhorst – my partner Jill’s friend from high school – was planning to meet me down the trail a mile or two with her two boys. We had not met before, and I was looking forward to the human interaction.

After about 20 minutes of walking, I was able to see them in the distance. The three of them – Jess, Tristan and Ray – had biked out to the trail and were heading my way. Upon meeting, the boys were eager to bestow on me the gifts they had brought with them: and orange (devoured immediately), some granola bars, and – my favorite – a zip-lock bag filled with change as a donation to the walk. My heart just melted. It reminded me of one of my mother’s sayings: “True generosity is giving when you have almost nothing to give.”

Jess and her two young boys made my day, and that will never be forgotten. We walked and talked for a mile or so until we reached the turnoff for their house. As we said our goodbyes, I again felt the warmth that people can bring to one another. We all have busy schedules. But sometimes stepping out of those routines to help someone along the way can pay off in a big way. Jess’s kindness helped me a lot on Day 3, and I am filled with gratitude for it.

The last stop of the day was the Squirrel Cage motel in Willow River, MN. I’m trying to tent as much as I can, but what I really needed was a soft bed, a good meal and a hot shower. My beautiful partner Jill made the trip down from Duluth to help me exchange some items I wasn’t using for some items I was really in need of. With all my heart, thank you Jill, for your undying support. You are my Love…

Day 2 – Stronger, Lighter, Farther

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Tuesday, May 30th, 7:45 AM – Departed from a super-secret camping spot in Scanlon, MN. 

Conditions: Temp – 47* / Wind – WNW at 10 mph, gusting to 20 /  Sky – Low overcast, occasional drizzle. Again, morning weather conditions persisted throughout the day with light showers in the late afternoon. Sky’s began clearing in the late evening. 

8:25 PM – Arrived Barnum, MN. 24.7 miles, 68,212 steps, 540 miles remaining.

Sometimes when you least expect it – and in the middle of a very challenging day – the power of human nature can raise your spirits in a way that nothing else can. When I think of Day 2 on this walk, that is what I’m going to remember. 

Bleak is the word that comes to mind when I think of the start of this day. I was sore, disoriented and missing my home. I knew it was going to be a long, hard day, and that wasn’t helping my spirits any. At 7:45, I left the KwikTrip in Scanlon, MN and headed west. My first destination, the Cloquet-Carlton County Airport, was just five miles away. Something highly motivational waited for me there: a hot shower and a place to get out of the wind for a few minutes. As I plodded west on Higway 45, the kinks slowly began to work out of my body, and my mood started to improve. The weather felt more like a blustery autumn day, and that certainly wasn’t making things any easier.

The airport was pretty quiet when I arrived there. The low, scuddy clouds were keeping most pilots on the ground. Only a few pilot types were “hanger flying” in the FBO (Fixed Base Operator) building, and the environment was relaxed and conversational. 

After grabbing a hot shower to wash of the stink of the previous day, I got my gear packed into he trailer and made ready to depart for the long journey that still remained in front of me. As I did, and elderly gentleman wearing a “State Patrol, Aviation Sector” hat began asking me questions about what I was doing. We had a brief but pleasant conversation about airplanes, our flying roots, and of course, the state of our country and economy. In the short time we spoke, we were able to solve most of the world’s problems, and as we went our separate ways, he handed me a donation and wished me the best of luck on my adventure. Afterwards, I realized that I didn’t even get his name, and felt like a class A jerk. I resolved to get better at that, and departed with a lighter heart.

Just a couple of miles down the road, a pick-up truck pulling a small dump trailer slowed and pulled up beside me. Driving the pick-up was Elizabeth Kortie, and with a smile as big as Texas, she handed me a stack of small bills, saying, “It’s all that I have, but I wanted to donate to your walk.” If I liveto be a thousand years old, I will never forget that smile and how it warmed my heart for the remainder of the day. Thank you Elizabeth. My faith in the human condition has once again been restored. 

The rest of the day just sort of blurred by. I don’t mean to say that I didn’t see beautiful things. I did. But with the miles I still had in front of me, the day became more of a test of will. Arriving at the Willard Munger State Trail was a highlight. The break from walking on roadsides was welcome to say the least. TJ’s Country Store was also a welcome sight. A small town grocery store like those I’d known as a kid, the smells of a meat market and fresh produce almost made me weak in the knees as I walked through the door. I was like a kid in a candy store! No five-star restaurant could ever prepare a meal as delicious as the one I purchased and ate at the picnic table outside. 

I arrived at my destination – the Barnum City Campground – at 8:25 PM. I was exhausted and my body hurt everywhere, but had reached my goal! I pitched my tent, crawled inside, and slept eight hours without waking. 

Thanks to the amazing people who helped me along the way, Day 2 was a huge success. I will forever be indebted to the amazing folks at the Cloquet-Carlton County airport, the State Patrol gentleman who helped me to solve the world’s problems, Elizabeth Kortie and her “road donation,” and of course, all of you who followed along with me. Thanks to all! See you out there…

Day 1 – Slow and Steady

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Monday, May 29th, 6:40 AM – Departed from Monaco Air, Duluth International Airport, Duluth, MN.

Conditions: Temp – 57* / Wind – WNW at 10-20mph /  Sky – Low overcast, occasional drizzle and light rain. Morning weather conditions persisted throughout the day, with showers becoming more frequent throughout the afternoon.

4:10 PM – Arrived Scanlon, MN. 20.8 miles, 53,200 steps, 564 miles remaining.

Today was the big day! The first day of a 585-mile walk through Minnesota and Wisconsin. I don’t mind saying, I’m glad the day is over. This walk has been in the planning stages for several months now, and it was simply high time that it got underway. My neighbor Don used the word “trepidation” to describe the feelings experienced before departing on a trip of this magnitude. I don’t think I cold have come up with a better descriptive term. 

All in all, the day was a great success. I chose a slow and steady pace that enabled me to reach my destination, I don’t seem much worse for wear and I didn’t die! As an added bonus, I was also able to make a few observations throughout the course of the day that seem worth mentioning. While they may seem obvious, I believe it’s important to throw them out there for the benefit of anyone who might be planning a similar adventure.

  1. 21 miles is a really long way to walk! Again, some of these may seem obvious…
  2. When driving our personal vehicles, we may perceive the road we’re on to be relatively flat. Don’t fool yourself. Flat sections are indeed rare, and account for only a tiny percentage of a day’s walking.
  3. Walking in cold, blowing rain – regardless of how well prepared you are for it – is quite low on the fun-o-meter. It is best avoided.

Now that I’ve made mention of some of the less desirable parts of  the day, it seems only fair to spend some time talking about the things that made it amazing as well. 

When my partner Jill offered to walk a bit with me towards the very beginning of the day, I wasn’t sure it was what I wanted. But when she joined me after I had walked the first four miles alone, I was so thrilled to see her again! We got to say goodbye twice. That was a very good thing…

While the intermittent rain throughout the day was somewhat annoying, it brought something positive as well. Combined with new growth in the fields, forests and at the roadsides, its fragrance was intoxicating. The air was so heavy with the smells of an early summer rainy day, it appeared almost to have weight and texture. It is still in my senses as I write this, and will be carried with me for a very long time. 

Lastly, at the end of my long day of walking,  I had a surprise visit from my good friend Jeff. Out on his motorcycle, he stopped in to check on me and/or my condition. We got to chat for a bit while I inhaled some much needed food. Independence is a wonderful thing, and I look forward to spending time with my thoughts on this journey.  But it sure was nice to see a friendly face, even if I am only one day out. Thanks for checking on me, Jeff. It meant a lot…

Tomorrow promises to be another interesting day. In theory, I’ll move even more miles than I did today. We shall see. One way or another, I look forward to the challenges, the adventure and all of the events and occurrences that cannot be anticipated. A big thanks to everyone who waved at me through the course of the day, and who slid their vehicles over a bit to give me just a little more room on the side of the road. Very cool. See you out there…