Day 7 – When Options Dry Up

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!


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