Thursday, June 22nd, 7:25 a.m. – Departed from the Clark gas station in Stockton, Minnesota.
The Atmosphere’s Mood
Morning Conditions – Temp – 72* with high humidity / Wind – W at 5 mph / Skies – Overcast, heavy rain and thunderstorms to the north and south.
Afternoon/Evening Conditions – Temp – Remained at around 72* / Wind – W at 10 mph, gusting up to 25 mph as a result of passing storms / Overcast throughout the day with heavy rain and thunderstorms.
10:45 a.m. – Arrived at the Max Conrad Municipal Airport in Winona, Minnesota, 7.9 miles, 21,300 steps, 217 miles remaining.
The Day’s Highs –
- Beautiful Highway 23 – County Highway 23 stretches from the small town of Stockton, Minnesota to just north of Winona, Minnesota. It was slightly longer miles-wise than continuing on Highway 14, but in this case, worth every step. There was significantly less traffic than on Highway 14, and truck traffic was almost nonexistent. Relatively flat, the road curved around the beautiful, forested bluffs that the area is known for. Picturesque farm sites were tucked up against the hillsides, and rivers meandered through the valleys. Yes, it was a few more miles to walk, but those miles were as calm and relaxing as a summer evening.
- Patrick Stevens – I was nearly to the Winona Airport when a pickup truck pulled to a stop along side me. Patrick Stevens – the elderly gentleman behind the wheel – had a question: “You that fella I saw on TV last night?” I replied that I was, and we began to chat. A 71-year-old retired construction worker, Patrick lived in St. Charles – a town I had just passed through on the previous day. He told me that being out and about was part of his daily routine. ” I get tired of the same old conversations in my hometown,” he said, “so I go around to different towns and have coffee. I call it getting my head right. Saves me $100 an hour on a psychiatrist!” He shook my hand twice, and continued on his way. I can only hope I age as wisely and gracefully as Patrick…
- Time Travel with Kayla – I made some really cool friends while attending UW-Superior. Kayla Weltzien is one of them. Her family lives just south of Arcadia, Wisconsin, just across the river from Winona, Minnesota. Kayla graciously offered to come and pick me up at the airport and take me out to visit her family’s farm. At 11:00 a.m. – just before the skies let loose with incredible downpours – Kayla walked into the airport building. Words cannot describe how good it was to see her…Hanging out at the Weltzien farm reminded me so much of my younger days, and it took no time at all for me to feel welcome and at home. We had a delicious lunch, then went across the road to their barns. I learned what it takes to raise poultry on a large scale, stood amongst their Angus cattle and generally took a step back in time. While I no longer live the farming life, there are things about it that I truly miss. Thank you, Kayla. You made my day…
The Day’s Lows –
- Long, Short Walk – On a walk such as this, a change in perspective is inevitable. While practicing and conditioning myself before departing nearly four weeks ago, I considered 8 miles to be an impressive accomplishment. Now, walking 20 miles each day on average, that same 8 miles usually feels more like walking across the grocery store parking lot. Not today, though. Today it was the last 8 miles miles before taking a week-long break at our beautiful home in Duluth. Tired, sore and just wanting it to be done, the steps came really hard.
- Minnesota’s End – Reaching Winona, Minnesota meant several things to me. I felt great pride at the accomplishment of walking nearly 400 miles, and at traversing the entire Minnesota segment of the journey without serious accident or incident. I felt much stronger and wiser than when I began. I also felt a tinge of sadness. Looking back on all of the things I’d seen and the experiences I’d had, I couldn’t help but wish there had been more of them. Like anything else in life, there’s been a learning curve involved with this adventure. Now nearly two-thirds done, it feels like I’m just hitting my groove. Another walk in the future? Let’s just say I’m not ruling it out…
Lessons Learned – It has been 36 years since I lived or worked on a farm. Yet the rich experiences had while in that environment are never all that far away. Whether I want to admit it or not, the farming life formed me; its sights, smells and sounds can quickly pull me back to a time when dreams seemed simpler, and the life I would live was still largely in front of me. There was a magic in the anticipation of that life that has no equal in adulthood. While I would not want to go back, I would like to experience that magic again, if only for a day.