Friday, September 24, 2010
So we packed up and headed down the road toward Lake Logan and we were not but a couple miles passed Wal-Mart and a car pulled off the road and a guy got out of the car and walked up to Jeff and said, "Are you Jeff?" Jeff was really dumbfounded and said yes of course, and the guy told him he was the coordinator for the Old Man's Cave section of the Buckeye Trail that we were on. He had been looking for us since the day before because Andrew, the guy from the Buckeye Trail office in Shawnee, told him we were headed his way. His name is Byron and we have seen him many times since then. He was quite a blessing to have on the trail. He was our tourguide for part of the section and gave us some tips on places to camp.
The campsite at Lake Logan had a broken game machine. The recording went all day and night saying: "50 cent play". I wanted to play the ukelele there to the rythm of this "50 cent play" robot voice, but didn't quite have time. It's funny to not have time when there's no schedule. I was probably reading the bible and taking notes. The ukelele is going back in the mail today! It will be missed. Some volunteer opportunities have come up with the American Discovery Trail Society, which answered my non-denominational prayer. I'll be doing simple tasks for them while on the trail. Really grateful for the structure this trail provides. And everyone who contributes to it.
Byron gave us a tour on the Emma (Grandma) Gatewood trail which goes through Old Man's Cave. Both of those names make you think of respecting elders! At age 67, Grandma Gatewood was the first woman to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in one season--with a pillow case for a backpack and Keds tennis shoes. She did this two more times, walked across the United States (pre-ADT), and bought the first can of blue paint for the Buckeye Trail's blue blazes. What a cool lady. The "old man" of the cave was a recluse who lived there a few years. He befriended the Native Americans there. As Byron walked with us, he told all kinds of stories about trail maintenance, rescues in winter, environmentalists. There's a curved steel bridge that used to be straight. A flood, carying a large tree, rushed through and caused it to change shape. Byron really likes that story to show something simple like water can actually bend steel if there's enough force. The 3 miles he walked with us are on the maps as part of our route anyway. Those 3 miles were astounding--so beautiful--Byron wished he could see it through the eyes of some one new to the area. This walking trip continues to show us interesting things every day. It's hard to explain what it was like to walk the Emma Gatewood Trail, knowing we had gotten over to it walking, and not knowing where we'd sleep that night. You can see the wonders of national and state parks by taking a trip for that reason. We ended up at this one, not by accident exactly, but as part of our trip with no ending date. After rural roads and towpaths, here was this national treasure.
Ok, I think that enough time has gone by since we were at Lake Logan that I can now tell my mother this story. When we were camped out at Lake Logan we rode out a very intense, confirmed tornadic, thunderstorm in our tents. We had a guy come running over to our tent in the craziest downpour you could imagine, and told us at the top of his lungs that we better head for the bathrooms to be protected from the tornado. I had to poke my head out of my tent and ask him 4 times what he was saying because the rain was so loud. It was so loud inside the tent from the rain that Kristin and I had to basically yell at each other to have a conversation. This guy's poor little miniture poodle looked like something you would pull up out of your shower drain with a coat hanger! Pitiful. Anyway, we decided to wait and see what happened, and so Kristin and I just prayed and put our trust in the One who makes the tornados. Right after we prayed, it stopped raining cats and dogs and the sun started to peek out. It was awesome! Some accounts say that the tornado went right over us on the map, and some say that there wasn't one at all. Who knows, but we are pretty used to twisters, coming from Oklahoma and all! Ok mom you can breathe again.
Now, on to where Eva left off......Old Man's Cave was just beautiful. It is going to be hard to describe it in words because I don't have much time for typing and consulting the thesaurus. If you want to look at pictures of Old Man's Cave, Cedar Falls, and Ash Cave, just do an image search on google. Your keywords will be "Hocking Hills State Park," or "Old Man's Cave Gorge." You should be able to find them from there. For those of you reading this that attended Kristin and I's hitchin' festival (wedding) at Robber's Cave State Park, it's kinda like that on steroids with lots of waterfalls!! Incredible. Byron had hooked us up at Hocking Hills S.P. with a free place to camp. Which is great because it was $20 for a tent site with no water, smelly pit toilets, and a half a mile walk in. We stayed in a campsite the first night, and then at the old abandoned outdoor chapel the second. What a great time. Oh and we finally got showers! It had been like a week. From there we hiked down the Grandma' Gatewood trail with Byron like Eva said. Byron left us when we reached Cedar Falls, but before he left he told me of a piece of property where we could camp for free in about 14 miles. When we got there it was all nice and mowed with a fire pit and no noises around except the natural things! It was so nice that we ended up staying 2 nights there too! Byron came down to visit us the first night and we made sure to leave the place nice and tidy with plent of fire wood already cut and laid out for the next people. We did have an interesting visitor pull up into this remote campsite to give us two warm bottles of water, which kinda put us on edge for a while, but again we just prayed for protection and a good nights rest. Which we got! Slept like a baby! So after camping there for 2 nights we headed back out on the road to get to Richmond Dale, OH where we are now. We were now going to be entering into the Scioto trail section of the Buckeye trail. That was of course after the Old Man's CAve section gave us swift kick in the rear on the way out. We got to the end of the Old Man's Cave section and had to tackle this insane jeep trail. It was straight up for what seemed like a mile or more and straight down the other side. The trail consisted of very large, very loose rocks thrown about in very loose, very dusty, very steep ruts. It was all garnished with a heavy sprinkling of very large, very round, very marble-like acorns!! We went from the beautiful scenic gorge with concrete stairs and people taking wedding pictures, to an insane iceskating rink for mountain billy goats!!! It was crazy! Thank you Old Man's Cave Section of the Buckeye Trail. I guess you had to get in the last laugh. Anyway, on the way to Richmond Dale we had to go through Tar Hollow State Forrest. When we reached the boundry for the state forrest it was getting late and we decided to guerilla camp behind the maintainece buildings for the park. We hung our food high up in the trees and camped close to the back of the buildings. It is getting dark earlier and being down in a holler behind a big building, it got dark fast! Just as I was starting to doze off I saw two large, dark, four-legged animals making their way across the grass infront of the tent. Keep in mind that we had stopped for pizza at a little gas station about 2 miles back and the man there showed us pictures of some very large black bears in the area. So this was weighing slightly on my mind. So when I saw these dark 4-legged creatures making their way infront of our tent my heart shifted into 5th gear! I watched them for a few seconds then rose up to shine the light on them. Before I could get the light turned on, they heard me and ran off. Then they proceeded to make the most distinctive sound that I am all too familiar with. They started to "blow" at us. It was a group of whitetail deer!! I chuckled at my paranoia, Kristin sighed a sigh of relief, and we drifted off to La-la-land. We woke up before sunrise as to avoid detection from any park employees and headed over to the trail. It was great! First thing in the morning we get to fight back the greenbriars going up a series of very steep switchbacks! That'll wake a person up in a hurry! So we fought our way through Tar Hollow State park and over to Pine Lake. We had to take off our packs and pass them through the tops of trees that had blown down several times. We negotiated washed out trail on the side of very tall and steep moutainsides. And worst of all, the weeds were 15 feet high in someplaces. I had to hack out the trail with my hiking poles just to find the next blue blaze!! Then half the time the blue blazes were just not there for a long time! Then as we made it to the top of the state park we encountered a fierce wind storm. Limbs and trees were being blown over everywhere and the leaves and trees that didn't fall were standing out sideways. So we came across a big shelter with picnic tables and a large fireplace. We decided to make camp there for fear of having a large tree end up in our tents in the middle of the night. We cooked an awesome meal from a can of beets, a can of sweet potatoes, a can of tuna, 2 rice sides, and some freeze dried veggies. We just threw it all in one pot and chowed down. After fighting back the forrest for a few days, that was the best meal we had ever tasted! Then at 2:00 in the morning some drunk locals rudely drove up past our tents and over to the pit toilets. They promptly got out and started removing the excess alcohol from their bodies. They stayed for about 20 minutes and then I guess they figured out that they wern't alone and drove off. That left all of us a little on edge and none of us got very much sleep. The next morning instead of fighting back the forrest and playing trail maintainers for the day again, we decided to walk the road that paralelled the trail. We went down it as far as we could until we had to jump back into the woods. We followed a well groomed horse trail for most of the day and then it came out into a clear cut logging area. It was great! They left all the trees standing that had the blue blazes marking the trail, but they had bulldozed all the tree tops over into the trail!! It was COMPLETELY IMPASSABLE! We had to climb up the side of the mountain walking ontop of the downfall and then scramble down the hillside through head high weeds and tree tops. It was pretty nasty. We eventually reached a road where we took a break. While sitting down on my backpack, I heard a car door slam pretty close to us down the road. Oh, I forgot to mention that we had run out of water early that morning back at the shelter. So we were hacking through the forrest on a very hot day with no water. OK so we made it down to where we had heard the car door and found a little trailer!
Jeff knocked on the door of the little trailor and a family answered the door and gave us some icecold water. They told us we could sit and relax for a while on their porch swing and their 4 year old stood on the porch talking to us. He came out and said "Jesus lives in heaven", I said "that's right, do you know where else he lives?" He said no, and I told him he lives in my heart. I said I had a song for him and sang some sunday school songs for him and then I began getting requests from the family for songs to sing. They even brought out a guitar and Jeff, Eva and I sang some spirituals and hymns. When we left their house we walked down Blue Lick Rd and before too long a man in overalls and a conductor's hat pulled up beside us and asked if we were following the blue blazes. We told him we sure were and he said he was Mr. Detty. Mr. Detty is on our map for being a good mail drop for through hikers so we were exited to see him. He asked if we were worn out and wanted a ride. He must have been reading our minds because that is exactly what we were hoping he would say! He said hop in and he would take us to Londonderry. I asked how far Richmond Dale was because Byron told us of some trail angels that lived there. He knew exactly who I was speaking of and he took us straight to their house. When we pulled up to their driveway I saw the ADT sign on the post beside the house. Then Mrs. Connie Snyder came out to see who was pulling into her driveway. Mr Detty told her he had picked up some hikers. We all got out to greet her and got our packs out of Mr. Detty's car and wished him farewell. She said she had been expecting us since yesterday. She also said she had just found out that there were 3 of us. She showed Jeff and I the hikers quarters which was in the basement. It was a nice bedroom with a full size bed and a cool shower she had rigged up just for stinky hikers!! She showed Eva to a cute little room upstairs. Then we all met and sat around and talked and got to know each other. She fixed us some yummy fruit salds and eggs with toast to tide us over for dinner. Her husband Mike came home shortly and we all sat around and talked about some of the other hikers that had been through. We decided to stay another night so we could all get the things done that we needed to get done. So now we are enjoying a nice relaxing day, typing the blog, and mailing things and such. Tonight we are going to Point Pleasant WV with the Snyder's to the place where they do square dancing. We are all really exited! I feel very fortunate to have met the Snyder's. Connie and I have sat around talking about many things. She is a very interesting woman, she used to be a Jehovah's witness and I did not know much about them until last night. I am always interested in hearing about other religions beliefs and views. Oh and she is also a fabulous cook. She made homemade pies and I tried Rubarb pie for the first time! Tomorrow we will be heading toward the Scioto Trail and Pike Lake and we have heard that there is more overgrown trail to come so until next time. I hope we all make it out alive and a little stronger!!
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
The Buckeye Trail has been really great for walking feet. We've put in some 10 mile days without realizing it. While we were setting up a lunch campfire, some one came by and offered us rabbit. His name was Chris, and he raises rabbit to eat on his land nearby. Now, typing this, I apologize to my vegan and vegetarian friends. You can skip down a few sentences. It's nice to know where the meat comes from, which isn't always possible with a grocery store. It was delicious. Later on, we met Norma Jean. Her family used to own portions of the park which are now available for public use. She's been connected to the land her whole life. Her car broke down, so between the three of us, we helped her, and helped her get help for it. Norma had lots of stories, life philosophies, and hysterical sense of humor. As for me, I'm still working on meshing the reality of this cross-country walk with volunteer service. I'd like to help out along the way in towns and for the trail itself. Still researching the options. I don't want to walk as a vacation. There are many ways to give back.
OK so after we had woken up from a great nights sleep at Burr Oak State Park we took off back down the trail. We hiked around the south end of the lake and across the Dam where we found a bathroom with running water!! It's amazing how a good 'ol sink shower will brighten up your day! After freshening up and putting on clean undies, we headed back down the trail. We made it maybe 100 yrds when we ran across a Corp of Engineers office. We decided to stop to talk and found a couple of very friendly Corps. guys there. They offered us water and a snack and asked if we would sign the guestbook, which we gladly did. They were interested in our walk, but knew that we looked like we wanted to get moving so we kept it brief and started walking. About a mile down the trail we came to a highway and the blue blazes that mark the trail took a left down the highway and then promptly dissapeared. If I hadn't happen to look back over my shoulder I wouldn't have seen the trail kiosk tucked back into the woods just past the guard rail on the road. So we hopped the guard rail and headed back into WNF. The trail took us on a series of switchbacks with only a few inches of footpath between us and a steep slide down the mountain. It was pretty cool. Soon the footpath reached the top of the ridge and miandered over the hills and through the woods. It really was lovely to walk in. We hiked all day and took a few breaks. When we hit the gravel road on the other side of Trimble Wildlife Area we couldn't find a decent place to put our tents so we just had to keep walking down the gravel road. Gravel roads are pretty bad on the body. So after a few more miles of gravel we sat down to rest our feet. Still no place to pop our tent, we thought we would have to keep walking. That is, until we heard Ron's pickup coming down the ridge. He stopped to ask if we were alright and we asked how far it was to the blacktop. He said that it was a few more miles, and he must have seen our faces droop because he offered to give us a lift. We all looked at each other and nodded in approval! So we jumped in the bed of his truck and he wisked us down the road. When we started seeing houses we knocked on the back glass for him to stop and we climbed out. He said that this house right down the street would probably let us camp in their yard. So we gave Ron our blog and bid him farewell. As his truck went around the bend and out of sight we were loaded up and headed to the house he suggested. When we got there a woman was already outside unloading her groceries from her car. We asked if we could camp in the yard and she said we could. We quickly set up our tents, and while the girls were doing some stretches to unwind from the long day I figured out that we had done about 13-14 miles. It was the most we had done since Eva joined us and we all felt that it was a pretty good day of hiking. So we spent the evening talking and were serenaded to sleep by the cooing and clucking chickens. We woke up and were kind of rudely asked to leave by the woman's elderly father. So we packed up quickly and left. I guess they had second thoughts on letting us camp there or something. Anyway, once we started walking I realized that we weren't seeing any more blue blazes and that we were probably off the trail. I remembered that Ron had taken a turn and that we were farther East than we were supposed to be. No big deal though because we reached the highway we were supposed to reach and just walked down it a little further than was intended. So we ended up in Murray City anyway and asked a man where the place to get some breakfast would be. He kinda looked at us, then looked at our packs, and back at us, then kinda chuckled and said, "the American Legion 'might' be still serving food." He pointed the way and we walked over and right on in. It was a full on bar with guys in there that had obviously been there long enough to drink a few beers. It was 11:00 am. They said that they wern't officially serving breakfast anymore, but that they would fire up the grill and make us whatever we wanted anyway!!! What awesome folks! We got the best breakfast. We're talking heaps of eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, and toast. PER PLATE!! It just made me smile from ear to ear. We had coffee, orange juice, a couple of bags of chips and they filled up our bottles with ice water. Then they only charged us $5 a piece!! Well we spent a couple hours in there telling them about our journey and just generally chatting. It was very nice and relaxing. Once we decided to leave we went next door to stock up on trail food at the carry out and stuffed it away and headed back out on the trail. After another 4 miles of gravel, we found the woodsy footpath. We walked basically straight up this ridge. Once the blue blazes reached the top of the ridge they made a hard left then came out onto a jeep trail. This is where the trail markers just vanished like Houdini. I mean we walked a couple hundred yards in every direction and found nothing!! We went back to the last known marker and they literally just dissapeared. So we walked down the jeep path (which went in the general direction we wanted, N.W.) and came to a oil pump location where we decided to set up camp for the night. Of course it started to rain as we were setting up our tents and quit just as we finished setting up. It was saturday night. Luckily we had a map of the area, thanks to Jim Shaner, and were able to deduce apporximately where we were and kept traveling unmarked trails. We crossed two roads, doubled back twice and then finally met a dead end 80 yards from the final road we had to get to. We wound up bushwacking the last 80 yards and reaching the road. I double checked the map and deduced we should go left. We would either run across the trial again, or we would come to an intersection where we could walk the road on into Shawnee. We were trying to get to Shawnee for church. Well we found the trail and after scratching our heads as to how we got off course, we put a quickening in our step and actually made it to tecumseh lake just outside of Shawnee in time for church. As we emerged from the thick woods into the manicured lake property we saw a pair of squirrel hunters coming out of the woods on the other side of the lake. We met up with them at the north end of the dam by there car. It was a father and his son, and they had each gotten a nice spuirrel. We chatted for a second and they told us where to go in town to get to a church, and they also told us where the local greasy spoon was! We parted ways and walked on into town. We stopped at the carry out (convience store) and got something to drink and continued on to church. We arrived right in the middle of sunday school and were welcomed by pastor Cliff. He told us we could leave our packs in the lobby and "come on in!" It was a little white church with nice country folks in there studying the bible. We briefly told Cliff what we were doing and he thought it as great. He also asked if we would mind sharing our testimony, and we gladly accepted the opportunity to speak.
The service was nice. The sermon was awesome becuase we had been explaining to Eva the significance of the law for the last few days and the sermon was all about that. It is so nifty the way the spirit works. Then the service was ended with communion. It was a great end to our Sunday morning. After church a nice lady named Joyce offered to let us do laundry and take showers so we hopped in her car and went home with her. We ended up spending all day with her and swapped God stories! She was a lot of fun and we will be keeping her in our thoughts and prayers. By evening we decided we would just go camp at the Lake and Eva mentioned seeing a sign that camping was only permitted by written notice. So Joyce called the mayor. He gave us permission and we were so grateful. After a long goodbye with Joyce we headed to the lake and stopped to get a pizza first! We all had a nice rest that night and when we got packed up Eva decided she wanted to send some emails before leaving cell phone range and so Jeff and I went to get some water from town. On the way through town we stopped at the headquarters for the Buckeye and North Country Trail. We talked to the coordinator, Andrew, for a while and thought Eva would probably have many questions for him, and so Jeff and Andrew went to pick her up in his truck. We got some emails out and made some more cards. I even sent out an email to a christian brother we met back at Dolly Sods to see if he wanted to come walk with us for a couple days. I thought I remembered him saying he lived in Ohio. We ended up leaving finally around 1 p.m. We walked through the woods a little while longer and came to a wide spot in the road and set up camp there. The next day we packed up and were all ready to go and Eva was not quite ready so we just said we would meet her down the trail so she could have some time to herself. We met back up with her ten miles down the way. Jeff and I were out of water so we were really anxious to get back to the roads. When we did we stopped at the first house and met a nice fella named Bud. He filled us up and we walked another couple miles and sat to eat some lunch and checked to see if we had phone service. When I turned my phone on I had two messages from Chris Hunter, the guy I had sent an email to about walking with us. He was in the area and was waiting on us to call him! "Wow!" I thought, I did not expect him to call so quickly. Eva came soon after that and we all headed down the road together and we stopped to say hi to some folks and they asked if we wanted a ride to Logan. We thought for just a few seconds and we all decided it would be a great idea. So we hopped in the car with them and got dropped off at the library where Chris called and said he was 15 minutes away and he would see us in a bit. When he found us we were all pretty hungry and we decided to find a cheap local place to eat. We ate at Bush's restaurant and our waitress, Haley, had all kinds of questions and said we could camp in her back yard! We said that sounds great. She was probably more exited than we were!! We went to her house and all 4 of us sat around and talked about God, prophecy, conspiracy, philosophy, and hiking!! Then it got dark so we set up our tents. Chris slept in his car. Haley came home and shared her dinner with us and said she would cook breakfast for us in the morning. That is today. She did cook us breakfast and asked us all kinds of questions. We sat around all afternoon talking and just relaxing and then decided to come to the library to type a new blog. Oh yeah and Jeff and I talked a couple days ago about checking to see if the thrift store had some long-johns, and you wouldn't believe it, Haley gave me some, and I did not even tell her I needed any!! She is a sweet young lady and she insists that we be friends for life. Before she headed to work she said she would like to have a bible study with all of us when she gets home. So we of course said YES!!! That is our favorite thing ever!!!!!! Oh and we recieved a nice box at the post office. Thanks Jenn and Mom for all the goodies! We already ate all the cookies!! Well.....until next time...Peace, grace, and love to you all!
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
While getting to know Phil I could not stop singing because I was so exited to meet Eva. I had been counting down the hours and minutes since I found out when she would be arriving. I think I sang probably every song I know while at Phil's Sunday evening. He said he enjoyed it, so I didn't see any reason to stop! I thought that is would be nice for Eva to have a welcome poster when she got off the bus and so I looked around for something to make it out of and I found a nice white pizza box. It was perfect!! Phil had some markers and Jeff and I decorated it nicely with her name really big. It was fun and it helped to occupy my mind while we were waiting.
So when we decided it was time to get on the road to pick up Eva, Kristin's bubble meter went through the roof! I think she asked 300 questions and ran over at least that many possible answers to those questions before we reached the station 20 minutes away. She was bouncin'....she was bobbin'....she was dancin'....she was singin'....and most of all, she was grinnin' from ear to ear! I don't know how Phil got us to the station alive with all that going on behind him! Must be those nerves of steel that uncle sam gave him. I was just hoping that we still had a ride back from the station! :) So we arrived a little early and Kristin was the first one out of the van. All I see is the last of Kristin's hair flowing around the building with that crazy sign in tow, and my feet haven't even hit the ground yet! Phil had a look upon his face like he had just let his best friends puppy out the front door and watched it run down the street! I'm sure he was thinking, "I hope she knows to come back." Ha! Well Phil and I catch up to Kristin just around the corner there and she is standing with both hands gripping that pizza box sign and she is jumping up and down grinning and giggling. Keep in mind that this is the major bus station hub in Parkersburg, WV. There were all of 3 people there besides us and one of them looked like a permanant fixture. The building wasn't even open they were just sitting outside on the curb. I can't even imagine what they were thinking when they saw my wife come around that corner. So we are all there waiting for Eva's bus, and Kristin is running up the sidewalk asking if she should stand here, or should she stand there, or would it be better to stand here, or where is the bus going to stop? I felt like we were in either an episode of an Alfred Hitchcock or Veggie Tales! I guess what I'm trying to say is that she was a little excited. So the bus arrives on schedule and as it's pulling in we see Eva making her way to the front, and would you believe it, Kristin gets nervous and hides behind that crazy pizza box sign! Of course, that didn't last long and after a round of hugs and introductions, we were back in the van and headed back to Phil's!
Before Eva got there Phil showed us his camper which had 2 beds in it perfect for Jeff and I, and Eva. I told Phil that we would like to sleep in the camper so he does not have to give up his bed. So when Eva got there we decided we would name the camper Hiker Haven. Before heading to the camper we said goodnight and thank you to Phil. Jeff, Eva and I stayed up a couple more hours and got to know each other a little bit. I think it was around 1:30 in the morning before we got to sleep. The next morning when we all were awake we hung out with Phil a little and then decided to go for a short walk down the rail trail to let Eva break in her pack. Her pack was pretty heavy but I think she sent just enough home to make it bearable. When we got back to Phil's he had returned from his engagement and wanted to make sure we had everything we needed. He was soooo.... helpful. Eva decided to make some granola with the oatmeal she had brought with her and Jeff and I packed up our bags. We were waiting on Mr. Benson to arrive so we could go with him to get his wife and take his '63 Impala back to Cairo for a day of getting to know Eva. We had to get back to Cairo by 4 p.m. because Sharon and Paul, the amazing trail angels from West Union, were going to pick us up for dinner so they could meet Eva. As soon as we got to Cairo and put our bags away in the house we walked over to the town square and Sharon and Paul were already waiting on us. We drove to Harrisville to eat Chinese food and Eva got to ask about the other hikers that had come through and stayed with Sharon and Paul. On the way back I told Eva it was ironic how the first day of her being with us we were driving in a car so much...She is walking to increase awareness about other options for transportation than cars. I will let her explain that to you though because I feel I might butcher the presentation.
You don't always meet a husband and wife who have given up so many attachments to follow their truth. Jeff and Kristin are a real inspiration. We've talked about theology and some of our deeper values. Then there's the silly side. Jeff showed me a video of Kristin bouncing around the Greyhound. Me: "That reminds me of myself". Jeff: "Uh-oh." It's now Monday, September 6th. We still have continueing-to-get-to-know-each other to do. This past week has gone by fast: hiking in hot weather, cooler weather, to planned and spontaneous destinations. We've read parts of Genisis by the camp fire. I am not Christian, although I come from a Christian family and believe in a higher power. I see truth in all the world religions. Kristin found a nice link between our reasons for being on the American Discovery Trail. She and Jeff are doing this to fellowship with believers about the preservation of God's Kingdom. My purpose is to work, volunteer, and walk for the environment, or the preservation of Creation.
The American Discovery Trail has already provided structure for folks who wanted to walk across the United States. However, it's not yet well-known. I hope to volunteer for the American Discovery Trail Society, or like-minded organizations to promote walking and biking as alternatives to the car culture. There are too many ideas/philosophies for me to write here. This is a summary. Some people hike this trail to raise money for charity organizations. Meanwhile, they get to know the small towns, big cities, desert, and snow-capped mountains. It's a more enriching way to get funds to non-profits than sitting at a desk. I see potential in this also becoming a "political dialogue path".
When you think about it, some organizations are linked to political ideologies. What do you want to support with your money? Ideas that affect how citizens live. Wouldn't it be exciting to send out a group of 20 cyclists, hikers, and equestrians who fill a spectrum of belief systems.= who disagree with each other. They could use the trail to raise funds for competing causes, while camping together and holding debates. They could draw a "map of ideologies" by interviewing people along the trail and color-coding geographical belief systems. When you're in a car, there's a wall between you and the neighbor car. You drive to pick up the newspaper that supports your framework of reality. Education for all ages could be expanded through walking. Slowing down, and needing to humble yourself by asking for water and a spot to camp means you have to connect to whoever is there.
"Fringe" thinkers like myself can get pretty idealistic. If I didn't have an idealist streak, I'd have let skeptic friends stop me from walking. The problem is maybe nothing grand will happen. Maybe I won't succeed in my mileage or activist goals. In day-to-day life, I try not to think too much about the "preservation of Creation". It will be hard to believe this walk has begun until more time passes. And yet, I need to keep sight of the broad goals. The oil industry is detrimental to nature. Example: the recent oil spill tragedy. It's detrimental to respectful diplomacy: the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Solar and wind power, vegetable-oil powered cars, "green" trends, all great. In addition to all that, there's a step most healthy citizens can take now. Go out and do something basic, something old, like walking. It's not really that cars are the problem, or that walking is the solution. The car vs walk is a symbol. Symbols are nifty. They get us to reflect on things.
So far, my thoughts have just been thoughts. I hope to walk all the way from here--Chesterhill, Ohio--to California. My idealist language will only mean something if it's backed up by experience. Who knows what will happen. Thanks for reading this! You're welcome to get in touch with me through Kristin and Jeff.
Even though my original reasons to walk might seem different from Jeff and Kristins', we've been having a great time so far! I respect their views. It's fascinating to talk to them about spirituality. I have a lot to learn and experience as their hiking companion, and hope we continue on as long as the weather permits.
If it weren't for Pastor Charlie's barbeque next door, I'd keep typing!
Ok, it's Kristin again. So that was an introduction of Eva, and I am sure she will be back on later to type some more.I really feel that God put the three of us together for more reasons than one and as we continue to walk together and learn from each other, I believe our purposes will gel together more and more. I appreciate Eva's young, free spirited way of thinking. I wish you could all get to know her. She is truly a beautiful creation of God!
So on with the story. After spending a night with the Benson's and getting to know Eva a little more we got dropped off at the Ohio river bridge which is the gateway from West Virginia to Ohio. We walked across and got all the way to a park across from Blennerhassett Island and found out that there was going to be a bluegrass show that night and so of course we stayed for it. We called Phil and invited him to join us. I am really glad we did because it turns out that he is a great dancer and Eva and I needed a dancing partner so we all three got up and did a little shimmying while Jeff watched and took pictures. After the concert was over we hopped in Phil's van and he took us to Hardees for some late night snacks and then we went to spend another night in Hiker Haven!! The next day Phil took us by the Parkersburg newspaper to be interviewed and then we walked across the bridge for a second time. We walked further that day though. We made it all the way to the Belpre library which I believe was around 4-5 miles. Phil picked us up again for one last night in the hiker haven. The next morning we all sat together and had a devotional and prayer. Phil took us back to the library and we walked to Veto Lake and when we were walking passed a house a nice gentleman yelled from his yard, "Are you guys walking the trail?" We all looked at each other and said, "yes we are". The man's name was Marvin and we were shocked that someone actually knew about the trail because not a lot of people do. Marvin knew about the trail because his son helped on the team of coordinators for the state of Ohio and he also helped to promote it by making all kinds of "American Discovery Trail" souvenirs. They invited us in for some cold drinks and we talked with them for quite a while. Eva got to talk to their son on the phone and she asked if he would like to come over in the morning so she could interview him. He agreed to come over and talk to us. Eva is also wanting to make a little documentary if possible when she is finished with the trail so we may have a youtube channel soon where people can look at some of the video's. I am really exited about that, I think it will turn out nice and will be good for our family back home so they can see us.
So after waking up from a very foggy and dew-filled night, we went inside the house to find Marvin's Wife making us bacon and eggs with toast! What a great bunch of people! We ate and talked until a few more people showed up. Marvin's son, Tim, being one of them. We all sat around and talked, and Eva got to interview Tim about his involvement in the ADT, until around noon I think. When we all realised that it was time to get moving.
It's easy to be comfortable when generous people feed and house you. Tim even offered us a ride as he drove by. If we'd have said yes, we would have missed the giant lilly pads on the lake. We walked slow to take in their beauty. That evening, we camped by the Layman church. I mentioned that my associations with the word "layman" are of non-religious people. That a monk might refer to some one who isn't ordained as a "lay-person". Kristin pointed out that "laymen" could be preachers who attained their calling by God , not by going to years of school. Which would make them very spiritual. The next day, we walked to Wagner's fruit farm. Alice shared stories-- and peaches and apples that wouldn't get sold. She said another Discovery Trail traveler had come through when there was a birthday going on! So not only did he enjoy fruit, he had a whole meal and birthday cake. We made a nice cooking fire farther down the road. The spot was so pretty and seemed okay for camping. But we still wanted to walk. Soon after our packs were on I got to thinking "what if we don't find another spot like this". Well we did. The property seemed neglected. It had an excellent view of the sunset where we read and discussed scripture. That night, a bird I didn't recognize sang its own sort of hymn. We found out today from Pastor Charlie the land we'd camped on used to belong to Basil Boggs. We met Pastor Charlie Sunday morning after packing up camp and walking up the road. It was around 10:30 am when we saw the church.
As soon as I walked up on the porch I felt the spirit like thick fog on a river. As I walked up to the door, Jeff told me not to interupt if they were in the middle of the service. It looked like they had started so I turned around and walked away from the door and just as we had all walked the opposite way of the door a man came out and said, "Come on in!" So we said, "okay!" We walked in and the pews were completely full and they were doing prayer requests. They sang a couple hymns accapella because the piano player was sick. They then asked if anyone had a song to share and I of course raised my hand and said " I DO". So I ran to the front and sang my anthem, "I Want Jesus to Walk with Me." After I sang another woman got up and sang a special with a recording and then another got up and sang about what heaven meant to her. They were both very touching and I got a little teary eyed. Then Charlie got up and shouted a sermon about comforting each other and how God comforts us. He was great, I could tell he was speaking from his heart and not from a sheet of paper he prepared all week. After the service was over many people came to talk to us about what we were doing. We got some information on the town we were headed to and someone offered us the community building to sleep in for the night. Another family asked what we were doing for lunch and we told them we were probably going to eat something while on the side of the road. So they immediately said we could just come to their house for lunch and we took them up on the offer. I am so glad we did because we got a delicious home cooked meal and we got to meet a beautiful family, and Eva got to do an interview with one of them about the trail. They took us back to the church after we were all full. We walked a few miles and Eva and I were singing when we realized Jeff was not right behind us. He was standing in front of a house without power lines going to it. I was exited because I heard that we were going to be going through Amish country and I couldn't wait to finally meet an Amish family. We all went up to the yard and Eva knocked on the door. We were greeted by 4 young boys all dressed in their conservative Amish dress and no shoes. They asked if we wanted to see their ice house. Basically it is a giant icebox with ice that they cut out of a frozen pond the previous winter. It was surprisingly very cold. We waited for their parents to come home in their horse and buggy so we could meet them as well. When they got there we introduced ourselves and Eva took an initiative to invite them to walk with us. Much to our surprise, they said yes. So we headed towards Chesterhill with 4 Amishmen. We talked about walking and their way of living and I asked them some questions about their beliefs. Then they pointed to the direction of the community building and we bid farewell. When we got to the community building nobody was there and the doors were all locked. Just a few minutes later a nice woman named Lisa came to unlock the door for us. We went in and made ourselves at home. Beverly, a family member from the nice folks who fed us lunch came over and brought with her two nice blow up matresses and some fresh sheets and pillows. That was so thoughtful of her and we were so appreciative.
So we are still in Chesterhill because we have a package to get into at the post office and it's Labor Day so they were not open today. We will hopefully be getting on the road tomorrow morning. We are so thankful for the people we have met the last few days. This journey would not be as amazing without them. Pastor Charlie and his wife fed us a wonderful dinner tonight and Marvin, the man who lived by Veto lake has been keeping in touch and checking in on us, and Beverly even said her nephew was very taken with us and was exited to meet us and hear about our journey. It is so amazing how we are inspiring and encouraging others as they are helping to make our journey feel like we are always at home wherever we go. I am so thankful for the people God is placing in our lives. I pray that the Lord will bless you all.