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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Friendship, IN to New Albany, IN

10.28.2010 -Right now we are camped in the back of an old country cemetery, but that story will have to wait. Let's go back to Friendship,IN where this saga ended last time...

We had heard that Cross Plains had a place where we could get some breakfast and groceries. So we woke up from the pavilion early and pointed our hiking poles west. We walked about another 6 miles to get to town and we were really hurting by the time we got there. Keep in mind that we had just eaten a whole bag of mini crullers and felt full, but we just didn't have the energy. So we dragged into this little country general store called Best Buy Groceries. It was great! They had the grill going and there were several locals in attendance to give us strange looks as we hobbled our way over to a table. Which was between the toilet paper and the catfish bait, and behind the candy rack. NO JOKE!! The man behind the counter was immediately very friendly and we soon felt right at home. His name was Ray and I think he might have owned the place but I'm not sure. So we picked out some iced teas from the drink coolers and Ray took our order. We both ordered Country Fried Steak with two eggs, hash-browns and toast! We sat there and talked with the fraternity of old men who apparently meet at Best Buy everyday. They were intrigued by what we were doing and offered a lot of "good" suggestions for us. We soon got our food and I think that was probably THE BEST country fried steak I've ever had! It wasn't the fact that we were really needing some real food, it was bonafide good!! I wolfed down mine so fast Kristin asked if I even chewed it! After eating an incredible breakfast we mustered up the courage to stand again. Our joints are really mad at us. Especially our hips. We needed some groceries and made a round through the isles and picked out a few things that didn't need to be cooked. We purchased our food stuffs and crammed them down into our bags. Ray, and the woman there, said that we better take some peanut butter fudge and pumpkin bread with us, and threw it down in our bag! You just never get tired of meeting loving, caring people!! Well, I had let my phone run completely out of battery and was charging it during this whole time, but it hadn't fully charged yet. So we had to stay there for a few more hours! Darn. We were there long enough to have the second shift come in to work. Her name was Dawn. The locals and Ray quickly filled her in on our story and soon everyone was asking lots of questions again. At this point we were trying to find a more direct route to get to Madison. Whenever we mentioned the roads the trail had us going on, everyone in the place started talking at once while shaking/scratching their heads. Apparently the trail had us going on a wild goose chase again so we asked to look at their county map. Here we are standing at the front counter with the map out, and there are about 6 fingers pointing out routes and roads and "hollers." Ray told us about an Amish family he knows about 3 miles down the road that would probably let us camp. And that there was a church just down the road from them also. We kind of settled on going to the church by the Amish house and trying to camp there for the night. After a while we were all just sitting around talking and laughing. So Dawn just came out and said, "if you guys are trying to get to Madison, I get off at 8:00. I'll just take you down there if you want."


Jeff and I thought about it for a little while and decided since we were so worn out and the trail was going to have us going way out of the way to get to Madison, we would just take the ride. We asked if she knew of a church in Madison that had a yard to camp on. She said her sister's church did and she could call and ask her if it would be ok. So we walked to the church down the road a couple miles and sat under their pavilion and called some people back home who we are missing. An older couple drove by and asked us how far we had gone and I asked how they knew we were walking. They said Dawn from the store had told them about us. We told them a little about what we were doing and they asked if we needed anything. I told them not unless one of them knew how to sew, because a couple nights prior I had ripped a hole in my sleeping bag. The lady said she wasn't, but the Amish right next door could probably help us. I thought that was a brilliant idea seeing as how we love the Amish folks! So we went to knock on the door of the Amish family but before we could even get to the porch several of them had come outside to greet us. The lady of the house came outside with a plateful of cookies to offer us. I told her I was hoping that she could help me with the hole in my sleeping bag. She asked to see it so I pulled it out and showed her the quick patch job I did in the tent. It's hard to sew thin nylon in the middle of the night with a straight needle and thread, while wearing a headlamp and trying to keep a gazillion feathers from going everywhere! She said she could put a patch over it and took it inside. While she was doing surgery on my sleeping bag the kids took me to see their many animals. They had goats, pigs, horses, a turkey, which I asked if they were having it for thanksgiving and they looked at me and said, no that's our pet! They also had cats and dogs and over 100 bunny rabbits. I am sure I am forgetting something but I think you get it, they had a bunch of animals!! So after the tour of the zoo we went back to the house and Mrs. Christner, the lady of the house had finished patching the bag. It looked great, I am so grateful for her help. They invited us in for dinner but we were still full from the big meal we had earlier. They invited us in anyway just to visit. She had made some homemade bread which smelled delicious and when she offered us some I could not decline it! She also made us a fresh cup of coffee. I asked if they liked to sing. They said they usually sing in the morning but before I knew it they were all holding songbooks in their hands. I asked if they knew any German songs and they said yes and began to sing it. It was so beautiful to hear the whole family singing together. I got a little tear of joy in my eye. They asked if I wanted to sing with them, I was so happy they asked. I looked through their song book to see if there were any songs I knew. There were a few and we sang them. Meanwhile, Jeff offered to sharpen Mr. Christner's pocket knife. We sang until Dawn came to pick us up. We really enjoyed spending time with the Christner's! I hope someday we will meet again, if not here, then in eternity! Dawn, her son, and her husband drove us to Madison, which was about 16 miles from where they had picked us up. They dropped us off at the North Madison Christian Church and gave us a bag of junk food. Yumm!!

That night was crazy! There were what seemed to be million miles an hour winds and that made for a noisy night. Since we set the tent up in the dark we did not take the time to stake it down. There was hardly any wind when we went to sleep, but soon after we woke up to loud gusts of wind coming up around the tent, blowing off the walls of the church and back over the other side of the tent. So we did not get much sleep that night. We still managed to wake up in a good mood though and went inside the church to thank them for letting us stay the night in their yard. There were several people there and we met the pastors who asked if we would like showers. We definitely needed showers!! So we smiled and told them that would be a blessing. A nice fella by the the name of Robbie took us to the showers and told us they also had laundry. We were so thrilled! Showers and laundry at the same time!! That might sound weird to be so exited about that, but if you have ever hiked a long distance then you know what I'm talking about! As our laundry was waiting to dry, a nice woman came and sat by us and talked to us. She asked if we needed anything. I told her we really were hoping to find a place to rest for a couple of days. She said she knew of a couple in downtown Madison that has taken in bicyclist and hikers before. My eyes lit up, it sounded like the perfect place. She told us they also had went across country on bicycles for a christian organization. She said her and her husband could drop us off downtown if we would like so we got our clean laundry and hopped in her car. It was a good thing we accepted the ride because we had just enough time to go to Dollar General and walk to the post office, where we had a package waiting on us. As soon as we got to the post office it started pouring down rain. It was so windy that the rain was coming down sideways and the gutter at the post office was unable to hold it. It looked like a water fall coming down in front of the post office door and it began seeping into the building. Jeff and I marveled at the weather for a bit and then decided we better put on our rain gear. By the time we got it all on the rain had slowed down to a sprinkle and we headed to the library to get on the computer. We wanted to check out the route the American Discovery Trail wanted to take us and see if we wanted to take a short cut. Shortly after we got to the post office the nice lady from the church who had given us a ride called and said the couple she told us about said to bring us on over. She said she would pick us up in thirty minutes to take us over there. When we got to the Canida's house Mr. Canida was there to greet us. He showed us to a beautiful upstairs quarters with our own room and bathroom and a nice view of the Ohio river. It was very beautiful and felt so peaceful, I could not wait to relax. Mr. Canida immediately started asking if there was anything we needed before he went back to work. He offered us food, showers, laundry and anything else we might need.


So Kristin and I got settled in at the Canida's house and hung our wet gear in the bathroom. When we went back downstairs we met "Doc" Canida. Doc was Mr. Canida's elderly father who was staying with them for a few days after having surgery. He couldn't hear or see very well anymore, but he was the nicest guy in town!! Soon after getting settled in and having some lunch, Kristin said that she would like to take a nap because we hadn't gotten much sleep the night before due to the crazy winds. So as she went upstairs to take a nap, I remembered the vintage music shop we had passed downtown on the way in. I told Mrs. Canida that I would like to walk over to the shop and have a look around. She said that sounded like a good idea and told me how to get there. When I got there I met Andrew. He was the son of the owner and we got to talking about all kinds of stuff. He let me play a bass or two and we shared hunting pictures and stories about big deer. He told me about his times working with the department of wildlife and a slew of other things. It was great to get out and be able to just relax there in the music store for a while. The name of the store is Crawdaddy Music and it has some of the coolest vintage instruments for sale! If you like vintage guitars/drums/basses/Ukuleles?... then you should give them a shout. Super nice people to talk to also! Thanks for letting me hangout in your store Crawdaddy's!


130 E Main St

Madison, IN 47250-3411

(812) 265-6087

After spending a few hours in Crawdaddys, I realised that it was getting close to 6:00pm. Mr. Canida had told us that they were going to be picking up a friend who was in town and we were all going to go eat somewhere. So I went upstairs and woke up Kristin and we all went to pick up their friend. On the way they showed us the route we were going to be taking when we left Madison, and some of the next town over. We were grateful to have a little insight on the upcoming trail for once, and noted some of the more dangerous spots in the road. We picked up their friend and we all headed off to eat dinner. We had Italian at a locally owned restaurant and had a great time talking and laughing. After dinner we took their friend back to the Lodge where she was staying. She was in town to give a seminar to the local dentists over things like infection control and ethics. She also needed some help setting up her brand new projector, and connecting it to her computer. So we went in and made sure that she knew how to hook it all up and turn it all on. She was a lot of fun! I'm sure that all the dentists attending this mandatory seminar were glad that she was so light and bubbly! So after passing myself of as an I.T. expert, Mr. Canida, Kristin, and I went back to the house to get some sleep. The next morning Kristin and I woke up to a quiet house with a note from Mrs. Canida regarding breakfast. We helped ourselves to some cereal and coffee and toast and sat down to eat. After cleaning up from breakfast we had a few things to get done. Kristin wanted to write letters and postcards and I volunteered to go to the laundr-o-mat to wash our sleeping bags. See, that is the reason we went to the post office in the first place. We had to pick up our sleeping bag laundry soap. Edmond Summit Company continues to go above and beyond a mere retail store. Our sleeping bags were really starting to get dirty and smelly. Also, Kristin's bag is stuffed with down, and it was starting to loose some of it's "loft" or insulating properties due to being dirty. So it was time for a washing. The problem is that you can't just throw in some Tide laundry soap and walk away and forget it. It would strip the natural oils off the down feathers and destroy the bag. Down takes a special detergent which is harder to find on the trail then a 5 leafed clover! So we told John back at Edmond Summit Company and he shipped us some THAT DAY!! He and his store have been so amazing on this trip and we can't help but feel like they are just the best ever! So if you people reading this blog are ever in the need for anything outdoorsy, from technical climbing gear to a warm pullover, you should be giving Edmond Summit Company a call. They are a local business who really care about the people who are their customers, and that is so important and so increasingly rare!!

Edmond Summit Co.

100 N Broadway, Suite 118

Edmond, OK 73034

Ok, Kristin took her coffee upstairs to write letters and I grabbed our sleeping bags and took off for the laundry. I had to walk all the way to the other side of downtown to get to the laundry that had two big front-loading washing machines. It took ALL DAY to dry that down bag! You can't dry those bags on high heat or it will melt the thin nylon fabric, so you have to dry them on low heat. Man those feathers get clumped up in there so bad that you have to take it out and knead it like bread dough to break up the clumps. I was doing that every 5-10 minutes!! It took over 5 hours to wash and dry our sleeping bags! They had to be completely dry or else they would mildew and that is NO BUENO! So after paying rent at the laundr-o-mat I headed back through town to the Canida's house. Their son and daughter-in-law had invited us all over to their house for dinner that evening. After helping Mr. Canida and his son hang a few banners for their dental practice's annual "halloween candy buy back," we all headed over for dinner. When we arrived the house smelled like lasagna!! It had just come out of the oven and after a quick tour of their beautiful historic home we all sat down for an amazing home cooked meal! We were able to share our testimony and a few "trail stories" over dinner. And after dessert "Doc" asked Kristin to sing him her favorite song! I gotta tell you that I NEVER get tired of hearing my wife sing!! Every time she sings I just can't help but be reminded of how blessed I am to be her husband. I'm so grateful to God for allowing me to have such a beautiful wife!! I'm sure that Jesus is tired of the choir director of heaven tuggin on his robe, daily beggin Him to bring her home already!! I'm just glad He takes pity on me and lets her stay down here on this rock!! I can't tell you how generous and caring all of the Canidas were to us! They truly are wonderful, loving people, and we will forever keep them dear to our hearts and in our prayers. We Love you guys!!


When we left the Canida's we walked down the main street of Madison with all the old buildings. On the edge of downtown I saw a vets office and low and behold they had a litter of kittens in the window. I ran inside to ooh and ahh at them and asked if I could pick one up. The runt was naturally the most social of the three. I picked her up and pet her till my heart was content and knowing I couldn't stuff one in my backpack, although for a second I went over in my mind how that might be possible, I put her back with the others in the cage and we headed back down IN62. We meandered around the winding highway till we came to Hanover college, where the trail took us to walk up a long winding road where we got a beautiful view of some waterfalls and cliffs and things. When we got to the campus we were pretty hungry so we decided since there was probably not a good place in town to build a fire we would just eat at a restaurant. So we stopped at the first one we saw. Mr. Canida had told us of some property he owned just a few miles passed Hanover so we headed there and we finally reached it just a little before dark. When we found the entrance to it we thought, "Oh my I hope it doesn't all look like this!" It was overgrown and thorny and not an ideal place for our tent. We walked through thorns, Jeff got hung up by a feisty limb, we chopped down vines and sticks till we got to a corn field. The corn stalks would be too rough for our tent as well so we walked back to the road and by that time it was dark and we were exhausted. Jeff told me that the property went all the way to the cemetery. So I said we would just have to walk to the cemetery and camp there. We really had no other choice. So that is what we did. We slept on top of dead people that night. Some of them had been there since 1815. So I was pretty sure they were good and dead. Once we got into our tent I was ok but when I woke up in the middle of the night I had to make myself not think about where we were because it kinda creeped me out. I slept pretty well though! Goes to show you we can call anywhere home these days!! We had slept in pretty late that morning. I think it was 11 when we finally got started walking. We made it 10 or so miles down the road none the less. That night we knocked on a couple doors to ask if we could camp somewhere but we were not successful so we just walked into a hayfield and tucked up under some trees by a creek. It looked fairly safe. The next morning we woke up to tons of frost on the ground, on our tent, and because we forgot to move our Crocs, they were all frosted over as well. We got packed up from there pretty early because we did not want to get in trouble in case the owner of the hayfield would not approve of us camping there. We walked about 5-6 miles and then kept passing all these cars and they were mostly Kentucky liscence plates. We wondered what was going on and then we got to a line of cars that were backed up to enter in the boyscout camp. We found out that they were putting on a haunted forest and apparently advertized very well because there were hundreds of cars lined up for this thing. As we were passing all this commotion I got a phone call from a new friend of ours that found us on the web. He is a beautiful child of God who has forsaken all things of this world and has also had some amazing experiences following the truth that IS Yeshua! We had some good converstaion and hopefully when we get farther west we can meet him face to face, if that is the Father's will. We sat down on a retaining wall for a few minutes to take a break and a police officer pulled up to us and asked what we were doing. We told him we were walking across the country and he could come talk to us if he wanted because he was holding up traffic. So he turned his car around and just pulled up back in the middle of the street and talked to us for a bit. We found out that we were actually just a couple miles from a town. So after exchanging some words with the officer we headed to Charlestown IN. As we were coming into town Jeff caught his foot in a hole and twisted his ankle and fell over. He looked to be in quite a bit of pain so I threw off my backpack and leaned over to make sure he was ok. We took off his shoe and I prayed that God would not let it be broken. He said it felt like he popped something and it was on the top of his foot. After a few minutes he decided it was just a tendon or something and he would be ok. So we got up and walked a couple more blocks. I was praying that if there was one person that in this town that could find favor with us that God would let us meet that person. Then we got to a 3 way stop and were not sure which way to go to the main part of town and there just so happened to be a man outside in his yard and so I walked up to him and asked him where the eating joints were. After just a couple minutes of talking to him we were putting our backpacks in his backyard and he was driving us to town! He said we could camp in his backyard and he would drop us off at the grocery store. I was so thankful the Lord answered our prayers quickly. We ate some Taco Bell, stopped by the grocery store and walked back to the nice man's house to meet his wife. There names were Ron and Sherry. They had actually only been married for a couple weeks. When we got back to the house they said we could take showers. That was so awesome of them to offer such a wonderful thing!!! I really needed a shower. This line seems familiar, I think I have typed it before! After showers we hung out with them for a while and they offered to take us to town to Dick's sporting goods where we were heading towards anyway. We needed to get a hydro lock for my camel back so when I forget to remove it from my backpack at night I won't wake up with big puddles! (AGAIN!!) On the way home someone mentioned iceream and they said there was a Graeter's in town. My eyes got really big and I said, "oooohh can we go there?!!" So we were in the car before we knew it and at Graeter's with icecream in our hands! I tried a different flavor this time. It was something like cocunut almond fudge. It was delish!! Ron and Sherry offered to let us sleep in their spare bedroom. We had to kick the dog out of it though because that was her room. I don't think she was too happy about it because when we woke up the next morning if that dog was not in a kennel I don't think I would have a leg left! She was apparently not too fond of women. She loved Jeff, she just crawled right up in his lap and started licking him. But me, she just snarled at. When we walked back to their house from the grocery store we noticed a little church called "House of Prayer" that we though we would stop by for church since it was Sunday. So we thanked Ron and Sherry for thier hospitality and headed to church. They were having sunday school first and we studied 1 John. It was wonderful. Then as service was about to start the band was warming up and they asked if I wanted to lead singing. I guess they just knew I was a singer! They were also missing a bass player so of course Jeff came up and played! It was a blessing for us both!! After church one of the pastors said he lived in New Albany and he could give us a ride so we wouldn't have to walk on the busy highway. We said yes to the offer. We were really not looking forward to the highway walking. The pastor's name was Donnie and him and his wife took us to lunch and then insisted on putting us in a hotel room. They were such generous people. They picked us up a couple hours later so we could go to the evening service with them. On the way there we stopped at the Jeffery's place, some members of the church. They had a home where elderly people lived so they would not have to go to a nursing home. Donnie wanted to go by and see one of the women who lived there who used to go to the church. She was the sweetest little old lady. I sang her a song and we all prayed with her for her upcoming surgery. It was a very beautiful moment! I got teary eyed and so did she. Jeff wrote down our names for her because she wanted to pray for us. She thought Jeff was handsome and told him he should shave off his beard so people could see how handsome he is! I agree, you should see him these days. His beard is getting pretty crazy!! Well after the church service Donnie's son, who is just as generous as his dad took us to eat some dinner. Him and his wife were very lovely people. She is expecting a baby in just a couple weeks from now. I pray the Lord blesses them and their new baby and gives her a smooth delivery!
So we slept well in a nice bed and now we are finally finished with this blog. For those who are wanting us to blog more often (you know who you are!!), we are sorry it took so long. It is hard to type even though we got an iphone so we could do it more often. It is just a never ending process and by the end of the day we are so tired that it is hard to get a lot typed. We are getting really tired and praying that God would show us soon where to spend the winter. I am getting homesick but we don't think we are supposed to get off the trail. We are just trusting the Lord to keep us going strong until we get to the place we need to be. Please be in prayer with us about our wintering place.
Thank you to all of the wonderful brothers and sisters we have met in the last week! We have been so blessed by your kindness. We just pray that the Lord will bless you beyond imagination! We send our love to you all and pray that God will give you peace and grace and make you light in this dark and dying world! Remember to keep you mind on things above.

We love you all with the love of the Lord!

The Vandagriffs

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Aurora, IN to Cross Plains, IN

Hello Friends!
After typing the longest blog in our history at the Aurora library we strolled down main street to find something to eat. We passed a little Christian bookstore and decided to stop in and look around. The man there named Charlie was nice and helpful. He showed us around and asked us questions about our journey. We told him that our friend Jim Shaner who was going to pick us up to go to the creation museum was also walking the trail. He said, "Yea! He came in here a few weeks back." We thought that was pretty cool! So we picked up a few tracts and a new pendant to make me a new necklace and we were off to find food. Imagine that right? So a few doors down we saw the sign for Acapulco Mexican Restaurant! We didn't even have to ask one another if we wanted mexican, we just walked right in. My mouth started to water as soon as we opened the door. Chips and salsa and enchiladas and burritos and beans and rice and drinks!! Followed up with a couple of York Peppermint Patties! Yum. So we had a filling meal and asked our waiter where the laundromat was in Aurora. He pointed down the street and said it was less than a block away. How convenient! So we hoisted our packs up on our backs once more and set off to find the laundry. Unfortunately as we were going out the door of the restaurant I was adjusting the straps on my pack and didn't see the step down. I didn't even have time to react. I just rolled my left foot down over the step and went down hard. All my weight came down on my right knee like a jackhammer on the concrete sidewalk. Don't forget that I'm wearing a 40lb backpack! It literally made my teeth hurt it jarred so bad! Well this was not good. As I limp over to the laundry it feels like my knee cap might be broken. I propped it up in a chair and examined it while Kristin ran to get some ice for it. Luckily It looked like it might just be bruised real bad but it sure hurt like the dickens! Kristin brought back some ice and we threw our clothes in the washer. I stayed in the laundromat while Kristin went to explore the little downtown area. About the time I'm putting the wet clothes into the dryer, Kristin comes strolling back in with postcards In her hand. We found a church in the town that was having a Wednesday nite service and decided to walk over as soon as our clothes were dry.

~ Jeff

We walked quite a ways to the Assemblies of God church and when we got there we were warmly greeted by everyone in the wednesday night bible study. We came in the middle of a study they were doing about how the stars and constellations tell the story of the bible. It was pretty neat, it would probably be even more interesting if we had got the entire lesson from the beginning. It will be something I would be interested in researching more about at some point. After the study was over Jeff was talking with the pastor and he offered to put us up in a hotel. We thought this was so gracious of an offer. We told them we were very content staying in our tent, and all we needed was a piece of safe grass, but once again God's children prefer to spoil us. When we told them we were going to the creation museum with our friend Jim, they said a member of the congregation had passes. They called them and had them brought over for us at the hotel. What a wonderful gift!!! Thank you so much Hosanna Assembly of God!!! Jeff and I got a great night of rest and the next morning we woke up, showered, and waited for Jim to arrive. When Jim got there we put our packs in his tiny trunk and whisked away to the museum. We got to the museum around 10:30 and a van full of kids pulled right in before we did. They had a Jesus fish for every kid on the back door of their van so of course Jim took the opportunity to ask if they would all pray for America. They said of course and Jim tallied them up to be 11 total and marked them down in his little notebook. We left the museum around 4 p.m. and still did not see everything. It was so amazing I wish I could go again! Jim took us back to Aurora so we could return the passes to their owner. We were not sure yet where we were going to spend the night. We called Nick, the guy who owned the restaurant and he didn't answer. I knew Jim was wanting to get back to his hotel before dark so I asked the man who met us to get the museum passes if he had a backyard. He said yes so I just bluntly asked if we could camp in it and he said yes. So we followed him to his house and said till next time to Jim and went with this nice gentleman to his backyard. I had not even asked him his name I don't think. After him showing us to the flattest part in his yard I asked him what his name was, it was Tom. Tom had a dog who was apparently curious about us because after setting up our tent he came out and said he did not think things through, because they had a week old grand-baby and the dog would not stop barking so us being in the backyard was not the greatest idea. He tried to offer to put us in the hotel again but Nick, the restaurant owner, had actually called back and said we could camp on his property.

~ Kristin

So Tom said since we had another place to stay he would like to take us to dinner. We all settled on Chinese food. He took us to the "new" place in town and it was great! While we ate dinner we got to know Tom and found out he was a bassist and his wife was a musician too!! Who knows what kind of music we all could have made. So after dinner Tom drove us over to Nick's house. Nick had told us to tell his forman, Stanley, that we wanted to camp on "the point." After going down a half-mile long driveway we rounded the corner and saw Nick's place. It is a beautiful pole barn with living quarters upstairs. Stanley met us when we pulled up in the circle drive with a puzzled look on his face. We hopped out and told him who we were and what we were doing, and asked if Nick had told him about us? He said, "no but that's ok." We told him that Nick said we could camp on the point and he said ok. He started to walk in the direction of where we were going to camp and we said, "hold on we have to say goodbye to Tom!" So we gave Tom a big hug and thanked him for dinner and for driving us to Nick's. We saddled up our pack and followed Stanley. He took us back to a place where there was an over-look of the crick and a firepit with chairs. It was a perfect place to camp. On the way out there we were followed by this really friendly kitty cat. So of course that meant that Kristin no longer held the mental capacity to help me clear away the sticks and set up the tent. She was lost somewhere in her mind where she goes when she sees a kitty. I think a 12 headed alien could land their glowing spaceship on her foot and get out to take "samples," and she wouldn't even know cause, "Ooohh LOOK HUNNY!! THERES A KITTY!!" Ok so I set the tent up and sat down in one of the chairs to relax. It wasn't 10 seconds and that cat was now in MY lap obviously wanting me to do something for it. Of course Kristin was oh so helpful in translating the cat's behavior for me by saying, "Awww she wants you to pet her!" Im sure you can imagine how that turned out. Anyway we got a great night's rest and we woke up to the sounds of abundant wildlife. Then we heard Taco. Taco is a very boisterous chihuahua and is only about as big as his name sake. He sure was curious about this big yellow talking orb in his back yard. We then heard Nick's voice asking if we were awake and if we liked coffee. It was quite chilly and a thin layer of frost covered everything outside the tent. Because of the cold it had been difficult to get out of our sleeping bags, but when the word coffee reached our ears we sprang into action. We had everything torn down and when I finally put the tent in my pack and cinched it down, I looked up to see the tiny speck that was my wife. Already back across the pasture and standing on the back porch with Nick. As I walked back across the frosty field I noticed the tracks I was leaving behind. I did not however notice any other tracks going across that field. I scientifically deduced that my wife flew out of the tent and across the field in a single bound at the very mention of the word "coffee."


When Jeff finally caught up with Nick and I, he was inviting us inside. His house was very beautiful. He said he designed it himself. We poured coffee and Nick gave us plates for our granola bars and invited us to the living-room for coffee talk. He began asking us questions about our journey. All he knew about it was the holy spirit led us to do it. Just that simple remark left him intrigued though so he inquired about how the holy spirit led us to do such a thing. We told him it was a really long story and he leaned back in his chair and said, "I got a little time." So we shared our testimony with him as he stopped us to ask questions throughout the story. He was very inquisitive! After sharing with him, he told us a little about his project he had going on his acreage. He owned/ raised race horses. He had about 30 of them, 10 of which were babies. As he was telling us his dreams for his place he gave us a tour of the property. We were accompanied by 6 others as well. Taco and Tico, the chihuahuas, Big the great Dane, Betty and Lou, the St. Bernards, and my kitty cat friend from the previous night!! I was having a hard time paying attention to Nick from all the playfulness of the animals. Nick showed us the canoe he had that he mentioned selling to us when we first met him. He said we could take it to the next town if we wanted to and then he could come pick it up, but I think we decided not to do the canoe trip after all even though it sounded tempting.


So from there Nick took us on a tour of the rest of his property and then took us to see the babies. He had 10 or 11 newly weened race prospects. They were so much fun. Nick let us go into the field with them and they all came running up to us and surrounded us. They all just wanted to play and smell. They were as tall as we were already but obviously very young. After playing with the weenies we headed back to grab our packs and hit the road. Before we left, Nick offered us some hot food from his restaurant and Stanley brought out his microwave so we could heat it up. Yum!! So we ate some food as Nick left for the restaurant. As Kristin was typing on the blog I swept some of the cobwebs off the ceiling and the stalls. Nick had complained about them in passing so I figured I would do him a favor in return. We bid farewell to Stanley and headed for the unknown once again. Nick's road was not on the trail, but it paralleled the creek that the trail follows. So we just headed north until we found a cross road that would take us back over the creek and back on the trail. After a good portion of the day we finally found the trail again and made it to the right road. After walking until almost dark we found an old abandoned river house and pitched our tent on it's back porch. We were just a few yards from the creek and there was plenty of water and firewood. So as Kristin set up the tent I went to filter some water and start a fire. About the time I filtered the water and got the fire ready to cook on, Kristin was bringing over the cooking pot ready to be heated. What a well oiled machine we have become!! We ate a good hot meal of Stove Top stuffing with cheez-it crumbs and a pouch of roasted chicken. Then after making sure the fire was out, we bundled up in our sleeping bags and went to sleep. We woke up the next morning to some kayakers launching their boats in the creek. At this point in the journey we are just totally exhausted. Mentally, physically, spiritually drained! It hurts to sleep if you can imagine that. We decided to stay in bed all day and take a day of rest. It was needed but wasn't enough to rejuvenate our bodies. Not that we are complaining (although we do at times) rather, letting everyone reading this know how we are doing. Well, we're tired.

Ok so we laid in bed all day Saturday and then got up early on Sunday. We walked across the bridge to a church for service. It was a Church of Christ church. The people there were friendly and inquisitive. They all asked us a ton of questions and made sure that we had enough coffee and hot chocolate. After service we headed back down the trail. We walked about 8 miles and came across some fellas gearing up to go deer hunting. They were shocked to hear what we were doing and happily gave us a jar of homegrown green beans and a jar of canned pork. It was funny though, they were all questions and comments until we told them that God called us to walk across america. Then one of them said, "well, God is calling me to shoot a deer." They couldn't have tucked tail and ran away any taster. We thanked them for the food as they were piling into the truck and walked another 2 miles into the town of Farmer's Retreat. We found out that the Lutheran church in town owned the pavilion we wanted to camp under and were told to make our selves at home. Kristin didn't want to eat the cold pork and green beans so we ate a cold can of chili with cold tortillas and even put some leftover Horsey Sauce from Arby's on them. It sounds gross but tasted gourmet to us! We were too tired and it was way too windy to safely make a fire. After another fitful night of sleep we packed up early to head into the town of Friendship to see if they had a breakfast place. Friendship is home to the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association, and they have an impressive campground and shooting range there. They don't have a breakfast place however, just a small general store. We bought some donuts and chocolate milk, some Chef Boyardee, some poptarts and a block of Colby jack cheese. That along with the pork and green beans, should get us to the next town.

~ Jeff

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mariemont, OH to Aurora Indiana (pack a lunch! it's a long one people)

Ok so when we left the Mariemont Library we were feeling pretty hungry so we decided to try and find something to eat. We walked around a while and then finally asked someone where we could get some food and and she pointed toward the town square. After popping into a deli and glancing at the menu, we decided they did not have hiker friendly prices. So we went a couple more blocks to a pizzeria called "La Rosa's". They did not have a sitting area to eat in but the guy who worked there very graciously brought us a little plastic folding table and sat it in front of the bench we were sitting on. It was perfect! All it lacked was a candle and some roses! After we stuffed our faces with pizza, a hikers favorite, we walked down the path following the blue blazes. A few blocks later we looked up and saw a woman walking two boxers. She had a big smile on her face as did we because we love boxers. She immediately inquired to what we were doing? We told her we were walking across America and she asked for what purpose and I just showed her my Jesus necklace and she got really exited! She asked where we were gonna sleep and we told her we usually just find a church or something to camp behind. She told us about her church which was just a couple miles up the road and said they might have a Wednesday service we could go to. As she was trying to explain how to get there a jeep pulled over and the woman immediately started talking to the driver. It was her husband! She explained to him what we were doing and he said he knew someone at the church and he could just drive us over there if we wanted. So we agreed and hopped into his car. As we approached the church Jeff and I were just thinking, wow, that's a huge church!

~ Kristin
This church is just massive and very modern. When we walked in we were hoping that this mega church wasn't going to be one of those churches that is all about money. We have seen that so many times it has made us leery of them, but I felt convicted about judging this church by it's cover. We met with a man there who had been with the church since it's beginning. He was now getting around with a mobility chair and oxygen, but he had everyone in the office emailing around to try and find us a place to stay. What a nice man! He even gave us a tour of the church. It was very nice and very huge. While we were waiting to find out the results of the emails Jerry, the man who took us to the church, said we could at the very least camp in his side yard. He told us he lived right on route 50, and we would be hearing cars go by all night. He said that if we couldn't find anything better we would definitely have a safe place to sleep. Well the emails turned up no available places so Jerry told us that he was going to prayer group at his church back across town and that we could go and maybe someone would have a better option for us than he did. He had some running around to do so he dropped us off at his church early. We waited around there for a while sitting in their cemetery. I had a strong nature call and the church was locked so I left Kristin there to read her Bible and I walked a few blocks over to the convenience store. On the way back I noticed the ominous clouds looming overhead. About the time I noticed the clouds, Jerry calls. He said that his wife Suzzie called him and told him to come and pick us up so we wouldn't get wet. She told him to give us a tour of the area!!! What a great wife/mother thing to do!! Well we hopped back in the car with Jerry and took off down the road. We made it a few blocks down the road when Gil, the man from the mega church, called us. He said that he saw the lightning and he and his wife were going to put us up in the Mariemont Inn!!!!! ~Jeff When Jerry told us what Gil was offering I immediately said that would not be necessary, we could just camp in his yard. He said no, this is what Gil wants to do and it was already decided. I immediately felt that this was too generous of an offer, but we were in the hotel, checked in, and had a key in our hands before we could even say thank you! Gil came by to pay for the room, which Jerry split with him, and say hi but he did not stay long because he had to get home to his wife. Jerry said he would be back in an hour to take us to dinner. So we walked up to our room and opened the door and just stood there in shock at this generous gift! This room had a king size Temperpedic bed and a walk-in shower with multiple shower heads! So after standing in awe for a while and feeling undeserving of such an amazing gift we decided to put the shower to use. One of the walls was a fireplace with a wall painting. Jeff stood beside the painting and said, I think there is a TV behind the painting and then pushed a button on the side of the wall and the painting ascended to reveal a flat screen TV. Jeff and I thought, "uh okay, cool, I like the painting better!".


So after amazing showers and putting on clean clothes we went down stairs to meet up with Jerry, his wife Suzzie, and daughter Rebecca. They wanted to take us out to dinner and then Jerry was going to take us over to the prayer meeting. Dinner was great! They took us to a Cincinnati place called Skyline Chili. For those of you who don't know about skyline chili it consists of a layer of spaghetti, a layer of chili, a layer of beans and onions, and a mound of sharp cheddar cheese!! Delish! We were able to tell them our story over dinner and then we we went to prayer service. That was amazing! I can say that Mariemont Community Church has some great people there. We prayed for the next generation coming up and also for each other and loved ones. It's nice to see people still doing that! We really enjoyed the fellowship there and miss everyone there. So from prayer service Jerry took us back to the Mariemont Inn. We slept great on that Tempurpedic! When we woke up we went to breakfast with Suzzie and Rebecca at the Inn's restaurant. We learned that Gil also paid for our breakfast! God bless you Gil! So we had a wonderful breakfast with Suzzie and Rebecca and after a few minutes it felt as if we had known each other for years. I imagine that if we lived in the area we would be close friends! Of course I don't know if anyone in that family has ever met a stranger either! We parted ways out on the square in front of the Inn where we took pictures and exchanged information.
Jerry, Suzzie, Rebecca, and family - may God bless you and keep you, and make his face to shine upon you! May you pray without ceasing together as a family, and grow together in Christ. Thank you so much for everything.


So Jeff and I decided we were going to get an iPhone so we could update the blog more often. We checked out of the hotel and found out where the nearest ATT store was located and walked over that way, which was about 4 miles. We made it to the store and looked around at their merchandise for a while before a sales person was available. So...I have not talked about Jana yet so I am just gonna throw her in right here. When Jeff was little bitty toe-headed boy he had a babysitter named Jana, who moved to Cincinnati over fifteen years ago. When she moved there Jeff's mom drove up to Cincinnati with a daybed in her car to visit her. We had talked to her about a week before we got there and she said she would love to see us. So we called her once we were in Cinci and she said she could pick us up Thursday evening wherever we were. So we called her from the ATT store and she said she could come get us in an hour from then. So we did some business with the ATT people as we watched out the window for a silver Civic, that's what she said she would be driving. Just as we finished making our purchase for our new handy dandy phone we looked out the window and called Jana and she was sitting in her car right outside in the parking lot waving at us! We went outside, gave her hugs, and shoved our big packs in her trunk and drove off into the traffic of Cincinnati. As we pulled into Jana's driveway 2 of her 4 children were just getting off the bus, Julia her 11 year old and Ben her 8 year old. Jana's husband Tom was also waiting at the door. Their teenage boys were going to be home later. Tom went back to work and we got to know Jana and the kids while she made ice tea and coffee. When Tom and the teenage boys, Luke and Joseph, got home we all decided that Skyline Chili sounded good. Jana said we did not have to eat there since we already had it for dinner the previous day but we insisted because it was that good and how often were we going to be in Cincinnati! After we had our second helping of 5-way chili, ice-cream from Graeter's, was next on the list. Graeter's has been mentioned on the previous blog but we recently found out it's all natural and Oprah loves it so much she has it flown in!! Tom and Jana had all kinds of questions about our journey but we wanted to wait and tell them our testimony first because it answers a lot of them. However we were pretty tired and decided to postpone the long story for the next evening. Joe and Luke let us sleep in their beds even though we told them we were fine with our tent. However, Jana insisted we take the beds.

~ Kristin

The next morning we woke up and everyone had left for their respective jobs and schools. We found the coffee still hot and hung out in their living room watching the news and playing with our new phone. It's so hi-tec that it kinda scares us a little. Anyway, a few hours went by and Kristin gets a hankering for some Indian food. Well the minute she mentioned Indian food my mouth instantly started to water like Pavlov's Dog (to quote Jana) and I just had to have it too!! I think they put crack in the food over there or something. So we looked up some restaurants near by and called Jana to see if we could use their bikes to pedal across town to eat some Indian food. She said that would be fine but that they were locked up and the Key was on Tom's keys ring! So she called Tom and he said that he was getting ready to go on his lunch break and that he would come over and unlock the bikes for us. What a great guy!! Thanks Tom! So Tom made sure the bikes were in good working order and warned us about this big hill between us and the restaurant. Then he left for work. Well Kristin and I pointed our handle bars east and just followed our noses to India! As we rounded the curve our bikes began to pick up speed. We looked ahead and realized that we were looking out across all of eastern Cincinnati! It was a great vista. The only problem was that we were REALLY high above the city. As we were smoking the breaks on their bikes screaming down this road off the side of this "hill" at warp 5 I had a thought, "we're going to have come back up this monster after stuffing our faces with spicy Indian food!" There were no shoulders on either side of the road and tons of cars everywhere, but our taste buds were dragging us down that "hill." Fast forward 3.5 miles and we are chaining the bikes up to the pole out front of the restaurant. When we went in, the place was packed with people of every color and nationality! Kristin and I looked at each other and knew instantly that we were in the right place! It was some of the best Indian food we've had, except for Himalaya's back home of course, and we were so glad we rode over. Although the slow and grueling process of pushing our bikes back up that "hill" to Tom & Jana's was annoying, it was worth every bite. So we finally arrived back at the house and we were both in need of a nap from the food/workout coma setting in. Kristin zonked out on the bed and I on the couch. Before we knew it Jana and the kids were home and we were doing our best just to keep up with them! I think I blinked and stretched, and Jana was cleaning up from making a huge pot of chicken soup and something called Ooie Gooie Sticky Cake. Or something to that "flavor."


When I heard all the family home I got up from my nap and drug myself upstairs to see how everyone's day went. I can not imagine having 4 kids with all of them being in at least 2 extracurricular activities. I think I would need a personal assistant!! I have much respect for you Jana!! Soon after I got up the house began to fill up with the delicious smell of chicken noodle soup. Before we knew it dinner was done! It was delicious! We shared our testimony with them and talked about how God deals with everyone differently and how we are all at different steps in our walk of faith and then Julia and Ben brought out the Ooie Gooie cake and served us all. It was so good my mouth is watering just thinking of it!! The next day was Saturday and all the kids had some sort of recreational sport function to attend so we decided to get out of their hair and get back to our pilgrimage. It was such a pleasure meeting this family and we are so grateful to have been able to spend time with them. Jana and Luke dropped us off in Eden Park, where we began walking the trail again. As soon as we got out of the car, Jeff said he felt car-sick and he needed to sit down for a minute or he was gonna puke! When you don't get in a car very often and then you do once and a while and ride at high speeds down a highway, it can throw your equilibrium off a little. So I walked around looking a squirrels and things while Jeff regained his strength. While we were sitting on the side of this road a woman walked by with a miniature black poodle in a purple sweater and bows on it's ears. It was the cutest thing I had to go say hi!! Her owner approved but said our backpacks may scare her. She was okay when I walked up to her but as soon as she saw Jeff she started barking like she was ready to attack!! I can understand, he is starting to look a little bit like Sasquatch!!! If I was her I would have barked too!!!!! Well after that we decided to find the Cincinnati Art Museum, so we headed toward the general direction of it's location and asked someone to point us to its exact location. They pointed us towards this short cut that led up some really old stairs through the park. It was really neat! Hopefully we can post some pictures soon! We walked into the museum knowing they might not let us in with our huge backpacks but thankfully the guy at the front desk said we could leave them with him and he would watch them for us. Thanks museum entrance man!!! We wandered around the museum looking at sculptures, paintings from all over the world. They even had a temporary exhibit of wedding dresses from the 1800's to the 1960's. It was interesting what women would wear on their big day! You would just have to see it to know what I am talking about. While looking at the art I thought about how I used to enjoy things like that but now I feel that all that stuff is so meaningless. It is all going to pass away some day and it's just stuff that someone once owned and is now in a huge building for people to come and stare at. Oh well..... So we got our packs from the front desk and headed to down-town Cincinnati where we stopped to see some amazing views of the river and the skyline. We walked through the Bicentennial Park where there were sculptures of some Roman dude named Cincinnatus and a flying pig! Many people were out walking their dogs which made us miss Boomer and maybe a little homesick. We went under a bridge where someone had sat an upright piano painted all colorful with clouds and such. We both had a little moment of playing it and moved on toward the suspension bridge where we would cross over into Covington, Kentucky.


We walked across the old suspension bridge that was closed to automobiles so it could be a nice new coat of blue paint. We watched a few barges go down the Ohio and took some pictures of the Bengal's Stadium. When we reached land on the other side we were in Kentucky. We looked on our new sci-fi phone and found a few places to get something to eat, but none of them had hiker-friendly prices so we found a skyline chili a few blocks away and headed for it. When we reached the skyline, it was closed! It was the weekend and we were downtown, so I can't blame them for being closed I guess. Anyway, just a few doors down was a nice Chinese place so we stopped in there. It was pretty good, and the prices were just right! So we ate lunch and headed off to find the trail. The trail took us through Covington on 6th street. We passed a place where they had a wine tasting going on that spanned 3 city blocks! We would have liked to stop and try some but we weren't quite dressed for the occasion. We met a guy carrying a big pack going the opposite direction and stopped to talk to him, but it was kinda hard to decipher where he was headed because he was obviously stoned out of his gourd! Poor fella. So we made it to the base of the "hill" where Devou Park was and met a couple working in their yard. They were nice enough to give us some water and tell us that there were some old steps back in the woods that would take us up to the top of the park where the lookout was and we could bypass the dangerous curvy road. We talked to them for a bit and then took off to find these stairs from the 1930's. Well at the hairpin curve in the road we walked back into the woods and found the steps. They were old and crumbling, and had a vibe about them that would come straight out of an Indiana Jones movie. Think Ancient Aztec City undiscovered by modern man and you got the picture. A bazzillion steps later we reached the top! Here we are, out of breath, sweating, and making all kinds of noise with our hiking poles on the stairs, and when we crested the top there are a whole bunch of people standing like 40 yards away looking right at us! Turns out we walked right up into the lookout where there were like 4 separate weddings going on!! It was hilarious! I was so proud about making it up those steps that when all those people were staring at us I just threw my arms up in the air and said, "YES! MADE IT!" A bunch of people just laughed and went back to looking out over the city. And what a view it was! Just beautiful. You could see all of Cincinnati, Covington, Norfolk, and some other City I forgot. Plus the Great Ohio river was smack dab in the middle of the picture! We stood there for a while talking to people and taking in the vista before heading down the road to find a place to camp. We walked to the other end of the parking lot and decided to sit down at the park where a ton of kids were playing on the jungle gym and people were having a cookout and playing corn hole. We sat there and tried to get caught up on the blog and filled up on our water. After about an hour we decided it was time to go because there weren't any places to camp around there and we had several more miles to get back into Ohio. We were walking down this nice asphalt trail meandering across the top of the ridge lined with mansions and a golf course when we heard, "There aren't any mountains around here! What are you doing?" We looked up and saw an older couple pushing a baby stroller.


The couple was playing frisbee with a golden retriever when we saw them. The woman looked like she probably lived in this upscale neighborhood and when we told her what we were doing she said, "No your not!" and we said, "yes, we are" and she said, "your kidding!" So I told her she was right we just walk around places with hiking poles wearing big backpacks telling people we are walking across America. Right about then a man came with his dog which he was walking on a leash. By the way there was a sign posted that said you must have your dog on a leash. The golden retriever was not however on a leash and it ran up to this poor man's little dog and started attacking it. The woman who was talking to us just started saying no to her dog while her husband ran up to try to pry the dog's teeth from the other dog's throat. I said, "sir is your dog ok?!!" The woman said, "oh she was just barking!" Jeff and both just looked at each other and said, "well, have a good one, bye!" As we walked through the rest of Devou Park and down a road by a golf course we came out to a little township called Ludlow where there were three guys geocaching. They said they had been at it since early in the morning and they had already found about 15. We talked to them for a minute and left them to find their treasure. We walked a few more miles into a town called Bromley. We came upon a Baptist church that had a pretty big yard and walked back to see if it would be a good place to camp. I saw some woods and headed down into them where there was a little spot canopied with trees right beside the Ohio River. It looked like a spot homeless people may camp but it did not have any traces of recent activity by anyone so we decided to call it home for the night! When we sat down I looked around and saw a big sink hole looking thing at least 10 feet wide and I went to look in it to see what made it but could not really tell. Then I turned around and saw a sign posted on the tree that said something about a warning for Sewer overflow! EWWWWW!!! Oh well, it did not look like any rain was in the forecast so we decided it would be safe for the night. When we woke up the next morning we packed up, hoping this little township might have place we could get some eggs and coffee, but after searching a couple blocks we decided to get out our handy dandy sci-fi phone out and see where google map suggested. The only things we saw were all across the river so we decided to walk towards Anderson Ferry, where we would take the ferry back across to Ohio in West Cincinnati.


We walked down a nice two lane road that bordered the river for a few miles with vivid fall trees all around and the occasional sunday driver passing by. When we reached the Historic Anderson Ferry we waited for the cars to unload and load before walking on. We were greeted by Capt. Shawn who was playing deck hand that day. He was instantly friendly and very curious to know where we were headed and what we were doing. We talked to him, and a guy in his car on the ferry, for the duration of the ride and before we went back ashore, Capt. Shawn gave us his card. He said that he owned a marina about a mile and a half down the road and if we needed a safe place to stay that he would be happy to let us stay there! We were very appreciative and gave him our card that my sister had made up for us! So when we got off the ferry we headed for the United Dairy Farmers. (That is a chain of nicer convenience stores around here) We ate some super nutritious donuts, coffee, and microwave food, and got the maps out to see where the trail went. We hung out at the store for a while (they had an ice-cream shop inside with tables and chairs) and then decided to get on down the road. We had also been looking for a place to print off the map for several days now with no luck. We had only enough map to get us to the Ohio/Indiana border, and we were a day's walk from there. We made it a few miles down the road when one of us said, "Wouldn't it be awesome if we just got a canoe and took it down the Ohio to the Mississippi River in Missouri?" Well we talked about this for a few minutes then decided to sit down and talk seriously about it! We've walked over 900 miles at this point and our bodies are taking a beating!! This sounded like a great way to get another 700 miles across the country and it wouldn't be walking. It was such an alluring idea that we decided to pursue it seriously. We turned around and headed back for Cincinnati! If we were going to find a canoe, we were going to have better chances of finding one back there. So we walked back to Anderson Ferry and to the Bar-n-Grill across the street. We went in and called the Captain. We told him our idea and he said that he would call around to see if he could find us a canoe! Well after an hour or so he called back with no luck on finding us a canoe. He did however offer us his Marina again as a home base of operations while we were looking for one. He said to go to the address on the card he gave us and walk down to the marina. We thought that sounded like a terrific idea! By this time it is late afternoon and Kristin and I are hungry again. We ordered some food and huddled around the Iphone to look for canoes on craigslist. We were looking for one that was dirt cheap or free so obviously we didn't find one. We spent several hours at the bar-n-grill and then decided to walk back to the marina. We found it and as soon as we came down the walkway Capt. Shawn was there to greet us. He lives on the first boat there! He showed us the head boat where we could stay. It was basically a floating house next to a 110' luxury yacht! It was so cool to stay there on the river in a floating house at the marina! One of our most memorable overnights for sure. We talked with Shawn for a while as the sun was setting over the last bend in the river with the most beautiful colors. All with boats, and barges, and birds, and other river dwellers living out their daily lives seemingly taking it all for granted. Except for Capt. Shawn, he had that certain glint in his eyes as he was talking about river life watching the sun set. You could just see that he knew days like this were special, and that he was living every minute with the utmost reverence for the river way of life. What a site indeed! We even got to do our laundry which made it even better! We told Shawn that we would know by the next day if we were really going to be getting a canoe or not, and we would not be abusing his offer to use the head boat. We fell asleep to the gentle rocking of the river serenading us to off to dream land! When we woke up we packed up our things and said farewell to Capt. Shawn. During the night Kristin and I talked about the canoe thing and realized that it would be AWESOME to do, but not really cost friendly. If the Lord really wanted us to canoe down the Ohio river He would provide a boat for us. We were just trying too hard to make it a reality. So we left the marina with hopes that a canoe would fall from the sky and land in front of us with two oars and life vests on board! So since that didn't happen immediately, we re-focused our energy on something more attainable. BREAKFAST! We hailed a cab and told her to take us downtown to the best greasy spoon restaurant she knew of! She got a smile on her face and laid the hammer down, and I swear that cab grew wings and a jet engine!! She flew us to the middle of downtown Cincinnati to a little hole in the wall place called the sports page. She said that they serve breakfast all day and that the Goetta was especially good there! We said "PERFECT!"

~Jeff (still shaky from the cab ride)

After a great breakfast and some caffeine we decided to go to the library to type some on the blog. We walked into the lobby of this ginormous place and Jeff decided he better stay outside and wait for me. I asked where the computers were and they pointed to the second floor. I got on the elevator and rode up to a room filled with computers and people. Now these were not just your average kind of people! There were yellow haired ones, blue haired ones, spiky haired ones, and ones that looked like they belonged to the band "Gwar"!!!! If you do not have a mental image yet, you can look them up on the internet. I had to wait a good 20 minutes before a computer was available. So I sat at a table with my backpack just watching all these people, who appeared to have no where to go, watch movies on the internet. Then an older man came and sat at the table with a leather book holder. I thought it looked like a bible but I was not sure until he unzipped it and pulled it out. I said, "I like your book!" He looked at me and said, "thanks, it's a pretty good one!" Then I said, "like the best one ever written!!" He smiled and said his name was Ed. He shared his daily devotional with me and I told him that my husband and I were walking across America for Christ and then he had to go. He shook my hand and said, "Kristin I will pray for you and your husband if you will pray for me", and then he was gone. I thought, "what a nice thing for God to do." He had a bible carrying old man come and sit by me at this crazy library in downtown Cincinnati. It is little things like that that really make me appreciate our pilgrimage! When I looked over at the computer I had been assigned to, it was free so I went over to get started on this blog, which is probably the longest one ever!!!!!!!!! Jeff texted me and said the bus that would take us back to West Cincinnati was leaving soon so I had to rap up my library session so we could hop on the bus. We got to the bus stop with some time to spare so we sat on the bench and I sang songs about the Most High while waiting, hoping they might touch someone! At the end of our bus ride a man who got on when we did came and sat by us and started talking to us. I think he asked where we were headed. We told him what we were doing and why and he immediately started talking about the bible and Jesus. We continued talking about the things of God and he told us a little bit of his testimony and we told him some of ours and then we all got off on the last stop of the bus route. The driver said that was as far west as she could take us. We thanked her and got off the bus in front of Shamrock bar and grill. I was very thankful because I was about to pee my pants! I used the facilities and asked where our next directions were and we headed west! The story of our lives!!! We walked a couple miles into Cleeves and ate at a local restaurant named after it's owner, Nick. We had a great home cooked meal and when we were checking out we were telling the waitress and a man, who appeared to be a chef or something, about our journey. We were asking if they knew of a church or a park we could possibly camp in and they said there really was not a place in the area. The man said he would not camp anywhere in that neighborhood. So we said, "I am sure we will find a place." Before we left, as I was heading to the powder room, the man said, "don't go anywhere!" I told him we were not leaving yet, that I was just using the bathroom. On the way back he said I have a friend who lives just down the way who will let you camp on his property. We said, "wow, really!!? Thank you so much!" He took off his apron and pulled his truck around and we hopped in! He said he was the owner of the restaurant, his name was Nick. He drove us just a couple miles down the road to some land that had a giant pavillion and a 20ft high swing set. It was perfect!!! We had heard there was rain in the forecast so we were very grateful to have a place which we could keep our tent dry. He said the owner of the property, Rusty, would probably be down to visit us in a few minutes. We thanked him once again and he headed back to the restaurant as we sat on the giant swing set watching the sun set.


We had our tent set up under the pavilion and our beds made before the sun set. It wasn't long before Rusty came down for a visit. He opened the door to the storage room where there were bottles of water and pop in the fridge, with stacks of lawn furniture calling my name! He told us we could help ourselves to anything in the fridge and to make our selves at home! Then he went over and unlocked the bathrooms for us! All without even really knowing who we were!! I guess Nick and Rusty must be pretty good friends. Rusty was very nice and stayed for a few minutes and chatted with us about our trip and his horseback riding trips. He had a few things to do and told us that he might be back down a little later. So we pulled out a few lawn chairs and popped open a Coke as we relaxed the night away! Pretty soon the wind picked up and nudged us into our tent to crawl into our warm sleeping bags. We were just lying in there talking about the last few days when we heard a car and an ATV pull up. It was Rusty, his wife Pattie, and their friend Ken! They all came down to talk with the crazy hikers. Well we all sat around in lawn chairs and talked for a few hours. They were all so nice and Ken had some funny stories to tell about he and Rusty. Apparently a few that Pattie didn't know about too! It was great because we don't usually get too many "house guests." So after a great night of conversation we all decided it was time to turn in and we all took pictures and left for our respective beds. We sure didn't have to walk far! Ha! So after a GREAT nights sleep, (I think that was the first night I slept all the way through the night) we were greeted by a voice in the morning saying, "Anybody awake in there?!?!" I stepped out of the tent and saw Rusty on his monster golf cart with his two black lab buddies! They were Moon Dog and Winnie. Rusty said, "sorry it's early but do you guys want to come up for breakfast and a shower?" We said "Of Course!" So Kristin and I piled on the cart with Rusty. Winnie and Moon Dog rode in my lap the whole way back to the house! How great it was to wake up and hug on a big lab while riding on a monster golf cart up a gorgeous driveway in the "hills." So when we pulled up to the house Rusty told us it was his mother's house. When we walked in his mother was there to greet us and asked if we drank coffee. This day is just getting better! We got to eat eggs and bear claws with OJ and coffee with Rusty and his mom. It was great! Pattie even came over for a bit. Kristin and I both got to take showers and Rusty even got his mother to sew up the huge rip in the seat of my pants!! It was starting to get a bit drafty down there! So we made some new friends and I got my britches stitched up and they sent us on our way with full stomachs and even more full hearts! We packed up our tent and tidied up the pavilion and set off for Indiana!! We walked a few miles and soon came to Elizabethtown, Ohio. This is where the American Discovery Trial splits into a southern route and a northern route. We flagged down a park ranger and sweet talked him into taking some pictures for us to capture this monumental occasion. He was delighted to do so! He told us a little about where we were headed and wished us a safe journey. So we walked on down the road until we reached State Line Road. It was neat walking down this road because for a mile or so Ohio was on the right side of the road and Indiana was on the left. We finally came to a T in the road where State Line intersects US 50, and we saw a state boundary marker. We were officially in INDIANA!!! It seems crazy to think that we have walked across Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, and now OHIO! We ate some lunch at a little diner there at the state line and skipped on down the road deeper into Indiana. For some reason we had a little extra bounce in our step that afternoon! :)


We did not skip too far actually. We just went across the street to State Line Restaurant and got some grub! We have been eating at restaurants a lot in the past week because there is not really anywhere in the city we can just build a fire. Well technically I guess we could but it is probably illegal! So we had chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes and corn and a roll! It was belly fillin' good!! We wiped the gravy from the corner of our lips and saddled back up and headed to Lawrenceburg Indiana where we would get on a bike trail that followed the Ohio river called the Dearborn Trail. It was about 4 miles from the restaurant. By the time we got there I was so tired and my feet were ready to call it quits for the day. We walked through town to the CVS and I knew we were about out of wet wipes and I would be very upset if we got out of town and did not have a way to bathe!! So we stocked up on a travel pack of Wet Ones! When we left the CVS we looked across the street and saw a DUNKIN DONUTS!! We both looked at each other and said let's go get some donuts!! You might be thinking it seems like all we do is walk and eat, and you are right! We wake up, walk till we are hungry, eat, walk again, eat, and then walk to find a place to camp and sometimes eat again and then go to sleep! The next day we do it all over again!! Sounds like fun doesn't it?!! So after eating at Dunkin Donuts twice we walked to the Dearborn Trail as the sun was setting. We were hoping we would find some woods to camp in before it got to dark. After walking about a mile and a half I saw a path way that cut in behind some trees and just walked in like I knew where I was going. It just so happened to be an open field that had weeds short enough to put up a tent. So we thanked the Lord and put up our tent, typed a bit more on this crazy long blog and got a phone call from Jim Shaner, the prayer walker who came to see us on the C &O canal and at Dolly Sods. He just so happened to be prayer walking in Indiana and he was calling to see if we wanted to go with him to the Creation Museum. We thought that sounded like a lovely idea and so we now have plans for Thursday to go to the Creation Museum with our pal Jim Shaner!! After we got off the phone I slid down a little farther into my sleeping bag, cinched it up, and passed out until 11:3o when a train went by. The camp sight was about 30 feet from the train tracks. When we woke up in the morning it was soooooo cold and I realized my down sleeping bag was not doing a very good job so it probably needs to be washed. Jeff said about 8 trains went by last night but all I heard were 2. I must have been out of it! We finally mustered up enough energy to get out of our sleeping bags and packed up and headed toward Aurora on the Dearborn Trail. When we got to Aurora we asked if there was a diner near by and a nice lady who was pumping her gas said she would just take us to it because it was easier than explaining how to get there. On the way there we told her what we were doing and she thought that it was great. She then gave me a a plastic green frog she pulled out of her pocket. She said, "do you know what it is?" I said, "a frog?" She said it stands for "Fully Rely On God!" She said I could have it. What a sweet lady! She showed us where the library was and dropped us off at the diner so we could get a hot meal! We had our usual, eggs, hashbrowns, toast and coffee! After breakfast we walked just across the street to the library where we are now and are now finished typing this blog! Yeah!!!!!! I hope it did not wear you out reading it. We will try to update more often now that we are caught up. I hope you enjoyed our journey through the big city. It was very interesting to say the least! It felt like Sodom and Gomorrah at times, but hey it is a big city! What else can you expect!?

Blessings and Shalom,


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wiliamsburg, OH to Meriemont, OH (by way of Tammy's again!)

So after we left the library at Williamsburg we headed toward the East Fork Lake. Tammy, our friend from Owensville came to hike a little with us. We walked a few miles around the lake till we came out on a road that Tammy recognized as being the road her friend lived on. So we called her husband and asked him to meet us there at her friend's house when he brought us dinner. Her friend was not home but her husband was and we sat and visited with him a bit and then Tammy's husband showed up with Arby's. Yummm!! After we ate, it was beginning to get dark and we still had a lean-to shelter to find in the woods. So we hopped in the car and headed down the road to the area the map was saying the lean-to shelter was located. We came across a hunter who was packing up and asked if he knew about the shelter and he pointed us towards it. We drove down a little and asked another hunter about it and he said he knew of it also but it was going to be tough to find since it was dark. Then hunter # 1 came over and said that we might have a better time getting to it if we went down a horse trail that was back where we had firts talked to him. So we backed up to that spot and saddled up and headed into the dark woods. I am sure Tammy was very nervous seeing us walk into the woods in the dark and I am sure Eric comforted her and reminded her we were professionals at this sort of stuff!! Hahaha!! So as we walked down ths mowed pathway Jeff saw two glowing eyes and froze. I thought, "oh no, the animal probably smells our left over Arby's bag we were carrying and was going to try to get some of it." So we got out our hiking poles and put on our armor and I clung to Jeff as we headed right toward those copper eyes that were glowing in the night. I just told myself to trust in the Lord and not be afraid of the terrors of the night. As we got closer I yelled for Jeff not to get too far away cause I did not want there to be any room between us while we were about to walk up on this wild beast! As we approached it Jeff saw the beast face to face and the next thing I heard him say was, "it's a cat", I said, "what kind of cat, a bobcat?!" "No", he said, " it's a house cat!" I walked toward it and sure enough it was an orange tabby cat sitting on a log and it came out and circled our ankles and meowed at us and went back to sit on it's log. "Whew," I thought, "What a relief". Then I thought that will be a good one for the blog and we began cracking up at ourselves!


After our run-in with Garfield we stumbled our way down the trail and found the hiker shelter. It is a 3 sided structure big enough for about 10 people to lay down in. We were the only ones there so we pitched our tent up in the shelter and conked out. The next day we woke up late. I woke up before Kristin and tried eating some of the leftover Arby's. Not a great idea. So I choked down as much as I could stand and "left the rest for Kristin." Then we basically just lounged around all day. We were just worn out. Both physically and mentally, because I guess the last 4 months of walking has begun to take it's toll on us. We just couldn't find the motivation to get up and walk that day. Then a couple of other hikers came up the trail looking quite lost. Come to find out the were looking for an orange flag of some sort that should have been right around the shelter. They were in some sort of big triathalon race and were looking for this flag that had points on it! It sounded like a lot of fun. I imagined for a minute that we were just in a big race and that we were really going to go home and curl up to our dog in our big comfy bed that night. That quickly faded away as I remembered where we were. So Tammy calls and says that they are on their way back from a neighboring town and that they would be passing us in about 15 minutes. We decided to catch a ride with them back to their house. So we stuffed our packs with our gear and hoofed it back to where they had dropped us off. They were surprised that we hadn't walked anywhere and quite frankly, so were we. As soon as we were in the truck I realized that I had left my shades hanging in the shelter. Grrrrr!! I have lost 2 other pairs of sunglasses on this trip and I wasn't about to do it again! So I ran back to the shelter and got them.


Jeff and his sunglasses, he just needs to spray paint them on! So we went to the Averwater's again to spend the weekend with them. We missed them so much the 4 days we were not with them we had to spend another weekend with them. It was wonderful and I am so glad we did. We got to go to dinner with the Galvin's and afterwards we ate icecream at Graeter's! Yummmm..... We went to church with the Averwater's again and the sunday school asked us to share out testimony with them so we did. Then we spent a couple more days there and Tammy and I got some good girl talks in! She is so great and I am so grateful to God for putting her in my path. We finally left the Averwater's on Tuesday morning even though I just wanted to stay there forever! Just a few miles down the road we ran into a nice lady on her bicycle named Betty. She was riding 20 miles, which she did often. She was exited to hear about our journey and she invited us to come stay at her house with her and her husband for the evening just a few miles up the road. So we got her address and headed that way. When we got to their house we met her husband Ken. They were both so hospitable. They let us take showers and gave a nice little room with a hideaway bed to sleep on and then took us out for dinner. We shared our testimony with them and then went to pick up our package that had been sent to the Averwater's. Jeff and I slept well but the morning came way to fast. Betty and Ken made us a wonderful breakfast with scrambled eggs and ham and some delicious zucchini bread. We walked from their house to a little coffee shop in downtown Milford. There was a group of lovely people having coffee that met there every Wednesday. They immediately asked what we were doing and one of the women bought us coffee. Thank you nice woman!! I am sorry I forgot your name! After walking down the street to check out the little shops we headed to the Little Miami bike trail and walked to Meriemont and now we are at a local library updating all our readers on our journey. We are in Cincinnati now and it will probably take 3-4 days to get to the other side depending on what happens while we are here. From here we actually head across the Ohio River and into Kentucky for a few miles to Covington and then back to Cincinnati and to Elizabethtown before crossing the river AGAIN and then we will be in Indiana. Yeah!!!


Friday, October 8, 2010

Peebles, OH to Williamsburg, OH

Ok, so we prayed about which way to go. If we stayed on the trail it would have taken us 111 miles to go to a town 30 miles away. We did not feel convicted to stay on the trail so we decided to go the shorter route. Well after mapping out our route at the library, and printing off the directions for the new route, we started down the road. We started walking around 4:30pm. We made it maybe a mile down the road and we saw a church with a nice pavilion behind it. It was Peebles Baptist Church. We then noticed that they were going to be having a Wednesday night bible study so we decided to stick around and go the bible study. We were also hoping that they would let us stay in their pavilion out back since it would be dark after the service. We waited until 6:00 and went on in the church. We were warmly welcomed as guests, and Pastor Wells made sure that we were brought up to speed on what they had been talking about before starting. They were going through the book of Daniel. The bible study was great. We discussed the things in Daniel, and the pastor was right on! It's nice to hear a pastor who preaches the truth, because it doesn't always occur in some of today's churches. After bible study ended they started asking questions about our story so we told them. They were very excited to hear about how we were walking by faith and trusting in God. It was what the bible study was all about!! So we talked WAY after it was time to leave and we asked if it would be alright if we could camp behind the church in the pavilion. Well they all looked at each other and started talking about how cold it was going to get that night and the pastor asked the small congregation there if anyone objected to us sleeping in one of the back classrooms of the church. They all eagerly agreed that it would be the right thing to do. It is so wonderful to meet people who profess Christ to be their Lord and then have the actions to prove it. After exchanging information and bidding each other farewell with long good-bye's, we headed over to the back of the church to cook our dinner and get a good nights rest. It had been a few days since we had slept well. We've had a few nights of cars going by all night and cows serenading us until morning. So this safe and quiet place to sleep was a real blessing that couldn't have come at a more perfect time. We were also happy to have a quiet nights sleep that night because we knew that we had 3 days of walking down a very busy and very noisy 4 lane interstate. So we slept like babies and it was great!


When we awakened the next morning we decided to pack up and go to the McDonald's down the street to get our coffee fix and pollute our bodies with disgustingly delicious cardboard food! On the way out the door we saw a guy in the church, Jeff said, "How's it goin'', and we left. The guy said, "hi", and just had a puzzled look on his face. When we got to McDonald's we ordered our food and I sat down and as we sat down Jeff was approached by the man we saw in the church before we left. The man was shouting in Jeff's face about us not having permission to be in the church. Jeff told him the pastor had given us permission, but he said nobody had authority to tell anyone to be in HIS church except him. Jeff said, "really! Are you Christ?" The man got furious and continued to yell at us. I told him he was not being very Christlike and he continued to exercises his authority and making sure that all of McDonald's knew that he was the only one who had the right to let someone sleep in his church. He said he was a trustee of the church. I thought, "whatever that means!" I told him it was obvious that it is not Christ that he is serving and I told him I was going to call the pastor and he said, "go ahead and call him, I am the one who has authority of that church!" So then he said he was calling the cops and then he left. As he was going out the door Jeff asked him from across the room, "Hey wait, how do you know a Christian?" The man paused with a puzzled look, but no anwser. Jeff said, and I'm sure all of McDonald's heard, "BY THEIR FRUIT!" He just muttered something under his breath and left. I called the pastor and he said he was sorry and that that guy was not going to be on the board of trustees after this month. I think that explains his disposition. Perhaps he was bitter because he was about to lose his power! I hope God shows him how ungodly his behavior was and he is humbled by that experience. As for Jeff and I we were definitely humbled by the persecution we received. It is just sad to see the persecution coming from someone who professes to know Christ! On top of all that, he was wearing the church's sweatshirt. It said in big white letters on his back, "PEEBLES BAPTIST CHURCH." What a sad witness for that church.

So shortly after the guy left, the cops showed up and we were glad to show them our id's and give them the pastor's # and tell them what was going on. They said that there had been some break-in's to churches and they just had to make sure there was nothing unlawful going on. After they left, I sipped on my coffee a little while longer and then we headed down Measley Ridge Road where we came to a business called "Cedar Works". I had to use the powder room so I went in to see if I could use theirs. As I was using the bathroom, an Amish gentleman walked in and was talking to Jeff. He asked if we wanted to sit and talk for a bit. We agreed and went into the conference room to chat. He had just been reading a book about a guy who walked all over the world named, Steven Newman. So he was fascinated and wanted to hear more about our journey and so he invited us to come and have dinner and spend the night with him and his wife at their home. I was so exited because I have been wanting to spend time with an Amish family for a couple of years now. God knew that this would be the perfect time for that, I think that is why we took the shortcut that we did. So the Amishman, Mr. Keim, drew us a map of how to get to his house, which was only 4 or so miles and we said we would meet him there.

As we were walking down OH 32, Mr Keim and his working partner pulled up in a van and asked if we wanted to ride with them to his house, they were going home for lunch. We said we were content walking but we put our backpacks in the van so we could slack-pack. The views of the valley and the mountains were beautiful! When we got to the house we were greeted by Mrs. Keim dressed in a humble blue Amish dress and a head covering. She invited us in and gave us a cold cup of water. "How scriptural!" We got to know Mrs. Keim a bit and then took some showers. Yes showers. These Amish are not the more conservative that I have read about. They have running water and a refrigerator that uses propane to power it. They do not have electricity though. When Mr. Keim got home we helped him with a little project, putting cedar blocks together to put around a flower bed. One of their sons and grandsons came over and met us. His grandson stayed for dinner. Dinner was wonderful! After dinner we cleaned up so we could go for a horse and buggy ride! Yeah!!! After going on a trip down the road to check out the Herb festival that was being set up for this weekend we went back to their home to visit with each other. I had asked Mr. Keim to share some history of the Amish people with me and so he did. It was fascinating! Then Mrs. Keim wanted to hear our testimony and they thought that it was fascinating as well. Mr. Keim said he would be glad to take us to Williamsburg because he and his work partner were going that way anyway. We told him we would pray about it. I think he secretly wanted us to stay a couple more days. We would have loved to but Jeff and I have been feeling for a couple of days that the Lord is quickening our spirits to get farther down the path for some reason. So in the morning we had both decided to take the ride. We had a wonderful breakfast with the Keim's before we left and we said prayers for each other.

On the way to Williamsburg we stopped at a scrap metal junk yard and that was quite a site. They had these huge machinery that looked like dinosaurs that would just come grab something out of the trailer and toss it in a heaping pile of other metal junk. I was amazed that man had come up with such things and wondered how long it would take to learn how to operate one of those metal beasts without hurting someone! Jeff said probably a couple months of hands-on training. We then drove down the highway a few more miles and got to the town of Williamsburg. There was road work keeping us from going into town so we just said we would get out there and walk the rest of the way. After they drove away Jeff looked over and guess what he saw? A BLUE BLAZE TRAIL MARKER!! They had unknowingly dropped us off right on the trail! God works in mysterious ways indeed. Now we are at the library updating all our readers. I hope you are enjoying our journey as much as we are!

I am so grateful for all the friends we are making on this journey. God is so gracious to have us cross paths with all of those we have met. We pray for all of God's saints often and ask him to bless you and keep you. We miss everyone back home and cannot wait to see you again. Peace be with you all!