Day 30 – Cell Phones Dead, Soul Re-Charged.

Yeah, as you can assume, I didn’t get my butt up early as expected. 😦  Since I knew breakfast was at 8:30, I figured I would come down about that time and get a chance to meet the other guests. I forgot that I had told Amanda I wouldn’t be having breakfast though. Gary (Amanda’s husband and Owner) was very gracious and whipped me up some of the fantastic Eggs Benedict in rapid fashion!

Immediately upon bringing my cart’s contents downstairs, I was greeted by Ken & Vicky Rubenacker. Vicky quickly said “You must be the walker”? Without having any coffee, my bag of witty comments was empty, and I replied “Yes”. Ken was outside soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the comforts of the chairs on the porch. It was now breakfast time and we all went to the dining room.

Ken & Vicky

Inside the dining room was the other guests, Pat and Diane from Bowling Green, KY. I sat down with Ken & Vicky and I shared information about my walk. Turns out that Ken is an Audiologist and Vicky runs the office. In addition; they are both part of a local Bluegrass group that performs in the area. I’m guessing that the family that works and sings together, stays together!?

Pat and Diane

During breakfast I didn’t get much time to talk with Pat & Diane, but we spoke for a bit before I departed. Pat is originally from Wisconsin and if I remember correctly, Dianne from Southern Illinois. They have 3 teenage children (who they home school) and had a unique chance to have a quiet getaway. Nice job Pat!

Before departing, Vicky offered to put me up if I was to pass through their hometown of Sikeston, MO. They also sweetened the pot by offering to take me to dinner (The Famous Lamberts), watch and possible play with their Bluegrass band, and get an interview with the local newspaper. How could I possible pass this opportunity up?

Ken brought his laptop down and we devised a plan on how our paths could cross. Long story short; I was going to walk 38 miles North to meet them on their way back home the next day. They would pick me up and drive me about 30 miles south of my route, where I would leave from the next day. At the end of the day, my mileage should be the same. I expect that I will try to find a couple opportunities to knock the extra miles off of my journey, to meet my original total of 3000 miles.

Off I went, walking into the wild blue yonder, excited for the beautiful National Forest I would be walking through/across. The area is called ‘The Land Between the Lakes”. On both sides are two of the largest man-made lakes in the country. Before leaving, Gary had warned me that I would have to cross a very large bridge and that there was absolutely ZERO shoulder. He was right…

Shortly before the bridge, a Chevy Tahoe pulled up and guest who it was? Gary and Amanda, the owners of the Futrell House Bed & Breakfast. Gary asked if I would like a ride across the bridge. I accepted and very glad I did. Simply put, this bridge was no place for a cart-pushing pedestrian to be walking. With the amount of traffic and limited visibility, I would have ended up in the lake I’m sure.

Amanda, Gary and their daughter Charlotte

How weird the timing was that Gary stopped by at the exact moment before the bridge? He said that they were just returning from Church, but I’m thinking it was all part of his master plan.

Now THAT’S the kind of customer service you don’t see every day!

From the B&B, it was about a 15 mile uphill climb to the center of the Land Between the Lakes. Once you cross across the bridge, their is absolutely no services. Campgrounds…but no services. Not a problem, as I wasn’t expecting them anyway. Once I got to the center, I headed North and began walking through the National Park. With trees on the right and trees on the left, the next 21 miles was rolling hills with pretty much the same view. As you can expect on a busy vacation weekend, there was LOTS of traffic! Most of it consisted of trucks pulling boats, pulling campers, and a high percentage of motorcycles.

Most of the motorcycles were Harley Davidson with the stereotypical leathers, bandanas and beards. Everytime one would drive by; I couldn’t help but think how many were Dentists (or even Audiologists) during the week and Banditos during the weekend?

My original plan was to camp about 5 miles up the road. When I got to the first sign for camping, it gave me the option of walking 5 miles to the left, or 7 miles to the right. Ugh…no Thank you! End result would have been walking an additional 10 or 14 miles on the trip. I decided to soldier forward and eventually I will find a place on the side of the road. Nope!

The further I walked, the steeper the shoulder was on each side of the road. If I was going to camp, I wouldn’t be able to take my cart to where a good spot in the trees might be. As with most days, I just figured I should keep walking and the problem will solve itself. Nope!

While walking, Clint and Adam stopped on the side of road and offered me a cold beverage. While a beer seemed tempting, I opted for lots of water. Clint and Adam just purchased a miliary vehicle in North Carolina and were driving it back to Portland, OR. Clint was planning on using the vehicle for future camping and/or Burning Man trips. Awesome! I could have hung out with the guys for quite awhile, unfortunately, I was on a mission to make it to Grand Rivers before nightfall. We said our goodbyes and I was back in walking mode.

I couldn’t help but notice how much more energy I had after my encounter with Clint & Adam. Two genuinely nice guys who displayed such generosity to this lonely traveller. Thanks guys! My body was hydrated and soul re-charged!

Adam and Clint from Portland

About 13 miles from the town of Grand Rivers, KY. Which is at the top edge of the National Forest and the next town with services. If I maintained a pace of 4 miles an hour for the next 3.5 hours, I could make it. The feet were feeling okay, so I decided to go for it. This is exactly when the elements decided to punish me for my well laid plans. The clouds had been looming for about an hour, but it looked like it passed over me. Yeah, I win! Nope!

Strolling along, I just happen to look back. Why you might ask? I don’t normally glance back too often, but a passing vehicle had just given me a pleasant surprise. A bikini-clad woman riding in the back of a truck flashed me only moments before. Focused on walking, the visual took a few moments for my brain to register what just happened! Energized, this kid was now happier than a bird with a french-fry. Woo Hoo!

Now don’t hate the player, hate the game people! Let’s remember that this cat is human, single, and women don’t seem to be drawn to my current transient traits. I take what I can get. 🙂

Back to glancing behind me…

I look back and see that a WALL OF WATER is rapidly coming towards me. I immediately went into emergency mode and prepared for the inevitable. I had 60-seconds at most to:

  • Get my rain-gear out of the tub
  • Put Cell, GPS and Camera in water proof place
  • Cover the cart with my tarp and secure it
  • Put on Rain-Gear

Of course, when you are frantically moving, things are bound to go wrong. Never having a problem with the bungee straps, they of course decided to get stuck on my shoe laces and untie my shoe. Ugh!

Just made it, and now for the next 90-Minutes, the rain attacked from above. No matter, I was covered and I didn’t have time to dilly-dally. I did however walk into the forest a few times when it was really beating down.

Why is it that people seem to smile at you more when you are walking in the rain? I’m sure I made for good entertainment!

Before and after the storm, I saw my fair share of Deer jumping into the road and not noticing me. I guess I must be becoming one with nature…or something like that.

The sun was setting and I still had 6 miles to walk. I don’t know how in the heck I walked the last of the 38 miles. I know I was getting very stressed about it getting dark out. A Park Ranger stopped and asked if I need anything. I asked if I would make it to town before Dark. “Oh sure” he said. With no means to verify, I must trust.

He was wrong.

I’m sure I was pushing 5 miles an hour with the cart. At times I was even running to beat the clock. No matter, the last 3 miles of the day was spent walking in the dark. If I didn’t have my trusty blinking head-lamp, I wouldn’t have continued. Blinking away, all traffic paid attention, passed slowly and provided a wide berth. I didn’t think I would ever get to the town.

Once I got to a solitary store (which was closed), I sat down, took off my rain-gear, and did a little Google search. Frigging Google said I had another 4 miles. AAAGGHH! I was so close to being one of those marathon runners that colapse just before the finish line. I started walking and entered the Business Loop through town. I could see a variety of businesses and people activity. I was delusional at this time. A car passed me and the people shouted “You dropped your baby”. Without skipping a beat, I stopped and looked behind me. I’m an idiot…

Seeing a grocery store, I figured I would get something cold to drink. Nope! The lights turned off and they closed as soon as I began moving towards it. What am I to do? As I’m contimplating my next step, I look up at the business to my left. It’s the Grand River Inn. Again, taking me a moment to register. HALLALUJAH!!

They had a room, I checked-in, then proceeded to collapse! After I found out about travelling 38 miles, it was gratifying. I matched my previous distance record, and in about 3 hours less time. I think I will keep the distance records to a minimum the rest of the way.

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