Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Day 22 - Milledgeville, GA To Daleville, VA

I'm late with this post because the Internet service at the motel was very unreliable. In fact, the entire experience at the motel was awful. When I came through here in 2010, my family and I stayed at the same was a Hampton then, and very nice and good location. I arrived in Milledgeville late, and it was dark already. When I drove up, the place looked different. I inquired if it was still a Hampton, and seems Hampton made the owners take the sign down because the motel was in disrepair. Two floors were closed completely, but there were some rooms on the bottom floor still being rented. The price was ok, so I decided to stay.

As best I could tell from the number of cars in the lot, I was the only tenant that night. The Internet service was up and down, mostly down, so I gave up. In fact the experience caused me to shorten my trip, and head back to Virginia. Just too tired from all the travel, plus the frustration of this motel. So, this morning (Tue, Jan 1) I packed the car, and drove back to Daleville. There were still several people I wanted to visit, but will do it again sometime.
I arrived back in Daleville late afternoon, and it was good to be home. The trip was long (6,100 miles) and tiring, but it accomplished what I wanted......reconnect with people I met during the walk, and thank them for their kindness. Most seemed as happy to see me as I was them, so a good trip. As with my life, some of theirs have also changed. I guess that always happens.

If you've followed along, I hope you enjoyed reconnecting with some of these people. This will be my last post until I undertake another trip or adventure. I wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2013.

Day 21 - Montgomery To Milledgeville

I left the Hampton Eastchase in Montgomery (one of the nicest), and headed east on Hwy80. My first stop was at the McDonald's in Tuskeegee, in search of Lawrence McRae (day 112 of walk). The last time I saw him was at this McDonald's, so figured that would be a good place to start. He was there, sitting about where I remembered. Before I could introduce myself, he said, "that's the walkingman". We had a nice visit, he invited me to walk the short distance to his house to meet his wife, so we did. We talked a while longer, and I headed east.
I next stopped at the home of Sharon and Steve Torbert in Society Hill. I spent the night (day 112) on their property, and Sharon was kind enough to provide a hot meal. They were at home, we visited a while, and I went on the way. I passed through Crawford and found Davy and Cody Haden at their deep processing business. They dress deer 4 months of the year, and business was up this year. During the "off season" Davy is in construction (building his own home), and Cody is a student. He's studying to be a veterinarian. Nice young men, and it was good to see them again.
I soon crossed into Georgia, on the way to Macon. My first stop was in Upatoi at Rose's Mini Mart, to visit Rose and Brittani (day 114). Unfortunately Rose's was boarded up, been out of business for a while. I drove a short way up the road to find Monica at the Bar-B-Que Shack. The place was there, but Monica no longer worked there. I stopped on the west side of Macon to visit Robert Dennard (day 118), and his wife Edith. Robert and I have kept in touch since the walk, and had a good visit. He gave me directions for the best way to get through Macon, so I continued east toward Milledgeville.
My final visit for the day was in Gray, to find Brian Evans (day 119). Brian was the policeman who brought me a couple of those good Clinton Bar-B-Ques as I passed through town. He no longer works for the Jones County Sheriff's Department, and it took a while and some serious investigation to find him. But I did, and he invited me to his house to visit and meet his wife and new son. Brian is a nice guy and wonderful representative for law enforcement.
It was getting late and dark, so I drove to Milledgeville for the night.
Lawrence McRae, Tuskeegee, AL;
Antebellum home along Hwy80 in Society Hill, AL;
13th Street Bar-B-Que in Ladonia, AL. Of course it was closed;
Rose's Mimi Mart in Upatoi, GA....closed for business;
Waterfall at Fickling Mill, GA;
Robert and Edith Dennard, Macon, GA;
Brian, Natalie, and Hendrix Evans, Gray, GA.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Day 20 - Meridian To Montgomery



Today was another short day mileage wise, but I was able to find many of the people I met along the walk. I didn't leave the motel until after 9, so only covered around 155 miles total. My first stop was at a convenience store to see Susan Williams and her daughter Shannon whom I met on day 103 of the walk. Unfortunately they weren't working, so not a good start for the day.

I soon was in Alabama, and the next stop was in Demopolis at the Foscue House Restaurant where I ate lunch on day 105 of the walk. I arrived a little before opening time, but was still able to talk a few minutes with the owners, Rick and Tracy Adams. They seemed to be doing well 2 years later, I left some Virginia apple butter behind, and headed east.

Finding Betty and William Eatmon was not as easy. I met on them on hwy80, east of Demopolis, on day 106 of the walk. Betty had passed by me, turned around and came back, and gave me all the money she had at the time.....$2. She then called William and told him to bring me some coffee.....and he did. Not knowing where they lived, I checked a local phone directory and found only 1 Eatmon......Lucy. Luckily it was their daughter and she gave me their number.

I called, talked to Betty and she sent her son to meet me. But, I had already passed their house, so it took a while for us to find one another. We finally did, and I followed to their house. We had a nice visit, I took a few pictures, and left behind apple butter. I headed east and passed through a small community named Uniontown.

I called Jerome Williams, and luckily he was at home. (He travels much of the time.) I soon found his place, and we had a good time talking about the walk and stuff going on in his life. Jerome (pronounced Jeremy) is a jack-of-all-trade....he's a crop dusting pilot, has catfish ponds, mechanic, refurbishes those FEMA trailers and transports all over the US, etc. Since I was last there, he's earned his helicopter certification, and dug 4 new catfish ponds. I asked about piloting a crop dusting plane, and he said "you need to have a little crazy inside to do that".....I can understand. I could talk to Jerome for days, but no time for that.....have to keep moving.

My next stop was the Hampton Inn in Selma, where I spent the night on day 107 of the walk. On that cold, rainy night, Rufus Ford, General Manager, had invited me to stay at the motel instead of sleeping in the tent.  He wasn't working today, but the woman who was working called him, he was nearby, and soon was at the motel with his wife and daughter.  We had a nice visit, and he was even wearing a walkingman t-shirt.

Rufus told me this story: inspired by my walk, he decided to walk every street in Selma while carrying a large American flag. Although some who knew him thought he was losing it, the walk was well received by people of all ages. He told how it helped him and others view each other in a more positive way, and said the young people were especially receptive to his walk....some even joined him. He's a nice guy who's trying to have a positive influence on his community.

My final visit for the day was with Betty and Ken Schroeder. Betty had passed me on the road during the walk, and being a little bit curious, sent Ken out to find me and see what I was doing. We've talked occasionally since then, and I told them I was going to be in the area and wanted to visit. I tried calling them several times earlier today, but no answer. I found their house, and was sitting in their driveway writing a note when they drove up. They'd been in town running a few errands.

We had a nice visit. Both are from this area, and Betty was born not 2 miles from their current home. They own a farm which is leased out, this year for growing cotton. Ken drove me out to the farm to look around. There's a small house used by friends and family when they're hunting or just want to get together. Deer were constantly running across the road in front of us. We drove back to the house, visited a while longer, took a few pictures, and I had to get on the road. I know this won't be the last time I see Betty and Ken.

It was dark when I finally reached Montgomery, and I somehow became disoriented and lost Hwy80. Finally stopped at a Verizon place, asked directions, and found a motel nearby. I stopped for something to eat, and was settled in and comfortable by the time the Cowboys / Redskins game started. My supply of both sodas and apple butter is getting low, so this trip has to end sometime soon. Today was a good day, and the weather was much improved. Most likely I'll be somewhere in Georgia this time tomorrow.

- The wooded area on the left is where I camped on day 103 of the walk. A small truck stop is in the background, and the interstate is directly behind where I was standing to take the picture;
- Rick & Tracy Adams, owners of the Foscue House restaurant in Demopolis;
- William Eatmon & Lovell Zanders....wife Betty was attending to a grandchild at the time;
- Jerome Williams, crop duster, etc. Notice parts of 4 catfish ponds in the background;
- Rufus Ford. wife Latanga, and daughter Fatima;
- Downtown Selma, with the Edmund Pettus bridge in the background;
- Ken Schroeder at the farm;
- Ken and Betty Schroeder.

Note: click on the pictures and they'll get larger.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Day 19 - Delhi To Meridian

I did lots of visiting yesterday, but not much traveling. If I'm ever going to get back to VA, gonna have to work in a little more traveling. But, I'm not sure it really matters. This morning was a better day than yesterday.....sunny, but still cold. It didn't take long to drive the remaining miles in Louisiana, passing through places with names such as Talluah, Thomastown, and Mound. This stretch of road passes by farm land so flat that water just stands until it either soaks in the ground or where for it to drain. And, no where to put a tent should there be a need. I stopped in Delta to take a few pictures, and then crossed the I-20 bridge into Vicksburg, MS. On the way to I-20 I passed a roadside marker for "Grant's Canal", an important landmark in the Civil War.
(Two of the most dangerous roads (for walking) I encountered crossing the country are in and around Vicksburg......crossing the bridge over the Mississippi, and the road between Vicksburg and Edwards. Neither has little if any shoulder, so I just had to hope traffic was light. The road to Edwards is very rolling, so cars are coming over hills and don't see a pedestrian until sometimes very close.)

I'm sure there are lots of nice visitor centers around the country, but this has to be one of the best. And much of the reason I think is because of the location of the city and the history of the area. It was windy and cold there, and I took a few pictures and drove on through the downtown area. Lots of history there, as well as much restoration. This is the second time I've been through this area (the first was on the walk), and I still want to come back and spend more time. I looked around a while, took some pictures, and finally found my way out of town.
My next stop was at a convenience store in Brandon, MS. On day 99 of the walk, I stopped here for a bite to eat, and at the same time decided to shed some clothes because it was a warm day. I put them on the seat beside me, finished eating, and walked out leaving them behind. After walking a mile or so, a car pulls up, the driver hands me a bag, and inside were the clothes. She could just as easily thrown them in the trash. The kind woman, Dedri Brown, still works at the store, but was not on duty at the time. The woman who was working called Dedri, and I talked to her. She was surprised to hear from me, remembered the incident, and we had a nice conversation. I left a t-shirt and some apple butter to thank her, and then headed east.
My next stop was in Pelahatchie. Also on day 99 of the walk, I arrived in town late in the afternoon with no prospects of a good camp site.....and, it was cold that evening. A local man, Joe Wilkerson, offered to let me stay in an old bus on his property. I was relived to find a place and accepted the offer. Although sleeping in the bus seemed much colder than in a tent, I still appreciated his offer and wanted to thank him today. I found his place, but the bus was missing. He told me he'd with no luck trying to sell it, finally sold it to a junk dealer for more than he'd asked as non-junk. Joe's had some health problems since I last saw him, but said it was improving. I left him some apple butter, and moved on eastward.
I next stopped in Newton to visit Andy and Dottie Armstrong. On day 101 of the walk I spent the night in their guest house. They weren't home today, so I tried calling his cell, but no answer. A neighbor told me he thought they were traveling out west, so I left apple butter and a t-shirt with the neighbor and headed to Hickory to find Bobby and Edna Warren, and their daughter Shirley. On day 102 of the walk they helped me in several ways. I drove to Bobby and Edna's house, and Shirley came over. We had a nice visit, they are all doing well, and I left behind apple butter as thanks from Virginia.
While at the Warren's, Andy Armstrong returned my call. They were in Meridian for a movie and since I was headed that way, we decided to meet for dinner. We met downtown, and went to Weidmann's Restaurant, a local place which has been in business since 1870. If you ever eat there you;ll understand why they've lasted so long.....great food, great atmosphere, great service. Plus, being with Andy and Dottie added great company. We had a nice visit, and they offered their guest house for the night. I appreciated the offer, but decided to stay in Meridian. They helped me find a nearby Hampton Inn, and headed back to Newton. I settled in for the evening.
Today was a better travel day than yesterday, and tomorrow I'll be in Alabama for more sightseeing and visiting.
Delta, MS;
Marker near the Vicksburg Visitor Center;
Bridges over the Mississippi.....the one on the left is for cars and trucks, the one on the right for trains;
Downtown Vicksburg;
The corner of Washington and Veto....makes sense;
Front of Andy and Dottie Armstrong's house. I can assure you the rest is just as colorful.....Dottie is an artist;
Andy and Dottie in front of Weidmann's.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Day 18 - A cold, rainy, day in LA

My expectations for today weren't very high. It was rainy and cold, I still was a little under the weather, and thought some people might be away for the holiday weekend. But with all that, I still have to be moving east or I'll never get home. If it doesn't stop raining there's going to be a lot of disappointed football fans around here. Leaving Bossier City I stopped and took a few pictures of the Harrah's casino and race's a big facility on the outskirts of town. Then headed east on Hwy80. Along the way I called Jim Peters from W. Monroe, and invited him to lunch. He was free, so we agreed to meet at a place on Hwy80.
My first stop was in Minden and I wanted to find Bobby Taylor. I met him and his wife Johnette at the Vicksburg Visitor Center during my walk. We've kept in touch since then, and I knew they lived near hwy80. I stopped for gas, and borrowed a local phone directory to look for a number and address. Found it, called and Johnette answered. Bobby was working, but she invited me to stop by. On the way to the house I passed the Minden Culture Farm, and took a few pictures. I found the house, we visited for a while, I took a few pictures, and left a jar of apple butter. She called Bobby who was in Vicksburg, and he decided to meet Jim and me for lunch in W. Monroe.
After leaving Minden, I passed through Arcadia, took a wrong turn, and spent about 10 minutes finding the right route. Then on to Gibsland. I remembered walking through this was Thanksgiving Day, 2010, cold and rainy, and I was sick. I stopped at a laundromat to wash clothes, get a bite to eat before walking on.....a really miserable day 2 years ago. Today's weather is much the same, except I'm in a car and warm. Gibsland has a lot of Bonnie and Clyde history, and has 2 museums devoted to them. The sign on one of them says it's the "official" museum.
I next stopped in Simsboro at the home of Angela and Charlie Meeds. On November 26 during the walk, I stopped at their house and asked permission to put up the tent in their yard. It was getting dark, and I had about run out of options. They agreed, so I spent the night there.  Angela was a little skeptical of having an old man in a tent sleeping in her yard, but Charlie convinced her it was ok. Of course they were surprised to see me back, and we had a good laugh about when I walked through Simsboro. Their daughter was home from school (I didn't meet her because she was sick) but I found out she has a beautiful paint horse and competes in barrel races locally. I took some pictures, left behind some apple butter, and started to leave. Angela asked about the reason for this trip and I replied: "I wanted to show people I was just a normal guy". Charlie's response to that, "well, in some ways". Guess he has a point there.
I was running late for lunch, so no more stops until W. Monroe. We were meeting at a place named Cheniere Shack, right on hwy80. Bobby and Jim were already there, and we had a great lunch and did lots of talking. Jim is an adventurer himself, with many trips to Alaska. This place has so much atmosphere, and I don't remember seeing it during the walk......must not have been open at the time I passed. Catfish is the meal here in LA, and it didn't disappoint. After the meal we talked to the owner about some pictures on the wall. He has a picture of Muhammad Ali (autographed) with the Beatles. We stayed there several hours, and I left them with apple butter and a promise to keep in touch. A nice visit.
My final stop was in Rayville to visit some people at the "Center for Children and Families". Unfortunately, they are away for the holiday, so didn't get to see them. I did meet two people at the Richland Parish Sheriff's Department.....Owen Rockett and Lucille Walker, investigators. We talked for a while, and Lucille invited me to dinner with them, but I'd just finished lunch, and had to move on. It was nice meeting them.
I finally found a Best Western in Delhi, and decided to stop for the evening. I only covered 135 or so miles today, not a lot. The odometer in the car rolled over 5,000 for the trip....with probably 1,000 or more to go. It was a really nice day seeing these people, and I'll get home sometime. Many of the places I've driven through I recognize doesn't miss much walking at 3mph. Tomorrow I continue east into Mississippi.
Harrah's racetrack and casino;
One of the animals residing on the culture farm in Minden;
Johnette Taylor and grandchildren Tyler and Cameron. I did my best to get a good picture of them, but kids this age.....well at least you can see their faces if not their eyes;
Bonnie and Clyde Museum in Gibsland;
Angela and Charlie Meeds, Simsboro, LA;
Bobby Taylor and Jim Peters at Cheniere Shack.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Day 17 - On The Road Again


I'm a day late leaving Fairview, having planned to be on the road yesterday. But, seems I came down with a cold and didn't feel very well, so decided to rest 1 more day before starting east for the final leg of the trip. About once a year, usually around this time, I seem to get sick for a few days. Anyhow, not feeling the best, and thinking many people would be off work this week and I wouldn't find them, my attitude wasn't the best when I left Julie's.
It took about 30 minutes to get out of the Dallas area and on Hwy80 heading east. I'll follow it to Macon, GA, and then start working northeast. I was still west of Elmo when I found a place I camped during the walk. It was on day 79 of the walk, and I stayed near the trailer of a guy named Eric. He happened to be having "woman" problems that particular night, and we talked a lot about that. I found him today working on a truck in a garage nearby, and we talked a while about the walk. The woman still hasn't come back, but Eric seemed ok with that. I took a few pictures, left him with some apple butter from VA, and headed out.
I stopped in Wills Point to find Aerial Roark. On day 80 of the walk she brought me a great chicken salad sandwich. I found her today at Charley's Burgers, which she manages. Since it was near lunchtime, I ordered a chicken salad sandwich to take with me. I paid this time, and left behind some apple butter to thank her for her kindness during the walk.
My next stop was in Fruitvale at Means Feed & Grocery. I had stopped there during the walk and met some people, so wanted to look them up. I only found 1, Louise Means, co-owner of the store. We talked a while, took a few pictures, and I left behind apple butter as I headed east. Along the way I had a call from a woman where I camped on day 53 of the walk. It was the place where the horses wouldn't leave me alone, and I finally had to pack up the tent and move on. When I came by her house this time she and her husband weren't home, so I left a jar of apple butter hanging on the fence gate, and she called to thank me.
My next stop was Grand Saline looking for Veta Weaver, editor of the Grand Saline Sun newspaper. Veta has retired, but I met several other people at the paper.....Rusty, Wendi, and Ann. Wendy gave me a copy of the original article, and decided to do a follow-up article about my trip retracing the route of the walk. We talked a while, they told me some about Grand Saline, and I left them with some apple butter from VA.
I stopped in Big Sandy long enough to take a couple of pictures, and then headed for the final stop of the day......Texas Awning in Longview. The owner, Guy Gaither, was on vacation, but Joe and Lynn Paddie were there. I spent the night on day 83 at Texas Awning, sleeping on a cot in one of the offices. They brought me food and made it very comfortable for a walkingman. I left behind some apple butter as thanks, took a few pictures, and headed east.
It wasn't long until I was leaving Texas and entering Louisiana. And not long after that trying to find my way through downtown Shreveport. Somehow I took a wrong turn, and drove around a while until I could find Hwy80 (Texas Ave) and get out of town. Finally crossed the Red River into Bossier City, found a motel room (which wasn't easy because of football game in town this weekend), and settled down for the night. I've decided driving is about as tiring as walking, and much more stressful.
Eric from Elmo;
Aerial Roark, manager of Charley's Cafe, Wills Point, TX;
Louise Means, Fruitvale, TX;
Ann and Wendi, Grand Saline Sun newspaper;
Camp site, day 82, Big Sandy, TX;
Lynn and Joe Paddie, Longview, TX;
Texas Ave, Shreveport, LA

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Day 16 - Back In Fairview for a few days of rest

Today was about visiting people I met along the walk, and just getting back to Julie's house for Christmas. One thing I've noticed is, just as my life has changed since the walk, so has some of the people I met  along the way. There's not a lot to see, at least in a car, along 180 between Anson and Albany. But Albany is one of the nicer towns I passed through during the walk. It has a nice downtown, and many of the buildings look original and still neat and well maintained. The courthouse square is one of the nicest, and the whole area is clean and well maintained. There's a "Flying A Car Museum on Main Street, and although it was closed I could see through the window it had lots of nice displays.
I stopped at an auto supply store and bought some tire foam.....I washed the car yesterday, and the tires look bad and I wanted them to shine. I applied it in the store parking lot and waited a few minutes for it to dry. Next I drove to the Dairy Queen to try to find Joe Dillingham, a interesting guy I talked to on the walk. Finding it closed, I stopped at another place and inquired where I might find him. Most everyone in town knows's a small town and Joe is unique. I was told where he lived, but the woman didn't think he was there any longer. I drove over there, talked to a neighbor, and learned Joe was now living in an assisted living home in Clovis, NM. I hated that. was really looking forward to visiting with him.
I had talked to both Kim Lawler and Wes Adams about stopping to visit with them, and both were going to be home. Kim and her family are now living in Weatherford, TX, having moved recently from Milsap. We met at a local restaurant, talked for a while, and then drove to her house. Kim's daughter Olivia has 12 or 13 chickens that lay eggs most every day, and Olivia sells them to neighbors and friends. We talked for a while, I had to get on my way, so headed out to find Wes Adams in Arlington.
Finally found Wes and we arranged to have dinner at a place in Ft Worth named "Dixie House Diner". Wes has a talent at finding these great, local places to eat, and this was another one. Wes is a motorcycle rider, and is thinking about coming east to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway and several other scenic roads. I invited him to come by the house if he needs a place to stay when in the area. The diner was getting ready to close, so with directions from Wes, I drove the 50 or so miles to Julie's house in Fairview. My other daughter Susan and her family had arrived, so everyone is getting ready for Christmas.
It seems this driving is almost as tiring as walking. I'll be off-line for a few days to rest and enjoy the family. On Wednesday after Christmas I'll head out through the states east of Texas where I walked. Hopefully I'll be able to visit others I met. Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy, and prosperous, 2013.
A restored Sinclair service station in Albany. My Dad ran one that looked a lot like this one, and that was one of my first jobs;
The Albany courthouse square;
A unique house in Albany;
Kim Lawler and daughter Olivia;
Wes Adams, Arlington, Tx.