It’s Monday, September 26th and it’s going to rain. I am under the covered porch of a church between Demopolis and Bellamy, AL. It hasn’t rained much on this trip but this will be the first time that I was walking and successfully stayed dry. Last Tuesday I thought I had it all figured out. Rain was a near certainty so I began my day with my rain pants on and an excessive amount of medical tape holding them to the mid point of my boot. The first two hours of walking were just a hot, sweaty, thighs rubbed raw frustration. “It better rain after all this” I thought. I got my rain. Buckets. Still not sure what, but I still did something wrong as it was only minutes until my feet had their own water park inside my boots. I lucked out on that one though because I only had to walk in them that way for about 6 miles and then I had a place to stay where I could throw them in the dryer. Thank you big time Matt and Candy. Then last Wednesday I was staying outside of a fire station in Selma when the rain overnight brought puddles into my tent. All my stuff was inside so it was dry. I took the next day off and hung around the station figuring out what I did wrong. Turns out it was a couple of easy things that I had overlooked. That was my first night it rained while in my tent. The next time should be a lot more dry. I hope.
Yesterday I made it into Demopolis around 530 with no leads on a place to stay. I called the police and they told me about a campsite 3 miles away. I called the campsite but was not content to pay $18 to pitch a tent when I may get rained on. I sat outside of a Shell station charging my phone next to the ice machine when I spotted a police car pull into the Mexican restaurant. I walked in to ask her for a recommendation that wouldn’t cost me any money. She told me about a clearing a couple of miles down. I was going to go there but Tommy and Elaine Carr stopped me at the door and had overheard bits and pieces and asked me if I needed a place to sleep. I said yes and he told me that he was a pastor and his church would sometimes provide motel rooms for people in need. It was the nicest motel I’ve stayed in yet. Thank you so much
Saturday I walked to Faunsdale. There’s not much in Faunsdale but there is a Cajun restaurant. That is of course where I went. I ordered and ate and conversed with some folks. It was not clear to me until I had been there nearly an hour that the man next to me was the owner. He offered the fenced in area behind the restaurant for me to camp in. They never did bring me my bill. Thank you John and Ca-John’s bar and Grill.
The day before that I stayed in a spacious trailer used as an office for a bird hunting area. It had a shower, air conditioning, couch, and washer and dryer. They had also laid out an assortment of snacks for me. Huge thanks to Jenni and Bobby.
Before that was the couple of rain induced follies that I spoke of before. I hung around the Selma fire station for a whole day and half of the one before that. Thanks to all the guys that made me feel completely welcome.
Monday the 19th of September I was at a fire station again. This one was in Prattville. The guys and gals there made me feel extremely welcome as well. I even got to see my poor St. Louis Rams get tossed around on Monday Night Football.
I was in Montgomery before that where I stayed at an urban farm. Jetson Brown invited me as a guest to their potluck they were throwing. After that we walked around downtown for a little while and then talked over a beer. The next day I took a day off and hung out and watched football and talked with Derrick.
When I’m writing I focus on the people in the towns where I stay at night. This is the part that “makes” the trip. In reality I spend almost the whole day (everyday)walking down backroads and state highways with nothing but trees, cars, the occasional church, sometimes an industrial building. I don’t write much about that because well, there’s not much to write about. It’s one foot in front of the other. There are sometimes people who pull over and offer me water or a snack though. Again, that is what is so great about this trip is that is so much more than simply walking.
Before I hit Montgomery I went through so pretty small towns. In Franklin I slept in my tent outside of a gas station. In Loachapoka I stayed outside of a fire station for the first time.
Wednesday the 14th of September I was in Auburn. I like college towns. Finally getting to talk to groups of people near my own age. I ate at one of the campus staples “Mama Goldbergs” and sat there a good extra hour talking to the staff. Afterwards I bummed around campus and eventually parked myself at a bar and grill to socialize and try to land a backyard to camp in. Around 930 or so, checking my Facebook page for the walk worked out big time. A few messages back and fourth and Michelle Zauzig had changed an offer for breakfast into an offering of a couch as well. In the morning she interviewed me for the school news station. (I posted the link to that on here a couple of post back)
The day before I left Lanett, AL and headed to Opelika. At the start of my day I called their city hall to see if they could recommend a place for my tent. Wendy, who answered the phone, almost immediately offered me her back yard. It doesn’t get much easier than that. once I arrived in Opelika she told me to go by her husbands restaurant for dinner on the house. I did and it was a great place and a delicious bacon and jalepeno burger.
So that was the state of Alabama up to this point. This state has really just flown by as I only have around 25 more miles until I reach Mississippi. It still isn’t raining. I’m going to wait around a while longer and see what happens. Maybe this won’t be the first time I successfully waited out a storm. Maybe this is just that time I relaxed in the shade on a Monday afternoon in Alabama and wrote. Either way sounds good to me. Maybe the next time I write I won’t have walked across nearly the whole state. No promises.