You amaze me every day. Since my parents dropped us off on the Blackwater Canyon trail, we have been overwhelmed by generosity. We made our way down the trail (which is not really maintained anymore) to Hendricks, and made our way west to Parsons. Looking for a place to camp, we found Five River Campground (which hosts the Pickin’ in Parsons bluegrass festival) and the owners, Joyce and John, let us camp for free.
Our next day was brutal. Up steep, gravel roads and back down the ridges. As we came down out of the mountains – holding the cart back the whole way – I kept thinking, “at least I don’t have to go back up this hill. Better down than up.” Then we got to the bottom, and realized that we had taken a wrong turn. Rough day, but we found a friendly yard to camp in.
Putting the Allegheny Range behind us, we reached Phillippi. A friendly fellow named Rusty Taylor (awesome name!) chatted us up and helped us plan a shorter route to Clarksburg. He ended up offering to put us up in the office of his business, keeping us out of a freezing night. Rusty is a very successful businessman, and had great advice to share.
We walked on.
Shaving 40 miles out of our route, we reached Clarksburg two days ahead of schedule. We scrambled to arrange some therapy visits. Yesterday, we spent the morning at Heartland Healthcare, sharing our dogs with the staff and residents. They warmed our hearts and recharged our dogs.
After Heartland, we headed over to Genesis Youth Center. The facility houses and educates children who are in state custody, and we were lucky enough to meet with kids of all ages. We talked with them and answered questions for hours! It was amazing to engage such a diverse group of kids. Something about the dogs always helps to connect us all.
One girl asked us if our opinion of West Virginia had changed now that we had spent time here. Like Kentucky, West Virginia can get a pretty bad rap from outsiders, and we were honored to tell the kids about the generosity and beauty we have found here. After our talk, the staff thanked us for speaking. They told us that they have speakers all the time, but rarely do the kids get so animated and engaged as they did with us. They said our message of hard work, service to others, and following your dreams really resonates with children who are looking for positive role models. It was humbling, to say the least.
We got interviewed by two local news stations, and were featured on the evening and morning news! This was a big milestone. We are glad that we didn’t look like total fools. You can find links on our Press page.
Last night, a fellow pet therapy advocate named Sharon offered to take us to dinner, and sponsored a motel room for the night. We met her and her friend, Candy, and enjoyed good conversation over a Mexican feast. They do pet therapy work in the Clarksburg area and have earned attention from the community for their work with veterans. Our cup overflows with generosity!
This morning, walking through downtown Clarksburg, a man named Antonio pulled up and said “I think I saw you on the news!” He owns Ritzy Lunch, and told us to stop in for a free meal. Even the dogs got to share in the feast!
West Virginia, you are too kind.