Before our unexpected break from the trail, we had hit a really good groove. We had our daily routine down, we were making our miles every day, and we had finally started to feel like we knew what we were doing. But after two weeks off the road, we were worried that we wouldn’t find the rhythm again, or that our bodies would be weak and unwilling to do what we ask of them. With a health dose of uncertainty, we left the safety of family in Muncie and started walking west once again.
Did I mention it was hot? We tried to get an early start to beat the heat, but dragged our heels getting out the door. Trudging down the road, we stopped to take a break under a few shade trees at the edge of a yard. Our plan was to drink a little water, hydrate to dogs, and push to get a couple more miles in before taking a break through the afternoon heat. The owners of the yard came out to see if we needed anything, and we joined them for a slice of cake and conversation while we refilled our water and cooled off a bit. I feel awful, but I can’t remember their names. If you are reading this, you know who you are: Thank You!
Back on the road, we were determined to make it a few more miles before calling it quits due to the heat. Maybe a half mile along, we saw a nice farm with an awesome little gang of donkeys in their fields. As we passed the house, a man was walking across the road with his son – decked out in water wings, clearly heading for the pool. We smiled and waved, and he asked where we were heading. When we told him, he laughed and smiled, introduce himself as Chris, and invited us in for lunch. Even though we hadn’t made it very far, we couldn’t pass up the hospitality.
Inside, the house was full of friendly family and the smells of a good Memorial Day cookout. As we dove into baked beans, coleslaw, and ice cold lemonade, we got a little history about the farm. Larry Mitchell, the owner, told us that the house was built in 1860. The Bethel railroad station was just up the road, and travelers had been using the route since the 1830’s as they moved cattle east and west. The house was once an inn, so it was fitting that we happened by. The farm has been owned by Larry’s family for nearly 200 years!
We sat in the backyard sharing stories with Larry and his family, while the kids splashed around in their pool. When we told them that we were hoping to make it as far as Alexandria that day, Larry’s sister, Sharon, invited us to stay with her and her husband Victor once we got there.
We hung out far too long. Every time we started to move toward the door, someone else showed up and wanted to hear our story. It was a blessing to be able to join Larry’s family for Memorial Day, and their generosity seemed to come so naturally. With our bellies and hearts full, we headed down the road once again.
In Alexandria, we met Sharon and Victor at their home. Chris joined us again, and his girlfriend Shannon made a special trip up just to meet us and thank us for what we are doing. More food, more conversation. Chris is a really kind soul, with a great attitude. It was a treat to meet him, and it meant a lot that he came out just to talk to us.
The next day, we talked through possible routes with Victor over coffee. Wen he mentioned that Sharon runs a homeless women’s shelter in Alexandria, we jumped at the opportunity to do a visit there. Victor joined us for a walk across Alexandria, and even pushed the cart for a bit to see how it handled. We met Sharon and another employee, Holly, at Beauty For Ashes Transient Women’s Home.
Sharon told us that Beauty for Ashes takes no government funding, so she has to fundraise relentlessly to keep it going. They have a wonderful home there, with rooms for six women. We met with two of the residents, Pam and Kathy, who soaked up every ounce of love that Max and Grace could give them. Kathy showed us around the house.
After our visit, Victor insisted on taking us out to lunch. With full bellies once again, he walked with us to the edge of town before saying goodbye. Considering our fears of getting back on the road, we couldn’t have asked for a better start. This journey is amazing, and it is shaped every day by the good people that we meet.