My brain is turning to mush. We crossed a line on a map – the Missouri River, to be exact – and suddenly, the whole landscape is different. The smells are different. The insects are different. The cloud patterns are different. Even the geometry of the cornfields is different. My perception of distance has shifted quite suddenly – in Iowa, I could see abut 3 miles to the horizon. Now it’s more like 6. I think. It’s hard to say, but things have definitely stretched out.
The heat is unrelenting still. There is only one way out of it: Keep Walking. The quicker we get through Nebrasky and start climbing up toward Denver, the quicker we will get to cooler temperatures. Of course, it’s easier said than done to make 20+ miles in 100-degree heat. We keep pressing on and pressing on, and thankfully there are still wonderful people everywhere we go. We have been blessed with air conditioning and showers many nights. People just keep treating us nicely! Someone told me today it is because we have an aura about us. I think that’s just the sunburn, though.
After a couple of grueling days, we took a detour up to Lincoln, the capital of Nebraska. There, we had two therapy visits scheduled. Kait called ahead to try and find us a cheap motel to get cleaned up in, but she failed. Instead of cheap, she found FREE hotel rooms for TWO nights. The fine folks at the Howard Johnson Hotel offered to sponsor our stay when they heard about our project. They were even willing to let our pack of wild dogs in without pet fees or a deposit. HoJo, you have no idea how amazing that was. We also stopped in at Scheel’s Sports, to pick up some odds and ends – tent poles to replace some broken ones, new shoes, and a replacement axle for our pushcart, Bob Todd. The Scheel’s staff was amazing, helping me track down that hard-to-find axle a couple of weeks ago. When we came into the store, they were ready for us and gave us a discount toward whatever we needed.
After a good night’s rest, we headed to CEDARS Home for Children for a visit. As always, we were deeply moved by the connection our dogs forged with the kids at the center. Something about the dogs and our story really breaks down some barriers, and while we wove the tale of the walk they asked tons of questions and rolled around on the floor with our furry friends. We also found out that Scheel’s Sports sponsors kids at CEDARS by providing exercise an sports equipment. It’s great to see communities supporting each other.
After our visit, I got an amazing email from Ruthie, our staff contact. With her permission, I’m sharing it. This is why we are out here, doing this work:
“What a truly great thing you 3 did for the youth being served at… CEDARS today in Lincoln, NE! It was awesome to get to meet you and the dogs and I know the kids had a great time hearing your story and petting the dogs. I appreciated the messages your stories had for our youth about pursuing their passions/dreams, the generosity of others, and accepting and giving kindness to others (paying it forward!).
Enjoy the rest of your journey and I can’t wait to read about what else you encounter on your trip! Your visit made me feel proud to be the owner of an adult dog from a rescue shelter, and I plan to contact our local pet therapy providers to arrange for regular pet therapy to happen in our CEDARS programs! Thanks again and safe travels!”
We moved on to The Monarch Hospice center, where we visited with clients one-on-one in their beautiful facility. We had met one of the staff members, Kristen, the day before in Shenandoah and were thrilled for the opportunity to come in a visit. It takes a truly special person to be able to provide end-of-life care, and we have a great admiration and respect for the staff at the Monarch. Kristen said we really helped to brighten the mood and lift the staff and clients’ spirits. It was our pleasure, as always.
Before we left Lincoln, we met a staff member from CEDARS out for dinner at Lazlo’s Restaurant and Grill. James Mello has a dream of walking across America, and he was full of questions. He and his wife, Kyra, are also new foster parents – something Kait and I have discussed many times. Over a totally amazing beer selection, we talked for hours before eventually retiring to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.
Lincoln treated us really well, and it is the last major city we will hit until we finally reach Denver. Here’s hoping he hospitality continues. We’ll keep bringing the positive energy as best we can.