Would ask you to say HELLO to Leslie, but she was too shy. Leslie and I did, however, chat for 15 minutes or so at the gas station/convenience store in Brookneal, VA, where she was tending the store.
Asking Leslie how was business, she suggested I wait around a bit and watch.
About 8 clients came in...one for gas...two for some food items, paid with food stamps...and 6 to play LOTTO.
Leslie told me:
It's like this all day every day...people come in with food stamps for a loaf of bread and spend up to $100.00 on LOTTO scratch tickets. Some stand around most of the day choosing different tickets - hoping to duplicate the luck of a lady in the next town who won $1,000,000.00 on a scratch ticket a few weeks ago. (Just look at the cost of a single scratch ticket...WOW)
This town is nearly dead. There is no work. There are no jobs. Folks live from unemployment check to unemployment check.
Many write checks for their LOTTO. Most, however, put it on their credit cards.
...and what about you, I asked:
Well, when the recession hit, it didn't effect me much. I had my three kids when I was very young. I had NOTHING. We struggled. No TV. No computer. Barely food on the table. Most folks hurt bad from the recession...not me...I was already hurting and had nothing to lose.
My kids and I are very close, however. Their friends come home from school and disappear into another room to play TV or computer games or text friends all evening. My kids have none of those things...we 4 do things together in the evenings. We are a happy family.
Considering the number of decorative mail boxes on US 501 heading north out of Brookneal, Leslie could be right.
Cemeteries near Brookneal are a thing to behold...precision, neat, and tastefully adorned with floral arrangements.
Homes hereabout are modest.
Many are vacant...many more falling down; being overtaken by Mother Nature.
GP (Georgia Pacific) has a large processing mill a few miles north on US 501.
Many "chip" 18-wheelers come and go to the plant.
Bellingham - my home in Washington State - recently lost it's GP plant...simply pulled up stakes and moved out lock, stock, and barrel.
Many stands of such trees line the back roads of this part of Virginia.
I kept looking for Indians and painted ponies.
Yesterday we saw a pic of a grass cutter.
Above is the next step for the farmer...the grass/hay rake.
This machine, also pulled by oxen/horses/donkeys/and more recently a small tractor, rakes up the cut grass/hay into piles which are then scooped up and formed into bales by a different machine.
When we were young, that was the way it was done.
US 501 north of Brookneal.
Walked past a rather large lumber mill, manufacturing "treated" fence posts.
A few hundred feet further along came the sign below:
Other than GP, I saw no other industry nearby.
Virginia has many such (EMS) emergency crew stations.
Always on the lookout for impressive looking trees.
...and painted mail boxes.
This is the inside of the convenience store / gas station owned and operated by Prodip and Sangita Patel, (husband and wife) immigrated some 20 years ago from a city in India.
I chatted for some minutes with Sangita; there was nothing, said Sangita, for us in India. We are very pleased to be in the United States.
Sangita then offered me a big slice of Pizza and a can of ARIZONA Tea...I have learned not to refuse any drink and welcomed the pizza as I was over 10 miles away from SPIA and was carrying only two small peanut butter filled "Lance" crackers (which I snitched from Pastor Steve's Food Pantry a couple weeks ago).
US 501 is even more hilly than previous Highway 40.
Completed 20 miles walking US 501 north of Brookneal. Then drove SPIA to Highway 24, which heads west to Roanoke, VA, about 50 miles away.
Parked SPIA and set out once again on foot, covering an additional 16 miles; 36 for the day.
Highway 24 has the most and steepest hills of ANY roadway I have walked in the past 2 years...and we are still in the Allegheny Mountain foothills.
My Bellingham friend, Paul, tells me (by cell today) that I have chosen the most difficult roadway across the Allegheny Mountains...
We shall see.
Please say HELLO to Trane.
Trane is the Horse. The rider hesitated...then decided NOT to give me her/his name.
Another of the pleasant, yet modest homes hereabout.
Blooming flowers are following me west, north, and UP (in altitude).
Rolled Bales of last year hay crop...still lying in the field.
After completing my final 16 mile walk this afternoon, I drove SPIA west on Highway 24.
MAN OH MAN...I have NEVER seen curves and steep hills - in combination - as in the last 5 miles we drove to reach the above "Bethlehem Baptist Church" - which Pastor has graciously allowed SPIA to park for the night.
Still had some sunlight - this being the first day of Daylight Saving Time -, but I was simply too tired to step out onto Highway 24 again today.
In the morning, I will leave SPIA parked and walk BACK a few miles into some of the most severe hills one could ever imagine. Then I will walk on west toward Roanoke - some 35 miles away.
Will take it VERY easy on this highway. This is where shin splints occur.
Am more tired at the moment (6:45 pm) than at any moment since leaving OBX (the Outer Banks).
Should sleep like a baby tonight.