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It rained last night...SAM and ME were snug between two picnic tables on the front veranda of Wade's Restaurant COLONY on Highway 29, where Hwy 24 crossed over. Before daylight, we were up, packed, walked across the intersection for a bite of breakfast, and on our way West on Highway 24.
Boy, were we in for a surprise.
Highway 24 started out invitingly placid.
Things quickly wentDOWN HILL...and I mean nearly straight down hill...then BACK UP HILL...and back down...never seeming to end. The frightening mountains waiting in West Virginia are 8% grades. Many of the Highway 24 hills were MUCH steeper than 8%...albeit, much shorter in length than the 5-mile long hills of the Allegheny Mountains in West Virginia.
SAM and ME got a good taste of what were going to be up against crossing West Virginia.
This hill may not look like much...but it is at least 10% up-hill grade. I could only manage at most 25 "baby steps" at one effort...then had to stop to catch my breath and give the leg muscles a chance to loosen up...
...then, another 25 baby steps...then stop again. Took 1/2 hour to crawl up this hill which was at most 1/4 mile long.
Looking more and more that West Virginia monster hills are going to be impossible to cross pushing SAM.
Many beautiful homes line the roadways of the Virginia countryside.
Ever present Mail Box Art.
Ranch overlooking MIRROR LAKE.
Please say HELLO to TINA.
One year ago, as I walked this same roadway, I dropped in at the Convenience Store ROBBIE's Market. Today, as I walked through the door, Tina instantly recognized me.
Ordering a pulled pork BBQ and drink, Tina refused to accept my $$...your money is no good in here...after all, you walked clear across America TWICE...least I can do is offer you a sandwich and drink.
Tina's hubby, ROBBIE, and she have been together 17 years now...might as well try for another 17, says Tina...as she gives me a hug...climbs into her SUV, and drives away...making my "goodbye" so much easier.
Pine trees are the prevalent growth in this part of the South. Some days, hundreds of loaded logging trucks challenge SAM for every inch of macadam...in defense, I move SAM completely off the asphalt...move onto the narrow grassy strip, and stop dead to let the truck pass in peace.
Coming from an old trucking company in my youth, I know the mind set of truckers...no extra points awarded for clobbering old men pushing carts or little old ladies crossing to fetch the mail across the road.
This guy ran at me three times coockadoodledoo...ing at me; clear warning that these ladies are his.
Please say HELLO to BILLIE JOE.
Billie Joe apparently lives alone on this rather large spread (lingo for a "ranch"). My grandpa built this place. Mom was born in that house...pointing...and died in there 8 years ago. I was born in the same house...and
...I'd invite you in for a bite, but I'm not much of a cook, unless you like warmed over beans.
Billie Joe hands me a $20.00 bill...please enjoy a dinner on me.
...I used to know every person for 20 miles in both directions of Highway 24. Now, I don't even know my next door neighbor...not like it used to be...
Please say HELLO to JESSE. As I walked up to the next Convenience Store, Jesse approached me...where you coming from...where you going...
Jesse was truly interested in my walk...chatting for over 10 minutes. I handed him our SAM and ME business card, inviting him to join in our walk. He assured me he would do just that...
Jesse had that gleam in his eye...the urge to leave this place - locally known as BODY CAMP - and strike out like SAM and ME.
Walking Highway 24 before meeting up with Jesse, a bunch of dogs were going nuts barking at SAM and ME from behind a chicken wire fence fronting a picture perfect pasture with horses and two folks with walking sticks.
Walked over to the fence...introduced myself...looking to ask the Convenience Store Owner if he could recommend a place for SAM and ME to spend the night...
Why, says the lady...you can come spend the night with us...we have an extra bedroom and would love the company.
Immediately accepting her invitation, the above sign greeted SAM and ME as we walked up to their home...a few meters down the side road from the Convenience Store.
Please say HELLO to CHUCK, sister DONNA, and a couple of their vicious barking dogs, which, during the first hour of my entering into their lives, have come to lie on my feet, rest heads on my lap, gaze lovingly into my eyes, and welcome me into their home.
(It is now twelve noon the next day) Chuck served up a plate of his special spaghetti dinner...Donna prepared the spare bedroom for my night's stay...Raymond, their 96-year old Father and I chatted for some time before I was chased off to a shower...and more conversation after Raymond was trundled off to bed.
Tried to work on this blog, but Donna and I got to talking...two hours later, I called off the blog...exchanged hugs with Donna, and excused myself to go listen to the pillow...while Donna gathered up my road-weary (and smelly) clothes for their trip through her washing / drying machine...neatly folded on my chair this morning before breakfast...
...the green pasture out my window shrouded in ghostly white fog lying low over the rolling pasture...horses romping across the field
Chuck has helped me this morning with SAM, making repairs, modifications, and offer to transport SAM over the next series of monster hills to Donna's Son's home near ROANOKE for the night. Me? ...been invited to stay another night with Chuck, Donna, Raymond, 4 dogs, 1 cat, and 4 horses 'til tomorrow morning, where I will WALK the 26 miles to son ERICH's home to fetch SAM...before continuing into the West Virginia mountains.