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It has been three days since our last post. Chuck offered to put SAM in the back of his Jeep Waggoneer - which we did - and transport her to the home of his Sister's Son, Eric, who lives in the northern outskirts of ROANOKE, Virginia. This saved my "Pushing" SAM the 26 miles over some extraordinarily difficult hills. Leaving SAM at Eric's, we drove back to Chuck and Donna's home for a second night...
Please say HELLO to JENNIFER...next door neighbor to Eric and wife Lori...who were not at home. Jennifer immediately invited me to dinner tomorrow (Wednesday, April 17) after I completed walking the 26 miles.
...an incentive to complete the walk...even though I was not feeling well at all - sinus acting up - lungs congested - breathing labored - and leg muscles laden with toxin buildup.
Donna's Brother, Chuck actually set up housekeeping in the above white building - combination garage above and workshop below. Chuck is still active in his life-long vocation; i.e., creating and producing exceptional art-deco signs.
Donna's ranch house...viewed from Chuck's workshop.
I enjoyed two nights in the guest room. All too soon, it was time to say "goodbye"...with promise to keep in touch.
Walking West on Highway 24, the Blue Ridge Mountains filled the background some 20 miles away...walking without SAM made it much easier to negotiate the many steep hills. Even so, as the day wore on, my body tightened up, forcing shorter steps and decreasing muscle strength.
Arriving in Jennifer's 9 hours later - should have taken no more than 7 hours -, I could barely move one foot in front of the other.
Highway 24 offered up plenty of challenging hills...
A number of beautiful ranch homes along the way to Roanoke.
...and I was not always alone...
the Blue Ridge Mountains draw closer.
Four high school girls died here.
Lucky ranchers have reflecting pools - ponds/lakes - to set off their homes.
...and three more died here...less than a mile further along on Highway 24.
The rich RED soil along Highway 24...certain indication of abundant Iron.
Reaching the Blue Ridge Mountain, Highway 24 becomes a divided 4-lane roadway...the hills all 'round are "Blue Ridge" ...about 5 miles across.
Just before dropping off the West side of the Blue Ridge Mountains into the city of ROANOKE, the Blue Ridge Parkway passes over Highway 24.
Highway 24 descends into the VINTON neighborhood of Roanoke...the ancient Allegheny Mountains waiting...about 50 miles distant.
Nearly time for the DOG WOOD Festival.
Finally, arriving at the home of Jennifer, am pleased to find that hubby RICH has driven the 300 miles from his job with TARGET...to join Jennifer and I for a sumptuous dinner...a rushed trip the the Ice Cream Factory...and plenty of conversation.
Jennifer with 2-year old Ella, 4 year-old Son and adorable loving dog.
A flower addict...some of Jennifer's garden.
Not only do I enjoy the evening with Jen and Rich, a "bed" is set up in the middle of the Living Room, where I am commanded to sleep the night.
Rich leaves for work at 3:00am...Jen prepared breakfast for the rest of us...and I say "goodbye" at 10:00am...heading North on Old Mountain Road, which connects up with Highway 220.
Old Mountain Road.
As time moved on, my body SHUT DOWN. Reaching Highway 220, my mind was blurred as I turned the wrong way, ending up some 10 miles from my intended Route 220. Police twice stopped to ask if I was OK...as I was collapsed onto SAM's top while sitting on a guard rail. I was able to shuffle off, not realizing I was on the wrong road, heading in the wrong direction.
Came upon a motel - COMFORT IN - where I have taken a room for two nights. It was only when I stopped at SHONEY's restaurant that I discovered I had walked to the town of TROUTVILLE...no where near Highway 220.
Took a 4-hour nap...a hot water soak...another nap...then rationalized that I could take a connecting country lane - Highway 670 -, with a minimum of extra miles.
In my present depleted condition, there is no way I will be capable of walking with SAM over the 8% 5-mile long Allegheny Mountain Hills (four of them). In the next couple days - we are about 80 miles from the BIG hills -, I hope to arrange for a pickup truck to carry SAM and ME over the West Virginia monster hills to or near the city of CHARLESTON, West Virginia.
Four years ago I set about to find the "limits" of endurance for this old body...perhaps we are approaching...or have arrived at that goal.
I am hoping some might click my DONATION button...SAM and ME are in need of assistance to continue our quest to reach the Peace Arch...I am - for the first time - beginning to question my ability to continue on alone.
...then again, "tomorrow is another day" (Gone With The Wind)...so, we shall see.