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Sunday, May 12, 2013


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The flight(s) from Seattle to Roanoke following the full day with Carl, took nearly 48 hours without sleep.  Thankfully, Chuck and Donna were busy, so I crashed for nearly 12 hours.  Two days ago, Chuck took me shopping at WAL-MART to re provision SAM.  We also spent over one hour at the VERIZON Sales Office...another failure on the part of VERIZON employees to program my new makes phone calls just fine, but will not allow FACEBOOK access...which is needed to proceed with creating our blog.

Have a sinking feeling that the DROID may be the wrong equipment to accomplish what I set out to do with VERIZON.  When we reach CHARLESTON, West Virginia, will devote an entire day to VERIZON Corporate Store to try to get to the bottom of the problem.

Yesterday, it was raining with thunder heads all about.  I was about to delay my departure another day, but Chuck says..."...NO NO, I have many must go today...".

Please say HELLO (again) to CHUCK INSMAN, my host and patient "taxi" driver.

After putting SAM in the back of Chuck's Jeep, we headed out to the approximate spot where I stopped walking three weeks - before flying back to Bellingham to recover from the bout of Anemia.

Am now feeling very good...ready to continue our walk and roll through the West Virginia mountains and on to the Peace Arch, Blaine, Washington...some 2,500 miles distant.

The first town SAM and ME passed through was FINCASTLE...a tiny berg on US 220 about 10 miles north of ROANOKE.

In Virginia, a Convenience Store is to be found on just about all secondary roads.  We soon came upon the first one...OLD MILL COUNTRY STORE.  It takes 2.5 hours for SAM and ME to walk 10 miles, so I take advantage to stop in for a "cold" power drink...and sometimes a small snack...also gives my legs a short rest before continuing.

US 220 is a modern divided highway...with ample berm...for the first 20 miles or so north of Roanoke.

Many impressive Southern mansions line US 220 as we head towards CLIFTON FORGE...where we intersect with I-64 and the old side road, US 60...which SAM and ME will walk across the West Virginia mountains...arriving at the Ohio River in 4 - 5 days.

US 220...

Along the way, we twice cross the famous JAMES RIVER...which flows out of the Allegheny Mountains, emptying into the CHESAPEAKE at JAMESTOWN.

A few miles before arriving at Clifton Ford lies the small town of IRON GATE. 

As we walked into Iron Gate, the sunny skies clouded over...a large black storm cloud beginning to sprinkle rain drops...and we knew nothing or anyone to help us find shelter before the belly of the clouds burst open...

Please say HELLO to PRESTON and wife NANCY. 

Preston hailed me from his back yard as we passed by.  SAM and ME immediately stopped...introducing ourselves...and admitted walking across America and in a rather urgent need of a place to get under cover for the night.

Preston admitted they had no acceptable place for us, but said the Mayor would.  ..."go another mile or so to the other side of town...where Mayor Al has a small convenience store...the Mayor will certainly have a place for fact, I will drive over to tell the Mayor that you are coming..."

Thanked Preston, and hurried on our way through increasing rain sprinkles.  Arriving at the Mayor's store, Preston was waiting in his car at the parking lot..."I told Mayor Williams that you were on your's all arranged"...and off he drove.

Please say HELLO to Mayor Al Williams...Mayor of Iron Gate since the year 2000...having been re-elected every two years.

Al invited me to set up for the night on his attached Patio...complete with picnic tables...anywhere I pleased.  I chose a spot between the picnic tables...then went inside to chat.  Al offered me a "cold" drink...then refused my $$.  I finished off the first...then took a second...lying a five dollar bill on his cash register. 

A man, Warren, and his Son came onto the patio to chat about our walk...and his work helping to build a mansion on a nearby mountain top...then offered to treat me to dinner...which Mayor Al prepared in his kitchen inside the Convenience Store. 

At the early hour of 6:00 pm, I excused myself, crawled into my sleeping bag...and slept until thunder and lightning cracked overhead, the rain pounding on the metal roof...and the stormy wind send sheets of water through the open side walls, inundating me, my sleeping bag, and various items I had laid out on top of the tables.

So, crawled out again...moving everything to the center of the patio...crawling back in ...instantly back to sleep to the sound of the surrounding storm.

Mayor Al's Convenience Store.

At 6:00 am, packed up SAM...then walked into Al's kitchen...where he was busy cooking up a bunch of meat patties, bacon, muffins, and brewing coffee...all of which he offered to me.  While I was enjoying Al's efforts...and conversation..."regulars" walked in...and without a work to Al, helped themselves to muffins, patties, fixin's and coffee.

Al's store is like the town kitchen...Al provides...townfolks come and go - mostly with few words - as though coming and going in their own home...

Al, a railroad man for most of his working years, is quite the unusual man...loved and respected far beyond the city limits of Iron Gate...

Please say HELLO to the Son of Warren (naturally, I wrote his name on a handy napkin...then threw it out, using it to wipe away rain water during the storm...sorry!).

20 year old Son of Warren works with his Dad...expressing no desire to look for any other work.

My original "bed"...before the storm inundated us.

Have an air mattress under the sleeping bag...both of which are getting plenty of use on this trip.

As we head into the West Virginia Allegheny Mountains, we will encounter untold numbers of "Coal Trains", hauling most of it to river barges or nearby seaports for export to foreign countries.

Bellingham, Washington, is presently considering building a seaport terminal for receiving such Coal Trains for trans-shipment of the coal to China...many residents of Bellingham are not the least bit pleased by the ideal of Coal passing through pristine Bellingham.

US 220 is absorbed into I-64 a couple miles north of Iron Gate.  The above roadway is called US 220 Business...a by-pass leading to the city of CLIFTON FORGE.

Even Clifton Forge's Welcome Sign is not receiving a bit crooky.

Clifton Forge is a rather substantial city, important from the time of the Revolutionary War.  The C&O (Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad - created by George Washington) uses Clifton Forge as a primary rail yard...the C&O, of course no longer exists, but the rail yard is still very busy...AMTRAK and many coal trains pass through each day.

Clifton Forge sits near the base of the Allegheny Mountains. 

City Hall.

Downtown Business Street.

Continuing on our walk, we passed through the village of SELMA...a residential whistle stop...still within the boundary of the Clifton Forge Rail Yards...this on Old US 60, which parallels I-64.

We continued another 5 miles to the next wide spot of US 60...LOS MOOR, which has the distinction of possessing a modern Motel.  It is another 12 miles to the next town of significant size...which is host to a work crew of over 250 construction workers expanding a local factory...i.e., there is not a motel room to be found after leaving Los Moor.  We have, therefore, decided to stop at Los Moor for the night.

Tomorrow morning, SAM and ME will get an early start, walking to the first of the four 8% steep hills.  There are no facilities for the next many miles...looks like our tent will finally be used.  And, the weather forecast for the high mountains is below freezing and possible rain.

Oh, fun fun.

...and I have decided that I will attempt to PUSH SAM up and over those waiting mountains...

We shall see !


Aimee @ Just Kidding Around Atlanta said...

You are amazing! I am so proud of you for keeping on walking! Stay warm & dry these next few days, can't wait to hear more of your adventure!! :)


Anonymous said...

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Rachelle Louise said...

Hi, Bruce! It sounds like the adventures are already well under way again! Have a great time out there. I know you and Sam are going to do beautifully conquering those big hills. Can't wait to read about it! Conrats!

Anonymous said...

Sorry we missed your call! Have fun.

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