I would take this opportunity and publicly announce my love-hate relationship with Southern Virginia. We walked through some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. With the possible exception of a road running through it, the land was completely untouched. So what’s the problem? A girl’s gotta eat. We spend all day walking at least 15 miles, and what do our little eyes spy in all that time? A post office.
That is open four days a week.
Two hours at a time.
And guess who wasn’t there during the right two hours?
But being the superb troopers that we are, the march continues until we stumble upon the next building. In Alberta, VA there is a horse-race gambling joint set a ways off of the road and, though I do not agree with horse racing, it was the reason we got to eat at all that day. We were greeted at the door by a woman by the name of Murry. She ushered us inside, assuring us that ‘the food here is delicious.’ That’s what we like to hear, Murry, that’s what we like to hear. What we do not like to hear, however, is that the next speck of civilization in 12 miles up the road. Especially when the sun is setting and we are in wild animal country.
While we were distracted with quesdillas, Miss Murry worked her magic on the telephone, and by the time we were done eating three police cars were in the parking lot. Our own personal escort 12 miles up the road. What’s more, she arranged for the mayor of Alberta to foot the cost of a hotel room. So we each were treated to our own personal police car, got a personal tour of the cruiser, and after twelve miles and one donut joke by miss Becca we were settled in at the Nottoway Motel.
So apparently we are famous now. As we were walking down still empty but not quite so deserted Route One, a man in a truck pulled over and just started snapping photos. “I’m an amateur photographer, and every day I send out my picture of the day in an email to my friends. I’m gonna call you $4 a gallon.” I can’t go anywhere without being bombarded by the paparazzi anymore. Le sigh. Hopefully I make it to your inbox.
Dinwiddie, VA brought us Huntus, Lemuel, and the Smyrna Baptist Church. Again we found ourselves at the end of the day with absolutely nowhere to stay. Sitting on the steps of Smyrna Baptist, we quickly found that we had no desire to get back up, and that if no one stopped by so we could ask permission we would simply sleep where we sat. Luckily a couple by the name of Lemuel and Huntus stopped by to check on something, and let us in for the night. The next morning us two girls crashed the men’s bible study and were treated to breakfast and a warm welcome.
Richmond probably one of our most interesting days thus far. If we had forgotten that we were Yankees, we were reminded when we crossed the Robert E. Lee bridge on Jefferson Davis Hwy. A little BP station in the middle of the city saw our two-some returned to the trio state, we were interviewed by a MSU journalism intern [a little shot of home for the weary travelers], and for the first time we had absolutely no place to stay. At all. We spent the better part of two hours wandering around the city. There are no hotels in downtown Richmond, the homeless shelters were full, and the police couldn’t help us [or wouldn’t after a joke about a bomb and a backpack. Ask Becca if further clarification is necessary]. And so we did what we do best- kept walking. As the sun dipped out of sight, the thunder rolled in so we said screw it and ducked into a little bar with a live band. We sat there until one in the morning when we decided it was time to go. Fully prepared to sleep on the street, we were stopped by people on the way out the door [bulky backpacks have a way of doing that] and in mere minutes we had several offers for places to stay. We ended up leaving with a woman named Liza and unidentified woman with ukulele. Apparently the unidentified woman, let’s call her Sally, just travels around hopping train, hitchhiking, and playing her ukulele. And just like that hopping a train and learning to play an obscure instrument were added to the trip goal list.
I have never in my life craved soda like I have on this trip. After so much water, a body needs some flavor. Leaving a gas station in Ladysmith, VA after unsuccessfully attempting to purchase a fountain beverage from an establishment that does not sell fountain beverages we ran into a man with purple and white striped hair and a german shepard tattooed on his calf. We engaged in a conversation that lasted maybe 30 seconds, and before we knew it we were headed back home with him and his three sons. We spent a fantastic night in the Aucarrow home with Brian, Sherry, Chris- the master hiker, Lizzie-the social butterfly, Patrick-the handyman in the household, and Joshua-the future NFL star. It is rare to find a single person that you clip so well with, and here we found an entire family.
The next morning Brian and Sherry introduced us to workers in the locla domestic violence shelter. It is always interesting to meet people in the field, and this organization offered two programs that are missing a lot of other places. The first is a Latino outreach, where Spanish speaking survivors can get help, speak to someone in their first language, and not fear repercussions from Johnny Law. The second is a 24-week long rehabilitation program for batters. There is a fair amount of controversy surrounding rehabilitation programs for batterers, so it was a great to have an opportunity to pick the brain of someone who actually facilitates the group.
We also met Jackie, and amazing individual who hooked us up with a place to stay for the evening. Her friend Adam, who was not home and who we didn’t even get a chance to talk to, let us know his door was unlocked and he would be home in a couple of hours. It is amazing to receive that kind of trust from others, when I am a little unsure whether I myself would be so generous. At midnight we all ventured out to J. Brians, a local pub, to celebrate what is soon to be a national holiday.
The next day was our first rest day in a while. We explored the wonderful town of Fredrickburg, getting lost for hours in the most magnificent used bookstore, going to the post office to mail books home because they are heavy, eating at a pub that really was just posing as a pub, and ending up at a bar called the Loft where we stayed for approx. 6 hours. Now there are a lot of connections that we make on this trip that are completely random and completely awesome, and yesterday was no exception. It turns out that we stumbled upon a gathering of people who refer to themselves as “Green Drinks.” It is a group of people who get together once a month and discuss environmental issues. At this particular meeting we were treated to a presentation about the manatee. The people there were just amazing; the type of people I wish were walking with us. But of course, they are real people with real lives and real obligations, and we are not. It was yet another reminder that there are people all over this country who are extremely passionate about making this world a better place, and that is encouragement enough to walk on for days.
After the meeting, two regular attenders, Jeanne and Joyce, stayed to hang out with us for a while. Unfortunately, I think we were poor influences on Jeanne and her younger sister Joyce, as they ended up staying out with us until the wee small hours of the morning. Afterwards, Jeanne invited us to come back to her house for the night. Happy birthday to me.
And since I feel that we leave SO much out of our blogs, here is a bulleted list of other events:
-the sheriff’s department offered to drive out to Subway to ensure that we received frees subs.
-the National Museum of the Civil War solider was the first place we were not able to talk our way into.
-we got to hang out with a former secretary for the FBI. We would elaborate, but then we’d have to kill you.
-we met some Indian dancers, all of whom were rescued from the red light district in Bombay.
-two guys let us sleep in their extra bed at Hampton Inn, because we are poor and can’t afford our own room.
– Carl’s Ice Cream in Fredricksburg changed our lives.
-Dan Dukes is the greatest name we have ever heard in our lives.
Until next time,