It took me about 40 days, but I finally made it through Ohio! I am constantly astounded by what each day brings, and Ohio brought me a lot of firsts. I got my first American Discovery Trail T-shirt, experienced my first below-freezing day on the trail, got my first food sponsors, cleaned/fixed my guitar for the first time, weighed my full pack for the first time since i left (55 pounds?!), saw my first snow on the trail, saw my first tree fall (it made a sound, probably because I was there), made my first reroute from my original plan, drank my first whole pot of coffee (yuck!), got my first ticket for “illegally camping”, filled my first journal, tried fruitcake for the first time, saw my first band on the road, cleaned dishes to earn my meal for the first time, smoked a hookah for the first time, played chess with a fellow traveler for the first time, rode my first greyhound bus, talked to fellow American Discovery Trail hikers for the first time (on their last day of hiking!), saw my first movie in theaters while on the road (SKYFALL!), and visited my family in Chicago for the first time since i left to celebrate Thanksgiving. Before I set forth on my journey, I toyed around with idea of creating a list of goals to complete while on Dudetrek. Looking at this list, it almost seems unnecessary. I am experiencing many things I otherwise never would have experienced had it not been for being in the right place at the right time. I think I’ll save the goals for my New Year’s resolutions.
With my reroute, I am no longer certain on exactly how many miles I’ve walked so far. However, I know that sometime within the past week i passed the 1,000 mile mark. That number seems unreal to me. When Vanessa Carlton sings that she’d walk that far just to see someone, she makes it seem so impossible. She was clearly just making a point- I can’t imagine her strapping a backpack on her back or going a week without a shower. If she were to do so, however, she might realize how much fun it actually is. While there would definitely be painful moments, she would quickly find out that the journey is more important than the destination. This is what I’ve found at least.
Thanks to Monique from Belpre for reminding me to endure no matter what; to Pete Shew from Shew’s Orchard for the apples and the inspiration; to Tim from Belpre for opening my eyes to a lot; to Randall, Bambi, and the Fairview Holiness Church in Glouster for opening their doors and keeping me in their prayers; to the greatest Nana in the whole world for making memories I’ll always cherish; to Dave from Columbus for keeping it real; to John from the Guitar House Workshop in Columbus for jamming and fixing/cleaning my guitar; to Misty, Wesley, and everyone at the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls for totally saving me from being out during Frankenstorm; to Andy, Randy, Cassie, and Keith from Hocking Hills Resort for taking the time to chill out with me when i really needed to; to Granny’s Pizza and Restaurant in Londonderry for making a good week a great week; to Sarah in Chillicothe for extending a helping hand just because; to the 1st Baptist Church in Greenfield for having the most ingenious emergency shelter ever; to Stephanie’s in New Vienna for staying open a little later; to Norma from Blanchester for being enthusiastically kind and having a big heart; to John, Vicky, Ben, Cody, Eric, Courtney, the Lawson Family, Marsha, and EVERYONE at the Plain Folk Cafe in Pleasant Plains for quite possibly the best night and morning I’ve had so far; to Andrew and Scott at the Loveland Running Spot for revamping my excitement for the West coast; to my new best friends Holly and Brenda at the Branch Hill Coffee Company for helping me warm up on a dreary day; to Chill Bill and his bros from Xavier University for changing hookah Thursday to hookah Monday and being on TV with me; to Trent with the crusty Carhartt for stumbling upon me in the middle of the city and for the friendly games of chess; to Con Mon and my newfound friends at Dayton University for the chill chillin and the jammy jammin; to Chanelle, Taylor, and Bizzy for being so down to earth and for your hospitality; and to Ben and Brittany for showing me an awesome night on the town and bringing me to my first Catholic mass in years the next morning (and for the Goetta!).
Now that I’ve hit the plains, it should be smooth sailing for a while!