Planetwalk Saturday, April 26, 2008
I wake up with a wakeup call at 5:30 am. In the next hour and a half I pack putting together what I think I will need for the day. It really looks like it may rain so I have my rain jacket and a new pair of rain pants, the soft case for my banjo, first aid for the feet and my bottle of water.
Yesterday in the evening David Rhodes, his dad Ted, and friends Jenn http://jenndepalma.blogspot.com/ and Jeremy showed up from Washington, DC. David had walk a few days last year starting off in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He enjoyed the idea walking to get to know place. Bernie Palmatier, my walking companion for a day from Newcomerstown, Ohio 19-years earlier, also joined us for dinner to discuss the upcoming days walk. He wanted to retrace his own portion of our journey.
We pile into two cars for the drive to Bridgeport about 3-miles west of Wheeling, West Virginia where I had ended yesterdays walk. It is about 9:30 am as the 5 of us begin walking through a suburban landscape that I hardly remember. Yesterdays miles are still with me and I start out slowly. With everyone finding his or her own pace, I am last.
Route 40 meanders through strip malls, rolling hills, and landscaped lawns of stately houses at the end of long driveways to Saint Clairsville. There are friendly waves from the occupants of the cars that pass in either direction. As I walk I continue to check the monitors to make sure they are recording.
The clouds that had forecast rain had all but gone and the temperature rose so that sweat dampened
John G. drove ahead to reported on the location of a convenience store where fresh made sandwiches were sold, and then he found a park a little further on were we could stop and picnic in the shade of evergreens.
After lunch Mattie calls on the cell phone to report the latest health news concerning our 7-year old son, Sam. Slowly, and progressively over the past few weeks, he becomes unable to open his mouth, and has now reached the point where he can no longer eat or drink. He is in excruciating pain, and visits to several doctors have not led to any diagnosis. David and the others had planned for another day of walking, but David offers to drive me back to Washington to catch a plane home if I can change my reservations. I call the airline from the road to change my flight for early the next morning.
Route 40 moved through urban, suburban and now into the rural Ohio. According to our map it will end soon. A man comes out of his house asks where we are going? He is a little concerned when he learns that we are going to the end of 40 and beyond. He tells us that it is about a mile down the road, and that he sees lots of people walk that way but they always turn around because there is only a gravel road from there on. His wife who is listening says it is exactly 2.5 miles as she runs it everyday. He shrugs his shoulders deferring to his wife.
When we reach the end of the asphalt, Route 40 becomes a dirt road that disappears into a swampy stream. John G makes the last water quality measurements. The GPS marks the end of this years planetwalk, and where will continue our planetline next year.