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The Agony, the Ecstasy, and a Few Things Amish


September 12th Mary Jane Thurston State Park OH—September 21st Indian Lakes, Indiana


Yeah, maybe that title is over-the-top hyperbole when referring to walking conditions, but… seriously, you can’t imagine our glee when we leave a super busy two-lane highway with a 10” shoulder, and set off down a 30-mile-long bike and hike “rails-to-trails” path.

We even had to deviate from our east-west direction to go 10 miles north to make the connection. That’s 2-3 hours of extra walking just for the pleasure of walking car-free.

Worth it? You bet your bippy it was!


I’ll save you a couple of minutes of Googling and just tell you that the afore-mentioned Mary Jane Thurston wasn’t the wife of a rich Captain of Industry, or a Civil War nurse who saved hundreds of Union soldiers lives.

She was “just” a school marm who bequeathed 70-some acres to the state for a park. It’s situated on the Maumee River, which, right now is home to about 100 waterfowl—egrets, herons, gulls, geese, and single Golden eagle, as they fish the man-made waterfall, like the grizzlies in Alaska.


Yes, I’ve been working on being less judgmental, after realizing that I spend a lot of my walking time staring at people, yards, houses, cars that display obvious characteristics of a certain socio-political bent, and feeling hostility and anger, and maybe a little fear, as I walk along the edge of their lawns to save my sore legs.

I mean, yesterday I paused in front of a house where an elderly couple had just pulled in to their garage, waiting to quiz them about the two signs in their yard.

The first listed several values that the Bible and Jesus espoused. “I believe in Truth, Kindness, Hard Work….”

The second simply said, “God, Guns, Trump.”

I truly wanted to know how they could hold those two opposing ideas in their minds at the same time.

They took too long to come out of the garage so I trudged on, trudging, judging, trudging, judging.

Maybe they saw me lurking out there, sweating and staring, and decided to just wait me out.

Anyway, what a waste of my energy.

Julie is really good (“I still have work to do,” she claims) at not being judgy. So I have a live-in role-model to emulate.


(I just noticed that I’m setting some kind of record for hyphenated words in this post.)


One last judgment on Ohio, if you’ll allow me.

What’s with the lack of recycling?!

The State Parks don’t have it, and there is no curbside recycling. We have to literally Google “Where can I recycle cans and bottles,” and then drive to some remote township where there are a few dumpsters into which to put all of Julie’s beer bottles, and my bean cans.


I came to this Scientific Conclusion:

Vermont has (nearly-mandatory) recycling and composting, and the murder rate is “0.2/1000”

Ohio essentially has no recycling, and the word ‘composting” is banned in public schools.

The murder rate is 9.3/1000, one of the highest in the country.

So there you have it. Proof that recycling and composting, you know, result in a peaceful, happy society, where even Socialists can become senators and perennial presidential candidates.


In other news, we, once again, have altered our planned route.

After discovering that Missouri has a 300+ mile-long rails-to-trails path (the Katy Trail,) and then comparing the typical weather patterns of northern Nebraska and central Missouri and Kansas in October and November, we feel it would be prudent to swing south. There’s about a 10 degree swing to the good in both average highs and lows. That would make a lot of difference, especially at night when 21 degree lows would require a lot of propane to heat our little Hike camper.

So, rerouting is in progress I guess.

It’s also a slightly shorter route.



There are, in my head anyway, some pretty big expectations for this walk. After all, how often do we get the luxury of just walking or trotting for 3-6 hours a day? Before we left I told Julie all the stuff I was going to accomplish in the next six months.

“Learn/practice Spanish! Or, should it be Ojibwe?”

“Memorize a bunch of poems.”

“Just live in the moment for hours at a time.”

“Get super healthy with yoga, walking/running, qigong, perfect vegan diet, blah blah blah.”


But the days, they go by so quickly! By the time we get organized around camp, we still have to drive to our ending/start point, walk for about 5 hours, drive back, eat and have a beer, and the next thing you know it’s almost time to sleep again.

So the walking time is when things happen. As I’ve said, we listen to books, podcasts, sometimes just have silence and try to be still as we move.


Books?

Who else with which to celebrate Indiana than, you guessed it, Kurt Vonnegut!

Yes, I’ve read “Slaughterhouse-Five” a few times, but not in probably 20 years, and never has the one and only James Franco read it to me.

So, I finished that today. Just as good as ever, though Franco’s reading voice doesn’t really have the mid-20th C gravitas you might associate with Vonnegut.

I also have Theodore Dreiser’s “An American Tragedy” cued up, but it is 34 hours long and I’m not sure I have it in me.


Finally, we are in the heart of Indiana Amish country, and it makes us so happy.

It’s hard to explain, but walking past the farms on tiny country roads, buggies drawn by a single horse whiz by, always containing at least one newborn baby. Fresh food available everywhere. Waving, happy, hard-working folk.


Yeah, I know about some of the controversies—puppy mills, sexual abuse, mistreatment of livestock. And I don’t want to minimize these horrendous crimes (which are also all-too-common in secular America) but, we couldn’t help feeling happy strolling past the free-range chickens, shining and muscular draft horses, men working side by side harvesting a large vegetable garden, children on bicycles reaching out to give me shy high-fives as they were herded along the road by mom (with newborn) in her buggy. No power lines. No rush, No noise.


I stopped to buy some tomatoes for Julie. A couple of dozen beauties just lay in the grass, a yogurt container for “Donations” next to them.

A young man rode past me on his shiny bicycle and pulled over just ahead. He seemed to pretend to examine some plants in a garden next to the road and when I pulled my pack back on, and approached him, I said, “how much you want for that nice bicycle?” he laughed and asked, “Are you really walking to California?”

I said, “Yeah, I guess so, if you’re not going to sell me that bike.”

We exchange a few more questions, both fascinated by the other’s life.

“I have so many questions for you!” I said.

“I bet you do.” Johnny replied.

I gave him one of our info cards and asked if I could take his photo. He said they’re not really allowed to “pose” for pictures so he pretended to examine his house in the distance as I snapped the shot. See below.





I helped a couple of old (yeah…old! About my age) push their lawn tractor up onto a trailer to bring in for repairs. After telling them about our walk, Ardonna asked if she could pray for us. “Sure! I said.

Afterwards, I asked, “If I prayed for you, what would I pray for?”

“Well, I’m having hip surgery next week….”

You got it, Ardonna. Though my prayers are a bit different than yours, they probably work just as well.


That’s about it.

We are in our 7th state now, maybe 1220 miles in.

It is about a six day walk from Illinois and another Rails-to-Trails experience.

We’re spending way too much money on camping, and pining for the west and more “boondocking’ opportunities.

Indiana, it turns out, is the heart of the RV world. Elkhart is where most RV’s are made. Campgrounds, which are nearly empty during the week, become a riotous festival grounds Fri-Sun.


Finally, I think I’m ready to conc


ede that Bernd Heinrich is not going to suddenly see my email of two months ago and invite me to visit him in his woodsy Vermont or Maine homes. Bummer. Oh, well… his loss.

Buh bye Bernd.


Keep moving, lovelies!



People and Places:

Kinda proud of this high kick... it's nowhere near Julie-standards, but...


Kelly... 25 years as a firefighter. Then, as if she hadn't had enough abuse, became a school bus driver. Take a break, Kelly!

Ardonna and Dave said a little prayer for us.

Literally, literally... 15:00 after taking this photo, all jolly, I got lost and added 2 miles to our day.

Clark Reed at Chain O' Lakes running trails. He was "very fast" in high school. C'mon, Clark, exactly HOW fast? Sorry I can't remember your dog's name :(

Randy and John like to have a couple of brewskies apres run. Men after my own heart!

Kyle and Angela had the misfortune of camping next to us, and our dogs.


No Napping Allowed!

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7 Comments


rhondamjohnson67
Sep 22, 2023

I so love reading about your walk. Makes me want to get into a camper and go!

Someday we will : ) Be safe.

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katupnorth
Sep 22, 2023

Life is so much about the people our lives cross paths with … great post.

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jag
Sep 22, 2023

Like you Jess I can be a little judgmental. I can’t overlook the harm the Amish are doing in their communities. I’m happy you guys are enjoying your walk-about 🙂 but will be happier when you’re home safe and sound. You are missed.

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kalsiegreene
Sep 22, 2023

Love reading these, sort of wish you were narrating them tho!

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Lynn Olmsted
Lynn Olmsted
Sep 22, 2023

Like Ardonna (but I'm sure not like Ardonna) I pray for you both every day. You flit into my head and I hope you are safe and that the road is easy and kind to you both.

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