October 16, 2011, Montgomery, AL

I’ve been back in Montgomery now for 6 days. I’ll leave again Monday, heading West for Selma, Meridian, Hattiesville, Baton Rouge and Houston. I’ve got my cold weather stuff together; sleeping bag and liner and two new pairs of shoes. I guess I learned from the last time when my shoes gave out. I got a new pack. My old one did great but I think it was starting to wear thin, and it could leave me almost as helpless as no shoes. Xena has a new stronger collar and new medicine to prevent heart worms which is very important along the mosquito-filled Gulf coast.

When I got back to the house here, one of the first things I did was to weigh myself. Several of my friends and family had probably noticed that last winter I’d put on 12 to 15 pounds. I had signed up for the NFL package after 17 years of no TV.  I ended up a total couch potato, from September through February, eating and watching reruns as well as football every night. Well, you all will be glad to hear that the scale showed 15 pound loss since arriving here (for the first time, before the walk started) in August! 12 pounds lost on the walk itself. It certainly made me happy! I was afraid, because as I was walking so many of my sandwiches had ice cream in the middle, that I might not be losing any weight. Maybe I’ll just keep walking forever. It sure feels good.

 I’m still unsure about how far i’ll be able to go but with 400 miles, under my belt, I’m encouraged. The real challenge will be, if I get as far as East Texas, to decide how and where I’ll cross West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Southern California. The distances out there between towns can be huge, check out Sanderson, Texas; it’s a marathon. How much water will I need to walk that far? How many nights? Should I go further North and consider Colorado, even?

 
 
     

 

 I won’t make any plans until I get to Houston at least. By then, I’ll be much more experienced, much more aware of my limitations and capabilities. I now have information about Audubon chapters between here and Houston. Meridian, Hattiesburgh, Jackson, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and New Iberia, Louisiana. I’m looking forward to seeing people in some of these chapters and talking about my walk and bird issues. As I travel now, I’m no longer zeroing in on just getting back to Montgomery where I knew I’d rest and prepare for the rest of the trip. Now it’s the long haul. The ‘shake down hype’ is over. That’s what we used to call it in the Boy Scouts when we were practicing for the real thing. Hiking merit badge with one of the few I never got. Maybe I’ll apply for it in California.

Some unusual things happened during the last stretch of walking. The most unusual was, as I was walking along Route 231, a four lane highway, I saw a blue pick up coming in the lane closest to me. Even though there was some traffic, some distance behind it, it began to slow down and maybe was going 5 to 10 miles per hour as it passed me. The passenger extended something to me. I thought maybe it was a Bible tract, I get some of them, always gladly accept any. As I snagged it from his and he said ‘There you go bro.’ and they sped away. I looked down and found two 50 dollar bills folded in half!  If they checked their rear view all they’d have seen was my my open mouthed expression of disbelief. They had never seen me [before] or my sign as far as I know. What an exotic mystery!

As I came into the Montgomery area I realized I had a stone in one shoe. I saw a business, Sun Pools, that had four nice, white rocking chairs on the porch, only about 20 feet from the road. I sat down on one and took off the shoe. While I was putting it back on

 
   
       

A young man came from the store and told me to please move on. I asked him if he was really kicking me off the porch. I hadn’t run into anything like this before.  He said if I needed to sit down there was a truck stop down the road. I said okay, and started to leave but turned back, tied up Xena, and went back to his front door. Coldly he looked at me as I handed him one of my cards and told him what I was doing. I told him I just wanted him to know there was no hard feelings. He very briefly told me that a lot of drifters came by that way, sitting along side the road and he always had to deal with their unwanted presence. Maybe it was my age or my mission but he didn’t yell or be overtly rude, just asked me if I knew what side of town I was on. I said I sure did. One Funny thing, I thought, was that one of the first things he had said to me was that my dog might scare off his customers. There were no customers anywhere around. Good old Xena, always getting me in trouble. I mentioned this young man on the [new and up and coming] list of people who have been generous to me. In his own way he WAS generous, taking the time to tell me about the drifters. He didn’t have to explain anything to me. But he did. For a somewhat hardened young man in an uptight urban neighborhood that took some generosity.

 One thing I noticed as I waked. Was how I hated back-tracking. Even the 100 feet or god forbid a quarter mile was horrible to consider, I didn’t even like looking back.

Did I tell you about the guy who only said one thing to me? He said, “just keep looking ahead, looking down the road.” That’s truly the only thing he said to me as I talked with him and that Pastor who gave me the shoes. Both generosity and wisdom, right there in a convenience store parking lot. For now I’m just hoping to get to my first Audubon chapter, in Meridian. Mississippi. Xena and I are ready. Thanks to everyone for support, especially my daughter, Lucy. I couldn’t do this without her. I may still be a prisoner of my own dream but I guess I’m becoming more of a voluntary prisoner. If there is such a thing…

-Brad

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3 thoughts on “October 16, 2011, Montgomery, AL

  1. If you happen to cross TX to the north and come through Wichita Falls, let me know and I will be sure you have a place to stay for a couple of days, meals and some local birding. I posted to TEXBIRDS (Texas Ornithological Society) Facebook page to see if the members could help you out. Texas is indeed a big place and west Texas goes miles and miles without any type of buildings–usually crossing huge ranches. Cell phone service is spotty in many places as well. From a personal safety point of view, I would probably cross Texas further north, if it was me, although it may be colder. I am glad I found your blog.

  2. Before today, the last time I spoke with Brad was when he was in the planning stages of this trip. I was so excited to hear from him today and learn he was so far along!
    I’ve just learned about the blog and am reading it from the beginning. I had to stop here and make a comment because I so appreciated these two stories. So many times while I was “on the road” I met people who both helped me when I so needed it and/or enriched my life by just interacting with them.
    I want to read, and savor each blog entry. I am enjoying it SO much. Thank you Lucy for your help in making it possible.
    Rock on Bird Man!

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