I have reached San Antonio, my niece’s home here, for a much needed time of rest. I’m getting ready for the second half of my walk. The physical and mental challenges of the next part are different, because of a wide open range and the cattle ranches all of which have little vegetation for providing cover for camping. I’ve been so spoiled coming across the south. There’s so many trees and bushes right along the road, especially where the railroad runs parallel. I’ve been dealing with concerns for safety, as well as comfort as I look into the western desert; long distances between towns create the need for carrying enough food and water for 5 days or more. The route I’ll probably take goes up and over small mountain range, near Alamogordo, New Mexico. I know it will be cold there in January and February. But I really want to avoid the urban areas of El Paso. So I’ll have to meet other challenges instead.
On Christmas Eve day I was caught in a cold rain 3 miles from a small town. My feet were wet, and I was a bit anxious when a woman when her 6 year old daughter stopped and told me to get in. It’s the only time I’ve accepted a ride other than when one of my hosts has picked me up to take me to their home. Anyway, Tanya Beyette and her daughter Abby, rescued me and arranged for a place to stay in that small town, of Sheridan,Texas. I woke up on Christmas morning warm and dry, realizing I couldn’t have had a better Christmas present. My host was Dewey Kemp a retired military man and I’ll never forget his kindness and the folks in Sheridan, on Christmas Day.
I had occasion to do another thing I never do either on this walk. I hitch hiked 3 miles. Why? Because, after resting under a bridge I came back up and forgetting which end of the bridge I had gone down under. I walked the wrong way for almost 2 miles. I was freaked out when I finally saw a road sign that I’d seen earlier, seeing I was now 4 miles from the next town instead of being almost there. So I decided to hitchhike the 3 miles or so to make up for the lost time. Luckily a man stopped and offered to even drive me the 10 miles to the next big town but I said no I only want 3 miles, thank you. He told me he had seen me on the road and thought maybe I was blind because my dog was leading me. He had going home sat down at Christmas dinner but couldn’t eat thinking that I needed a ride. So he left his dinner and came and got me. His name was Buddy Whitley and he made my Christmas day.
So there in 2 days, I had accepted a ride and even hitchhiked, neither of which I had allowed to happen before. Dire circumstances indeed.
A few days later I was camping under a bridge and at 8 o’clock, as I was just about asleep, I heard voices approaching. Xena gave one of her rare barking episodes to warn me. I soon realized the voices were all speaking Spanish and I was being joined by 3 or 4 Mexican men. I called out ‘hola’ and quickly asked in my very limited Spanish if they were wanting to sleep there too. They said yes and asked if that was okay with me. I thought that was nice of them to ask, and said sure it was fine with me. In my tent I had to laugh listening to them sing and joke around, because I had no idea if they wished me harm. All I could do is lay there and trust in their good nature. After about 2 hours, and several cell phone calls, I heard a truck come quickly to a stop up on the bridge, they all ran up and got into it, and took off leaving me smiling and grateful for the rest of the night. I can only imagine their adventure and how in some ways it’s similar to mine.
I have bought a Schwinn bike trailer which, converts to a covered stroller. I’ll push this contraption as I walk West. It’s the only way to carry enough food and water for several days for me and my hound. I don’t really like the way it makes me look more like a homeless guy, with a grocery cart or something. I may wear my backpack anyway just so I won’t look like such a weenie. Maybe I’ll fill the backpack with helium balloons. No one would know and I’d still appear like the macho adventurer I want to be. But still I think the cart looks silly, oh well. Like I said, dire circumstances.
I stayed in a couch surfing home over New Years Eve and get this, the wonderful lady wasn’t even home! What sort of trust she showed to allow someone she never met to come to her home, take a much needed bath, sleep, and leave in the morning.
Her name is Sherrie and also her neighbor, Susan. They both couldn’t have been kinder to me.
My birthday was here at Becca’s house. Now the holidays are over, and my journey must continue. I’ll meet with the Audubon people in San Antonio on Friday and then take off of to the Pacific!! Best wishes to all of you. Hope you had a peaceful and warm holiday season, and enjoy a prosperous New Year. And thank you for being there and Sharing all this with me.
*Note. Dad has said that he plans to leave San Antonio with his new ‘contraption’ and his helium balloon backpack on Saturday, Jan 14. Wish him luck on the second half of the trip and PLEASE DONATE to audubon!!! -Lucy