Morning in Vale, Oregon
After breakfast at a local diner I decided go to a grocery store before heading out of town. One thing the reader must keep in mind is that these side jaunts all involve putting in extra miles and time. In a car, a half mile or more to a store is nothing, but on foot, these little trips can quickly add up.
While in a drugstore to buy sundry items a lawyer overheard me talking to the cashier. He approached me for small conversation and asked if I would stop by his office to talk briefly before leaving town. He and his law partner had read an article about me in the newspaper and thought it sounded interesting. Both gentlemen expressed support and wished me well as I left around 9:00 in the morning - which is late in this hot weather. Leaving Vale I walked quite a few miles uphill to get over the pass and then drop down to the Snake River Country. I unfortunately had left my map at the lawyers office and was dependent on my cell phone whose reception was shady at best. There is a historical Oregon Trail information center at the top of the pass. I stopped and reflected on the thousands of people (250,000 according to the display) walking west in those days.
The biggest bummer of my day was discovered when I stopped for lunch - I had lost my stool! Now that might be a good thing for Grandpa to brag about, but that is not the type of stool to which I am referring - my camp stool!!! It had been a very essential item and now it was gone. I remember leaning it against the wall of the Bates Motel while packing and I suppose there it shall remain. I must replace it soon.
I won't bore you with "it was another long hot day," but know it was - another long hot day. The heat seems to be growing since I left Eugene, I am drinking over a gallon of water a day to stay hydrated.
An Afternoon "Religious Experience"
I was walking down the road in the middle of nowhere when a car behind me started honking its horn and then pulled over. I stopped and a lady jumped out asking me if I was "the man" who was walking across the country she had read about in the paper. I replied that I was and she said that she was very excited for me and supported what I was doing. She then asked me if I was a Christian and told me that her whole church was going to pray for me and my safety. I told her to please do so to which she replied, "Let's you and I now pray right here in the roadway," and before I knew what happened, she had both of my hands in hers and started into a long and fervent prayer for my physical safety and spiritual well being. She then implored me to take care and departed wishing me well. Five minutes later she had returned with her two young children and some gifts for me - a copy of the New Testament with $20 tucked inside and a cold bottle of water. She sincerely wanted to help me out and for her two children to meet me. It is the everyday common people that continue to give me inspiration. I do not remember her name - but I will always remember her.
An Evening Surprise
I was resting along the road toward the end of the day contemplating where I might pitch my tent when a man stopped his truck and asked if I needed a place to stay. I hesitated only for a moment before replying, "Yes." He said his was the first house on the right after crossing the bridge. Wow, he had a beautiful home on the eastern bank of the Snake River. Nice house, shady green lawn, a fishing dock, cabins along the river - the whole deal. I couldn't believe my good fortune! Again, the kindness of strangers.
Fred Beirig and his lovely wife Lucy invited me into their home as if they had known me for years. Surrounded by three young grandchildren and various cat and dogs, they brushed things aside to create a welcome space for me that I am most thankful for. I had a great conversation with them both as Lucy made a great dinner served with wine and dessert. At bedtime, they would not hear of me pitching my tent and insisted I sleep in one of their air-condition cabins along the river. Before turning in for the night, I wandered down to their boat dock marveling at the river sights while watching the evening sun set.
Never underestimate the unexpected.