Bedford, PA - Again

Tuesday, November 30
It was raining quite heavily when I awoke and has continued unabated all day. The weather report has issued a "flood watch" as more rain is expected throughout the night. The current forecast predicts an inch of snow as temperatures tomorrow drop to the low 20's with highs in the mid-30's. Yikes. This represents planning problems and with it - a bit of dismay. I am about four normal walking days from being east of the mountains and do not wish to become trapped. As previously said, I can handle the cold - but due to my cart - it is the rain and snow that thwart my travels.
On the positive - Bedford is a surprisingly tidy town with coffee shops and places to eat, I am staying in a comfortable room at a moderate price, and there is a laundromat and a grocery store down the street.
It is a nice location to wait out the weather.
Be like water - go with the flow.

In Bedford, Pennsylvania

Monday, November 29
For several days now I have been listening to the periodic reports of gunshots as turkey hunters honed their aims on “Old Tom” and readied themselves for today - the first day of deer season. Most of the hunters were out and about earlier than I, and consequently I passed many unoccupied pick-ups along the rural road. I was glad to be wearing my bright orange vest and wish to again thank the Nebraska highway workers for giving it to me - which now strangely seems so long ago.
It was another cold but sunny day as I walked along Route 30. The old Lincoln Highway as it is known, was the first transcontinental highway running all the way from Atlantic City, New Jersey, to Astoria, Oregon. Yesterday’s traffic has been replaced by today's turnpikes and interstates but hints of its glory remain. Many signs and moribund souvenir shops yet exist as vestiges of its once glorious past. As a walker - I am glad to walk "the road less traveled."
As I heaved and hauled my way up and down the endless hillsides I had but one goal in mind - to make it by day's end to Bedford, Pennsylvania. This I accomplished and by dark I had checked into a room in the center of town. A couple of hours later I was happily eating lasagna washed down with a cold beer in a great little Italian restaurant. What brand of brewski? If I have to tell you - you've never been to Pennsylvania!
Ah, life it good.

* Ohio / West Va. / Penn.

On Top of Bald Mountain

Sunday, September 28
As always seems to be the case when staying in motels, I left Jennerstown later than I should have. The weather today was cold, but sunny, and the hills were much more bearable. Here the forest has released its grip allowing for small farms to be intermixed with the woods and mountains. These traditional farms with small fields and farm animals seem to have more of an “Old McDonald” feel than do the mega-sized corporate farms of the Midwest. I am impressed that these “hill farmers” can scratch out a living on the mountainsides. Some fields are on such a slope that it is hard to believe that they can plough without their tractors overturning.
In the late afternoon I passed the turnoff to the memorial for Flight 93 - the fourth plane involved in the September 11 attack that crashed into a Pennsylvania farm field. This plane seems to be the least remembered of the four but in my mind - should be elevated to number one in national prominence. Why? Because the passengers fought back! Though they were unsuccessful in their efforts at least they died like heroes. They went to their graves as brave men and women rather than submitting to their fate as sheep. We, as fellow Americans, could learn a lesson from them. I am ashamed to say that I did not walk the extra miles required but I have vowed to visit the memorial the next time I am through the area.
Near dark, I found a great place to camp on top of “Bald Mountain” just west of Schellsburg. There are many electricity producing windmills on its crest and on the very top is what seemed to be a cement helicopter landing pad. This seemed like the perfect place to spend a night away from the world below - so I pitched my tent, made some tea, and took in the panoramic view while watching the sun set below the western horizon. It was cold and getting colder as I crawled into my new -15 degree sleeping bag for a test. The temperature dropped to about 20 degrees and I am glad to say I was snug and warm. It became terribly windy during the night which presented my only problem - each time I got up to pee my tent about blew away without me in it to weigh it down!

Deer Season Starts Monday and I'm Sleeping in the Woods?

Saturday, November 27
The next place with a motel is 28 miles away and I had planned on leaving early to get there. I called the motel to inquire about possibly reserving a room and found that due to Deer Season beginning Monday morning - they are fully booked with hunters and unfortunately have no vacancies.
The good news is that since the only motel is full - I need be in no rush to leave tomorrow.
The bad news is that there is a light snow, the temperature is in the 20's, and I will now have to camp for the night. Topping these factors and paramount to me is the fact that when I awake the woods will be crawling with hunters - all with "buck fever." I will have to be most careful in selecting a site. Perhaps someones yard offers the safest option.

I bid adieu as I return to the elements of the Pennsylvania Mountains.

My First Snowfall

Saturday, November 27
I left Ligonier before daylight hoping to get an early start on what was to be a long 12 miles to Jennerstown. Though the temperature was in the 20’s and the snow began falling - everything was fine until I hit Laurel Ridge Mountain. It was a several mile climb straight up with no switchbacks. As I slowly but steadily continued gaining elevation the snow increased in its intensity and began to stick on an already frozen ground. By the time I reached the summit I was quite cold and tired. Hauling my cart up the mountain was no easy matter and going down would prove just as difficult. With 160 pounds pushing me from behind, it was a tricky affair descending the snowy slope. My primary goal was to not slip and be run over by my cart. If this snow does not melt immediately - my traveling will become most difficult.
On the positive side - I arrived at a motel in Jennerstown in time to watch the Ohio State/Michigan football game - a classic rivalry for those interested in such things. As a graduate of Ohio State - I am one.

Greensburg to Ligonier, Pennsylvania

Friday, November 26
The shadow of Pittsburgh was left behind as I walked south-east on Route 30. Near Latrobe, I caught my first glimpse of Pennsylvania’s southern Allegheny Mountains. From a distance they looked rather dark and formidable and hopefully the road ahead will follow mountain gaps and valleys. Here, farms and fields have given way to the woods and forests that now dominate the landscape. It felt good to be in the countryside again.
After a cold but sunny day, I checked into an old motel in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. It is a motel from the 1950’s which seems to have received only a minimum of upkeep since. In its office sits a cigar smoking elderly man surrounded by piles of odd junk who seems to get up only to check-in the occasional guest. He recommended I eat at the diner next door which matches his motel in style and condition. I had the meatloaf with mashed potatoes followed by a slice of pie. It seemed like the perfect meal to match the ambience of the place.
As I am now trying to “motel hop” as much as possible, I will go only 12 miles tomorrow to Jennerstown, Pennsylvania - a short distance but I am told there are several steep inclines and slopes along the way. I plan to pull my cart for it is easier going up and down the steep hills.
In addition - it is to be a very cold day.

Answer to the Final Flag Quiz

This flag of red, black, and green is often called the African-American flag. It was originally commissioned by Marcus Garvey and used by the United Negro Improvement Association - a "Back to Africa" organization of the 1920's.
The flag represents racial solidarity and the colors are common to many African flags today.
- Red represents African Blood.
- Black represents the Black Race.
- Green represents land and nationhood.

This flag represents the Western Cherokee Tribe and harkens to the "Trail of Tears" when the Cherokee (as well as the other Eastern Indian Tribes) were forced west across the Mississippi in a racial cleansing by the United States to rid itself of the Eastern Tribes once an for all. It was designed by a Navaho, Stanley John, who is married to a Cherokee woman.
- The 7 stars depict the original clans of the Cherokee.
- The oak wreath symbolizes the sacred eternal fire which was kept kindled by oak wood.
- The seal of the Cherokee Nation, in English and Cherokee - the first Indian script.
- September 6, 1839 is the date of the Cherokee Constitution in Oklahoma
- The black star represents those who died in the forced march of 1838-1839.
Though nearly all Indian Tribes now have a flag representing their people - I use the Cherokee to represent all the American Indians past and present.

I must say that we - as a nation and as a people - have never looked squarely and honestly at the dark history of our country's treatment of both races of people. No groups have been more mistreated than they and the reverberations are still with us today.

Happy Thanksgiving from Greensburg, Pennsylvania

Thursday Evening, November 25
I have made it past Pittsburgh and am now at a Super 8 in Greensburg, PA. Getting around the city to Highway 30 represents a major goal accomplished and I will stay on this road all the way to Gettysburg. Pennsylvania has mostly Interstates and Turnpikes and Highway 30 is one of the last east-west roads pedestrians may share. The road contains more ups and downs than I've had for a while, but again - one day at a time. The weather report is calling for snow flurries in the morning and for the temperature to drop. I will try to be in a motel tomorrow night.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 25
We removed my cart from the van and placed it under an overhang in front of the motel - then it was on to McDonald's for breakfast. Twenty-five miles later Bud dropped me off in Monongahela, and after a fond farewell - he returned to Ohio. It was raining and grey with the weather reports calling for more rain but with no choice in the matter I began my walk. The entire day was uneventful as I walked up and down the steep hills arriving at the motel tired and wet. Unfortunately, as it is Thanksgiving Day - no restaurants are open and I will instead eat apples and power bars.
I shall be leaving in the morning - east on Route 30.

Wednesday, November 24
I walked the 5 remaining miles south to Washington, PA, and then Route 136 east to Monongahela, PA. The hills between the towns are quite a challenge going literally, "up and down" - I was grateful for not having my cart. Later in the day Bud picked me up and we drove to Greensburg and then out to eat. He will return me to Monongahela in the morning and I, once again, will be left to my own company and resources.

Tuesday, November 23
I walked from West Virginia on Route 22 to just inside Pennsylvania's border and then south on Route 18. The day was grey but dry and I was glad to finally see Bud pull up in his van at the end of it. After getting hot coffee we headed for home.

Monday, November 22
I was again on the road after a four day break. One great advantage now is that I will leave my cart at Bud's house until I arrive in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where I will then take Highway 30 East. The challenge is getting around Pittsburgh - I cannot go into the city and the roads around the area are spaghetti-like. I plan to take 43 to the Ohio River crossing into West Virginia and then on to Pennsylvania.
At the end of my day a cousin will pick me up for an evening meal with her sister, brother, and spouses. After dinner, I will be driven back to Bud's, who in the morning will return me to my spot along the highway to begin again.

Sunday, November 21
We had a wonderful early Thanksgiving dinner at the Grimes's in honor of my presence. It was good to see most of Bud's brothers and sisters as well as both of his parents. I wish the best to all.
I will begin walking tomorrow but I will walk without my cart and have Bud pick me up at the end of the day. This way I may have the luxury of a continued visit and a warm bed.

Two High Schools - One Day

Friday, November 19
Today I was to present to two different area high schools. In the morning I was scheduled to speak to Edison High School in Richmond, Ohio, and during the afternoon at Indian Creek High School in Wintersville - my home town.
I thoroughly enjoyed each engagement and am grateful to the administrations and teachers for welcoming me into their schools.

Of all the people to whom I talk - it is the young people that most warm my heart.

Indian Creek Junior High

Thursday, November 18
Today I will be speaking at Indian Creek Junior High School in Mingo Junction, Ohio. Though I did not attend this particular school, it is now the middle level school of the former school district of my childhood. As such - it represented a homecoming of sorts.
Another uniqueness of the day was that it was to be my first all-school assembly. Middle schoolers in a gym on hard wooden bleachers are a much tougher audience than small groups in a classroom setting. I had my work cut out for me if I was to keep their interest as I talked about the Constitution in a gymnasium.
I did it.

Carrolton to Bud's Place

Wednesday, November 17
Though the day was grey, it was dry and I would arrive at my friend’s home by its end. For a second day I did not have to push my cart and I appreciated the break. The hills are growing both numerous and steep as I continue east and will eventually become the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania. The number two concern of my entire trip has been weather. I have been blessed to this point and come-what-may I have no reason ever to complain. Like always - I will take it one day at a time.
Before leaving Carrolton I stopped for an interview by the “ Free Press Standard,” a weekly newspaper covering the local area. Again - nice people.
Continuing down Route 43 unemcumbered by the cart - my walk to Amsterdam was a most enjoyable experience. The sun came out in late afternoon only adding to the scene and I soon arrived at Bud’s door.
One change of note since I last lived in this area has been the influx of the Amish. The are now here in large numbers and horses and buggies abound.

Rain, Rain, Rain

Tuesday, November 16
Deposited back in Canton, I began walking south on Route 43 toward Carrolton, Ohio. It is here that the terrain starts to change as I entered into what is known as the Appalachian Plateau. Rolling hills and small farms dot the landscape intermixed with woods of deciduous trees. This is the area of my childhood.
The day was grey with rain in the forecast but I was prepared (or so I thought). Though the road was much hillier now, I had the luxury of having left my cart behind and therefore moved along at a pretty fast pace. As I walked up one particularly steep incline I noticed a man at the top of the hill taking my picture. This I found confusing for I had contacted no one and wondered who he was. Stopping to chat, he introduced himself as Stan Meyers of “The Repository” a Canton, Ohio, newspaper. A small store owner had alerted the paper of my presence and he came out to interview me and to take some photos. We had a nice conversation and in the end, the paper wrote a nice article about me and more importantly - focused on the purpose of my venture. I wish to thank them for it and it can be accessed by clicking on the following:

Continuing toward Carrolton, it now began to rain. As I “buttoned up” and walked along it continued to grow in intensity without abatement. In Oregon, we are no strangers to precipitation but it is usually of the steady but gentler sort. This Ohio rain was a downpour and every passing truck showered me all the more. By the time I straggled into Carrolton I was “soaked to the bone” and appreciated Bud’s arrival with his van and a cup of hot coffee.

* Ohio

The Grimes Family

I do not wish to digress into past personal history but feel it necessary to share just a bit about my childhood and my relationship with the Grimes family.
As a child, my father was the stable rock in our family and unfortunately for all - he died after a long struggle with a brain tumor. After his passing my twin sister and I were left adrift in what today would be called a severly dysfunctional family. Bud’s mother and father, with eight children of their own, took me under their wing and allowed me to become the ninth child. Looking back from an adult’s perspective, the generosity and love they shared is almost unbelievable and it is a debt I can never repay. I love his family as my own and though I have lived in Oregon for 32 years - Bud and I have always stayed in contact. I feel this is important for the reader to understand as I stop to stay and share with my friend for now 46 years.

Arm Wrestling and Granted a Reprieve

Monday, November 15
The sun now sets much earlier and after appreciating a starry sky I went to bed feeling better about the day. The clearness of the evening ushered in the coldest night I have thus far experienced and I awoke to a frozen world. The tent was iced, the ground was white, and I was cold. In such a situation it is easy to linger in a warm sleeping bag but when nature calls - all must answer - and I reluctantly emerged from my warn cocoon. Standing there looking over the frost covered ground I saw it as another harbinger of the coming winter.
Moving slowly in the early darkness - I ate, packed, and with very cold feet - set out for Canton, Ohio. After several miles the sun broke over the horizon and with my feet now warmed - all former discomfort was forgotten.
My goal was to arrive in Canton by day's end and find a motel for the night. I have no particular need to “rough it” any more than is necessary and the thought of a warm room made perfect sense to me. As I walked along thinking this over my friend since childhood, Floyd Grimes, called me saying he was quite willing to drive to get me and would return me the following morning. This sounded like a perfect plan and I put an extra spring to my step and hurried toward our rendezvous at the intersection of Highway 30 and Route 43.
I had previously noticed on the map that Highway 30 is “limited access” as it nears Canton and continues in this manner for several miles. Limited access means that it is closed to pedestrian traffic but as it represented "the cat’s meow” for pushing my cart and also led directly to my immediate goal - I plowed ahead knowing that if the State Patrol stopped me it is always easier to say, “I’m sorry,” rather than, “May I?” Would they stop me?
They did indeed.
The first officer was a nice elderly gentleman who simply inquired as to what I was doing and said nothing about my being in a restricted access area - unfortunately - the next officer did. Pulled over now for a second time within an hour, this younger officer told me someone “had called” and that I would need to exit the highway and travel a much less favorable route to my destination. This change represented a major snafu and I therefore used every persuasive argument I could think of. After displaying my lights, my orange vest, my bright orange triangle, pleading, begging, and cajoling - he made a call to "headquarters" and arranged special permission for me to continue to my rendezvous undisturbed. I could not thank him enough and happily set forth looking for my good friend, Floyd Grimes, or "Bud", as he is known to close friends and family.

Back To the Great Outdoors

My toughest days are the ones following companionship and Sunday, November 14, I felt particularly lonely as my friend drove away leaving me alone on Route 30. It may have been the cold, it may have been the wind, it may have been the the grayness of the day, but I felt a depression creep over me that I have not experienced in quite some time. Looking around at the stubbled fields and the now naked trees - I leaned into the wind and began again my trek across Central Ohio.
As feelings come - feelings also go and in time the sun came out and I began to feel better about crossing the remainder of Ohio. I would be soon meeting my best friend from childhood and spending several days visiting with him and his wife as I reacquainted myself with the area of my youth.
I was nearing Wooster, Ohio when I spied a perfect place to camp over the highway embankment and though I could have walked another hour or so - I decided to take advantage of the presented situation and make camp for the night. It was a grassy area near a small stream just out of sight of the passing traffic. It felt good to pitch the tent after the luxury of indoor sleeping for nearly a week.

Love, Appreciation, and Fond Farewells

Saturday, November 13
With mixed emotions I will say goodbye to Crestline, Ohio. On one hand - it has been good to rest and recuperate, rekindle old friendships, and to have the opportunity to speak in the public schools. On the other hand - it is always sad to say goodbye. I am particularly thankful to Mike and Kathy Anatra for hosting my stay and trying their best to "fatten me up" for the road yet ahead. To the many others I also owe appreciation - I say, "Thank you for welcoming and wishing me well."

As previously stated, I grew up in Ohio and as such have relatives that live in the Buckeye State. This afternoon approximately 20 family members came from far and near to show their love for me and support for my endeavors. We had a wonderful reunion and luncheon, and for me - it was emotionally moving. To all I say - "Thank you and know that I love each and every one of you."

Having expressed my appreciation and fond farewells, I will begin east tomorrow for Jefferson County, Ohio - an area of rolling hills along the upper Ohio River. It is here that I spent my childhood and it will be good to visit and reunite with others before the final stretch toward the Atlantic.

Final Flag Quiz #13

Unlike the previous flags presented - neither of these flags were flown over United States territory as independent sovereigns, neither flag existed until the 20th Century, yet both flags represent groups of people that have made great sacrifice and contributions to the United States history. Any idea?

Answer to previous flag quiz - The Kingdom of Hawaii

At Last - In the Schools

Wednesday, November 10; Thursday, November 11
I was at Crestline High School yesterday and Ontario Middle School today. We had an enjoyable time discussing my trip, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the importance of studying our nation's history.
It was good to be back in the classroom.