by Dwayne Phillips
No, it wasn’t always fun. There were the times…
Loud windy days on the four-lane road – This was mostly in Tennessee, but there was one afternoon in Alabama as well. People drive faster on a four-lane divided highway than they do on a two-lane road. Much of the wind experienced while walking comes from the passing vehicles. Faster vehicles generate more wind than slower ones. Faster vehicles are also louder as they create a sort of loud hissing noise that drains the energy from me. Wind blows off your Tilley hat, so I had to use the strings to hold the hat on my head. That works, but is uncomfortable and offends my sense of style (such that it is).
Horns Honking in Alabama – I still slouch in pain when I think of this. People in Alabama honked their horns more than all the other states combined. I never understood if they were angry or saying a friendly hello. Many of these folks mastered the art of tapping on the horn at the instant that would grab me the most. I never jumped, but I felt like it often.
Walking the bike into traffic – For part of the walk, I used a bicycle to go back and forth to my van (see the details here). This worked well, but it was not much fun when I had to walk the bicycle into heavy traffic. Two occasions come to mind. (1) It was 7 AM and I was walking out of the town of Springville, Alabama. It seemed that everyone in the world was driving into Springville to either go to school or access the Interstate. The grass was soaked with dew, it was cold, and the paved shoulder of the road must have been all of a half inch wide. (2) It was a hot afternoon in Trussville, Alabama and everyone in Alabama was coming from and going to a nearby shopping center. The cars created more heat. The sun glinted off all the windshields. There was no shoulder, and I was really tired.
Something bit me – This was in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I didn’t realize that something had bit me until I looked at my shin in the evening. All afternoon, every step sent a shock from my foot to my hip. I rested for a couple of days while visiting the dentist. I never thought going to the dentist for major work would be a relief from anything, but it was.
A Toothache – Just 48 hours before starting the walk, a tooth fell out of my mouth. I had to have the remains of the tooth pulled. I have a good dentist, and he did a great job of it it all. Still, I had pain in my jaw and headaches for several days. The funny thing was that after it all settled, I read the piece of paper that the dentist had given me regarding tooth removal. It recommended taking it easy for a few days after tooth removal. Well, I was walking and not running.
Walking in the rain – One thing I learned about the weather is that despite the forecasts, it rains only a small percentage of the time. Still, I walked in the rain on several occasions. It isn’t impossible, but it is annoying. It is downright painful when it rains and the temperature is below 40.
Blisters on my feet – I learned much about blisters. I knew how to pierce and drain them and patch them. I never learned how to avoid them. Maybe my shoes didn’t fit properly. I had good shoes and good socks, but the blisters were a constant source of pain.
Cramps and diarrhea – Oh yes, I had this one day in Virginia. I guess I ate something that didn’t agree with me. I made it to the motel in the afternoon just in time. Fortunately, this only occurred once. I think I learned how to avoid it.