Day four, 62 miles into the walk. We’ve passed through the width of Delaware, and enjoyed the fresh fragrance of the state’s finest chicken farms for the better part of one day. There’s nothing quite like the delicate aroma of 50,000 mothercluckers wafting over you for hours on end. But what made up for the smell was the friendship of the locals. Twice within the first hour of Tuesday’s walk, farmers from the area stopped on the road just to chat and ask how we were doing. They were well aware that the road we were on was part of the American Discovery Trail, and they were curious about how far we were going. One of them did seem a bit eager to invite us to stay at his place. Images of the Bates Motel notwithstanding, we thanked him and went on our way. At about 2 in the afternoon, my GPS showed that we were crossing the border from Delaware into Maryland. But the only way we could tell that we’d passed from one state to the next was by the fact that the road changed from pavement to dirt. Maryland taxpayers apparently have better uses for their money than to pave these back roads. But that certainly didn’t slow us down at all.
Later in the afternoon, on Tuesday, March 7 we arrived at the country farm of Tom and Sharon, not far from the small town of Denton, Maryland. Tom and Sharon are two friends I’ve known since my days at the Office of Naval Research, nearly 30 years ago. Sharon had to stay back in Arlington because of work, but Tom couldn’t have been a more perfect host. His home is right on the banks of the Tuckahoe Creek, feeding into the Choptank River. When we arrived, he had cold beers at hand, crab soup in the crockpot, pork loins and turkey breasts on the smoker, and new bottles of Knob Creek and Jameson’s ready to open. We ate like kings, and drank like fish … it was wonderful. Tom and I had a great conversation after Alanna and David hit the sack. The last time Tom and I had a long talk was probably when he stayed in our cabin back in Oregon about five years ago. I’d forgotten what a unique and fascinating person Tom is. He’s lived in Southeast Asia and Italy, been in the Peace Corps, raises bees, is a licensed pilot, and he ran the US Navy’s research program in Arctic Sciences (that’s where we first met). His farm in Maryland is a second home where he gets to raise blueberries and garlic to sell at the farmers’ market in Alexandria, Virginia. His easygoing manner and deep knowledge of so many subjects make him a wonderful conversationalist. After we finished the better part of the bottle of bourbon, having addressed most of the world’s problems (and solved at least half of them), we, too, hit the sack, and I declared Tuesday a victory.
Wednesday, we woke up to the smell of sausages and a huge pan of eggs florentine. Seriously! Tom’s spoiling us, and nobody’s complaining one bit! David and I did another 14 miles and passed through several small towns.
All in all a pretty good couple of days! Tomorrow we will get to within about 10 miles of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Your sense of distance is completely out of whack when you walk like this. You don’t think that you’re getting very far, but then you realize you’ve covered a long ways over 4 or 5 days. In my case, however, the perception that my brain develops is in complete disagreement with that of the rest of my body. The brain’s saying, “Wow, I didn’t think we’ve covered that much ground.” The feet respond with, “Of course not, you haven’t done any of the work.” And the knees and ankles just plead pathetically for sympathy and ice packs.
Well, gotta get some rest.
I certainly don’t want to miss out on tomorrows breakfast!