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Each day seems crazier than the one before.

After walking seven miles from Athens and eating breakfast at a gas station convenience deli, I got caught in a sudden downpour of rain and hail, accompanied by thunder. By the time I had my rain jacket out of my backpack, I was thoroughly soaked.

In an effort to avoid ticks, I’d tucked my pants into my socks, and now the rain poured into my waterproof shoes! Of course all this was complicated by having to remove my hat, backpack, ear buds, and reflective vest, put on the rain jacket, the vest, and then the backpack. My iPhone was getting wet, my feet were squishing in my shoes, and the rain kept coming down.

I was a mile beyond the gas station, and did not want to return. My camping destination, a truck rest stop, was still 11 miles away. I took a moment to laugh at my situation. Noticing that the shoulder on the other side of the highway was much wider, I walked across the grass median and started walking with traffic.

A few minutes later, a mid-sized Penske truck pulled over and stopped in front of me. It was Ovidio, a man from El Salvador, delivering a load of vegetables. I climbed in—a lot easier now that I had a backpack instead of the kart!

Ovidio’s English was not that much better than my Spanish, so we used both to communicate. He told me he had a work visa and allowed me to take his photo. We enjoyed each other’s company for 15 minutes until he dropped me off in Belpre.

The rain had stopped as suddenly as it had started. I walked for several more hours (with wet feet) to the motel in Parkersburg, West Virginia, that I’d planned to stay at the following day.

The room was not clean, smelled of smoke, and a wasp I tried to shoo from the room stung me (insect gratitude is an oxymoron). So I walked next door to the Red Roof Inn, got a much nicer room (same price), and transferred my stuff to the new place. I went back to the first place and  told them why I was leaving. They processed a refund with no hassle.

Now, after a shower, I’m getting ready to put all my wet things in the dryer. The sun has come out and all is well here in West Virginia.

I walked 19 miles today.

@ Parkersburg, West Virginia

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