Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Uncle Tom's Cabin

June 7: I left Burr Lodge with the idea of getting to Murray City and perhaps beyond. After the near disaster of the day before I abandoned the Buckeye Trail and followed the state highway, keeping me closer to civilization and water sources. This part of Ohio is lightly populated and the traffic pretty minimal so I feel relatively safe road-walking here.
Four miles into the day I neared Glouster with a dark cloud forming above my head. I'm not trying to make some sort of metaphor for my psychological state, but rather the barometric pressure was falling and a thunderstorm was imminent.
Just before the waterworks began I ducked into Little Italy restaurant and escaped the sky's impending fury.
After eating a delicious sub I waited a short while until the rain let up and zipped across town to the library. Inside I met one of the most fascinating characters I have yet come into contact on my journey, Tom. Looking a bit like Dr. Emmitt Brown in "Back to the Future" with the excitable mannerisms to match, Tom has also done some serious hiking, traveling across Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and the Himalayas in Nepal during the early 1970s.
We bonded very quickly and he invited me to stay with him for the evening. I was too intrigued by the few stories he had already told me to turn him down. We left the library together, picking up some Miller High Life (I finally got my champagne!) and tortillas on the way to his home. We drank the beers, ate, and talked for almost seven hours. Tom regaled me with tales of his adventures in El Salvador, Mexico, Nepal, Afghanistan, and various other lands. He had been a jack-of-all-trades, working for the Peace Corps, teaching English a great deal of the time, but also doing a variety of other tasks to make a living.
I'm learning on this trip that sometimes you need to slow down and smell the roses. There are a lot of things to see in our vast and varied land, but the people are also worth stopping for too. I'm certainly glad I took the opportunity to get to know Tom better.

4 miles/590 total miles


Tom Barnet said...

Thank you Alastair for your generous portrayal and kind words. I eagerly took in your recounting to me tales of your journey, your interests, your life and above all the noble motivation for your trek across North America.

You are embodying the proverb of those who used to make the pilgrimage on foot from Moscow to Jerusalem. "Keep going slowly and you will go far."

Tom Barnet

Alastair McCandless said...

Like I said, I have trouble slowing myself down and as soon as I met you I had the feeling you were worth the wait and my intuition turned out to be 100% right.