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Walk Across America

October 24, 2013

Colorado – Wednesday, October 16

The first thing I did today was go back to Brew Unto Others to talk with one of the managers so I could find out if there was any particular kind of food I should shop for. She told me that anything non-perishable would be great, and that they’re hoping to fill up a truck with all the donations. So I went shopping and got pasta and sauce, cereal and oatmeal, cans of chili and soup, mac and cheese, cans of tuna and chicken, and ravioli. As I carried things in, I met one of the volunteers who had worked on the new floor in the shop – the whole place looks great and was clearly the result of a lot of hard work. I wish them well with their endeavors!

From there Tula and I walked around town for another half mile, then I went in to the visitor center to find out a little more about town. Apparently the town came into existence when someone surreptitiously moved the railroad depot from the town 3 miles away to this new location, so the railroad was built through Lamar instead of the other town, and back then, the railroad had the power to make or break a town. They also had a wind turbine blade on the ground – I can see why a truck can only haul one at a time! I also learned about something I’d never heard of until now. There was a statue in town called “Madonna of the Trail”, and it’s one of 12 Madonna monuments in the country (in 12 different states) that mark the National Old Trails Road.They were dedicated to the spirit of the pioneer women and were commissioned by the Daughters of the American Revolution. This particular statue represents the women on the old Santa Fe Trail. The other 11 Madonnas of the Trail are in the states running east to west from Maryland to California. I’ve already been in all 11 of the other states (most recently Albuquerque, New Mexico). All 12 statues are the same – the pioneer woman faces west with a rifle on one arm, an infant in the other, and a toddler grabbing at her skirt. This is just one more piece of history on the old National Road that I first learned about in Maryland – a road approved by Thomas Jefferson even before there were cars. So many old roads…this journey’s gonna need a sequel!

After soaking up some of that history, Tula and I headed for a big park on the south end of town, and walked a mile and a half before leaving town. The stone fences and other stone structures have been here since the 1930s – there was also an outdoor fireplace that the Boy Scouts built with the motto “Always Be Prepared” on a plaque. I started heading west along the old Santa Fe trail, and the next town I came to was Las Animas, and we walked nearly 3 1/2 miles in that town. Then we continued west toward La Junta. The road was following the railroad tracks, and there were still telephone poles (or maybe old telegraph poles?) using the old glass insulators. I’ve always like those, and to see so many still in use was pretty interesting. As I was getting close to La Junta, I passed 3 guys walking along the road with backpacks, and one of them was carrying a very large American flag. That caught my attention – with the backpacks and a stroller-sized cart with more gear, they looked like they were on a journey of their own. I decided to turn around and see if there were any logos or any signs of what they might be doing. But I didn’t see anything. I had to pass them again as I headed into La Junta, and my curiosity got the best of me. So I turned around again, and pulled off the side of the road, and started walking toward them (and I’m not the first person who had done that!) It turns out they were 3 19-year-olds – Mike, George and Drew – who were walking across the country to raise awareness,support and money for Livestrong, an organization that helps fight cancer. They had started their journey in Connecticut on April 21 and had been on the road for 6 months. They said they averaged 17-20 miles a day, and from Colorado they would walk across Arizona and finish up in Huntington Beach, California. Two of them had enlisted with the marines and would be shipping out when their journey was over. Of course I had to support their Walk Across America! I was going to give them a check for Livestrong, but they said making a donation online would be better so they didn’t have to forward a check. They had a card with all the necessary information on it. So I promised to do that, and drove into La Junta. But when I got there, I realized I also wanted to support them – in the form of a cash donation for food or a motel stay in bad weather, or whatever would personally help the 3 of them. So I retraced my steps (worried I might not find them again!), and found them, and they were very appreciative of the money. They were very polite and personable young men – it’s quite an undertaking, and they could be a good example for their peers. So it turned out to be a double donation day – one to their cause (Livestrong) and one to support their day-to-day needs. They did say people had been good about helping them out with food and occasional places to stay. I’m guessing the big flag draws a lot of attention! I found it kind of ironic that my Expedition 56 and their Walk Across America crossed paths near La Junta, which is Spanish for “the junction” – it was like the junction of 2 American journeys!

Tula and I walked 2 1/2 miles in La Junta, then I walked a little more around the grounds of a community college. Even though it was dark, I was ready to drive for a bit, and I’d been listening to weather reports. It was snowing in the Denver area, and I already knew the west side of the Rockies had been hit pretty hard. I decided to stay in southern Colorado for at least another day until the latest snowstorm blew through, so I headed southwest to Trinidad, where I stopped for the night.

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