I woke up this morning early, but didn’t want to leave my cocoon of happiness…so I didn’t.
A few hours later I got up and broke camp.
Feeling good, I set out to check some things off my list of things to do:
- Get to a library to refill water and power.
- Get to a Lowes or Walmart to buy some luggage locks and a duffle bag for when I fly out on the 19th.
- Get something to eat.
As I walked, I noticed a Wendy’s across the road.
“Sweet!” I said immediately thinking of the free small blizzard I could get because of a card a friend got me (Patricia) and buy a couple of burgers.
However, I noticed a building closer that looked a lot like a Cracker Barrel. I walked a little further and the sign was uncovered from the trees blocking it. It was indeed a Cracker Barrel.
Now I hesitated, while I knew Wendy’s would be cheaper, I felt this pull to go into Cracker Barrel.
I sat down and the people across from me asked about my trip. I told them all about what I was doing and then their order came.
I looked at the menu myself and then the waitress came by:
“Hi how are you doing?”
“I’m doing great. How about yourself?” I asked.
“Can’t complain. Can I start you off with something to drink?”
“I’d love the biggest tallest glass of lemonade you have,” I said.
“Coming right up,” she said.
When she returned she put two frozen mugs of lemonade on the table.
“We didn’t have tall glasses, so I brought you two. Hope that’s alright,” she said smiling.
I said thank you and then ordered the big country boy breakfast and got a side of sausage patties.
She left to get my order and I chugged the first glass of lemonade and half of the second.
When she returned with my order, I knew happiness.
Three over easy eggs, hashbrowns, sugar glazed ham, grits, cinnamon glazed apples, two buttermilk biscuits and gravy, and my side of sausage patties.
“I’ll bring you another egg because that one is a bit over done,” she said.
She returned a moment later with another over easy egg and two more glasses of lemonade.
About halfway through my meal, the people across from me who I had talked to earlier about my trip came over to me as they finished their meal and were about to leave.
“Your meal is on us,” the lady said and handed me a twenty.
“Wow! Thank you!”
“No problem. Good luck on your journey. Stay safe,” she said.
“That’s a lot of carbs. Atta boy, carb up,” the guy said.
I learned their last name was Valentine before they left.
Thank you all! That made my day! 🙂
But it gets better.
As I continued to enjoy my feast, a couple sat at the very same table the Valentines sat at.
I was beginning to slow down at this point, but felt in no hurry to get walking in the heat as much as I had eaten.
“You hike with that thing?” the man asked.
“Yup. And I’m doing all 50 states.”
“Wow, is it heavy?” he asked getting up and then lifting my backpack.
“It’s about 60lbs.”
“How do you walk with that thing?” he asked.
“Well, I actually started with 90lbs,” I said smiling.
“Sheesh! Bet you go through shoes like crazy,” he said.
“No not really. These were built for heavy loads,” I said showing him my boots.
“What are they?”
“Aku Utah Top boots.”
“They look heavy duty. So how are you funding yourself?” he asked.
“Well I’m a writer and I’m writing books on each state I visit. Right now I’m fan funded though because I write daily stories about my adventures. That and any jobs I get along the way. Once I get the books out it’ll get easier and I can’t wait to write them. So many awesome things keep happening to me,” I said while getting a business card and handing it to him.
“That’s cool. We’re going to check you out. Hey quick question, is that your bill?” he asked indicating my receipt with the 20 the Valentine’s gave me.
“Yup, it was actually really cool. The people right before you guys paid for my meal,” I said.
“Wow, that’s nice. I was going to say if it wasn’t we would have paid for you too,” he said.
“Aww, thank you. What did you say your name was?” I asked.
“Harold and this is my wife,” he said.
I then handed the waitress my bill with a hearty tip because she was awesome and headed out the door.
I got a little ways and then I heard:
I turned around and saw the manager from Cracker Barrel coming toward me.
At first I thought, that maybe he though I hadn’t paid, but then I saw him smile.
“Hey someone already paid for your meal,” he said and handed me the cost of the meal back.
“Wait..wha? But I already paid,” I said confused.
“Yeah, someone already paid for you,” he said.
“Are you sure it’s mine? I don’t want to take someones money if its somebody elses bill,” I said still not realizing that someone else paid my bill as well.
The manager checked the receipt and asked “What did you have?”
I relayed to him what I had and he said “Yeah, it’s yours. So you’re backpacking all 50 states?”
I told him my usual and gave him some business cards and then we parted ways.
I’m not sure if it was Harold and his wife or someone else, but whoever it was thank you! That was awesome!
But it gets better.
I immediately called my dad and told him what had happened.
“Yeah and with the way things are going I’m betting I’ll get a ride to Saint Augustine today too,” I said.
He laughed and said “Well call me when you do so you can say you told me so.”
I hung up and called my brother and mom and told them the same story.
Then I made my way to Walmart and picked up some luggage locks and a duffle bag for the airport and then headed to the library.
While walking I ran into a fellow traveler named Tony (road name: Detroit). Tony said he works in the area, but has traveled all over the US. He said whenever he goes and visits his family they’re like: “There’s the wanderer.”
He told me how he lives in the woods and has an awesome set up and solar shower.
“Yeah, I could get an apartment, but it’s what I love to do,” Tony said.
“Yeah, I can relate man. One of the big things about my trip is finding out where I want to live in the US. Once I do, I’m fully homesteading,” I said.
“Nice man, well we got to get going. But stay safe and look out for the weirdos in Florida,” he said as we walked in opposite directions.
I laughed and said: “Will do man. Have a good one.”
After that I arrived at the library and refueled my power and water.
While charging my phone and external battery, I grabbed Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King and continued where I left off.
After a few hours, I got back on the road.
Now it was about 4:45pm and I decided to give it till about 5pm before I looked for a place to bed down.
“Hey if you want to show off a little more, a ride to Saint Augustine would be pretty cool,” I prayed while looking at the sky while laughing because it had already been an awesome day.
A few moments later a truck pulled over ahead of me.
I looked up at the sky
“Very funny,” I said laughing.
“Need a ride?” the guy in the truck asked.
“Yeah, thank you.” I said and put my backpack in the bed of the truck.
“My name is Seth,” I said offering my hand.
“Keith,” he said.
“Thanks man I appreciate it. I’m working my way north towards Saint Augustine.”
“That’s where I’m headed,” he said.
I told Keith about my day and some other adventures I’ve had on this part of the journey.
Keith then told me he works for a bounce house company 7 days a week. He told me he loves how the little kids light up when the see what he sets up.
“Yeah, it’s a lot of fun man. Sometimes I can take the smaller ones home because my backyard isn’t that big, but I get to let my kids try them and my old lady,” he said.
We arrived at this small shopping center and Keith mentioned that they had a Little Caesars Pizza.
“Well hey, do you want to split a pizza?” I asked.
“Yeah, man least I can do.”
We pulled over and while he took care of business. I went in and got us pizza, crazy bread, and a 2 liter of Pepsi.
I sat the pizza on tail gate and sat down, but I didn’t see Keith.
He came out a moment later with two marinara sauce cups.
“Dude, good thinking. They said they were out of cups,” I said.
I poured Pepsi into them and we toasted to adventure.
“I love it man. I never know whats going to happen from one day to the next. For instance, I didn’t know I’d be eating a pizza with my new friend Keith today on his tailgate,” I said.
“Right on man,” Keith said.
We somehow got on the topic of food challenges and Keith excitedly grabbed his phone and put a video of him eating a huge ghost chili pepper with nothing to drink.
It was hilarious and I told him a story about how me and my dad did the worlds hottest curry challenge in New York. The one that was on Man vs Food. We both did it and got into the hall of fame for it.
Anyways, after we killed the pizza. I said goodbye to Keith and he wished me luck on my journey.
I then immediately called my dad:
Forever your friend,