DAY 39, July 22, 2012

Day 39: Up at 3:40am, skip breakfast, depart at approx 6:00 when there’s just enough light to see okay. We go west on John Brown Highway three miles, then take a gravel road to avoid blacktop.

Exiting Princeton, about to turn east on John Brown Highway.
(Sign says Osawatomie 18 miles.)

To avoid John Brown Highway, we turn south onto
gravel road (shown here), go one mile, and turn east.

Dirt roads are our favorite, soft on Reba's feet,
smooth and quiet on steel-rimed wagon wheels.

Road to Osawatomie - 1
Road to Osawatomie - 2

Road to Osawatomie - 3
Traveling east on Finny road, I see a farmhouse with a large shady yard. A boy of ten is standing in the yard, I wave to him, and he comes out to the road. His name is Conner, and soon his entire family has come out to the road; his brothers and sisters, mother and father, grandfather and grandmother, and extended family! I have pulled into the yard, tied Reba to a shade tree, and am telling what I’m about. Conner has come with his family from Nebraska to visit his granddad and grandma in Kansas. We enjoy good conversation, and there is water, apples, and lots of attention for Reba, and kids to play with Jill. Then with words of thanks and well wishes, I continue traveling east on Finny Road. But I’ve only gone a hundred yards when, looking back, I see that Conner has decided to march with me (he is walking behind the wagon). Conner says he has permission, but only within sight of the farmhouse. I ask if he would like to ride on the wagon, and he climbs aboard and rides for another hundred yards or so before I stop and he does an excellent dismount as one would expect of a tree-climbing boy.

Further on and once again looking for shade and water, I meet Rick and his wife who give me shade and water, then call their children who live nearby, and soon there is another large family gathering with grandparents, parents, and kids to play with Jill and pet Reba. Then with words of thanks and well wishes, I continue traveling east on Finny Road. This is awesome!

Somewhere around 2pm I guess, I stop to make a lunch camp and disconnect Reba from the wagon so she can eat grass. With Reba taken care of, I step out on the road, look towards what appears to be a driveway at the top of the hill, and wonder if I can get water there. No more have I stepped out on the road when an SUV pulls out the drive and comes my way. The young man driving the SUV is named Sam, and he says I can get water at the farm, and offers to take me there. So I get in, we drive to the house, I fill my bucket, and Sam gets a truck so we can take the water back to Reba instead of me having to carry it 400 yards or more. I tell Sam what I am about. And Sam, who appears to be white with some Native American blood, listens with an openness that perhaps comes more easily to those who are young. After Sam and I depart with words of thanks and well wishes, I'm getting my lunch ready to eat, wishing I had some cold water, but not wanting to dig my water cooler out of the wagon (the heat that makes every little chore into a heavy tax), myself already being seated in the shade and needing rest. So there I am wishing for cold water when up pulls Sam in his SUV, and jumping out, hands me two bottles of ice cold water with a smile. It happened just like that!

Finishing my lunch, I hook Reba up and we start up the hill. I’m walking beside the wagon, wishing I had some sweet desert to chase my lunch, and I haven’t walked 25 yards when up pulls Jim (Jim is the father of my old friend Dale). Jim reaches into a cooler and hands me a cold cup of chocolate pudding (with spoon). Yes, it happened just like that, and this day is blowing my mind!

I continue to have good meetings with folks, including Dwayne and his wife, and Jolene. And getting further along, I wish I would have taken Dwayne or Jolene up on their offer to camp on their land because now it is late in the day, after 6:00pm, and I can’t find anyone home in an area consisting of homes that are clearly not farms or ranches (homes belonging to city workers). Also, my phone isn’t working and that’s bad because my friend Mark is supposed to come and resupply me - but he can’t know where to find me. Then my phone rings! It’s the only time my phone will work in a three day period of which I am in the middle. I get to speak with Mark just long enough to tell him where I am before the signal goes dead. Then it’s back to the business of finding a place to camp, but no one is home. And oh brother, it is hot! Earlier, Jolene told me that, by her thermometer, it was 110 degrees on the road. Yeah, I need to get off the road! I need to get into the shade, need that place called “camp” where one can eat, drink, and sleep. But I can’t find anyone home except one lady who is neither farmer or rancher and doesn’t have anywhere for me. But then, up ahead, I see a cross atop the steeple of a church.

I open the church door, the pastor looks up from the pulpit, and a small congregation of Sunday evening worshipers all turn to look at me. With my hat off, I apologize then briefly tell I’m on a faith based mission and in need of a place to rest. I’ve taken them by surprise, but they are quick in coming to a consensus, and offer church property. I refuse, saying that Reba will tear up the lawn with her big hoofs. Even so, I’m desperate tired and they can see it (the pastor at the pulpit, the congregation in the pews, and me in the isle). Still standing at the pulpit, the pastor brings out his cell phone, makes a call, and secures a campsite for me on the property next to the church’s property, located beside a pond, along a line of shade trees (it's perfect). Sitting in a pew, just barely fighting back tears, I thank them for their kindness. Then, I’m then invited for homemade ice cream in the church basement.

In the cool church basement, I’m made to feel completely at home by Richard the pastor, Frank, Rod, and others. No more have I sat down with my ice cream than Mark arrives with a delicious homemade meal for me made by his wife Janet. (Mark, having known my general location, drove the road until he saw my wagon out front of the church). So I sit in the cool, eating a good meal, with cake and ice cream for dessert, all in the excellent company of fellow Christians. (Richard tells an excellent story about Clarence Sheldon, my grandfather, who Richard knew as a boy).

Proceeding to my campsite, which truly is excellent; Mark, Richard, and Frank help me establish camp. Mark remains, helping me till after dark when all chores are finished except brushing Reba out, which I do before hitting the sack. What a blessed day!

Camp beside church property, located just over a
rise, near to but hidden from road, beside a pond,
with shade trees.

Reba and Jill, both exhausted, sleeping in pen.

Zoom in on Reba and Jill, sleeping.

The following videos (uncut, shot while traveling the road this day) are my heartfelt thoughts at the end of a faith based journey that, by no plan of my own, took exactly 40 days and 40 nights:



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