Friday, September 4, 2009

Days One through Eight

Boat in Field, Calhoun County, Day Seven

Every trip can be summed up. What you saw, where you went, how long you stayed. These details serve their purpose and help give a general and vague sense of a trip. They generally do not go beyond the surface and yet are necessary to the overall understanding of a journey.

Below you will find my mileage and where I parked myself for the first week or so. Have fun!

Day One: one mile shy of Ingleside, about 15 miles
Day Two: Fulton, about 20 miles
Day Three: Goose Island State Park, about 7 miles
Day Four: six miles shy of Austwell, about 19 miles
Day Five: just north of Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, about 12 miles (some of this was repeat mileage as I went into the refuge and made a day of it, adding perhaps 10 to 12 miles more)
Day Six: Tivoli, 19 miles
Day Seven: Seadrift, 17 miles
Day Eight: Port Lavaca, about 18 miles

These facts give you a overview of what I went through, but my thoughts and random pictures behind the events of the day are much more interesting than the miles. Here are a few of my journal entries:

*In my first mile, a man approached me and asked about my hat. I answered his questions but my first reaction was to pull away. I told him about where the store was, and he said, “I’m gonna get me one of them hats.” Then he went about his way.

I was shocked that in my first mile of a journey intended to unite the state my first reaction to a stranger was distrust. I knew then that this hike would be about more profound things than footsteps and interviews and history. I’ll be attempting to relearn who I am and how I see people.

Easter Island Copycat, Seadrift, Calhoun County, Day Seven

*What an amazing difference a little decision makes. When I saw the egg sign, I almost passed it up, as I had no way to cook them. But I went in and asked about buying them already boiled. The owners accepted.

I was greeted with some apprehension by Felipe and his son, but before long, I was chatting Felipe up. He is a wildlife biologist and assistant manager of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. He and his family live on twenty mostly undevelopped acres just south of Rockport. Felipe has worked for the ANWR for close to twenty years and doesn’t see himself or his family moving. He is proud of the family he has helped make and of the decisions he’s made in support of them. We also talked about the refuge, the year-long drought, and the give-and-take of the last few hundred years in regards to the land. Felipe is calm about the current difficult cycle and knows that God and the land have handled far worse.

My talk with Felipe and his wife really bolstered my spirits. Maybe this hike will live up to my expectations after all.

*I’ve had many moments of uncertainty already. Thoughts of “What am I doing?” and “Why am I doing this?” have entered my mind more or less since I left my childhood home. However, I stopped at a picnic table rest stop today, had a two-hour break there, and received a calm moment while lying down across the cement seating. “Just do it, and everything will be ok.” It was a feeling, an inner voice, and I felt better for the rest of the day.
The Parting of the Rain Clouds, Refugio County, Day Four

*I have now had several run-ins with the police. One stopped me the first day, and another stopped me as I was leaving Tivoli. These were casual Q&A sessions instigated purely from the look of me.

Yesterday, as I was arriving in Seadrift, the chief of police called me over and asked if I was hitchhiking. I told him no. He called the dispatcher, my ID in his hand, and said, “We’ve got a hitchhiker here, Montana ID number…”

Yet another policeman from the sheriff’s department of Refugio County kept circling the town of Austwell while I walked around. I must have seen him go by six times. I wasn’t breaking any laws, just walking around (I got lost, actually, in a town the size of my old high school), but I must have spooked some of the residents.

I have opted for this life and all its associations. I have no choice but to go with it.

*I’m worried about my body, in particular my feet. The pavement is killing me. My toes on my left foot are stressed and no amount of massage is making the pain go away (note: I mean during the hike; after hiking, the pain goes away within an hour or so). There are other pains as well, but the toes are the most serious. I’m taking the day off tomorrow and giving the hiking a rest.
Two Crosses, Refugio County, Day Four

A big thank you to my parents and the Nattingers for a wonderful sendoff on the first day, and a special thanks to Darren for walking the first part with me. These positive actions stack up against the day-to-day difficulties and will really help me see this project to its conclusion.
Sunrise on San Antonio Bay, Refugio County, Day Six


Annie said...

Keep those amazing photos coming!

Jonathan WC said...

I mentioned that you had started your trip during our last game night at the Break Espresso. I think Chase made some comment asking why you are doing what you are doing. The best I could come up with immediately was, "Because it's there." I think I also added something about "it never being done before," and "man's drive to explore." I'm jealous of Filipe. I wish I could be one of the people you encountered on this journey.

Jonathan WC said...

Oh, and I changed my display name so it isn't my silly BGG username anymore.