Sunday, July 3, 2011

Raleigh and friends

While passing through the Raleigh-Durham area I had the pleasure of not only visiting with friends, but touring the city some, as well as meeting more friendly folks along the trail.

Hiking down a busy, bright, wide road that took me past such "fine" institutions as not only the Federal Bereau of Prisons, but a youth correctional facility and school, I had the unexpected assistance of an electrician named Donnie. Donnie lived not far from where I was walking and on his way home had passed by me on the road. He said by the looks of me he figured, "that girl's been walkin' a looong time." So, he filled a cooler with some cold bottles of water and on his way to his dentist appt swung by, pulling his van over to the shoulder and offered me a drink. The temps must have been 100degrees and after a full 15m of roadwalking without talking to a soul, I was ready for both the refreshment and the conversation. Thank you, Donnie!

Upon arriving in Butner later that day, I headed straight for the mini mart in search of a pint of ice cream. Here, at Jack's Best Buy, I was graciously welcomed and got to enjoy my ice cream with a nice man, Tommy and his grand daughter. I never did learn her name, but she dubbed me the Ice Cream Queen and so I dubbed her the Milk Queen (she was relishing a cold bottle of milk). Tommy also made an impromptu visit to the Bible Baptist Church later that night where I was camped just to make sure I was settled in okay and let me know, "If anyone messes with you just give me a call, I'll take care of 'em!" and passed on his contact info. Thanks for you bodyguard services, Tommy, it was a pleasure to meet you!

Karen Bethune, Me, and Kate Dixon
Hiking the day in Falls Lake State Park, I then met up with Karen Bethune. Karen and her husband Doug, invited me into their home for two whole nights. I was served gourmet home cooked meals, relished sleeping in a soft soft bed, partook of chilled white wine, and enjoyed simply being in a house with a welcoming family. Jib the terrier and I hung out on the couch some and Frito the cat graced me with his presence now and again. Karen and I also made a trip down to the farmer's market where I was overwhelmed (in a good way!) by all the colorful fruits, veggies, and oh my, organic locally made ice cream and baked goods. I made sure to have my fill.

While at Karen's, we visited the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science, where she works with the Friends of the Museum as the curator of the Nature Art Gallery. The gallery features NC artists, including one of our own from Asheville, Jay Pfeil (whom introduced me to Karen). Karen is currently in the process of creating a Mountains-to-Sea Trail exhibit that will feature each section of the trail through artwork of different mediums, writers, photography, and live speakers. So be sure to stay tuned to the museum's website for more info on this event, as yours truley will be featured here as well sharing her plant findings, writing, and thru-hiking experience. Speaking of the Mountains-to-Sea, what a perfect place to visit while hiking the trail, as the museum's mainstay exhibit is called: Mountains to the Sea. It was fascinating to walk around, gathering further info and images of where I've been and more importantly, where I will be going...coastal plain, pocosin, and beach...foreign land to me. I had the honor of meeting Betsy Bennett, the director of the museum as well as Angela Baker-James, director of the Friends of the Museum, and Meg Lowman, the director of the Nature Research Center. The construction of this center immediately struck me as I approached the museum as it appears it will be spherical in shape. Really neat looking. Here the focus will be on "citizen science" and is projected to open in spring of 2012.

Also while at Karen's house, I enjoyed an evening with Kate Dixon. Kate is the executive director of the Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail. Check out their website,, to learn all you ever needed to know about the trail as well as the multitude of ways to get involved and help reach completion. Kate, what a pleasure it was to meet you, get to know you, and have the opportunity to ask you my many questions about the trail I've gathered while I hiking as well as share with you my experience of the trail as a hiker. I admire all your hard work and the coordination that must be involved in maintaining and progressing this trail. Kate shared with me the various places the trail is planned to travel through - all off road and through forest, swamp, and riverside- and gave me the news that I will indeed have to hike this trail again so to chronicle these plants as well!

What a treat to spend so much time with two women as passionate about the trail as myself! Keep it up, ladies!

Ann and Tom Thompson
After my second day on the Falls Lake Trail, I had the opportunity to meet up with some friends, Ann and Tom Thompson, whom I met through the annual Wildflower Pilgrimage at UNCA. I don't have a link for this program, but keep your eyes open in early May for this program- it is fanastic and inexpensive. Ann picked me up and took me home, where again, I enjoyed gourmet home-cooked food, shower, bed (the frame of which bore a bullet hole due to a skirmish it survived during the civil war - how cool is that?), excellent company. We talked plants and travel, as Ann and Tom have trekked through just about every natural place you can think of. I even got to watch a bit of a John Muir special on TV- a person I deeply admire. Thank you, Ann and Tom! May your garden grow well.

Wayne and Jamie

And last, but certainly not least, yesterday, while back on my hot, long, flat roads I met two nice guys doing work on the cables. Wayne T. Blackwell and Jamie Strickland, you offered a nice reprieve from the hum drum walk, good encouragement to keep on trekkin', and some good laughs. Thank you for the donation as well - I have already made good use of it, enjoying both dinner and breakfast. Don't work too hard and tell any angry drivers to kiss off.

Oh, wait, and one more...

...even Jesus came out to say hello!

1 comment:

  1. look at you go! Woohoo!

    I don't yet foresee any problems with C and I coming out to get you, just keep me posted on when you think it may be as you progress. I may need to make it a 2 day drive in case it's harder on her than I'm hoping it will be, I suppose sitting in the back facing backwards by yourself for 7 hours could get a bit tiresome and frustrating~ So, keep your eyes out for a good place for us (Claire and I, on the way out) to stay if you can. Maybe something in the Raleigh or Rocky Hill area?

    Stay cool and I hope lots of ice cream keeps coming your way~