Saturday, June 21, 2008

Miles, stones, and milestones

Friday, June 20, 2008

Today was the day that we will pass the 100 mile mark (one third of the way from Raleigh to D.C) and also cross from North Carolina into Virginia. But before we get there, we had to have breakfast. Luckily for us, Mike H. had called ahead and offered to bring breakfast for us, and to walk with us for part of the journey. We worked on packing everything back into the car. Mike brought some bagels, granola and fruit and nut bars, and a very special treat - peaches.

We were soon on our way, with Dave driving the van. The walkers spotted the local library and called Dave so he could come back and update the blog. Dave asked if they had Wi-Fi, and the librarian replied that it was scheduled to be installed "on Monday". So another day would go by without a blog update.

Mike walked with us the first hour, then Dave drove him back to his car at the church. It was already a hot morning, no rain having materialized overnight. About six miles out of town, at our second rest, Scott noted that we had passed the 100 mile mark.

We were now on Highway 48 north of Roanoke Rapids, heading east. The road was less busy, although there was still a lot of logging truck traffic. We walked with our banners (which are getting pretty dirty by now, but holding up well). We stopped near a small farm for a water break. At Pleasant Hill, we turned north on Highway 301 and had a short walk to the North Carolina/Virginia state line. We noticed some picnic tables at the Georgia Pacific facility across the railroad tracks, and walked over there. We asked the young man mowing the grass if we could picnic there, and he said he thought it would be OK, but fifteen minutes later, someone came and ... he seemed very sorry that he had to ask us to leave. So, we went back across
the street to the Stateline Lottery store (and former restaurant) and picnicked at a table outside.

We were soon making miles along Highway 301 north... all the way into Emporia. None of our initial contacts at churches panned out, so we decided to lodge an a motel where we could get showers, do some laundry, and get some internet time. Unfortunately, the motel we picked did not have working wireless connections. The Starbucks across the street was scheduled to get its internet set up "on Monday" - apparently, Monday is the day for getting Internet service in this part of the country. Debbie and Roberta struggled with broken washing machines and dryers, getting close just past the dripping stage by 11:20 PM, while Dave went to the Texaco to try to vacuum up the gallon of water that had spilled in the seat well in the back of the van. After that, he bought some internet time at the McDonalds.

We had very little contact with people this day, except for those we waved to as they drove past us in cars, trucks, and trains. It was a long day, but it felt like we made significant progress by passing two significant milestones.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Today, the first day of summer, another milestone, I joined the pilgrims to provide a little moral and nutritional support by walking with them more than halfway across the Roanoke Rapids greater metropolitan area. Just seven of us - nothing like the march on Birmingham - but I think we made progress toward abolishing the death penalty by getting the message out, both intellectually and spiritually. Only a few people noticed us. They couldn't read our banners unless we walked over to show them. Maybe some people thought our van was out of gas and we were walking to the nearest gas station. But I'm certain that lots of folks read the nifty article in the Roanoke Daily Herald.

I was fortunate to be in Scott & Roberta's living room back on Martin Luther King day when Scott spoke of his dream to walk across the red clay of North Carolina and Virginia to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. At the time it was clear that he and Roberta were planning to make a statement by a prodigious personal sacrifice, but it wasn't apparent if the sacrifice would be noticed. The coverage in small town newspapers, thanks to some well planned advance work and the blessing of a slow news week, has already helped take care of that. The goal was to get people to rethink the death penalty outside the reaction to a horrific murder or the revenge killing twelve or so years later (i.e. an execution). And the plan is working.