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Titans of the Trace

Sixty miles walked. Four days. Two of them on the tail end of Winter Storm Titan. Other than a nagging blister on my sore left pinky toe, I’m trudging through the abuse.

I owe huge thanks to two tough Southern ladies.

Miss Ethel, owner of Hope Farm in Natchez, got our trip off to a roaring start. She and Dad dueled for best storyteller, and she roundly defeated Dad. Her best story?

“Every year, I put Hope Farm on the Pilgrimage. I don’t know HOW many people traipse through this house, but I’m out there. On the front porch. Greeting everyone in my hoop skirt. My Yankee children stopped coming during the Pilgrimage, because I made them all dress up like Southerners. Imagine. Me out there on the porch, and up came a thunder storm. You know those hoops are made of metal? One of my Yankee children told me I needed to come inside to keep from being struck by lightning. And, I said WHAT A WAY TO GO!”

hope farm, natchez mississippi

Miss Ethel took great care of us at Hope Farm. She didn’t ask me to plug her place, but if you’re ever in Natchez, don’t stay anywhere else. It’s wonderful, and Miss Ethel is, too.

Alice Guess leaves me tomorrow. I couldn’t have asked for a better wingman for my first week. She’s listened to Roy talk-and-talk-and-talk. She has gotten me all manner of medicine. And food. She has tirelessly shared my book with the masses. Somehow, she even found time to tour some of the architectural wonders of Southern Mississippi. But most importantly, she never left me stranded on the side of the road.

(And I’m really worried about that. Thursday and Friday, it will be Roy’s job to drop me off and pick me up. Should I be worried that he’s more concerned about dropping cards off at the gas station than he is about picking me up on time?)

I am lucky to know such awesome women. Thanks to both of you for making my first week tolerable. No, not tolerable.

FUN.

Click here to see the best photos from Day Four of my Natchez Trace 444-mile walk: Andra Watkins Tumblr

Come to Charleston, all on me. Enter the To Live Forever Journey to Charleston Contest. Tweet, Facebook, type and review your way to Charleston, South Carolina. Click here to find out more: Support My Aching Feet.

Read the book that sent me treading the Road to Nowhere. To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis is available in paperback and e-book formats at these great places: Click to Purchase To Live Forever.

Today’s reader question is an award to someone for stopping to talk to me along a very cold section of the Trace.

 

73 Comments Post a comment
  1. Your journey is so exciting. I hope you realize how much support you are getting from out here. Keep walking!

    March 5, 2014
    • People have been awesome. I get texts and calls every day.

      March 8, 2014
  2. No, Roy won’t leave you stranded. He might forget for a little while and have to be reminded. But he won’t leave you there… for long.

    Congratulations on the walk so far! I hope the weather gets better for you. The Spring flowers should come out for you soon.

    March 5, 2014
  3. Staying strong!

    March 5, 2014
    • I’m trying. Having MTM here today has perked me up considerably.

      March 8, 2014
  4. My feet hurt, just reading along! 🙂

    Sorry you’re losing Wingman #1, but my guess is that Roy will hit his mark when you need for him to be there!

    We’ve gotten up to what has become the norm this year — snowing yet again 😦 and seeing your bright smile could turn out to be the highlight of my day! I hope you get sunshine and flowers soon!

    March 5, 2014
  5. Roy will not fail. He is a dad after all.

    March 5, 2014
  6. You are, indeed, getting a lot of support. My Laura, who’s never read a blog in her life (even mine) asked about you last night. Apparently, I forgot to update her when I got home.

    March 5, 2014
    • That made me smile, Jim. Thank you for telling me. And thank her.

      March 8, 2014
  7. I’m sure Roy won’t let you down … then again, if he does, I’m sure he’ll have a good story for it.

    March 5, 2014
  8. I hope Roy has a cell phone so you can call him if he is not there to get you pronto. That’s a forlorn feeling–I remember as a child waiting for people to come for me after school a few times and no one showed…they forgot me…but then I had to walk home or to where ever it was that I was supposed to be…and was late…thank goodness my hometown was a small one. But I wasn’t walking 15 miles every day! Just usually 2 to school and home so a total of 4 a day.

    March 5, 2014
    • Roy has a cell phone, but it doesn’t work anywhere. I told Mom to get him one from Verizon, but she didn’t listen to me.

      March 8, 2014
      • Mothers often don’t listen to adult cHildren

        March 8, 2014
  9. And now I need to book a trip just to go hang out with Ethel!

    March 5, 2014
  10. Great question by Andrew. I’m glad you have so many people who are looking out for you.

    March 5, 2014
  11. Had a run in with winter myself, darling — would you believe I got my car stuck IN FRONT OF MY HOUSE?????
    Luckily, I got to work (2 hours late) to find that it’s likely to be a slow day and that my boss in in meetings all day, so I can relax. If I had to hashtag this, it would likely be something like #Canadianwinteriskilllingme.

    March 5, 2014
    • Winter needs to leave everyone alone. It’s been a beast to everyone this year.

      March 8, 2014
  12. Hope farm looks very inviting and Miss Ethel sounds like a pip. Do you have another wingman coming along or is it just you and Roy for the rest of the month?

    March 5, 2014
  13. Keep up the good work, Andra. I’m cheering for you all the way from South America.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    March 5, 2014
  14. Do you put a bandaid on that blister? I get them running sometimes because I have wide feet and the pinky knuckle rubs the inside of my shoe. A bandaid usually helps.

    March 5, 2014
  15. Tamie #

    Enjoying your daily posts and really glad I’m not out there with you. At least it is dry in my office. Hang in there. We are cheering you on.

    March 5, 2014
  16. You’re a tough cookie, Andra. Fear not the blister , gone it soon will be (said with best Yoda voice). Of course Roy will pick you up…. uh… won’t he?

    March 5, 2014
    • I hope letting my toes breathe will help in the blister department. We’ll see in the coming days.

      March 8, 2014
  17. I would love to meet Miss Ethel. She reminds me of one of my Mississippi aunts. We’ve stayed in Natchez many times, and I will definitely bookmark Hope Farm. You’ve given me such an itch to return to this fabulous place. I’m right there with you in your back pocket…I hope I’m not slowing you down. 🙂

    March 5, 2014
    • virginiahildreth #

      Oh Debra! May I join you in that back pocket? I’m enjoying this journey immensely! … as I did the book.

      March 5, 2014
    • If you do take your trip back, Debra, you must stay with her. I miss her. Virginia, so glad to hear you’re enjoying all this.

      March 8, 2014
  18. Jim Kane #

    Enjoying the journey Audra! Peace and blessings as you walk!

    Regards

    Jim

    March 5, 2014
  19. Jim Kane #

    Audra… really? Sheesh! I started Lent with decaf this morning! Sorry for the misspelling!

    Jim

    March 5, 2014
  20. John, Ryan and I read your updates and watch the new video together every night Andra. I hope you can feel our encouragement and supportive wishes all the way from the PNW! My Fat Tuesday moment was re-reading some favorite parts of To Live Forever and pretending I was exploring the south with you and your characters. 🙂

    March 5, 2014
    • Lisa, this comment made my whole week. It carried me over a few very difficult miles. Thanks to all of you.

      March 8, 2014
  21. You. Are. A. Warrior.
    xoxo nancy

    March 5, 2014
    • Every time I get really tired, I hear you calling me a badass. 🙂

      March 8, 2014
  22. I’m having so much fun following you on your journey, Andra! Go, go, go and keep those feet duct taped 🙂

    March 5, 2014
    • Thank you so much for your regular texts, Laurence. They always come just when I need them, and they keep me going.

      March 8, 2014
  23. Gah! Stop littering, people! Keep America beautiful!

    You know I once dropped off a piece of mis-delivered mail on foot to a neighbor and arrived home with four beer cans, a shredded plastic bag, and fast food cup? So many people with little respect for the land! Harrumph!

    March 5, 2014
    • If I had to pick up all the trash I saw on this walk, I’d still be in Natchez. It’s that bad. I cannot understand why people can’t throw their trash in the proper receptacles. I pack out everything I bring.

      March 8, 2014
      • It’s a selfish, immature mentality. There’s no ethical reason for people to be that inconsiderate to nature.

        By the way, I did write out an Amazon review and blog recommendation. I think you’ll be happy with the results. I know I’m content with upholding my belief in truth and other values.

        March 8, 2014
  24. So, there I was in the pain and suffering aisle, looking for baby aspirin, me being of a certain age & needing these sorts of things. when I felt my personal space being encroached upon. Out of the. c:.orner of my eye, bits of plaid and suspenders and I thought it was Roy! Phew! I need not have fretted. His wife whipped around the corner scolding him. “Stan, I said aisle 3 not 13.” Roy and his talented daughter were on my mind, it seems. Safe journey – and don’t’ t worry, Stan, er Roy will be there for you.

    March 5, 2014
  25. Reblogged this on The Quotidian Hudson and commented:
    THe continuing adventures …

    March 5, 2014
  26. Sounds like you’re making great strides!

    March 5, 2014
    • I can’t believe I’ve walked 105 miles in a week, Nancy.

      March 8, 2014
  27. vastlycurious.com #

    I am so proud of you! So impressive from a hiker that can do 20 miles max !

    March 5, 2014
    • I hope I never have to do 20 miles in a day.

      March 8, 2014
      • vastlycurious.com #

        I did 16 in the wrong boots and the blisters haunt me to this day, thats why I am boots obsessed!

        March 8, 2014
  28. Go Andra!!

    March 5, 2014
  29. fantastic and that is great you are plowing ahead, sports injury and all. i love the characters you’re encountering along the way, including your own father of course! onward!

    March 5, 2014
  30. What an adventure! Nice to see your smiling face! Are you seeing any birds? I loved that part of the book.

    March 6, 2014
  31. Your Dad out storied? The shame! The shame! Finished the book on the train yesterday – I genuflect to your genius!

    March 6, 2014
    • I loved your review, Jim. I’m trying not to read them, but MTM went on so about yours. I had to sneak.

      March 8, 2014
      • Cheers – you should be very proud. Hope the walk is going OK

        March 9, 2014
  32. FINALLY, got your book in the mail and i’m enjoying it immensely. Love the premise. I’m a slow reader but expect I’ll finish it about the time you finish your walk.

    March 6, 2014
  33. Idee: If you need more motivation, having someone with a boombox, a bicycle behind you and this song will keep you going:

    The first ten times you hear it, you’ll be fine. After that, you’ll be walking to get away from it, and therefore making some excellent times. The actual downside? Trying to sleep while your brain is pumping out that beat and your legs keep moving. You’ll dream of walking and wake up back on the Trace, but with too much energy.

    It’s musical voodoo at it’s finest!

    Oh, your book arrived today as I was heading out to get some writing of my own done. I made myself late by reading the first dozen or so pages, but it was WORTH IT, dammit. This will be a fun read…

    g.

    March 7, 2014

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