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99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

natchez trace mile post 345

Ninety-nine miles. When I ended my walk on Wednesday, I was 99 miles from the end of the Natchez Trace. Mile post 345.

I spent Tuesday walking in wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour. When I picked up my foot, the wind blew it into different spots than I intended. A couple of times, blasts of air battered me into the road.

A car stopped. Rolled down the window. “I’m related to William Clark. Will you sign my book?” The gale whipped the pages as I leaned into the car and scribbled my signature.

I had to pick dust out of my teeth from smiling through a dust storm.

Meeting people has been one of the best things about my walk. As I get closer to Nashville, more folks are deciding to stop.

Yesterday, a biker came out of the woods, chanting my name. He claimed to be the ghost of Meriwether Lewis.

“I see you’ve met my dad,” I quipped. (Dad sold him a book at a rest stop a couple of miles up the road.) A man from Commerce, Georgia, he was riding to Natchez alone to celebrate his 74th birthday. I told him to stay with Miss Ethel when he made it.

Another car stopped while we were talking. “We’re from Clifton, Tennessee. Will you sign our book?”

I may never make it to Nashville at this rate, but I don’t care. Every reader is a gift. I love meeting you.

natchez trace

Click here to see the best photos from Day 26 of my Natchez Trace 444-mile walk: Andra Watkins Tumblr

You know you want to come to Charleston. FOR FREE. Tweet, Facebook, type and review your way to Charleston, South Carolina in the To Live Forever Journey to Charleston Contest. The more you enter, the better your chance to WIN. Click here to find out more: Support My Aching Feet.

Read along with my historic walk. To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis is available in paperback and e-book formats at these outlets: Click to Purchase To Live Forever.

Here’s today’s Glamor Shot, I mean Reader Question.

And, here’s a different take on the number 99. Yes, I was an 80s teenager.

51 Comments Post a comment
  1. This post brought tears to my eyes. I am so happy for you on this journey.

    March 27, 2014
  2. I hope your calendar for the month of April is very full, ’cause you’re not going to know what to do with all your time when this walk has been concluded! 🙂 Now, if you’ll ‘scuse me, I have a book review I need to write. 🙂

    March 27, 2014
    • I have quite a few speaking engagements lined up when I’m done. I’d take more, but it’s a start. 🙂

      March 27, 2014
  3. I see no evidence of roots in that video! 😉

    All those fan encounters sound wonderful and must be so invigorating! I love that they’re coming just as you need that final push to finish this thing strong.

    ps 99 luftballoons was iconic!

    March 27, 2014
    • You have to know where to look for them. 🙂 Someone else stopped me today in my last mile. Made it go by so much quicker.

      March 27, 2014
      • That makes me smile! (The fan, not the grey)

        March 27, 2014
  4. What happened to your hat; I thought that you slept in it!!
    How will you adjust your stroll to accommodate the 9 miles??
    Why are you not responding to UK questions on your video clips.

    March 27, 2014
    • Please stay tuned for answers to your questions by video, Alan. 🙂 (Although I will tell you that you’re my first UK question-er……I think…….I’m so tired that my brain isn’t working very well right now.)

      March 27, 2014
  5. That is fantastic! You must be grinning from ear to ear each time one of those people stops you. I know I would be. You are going to miss that walk when you are done.

    March 27, 2014
    • I don’t know that I’ll miss the walking, but I’ll miss the purpose of it, if that makes sense. I’ve got a lot of writing to do when I’m finished with this.

      March 27, 2014
  6. That’s awesome, Andra! I’m so glad people are stopping with books. I hope a huge crowd will be waiting for you at the end!

    March 27, 2014
    • I don’t want to hope for a huge crowd, but a few people will do.

      March 27, 2014
  7. Yep. People have connected. That is worth more that its weight in Epsom salts. If it makes me feel good, I can only imagine how good it makes you feel. And to top it off, you’ve become an athlete.Wow.

    March 27, 2014
    • I’ve actually fantasized about those ice baths NFL athletes sit in to reduce muscle/tendon inflammation at the end of a heavy workout. The best I can do is to sit in a tub of Epsom salt water and take Advil.

      March 27, 2014
  8. You may not remember a post you wrote a while back about this one jerk. He questioned what you do, made you feel like crap for your efforts. This time, this moment right now is the pay off for people like that. Keep pushing through.

    March 27, 2014
  9. How exciting is that?! Congratulations, Andra – what an amazing journey – and an incredible boost to know you’ve touched so many people.

    March 27, 2014
  10. That was a difficult day’s walk I’ll bet. More power to you for keeping at it! Glad you’re getting encouragement from fans along the way.

    March 27, 2014
    • Lisa, today’s was almost worse. Wind AND rain.

      March 27, 2014
      • I hope if it gets really bad you have a contingency plan. Don’t want you out walking in thunderstorms and tornados.

        March 27, 2014
  11. I do hope you write a book (a travel journal, a journal) about your walk. Maybe a photo book so you wouldn’t have to do much writing. At least, do it for yourself so you and your Dad and MTM can cuddle together and revisit this fantastic adventure years from now. Being so close to the end, I’m glad that what might slow you down is your own popularity 🙂

    March 27, 2014
    • I think I’ve finally hit upon a reason for a book out of this trip and a narrative trajectory. We’ll see how it goes when I start working on it. The pictures would be part of the story. I even have a title. At least, that’s my current plan.

      March 27, 2014
  12. tarakianwarrior #

    That is so wonderfully awesome. I’m so happy and I cannot imagine a better person to meet out on the road than you. Although, I might have been a tad bit nervous if some bike rider came out of the woods chanting my name…. 🙂 Keep on trucking, er, walking. 😀

    March 27, 2014
    • People have mostly been really nice on this journey. Lots of people stop, but they always want to know if I’m ok.

      March 27, 2014
  13. So so awesome! Best of all, it’s WORKING! You’re selling books!!

    March 27, 2014
    • I have no idea how many, but yes. I’m selling books. Or Dad is. Mom and Dad are now competing over how many books they can sell each day. They get into arguments about who sold what book to which person.

      March 27, 2014
      • More of that fodder I mentioned!! 🙂

        March 27, 2014
  14. Oh, you’ll make it, lady. You have a ghost after you who wants his cake and he’ll be waiting for you at the end of that road with another nickel. Autograph hounds are hopefully not too overeager to greet you in and on their wheeled tranports, as I’d NOT want to hear of some grinning cyclist accidentally bumping you off the road or worse, some possessed vehicle with a grudge because you’re all everyone is talking about in the area…

    And yeah… look for a discarded beer bottle every mile from now on. This means someone is ahead of you and taking the title of that post literally. If the bottles are all old, it’s Lewis doing some early celebrating… He’ll be too tipsy to be a threat when you DO meet up.

    March 27, 2014
    • Part of the reason I chose this title is because of how many beer bottles I’ve seen on this trek. WAAAAAAAAAAAY more than 99.

      March 27, 2014
  15. Debbie #

    You’ll be finished a week from today (as long as you still take one day off)! I hope someone will be filming the last mile up to the finish destination. This is just so exciting! Hope your feet are holding up!

    March 27, 2014
    • I’m taking Saturday off. You will get the full tour of the feet tomorrow. Stay tuned.

      March 27, 2014
  16. I think your “glamour shot” is simply gorgeous! Also, it tickles me pink to think how many more human connections you’ll have experiences when this journey is over. I love 99 Red Balloons, and I’ll play it again to celebrate on the day I finally buy your book from amazon! (It’s in my “save for later” queue, as I’m on a self-imposed spending moratorium until next month.)

    March 27, 2014
    • I’m going to be on a spending moratorium after this, too. Ha.

      March 27, 2014
  17. so, so cool. and i am almost finished with the book too )

    March 27, 2014
  18. It goes to show that getting out there and meeting the people does actually work, Andra! You’re doing really well.

    March 27, 2014
    • I’m exhausted, but I’m happy.

      March 27, 2014
      • The latter’s all that matters… you can have a good rest and sleep later! 🙂 (But take care of yourself in the meantime as well!)

        March 27, 2014
  19. On Friday, you can sing 84 bottles of beer on the wall and probably sign more books. You are almost there, Andra. Keep walking and pampering, walking and pampering, and soon you will be in Nashville.

    March 27, 2014
    • I’m starting to get sad. It’s like I’m getting ready to finish a draft of a book. I never want to finish them.

      March 27, 2014
      • 🙂 Keep writing, Andra, and there will always be a new adventure.

        March 27, 2014
  20. Getting excitingly close!
    When I consider a 444 mile walk, I am certainly inclined to stop fretting about an 800 metre swim with granddaughter!

    March 27, 2014
  21. Lance #

    You’ve got 99 problems and sore feet are every one of them.

    I’ve loving your pictures

    March 27, 2014
  22. How exciting it must be to have folks now approaching you to sign their copy of the book, Andra. Wow! That made me grin from ear to ear – and, go, Roy! He’s drumming up business, even if it is from ghosts.

    I’m so proud of you, and to know you, and Merry, and Em – stay safe. Almost “home”.

    March 27, 2014
  23. angela #

    You are almost done! I dig that peeps are stopping and what not – silly me, I thought it was a trail trail – kinda fun to watch the world go by… Btw, happy belated Birthday! I tried 2x to post that the other nite and WP crashed on me.

    March 27, 2014
  24. Very few people can say that they have done what you have already accomplished. How many miles do you walk in one day? Best of luck, rooting for you from Texas!

    March 27, 2014
  25. You’re a celebrity along the Trace…and beyond! 🙂

    March 29, 2014

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