Firstly please bear with me, my writing is that of a primary school child, so I hope this is readable.
We are still walking through Pennsylvania, just past half way through, and the scenery has not changed much: tree’s, farms and mountains. The walking has been much the same, but we’re making good progress and as I write this we are sitting in a Super 8 Motel in Clearfield resting our weary feet.
When Kieran last updated you we were just setting off from Andi’s house near Belfonte, (unfortunately) in the rain, but (luckily) without the cart, as Andi was going to pick us up at the end of the day, and take us back to the safety (and dryness) of her beautiful home. We managed to achieve the 20 mile target of that day to get to the center of the Black Moshanon park. We both wished it was called Black Moshanon mountain so we could have at least prepared for the ordeal. It was a very hard trek up the twisting road to the top of the mountain, but it would have been a lot harder had it not been for Andi letting us leave the cart at hers.
That evening we went back to Andi’s. Her and her family where amazing to us, they made us feel so welcome, and made sure we were well fed and comfortable. Andi even went out and brought us Penn State football jerseys (which we have been wearing with pride). She also filled our cart with food to keep us going for the next few weeks.
When we left our New Jersey family we both thought we may have left our best times behind us, but Andi and her family made us realise that there are amazing people everywhere, and this pattern would continue after we left Andi’s…
We were dropped off in the centre of Black Moshannon park where we left off, and walked through to the other side. It was a beautiful walk through thick forest, and lovely scenery. There was always a cloud of butterflies around, some as big as your head. It was very beautiful.
As we where walking a truck pulled up beside us “ You boys are going to wanna watch out ya hear, there is a rattler in the middle of the road down der.” We thanked the old boy, and proceeded on, camera in hand. Unfortunately we missed the snake, but not before another pickup pulled up beside us. “you boys don’t happen to know where the big oil company are round ere do ya.”
“sorry mate, we are from the UK, we hardly know where we are”. The guy in the pick up smiled and looked a little confused, but thanked us and went on his way. As we carried on walking we saw a bar and thought we had earned a cheeky half, as we approached the bar we saw the pickup from before.
Now you know in the movies when someone walks in a bar in the middle of nowhere, full of red necks: every face turns to look at them, they can feel eyes burning into the back of their head? Well it was like that. We ordered our drinks and thought we would drink them quickly and get out of there.
Well safe to say we finished our drinks in a hurry, but only because we had another already ordered in by the guy from the pick up. Everyone was interested in what we where doing, they where interested in our story, and offered to help in any way they could. We found out there was a camp site 4 miles off the track – 4 miles out of our way. So Ron, the guy in the pickup, said he would drive us, and he wouldn’t take no for an answer. “there is a storm coming boys, and I wont let you walk”. We took the lift.
As we left the bar they all asked for a photo of us outside with our cart, it was funny seeing all the old timers using there smart phones “this damn-thing is smarter than me, I can’t figure out how to use it.”
As we drove round Ron pulled into a side turning and told us he was just picking something up before he dropped us off. He pulled into a small local butchers. He ran in, and we waited in the truck. When we came back he handed Kieran a white plastic bag full of beef jerky and bologna. But not your Wallmart (Tesco’s for those at home) brand jerky; this stuff was the real deal, it was amazing.
Ron dropped us off and helped us explain to the camp site staff what we where doing and why we had a bicycle trailer with us and no car. The staff where more than friendly, and wouldn’t let us pay for our plot. They even said we could use the local fishing lake.
When Ron left he gave us a crate of beer and wished us luck. He was an incredible guy, with an amazing story. Thank you Ron Henry.
We set up our tent, and decided to fish. It was Kieran’s first time fishing, and I haven’t fished since I was a young’n with my dad. So picture the scene, two half cut blokes on the edge of a lake, worrying about putting the worm on the end of the hook, because we didn’t want to hurt it….
Believe it or not Kieran was the first person to hook something, we both had no clue what to do, and all my knowledge at this point was from Robson’s extreme fishing, and this fish was nothing near extreme. It was a tiddler at best, but once we picked the courage up to pick up the fish in an old rag, and get the hook out of the poor fishes mouth (us both profusely apologizing to it) we got a photo with Kieran and his catch, the former as proud as punch.
I then managed to pull in a fish much the same size, again we took the photo. I was even happier that the worm remained on the end of the line, at least we could spare another from the same fate. Kieran’s rod then took a massive pull, he had something big, then followed the confusion of what the hell do we do? but before we could figure it out the line snapped.
While Kieran was at in the office fetching another rod I was casting out my line, I wanted to throw this thing out as far as possible, but in my vigor my rod snapped at the handle and the whole thing except for the handle flew into the lake. Oh dear. I panicked, I had no clue what to do, so I sat down and finished my beer and waited for Kieran to return so we could figure out what to do.
When Kieran came back we decided I had better fish it out, I found the reel in the water and pulled it in. The line was still attached to the snapped rod, but as we pulled it in we realized there was actually a fish on the end of the line as well, this time it wasn’t a tiddler, it was huge! (I’m exaggerating it wasn’t any bigger than my lower arm) I screamed and wanted to get out of the water, in fear of getting eaten.
Eventually we released the whopper, and decided to call it a day. Luckily John who worked at the camp site found the story funny and didn’t mind that the rod had snapped. He and his wife did warn us of the potential of storms that night though, advice we took into account when setting up our tent, and parking our cart under cover.
They where right about the weather, the storm started at about 3am, and continued through, it was the loudest and longest storm I have ever heard, and the rain pounded down on our tent. Luckily she held strong, and not a drop of water leaked through.
There was a break in the weather at about 7am, so we quickly packed up, and showered to get on out way, we thanked John and Christie for having us, we gifted John the few beers we had left and got on our way.
Today we walked to Clearfield, we planned to arrive at the Super 8 motel to rest for the night out of the storms, but unfortunately our map took us to the wrong side of town, we aimed for the McDonalds, but it turns out this town has two, so we walked around 5 miles in the wrong direction.
We rested our feet and took advantage of the McWiFi. We needed to walk 8 miles to get to the motel, 8 miles we really didn’t need. Our feet are beginning to catch up on us. As we sat and moaned about what we needed todo, an old boy approached us, interested in our accent. His name was Louis, and after a short chat he said he wanted to drive us to Super 8. It was on his way. We where so thankful. the extra 8 miles that we didn’t need to do could have broke us.
So now we are tucked up, in the comfy Super 8 motel, with a double bed each, and plenty of food to keep us going (thank you, Andi) we are hoping our feet will improve tomorrow. We have a couch surfer planned for tomorrow, and look forward to meeting him. Its a bit of a trek to DuBois, but fingers crossed all goes to plan.
Thinking back on the last few weeks has made us both realise that first impressions mean nothing, every person we have met, and made conversation with has been amazing. Getting out there and meeting people, finding out their story, and telling ours has brought us close to so many people, and we have met people that we hope we will continue to stay in contact with long after this is finished. So to all those people that have helped us this far, and to all those people we will meet going forward, a tip of the hat to you all.
Jack (checked and corrected by Kieran)