I will pick up from where Kieran left off. Diana had just dropped us off. We walked for the day, it was a relatively easy day’s walk. Whilst we were walking we had a call from Sara, a woman we met the day before (her father had the beautiful bar in his house) and she had a friend, Pat, who lived in Rochester who was happy to put us up. She lived right next to Lake Manitou. We were so thankful.
We gave Pat a call, and she was happy to come and pick us up, and said we were more than welcome to stay at hers. We met Pat a little while later and she drove us back to Rochester to her house. It was beautiful.
Her house sits right on the edge of the lake and the first thing she told us to do on a hot day like it was to jump straight into the lake. Of course I was a little worried about sharks, but I manned up and jumped in. It was the most refreshing thing imaginable (luckily the sharks weren’t biting either).
We swam around in the lake as Pat and her friend finished a mural in her hot tub room (that’s right a hot tub room!) I got brave and started diving and flipping into the water. It was exactly what we needed after a hard day’s walk. Kieran’s ankle started to play up a bit that day, so a good swim was what we thought might help put him back on the mend.
After an hour or so messing around in the water, Pat and her neighbor came and had a chat with us about what we are doing, such lovely people. Pat then asked us what we wanted for dinner. Kieran and I are easy going with food, we will eat anything so said it was up to Pat. While she cooked she told us we could go out in the kayaks.
We paddled into the lake, down one of the estuaries, through high reeds and huge lily pads. It was a great experience, and so peaceful.
We rowed around for an hour or so before we headed back to Pat’s. Kieran was limping at this point, and it seemed his foot was just getting stiffer and stiffer, and my feet were covered in blisters, something only time and good care could solve.
We sat down to eat, and chatted about our lives with Pat. She told us how seeing us jumping into the lake, laughing and having fun reminded her of when her kids where younger, doing the same thing. It must have been such a lovely place to grow up, and we were happy that Pat was getting something back from having us there.
We discussed our injuries at the table, and spoke about how we walked through western Pennsylvania and Ohio Kieran’s other ankle was playing up, and now it’s his left one. Pat said that if we didn’t feel any better we were more than welcome to stay another day.
Before we went to bed Pat took us round the lake on her boat as the sun went down. It was such an amazing place; it would be like living at a beautiful holiday home all year round. We went all the way around the lake. There were so many different types of houses scattered around the edge of the lake, including one that was built on a small island, that turned out to be for sale (Mum…please?).
We pulled back up to the house and we were both bushed; we went straight to bed and as soon as our heads hit the pillow we were asleep. We woke up feeling refreshed, but unfortunately Kieran’s foot was still strained. I went down stairs to chat with Pat while Kieran tried to stretch it out and get ready for walking.
I told Pat that if she didn’t mind, we would stay for the day. Kieran wanted to try and walk, but knowing what happened while he tried to walk through it in Western Pennsylvania, I thought it a good idea to take the day to rest.
Pat made us a lovely pancake and bacon breakfast; she told us how she had guests coming the next day and needed to tidy the house. So Kieran and I decided to take it upon ourselves to help. We swept and mopped the entire house (it was the least we could do to repay her for her amazing hospitality).
Once the chores were done, we went back out onto the lake in the kayaks, we rowed back to the same area we went to the day before and just relaxed. As we sat there a storm began to surround us. It closed in on us from all sides, so we paddled back to Pat’s as quick as we could. We thought being out during a storm with metal poles in our hands was probably not the best idea, plus I have heard the sharks become a bit more bite-y during storms!
We got back to Pat’s just in time, the heavens opened as we pulled the kayaks back onto dry land. We sat inside and Pat set up a game of Rumikub. Now, neither of us has ever played this game, and I don’t know about Kieran, but I was not particularly looking forward to it. Well I was wrong; I’m a big fan of the board game Risk – me and my mates would spend many a night round a big map of the earth battling it out for world domination. Well not any more, Rumikub is the one from now on! Great game, especially with the great company, I won the first game, and Pat won the following two. That’s right, Kieran didn’t win any……..not one.
Any who… Once the weather cleared Pat asked if we fancied going out on the speed boat, we could have a go at water skiing or wake boarding. Kieran unfortunately thought it wise to miss out, because of his ankle. I couldn’t believe my luck; I snowboard, so I thought wake boarding must be quite similar.
Pat water skied herself but it was one of her sons and her daughter that wake boarded so she could only offer a few tips. She did say to be prepared to land on your face a while before you manage to get up. She wasn’t wrong.
Poor Kieran and Pat were so patient with me; I got dragged quite a distance before I managed to finally get up. I remember the boat pulling off, I had to remember everything I had learnt from falling 10 times before: keep my knees bent, lean forward until I had been pulled up, then push my weight on the back foot. Somehow it all went to plan, I was up and getting pulled along. I couldn’t believe it, it was working, I was so shocked I let go of the rope and cheered, Idiot. I could have carried on going, but in my surprise all I could do was throw my hands up and scream.
Well, safe to say I had another go and…fell flat on my face. One more go I said to Pat, one more go, she was more than happy to oblige. On my last go I got it, I got up on the board, travelled a while before I thought I would try a jump on the wake of the boat, I managed to turn in, I pushed my weight down ready to try and take off, and I fell, face first into the water. That was the most fun I have had, it was amazing. Thank you for that opportunity, Pat.
We went back to the house, ate dinner and chatted a bit more. We then sat down to watch a film, Crazy, Stupid Love. I told Pat how my girlfriend loved Ryan Gosling, she disagreed, until the point he took his t-shirt off, and then we all agreed, we probably would.
We slept well again that night, and got up early to walk on to Bruce Lake, 18 miles from Pat’s place. We were both unhappy to leave Pat’s, she became another member of our American family. We have met so many amazing people along our travels so far, everyone from our family in New Jersey to Sara who we spent all together maybe 2 hours with, but nonetheless we will remember her forever. Everyone has helped us get as far as we have, and without all this help we would have gone home a long time ago.
We said goodbye to Pat and walked on. That day was hard. Like most days the morning starts off nicely, we chat about how the last 48 hours has turned out, we discuss the other highlights of the trip, and just have a laugh. Kieran’s ankle was still playing up, but he wanted to try and push through it.
We stopped for lunch that day like we usually do, around 1, before the heat of the day hits its peak, we then rest for a few hours, until the day cools. We usually get a bit fidgety around 3 and then crack on.
My little toes then began to start to give me grief, I had a serious limp and we both put our headphones on to distract us and tried to pick up the pace to get to our camp site as quick as possible.
Kieran marched on as I moaned about my feet. We then saw the lake and the camp site was ahead of us. We walked around the site, trying to find someone to ask if we could put up out tent. I saw a guy in baggy jeans and a white wife beater approach. Turned out he was the owner’s brother; the owner was out of town for the next 40 minutes. He told us it would be $20 dollars and we could camp on the grass area outside the front, normally they don’t let people camp in tents, but because of what we were doing they would help.
We sat down on a bench and made our dinner, boil in the bag rice with Campbell’s jerk chicken soup. Lovely. We were both so tired at this point, neither of us where looking forward to a night in a hot sweaty tent. As Kieran showered I started to put up our small two man tent, and the owner returned. He came over to me, and we chatted about why we were walking across the country. He very kindly said “Well it’s too hot to sleep in a tent, we have a few cabins free, why don’t you sleep in one of them, free of charge.” AMAZING.
We had a little cabin, with full working kitchen, a small TV and, wait for it… Air Conditioning. We sat down and watch something my dad would be proud of, Jason and the Argonauts. We both fixed our blisters, popping them (yummy) and covering them with alcohol, and wrapping them with moleskin.
We rested that night, and got up early. The next day we were heading for Tippecanoe River State forest. There was a camp site there and we left early to beat the heat of the day.
The sun was really beating down on us that day, we stopped as usual around 1 for lunch, and we sat and rested for a few hours. We had put a good shift in the morning so we only had 4 miles to do that afternoon. We trekked on and reached the campsite before 5.
They told us is was $25 to pitch a tent, but the prospect of staying in the tent with the heat was not good so we asked if they had any cabins available, which unfortunately they didn’t, luckily one of the kind ladies behind the desk told us she was trying to sell her trailer, but for $20 we could stay there, it had air con so we were sorted.
Our feet were on fire, the blisters we had patched up the night before had gotten worse, so we spent the rest of the day off our feet, and went to work on them with a scalpel, more alcohol and some moleskin.
The next day we planned to walk just 18 miles to North Judson, but our feet were a mess and Kieran’s ankle was just getting worse. We tried our best to rest well, because the next day was going to be a hard one.
Our motivation on a day-to-day basis is the money that has been raised so far (thank you), but without all the help from Pat and the other amazing people who have helped us along our way we would be nowhere.
At the moment we are staying with Laura and Richard Strohl (their story will be in the next blog) and they are just one of a long list of people who have helped us get this far. We would still be way back in Pennsylvania or worse: home, if it wasn’t for them. We are doing all the walking, but having these people to help us at the end of a long day is priceless.
So please keep spreading the word, keep telling your friends, and if you haven’t already, please donate HERE.