Archive for March, 2012


Checking in from Greer, SC …

On Thursday, I walked from Cowpens through Spartanburg to Wellford, SC.   In the afternoon, I passed the 500-mile mark.  Only 2,500 more to go.

Gas is much cheaper ($3.58, though still too high) in South Carolina.  The primary difference is the lower state road tax.  The roads here, however, are plenty rough.  Everything has a trade-off.  

At our midday break, Jill Plain and her dog Jemima stopped by the RV.  We got our Cavachon puppy Zuzu from Jill about four months ago.  Zuzu enjoyed the visit.  Jemima could have cared less.

I had company for the final two miles of my walk.  Kristin Roberts McAllister joined me after getting off work.  Kristin parents, Charlie and Barbara Roberts, have been our friends for over forty years.  We’re looking forward to visiting with them in a couple of days.

Thanks to my brother-in-law, Joe Tucker, who rode all the way from Gastonia to deliver six boxes of Clif Trail Bars, which he had solicited, from the company for my walk.  These bars will provide much needed energy for much of my journey.




Say It Ain’t So, Joe

Checking in from Greenville, SC …        

Walked from Wellford, SC through Lyman, Duncan and Greer to downtown Greenville on Friday, March 30.  Very pretty walk but fairly uneventful until I got into Greenville.  Luckily, we saw a sign touting the Shoeless Joe Jackson Memorial Highway and Memorial Park.  As a big baseball fan, I have always been intrigued by this legendary baseball player.  Joe was a Greenville native who first played in the Brandon Mill Community, just west of downtown.  The Memorial Park is located at the field where he honed his game.  There are a couple of versions of how Joe got his nickname—had blisters and played a minor league game in his socks; forgot his shoes at his major league tryout.

Joe Jackson owns the third highest lifetime batting average (.356) in baseball history behind Ty Cobb (.360) and Rogers Hornsby (.358).  Babe Ruth claimed to have modeled his swing after Joe’s.  After an 11 year career, Joe and seven other members of the Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds—the infamous Black Sox Scandal.    For the record, Joe had 12 hits in the Series and batted .375 (both records at the time), committed no errors and threw out two runners at the plate from his left field position.  In 1921, Joe and his fellow defendants were acquitted of the charges, but Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis nevertheless banned them from the game.  Joe never played baseball again.   Joe died in 1951 of a heart attack, though some claimed his heart had been broken since 1919.  He was 64 years of age.     

In 2008, Joe’s home was moved a couple of miles downtown adjacent to the beautiful Fluor Field (which is modeled after Fenway Park) where the Greenville Drive (Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox) play.  It is now a museum.  The address is 356 Field Street.  Notice that the address matches Joe’s lifetime batting average.

Saturday, we head to Six Mile, SC to visit friends, the Roberts.  Our projected schedule for the next few days follows:


Saturday, March 31 … from Greenville through Easley to Six Mile

Sunday, April 1 … short day, through Clemson by Death Valley to Pendleton, SC

Monday, April 2 … on the east side of Lake Hartwell to the South Carolina/Georgia border

Tuesday, April 3 … to Royston, GA on Hwy 29


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Checking in from Gaffney, SC …

Walked 22.5 miles today (Tuesday) from Gastonia through Bessemer City and Kings Mountain to the North Carolina/South Carolina border at Grover, NC.  Enjoyed the company of a fellow banker and new friend, Earl Lutz, who walked the final ten miles with me.  Time sure passed quickly as Earl set a mean pace.  I think Earl would join me on my cross-country trip if he had the opportunity.

As Brenda and I leave our home state, several impressions will stay with us:

  • North Carolina is diverse and beautiful.
  • Spring is a great time of the year to cross the state with blooms everywhere (unless you have allergies).
  • Every town and city has something unique and interesting to share.
  • Almost all of the people we met were friendly, helpful and memorable.
  • We really need to do something about the roadside litter problem.
  • We have so many to thank, but especially the staff at the American Heart Association and the NC Bankers Association, so thanks to each of our old and new friends.

So North Carolina, we’ll see you again in the Fall.  And now, it’s on to the Palmetto State.  One down, ten to go.

Heart Health Hint:  Spring is a great time to get the regular exercise habit.

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Checking in from Gastonia, NC …

My walk took me through Charlotte on Sunday and most of the way through Gastonia Monday.  Did a TV interview with NBC 36 along the way.  In Charlotte, two high school classmates, Barbara Brown Burns and Susan Bradsher Liles, walked with me through Uptown along with Lynn Grayson from the American Heart Association.  They were all troopers, matching my pace all the way.  Having not been in Uptown for some time, Brenda and I were really impressed with how it had changed and how vibrant, interesting and beautiful it is.  The stretch of Tryon Street from 10th Street to Morehead may be the most energetic and progressive street in North Carolina.  Love the statues at Trade and Tryon.

Along the way on Monday, I was stopped by another high school classmate, Harold Carey, who filled me in on his life in the many years since our paths last crossed.  Then at the end of my walk in Gastonia, two more fellow classmates and teammates, Mike Green and Jerry Harwell, were waiting for me.  I tried to talk them into walking a ways with me, but we ended up reminiscing instead.  It was wonderful seeing old friends who are following and supporting my walk for the AHA.  Another element that makes this walk memorable and meaningful.

Sunday and Monday night, we have parked our RV at the apartment complex in Gastonia where Brenda’s brother Joe lives.  It gave us a chance to visit with Joe and to borrow his shower and washer/dryer.  Joe is part of the reason our Charlotte walk is a success.  He made many contacts to the media of our arrival and made arrangement for us to park our RV for two nights in Gastonia. Joe also is a real handyman and fixed several small things on the RV as well as baked us a pound cake.  Thanks for all your hard work.

Either late on Tuesday or early on Wednesday, we’ll leave our home state and cross into South Carolina.

We are still a little behind on our postings due to lack of satellite for several days.  Please stay tune for more tomorrow night about crossing the state border and walking through South Carolina.  Thanks to all.

Here’s our projected schedule, always subject to change, for the next few days:

Tuesday, March 27 … through Bessemer City and Kings Mountain ending near the NC/SC line (between Grover, NC and Blacksburg, SC) with the RV moved to Gaffney, SC

Wednesday, March 28 … through Gaffney on Hwy 29, ending near Cowpens, SC

Thursday, March 29 … on Hwy 29 through Spartanburg, ending near the intersection with I-85

Friday, March 30 … still on Hwy 29 through Greer, SC to Greenville


Heart Health Hint:  Start your own personal exercise program today.  30-45 minutes, 4-5 days a week.  Walk, run, cycle, swim, jump rope, etc.

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Recently I received a Facebook message and photo from the Millbrook High School girl’s soccer team and their coach, Derek Blackwelder, in Raleigh, NC. For those who may not know, I graduated from Millbrook High School back in 1966 and was touched to received this photo from the team. They even made the heart shaped hand sign to show support for my heart walk…awesome. Go Wildcats!

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Checking in from Mt. Pleasant, NC …

Rains shortened my walks today, but I do hope to make it to uptown Charlotte tomorrow (Sunday). Several old and new friends have expressed interest in either walking or just stopping by to say hello to Brenda and me. Here’s how I hope the day will go, again if the rain clouds cooperate:

• My morning walk will begin about 4 miles east of Harrisburg and continue to the vicinity of N. Tryon Street and Eastway.
• We’ll move the RV from Mt. Pleasant to Gastonia midday.
• The afternoon portion of the walk will begin around 4:00 and continue down Tryon to Trade. It looks like a good meeting point is at the intersection of N. Tryon and W. Tenth where I should arrive around 5:00-5:15. Should be plenty of parking on a Sunday afternoon at the City-County Government Complex.
• We can walk together to Trade where I’ll turn west and make my way over to the intersection of W. Morehead and Wilkinson Blvd. (Google maps plots a very convoluted path for this part; maybe someone can provide local knowledge and guidance).
• Depending on time and energy remaining, I may walk a little further out Wilkinson (Hwy 29) toward Gastonia.

Since we missed a blog yesterday, here’s a brief recap of the last two days. On Friday, I had a single walk of about 17 miles from the Farmer Community to just west of Richfield. Weather and scenery were beautiful. Saw lots of folks playing hooky and going fishing including young men in a boat on a very small pond. In the afternoon, Brenda and I drove back to Cary, NC to see our granddaughter in a play at Mills Park Middle School. To quote our thespian, the performance was “awesome.” We then drove the 80 miles back to the RV where I stayed up to 1:00AM watching the Wolfpack lose a close one in the Sweet Sixteen to Kansas. So now it’s time to pull for the ACC and Carolina.

Today, Saturday, was tough. In between and sometimes in hard rain showers, we moved the RV to Mt. Pleasant where the good folks at Cabarrus Bank and Trust are letting us park for the night. Then I managed a two part walk of over 20 miles on Hwy 49 where crazy drivers forced me onto the wet shoulders for much of the walk. Finally, a thunderstorm forced me to abort the walk a little early east of Harrisburg. Only got a brief chance to look around Mt. Pleasant, but it seems to be a comfortable little town with some beautiful antebellum homes.

And now it’s on to the Queen City. Really hope to see many of you as I journey through Mecklenburg County. Your interest and support have been so encouraging.

Here’s a projected schedule for the next few days (as always, weather and health permitting):

Sunday, March 25 … down Hwy 49 (N. Tryon St) to Uptown Charlotte;
Monday, March 26 … west on Wilkinson Blvd (Hwy 29) to Gastonia;
Tuesday, March 27 … thru Kings Mountain on Hwy 29 to the SC border at Grover, NC
Wednesday, March 28 … still on Hwy 29 ending somewhere near the big peach in Gaffney, SC

PS…Thanks for all the birthday wishes.

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Checking in from Holly Bluff Campgrounds, Farmer, NC.

Two walks today totaling just under 23 miles. Passed through Asheboro and ended up about 15 miles west of town on Hwy 49 in the Farmer Community. Didn’t realize how steep the hills are in this part of the state.

We left the nice people at Community One Bank in Ramseur (manager Kristin Alexander) where our RV had been parked and moved on to Holly Bluff Campgrounds. A new friend, Peggy Yates, had graciously paid for us to park there for two nights. It works fine to set-up at bank or WalMart parking lots, but campgrounds are just more convenient and comfortable—AC electricity instead of a noisy generator, unlimited water instead of watching levels in a storage tank, direct waste disposal instead of grey and black storage tanks. In case we ever forget, our thanks go to all who have helped and will help with the logistics for our overnight locations—Brandon Wright and Lennon Dodson at NC Bankers Association, bank and WalMart managers and people like Peggy Yates and James Pierce in Williamston who arrange for us to stay in campgrounds.

Thanks also go to Jennifer Morton and Randolph Bank who provided tickets to the NC Zoo. While we didn’t get to visit the zoo before leaving Asheboro, the tickets are good through year-end. We will definitely plan a trip to the zoo when we return from the left coast.

Tomorrow will be a “light” day with a single walk of approximately 15 miles in the morning. Then in the afternoon, we’ll drive back to Cary to watch our oldest granddaughter Kaylee who is performing in a school play.

Weather permitting, I’ll be back to twice a day walking on Saturday. I walk in drizzle but learned a hard lesson and hunker down when the rain is heavy. The forecast for both Saturday and Sunday looks iffy, but here is the projected (optimistic) schedule for the next few days:
Friday, March 23 … on Hwy 49 to Richfield
Saturday, March 24 … through Mt Pleasant on Hwy 49 to just east of Harrisburg
Sunday, March 25 (8:00-11:00AM) … on N. Tryon Street to the Sugar Creek Rd area in Charlotte
Sunday, March 25 (4:00-7:00PM) … down N. Tryon to west on Wilkinson Blvd to Little Rock Rd, Charlotte
Monday, March 26 … through Gastonia on Hwy 74/29 to Kings Mountain

Hope to see you somewhere along the route.

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Checking in from Ramseur, NC…

Shortly after the start of my walk this morning, I heard a distinctive “whoop” as a sheriff’s car pulled up. First thought, what have I done wrong? Chatham County Deputy Sheriff Chris Burger told me that he and his fellow officers had learned about my trip, had seen me walking and just wanted to offer their congratulations and good wishes. Of course, it was a great pleasure to shake Deputy Burger’s hand and thank him and his compatriots. And it was a relief to not be in trouble with the long arm of the law.

Lunch was at the famous Johnson’s Hamburgers. This place has been operating out of the same location for two years longer than I have been alive. Definitely, an oldie but a goodie. Our waitress, Michelle Teague, was a gem. Just full of personality and totally interested in our venture. She made the stop fun, and, yes, the burgers were really good. But not on your everyday heart-healthy diet plan.

Prior to my afternoon walk, Brenda and I got a chance to walk around the historic downtown section of Siler City. The highlight for us was a visit to the Farmers Alliance store which is celebrating 123 years in business. We met a gracious lady, Ms. Nancy Tysor, whose grandfather started this wonderful business. Farmers Alliance is a combination farm supply, general store, western wear, clothing and shoe department store. If they don’t have it, you really don’t need it. We loved the history and old timey feel to the place. Thanks, Ms. Tysor, for your insights on the history of Siler City and for your contribution to the American Heart Association for Heart Trek USA.

While at Farmers Alliance, we got a copy of the March 22 The Chatham News (which came out on the 21st). A very nice story about my walk was featured on the front page. Thanks to Reporter Bill Willcox for the article and the publicity.

As we left Siler City, we said goodbye to new friends at Old North State Trust who had allowed us to park our RV behind their building. Carolyn Leggett and Kim York were so friendly, interested and helpful. My afternoon walk took me through Ramseur (where we are parked at Community One Bank) to just east of Asheboro. Total mileage for the day was 23 miles.

By request for those who are interested, I will try to post a projected walk schedule in case anyone can join me to walk a ways or just come out and say hello. I must add a caveat that lots of factors (weather, health, etc) can cause this schedule to change. With that in mind, here goes:

Thursday, March 22 … east of Asheboro to about 15 miles west of Asheboro on Hwy 49
Friday, March 23 … still on Hwy 49 west of Richfield
Saturday, March 24 … through Mt. Pleasant to Harrisburg again on Hwy 49
Sunday, March 25 AM … down N. Tryon Street to approximately Sugar Creek Rd
Sunday, March 25 PM … N. Tryon to Wilkinson Blvd (Hwy 74) to Little Rock Rd

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