Day 28 – Hoosier Hospitality
Not all those who wander are lost. – J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring
We used the morning rain as an excuse to hang out with April a bit longer. While we finished up our laundry, she made us breakfast and took us to the store so we could buy some groceries. Eventually, we could not postpone our departure any longer and said our goodbyes.
We were greeted, or possibly challenged, by some ex-presidents as we walked through Washington.
On our way out of town, we stopped by the office where Greg works to thank him for his hospitality. Shortly after we arrived, April stopped by so we were able to spend a little more time with both of them. As if they hadn’t done enough already, they gave us some water for the road.
Just a bit outside of Washington, a man pulled up and asked us where we were headed. He introduced himself as Charlie and asked several questions, including what kind of food we eat on the road. We described our typical road food, which includes canned tuna. He asked if we eat sardines. When we said we hadn’t yet, Charlie reached into the passenger seat, pulled out a can of sardines and tossed it our way (John-Michael snared it one-handed, reminding him of his football playing days). Charlie then started searching his vehicle for anything he thought might help us. He gave us fruit, water, granola bars, and peppermint patties. He then lamented that he couldn’t find anything else. We assured him that what he had given us was more than enough and thanked him for his generosity. He wished us all the best and drove away excitedly.
A few hours later, a recognizable car pulled alongside us and the driver yelled, “You guys are making great time!” It was Charlie. He stopped for a moment, handed us an envelope, and drove off with a smile and a wave. He put together a little care package and gave us his contact information.
As a quick aside, we already have pedometers that were generously donated by the good people at Fitbit (thanks to Leah for making this happen). So, we’ll keep the one Charlie gave us as a backup. If you are interested in seeing approximately how far we walk each day, you can do so here and here.
Because of our late start, we were running out of daylight when we arrived in Claysville. We asked around about possible places to stay. There was a park, but the police said that camping wasn’t an option when we asked them if it was okay. There were some churches, but no one answered when we knocked. There was a fire station, but again, no one answered our knock. There was a bed and breakfast, but it was a bit out of our price range. Finally, there were two random lots full of RVs. John-Michael saw a man and his daughter standing outside of one of the RVs, so he asked them if it was a campground. Tom explained that these were lots where natural gas drillers stayed while working in the area. He gave John-Michael the telephone number of the landowner, but when John-Michael called, there was no answer. After leaving a message, we struck up a conversation with Tom, and his two children, Hanna and Logan.
We found out they were originally from Indiana, not far from where Tara grew up, although his job has taken them to many states over the past several years. Meanwhile, Hanna offered us food and drinks. We politely declined, but she insisted on giving us some cinnamon swirls. We insisted on enjoying them. After about half an hour had passed with no return phone call, Tom could tell we were getting worried we wouldn’t have a place to stay. He volunteered to drive us to the other RV lot (it was about a mile back) because he was pretty sure the family of the landowners lived right by it. We gratefully took him up on his offer. We got to the house, knocked on the door, and were greeted by a kind older couple and an excited sheep dog. John-Michael explained our predicament and asked if we could rent one of the RV sites for the night. After learning that we weren’t going to need electric or water hook-ups, they offered to let us stay in the yard of an abandoned house that was adjacent to Tom’s lot, at no charge. Tom brought us back to our carts. Hanna, Logan, and Beau, their dog, hung out with us and asked us a series of questions as we setup our tent (admittedly, Beau wasn’t as inquisitive as Hanna and Logan).
Hanna let Tara borrow her light-up necklace for the night in case it got too dark, and both Hanna and Logan shared stories about school, their travels, their friends, and their hobbies. Despite the cold temperatures, Hanna was wearing flip-flops because, as she exclaimed, “I’m from Indiana!” We are too, but boots and socks seemed more appropriate to us. However, it was nice to feel like we were back in Indiana for a night.