Day 199: Coal Country

Coal Town PAFor the last two or three days, I’ve been walking through coal country here in eastern Pennsylvania. As you walk along, sometimes you can see whole mountains being stripped of the black coal it holds. There are small pieces of coal all over the roads, probably having fallen off some of those dump trucks I see all over the place. Most of the towns I walk through are old ‘coal company towns’ with the highway being the main street and row houses lining the street on both sides from one end of the town to the other. The houses used to be ‘company housing’ for the miners and have evolved to what they are today. Sometimes whole blocks are individual homes or business that are all joined together giving it the appearance of one long building. The towns are usually situated on hills and those hills probably hold more coal.

Miles Covered: 13
Total Miles: 3,022.25
Money Found: $0.40
Total Found: $81.47

Day 198: I’m Shamokin!

Walking that 3001st MileNo, I didn’t misspell the word in the title. Shamokin is the name of the small town we will be walking through tomorrow. It’s a curious name and I wonder where it came from. Anyway, tomorrow morning we will be smokin’ through Shamokin. This morning, as I stated yesterday, I passed the 3000 mile mark of my walk! This happened at noon, not 10:40 as I thought, due to rain and a little puny feeling I woke up with. Valda took a picture of me as I left to start my 3001st mile.

We had to say goodby to SR 45 yesterday. Pennsylvania CountrysideIt was a really neat trip through this part of PA and I encourage anyone to take that road if they are ever in this area – especially in the Fall. The farm scenes are spectacular and there are good restaurants dotting the landscape here and there. It was a mighty fine journey. Today I continued on US 15 to Sunbury, crossed the Susquehanna River at Sunbury and finally ended up just a little south of Paxinos. I want to thank J. J. and Jim who work at the Sunoco complex just south of Paxinox for letting us spend the night in their parking lot.

Scenic PA VistaAs stated, it was a gloomy day for the most part and rained some on us this morning. These days are really the pits because it gets dark way too early and impedes my walking. It was actually too dark to safely walk at around 4:00 PM today. But, between the darkness coming early and my rough feelings, I managed to get in 17.25 miles. Not a bad day for an old guy.

After tomorrow, we are taking Saturday off. We will be in Locust Lake S. P. about 30 miles from where we are at the present. I don’t know about the broadband service there, but if it is available, I will post Ohio and W.V. stats. If not, I’ll try and get them next week. No blog tomorrow night – sorry.

Top picture shows me walking at 3,000 miles, the bottom two pictures Valda took overlooking a valley. She couldn’t get the total view in one frame. Pretty neat.

Miles Covered: 17.25
Total Miles: 3,009.25
Money Found: $0.38
Total Found: $81.07

Day 197: A Big Milestone Coming Up!

Harvest MoonValda & I continue to be amazed at the generosity of total strangers. It happens again and again and I have blogged about it several times. Today was no exception. We got up and had a rare breakfast out, at a real good country restaurant on the outskirts of Hartleton. After that, the daily routine kicked in and I put in nearly 11 miles before lunch. Valda met a man who makes mobile offices in a couple of barns and he let us sit in the shade in his parking lot. Then it was another 5+ miles and dinner break. Now we were needing water and Valda found a campground in the little town of Winfield, PA that would fit the bill just fine. River Edge RV Camp & Marina is owned by Donna & Dave Steenstra. We not only got our water and other needs addressed, but we got to stay the night too. Thanks to Donna & Dave for comping us a night in their campground on the banks of the Susquehanna River. It is much appreciated.

ThermometerTomorrow we continue on toward Nathan’s World Famous Hot Dog Stand. I can almost taste those hot dogs now. 😀  As you all probably know, the day I end the walk is also the day of the NYC Marathon. We plan on working around that event since I couldn’t get them to work around mine. We will leave the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge at 11:00AM on Sunday and hopefully the bulk of the marathon runners will be past that spot. We aren’t sure about our route to Coney Island since it is the same route the runners will take in the other direction, but we have an alternate route in the works. We will be flexible. If Valda & I have learned anything on this journey, it is to be flexible. It will work out.

Pastoral SceneCheck out the ‘media page’ for the latest and greatest pictures and newspaper article of yours truly. If anyone knows anyone who lives in Hawaii, please let them know about my website and have them log on. Hawaii is the only state missing from our log on list. We’d like to make it all fifty states.

We will be crossing the Susquehanna tomorrow morning and then at about 10:40AM or so, I will walk my 3000th mile. How about them apples?

Pictures: A thermometer in the town of Mifflinburg, Harvest Moon over PA, and a neat pastoral scene that I walked by today.

Miles Covered: 17.75
Total Miles: 2,992
Money Found: $0.27
Total Found: $80.69

Day 196: Another Good Day on the Highway

Barn in PAWe’ve begun to make our way across the mountain ridges of this part of PA and crossed over our first one today at Woodward. I had a short uphill of about a half mile and then it leveled out for about 4-5 miles. I was walking on the side of the mountain ridge, with a large hill to my right, and a sharp drop off to my left. I knew I was on the side and wondered the whole way when I was going to have to climb over the large hill to my right. After the 4-5 miles, I started a 7% downhill grade for about 3 miles and then before you knew it I was back between ridges. I’ll take those type of crossings any day.

Chilly WillysWe once again had a perfect day of weather. It was mid-70’s and sunny with a slight breeze. Clouds moved in around 4:30 but were gone in an hour. I stopped walking about 2 miles east of Hartleton, PA and should be done with SR 45 tomorrow morning. I’ll be somewhat saddened to see it go, it is one of the great roads in this whole country. It rivals Colorado 14, it’s that good.

We drove back into Hartleton and are spending the night in the parking lot of Chilly Willy’s, a local ice cream shop and restaurant. I want to thank Shawn & Stacey Moyer for their hospitality, and T-shirt. Both are much appreciated.

1014080837aTomorrow we just continue on with the quest. We should have 13 days of walking left until the end. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we won’t have to dip into our three extra days. I plan on taking them off all in one stretch.

The barn scene is typical of the area. Chilly Willy’s. Valda stopped and filled up our drinking water jugs at this spring today. We don’t see too many of these and as a matter of fact this is the first one on the walk and the only one we’ve seen since North Dakota in 2006.

Miles Covered: 18.25
Total Miles: 2974.25
Money Found: $0.00
Total Found: $80.42

Day 195: Pretty Pennsylvania

1013081805aWell the broadband is working tonight and if you checked last night’s blog and didn’t see any pictures, you need to check it again. You have some bonus pics to look at. We’ve gotten into some really pretty areas of PA and the fall colors just enhance the natural beauty. It is rolling hills, small quaint farms (I saw a sign at one yesterday that said it was established in 1793), picturesque little towns, horse drawn buggies, and of course the mountains full of trees. It is a very nice place to be right about now.

Michelle Bixby Interviewing Rick HammersleyMichelle Bixby came out and shot more pictures of me this morning and also did an interview for her newspaper. It should be on the website soon. She also walked 3 miles with me and shot pics the whole time. I can’t for the life of me understand why she wants 200 pictures of a 60-year-old man walking down the wrong side of the road, but I want to thank her for her interest.

It was a gorgeous day today. Low 70’s, slightly humid in thePM, and somewhat overcast. The dump trucks returned today apparently after taking Sunday off. We are currently just east of the small town of Aaronsburg, PA. We are right on schedule to get through PA in another seven days of walking (based on 18 miles/day). Then it is five days in NJ, and then the two days in NYC.

Round Red BarnChris emailed us and said he had some new pics on the photo gallery page. Check it out. Tomorrow we head to Mifflinburg, PA. I hope to hook up on Wednesday with a young fellow who worked with me when he was 15-16 years old (he’s 41 now, I think). Chris A. lives in Bloomsburg, PA, but used to live in Johnson County, Indiana 25 years ago. I don’t think I’ve seen him since then. He plans to walk with me on Wednesday as I make my way through Sunbury. It is really a treat for me to make contact with people I haven’t seen in years as I walk through their neck of the woods. I really appreciate them taking time out and spending it with me.

That’s Michelle with me, some great scenery, and a neat round barn I walked by today.

Miles Covered: 18
Total Miles: 2,956
Money Found: $0.20
Total Found: $80.42

Day 194: …A Little Sun

StatuesToday we picked up in Grayville and walked SR 45 past the south side of State College to just east of Boalsburg, PA, home of the modern Memorial Day Observance. Seems back in the mid-1800’s, three sisters started decorating grave sites of local veterans. The idea caught on and eventually became a national holiday. The picture below shows the church and cemetery where it all started. The statue is of the three sisters.

Mark JohnstonI hooked up today with an old friend of sorts. Mark Johnston was the photographer who took pictures of me and shot a short video when I was in the Provo, UT area. He told me he was leaving Utah in about three weeks after the photo shoot and going to State College, PA. Well, guess what – we got in touch with him and he came out and shot some more pictures today while walking about 2 miles with me. He was accompanied by a co-worker, Michelle Bixby. Walking in PennsylvaniaIt was real good to see Mark again and I think we surprised him when we called. Many thanks Mark and Michelle for spending time with us today.

We have had great weather for the last few days and the terrain has been relatively flat as I’ve walked on the low side of a large mountain ridge. I’ve been told it will staty this way for a while. Hope so. I have 15 days of walking left. Hooray.

Miles Covered: 18
Total Miles: 2,938
Money Found: $0.00
Total Found: $80.22

Day 193: A Day Off :)

PennsylvaniaWe finished the day in the small town of Grayville, then took off for a two night and one day stay at Greenwood Furnace St. Park about 25 miles away over a mountain ridge. Once we got there, it was cell service and broadband free and we had a whole day where the phones were not even turned on. It is kind of nice once in a while to have that type of situation. We had a good day of rest and also had a campfire, only our third one on the whole walk. Thanks to Mart at the Park for getting us set up with the firewood. Also thanks to Jeff & Nan M. for bringing over to us a dish full of ham and green beans and potatoes and noodles. We had it tonight and was it good.

Day 192: A Little Fog…

Spooky Barn by FogAfter spending the night in a church parking lot next to a cemetery, we got up on Friday morning surrounded by a dense fog. I walked down to the highway just to see if I could walk and took a few pictures of the church and graveyard and our RV setting back in the haze. It was an eerie feeling but made for some great pictures. I had to delay my walking by about a half hour, but I got started and had a pretty good day. I connected with St. Rd. 45 and started walking toward State College. SR 45 is a pretty good road, with a 3′-5′ wide shoulder and not near the traffic that US 22 had. So far the only trucks have been farm trucks, and I’ve seen nary a dump truck.Spooky, Foggy Hills in PA

We finished the day in the small town of Grayville, then took off for a two night and one day stay at Greenwood Furnace St. Park about 25 miles away over a mountain ridge.

It is interesting that out West, most of the pictures we took were of something Mother Nature created. Here in the East, most of the pictures are of things man or woman has created. I’m not sure why that is, but it is.


Miles Covered: 17.5
Total Miles: 2,920
Money Found: $0.26
Total Found: $80.22

Day 191: Taking on the Mountains of Pennsylvania

Barn in PAAs stated in the previous couple of blogs, I have been climbing up and over summits here in PA. Now they have only been around 2450′ high, but when you start out at about 1500′ at the bottom, it is still a pretty good little climb. I was thinking about those passes I crossed over in CO and UT and NV. The summits might have been significantly higher, but the overall climb to get over the summit wasn’t much more.

Today was a perfect day. The weather was nice enough that at about 9:30 AM I got rid of my cargo pants and donned walking shorts and a short sleeve shirt for the first time in a couple of weeks. It was very warm and sunny and is probably an Indian Summer of sorts. I’ll take it. The rain passed during the night and it looks to be nice for the next few days.

Admiral Perry - First Man in ArticWe are currently near Yellow Springs, PA, a dot on the map at best. As a matter of fact, I may have passed it and don’t know it. We are heading to Water Street, PA where we will have our route change. We will make our way west a mile or so to SR 45 and take it up past State College (home of Penn State) and on toward the town of Sunbury. Now this keeps us off the forbidden road of US 22 and gives us a more northerly route which eventually gets us to Easton and the NJ state line. I asked a fellow today about SR 45 and what kind of road it was and he just smiled. I then asked him about the truck traffic and he said it should have little traffic compared to US 22. That cinched it for me. This part of PA must be the dump truck capital of the USA. I’ve never seen so many dump trucks in my life – and they are the big mammas too. It is a little disconcerting to be walking a sweeping right hand turn and see a large fully loaded dump truck coming at you at 60 mph or more and drift over the white line and into your pitifully small walking lane. Talk about moving fast to get out of the way! Valda thinks I’m out there practicing the Cha Cha Cha.

Pennsylvania MountainsI want to thank Keith and Peggy, owners of ‘At the Hop’ restaurant for letting us stay in their parking lot during dinner. They said we could spend the night and we were going to, but we stopped 3 miles down the hill from them at a church and that is where we are bedding down, right next to the cemetery.

Tomorrow will be the last day to walk this week before taking Saturday off. We are staying at the Greenwood Furnace State Park and are looking forward to that. Then Sunday, it is off once again on the walk. If you are in the Indianapolis area, tune in to WIBC radio, 93.1 FM at 11:35AM on Sunday for a live phone-in interview. John Strauss has called me a couple of times since I left Indy and does an update. I think they might have a live stream on their website if you live elsewhere and want to check it out.

Pictures: At the Hop, a cool looking barn, and a statue of Admiral Perry who was the first to set foot on the North Pole. This was taken yesterday as I passed through his birth town of Cresson.

Miles Covered: 17
Total Miles: 2,902.5
Money Found: $0.18
Total Found: $79.96

Day 190: A Little Deception

The Road Not TakenOkay, here’s the deal that I faced this morning when I started walking. What would you have done? There were two ways to where I wanted to go:

First, I could walk about 4.5 miles on a narrow windy two lane road with two nasty uphills and one nasty downhill (I drove it last night, so I know about the hills), or…

Second, I could stay on US 22 and walk about 4 miles in a straight line, in a construction zone (15′ walking lane with barriers between me and the traffic), and all level until the end where it had a slight uphill. The Illegal Road TakenThe only problem with US 22 was that there was a sign saying no pedestrian traffic, so I would be illegal.

What to do? Normally I would have gotten on the narrow two lane and not looked back, but the road in front of me was pretty enticing. Here’s how I handled the situation. I left my walking stick in the RV, I put on one of my safety vests with the yellow reflective strips on it, and I put my cell phone in my left hand. I went out looking like I belonged and looked at the temporary signs, guard rails, and anything else I could look at. I picked up an empty can of spray paint and carried it. In about an hour and a half, I was safely on the road I was supposed to be on, and all those road workers were left wondering who that PennDOT inspector was and where did he go. I actually did inspect the guard rails and made sure they all had the required carriage bolts in the right places.

Jack HammerAfter all that, the rest of my walk went pretty uneventful. I walked through the town of Cresson, up the 2 mile uphill to Cresson Summit, and down the other side about 4 miles. Valda said she saw a 12% grade side on the downhill side, and I know it was steep, but I’m not sure about a 12%-er. I never saw anything out West above 8%. Anyway, we got near the town of Duncansville and it started raining so we stopped at 16 miles walked. Tomorrow I will pick it back up, walk around the south side of Altoona and then head toward State College, home of Penn State U.

We are staying the night at the Weimer’s RV Campground in Duncansville and we want to thank owner Carl Weiner for comping us a night’s stay. Thanks Carl, we certainly appreciate it.

Personal to Cheri W: yes that is Clark Gable’s (the actor) home in Ohio. I knew he was in some movies, but I didn’t know he was in Gone With The Wind. Are you sure that wasn’t Boris Karloff?

Pictures: The road I didn’t take, the road I did take, and a personal to my nephew Jeff Hammersley’s little boy, Jack who is known in the family as Jack Hammer.

Miles Covered: 16
Total Miles: 2,885.5
Money Found: $0.44
Total Found: $79.78