If you’ve been tracking me along the way, you’ve probably noticed some major gaps this week.
There’s a good reason for that, a VERY good reason!
On Tuesday, my wife, Linda was able to fly into Minneapolis, rent an SUV and find me just north of Independence, WI.
I hadn’t seen her in two months. Her last visit was in Havre, Montana.
She got to see first hand how generous communities are, and how they stop and talk and share stories, and support their veterans.
After four hours visiting folks in this little town, I got to take a break, pack the cart in the SUV, and spend a few days with my best friend.
Our first stop was the “Sonic Motel,” outside Centerville, where the decor was mid-century modern/grandma’s house. The motel reminded my wife of cross-country trips as a child in the ’60s, and the air-conditioner was cold and wonderful. The next day, friends of ours from Montana found us during their road trip and we shared breakfast at Garden of Eatin’ in Galesville (great place!) Our friend Esther started Magazines for Troops in Ronan, and has a huge heart for servicemen and women.
Then we headed into La Crosse, a beautiful historic town. It was good to take a day off and just enjoy the company. And an ice-cream at The Pearl.
The next morning, after sharing coffee on the deck of the Best Western, we drove up to Onalaska, where Linda was able to walk a few miles with me. I walked through La Crosse. Met a few folks along the way, and after about 10 miles, we packed it up again and fast-forwarded toward Dubuque, where good friends awaited us.
The drive along the Mississippi was stunning. It would have been a great walk, too.
I still wanted to walk a bit on Friday, despite being a “vacation break,” so I started again north of Dubuque and ended at the Veteran’s Freedom Center. Along the way, three veterans joined me. We visited with many people at the center, including a few veterans who said they wouldn’t be alive without the support of this unique facility. They offer comaradarie with other vets, snacks, a woodshop, exercise room, craftroom, and a place to hang out and just be yourself. Manager Jim said it’s the only one of its kind in the country. All of this is offered to the Veterans free of charge, and supported entirely by community donations.
I am on my second pair of shoes, and was referred to the Shoe Shack. When I took my shoes off, I was surprised they had holes in the soles! I hadn’t looked lately. This pair had walked through Minnesota and Wisconsin. I am so grateful the Shoe Shack donated a new pair.
One more day off tomorrow, and then it’s back to the daily walks. It was a little strange hop-scotching along like we did these past few days, but well worth the time I was able to spend with my wife.
On Sunday morning, when I begin my trek again from Dubuque’s extraordinary Veteran Memorial, it will be really tough to see her drive away. It’s been a great mini-break, but man will I miss her again.
We’ll see each other again in 2.5 months at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., where my journey will come to a close.