Saturday, March 29, 2008

March to Montgomery

I woke up, refreshed and ready to go. I figured to reach Montgomery this day, which I was excited about. A large city meant busy roads, and busy roads meant owners tended to be more responsible with their dogs and kept them on leashes or enclosed. It meant more people would likely be walking, and less likely I'd be stopped by the cops for acting suspiciously. How sad is it when just *walking* down a street is thought to be 'suspicious' activity?

Frankly, I wanted out of the country. I was sick of it.

But I did have a good 20 miles into town, along those dreaded country roads. I didn't go more than a mile before I passed the first dogs that jumped up and ran towards me barking. Not under their owner's control, and I shouted at the dogs to stay back as I waved my trekking pole around.

This time, the owner was there, telling their dogs to come back, but the dogs didn't listen. They kept coming towards me, and I found myself annoyed that the owner didn't even have the engery to go after their dogs--just shouting from their porch to come back as if that's all that was expected of them.

Dumbass. The stresses from the day before returned in full swing.

The trail entered Montgomery on Norman Bridge Road, but when I went to follow it, big yellow signs warned that the road was closed 1000 feet ahead.

Which led me to wonder--is it closed to car traffic, or ALL traffic? I didn't know. I did know, however, that the road was supposed to cross a large river on a long bridge, and if it was the bridge that was out, then walking across would not work.

So I decided to follow the main road into town then follow a bypass road east back to the trail and the Diplomat Inn.

Sounds nice, don't you think? I knew it was cheap--the prices listed in my directions were cheap, and that's what I was looking for. Cheap.

I check into the motel, room 109, and relaxed in my own private sanctuary.

I did venture out once that night, across the street to Rite Aid, where I picked up snacks for dinner, a 2 liter bottle of Coke, and milk for the next morning. (The room had a mini fridge.)

The 2 liter bottle of Coke--no, I wasn't THAT thirsty. But rather, I was looking to replace my Platypus. Not knowing where I could replace it, or even if I could since Easter Sunday was the next morning, I jumped into plan B.

While thru-hiking the AT, I met a hiker who used 2 liter bottles for water swearing the end fit the grooves on the Platypus. He didn't want to pay for the Platypus bladder, so he used 2 liter bottles of soda instead.

Without access to a bladder, I would try the 2 liter bottle trick myself.

So I spent the night trying to drink two liters of Coke. I failed miserably, only finishing half the bottle before the end of the night.

The next morning, I poured the rest of its contents down the sink and rinshed it out with water a couple of times before filling it completely with water.

Now was the time of truth. How well would it connect to the Platypus's hose?

I screwed it on, seemingly securely, then squeezed the bottle and water oozed out between the threads.

That didn't work. I was disappointed--screwing in the bottle seemed like such a good fit. I examined the fit, jiggling the connection around trying to figure out the problem, but to no avail. It seemed like a good fit, until you squeezed the bottle.

Finally, mostly in frustration, I screwed the bottle in as tightly as I possibly could, until my hands ached, then squeezed the bottle. And nothing happened. No water leaked! Wooo-who!

I packed everything into my pack, carefully waterproofing everything in bags in case the seal didn't hold up the whole day, and hit the streets of Montgomery.

I picked a particularly lousy day to walk through Montgomery. I didn't plan for it to happen, but it was Easter Sunday. Darned near everything would be closed--except churches, of course.

This area isn't called the Bible Belt for nothing, either. I can't count the number of churches I passed along the way and half felt like I'd already read an entire sermon reading those witty comments welcoming church members.

And it always amused me that every church, no matter how small, always includes who the pastor is. It's not like I recognize any of their names. They aren't celebrities or anything, so why does the pastor's name need to be out there?

Not that it's hurting anything, but I just think it's odd. It's such a universal thing, you'd think there was a law requiring it.

In any case, for me, it meant nothing would be open. The trail was to pass by an outfitters--where I could replace the Platypus and my pack, but it was closed. I wanted to buy topo maps of the trail ahead, but that didn't work out.

I wanted to buy new shoes. The ones I wore had traveled about 450 miles and were reaching their life expectancy, but shoe stores were closed.

I also wanted to explore the city of Montgomery. I read that guided tours were available for the capital, where Jefferson Davis took the oath of office as president of the Confederate States of America. Montgomery was the first capitol of the confederates, and the house Jeff Davis lived in was there as well.

But they were all closed. It was Sunday, and not just any Sunday, but Easter Sunday. Some stores seemed to put up two closed signs to emphasis this point.

I did stop at the capital to take pictures, and photographed the exterior of Jeff Davis's old home. I read plaques throughout the city, and not once did a dog try to attack. All-in-all, it was a nice hike through downtown Montgomery.

I stopped at a Sonics for lunch--praise corporate America for making a buck, even on Easter Sunday--and tried getting into the Eastdale Mall hoping the shopping mall might be open, but it was not.

An anchor store, however, was open. A saw a bunch of cars parked outside of Sears and knowing they did have a shoe department, went in with my fingers crossed.

It was a long shot, I knew. Sears isn't known for their wide selection of shoes, and those that they have probably aren't as cheap as I'd like. But I was desparate and figured I may as well check, so in I went.

The selection was awful and the prices outrageous, but then I found a clearance shelf with reasonably priced shoes (but even more awful selections).

But shock of shocks, there was a pair with my size on it. Even more surprising, they were sneakers!

I tried them on, liked the fit, and bought them for $25 plus tax. Woo-who!

I dumped my old shoes in a trash can and wore the new ones out of the store before continuing on the trail towards Wetumpka.


Anonymous said...

it has finally hit many times you have bought shoes, and had on the AT.........NEW SHOES
to walk makes me chuckle because everything you hear and read tells you not to do that on a vacation that you will do lots of walking, and yet you and all other through hikers do it..and yes your feet already hurt, and now they will hurt in new places and more for a bit......and then just hurt some more.......

yes, i know i am slow at some things, my kids would say at all things..........that is why we have kids to tell us these things when we don't want to hear them :J

was nice to hear from you again.


Anonymous said...

We had the misfortune to visit Montgomery once on Jefferson Davis's birthday. All the touristy things we wanted to do were closed. At least the stores were open. I think we went to a movie instead of all the other things we wanted to do. Glad your whole AL trip hasn't been as bad as the first days.

Flour Girl of J Walkers (originally from AL)

Anonymous said...

A man was visiting his friend in a small town. Everywhere they went, there was a different church. There were many churches in that little town. Finally, the man said to his friend, "Wow, the people in this town must really love God." "Yes," replied his friend, "but they don't like each other very much."