From Black Water Swamps to White Sandy Beaches

From Black Water Swamps to White Sandy Beaches

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blountstown to Shelton Park---March 30th

Morning storms brought torrential rain and tornado warnings.  The skies were so dark it was like twilight outside.  We were fortunate enough to be at the laundromat during the worst of it.  Ahhh!  Freshly laundered clothes.  How nice!
While we were waiting out the storm, a black guy comes in and after putting in a load of laundry starts preaching about how you should make sure your kids are on the straight and narrow;  spare the rod and spoil the child, the curse of the father shall be passed down to the third and fourth generations type of stuff.  He shared some personal stories from his own family to illustrate.  For example, his young grandson was being disrespectful to his mother, so he cuffed him upside the head and now whenever grandpa visits, the child is much more well-behaved.  He also told us that he'd been a little wild, chasing after women as a young man, but thankfully he'd married a strong woman who had kept him in line for the past 39 years.  However, that wild streak had shown up in his eldest son, currently involved with the town whore who would have sex with guys behind the Burger King dumpsters.  Well, entertaining as his acccounts were, we could do without the images of desperate people and hamburger grease.  I looked at Jon out of the corner of my eye and without saying a word, we decided it was time to go. 
Though still sprinkling, we headed for the library.  Bad news once we got there.  The Internet wasn't working and we both needed to use it and not just for the normal e-mailing.  What could we do?  It was out of our hands.  Jon went in search of a business in town that would be able to do some repair on his pack and I perused the newspapers/magazines while watching the weather news.  Intense storms were still in the vicinity, but there was hope for some clearing in the afternoon. Jon returned with a new sew-job on his pack, but instead of departing, we holed up in the library until 2 p.m.
When we left the building, there was a light rain, but it was clearing just as the TV weatherman had said.  It was a long road walk on US 71 and the only thing that broke the monotony was trying to identify roadkill in various stages of decay, hoping that the next creature nailed along the highway wasn't me.  Raccoons, an oppossum, a turtle, frogs, a snake, cats:  all among the list of animals that, from what I could tell, had bit the dust on this part of the pavement.
By the time we reached Peacock Road, the sun was out in force, the skies a brilliant blue nearly free of clouds.  Frogs and toads were croaking an Ode to Joy for both sun and rain.  Sad to say Jon is still having pack problems as his shoulder straps are giving him fits.  The quality of the original factory stitching is very poor indeed.
It was another two or three miles on a county road before we reached Sheltons Store and even though it wasn't too late in the day, the doors were locked and the lights were out.  The data book told us that if we got permission, we could camp near the store.  We went to the neighboring house to enquire about our stay.  The woman said that backpackers were welcome at Shelton Park, which was half a mile away on SR 73. 
The park was nice with a big picnic shelter lined with functioning flourescent lights, a restroom with flush toilets and sinks, even a small library if you happened to arrive at the right time.  We met another hiker, Dream Walker, who was hiking at a much slower pace than we were.  He told us his speed was partly dictated by the heaviness of his pack and his desire to practice his survival skills.  He was an odd character and as Jon noted later, "If he's practising his survival skills, why does he need to carry such a heavy pack?"  Bear Grylls carries a knife and a day pack.  To each his own.  Set up between the picnic tables, we started walking in our own dreams as soon as the lights were turned out.

Highway Survivor 

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