Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cabin Creek to Rome, Georgia

Rocky Georgia trail

3.3 miles

We got rides from three little old church ladies today. What they're thinking, picking up two weather-beaten strangers and a giant black wolf-dog, I have no idea. Except maybe they're thinking that it's almost Christmas and it's cold and they believe in the kindness of strangers. All of them were Baptists, too. The trail may force me to revise my opinion of Baptists.

Hitchhiking is one of those odd perils of trail life, one of those habits that everyday people think has gone the way of the dinosaur, but that trail people have to deal with all of the time. George Mueller, the Christian missionary who ran orphanages in industrial-age England, is a personal hero of mine, and one of the things I love about him is how he refused to ask for money. He fed his orphans with donations, but he didn't ask for any of them. He just waited for the money to show up in envelopes under his front door.

I always want my hitching to be the same way, a completely unasked-for blessing. I want to dawdle around on street corners with a backpack and wait for someone to offer a ride, and wait for grace. That's what happened today, at least with our last ride--the widow of a disabled veteran who wanted to tell me all about her dog and her husband. That ride was a gift, and so was meeting her. Getting rides from strangers is one of the best things about backpacking. Every time, it affirms my belief in my fellow human beings.

I also stopped and had fantastic fried chicken and biscuits from a roadside diner attached to the Citgo, the Citgo that had achieved almost legendary proportions in my mind, as the future site of food and warmth and everything good about civilization. I never would have found a diner like that, let alone eaten at one, except for the trail. It's another of the things I love best about hiking--the way seeing the country from the ground up allows me to experience things I would never have the chance to otherwise. Today it was fried chicken the way it was invented to be, lightly breaded and crispy, with huge biscuits, yellow butter baked right into the crust, and stewed turnip greens, the first vegetable I've seen in ten days. Food has rarely tasted so good.

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