Cross Country A 3,700 Mile Run to Explore Unseen American
I first heard about Rickey Gates through Rich Roll’s podcast.
He inspired me to go outside my comfort zone and want to travel the food. I will be going to do a two-week journey whenever this is all over and road trip and explore more cities with Sammy, my fiancee.
These were my favorite passages from his book
“So, there in prosperity, amidst the neon and the plastic covered tables and bottles of BBQ sauce, I sat alone in silence and took in the world around me. I got up to pay at the cash register but the woman told me that my dinner had been paid for. Can I ask who paid? So that I can thank them? You may, but I can’t tell you.
I looked around the room and smiled, then shuffled out of the restaurant and into the woods behind the gas station. That would begin a connect-the-dots of generosity across my journey through the South: five dollars, five dollars, one dollar, one hundred dollars, fifty dollars. And the entirety of one man’s wallet, which added up to $160. Meals were paid for, beers were bought, groceries given. Initially I turned down the generousity. I figured that I had saved my money. I don’t need it I said I promise But then I realized that it wasn’t ncessarily about needing the money. To some it was out a deep seated need to give; for others, I felt that it was merely a way to participate in this massive journey. So I started taking the money and passing it forward. But sometimes, I would buy myself a beer.” (p.31)
“Generosity and enthusiasm propelled me forward.” (p.32)
Day 10: Mile 247
Prosperity, South Carolina
“When I asked if I could take their photo, it occurred to me that my props, the costume that allowed me to tell my story of running across the country, were stashed in the trees behind the gas station. Without a backpack, I was just. a guy in strange running clothes lurking around the pumps after dark. Why? The man on the right asked. I told him the only thing I could think of, the truth. Because you guys look bad ass. He muffled his laugh, Yeah, he said Okay.” (p.41)
I would be on the Appalachian Trial for eighty miles- a short section of the National Scenic Trials full twenty-two hundred miles. As the community of hikers headed steadily northward and the miles built, some chose to stop while the rest of them forged on. There in the beginning, a few seasoned hikes preached to the large audience before them, an audience characterized by apprehension, excitement, and perhaps a little bit of fear. It is an amazing thing to set off on a five-month adventure, whether along the Appalachian Trial or cross the country. I saw a version of myself two weeks earlier, wide-eyed full of energy, and perhaps a little bit scared. (p.75)
“Trail name? He asked me.
Trail name I said trying it on, despite the taboo of giving oneself your own trail name. He paused. Then smiled.
Here you go, Trail Name, he said as he handed me a beer.
In the morning, I woke as the camp began to disperse except for Catman, who was still sitting by the fire with a beer in his hand and a big smile on his face. I sat back down and we drank till noon before I realized that it was going to be hard to get to Springer Mountain before sundown. I stumbled down the trail, against the stream of hikers, past big hopes and dreams, apprehension, fear, and the distinct possibility of failure. I stumbled down the trail looking at my self.” (p.76)
“Can I buy your supper? He drove me into town, introduced me to the office staff, telling my story with such excitement. He brought out his son who’s about to take over the business- Bob’s retiring after forty-eight years leading the company. I’m moving on to other things. I want to see some of the Great Rivers. The Nile, The Yangtze, the Amazon. The whole lot of them looked accustomed to humoring Bob. His son especially.
He took me to lunch at Steverinos, where I had the waitress order for me and Bob and I continued talking about the Great Rivers. I convinced him that the Amazon should be his first pick. The Amazon, he said I saw his eyes go off into the jungle, the red-brown waters, languages long forgotten. I told him about Werner Herzog’s opus Fitzcarraldo, one of my favorite movies. It’s about a man’s quest to bring opera to the Amazon. I said . He listened eagerly as I explained the plot and the protagonist’s exploits that moved the story along. But really, it’s about a guy like us, Bob. He paid and drove me back to the harbor. On the way, he asked how my money was holding out. I said just fine. He said he was going to give me one hundred dollars, and I said Bob, thank you, but I saved up my money for this trip and it wouldn’t feel right to take yours. Buy me a drink on the boat going down the Amazon and cheers me. He liked that and gave me knuckles. What septuagenarian pulls that off? I thought. I carried on.” (p.97)
“When he returned a moment later I was again fast asleep on his dock. You’re really doing it! startled me awake. You’re really going across the country! At that he invited me inside, cooked me a couple of burgers, prepared some sandwiches to take with me, and listened to stories about my trip. His father was there, and he said, You’ve just never know when the angels or if I was the angel, but either way, I think we were both happy with each other’s brief company.
I carried on down the river. It was lonely, industrial, and very wild in its own right. Rivers, it dawned on me, are the veins of America, the original veins of America.” (p.98)
“I sleep-shivered for a couple more hours as the rain continued to fall and the ground water rose, and then the terrible realization came to a nest of carpenter ants from a nearby tree had sought refuge from the deluge on me. I was their island. I was an island… completed covered in carpenter ants.
As a lifelong endurance runner I have trained myself to withstand uncomfortable, painful, and sometimes downright hostile situations. I once again weighed my options and came to the conclusion that, so long as the hundreds of ants refrained from biting me, the current situation was still slightly bettered than continuing on through the night covered in ant bites. We maintained a truce through the rest of the night and as the rain let up at dawn, the ants returned to their tree and I to the trial.” (p.113)
” Getting my package involved inquiring around town for the postmaster and then convincing him to open the post office for me. Other than what I would be able to stuff into my belly at Burger Barn, the package, sent by a couple of friends in Maine, would be the only food I’d have for the next few days, consisting of four meat sticks, four Cadbury Eggs, a dozen homemade chocolate chip cookies, and a bag of peach gummies.”
Um, how are the fish tacos? What do you want me to say? They’re great. You think I would tell you they’re terrible? Everything on the menu is great. That’s why it’s on the menu. I ordered the fish tacos and he right- they were great.”
“Just me to enjoy the solitude.
Just me to listen to the babbling waters finding lower ground.
Just me to whistle.
Just me to whistle. Just me to acknowledge the pain in my feet.
Just me to acknowledge the pain in my feet.
Just me to fall asleep wondering if I’d get wet that night.
In the morning, I tended to my feet and then carried on down the trial. The hills softened, the forests opened up, and before long the vast prairie spread out before me.” (p.114)
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Davidson Hang is currently in Sales at Cheetah Digital which is a Marketing technology company located in NYC.
Davidson is an avid networker, personal growth- life and business coach.
He loves spreading the love and regularly helps people create and design the life they want for themselves.
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