Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Walk Update

Hey everyone,

PSA: I'm okay--alive and well although no longer with Annie Keithline--we've gone our seperate ways--me, north bound, Annie south bound. :( It was a gift to spend so much good time with one of my best friends. And apologies for not blogging with the frequency I'd wished. Part of the difficulty as well as charm of the trip was continually meeting people and thus not getting to the library, internet access being what it is on the road. 

With that said, let's get to the interesting stuff--the rest of what I saw and learned while walking Georgia and Alabama. I'm gonna give a day by day review--I think it will be fun for me to review too.

The Walk:

Annie and I began walking on March 3rd--and I think I got up to day two with you on the blog, when we met Terry in Eufaula, AL. On Wednesday, we walked 14 miles and ended up staying at a church in between Eufaula and Union Springs. We slept outside and it was pretty cold out. I'm not going to describe this in gut wrenching detail but it was a bit of a cruel awakening to the roughing it side of this trip--but hey, at least we had a safe place to sleep and had eachother for commiseration. And the brains to adjust to the weather--we got more blankets that day.

Farm Country

Only time we walked a bit into the evening--gorgeous sunset
and wearing a reflector vest being safe!!
During Thursday's walking we stopped at a church to get some water and a man living on the same street named George greeted us and asked us what we were doing. After hearing the story he invited us to have lunch at his house which was a God send. George is a U.S. Postal worker who lives in Alabama with his family.  They have lived in Alabama for generations.  George has an impressive Creek Indian arrowhead collection and gave Annie and I one each--so cool. Thank you George! Their cat also had a litter of adorable kittens. They were soo comforting and reminded me of my cat as a cute little thing.

 We later met George's son Brad, who crazily knows my friend Tim from college. [Insert cheesy joke about what a small world it is...but it is.]  Annie says stuff like this happens fairly often on the walk, which is really quite neat. Cross-polination!! Turns out Brad is into walking and running himself, as well as talking about geopolitics which Annie also enjoys, especially with her direct experience walking the United States. Brad walked with us that day and then we stayed at their house for the evening, which was also scheduled to be chilly. The next morning, George drove us back to where we left off to continue the walk and Brad joined us for Friday, too.That day we stayed at a motel and Brad offered to show us Montgomery that evening with his friend Scott.  That was cool--we saw MLK's church and had a few drinks. Good day.

Little stream we saw coming into Union Springs


On Saturday we decided to take it slower and did a 10 mile day to go easier on my knee and legs. It worked out really well and we also made it to Tuskegee that day!! It was perfect out--sunny, warm, and the view so pleasant. Before leaving Union Springs we walked through the town square and a few nicer neighborhoods. They reminded me of East Greenwich, RI :) It really feels like spring in the south. We saw this crazy looking building--something right out of Dr. Seuss, Annie commented. Spot on, no?!


  And then this:

Tuskegee's main town square. Aren't these colors great??

They were just sitting in a dirt lot. Photo cred: Annie K.

The cows @ Shanti Villa in Tuskegee

Reaching Tuskegee marked our hundred mile mark. We walked 100 miles, woahhhaaaooo! We got a motel and stayed two nights--we extended our stay to learn more about the town--history and all. We visited Tuskegee University, the educational institution founded by Booker T. Washington in 1881, as well as Washington's house. Washington had a practical and holistic vision for black educaiton, and saw educaiton with an emphasis on practical skills as an essential path towards empowerment. The Oaks, his home, was built by students of the university to pracitce  practical trades like brick making. The house and university are both historic landmarks, so we were able to get a tour of the house by a park ranger which was very cool. We walked through the university, talked to students, and sat in on a social work methods class.  The class was interesting since I'm interested in social work. It inspired me to sit in on more classes in my area amd seek out more social workers to hear about their experiences. I know it's a really diverse field, kinda like nursing, so I'm looking forward to learning more about that.

One of the entrances to Tuskegee U
When we chatted to some students about their experience at the school, they had mixed feelings and experiences but all seemed to share an appreciation for the rich heritage and vision that Booker T. Washington instilled at the onset.  I think some of the ambivalence about their experience is that the city is economically depressed and the school is an oasis of resources and activity--it creates a sort of bubble where it isn't as easy to get to know the neighborhood, especially since people talk about how dangerous it is...this isn't exactly incentive for students to go out and explore (but is kinda unfortunate--Annie and I had a very different experience--if you use caution and common sense it's good to get to know the area and the people; you find a lot in common.) I had a similar college experience; Providence College was often endearingly (or sarcastically...) called "The PC Bubble," in that it was in a rough area of Providence while the campus created a nucleus of activity, resources, and affluence. Students didn't really venture into the neighborhoods unless they were going to an off campus party or to the mall. I always thought this was lame because Providence has so much awesome stuff to offer; College Hill is gorgeous and there's a lot of history there to be enjoyed.  I am a native Rhode Islander though, so I guess I had the benefit of being more aware of this stuff than other students may have. Nonetheless, there's like, three or four other colleges in Providence and it would have been illuminating for me and I'm sure for other student too, to mingle more at other schools and with other students. (This is the cross-pollination thing!!)  But I won't write the entirety of PC's student population off--PC does do a lot of community service and engages with needy neighboring communities in that way. I've been a part of that and it was a great experience.

Anywho-----that was sort of tangental. But cool for me to make that PC/Tuskegee U connection. Back to the cold hard walk details.......

The day after Tuskegee we took a bus to Montgomery, Alabama, where we were couch surfing with a graduate student. (Annie loves couch surfing and recommends it. She's only had good experience and this was certainly one.) Originally we were going to walk to Montgomery but decided we wanted to stay in Tuskegee for longer than a day to experience the city and learn more about it. This was also awesome on my knee. Our host was great--she took us to the Fitzgerald Museum, the only museum in the world dedicated to F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. They lived in the house that the museum's in for a short time and its walls are adorned by Zelda's paintings. They have artifacts that belonged to the family too, which were interesting to see. (Their love letters were fabulous. We don't write with that much endearment anymore :(

Who knows what kind of tree
this is? Please tell me!!! I love them.

In Montgomery

The next day we took a bus back to Albany, GA (where the adventure first began) to attend the Georgia Hardshell Baptists' Annual Sacred Harp Sing. Annie met some people involved with this beautiful singing when she first walked through Georgia months ago. I remember her describing how amazing this event would be waay before I joined her for the walk, so it was special to be able to attend with her. Watch this video with background info-sacred harp is a very old practice but youtube says it's growing in popularity with young people living in cities and college towns--it is also practiced as a form of worship by the Hardshell Baptists. (I'd say it's a spiritual experience whether Hardshell or not--it's gorgeous and otherworldly. The man hosting called this singing the language of angels, and if they have one, I'd agree that this would be it.)

We stayed with Annie's friend Kim
and her family in Waycross.
And now I'm visiting this little munchkin!

My sweet and energetic (!!!!!) little
 cousin (once removed) Adriana

These are exploding in my
cousin's neighborhood!
Visual feast :) They are
Bradford Pear trees.
I'll be going back to the northeast in the next few days and will be looking for gainful employment and all that fun grown up stuff. Right now still really enjoying my travels.

Happy Spring you guys!!



  1. Tatka l o v e your easy-southern style walk, looking at the pic with the stroller have to say I fill sorry for it!!!

    1. Haha don't be sorry, pushing that baby gave my arms a nice tan AND kept me warm at night with all the blankets we had loaded on that thing :)

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you girl! Miss you and yours. My cousin reminds me of tenacious little Visa.

  3. Bring one of those rusty cars with you.

    1. Annie actually took a bunch of cool artsy shots of these cars. I'll send you em so you can see! they would be rad to hang up.

  4. Thank you so much for keeping us posted. You're such a good writer.

    1. Liz, thanks! I am glad to. This trip was such a great way to become more disciplined about blogging and it was fab to be Annie's PR gal.

  5. Svet! So cool to hear of your adventures!
    Are you back in NYC? If so, I am going to be at the IAV on Wednesday April 3rd to do an event with David and Peter Steinfels. We are going to be talking about liberal Christianity and marriage equality. I am totally intimidated by Steinfels (you would like his stuff at Commonweal)--so nervous. It would be great to see you! It's at 6pm--
    Peace, Amy

  6. Hey Amy! Thanks for reading :) I would love to come to this!! I know you'll do awesome. I am going to be in RI with family over Easter and a few days after but I can probably be back back for this--I also really do want to interview you--I think that maybe the CPC event will touch upon some of my questions. I'm emailing you soon. Hope you and your clan are doing great :)