Once again another day walking in the rain. Knowing you are going to be cold, wet, and tired, is not something to look forward to at all especially after feeling the comforts of home. I know how it feels to have a warm bed that is familiar and waking up to faces that are comfortable. I have done it before, I guess I can do it again. Howard pointed out a bike path the day before that would be a much safer way to travel into Albany and not soon after saying my goodbyes with Howard and his wife early in the morning I was out in the rain making my way to that path. It such a treat when I am blessed with a walking surface like this, no cars to worry about losing control and having to matrix my way out of the situation. As soon as I became comfortable on this path, even in the damp weather, it decided to end and jump back onto the road. I was a little confused because I thought this was going to bring me all the way into Albany. I just had to keep walking in the same direction. The road was nothing special, lifeline to some industrial companies making cement and stone dust in the rocky hills that surround it. It was kind of depressing, the noise, the colors, and the just the overall lack of anything with beauty.
After walking for a couple hours I finally made it a small town and in the beginning of the town was a small gas station and I figured I would get something that would lift my spirits because the weather clearly was not going to do that. A couple who had pulled up to get gas saw Buddy and asked what it was all about. Was I pushing a baby in this weather? What does the sign say? All the normal questions I usually get. It sparked a conversation that soon involved the clerk, Ali, at the gas station who was generous enough to give me a couple free donuts for the road, a perfect pick me up for my continuing journey. I said my thanks and was on my way. Alit pointed me in the direction of the bike path continued, something I was very grateful for. I could have stayed on the road but why?
I contacted a friend I have in Albany with who I was going to stay with. Unfortunately her plans had suddenly changed and I was no longer able to stay with her. If I was not so confident in couch surfing at this point, I may have begun to get a little nervous. I did not want to pay for a motel in Albany so I put my faith in God and then couch surfing. I took my laptop out and hid under the flap that Buddy has when I open the front flap. I turned on my computer, connect to the internet, sent out a few requests with my number, pack it up, and I am on my way. Not 30 minutes later did I receive a text from a young man named Paul saying I could stay at his place. Situation averted, couch surfing to the rescue. We then spoke on the phone and ironed out the details. It just so happens that the couch surfers, out of all the places in the city to live, lives right down the street my other friend who I was originally going to stay with! See it all works out, a little prayer goes a long way! I figured I could make some plans to meet up later with her.
Unfortunately the weather does not get any better and the walk seems to be going on forever. I get in more populated areas, some not great areas, but I keep moving. My pace is feverish at this point, not because of worry or hurry but just out of sheer habit. I blow by anyone walking at a normal rate. A young woman walks with me for a little but asking about what I am doing. I think to myself “She is walking so slow.” I walk with her a little more but soon apologize and tell her I need to keep going to get where I need to be. She had to take a turn down a street anyways and we parted ways. I then run into a man waiting for the bus who tries to give me a few bucks and tells me I need a gun to stay safe. I told him where I have come from and that I did not carry any weapons besides bear mace, he laughed and told me I should get a gun. He jumps on the bus and I continue on. Slowly the buildings are getting closer and bigger, closer and bigger. I thought this road was going to continue forever.
I finally made it to where I would be staying, a very nice area. It was cool to also think my friend whom I have not seen in 2 years was right down the street and I would be seeing her soon. I made a phone call to Chris, Paul’s roommate, who was home and he came down to meet me and give me a hand. Paul was at work and would be home later on. Chris was new to couch surfing but understood the concept and liked the idea. We chatted for awhile until Paul made it home. We also called my friend Amy and because they live so close we actually walked right past her not expecting to see her so quickly. We laughed and hugged and I introduced Chris to Amy. Chris invited us back to the apartment and we all just sat around and talked for awhile waiting got Paul to arrive. He finally arrived not too long after Amy. We all sat down and had a great opening conversation. Instantly, like many other couch surfers before, we became quite comfortable with each other. Amy had to leave before we decided what we planned on doing for the night. I was so happy to see her and I was hoping to see her again real soon.
Chris, Paul, and I decided to go out to eat at their favorite Mexican restaurant, that was delicious by the way. It is good etiquette in the couch surfing world to either bring some food, drinks, or take your hosts out to eat as a thank. There is no formal money exchanged in couch surfing so this gesture is a common occurrence, or at least I think it should be. So dinner was my treat as a thank you! We made the quick stroll back to their place and continued our conversations on travel and politics and everything in between. Chris and Paul are very intelligent young guys and hold a conversation very well. Even when I did not understand what they were talking about they would explain it to me to catch me up. We made it back to their place and I think they could see I was exhausted, beyond one nights rest exhausted and offered an extra night. I accepted graciously and was able to sleep very soundly knowing I could sleep in not having an agenda for the next day except rest. Thanks guys!
Day 143 (Miles 2989 - 3024) Amsterdam to Albany