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  • Writer's pictureBriana DeSanctis

America On Two Feet: See you on the other side of the Mississippi

The Indiana weather was sunny and pleasant as I strolled along the Ohio River on back roads, wondering where I could find a spot to camp in the nearby town of Corydon. I sat on a bench in town while I perused Google for nearby lunch spots.

The Alibi seemed like a good choice, primarily because they were open and very close by. Annette was working, a very pleasant gal and fast friend. I informed her about my unusual journey and ordered the loaded fries as she snapped a photo of me to send to her boss and post on their Facebook page. Corydon is one of the most welcoming places I’ve been on the American Discovery Trail. Kathy, her employees, and all the regulars at the Alibi are absolutely wonderful. I had places to sleep every night, and when I snapped a tent pole out on trail, they were the people I called to bail me outta there. I hope Corydon becomes an official trail town.

The rest of Indiana (the whole experience throughout the state, actually) was fueled by kind families and individuals who offered to help me, slackpack me, host me and keep me out of the elements. Most of the general populace can barely fathom a hike across America, so they want to help. They don’t want me to sleep in the rain. They can’t imagine not being able to shower daily. They have no idea how I charge my phone, although I’ve tried to convince many people that I create electricity by feverishly rubbing my trekking poles together. People act like I’m being tortured out here (I’m not 100 percent being tortured; also, I charge my phone the same way you do).

I met with Chris from the Evansville Adventure Club and he took me out to brunch and also on a (vehicle) tour of the area. Mid-route we were flagged down by a middle-aged man who needed to get to the ER as he said he was having stomach issues. Chris didn’t think twice about it and we gave Steven a lift to Deaconness Hospital. I sure hope they were able to fix him up.

I crossed the bridge into Illinois and was excited to be in a new state. The River to River Trail was my route through most of Illinois. There is evidence of horseback riders on this trail, and I encountered a few people out and about on their trusty steeds. There was a lot of mud. A LOT of mud, but I’ll take mud over litter any day. I stayed at High Knob Horse Camp and had the pleasure of meeting Jojo and Kathy, two really great women I thoroughly enjoyed. This is a must-stop for hikers on the American Discovery Trail.

I was able to meet some great members of the River to River Trail Society at their annual meeting and picnic. Bill Gilmour is not only on the board of this society but is also the Southern Illinois coordinator of the ADT. He picked me up at a cemetery where I’d camped and brought me out to the event. He’s really been a big help in my navigation through Illinois.

Toward the end of my tenure in the Land of Lincoln there has been a massive, record-breaking heatwave, and paired with the humidity, the only word I can think of is oppressive. The sweating makes things uncomfortable and I’ve been trying to rinse my clothes as much as possible if there’s water abundant. The salt from my sweat inhibits my clothes to breathe and properly dry and also causes painful chafing. I am no stranger to this, as I’ve experienced it many times along my tramps on this earth. It got so bad the other day that I stopped right in the road and cut the built-in underwear out of my shorts. The relief was instantaneous.

The next time you read this, I’ll be in Missouri on the Katy Trail. My next feat is to conquer what I consider to be the boss of Illinois and last town I will walk through in this state: East St. Louis. East St. Louis is know for being one of the most dangerous cities in the country. I’ve been memorizing my route via the street view on Google Maps so I can breeze right through and not look confused or lost. Walking in like you own the place has never, ever failed me once, but when you read the news that a child was shot in the face while innocently waiting for the school bus, it makes you wonder if there’s really much of a strategy in this.

On the bright side, I am prepared for whatever may happen and if I end up getting shot and killed, at least I’ve lived a full life and will have died doing something I feel is important. It’s not necessarily the way I want it to be; I desperately want to complete this hike to prove a point. I want people to overcome their fears and stop thinking that the world is a bad place. It’s those people who are creating this manifestation and it is absolutely not okay. There are areas that have crime, sure. But as a whole, stop being afraid of the unknown. Accept the preposterous truths I tell you and understand that I’m living out here in the real world and seeing it first hand, not from the comfort of my living room watching fake news and social media scams. Don’t let these things into your life that don’t serve you. My life is more important than money, greed and politics. Yours should be, too.

We’ll see you on the other side of the Mississippi; the Gateway to the Midwest, where the radio station call letters start with K instead of W. In the meantime, share this article with friends and family, and anyone who might be interested!

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