Monday, September 7, 2009

A Pleasant Valley In Which To Rest: (Greater Poughkeepsie, NY)

In the Hebrew creation story God worked for six days and once he was pleased with what he had created, he rested. Turns out I can't even make it from West Hebron to Poughkeepsie in the same amount of time it took to create the world. I needed an extra day.

So after seven straight days of walking, I reached my version of Eden. By the time I sauntered up to the Dunkin Donuts in Pleasant Valley, NY and met Bruce Smith I had walked over 120 miles in the past week. I had been welcomed and cared for by friends and strangers alike. I might have been physically tired, but I was spiritually ebullient.

Bruce was waiting for me at a prearranged spot. I had told him I would be arriving around 4:30, and in true Poorman-ian fashion, I arrived almost to the minute. Bruce is the uncle of my friend Karen Baxter. He was but one of a number of Karen's relatives I would meet the over the next 38 hours of rest. Together they helped me bring my physical vitality back up in balance with that of my spirit.

That evening Bruce and his wife JoAnn invited another of Karen's uncles (Brian) and an aunt (Nancy) as well as her grandfather (Maturin) to join us for dinner. Before that, I got my first surprise gift of the journey. JoAnn, who is an artist, created a personalized t-shirt for me based on the design of my website. You'll notice I'm wearing it in the picture. I was really humbled by her gesture and by how both she and Bruce went out of their way to host a wonderful dinner party for me. We gorged ourselves on lasagna, salad and garlic bread and generally had about as pleasant an evening in Pleasant Valley as I could have ever hoped for. Bruce and I traded war stories from the open road (he is an avid bike rider) right up until my eyes called it a night.

Waking up the next morning and not having to walk was ... well, a relief. Bruce cooked me breakfast, I caught up on some writing, and then I gratefully accepted a ride over to his sister Kathy's house so as to make it a true rest day. Kathy (Karen's mother) and Chris live on an absolutely stunning 18th century farmhouse that has been restored and looks out gracefully over acres of field and woodland.

I can't tell you how many times there have been since I made the inner commitment to myself to take this journey that I have been amazed by how perfectly things fall into place. This was another of those times. Honestly, I couldn't have conceived of a more comfortable place to finish out my rest day. I was able to do all my laundry, Chris set me up with all my wifi needs, counseled me on some new iPhone apps and I whittled away the afternoon hours just as I had wanted to ... with my feet up.

The three of us had appetizers outside in front of the setting sun and then dinner inside around a old wooden table that I absolutely loved. When it came time to turn in, I almost wished I could have another rest day. I had truly experienced 38 hours in a Hudson Valley Eden. Unlike Adam, I had plenty of people in my Eden to enjoy it with. I didn't even have to give up any ribs. Thank you Bruce and JoAnn and Kathy and Chris and Brian, Nancy and Maturin. I'm now ready to greet the road once again.


  1. Hey Garth,
    This is Anna's Google account. Poor kid has internalized her nickname. I just want you to know that I'll be following your blog and the progress you are making regularly and with great interest. I've long romanticized treks. When I read more about Lewis and Clarke expedition, for instance, I found out that in spite of tremendous hardships from mosquitoes to illness and life threatening danger, their own trek captured their romantic imaginations, right to the end.

  2. Hey Garth,

    Blessings to you on your journey! I love the t-shirt JoAnn made for you--she's awesome, isn't she? In addition to being awesome, she's also the mother of my partner Nathaniel! :-)

    I believe we need to complete the circle of our parents hosting you and have my parents, who live in Taylorsville, GA (zip 30178, not far from Acworth) host you when you finally get down to the deep south! I'll send you an email with some more details, copying my parents.

    Best to you!

  3. Hello Garth,
    This is Adrienne's Mother, Ann. She has let us know of your journey and look forward to hosting you if you you would like to veer off this way. We can make plans whenever you would like . Look forward to hearing from you.

    Ann, George , Adrienne and Cory

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