We’re finally back! Sorry for the delay. Some computer issues (which you’ll read about later) set us back a few days on the blog updates. Anyway, our last post left off with the Storming Jericho crew heading east along Highway 50 after leaving the incredible friends we’d made at Calvary Assembly of God Church in McArthur, Ohio. Thankfully, as you might have guessed, the blessings haven’t slowed down since leaving McArthur.
Our first stop after McArthur was Albany, Ohio. Unfortunately, we hadn’t been able to get ahold of any churches in Albany, Ohio, so Linds and I were sort of getting desperate. At least, we had been until Tammy from Calvary Assembly made some phone calls and got us connected with Pastor Jim from Living Water Worship Center, just a little west of Albany. Jim was great, and even though he wasn’t free the night we were getting there, he left the church open for us and told us to make ourselves at home. And on top of that, Tammy stopped by to drop off her famous chicken and noodles along with some tasty mashed potatoes, so we had a warm, home-cooked meal waiting for us when we arrived. Talk about being blessed.
Linds and I had a great night of rest, and the next morning we had an opportunity to chat with Pastor Jim (awesome), to see Pastor Carl again when he came to drop off a package of ours that had been sent to McArthur (also awesome), and to speak with the church receptionist, Bonnie (also also awesome). By the time we left, we had been filled with the spirit so much that we felt like we could fly.
From Albany, we pushed our way on toward the South Canaan Baptist Church near Guysville, Ohio. Lindsie and I were sort of desperately hoping for the church to give us a call back, because it was basically the only stopping point between Albany and Little Hocking, which is just about a 40 mile stretch. So when we got a thumbs up from Pastor Monty and his wife, Missy, we were overjoyed. We reached Guysville that evening and were welcomed by their huge family of 7 (and their oldest son’s wife to go along with the rest of the group). Dinner was ready when we pulled in, and we were all ready to eat. We got to know Monty and Missy, as well as their kids Ryan (and his wife, Brianna), Cory, Noah, Chloe, and Ethan. It was awesome getting to talk with them, hear their stories, and generally just soak in the idea of raising FIVE kids (which is a tiny bit terrifying to me).
Unfortunately, the next morning meant we needed to go, and extra unfortunately, it was going to be a very rainy day. We left from their house around 8:30, and by 9:30 it was raining. And it never stopped raining. So by the time we pulled up to the parsonage next to the Little Hocking Church of God in Little Hocking, Ohio, we were ready to be done walking for the day. Even though we have waterproof jackets, Linds and I felt cold and wet all over. But we were blessed to have a fantastic place to sleep thanks to Pastor Josh and his wife Deborah. And thanks to some of the wonderful members of the Little Hocking Church of God, we had a meal waiting for us when we arrived. We inhaled the food and enjoyed getting to know Josh, Deborah, and their kids, JT and Joseph. Then, after some tasty cake for dessert, it was time for sleep.
The next morning we were all set to go. Sort of. But when we looked out the window and saw nothing but pouring rain, then checked the forecast and saw that rain would be pouring down all day, we decided to beg Pastor Josh to let us stay an extra night in their basement, and he and Deborah were kind enough to say yes. And as an added bit of excitement, we were going to be able to attend the Thursday night church service the church holds.
As we rested throughout the day, Lindsie began to suffer from the oncoming of a migraine. And try as we did to fight it off, the migraine still reared its ugly head. As a result, Lindsie wasn’t able to attend the Thursday night service, but I did and it rocked the house. The congregation rocked out with some great music, and then Pastor Josh kept the Holy Spirit moving with a powerful message. All in all, it made for a great night, capped off with some tasty pizza for dinner. It really doesn’t get much better than that, right?
The next day was much, much less rainy and miserable, so Lindsie and I actually set out toward our next stop—Murphytown United Methodist Church in Murphytown, West Virginia. That’s right, we left Ohio and made our way into West Virginia. And thanks to Pastor Mary at the church, we had a place to stay exactly where we needed one, which was a HUGE blessing. It was similar to the Guysville situation, where we really didn’t have many options, and Pastor Mary came through in the clutch.
When we got to the church, which was a lovely little church, we walked in to find dinner already waiting for us. We had a rotisserie chicken and salad in the fridge, and Pastor Mary had dropped off all kinds of stuff for us to eat for breakfast the next morning. We basically had a feast on our hands, and it didn’t take us long to dive in.
Later that night, Lindsie fell asleep early and Pastor Mary stopped by to visit us. She and I chatted for a few delightful minutes, and then she was off again and it was time for me to go to bed as well. The next morning was the start of a BIG day for us—23.5 miles to Ellenboro, West Virginia. And that’s 23.5 miles of walking in the foothills of the Appalachians. So…yeah…it was going to be a tough day.
We got moving pretty early the next morning and started cranking away toward Ellenboro. Although we hadn’t had any success initially when it came to finding a church to stay at in Ellenboro, God had a different plan. After we emailed the Ellenboro Fire Department about possibly staying there, the Fire Department receptionist, Susie, emailed back and said she would be figuring something out for us. We weren’t exactly sure what was going to happen, but we were thankful somebody was trying to help us.
After a pretty brutal day of walking that included some big hills, very cloudy skies, and plenty of cold and miserable rain, we finally limped our way into Ellenboro, looking about as pathetic as two cross-country walkers can look. And Susie met us right in town with a plan to lift our spirits. We’d be staying at the Pennsboro United Methodist Church just a few miles down the road, and then Susie would bring us back to our carts in the morning so we could take off from Ellenboro again. After dropping off our carts at her son, Jay’s, house, we had a quick interview with Julia from the local newspaper. We had fun chatting with her and answering her questions, and then it was off to dinner.
Dinner was also delicious. Lindsie and I got to enjoy a piping hot meal with Susie and her father, Dave, Pastor Kelly from the church, and Susie’s sister, Carol Ann. We had a blast just chatting with everyone and stuffing our faces with warm, tasty food. Then it was time for bed. After our day of wet, cold walking, our warm sleeping bags were calling our names.
As much as we wanted to stay for church that morning, we had to roll out down the road. We had lost a day when we rested in Little Hocking, which meant we had to make it up by skipping our usual Sunday rest day. We chatted with some people at the church that morning, then said goodbye and made our way toward West Union. Paul and Sharon, the directors of the American Discovery Trail in West Virginia, had been following our journey almost from the beginning, and they were excited to have us come to their house for a night.
After a much-less-miserable-than-the-day-before day of walking, we got to West Union and were excited to see Paul waiting for us in his truck. He and Sharon lived a few miles off of 50, so after a short ride to their house, we pulled in to the driveway and started unloading. There was cold lemonade waiting for us, and the delicious meal Sharon had cooked was filling up the entire house with a very appealing aroma. After we took showers, Linds and I settled in with Paul and Sharon to devour our meal. After dinner and some pleasant conversation, we got ready to head toward Salem, West Virginia. Thankfully, Paul and Sharon had offered to pick us up near Salem and bring us back to their house for a second night, which meant we only had to push one mostly empty cart through the foothills instead of two completely full carts. We accepted the offer (with gratitude).
After a chilly day of walking toward Salem, we were picked up again for another wonderful evening with Paul and Sharon. They took us out to eat with Sharon’s sister, Barb, and her husband, Mike, and then it was back to Paul and Sharon’s for dessert and another great night of sleep. While we were sad to say goodbye to them, we were glad to be making progress down the road. We knew winter was getting closer, and that was part of our burning desire to keep things moving.
The next day featured a slight change of plans and schedule. Originally we were going to spend a night in Clarksburg, West Virginia, at our friend Gary Mitchell’s church. Gary is a walker himself, and he’s been following our journey for several months. We were pumped about finally meeting him, but we had a slight problem—Gary’s church is about 3-4 miles off of Highway 50. Which would have made our next day of walking to Grafton, West Virginia, a 25-mile or so day. And most of the time, that’s too many miles for us. Especially when we are making our way into the mountains.
As a result, we told Gary we were going to try to find a place to stay in Bridgeport, which is a few miles past Clarksburg and actually happens to be on Highway 50. That would make our walk to Grafton only about 18 miles, which was a much more appealing distance. We called a couple of churches, and, thankfully, Pastor Ryan from the Bridgeport Church of Christ said we could stay at their church. We were calling on pretty short notice, so we were thankful he was willing to open his doors to us. So after Paul dropped us back off where we’d left off the day before, we set off for Bridgeport.
The day went really well, even if the air was getting a little chilly. We had one high-traffic stretch that was a little stressful, but other than that it was smooth sailing. We pulled up to the church around 4:30 or so, and we found Raymond, one of the church elders, waiting for us to let us in and show us around. We also found Gary waiting for us. He had offered to take us to dinner since we hadn’t gotten to connect in Clarksburg, and we were thankful for both of them. After showing us around, Raymond headed out and we went with Gary to grab dinner at Bob Evans. His original plan was Outback, but we’d never tried Bob Evans and it was pretty close, so we gave it a shot. And it was pretty tasty, if we do say so ourselves.
We enjoyed a great night of conversation with Gary and got a chance to meet his lovely mother as well. Then we headed back to the church. We got a few things done and then started to prepare for bed. Around 9:30 that night, Pastor Ryan arrived at the church to say hello. He had been out of town when we arrived earlier, and we were thankful to get to chat with him. We ended up talking for about two hours, which was great. The time just flew by.
We went to sleep, fully expecting to be up and walking the next morning. But when we woke up, it was raining, and it looked like there was absolutely no chance the rain would stop. We contemplated staying an extra day, and our contemplations were confirmed when, a few minutes later, Mike accidentally dropped his laptop and broke the screen (talk about a bummer). At that point, with the rain, the computer repair needs, a few shopping needs, and the general dreariness of the day, we just decided to take an extra rest day in Bridgeport. And we were very glad we did. Because it rained literally ALL day long.
After running our errands thanks to Ryan’s hospitality, we made our way out to his house to meet his wife, Megan, and their kids, Carson and Millie Cate. We had a wonderful lunch with them, got ourselves some showers, and got to know their family better. Then we had a few more hours to get things done back at the church. Following that, we had dinner plans and a Wednesday night church service we would get to attend. We were excited, both for dinner and for fellowship.
The night was great, and then we went back to spend an evening at Ryan and Megan’s. We enjoyed a tasty dessert at their house, then got some much-needed sleep. It was a busy day, after all. The next morning we had a 16-mile day to Grafton from Bridgeport, and we were VERY thankful we made it a shorter day. Why? Because we got snowed on. A lot.
We started walking in what appeared to be pretty sunny weather. But as the day went on, the clouds continued to creep out. Before we knew it, the sky was gray, and a few minutes later, the snow started to fall. At first we weren’t considered. It was a light snow, and it melted pretty quickly. We were getting chilly, but we have warm gear with us, so it wasn’t too bad. But a few hours later, it started coming down both more rapidly and more stickily. Pretty soon, we had a good inch of snow on our carts, and our coats and shoes were wet and cold. It wasn’t exactly a “fun” day of walking. After a couple more hours, we pulled up to the Fetterman United Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Pastor Eddie happens to be the father of Pastor Kelly (from Pennsboro United Methodist), so we already had that connection and were excited to reach his oasis of a church. The heater was running and hot cocoa awaited us inside. Saying we were thankful for Pastor Eddie and his wife, Sue, would be an understatement.
The next morning was much, much brighter and cheerier than the day before had been. We were able to wake up, get packed, and start moving bright and early for Fellowsville, which was sort of a middle of nowhere place. Thankfully, the Assembly of God church there was willing to put us up for a night, so we said a prayer of thanks that God provided us a place to stay in the middle of nowhere and we got moving. Although it was definitely getting cold, the sun was shining and we felt good. But as the altitude climbed, the temperature dropped. On top of that, the clouds came out and started to cover up the sun. Just when we were starting to get uncomfortably cold, we more or less stumbled right into the church. Pastor Jason welcomed us, and even though there was a wedding rehearsal that night and a wedding ceremony the next day, he was kind enough to let us stay at the church anyway, which was a major blessing. Mostly because we wouldn’t have had anywhere else to go if we couldn’t stay there.
After a great night of sleep at the church, we set out for a day Lindsie had been dreading—the final MAJOR mountain climbs of our journey. For the past several weeks, we’d been getting closer and closer to a climb up into the Appalachians, and the two mountains left in our way, Laurel Mountain and Cheat Mountain, were finally before us. On top of the fact that we had two steep (as in, mostly 9% grade steep), several hundred foot climbs ahead of us, we also had a 21-mile day of walking to go with it. Needless to say, it was going to be a tough one.
And on that cliffhanger of a note, we’re going to end this post. The good news is that there is still plenty of awesome stuff to share, so be ready for the next post soon. It definitely won’t take as long now that my computer screen has been replaced and I’m back in action behind the keyboard.
Thanks for reading and extra thanks for the continued encouragement and prayers. We only have about 300 total miles to go before we’re done with this journey, so the end is very much in sight. We are looking forward to sharing more as we finish this adventure.
Be blessed, and we’ll be back with another update before you know it.
-Mike, Lindsie, and Jaeda