Hello everyone & welcome to the weekly update! I'm in Junction City in central Texas after a limit pushing 166km in the past 3 days. The crossing from Uvalde to Junction was scheduled to take 5days but I pushed through in 3days in order to bring the 'days behind' back to 13 (in order to cross the USA/Canada broder on time - please see last blog entry). Trekking over 50kms each day hurt but the solitude & scenery was quite something else. I began in Uvalde after being hosted by 3 Terese of Avilla sisters whose hospitality & youthfullness was infectious. As I headed out of town I stopped into a grocery store to pick up my 24hrs worth of supplies & happened to run into a lady by the name of Betty Fitzgerald. Betty had seen me walking the day before & so enquired about the mission. As quick as a flash she was on the phone & within a few minutes the local newspaper was on the spot to report on the Aussie passing through. Betty was lovely & after the interview set me on my way with a first aid pack with lots of little goodies such as a new razor, deoderant, shaving cream & face washer. Once on the road I had a pleasant walk through green sprawling farms until I came to something that is a bit of a hidden jewel in the Texas landscape - The Hill Country. I couldn't believe it; the farms & ranches gave way very suddenly to an abrupt hill range that was covered in elms, oaks & silver birches. The rivers were flowing fast & clear & the air was crisp. By 9:30pm I finally made it to Garner State Park where I'd been told I could hire a cabin for the night. Unfortunately I arrived after closing time & so there was no one to be found anywhere. With a wild boar looking on from within the forest off to the side I wasn't too keen to set my hammock up & so I searched & found the only cabin with an ensuit... well, most people would call it the public toilet, but beggars can't be choosers! It sounds worse than it actually was. The State Park office had a disabled toilet ajoining it & it was spacious, very clean & air conditioned! I set my survival bag (glorified plastic bag) down on the floor, filled it with my clothes & placed my sleeping bag on top. I locked the door & slept uncomfortably, but safely, for the night. I wasn't able to turn the air conditioner off but it was simply a matter of reaching up & tapping the hand dryer & I'd get a blast of warm air when needed... Anyway, I hit the road at 6am, making sure I was away before anyone discovered me. Under the very watchful eyes of that wild boar I left the State Park & headed north along I83 & past by a few more wild boar before sunrise. I arrived in Leakey in time for breakfast & discovered from the locals that in fact those hills contain more than just wild boar - mountain lions, black panthers, bears & squirrels. You really have to watch out for those squirrels. Nasty temper :-) So in the end I was happy to have only seen the wild boars. From there I headed into no man's land up even higher, following some magnificent mountain streams until I was walking along the plateau through ranches that are used for exoctic hunting. At 8:30pm I made it to the one & only shop on the 99km stretch between Leakey & Junction to find it closed. All I had was two muesli bars so dinner wasn't looking promising. I found a place to hang my hammock on the shop's verandah but thought I'd better ask for permission first. I found the owners home (the only house for 99km, wasn't difficult) & thank the Lord, he was a straight down the line, Texas gentleman with a beer in one hand & remote control in the other. "You want to sleep at the store? Sure! No worries. Hang on a minute & I'll grab my keys & open the sotre up for you. You must have a sure big appetite!?" So to Vince at the Galvin Store, thank you! I ate well & I slept well in my hammock. Yesterday morning I finished the crossing with another painful 55km haul. I saw about 10 different species of deer but the show stopping moment was when I realised I was being watched from the bushes by 3 wilder beast. There was a huge fence between us so no threat or anything but I stopped & looked at these animals & wondered why on earth I was looking at an icon of Africa on a Texas ranch. A rancher happened to stop by just to say hello & so I asked him if they were in fact wilder beast, "Yes sir" he said, "and they got Giraffe & Zebras as well." As I walked on down the road trying to spot a zebra it did cross my mind that perhaps the ranch was owned by Michael Jackson... You never know. Over 55km yesterday I saw about 40 ranches & only 5 cows. Times have changed. I've checked into a small hotel here in Junction City & will continue north towards the Oklahoma/Colorado border tomorrow morning. It's three & a half weeks away but I hope to be there sooner. The folks here have been very supportive in praying for unity & often comment on how difficult they believe it would be for all Christians to unite in theology, however, they are very happy & humbled to pray for complete unity for God's glory. Please join in praying each day (particularly at 4:01) & I'll hopefully 'see' you all next week from the city of Sweetwater. God bless, Sam.
"Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, & with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." Ephesians 6:14-15