First let me apologize for the delay in posting for Thursday, life just got in the way.
Thursday morning I was ready to leave the parking lot of Bill's Deli when I was told he would be there soon and would help plot my course for the day if I would stay for a few minutes. He got there and we talked over how to get up the Watchung Mountain range. He gave me his local map for the day and we left to scattered skies and a favorable wind.
As we do everyday, we took all the time needed for each person who stopped to answer any questions they had about our adventure. Nice was given water and treats as we strolled toward the foot of the Watchung, he was never thirsty or lacking attention. We stopped at a dog kennel where I asked if they had any flea and tick treatment for Nice the dog. They sent us two doors up the road to the animal hospital after coming out to give Nice some love, and take a few pictures. We then strolled to the animal hospital down the road.
When we rolled to the porch in front of the office a man had pulled in and opened the rear of his SUV to reveal what looked like a large pillow. I thought he was picking up an animal. As he walked up he talked to Nice and asked the dog if he were on a trip. I explained what we were doing as we all came to the door. Once in, I stood to wait our turn and realized that the pillow was, in fact, the wrapped body of the mans' family dog who had passed away during the night after a long bout with cancer. The doctor asked a series of questions as the man paid for the burial expence and fought back the emotions from the loss of his friend. He was a giant of a man and I could tell it was hard for him to keep his composure as he calmly relayed the final days of his family member to the doctor. As he left I reached out my hand and expressed my sorrow for his loss. he said "Thank you ." as he crushed my hand, told Nice to have a good journey, and left the office. Once again my journey threw me curve ball and I remembered the passing of my last dog,the sorrow I felt, which anyone feels for the passing of a good friend. The assistant sold me the flea and tick treatment, gave Nice some treats and a bowl of water on the front porch and wished us luck before we walked up the road.
The skies had become cloudy and the world was getting soft from the change in atmosphere. We came to a tire repair store and stopped for a little boost. In talking to the men there I was told by the owner that his brother was in the the hospital for an amputation due to the ravages of diabetes. I wished to myself I could walk just one day without an unfortunate tale about this devastating disease. We filled the world with air and were on our way again.
Just before we began the walk up the mountainside we were passing a child care center when the owner and a couple workers came out to see us. One was a woman from South America who spoke little English but her joy at the sight of us was infectious. She hugged Nice and me,and brought us both out a drink. While she was inside one of the other women told her what we were doing and she became even more excited and affectionate. I needed the hugs after the moment I had just had at the animal hospital. A policeman then walked over from across the road where he and a few others were directing traffic at a road work sight. He had seen us early last week on 130 and told me he had seen a patrol car just before and just ahead of me. I told him that as I walk I tend to slow traffic and sometimes law enforcement lay in wait for speeders, like a whale and the fish that follow and pick off parasites; we laughed at the comparison. He and I shared a few more stories before Nice and me crossed the highway to the foot of the mountain road. The police crew watched from a distance.
We were some way up the hill and I was just beginning to feel the burn when two officers pulled up to tell me they knew what we were doing and supported the cause but were concerned because just a short way up the mountain road the road had rails on boths sides and we would be in danger. They offered to get the department truck and shuttle us to the top, I gratefully accepted the help. We arrived at the top, to Washington's Rock Park, took some pictures and safely made our way down the other side of the mountain ridge.
We walked into Warren New Jersey and while passing another child care facility I was asked to stop and talk to a class of four and five year old children about what we doing. Then we walked a little farther and we met a woman and her daughter who told us the Warren municipal complex was just up the road and there we could leave the World while they took me back to Piscataway where the van was so I could gather up the World before the incoming storm. When I rolled up to the flag poles at the Warren Municipal Complex, tied off the World to a lamppost and was about to get in the women's car a city worker came out to see Nice. I quickly explained about the van and ask if I could leave Nice tied there also, she said she would keep him in the building and as soon as I gave her his leash he pulled her inside. She called back that she was on the second floor in finance as he pulled her around the corner.
I got back to the van and went into the busy deli to thank Bill for the map, he asked if I was staying for dinner but the women were waiting outside and I had to leave. We returned to Warren where I was led to Nice who was fast asleep up in finance as the nice women asked me a few questions and admired my sleeping companion. A man who worked there came and fed Nice some biscuits which Nice ate without picking his head off the floor. I told them he was not as exhausted as he looked, they were not convinced until we went outside for some pictures next to the World where he quickly began to search for the ever illusive frogs that hide under every one's feet.
I asked if they knew where a laundromat was and one of the nice women went inside to search the interned while another called to see if I could use the shower in the rescue squad facility there in the municipal complex. Then the first woman who had gone inside returned to tell us K was on her way to take us to dinner and would give us a place to stay for the night. Warren, New Jersey - voted #6 - Money Magazine 2009 America's Best Places to Live. From a helpful ride up the mountain to a delicious meal at one of the best restaurants in town for a stranger and his dog. I rate it #1 in hospitality and goodhearted people.
After a gourmet meal, shower, and more kindness than a man deserves K has let us stay for the afternoon to regroup and help track the bus which carries my son to a nearby town so we can continue this little adventure together. A happy man, his son, and a Nice dog.