We passed into Tampa-metro and by eleven o'clock we had walked seven miles. The pavements heated quickly and we found a shaded spot at the edge of a restaurant parking area. It was at the first major intersection in the county. The manager said we could stay there and let me lash the world to a palm tree. Then I called a man I had met a few miles prior who offered a ride. He arrived a few minutes later and drove us to the van.
When we returned to the shaded spot I discovered we were not alone. This shady area was where the local alcoholics would sit and drink after panhandling at the corner. They would "spaige" just enough for a six-pack of beer, or a small bottle of "fightin'oil" and sit under the trees, getting louder and more abrasive as the day progressed.
My newly found neighbors soon began to show the ugly side of alcoholism.
When they began throwing punches at each other I thought it better that I find another place to spend the night. A storm came rolling in, which gave me just the excuse I needed to fold the world in a bundle and drive to the next stoplight. There I found a quiet place to park. I would not have to worry about their drunken drama spilling onto my world or getting too close to Nice (the dog), who is is much less tolerant of a stinky drunk.
In this world of goals, I had said we were going to Tampa. We have reached another goal. The larger goal, reaching out for people to walk, as a means to prevent or control diabetes; is not so easily reached .
Tampa is a big place. If I stopped now I may not find a better example than the drunks and streetwalkers I found at its edge. I must go deeper...
Love yourself, go for a walk. Take a friend.