Dear Herm’s Hikers,
Kudos to the town of Damascus! What a great time at Trail Days! Enough cannot be said for the town and its people. For the uninitiated, Trail Days is a combination of Mardi Gras, Woodstock 1969, and the Cannes Film Festival. From Thursday to Sunday, there was live music on almost every corner, free food (just follow the swarm of hikers), and free movies (about the outdoors, of course) at the various churches and schools. The quiet town of approximately 1,000 was busting at the seams with thousands of hikers, vendos, and visitors. The grand event was the hiker parade where the hiker’s gathered at one end of the town and run the gauntlet to the other end (about a half a mile) through a barrage of water balloons, water guns and cannons, and hoses. Thank goodness, it was a hot day! It felt good to be pelted by water balloons. All in good fun! It was a blast!
Mrs. T (Rainbow Brite) and I set up our Herm’s Hike table on vendor’s row right next to the gazebo (the main stage) and right across from the fresh lemonade and curly fires stand. It was a great spot on main street that resulted in a lot of visiblity and $240.00 in donations. Not bad, not bad at all! Thank you donors for your generosity. Just as important, send me your e-mail so I can send you the e-mail flyer. Remember, we are a grass roots fundraiser that desparately needs publicity.
A special thank you is in order to the First Baptist Church in Damascus. It seemed to be my home away from home for the week. I greatly appreciated all of your hospitality and kindness. You have a wonderful hiker ministry that is greatly recognized and appreciated by everyone on the trail. You tend to the needs of the body and soul! To Pastor Wayne, his wife Sarah, Linda, Glenda, and Debbie, I salute and thank you from the bottom of my heart for a wonderful time. Readers should know thay supplied the hikers with free food (that’s the big draw for hikers), free medical help, and free entertainment. How greatly were they appreciated? I volunteered to pull pork as part of the food preparations. Debbie, it was a wonderful time, filled with good conversation. And a big THANK YOU to Linda, the Trail Days organizer for the church! You are the go-to-gal at Trail Days. I don’t know how you do it, but you did it with style, grace, and success. You indeed are the Energizer bunny of thw week. Hopfully, you can now relax for a few days and start planning for next year.
On Wednesday night, the church had Bobby Jon from Survivor Palau and Guatamela give his testimony to the power of faith and religion. It was a very powerful, heartfelt and emotional speech. Since Rainbow Brite is a big Survivor fan, I was hoping that she would get a chance to me Bobby Jon, and she did on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Bobby Jon, you are a true Southern gentleman. Thank you for taking the time to share you faith, your friendship, and Survivor stories with us.
Also thank you Pastor Christi Taylor (at the Methodist church just down the street from the Baptist church) for your time and conversation about Alzheimer’s. The Place (that’s the hostel run by the church) is a great place spend a couple of nights off the trail and meet some fellow hikers. That’s where I met my new cross-country bicycling freinds, Mike and Jerry, who were heading from Virginia to Oregon. Good luck, guys! You are in my thought and prayers!
And just when you think there’s no connection between the greyhounds (over 50) and the youngbloods (in the 20’s), I give you my frreind Etay, trail name No Thai. Just a little background before the story. No Thai is 25 years old and on a six-month visa from his home country of Israel. One night at The Place, he had the top bunk above me. That morning, he gets up and starts singing softly to himself “Freedom freedom, clap you hands, clap your hands.” I looked at him and said “Motherless Child, Richie Havens from Woodstock.” And he replied “Exactly.” It seems that my new friend knows more about popular American culture than many of his American counterparts, at least about Woodstock 1969, that is. We had a very nice converastdion about the cncert and its performers. We even sang a few lines from the Riche Havens’s song. It was beautiful moment.
And as always I save the best story for last. It should be titled “Come Together Right Now Over Me.” Yeah I know it’s another Beatles song, but that’s my generation and music. Okay, here’s the story.
On Sunday before Rainbow Brite (Mrs. T) arrived in Damascus, I took my extra gear to the Mountain Laurel B&B where we would be staying that weekend. When I arrived, two couples who were finishing breakfast. Leslie (the owner and hostess) asked me if I would like somthing to eat. Well, what AT hiker who has lost 15 pouns since Apirl wouldn’t want a full gourment breakfast. As I was eating (really shoveling the food in my face), the two couples asked me about the hike. When I told them about Herm’s Hike, the one couple asked me my trail name. I told them “Son-Dance for he who dances with the mountains in honor of the father.” At that point, the lady asked me if I meant heavenly father or earthly fatherh. I replied “I guess I mean both.” At that point, the lady got up from the table, walked over to me, and asked if she and her husband could pray over me. Well, I thinking to myself that I need all the prayers I can get on this hike, so why not. With the other couple, we joined hands in a prayer circle. Judy and Mike placed their hands on my head and shoulders and began to pray for God to watch over me and guide me on the hike. Tears started to stream down my face at the power and emotion of their words. When they were done, I thanked them from the bottom of my heart. As they were about to leave the breafast room and head out on their bicycle ride, Judy returned to my seat and asked me if I would mind a personal question. I said no, and then she asked if I ever thought about getting Alzheimer’s since my father has the disease. I said the thought had crossed my mind, and then she once again asked if she could pray with me. Well, I thought to myself that prayer is like money in the bank. You can never have enough, so why not a little more. Judy placed her hands on my head and shoulder and began to pray “Dear Heavenly Father, you sent us your only son Jesus Christ to die a cruel and horrific death on the cross to atone for our sins and give us eternal life. By the blood of The Cross, may you wipe the curse of this dreaded disease from Paul and future generations. This we pray in your name.” Once again the tears started flowing down my cheeks. A powerful and magical moment, indeed! And as a foonote, Judy said “Paul, national publicity will come to you and Herm’s Hike. God will see to that, and I feel it through him here today. And at that time, the Holy Spirit will descend upon your tongue and give you the words of the Lord to give to the nation.”
And all of this on a Sunday morning. To Judy and Mike, thank you for your ministry and donation. I was humbled and inspired by your prayers and generosity. You really did reach out and touch the my spirit on a Sunday morning.
Godspeed on life’s journey to Judy, Mike and all of my new and old trail friends! Thank you Leslie at the Mountain Laurel B&B for a wonderful, relaxing stay. Aaron and Analese, get reading those books!It was a plesure to meet you. A final thank you to Queen Becky, AT hiker, pizza maker and cartist (that’s someone who paints cars). You are a beautiul person. Your story as a cancer survior was inspirational. It’s another one of those motivational and inspirational stories that I will carry in my heart for the length of the journey.
Have to go fellow hikers. It’s off to Pearisburg and the Holy Name Hostel run by the Holy Name Catholic Church. I hear it’s one of the most scenic and friendly hostels on the trail. Time will tell. Keep me in your prayers. I still need all that I can get. There’snot a lot ot trai towns in southern Virginia so I will update the jounral when possible. But don’t worry readers, there are more adventure waiting! Sometimes, I feel like the hand of God is moving me in certain directions. Most of the times, I think He is!