Our days off come and go too quickly. It was tough to leave the comforts of Tim’s parents’ home, but after a heartfelt goodbye, we were off. Tim was equally excited to include his alma mater and college town, Valparaiso, on our walk across the country.
His mom watched from the front yard and took photos of us until we got to the end of the block. We looked back one final time and waved before we turned off of Tim’s street.
We only had to walk on one busy street without sidewalks out of Griffith, Main St. The street runs parallel to the airport, and leads right to another bike trail. We even got to see a plane land. I wonder if they were coming from San Francisco like us!
The first half of the day would be the easiest. We’d be on the Oak Savannah bike trail all the way from Griffith to Hobart. It was a sunny morning, but the trail was heavily shaded. We even saw a woman biking across the country!
Once we got to Hobart, we passed by Tim’s friend Colby’s house. He and his wife weren’t home, but they came to the family homecoming in Griffith two days before and said we could fill up some water if we needed. We decided to sit on their front porch for a bit and take a break.
Tim’s cousin Phil lives a few blocks from Colby, and we planned to stop by there to use the bathroom. Tim’s aunt Laura met us there and took us out to lunch, at Hobart’s famous Lincoln Subs. The place was packed at noon, and for good reason: it was delicious, we’ll be back!
Around Wheeler, Tim’s friend Joy and her friend Tony planned to join us for a few miles on the walk. When they first drove past us, they asked if we needed anything. We were running low on water, because it was very hot, and we only had our day packs. Tim’s mom took our large (normal) backpacks to work, and Tim’s uncle John, who we were staying the night with in Valpo, picked them up. We really enjoy carefree days without heavy weight on our backs – but we regretted not bringing more water. Joy and Tony made our day by bringing cold bottled water, then walked two miles with us… then had to walk two miles back to the car! Thanks guys!
As we were closing in on Tim’s college town, we were getting excited. Rebecca had never been to Valparaiso, and Tim always talks about it. Both the city and the university hold a special place in his heart; Tim had spent four years attending Valparaiso University, and City Hall was the site of his first job in the planning field, as an intern for the Department of Planning and Engineering way back in 2008.
Over a year ago Tim asked his fraternity brother Taylor, the assistant city planner at Valparaiso, when we passed through Valpo on our walk across the country, if he would give us a tour of City Hall. He of course agreed.
Taylor had also arranged a mini press conference for us at City Hall. The local newspaper wrote an article on us ( http://m.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/valparaiso/region-man-joins-girlfriend-on-walk-across-america/article_7fb5aafd-5193-5fea-bb7f-12178423a00e.html?mobile_touch=true) and a radio station wrote an article (http://indiana105.com/region-news/chicagoland-couple-walking-across-the-usa-make-stop-in-valpo/) along with a thirty minute interview ( http://www.regionnewsteam.com).
Check out our media page (at the top of the blog) for more news articles on our walk!
City Hall is at the west end of historic downtown Valpo. Many new shops and restaurants have opened since Tim attended the university. Taylor told us Valparaiso has over 200 restaurants (though a population of only 30,000), and we didn’t believe him at first. But after walking around town we believe him! Up to this point we’ve walked through around 215 towns, and Valpo is by far one of the nicest and most vibrant downtowns. You may think Tim is biased, but Rebecca agrees!
Orville Redenbacher is from Valpo!
Not far from downtown is the campus. Tim used to walk over four miles (to work – home for lunch – back to work – back to home) when he worked at City Hall and lived in a fraternity house, Sigma Phi Epsilon. We got a quick tour of SigEp, at 705 Mound, then made our way toward main campus.
There were some really cool statues in the middle of campus. Rebecca thought they were creepy, and at first thought they were zombies: there were so many human shaped sculptures, and they weren’t moving! So of course we did a photo shoot.
Tim enjoyed his four years at Valpo, and was happy to call it home. After a week off in Chicago, two nights in Griffith, and a night in Valpo, Tim was grateful to include all three of his homes on the walk.
Tuesday morning we had a first: a radio interview! We were interviewed via cellphone by WJOB, based out of Hammond, from Tim’s uncle John’s house. They even told us they want another interview when we pass Cleveland (which we’re not walking through, too far north!). Listen to it here: http://jimdedelow.podbean.com/e/1764-walk-across-the-usa/?token=f192869b29557a2d3dab2aa151ff7b3a
After a hearty breakfast John prepared, he dropped us off back on our route at the Valpo airport (Thanks for all of the hospitality, John and Leah!).
There was a storm two nights before and we saw some of the aftermath.
East of Valpo, US-30 is very difficult to walk on. Indiana proved so tough, that at some unexpected construction, we had to reroute and add a few miles! But at least these roads were much quieter and serene.
We arranged with Taylor to pick us up in Hamlet, so we could stay at his place that night instead of camping on the side of the road. After he and his wife treated us to dinner (Thanks Courtney!) we played them a slideshow of the beginning of our journey in California and Nevada. We didn’t quite make it to the Utah photos before all four of us were exhausted and slowly crawled into bed. Early morning tomorrow, walking awaits. Our days with family and friends go too quickly.
Today(s) we walked through:
Tim: 50,597 and 47,678 steps
Rebecca: 54,121 and 50,988 steps
2,425 miles finished