June 21

I’m in my tent just off Illinois highway 145 and less than ten miles from where I started in Paducah this morning and… I am having an awesome time!

On U.S. 45 this morning and approaching the bridge over the Ohio River to take me into Illinois, I saw a sign that concerned me, “NO VEHICLES OVER 8 FEET WIDE ON BRIDGE” So, I knew it was going to be narrow and there may not be room for me to walk. But I kept walking toward the bridge because I wanted to make absolute certain before I turned back to a gas station I had just passed and try to hitch a ride over. Just as I had determined it too dangerous to attempt, a pickup heading in my direction and the driver, James Burgess from Paducah said, “Come on man, lets hurry and load your stuff, it’s too dangerous for you to cross.” When I saw the bridge up close, there was just no way I could have safely walked that bridge. I like bridges, but I think I would be nervous crossing that one in a car. Once across the bridge and in Bridgeport, Illinois, I stopped at Barney’s Market and had the biggest and best stuffed peppers I ever ate! It came with the best tater salad I’ve ever had too. And it was only $5 bucks!

Also in Bridgeport, a young man, Brandon Myers, came out of his mother’s bar, the Bridge Inn and wanted to hear my story and have his picture taken with me. I really liked him, right off. He asked me to come into the bar and meet his girlfriend and his mother. I repeated my story for his mom. His mom said she couldn’t imagine losing her child but that it was like losing him, the hell he put her through when he was in prison for five years. I turned to Brandon and said, “Why the hell did you do that to your momma?” That’s a horrible thing to put a mother through!” He just looked sheepish and shrugged, not really having an answer. I said, “Well don’t do that to her any more… okay.” He walked me outside and I told him that I hoped he had matured and would never again do anything so stupid as to go to prison again. He said, “Well, I hope not.” And I said, “No, I can hope not, YOU can make sure you never do!” He smiled at that and said he was trying very hard. I really liked the young man and he kept repeating how very much he respected what I was doing.

I really do LOVE LIFE with all my heart my friends. Joy is an inside job and I am totally responsible for my own joy in life… no one else. I met a young man, Jared Borum, in Best Buy yesterday who attempted suicide at 13 because of a stupid and cruel thing a teacher said to him. He totally loves his life now. He has found such peace with his love life attitude that he said to me when I grimaced at his telling of the idiotic teacher’s statement, “Oh, I forgave her a long time ago and got on with my life.” Jared discovered that the ignorant teacher is not responsible for his joy… he is. So he forgave her, got that out of his way and pursued happiness. Jared is really cool!