Polly plunges into the prairie
Editor’s note: Vail resident Polly Letofsky has been on the road since she left town Aug. 1, 1999, on her mission to become the first woman to walk around the world and promote awareness of breast cancer. From Vail she first walked to the West Coast, then crossed to the two islands of New Zealand, up the eastern coast of Australia and on to Malaysia and Southeast Asia, India, Turkey, Greece, Great Britain and Ireland. She’s now back in the United States, having arrived in New York City and crossed New York State to the Canadian Border at Niagra Falls. Since then she’s been through Pennsylvannia and Minnesota, among other spots. She’s expected to reach Vail sometime next year. This is a recent installment from her journal. You can follow along with Polly’s journey on her Web site, http://www.globalwalk.org.
Hey guys, can you believe it? I’m in Iowa! I crossed the border yesterday afternoon and celebrated by taking a self-timer in front of the Welcome to Iowa sign.
It says, “The People of Iowa Welcome You!” and cars honked as I posed, wondering, I’m sure, why anyone would be so excited to enter Iowa.
It was sort of sad leaving my beloved Minnesota, but a girl can only go so slow trying to stretch out the joy –heck, it’s been 2 1/2 months. Plus I’ve got to get hauling now, I’m trying to out pace Jack Frost as he’s trying desperately to nip me in the bottom.
I’ll move quickly down the Mississippi now and get as far south by Christmas as my little legs will carry me.
But Bob and I had our first onslaught of snow last week and neither of us handled it very well. It was that wet snow, the type that’s great for making a snowman or tossing snowballs, but my feet were sopping wet and snow kept piling up between Bob’s wheels getting him grumpy.
My friends Shirley and Sandy from Rochester came out to find us with a steaming hot cup of cappuccino and dry shoes in hand.
This here is Laura Ingalls territory. I’ve been walking down the Laura Ingalls Historic Highway and can’t help look out over the baron prairies, looking
every bit the western sprawl of the 1870s, and picture Laura and Pa, Ma and Mary running for their little house in the big woods with nothing to keep
them warm but a fire and fiddle.
Bob and I would’ve sucked as pioneers – we got five nights at the Rochester Radisson and pouted when there was no sleeper button on the remote.
I left town just as deer hunting season started, so every cafe through small town Minnesota is packed full of hunters dressed in orange – glow in the
dark, see-me-from-the-moon orange. One hunting group at Grandma’s Cafe in Chatfield insisted I have an orange vest to walk in because they’d sure hate to have me walk all this way only to get shot dead on their turf.
So I walked out of Chatfield looking like an overgrown tangerine.
That day, walking along the Root River Bike Trail, I saw three deer and a buck. I thought the walking orange glow might terrify them and lead them screaming into the woods, but turns out deer are color blind.
Yet one more item I can add to my list of useless information I’ve gathered while on this trip – along with snakes are deaf and the fact that the average
American eats 30 pounds of cheese per year. I learned that latter piece of trivia in Wisconsin.
I just wanted to pass on the great news that in Minnesota we raised nearly $20,000 –congratulations, Minnesota, that’s a record breaker.
Lions Clubs there were very generous and we just had an enormous event in Rochester where we raised $8,000, which went to benefit the
Women’s Cancer Center at the Mayo Clinic.
The mayor proclaimed Nov. 4 GlobalWalk for Breast Cancer Day and gave me a key the city. He says it doesn’t open any buildings, but it works great opening beer bottles.
Then there was the fact that I was speaking everywhere because October is breast cancer month – great for breast-cancer awareness, but I may be developing a small brain tumor. I swear sometimes if I never answer
another question it’ll be too soon.
My latest pre-emptive move in combatting burnout of the questions is to now only answer them for a donation – $1-a-question.
“What made you do this?” Ch-ching!
“How many pairs of shoes have you been through?” Ch-ching!
“Where did you start?” Ch-ching!
“How do you get over the oceans?” Ch-ching, ch-ching!
“That’ll be $5, Ma’am. I take checks.”
This afternoon I’ve entered the charming little town of Decorah, Iowa. Just for the record, in the book of Top 50 Small Towns in America, Iowa has six. Yet one more item for my ever growing list of useless information.