As soon as I heard the news, the only thing I could think was "I need food."
Spotting a sign for the Old Theater Diner, I hoofed it off the road and through the busy parking lot. Slow for lunch time, the attending demographic seemed to be in the 60 - 75 bracket, some wheeling oxygen tanks. A quiet spot to digest more than the fact that my camping leg in Northern CT was axed. I needed to have a good hard think, and there's no better way to do it than over a good hash omelet.
The waitress seated me "on the porch" which was in fact a glass covered section off the main drag away from the kitchen. I gave myself an experimental sniff and shrugged, following "Doris" up the steps and to my table. Used to this behavior by now, it was better than some reactions I'd gotten to my grimy appearance and what I've dubbed "the road pong".
I pulled out my phone, checking the weather and distance I'd have to cover sans guide or equipment. The two easy 10 mile legs I'd planned while camping with a friend was to be followed by a 20 mile jaunt into New London. Ordering without really paying much attention beyond being polite and remembering to smile. I always hope the remember the smile and not how I smell.
My food arrived a short while later. Digging in, mechanically chewing and swallowing I barely tasting the meal. I started checking bus times from Providence to New London. I'd hoped it wouldn't come to this. The plans for some of my stops have been tenuous at best but this camping trip had been weeks in the making.
Knowing that taking the bus to New London was the smart thing to do, I gritted my teeth against the imagined snickers from folks. Pointing imaginary fingers, laughing behind hands "sure you *almost* walked all the way from Boston to Washington". I shook off my paranoia, the road ahead through Northern CT was unfamiliar, I'd no gear and dwindling supplies. As it is, I was going to have to dip into my savings to purchase more provisions and the ticket to my new next stop.
I paid for my meal, said my polite goodbyes to Doris, and left the Old Theater Diner. The RIPTA stop was only a few blocks from the bank so I hiked the four miles across town, stopping by a book store to pick up something to read on the ride. Passing time at the bus stop talking with the maintenance man saving up to move to Arizona.
Watching the past two days of ground covered rolling by in reverse nearly had me in tears of frustration. I couldn't give up, but I'd broken the "rules". There was no one here but me to hold myself accountable, and already the framework I'd set for myself rubbed raw in several places.
I have to keep my eyes on the goal, keep focused, continue moving forward. Even if that means going back a bit.