After a shorter run yesterday, I knew that today needed to be longer. After slow-jogging for a couple of miles, I decided I better slow it down and give my shins and feet a break.

There wasn’t a lot of variety on the trail today. In fact there wasn’t any trail to the trail today. Lots of road. Lots of farms, Lots of cows that gave me funny looks. A few dogs that flipped me off. And cows that expected that I must have more in my backpack than water and Clif bars.

I headed a North and East today. These next couple of days will the last of any South or East travel on the trail, before it really starts going West. After somewhere around 400 miles, you’d think I feel more accomplished than I do.

Yesterday, my hydration pack leaked all over me, so Dean drove to the nearest Wal Mart and found their brand of bladder pack and it seems to be holding up for now. The bite valve isn’t quite the same, but I can manage.

On top of that, this morning my beloved bone-conducting headphones broke on the earpiece. This – made me sad. I live in those things. I talk to folks when they call on my cell phone. I listen to music, audiobooks and podcasts. I identify with being one with my headphones. I was worried that the run was over right there. How do I cope?

I know, I know. First world problems. Whatever. You have your hangups. I have mine. Dean found duct tape in his truck (he even had the matching color), and I was able to live another day.

Now that the headphone crisis was temporarily averted, I couldn’t seem to get into a groove. I have all sorts of things to listen to on that phone, and nothing appealed to me at that moment, so I turned them off, pulled them down around my neck and tried to really pay attention to what was going on around me.

I seemed to be getting further from pig and chicken country, and entering the Cape Fear River Basin. It seems to be a low-lying area with lots of marsh mixed in with lots of cows. Crossing land with fewer stinky trucks trying to run me off the road or spray poop on me sounds like I’m heading in the right direction.

I turned East to Roseboro, a small town with a couple of turns. It was so neat and clean it looks like somebody went through there with a vacuum. I wasn’t there long enough to be creeped out by it’s perfectness, so after a couple of turns, I found an overpass under construction at the end of Roseboro and proceeded to… go the wrong way for about half a mile. Once Dean caught me and put me back into play, I proceeded to dodge large trucks and teenagers holding cell phones over their steering wheels. I can’t wait to get to some dirt.

After about 2 hours of no headphones, I popped them back on and called Mom. She mostly listened to me prattle on about what was happening right at that particular moment, and we may have starting devolved into whining about politics until she had to go drink a cup of coffee and I needed to find the nearest tree off the road.

I think there was a town of Clinton, not too far away from where I was traveling, but I only saw small clusters of farms, fields and foliage (I like alliteration), and after 25 miles, my feet and shins decided they had enough. That’s when I started the process of hitch-hiking back to camp.

Just kidding. Dean picked me up and we headed back to Chuck and the RV in our new campground location in Selma.

Set your site. Aim. Take a deep breath. Hold it. Let it out slowly while you… keep moving forward.