In July 11 Issue
By Derek AaronRussell County News Edito
A Cincinnati man and his dog stopped in Russell Springs late last week on their way to New Orleans. The interesting part? He is traveling the entire trip, nearly 1,000 miles, on foot.
Cary Pope started the journey with his 11-month old Pit Bull, Brandi, on June 6 and hopes to be in New Orleans by the first of August.
He has now traveled more than 200 miles into his trip at the moment.
Pope lived in New Orleans a year after Hurricane Katrina hit the area.
Working as a machinist, he was trying to help those in need that were left in the storm’s wake.
After finding it difficult to settle down in the storm-ravaged city due to the high cost of living, Pope faced a dilemma, he could either become homeless himself in New Orleans or head back to his home in Elmwood, a suburb of Cincinnati.
After spending some time in and out of New Orleans’ motels, Pope left his tools with Bollinger Shipyards, Inc., the company he was working with, and made his way back to Ohio.
Now, only a few years later, Pope has decided to go back to New Orleans, where life has slowly gotten back to normal following the disaster, and look for work yet again.
But why walk? Pope, a former Marine, said he was walking to experience a part of the U.S.A. and to give back to his home community.
“I had a friend set me up with a Web site and I hit the road,” Pope said. That Web site is www.mywalktoneworleans.com
Through the site, one can keep up with Pope as blogs about the sights and sounds of the towns and cities he passes through. Pope also said you can donate to the cause on his site as well.
“You take some, you give some,” he said. “That’s my philosophy in life.”
Of the donations he receives through the site, he said he will donate 50 percent of it to St. Jude Hospital.
“I chose them as the charity I would help if people would help me along my journey,” he said. “I’m having a blast, I’m getting to see the country side.”
“How many modern day men can say that they walked 1,000 miles of America,” he said. Pope, who has no wife or children, said that since he had no family responsibilities, he could complete the long walk on his own time.
With no job set in stone, Pope decided to trek the entire way on foot, without accepting rides from motorists.
And last week his journey brought him down U.S. 127 through Russell County.
That’s when Brandi came up with a sore paw and left Pope in a pickle.
With no choice but to carry his dog, Pope trudged onward.
“A lady saw me carrying my dog and she picked me up and took me over to Dr. Coffey’s,” Pope said. “He took a look at Brandi for me free of charge and told me she just needed a couple days rest.”
From there, Pope said he called the Russell Springs Police Department and asked if they knew a place he could stay for a couple days while Brandi healed.
The answer was Veteran’s Fairgrounds in Russell Springs. He said Sgt. Troy Young called around and set up the stay at the grounds with the Jaycees and Larry Holt, who runs his thoroughbred stable out of the fairgrounds.
“Troy Young really went the extra step to make sure that I got set up for a couple days,” he said.
“Everybody that has taken time to speak has been very nice,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting that.”
Pope said he figured being an African-American man walking along the side of the road would bring out some of the bad stereotypes from people the deeper south he traveled, but that hasn’t been the case.
“A couple of families have even taken me in for meals,” he said. One couple, Kenny and Linda Smith from Corinth, Ky. also allowed him to stay a night at their home, he said.
“You walk the small roads, stop at the small groceries, talk to some of the locals and you realize rural folks have got the same thing we have in the city with less congestion,” he said. “And they look like they’re having more fun.”
There are parts of the trip he has found fascinating.
“For me it’s neat to see livestock out in the field,” he said.
But the trip isn’t without its dangers. Pope said he had played the summer heat wrong on a couple of occasions and nearly overheated himself and Brandi.
After a few scares, Pope said he now walks early in the morning or late in the evening.
“I try to follow a route to where there is no more than 20 miles between towns,” he said.
“I can pack enough water for 20 miles for both of us but if it gets more than 20 miles, I start to get a little stressed out.”
Pope said he walks 3-6 mile treks before resting each time.
Pope said he usually camps by the side of the road, stays close by gas stations or asks the police in each town where to camp if he has an extended stay.
“I got to give it up to the good Lord for getting me this far, you know,” he said. “You can’t do anything without him.”
He said he begins and ends each day with a prayer and it is his faith that keeps him going.
“I’m just trying to get my life back together,” he said.
“And I can’t do that without my tools so I’m going back to get them.”
“There is plenty of work on the Gulf Coast for machinists, so that’s where I am going to stay,” Pope said.
Pope acknowledges the trip is a long, tough road but said it may be his only chance to get his life back together.
“I question my sanity about three or four times a day,” he said with a laugh. “I really do.”
Pope’s journey can also be followed on Myspace.com/479167813 or on Twitter at twitter.com/longwalk1cp . Late this week, Pope had reached Nashville, Tenn. after leaving Kentucky.