Athol, Massachusetts— Thirty minutes past Leominster (“home of Johnny Appleseed,” or more accurately, “the place that Johnny Appleseed ran away from”) on Route 2A in Athol, we’ve officially, definitively, started our trip. We passed the house three times before we finally pulled into the driveway. It was the sign that stood out, I guess: “Need Prayer? Stop Here.” Because the point of the trip is to talk to people, and because, as prepared as we are, there’s no way we’ll make it three months without at least a little bit of heavenly help, we pulled over. A woman named Robyn came out to greet us. She’d lived in town for seven years, driven west by rising housing costs, but the weekly prayer groups are more recent occurence. A year ago, “He showed me the sign,” she says, speaking of the Lord. In a good week, seven people will stop by to join her and her husband; some are regulars, some just pop in off the highway unannounced. “I’ll meet people in town and they’ll mention the sign and I’ll say, ‘that’s me!'”
From here it’s on to the Mohawk Trail, west to North Adams and up into Vermont.