The Purple People Bridge Crossing on Saturday, March 7th, from Kentucky into Ohio was a resounding success. Luke and The Boys were accompanied by members of The Buckeye Bernese Mountain Dog Club and their beautiful dogs; Meg Stephenson, Executive Director of the Animal Friends Humane Society and her yellow lab, Monkey; Tim and George from KISS 107 FM and their friend Allie; Stephanie and Ray from Red Dog Resort and Spa; Marsha, one of The Boys' hosts from VeVay; and Carla from Rudy Greens, who came up from Louisville to be part of the event. Radio, newspaper, and camera crews and a host of other friends and their dogs also joined Hudson, Murphy, and Luke, who estimated there were between 30 to 40 people all told.
The Boys had arrived early, having made excellent time covering four and a half miles in about an hour and a half. Luke said the road to the bridge was all down hill and they had a good wind at their backs, so they made quick work of getting to the bridge ahead of schedule. As good fortune would have it, there was a restaurant on the Kentucky side of the bridge, and the trio stopped to rest on a bench nearby to wait for the others to arrive. One of the servers, Tim, came out to see what they were all about. Tim turned out to be a dog lover and he and Luke had a chance to talk a bit before he had to go back inside. But not before he said he’d like to make sure Hudson and Murphy had a special treat from the restaurant before they crossed the Purple People Bridge. About 10 minutes later the restaurant manager, Shannon, came out to talk with them (seems the whole staff of Brio’s Italian Restaurant are dog lovers) and before Luke knew it, there were two heaping plates of food for Hudson and Murphy – grilled chicken breast, mashed potatoes, and steamed veggies! Murphy hoovered his portion in seconds, and the photo of his Cheshire grin, taken right after he ate, says it all: "I fooled Papa! I got chicken!" Hudson also enjoyed the delicious food, but, as he is much more the refined gentleman, he didn't suck down his food in one gulp like his big brother. While The Boys enjoyed their meals, Shannon spoke with Luke and invited him to come back after the walk and have lunch.
About ten minutes to noon the crowd started to arrive. Luke suddenly found himself with cameras and microphones in his face. When one of the press asked him about the walk, Luke told the story of the man he'd met in Arkansas who was in total disbelief than anyone would walk half-way across the country for a dog. "Son," the man assured Luke, "dawgs is dawgs. You don't mean to tell me you're walking across the country for a dawg?" "You're damned right I am!" Luke said.
After speaking with the press and visiting with some of the folks and dogs who had gathered to walk with them, it was time to cross the Purple People Bridge.
So off they went -- Hudson and Murphy in the lead, Luke holding tight to their leashes, dogs and people, radio personalities and camera crews flanking them. It was quite a sight. When I asked Luke about the whole bridge experience, he said, "It was awesome!"
While the day was a bit cloudy, the temperature was comfortably in the 60s. And though there was a strong breeze, the structure is wide and there was plenty of room for everyone, so all arrived in Ohio safe and sound. No unexpected detours to Kansas.
After everyone had crossed the bridge and visited a while, taking pictures and enjoying the day and the company, they made their way back again across the bridge to Kentucky. About 20 people and their dogs stayed with Luke and The Boys to enjoy lunch at Brio's, who graciously supplied appetizers all around for free! Everyone enjoyed the extra time to relish the good food, talk with one another, love on all the dogs, and exchange stories. "A good time was had by all."
On his backpack, along with everything else he totes, Luke always carries the American flag and the flag of the state he's walking through. This time he had two state flags -- Kentucky and Indiana -- as the roads The Boys have been traveling have brought them back and forth between the two states. As he left Kentucky and crossed into Ohio, Luke carefully retired his Kentucky and Indiana flags and rolled out his flag of Ohio. This will be the 6th state flag Luke has carried with him, and it will be part of his gear until he reaches Pennsylvania.