travelers-tales

By Connard Hogan

Seventeenth Annual Solas Award Bronze Winner in the Travel & Sports category

The early hour, along with the jet lag which gripped me like a vise, muddied my senses and conspired to mute my enthusiasm. But I re-stuffed my day pack, and with Hadrian’s Wall Path guidebook in hand, legged it the quarter mile under gray overcast to the ruins of Segedunum Fort, the eastern terminus of Hadrian’s Wall.
I could’ve hired a car or used convenient countryside buses. I could’ve accessed “the Wall” from two-lane roads in dozens of places, taken short strolls, and arrived at my evening’s lodging with my feet none the worse for wear. But no! I wanted to hoof Hadrian’s Wall Path westward for the entire eighty-four miles from Segedunum (Wallsend, Newcastle) to Maia (Bowness-on-Solway).
I’d decided to collect the six stamps on a “Hadrian’s Wall Path Summer Passport.” The Segedunum museum and ruins wouldn’t open for several hours and the deadline to complete my eight-day mid-June trek and meet Janet, my wife, in Birmingham, pressed on my mind like a case of flu, and I didn’t intend to skip one stride along “the Wall path,” so I collected my first stamp at a nearby gas station, an official alternate site.
I examined the Roman names listed on the plaque affixed to a short section of the remaining Wall. Where? Wallsend, of course. English place names are so sensible!

An acknowledgment to a few Roman soldiers who helped construct the wall

I imagined a twenty-year-old conscript’s scribbled message on the monument, “Kilroius was here.”

For want of a travel companion, I dragged Kilroius with me as I marched along the asphalt path aside the Tyne riverbank which meandered through Newcastle. Standing five-foot-seven, average Roman height at that time, and as a result of his physical conditioning from helping build the wall, Kilroius could likely out-pace me.
With no need for weapons on this trek, Kilroius instead carried his kit of spare clothes, food rations, a cooking pot, a short spade, a hand mill for grinding corn and two wooden stakes to help build a protective fence, everything hung from a long pole he rested over his left shoulder.
Prepared for temperamental English weather, my own gear included wind and wet-weather clothes, long johns and sweater, bottled water and snacks, a few medications, sunglasses and hat, and guidebook.
Not sure about Kilroius–who could be anywhere, I figured–I planned to eat and sleep my way along the route dotted with hotels, B&Bs and pubs more numerous than the twenty-one forts the Romans had constructed and manned.
Give or take, a thousand paces counted silently marked our first mile by legion standards, but hadn’t gotten us out of Newcastle with all its concrete and buildings, coffee bars and pastry shops which didn’t befit my idea of Hadrian’s Wall or the Roman Empire.

Make no mistake, I enjoyed the sight of the seven bridges built over River Tyne.
An invisible boundary of the city limits, marked by the transition from concrete and asphalt to open green fields, bordered by trees, reminded me less of this century and one Kilroius might recognize.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 CE, the remains of the Wall have been augmented with a hiker’s path, which deviates occasionally but follows the remaining structure as closely as demeaned feasible.
If my aching feet weren’t complete liars, I’d made good progress, though the day’s distance might have been more of a stroll for infantryman Kilroius.
Close House Country Club, one mile off the path, proved the nearest lodging I could wrangle by cell phone at late notice, though my feet didn’t appreciate the additional pounding and jet lag was doing me no favors.
I discovered a plague of small blisters–any number of which could strike down the best walker–populated my feet, which in conjunction with my sore legs provided no incentive to continue. An assortment of bandages applied, I hoped to staunch their advancement. Kilroius’ feet fared far better, I’d bet, thickly calloused from marching in his flat, hobnailed leather sandals.

~~~

Kilroius and I nearly beat the rooster crow as we stepped out of the hotel our second morning, and into a crisp light breeze under a cotton-cloud sky.

Not long after our start, I noticed signs for “Military Way.” A plaque aside Hadrian’s Wall Path announced the paved road—a major indignity imposed upon the Wall by overlaying a portion of “the Vallum”—had been built wide and level to allow quick dispatch of English General Wade’s troops to ward off Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 18th century CE. The asphalt pavement layer added later, for sure.

At its glory, as a composite structure, the Wall consisted of numerous features, constructed both in front and behind its name sake of layered stone blocks. One V-shaped ditch to the north, nine feet deep and known as the “fighting ditch,” would’ve provided pause to any attacker, as its shape served to break ankles at the bottom. While Roman soldiers had ample angle and opportunity to rein down spears from a parapet atop the stone barrier in places nine feet wide and twelve feet high.

No doubt, Kilroius would’ve expected to fight for his life on short notice, much as I’d expected in Vietnam, though a wound to him would more likely have proved fatal. I grew more impressed as I studied the Wall’s complexity.

A wide flat area, a “military zone” or “way,” lay south of the stone wall, and provided easy movement along the defensive line. During an attack, Kilroius and his cohorts could deploy between observation posts at a run, cavalry in front or behind. At other times, supply wagons would’ve hauled silage for horses, and a variety of grains and meats for soldiers.

A raised earthen mound bounded the south side of the military way, followed by a twenty-foot-wide ditch with a flat bottom, and yet another mound, all of which comprised the Vallum. The term vallum, derived from vallus (stake), suggests the trench or mounds on either side were studded with cross-hatched stakes. I grimaced as I pictured bamboo bungee stakes, as we knew them in Vietnam.

Constructing these defenses, part of Kilroius’ duties, could’ve kept his calloused hands endlessly busy, as the Wall remained a work-in-progress under Roman rule, complicated to no end with various features constructed, amended, or decommissioned over time.

In more recent times, for better or worse, well-meaning individuals rebuilt sections of the stone barrier, but not necessarily to original specifications. My attempt to understand the nuances of this conglomerated mix of historical facts felt akin to teasing a thread from a hairball.

Why had the Roman’s expended so much energy on constructing these formidable features? Thwart malcontented Caldones to the north, who would meld with an infusion of Irish and Norse to become the Scots centuries later, and therby prevent their spoiling the otherwise acceptable demeanor of the inhabitants to the south, doing their own melding with the occupying Romans—then later the Anglo-Saxons and Norse—to become the English. In addition, the wall served to deter would-be deserters.

The Romans moved their defensive line northward and southward over several hundred years. Hadrian’s Wall, and the similarly constructed Antonine Wall at the more porous Gask Frontier some one-hundred miles farther north, both occupied swaths across present-day England and Scotland at different times, until the Romans abandoned the British Isles in the fourth century CE.

Bruised feelings between the melded northerners and southerners continue to this day, seems to me, though the grumblings aren’t as vehement.

When I crested a long, gentle hill, I spotted a concession caravan parked aside the road and surrounded by a partially-mowed grassy knoll. I realized that for only a few shillings a hot breakfast of fried eggs, English bacon, tomatoes, and mushrooms awaited me. Done deal! English hiking is so sensible.

I imagined Kilroius snacked on a portion of his military ration, a chunk of aged cheese, dried meat, or something akin to bread.

At Robin Hood Inn, right aside the path, I collected my second “Wall Path” stamp, while across the adjacent road a foraging mob of free-range chickens pillaged the local insect population.

Stone stiles, “kissing” gates, and wooden stairs along the path marked transitions from one field to the next, provided a change of pace and discouraged uninvited four-legged grazers from indiscriminately sampling adjacent pastures.

I counted ten kissing gates that controlled the path around one small farm.

Not far beyond, I passed through Halton Shields at deliberate speed—what had inspired that name?—then encountered a well-preserved section of Vallum. If only the entire Wall path were so straight, level, and easy to travel, my feet would sing praises.

The earthen works of Hadrian’s Wall lay altered by natural erosion, farmers’ plows, and hooves of herd animals, not so much from their contempt but the expediency of cultivation and grazing.

Past Halton, and the remains of another Roman Fort, the path, oblivious to the Wall, deviated down a stretch of paved road.

The terrain near level, the path reunited with River Tyne and led me towards Dilston Mill, past small clusters of trees, my sense of English countryside.

Then came Hexham. The history of buildings, the place names, and the undulating landscape encouraged endless questions. What had happened there before or since Kilroius? Regardless, I contented myself with snippets of information from my guidebook.

Leaving Acomb, I kept an eye peeled for the “bull in the field,” as the guidebook warned. Though I didn’t spot a menacing bovine, I utilized the smallest space possible and moved with purpose, intent on avoiding an incorrect impression of permanent residence.

Step-by-step across rolling countryside my fascination for the Wall’s complexity increased, as well as my appreciation of the associated history created by generation of inhabitants who’d farmed, hunted, traded, and squabbled over who could do what, and to whom.

Along its length locals repurposed the Wall’s stones for churches and pasture fencing, many specimens initially quarried and dragged into place, some in excess of one ton. At best, the Wall lay ignored and neglected as a coherent and organized defensive line after the Roman armies departed, and at worst, endured plunder and other indignities, which to some degree continues today as walkers tramp atop selected sections.

During Kilrous’ day a mile-castle at every thousand paces housed about thirty soldiers, and in between stood two equidistant turrets, aka observation posts, occupied by ten troops each. Surely, Kilroius would’ve spent a few fortnights on guard duty at one of those.

Twenty-one larger forts, constructed in strategic locations, garrisoned larger numbers. In some cases, fort locations predated the Wall, some located well south of it. Signals moved along the Wall by sight, while messages galloped at horse speed or as fast as Kilroius’ feet could carry him. At one time Roman forces increased from a measly three thousand soldiers to an intimidating fifteen thousand.

To their credit Roman troops defended the Wall, suffering relatively few intrusions. However, a significant breach occurred near the end of the 2nd century CE, and thus, a major rebuild commenced during the reign of Emperor Severus. His response? Add more stones and cement them with lime.

The Wall, never meant to be impenetrable, served to funnel people to checkpoints, where the Romans determined who came and went, and collected tolls from those trading goods. I surmise the local Caldones held a dim view of Roman taxation. Although the inhabitants to the south may not have liked the foreign presence and rule, their acceptance provided a greater peace and prosperity afforded by Roman order and engineering . . . paved roads, hot baths, indoor plumbing to name several. Those locals retained Roman practices and methods after the legions marched off in 409 CE.

Surely, the Romans considered holding this frontier as secondary to the defense of other territories on the continent, even more so their homeland, per their partial garrison withdrawals in 197, 296, and 367 CE.

I encountered junctures of footpaths crisscrossing the countryside. In numerous places Kilroius and I found our way by following strips of mowed grass through the fields, while minding indiscriminately placed cow and sheep droppings. While the scattered woodlands, and the cultivated fields lined with trees and hedges, some populated with itinerant cattle and sheep, encouraged my eye to bathe in green luxury.

I’d had enough walking, and tired and hungry, as my feet screamed for relief from a second day of forced marching, I set sights on Chollerford, where I secured a bed at the Swallow George on the north bank of River North Tyne.

Settled into my room, I eased off my shoes and socks.

Egads! My blisters had merged into one on the bottoms of both heels, as if in conspiracy. Little surprise though, disturbing messages had barraged me all day. The time for more serious action had arrived. As a tenderfoot compared to Kilroius, I applied artificial moleskin to my heels.

~~~

Third morning, I hobbled onward. I would’ve bet Kilroius puzzled over my self-imposed suffering. I couldn’t imagine his life easy at the frontier, or for that matter, anywhere.

I endeavored to wish my ailments away as I collected my third stamp at Chesters, not far from that morning’s start. But it didn’t work. Each footstep brought another burning ache.

The landscape opened to distant views as trees, less frequent, hid in wind-protected spots along the way, while gentle green hills stretched into the distant view. Moorlands, the English call them.       Periodic north-facing crags, growing more frequent, formed a gentle arc on their trajectory westward while the Wall followed the high ground, which afforded unimpeded views.

Despite the chilled wind hurrying southward, I paused with Kilroius at a hill’s crest and imagined I could see Scotland, though knew better, as it lay some miles beyond the horizon.

The Sewingshields Turret plaque provided detailed information about the original turret construction. Built on top of the stone wall every three hundred Roman paces, one hundred and sixty-one “observation towers” lined the defensive structure. Itinerant families may have even occupied some for a period. However, ground-level stones had been removed long ago, while their wooden second levels may have rotted away or been burned by disgruntled Caldones.

As a result of the various human activities the remaining original stone structure of the Wall lies primarily in the hilly mid-section of England, where the earthen works and foundations of mile-castles and turrets remain in fine example, if only in fragments, and provide a glimpse of the Wall’s grandeur.

The thought of the large expanse of moorland to the north under gray-overcast provided me no comfort and left me feeling alone and wanting the warmth of my wife, Janet. Surely, Kilroius would’ve suffered homesickness, too. And as I had in Vietnam, I’d bet Kilroius hot-footed to his local Roman version of a cat house to get “some strange,” his pay as a conscript too meager to maintain a wife and doubtless burning a hole in his tunic.

Sycamore Gap piqued my interest. A tree, tucked into the low point next to a gate in the Wall, held solitary vigil. Its gnarled branches, spread to a wide green canopy, softened the bleak isolation. There when Kilroius helped lay stones in the Wall?

I’d spotted the Twice Brewed Inn—who’d come up with that name?—at some two-miles distance, situated on moorland and aside the paved road occasioned by traffic. My guidebook had spurred me towards it since my first steps that morning. I certainly didn’t want to cuddle with Kilroius in the open air through a frosty night. Fortunately for me, a narrow, paved road lead me southward and downhill towards my best bet for a dry bed, warm meal, and a pint of brew within miles.

Ready for a good sit with an appetite to boot, Twice Brewed fulfilled my expectations. A serving of Shepard’s Pie and pint of Guinness hit the spot, while my feet throbbed and I looked through a pub windows at the pass where I’d labored in the chilled wind only shortly before.

Kilroius would’ve built himself a makeshift shelter for the night, then cooked his meal or eaten cold rations, poor fellow.

On the other hand, my foot blisters, grown worse, served as my “Achilles heels.” I threw more moleskin at the problem . . . bigger pieces applied over smaller ones.

~~~

My fourth day, I struck out for Walton, some seventeen miles away, engaged in a personal survival march. Gray sky and brisk wind suggested more unpleasant weather on the way and the heels of my soles, each possessed by one blister larger than a silver dollar, burned when pressed. I doubted Kilroius ever complained if he even had blisters. My generous application of moleskin, my only remedy, did little to ease my suffering. But of a one-track mind, I limped along.

Back on the path I soon reached an obelisk, the highest point along the Wall. I needed a psych boost, so imagined my trek was all downhill from there, though I knew otherwise. The cool breeze encouraged me to move on after I persuaded an east bound walker to commemorate my presence with a photo.
Beyond Caw Gap, I passed the last example headed west of narrow wall on broad foundations, which continued to run along the south side of north-facing crags.

My guidebook’s promise of an alter at Great Chesters Fort, a structure Kilroius would’ve called Aesica, swayed me to stop for a perusal. Underwhelmed, I had to admit some two thousand years wouldn’t be kind to any stone exposed to the elements and I hoped I’d look so good after that length of time.

I noticed level ground immediately to the north and below the trail’s escarpment, where graveled paths surrounded a small tranquil lake. An abandoned quarry, my thought—some stones removed to build the wall centuries ago—turned public use area.

A dozen plus young shoulder-high recruits stood in the open, huddled not-so-intently, dressed in garb hinting of Roman soldiers and hardheartedly holding plywood shields, only somewhat at the ready. Their level of enthusiasm, or near complete lack of, suggested conscription. I could relate as an army draftee, figured Kilroius could too.

I watched as I moved along.  An adult male “drill sergeant” worked to inspire the “newbie” legionnaires. Several other adults looked on from nearby. Reenactment rehearsal, Haltwhistle contingent, I surmised after a check with my guidebook.

The path led me along a well-preserved stretch of ditch with an adjacent earth mound, past a two-story stone structure with arrow-defense slits, repurposed as a latter-day barn.

I proceeded through Gilsland where the gravel path skirted a lush garden, attended to by the owner, I presumed. I decided not to disturb her, as she didn’t look up from her chore of maintaining a tidy garden and in earnest to resist invaders.

A few steps along and where the path veered right, a stone-arch bridge grabbed my attention. The guidebook indicated that bridge had been constructed in the early period of the industrial revolution. Another example of layered English history.

Near Willowford, a modern bridge traversed the Irthing River, my low point on the Wall Path today and near where the Romans had joined the wall’s two separate building projects, one from the west, the other from the east.

The Irthing seemed a creek by my Kentucky standards, but who was I to judge? I appreciated crossing via a bridge, loathing soggy footgear with the accompaniment of pruney toes.
Past an imaginary halfway point, and aware of the progress achieved in spite of my blistered feet, aching knees, and tired muscles, I collected my fourth stamp at Birdoswald.
I stepped off the path a few steps to peruse a self-help snack-shop mentioned in the guidebook. A prefab, over-grown playhouse offered edibles on-the-go, and excellent shelter from foul weather, if I’d needed it. Assorted cookies, slices of cakes and bags of chips lay spread across a small table. No corn for Kilroius in sight, however. Nearby a price list accompanied the request, “Leave the appropriate money in the basket.”

Based on the honor system, I added the price of one cookie to the till before I moved on.
Walton, a tiny village sprawled over a rich-green hill, appeared from several miles away. The last quarter mile of gentle grade up the narrow two-lane road didn’t appeal to my aching feet, but hellbent for the Centurion Inn for my night’s rest, I hobbled on.

My blisters ached. I dreaded removing the moleskin, and imagining the worst, opted to delay that procedure until after a cooked meal. Two steps lead me downward into the dining area . . . and for good reason. I crouched slightly to avoid the split, twisted exposed wood beams not barely high enough off the floor for my head to clear. Walls out of vertical, their surfaces uneven, nothing of the room at a true right angle, everything sagged from age.

Numerous tables, all unoccupied, filled the tidy, brightly-painted room, furnished with modern English-style décor. I positioned myself for a panoramic view of the room.

“How old is this pub?” I asked the owner when he served me my meal.
“You could’ve enjoyed your meal here during George III’s reign,” he said.
That was real history. I’d learned about the American Revolution in school, albeit the American version. Kilroius reminded me that the history there stretched back ten-times farther. Stonehenge’s silent watch, not that many miles away, spans beyond four millennia.

Back in my room, I decided the moleskin on my feet could last another day and pictured Kilroius preparing his bivouac shelter and his evening gruel. I appreciated that my life was better in so many ways.

~~~

On my fifth morning, gray clouds suggested wet weather, which stifled my enthusiasm.

Shortly after, a steady drizzle soaked the path, though my rain gear kept me dry. Bovines huddled under nearby trees, while I skirted puddles and worked to distinguish mud from manure.

Upside? With the vegetation washed, colors seemed brighter, and with the air scrubbed of the aroma of dung, the air smelled a little sweeter. I wondered when the rain would let up as I approached a second self-help snack shop, which enticed me to part with more payola. After some deliberation, I gave it a pass.
Scant evidence of the Wall testified to man’s more recent busy work. The guidebook noted a straight stretch where hikers were, “Walking on the wall or least on the line of it.” Within a short distance the path, continuing straight, followed a paved road, before veering to the south down a puddled, mud track through a farm. One tree in full yellow bloom amid the greenery, and the cessation of drizzle, provided me hope that the sun would soon return. Had Kilroius ever felt subdued by bad weather?
Stag Inn lifted my spirits with an offer of rest out of the breeze, but I continued.
Beyond Crosby-On-Eden, splashes of red and yellow blossoms crowded along the path as I neared the Wallfoot Hotel. About five minutes away from the Wall, an eternity for my aching feet, the middle-19th century architecture provided a welcomed change of pace, another dose of the varied, rich English history.
I focused on the good, the bad . . . and the ugly of my blisters as I gingerly peeled away the moleskin. My blisters had drained of fluid miles ago, while the loose dead, ghost-white skin that covered the raw, ill-prepared tissue underneath threatened to tear away. My heels looked worse than they felt, as long as I didn’t tug the loose skin. Buying time for my new skin to take on its assigned task, I reapplied moleskin to my heels with the dead skin in place. I wanted as much padding as I could get, dead skin and tape would be better than nothing. I decided I’d add an extra pair of socks tomorrow.

After a cooked meal and climbing under the soft, clean sheets of my bed, the room’s features provided opportunity for my mind to ponder a more recent part of English history. Meanwhile Kilroius prepared his bivouac outside, likely using a sheep skin and his woolen cloak, aka sagum, which seconded as a blanket. As I dozed off, thoughts of nineteenth-century authors, such as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy mixed with my imaginations of British activities to expand and defend their seafaring empire.

~~~

Well rested and showered, Kilroius never had it so good, I faced my sixth morning with fresh resolve. I favored the balls of my feet but traveling tiptoe failed to alleviate my misery.

With the rain gone, though the sky overcast, bare ground offered firmer footing. Distant views obscured by clusters of trees and signs of human activity, the Wall path led to and from River Eden.

Nearer Carlisle, the path crossed the Eden, then clung to the north side. A sloped bank, farther north and topped with houses, curved nearer as I advanced.

The path recrossed the Eden by bridge. As my feet deserved a rest, warranted by sufficient progress, I stopped at Sands Sports Center Cafe for my fifth stamp and “a cuppa and scone,” as the English say.

That traditional English beverage is so sensible. No doubt in my mind, the British Empire had been built with the help of tea consumption.

With my midday pick-me-up shot of caffeine and sugar boost, I re-shouldered my pack and moved on. I suspected Kilroius appreciated our rest period, though my version of forced-march was not as strenuous as the twenty-mile stretches Kilroius would’ve been expected to complete.

Another stone-arched railway bridge, built long after Kilroius’ presence and unused now, reminded me of a Roman aqueduct. The stones pilfered from the wall?

Along the riverbank, the path meandered, first uphill and away from the Wall, then downhill and back. My pace slowed. With long looks at St. Michael’s, the Burgh-By-Sands village church, I couldn’t help but think the Wall had provided many stones for its construction, and perhaps a gravestone or two within its walled grounds.

I limped into the Rosemount B&B at glacial speed, like I walked on hot coals, though I noted I’d maintained a fair pace on my trek, up to fifteen miles a day. No dinner served there, I eased my way towards the local pub/restaurant, the Greyhound Inn.

Just shy of the inn, I encountered a statue of Edward I. The inscription read, “Hammer of the Scots,” and “died near here on 7 July 1307.” More proof of the bad blood between northerners and southerners that continued after the Romans departed.

I’d learned that Kilroius wasn’t a talker, so I struck up conversation with two fellow Wall walkers, who introduced themselves as Herman and Marian. Turned out, Herman—Danish, I think he said—planned to write about the Wall with Marian’s assistance. I mentioned my blisters since commiseration of infirmities is part of fellow walkers’ discussions, and Herman offered a “special” salve to help toughen my heels. Though a little late per my advanced malady, but not one to reject a gift horse, I accepted his offering.

Couldn’t hurt, I reasoned, though I dismissed the idea of an application of the cream any time soon.

~~~

Little had changed during the night, and on my seventh morning, I expected the loose-flap remnants of my blisters remained plastered against my heels, while the tender tissue underneath complained of bloody murder. Yet I crept along, not much faster than a three-legged tortoise.

Spurred on by my shortest day hike ahead, the Wall Path terminus within easy reach, and my adjustment to the on-going agony-of-the-feet, encouraged me to “keep a stiff upper lip,” as the British do. My legs, adjusted to the routine, fared better. Blue sky beyond a scattered cloud-cover offered hope, warm sun better than chill breeze.
A short distance downhill, the path leveled and followed the River Eden south bank, which at some imperceptible point became an estuary. I watched a dozen cows wad yards into the shallow water from shoreline as I limped past. Seemed they didn’t give a sot one way or the other who called it what.

Between the stands of trees, what I guessed to be poplars, a curved shoreline in a widening bay appeared and disappeared as I progressed.

I debated a stop for “a cuppa” in Dykesfield. Instead, I hurried along the paved road beyond which skirted wave-sloshed mudflats, though high-tide schedules posted on boards assured me I wouldn’t get swamped by in-coming water.
Near the Hope & Anchor Inn at Port Carlisle, I traced the last stretch of shoreline to the hill opposite me. No “Wall” built here, hadn’t been a need, the estuary and mudflats present a sufficient deterrent against anyone, or anything, on foot.

I crept onward.

Hope abounded when I spied a covered shelter spanning the path. Messages above the shelter’s entryway on the opposite side read, “Wallsend 84 miles,” and “Good luck go with you.”

After a few deep breaths, I collected the sixth and last stamp in my Hadrian’s Wall Path passport. My journey complete, I looked back down the path and recounted some of the complex history I’d traveled through. Then, with reluctance, I bid farewell to Kilroius and limped the few steps to the closest bus stop where I re-entered the 21st century . . . CE.

~~~

A child of the ’50s and ’60s, Connard Hogan dropped out of engineering school in 1968, and as a result of the draft, served in the US Army, including a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam. Following an honorable military discharge, he received a BS in Sociology at Western Kentucky University and then an MA in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling from the University of San Francisco. As a licensed therapist, Connard worked twenty-five years in various settings treating alcoholics and addicts and those suffering major psychiatric disorders before he retired. He authored Once Upon a Kentucky Farm: Hope and Healing from Family Abuse, Alcoholism and Family Dysfunction, which was published in 2022. Read more about Connard’s work at www.connardhogan.com