Day 13 – Ugly feet need love too!

4:45am, the horse finally took it’s Benadryl, and my alarm wakes me up. I slowly arise and start packing my stuff up slowly. The usual routine is:  
 
  • Roll Sleeping Bag  
  • Roll Mattress  
  • Clean Clothes on  
  • Bandage & Lubricate Feet  
  • Brush Teeth, Pit stick & Suntan Lotion  
  • Put everything in small containers and ready to exit tent.  
  • Fill pockets with voice recorder, money, etc.  
  • Take stuff out of tent  
  • Pull the tent poles apart and roll the tent up.  
  • Fold tarp  
  • Stack everything on cart and bungee together.  

It’s at this time, and if I’m ahead of the sunrise, that I will take out the little camp stove and make a cup of coffee and some oatmeal. I love drinking that coffee and welcoming the new day! With the feet rested, the temperatures low, and the sounds of roosters in the distance, it is great to be alive. After breakfast, time to hit the road and get as many miles under my belt before the heat steals your energy and mental motivation.

Look both ways before crossing

As a former Navy guy, you were forced to learn how to live in small quarters and sharing your space with others. This required organization and compartmentalization of all your supplies. Each day I’m reminded of how important it is that everything has its place, and if you take it out, be sure to put it back. Without that, you misplace or lose something quickly!  

(It’s too bad that I didn’t apply this logic to my home life over the last 20 years. Many a wallet and sets of keys have ended up in lost-and-founds due to my scatter brain.)  

Back to my point, do you remember those spanking new sunglasses I wrote about yesterday? Well, they came in a fancy case for them to live in. Management of the glasses is when one pair leaves, the other pair goes in the case. But what happens at night, when they both need a home? I can tell you what, trouble happens! Following my routine of packing up camp, I was placing everything back in my large container. As usual, I’m squashing, contorting, and attempting to make everything as small as possible. I’m used to this and make it work every day. Today was like just any other, except today added extra crunching noises as I’m folding the tent in half to fit in my bin. Odd, but I didn’t think anything of it. Crunching just means I’m put a little extra ‘oomph’ into it.  

While drinking my coffee and the sun coming up, I realized I didn’t have my glasses on. WAIT ONE GOOD GOSH DARN SECOND! WHERE IS MY GLASSES? EEEK! (I really didn’t make that noise) Immediately my thoughts went back to the crackling when folding the tent up. I jump back to the bin and pull out the tent and begin feeling around. Yup, inside was what feels like a pair of glasses. I unfolded the tent carefully and guess what? Those pesky little varmints were still in top-notch condition and ready to start the day. I am a lucky man today. The management of eyewear has become a level 1 priority at night and will not happen again…I hope.  

Marching up the road towards Atlanta, I realized that ‘Yes’, I did push myself a little too hard yesterday. The new blister on the side of the foot was a big baby and kept letting me know about it all day. Plantations on the left and plantations on the right, it was a beautiful morning and a bunch of small towns to walk through.  

Let the jokes begin!

Let’s get back to the feet. As far as I can remember, I have had the ugliest feet known to man kind. Yes, the parents got a little snaggle in their toes, but I think their genes combined created a super breed of ugly foot. Odd angles, huge calluses, narrow, unnatural colors, you name it. I always wanted a pair of feet that made cool prints in the sand or wet foot prints when walking on pavement. Nope, my tread looks like a horse and an ostrich mated. I digress…  

But no matter how ugly they are, they were always quite functional. This cat could walk for days. Growing up on the mean streets of Lolo, Mt you had to walk everywhere. It was 10 miles to Missoula, a couple of miles to the river, or to a friend’s house. Since I seemed to have mowed everybody’s lawn in town, I pushed that lawn mower all over town, up and down the freeway. Whoa! That sounds eerily familiar to what I’m doing today??? As I grew up and into early adulthood, I could walk for days and never have a problem with foot pain. Once I was in downtown Seattle and I had to wait for a buddy to get off of work. I told him I would just walk around until he could pick me up. He picked me up 25 miles North of town, just before his apartment. So what is my point?  

While my feet were ugly, they were very functional. That all ended a couple of years ago, when an ex-girlfriend decided that my dogs needed to be groomed! I guess all high-class men in our circle had pedicures, and now I was going to be the victim recipient of one also. As I lie on the bed, watching her unveil the arsenal of tools she had for this project, I knew this couldn’t be good. She was focused on this project as any good neurosurgeon might be. I think one of the tools even had a small 2-stroke engine. I don’t know, I may have blacked out by this point. Towards the end of the experience, you could see the satisfaction in her eye as the end came near. Her final act, was to apply this cheese grater looking tool. She was sawing the bottom of my foot off and creating a pile on the floor. She stopped…when she drew blood! I now had pretty feet, I was told! Happy that the whole experience was over, I got up and started to walk out of the bedroom. The pain set in! 38 years of padding had just been removed from the bottom of my feet. If you remember the scene in the movie ‘King Pin’ where the man saws off the horses hoofs(sp?),that is how I felt. I was now one inch shorter. In addition, it hurt to walk (on carpet) for the next month! Each day I have plenty of time to think about how my feet would feel today, if I hadn’t accepted the offer of the pedicure. All I know, is that ugly feet need love too! Ladies, embrace your man’s ugly feet. Who knows, he may want to walk 3000 miles someday. 

 About noon today, the sun really kicked in. While only in the high 80s’, the humidity hit me like a wall and slowed my march towards Atlanta. I only had about 7 more miles to go until I reached my pick-up point, but it was brutal. Literally had to stop every mile to nurse the feet and just get out of the sun. I know….whhaaaayyyyyyy. 

 It was now the end of the day, I was sitting in the shade and waiting for Jett Johnson to come pick me up. I was excited to meet Jett and get a chance to know him as we fought the rush hour traffic through downtown Atlanta. After a few logistical hiccups, Jett arrived and we tossed my trusty Runabout into the back of his green Jeep Cherokee. Starting off on the right foot, Jett immediately bestowed a cold Gatorade in my hands. I like him already! 

 Jett, a Major in the Marine Corps, was very friendly and eased into conversation just like any of us would when we first meet somebody. Which of course is always starting a conversation talking about… shooting people! Duh! 🙂

Semper Fi my brother!

The hour of traffic went by quickly and Jett shared a lot about living in the south (Tallahassee to Atlanta), his many deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and most importantly, his growing family. Jett and Meredith have a brand new spanking baby boy about 11 months old. In addition to his child with Meredith, he has an 8 and 11-year-old from a previous marriage.  Before I got into the car with Jett, he made a joke about Fabreze’ing me down first. Funny guy…but he should have. I stunk! We made it to the house and I immediately headed directly to the shower. I must have been in the shower 30 minutes. Wow, it was wonderful! After the shower, I of course put back on some stinky clothes. I made sure I put my long leg pants on, as my skeeter bit legs were looking a bit nasty. After cleaning up, I arose from the basement, greeted by their labs (Angus and Mayhem). Also bouncing around the living room was Meredith’s 5 year old son Conner. With his super-hero pajamas and flying his model F-18 Hornet around the kitchen, I knew I liked this kid!

Jett, Meredith and baby William

Chips and guacamole was on the table, a Margarita was in my hand and fajitas were being set on the table. Are you kidding me? If this is the hobo-lifestyle, I’m down like a clown for more hobo living! I gave Meredith a big hug and we now actually met each other for the second time in person. I chowed down about 4 fajitas and got full. I’m a bit mad at my stomach, as I wanted to stockpile that good food internally if I could. Nope, wasn’t going to happen. During dinner we of course talked about my walk so far, very little about our previous work together, and sprinkled with a little Marine sniper talk for dessert.  

<actually I can’t confirm the sniper talk, but I think we did. If not, it was probably about pistols. Awesome!>  

My buddy Conner and baby William

After dinner we cleaned up a bit and then went into the living room and had a post-dinner beer. Meredith suggested her favorite, ‘Sweetwater’ made from a local brewery in Atlanta. Meredith actually did her graduate school work at the brewery. I’m sure there was many a night studying the intricate details of the brewing process. Right Meredith? 🙂  

After the beer, my eyes were drooping and it was about an hour past my bedtime. We said goodnight and I said goodbye to Jett. He would be gone in the morning and I wouldn’t see him upon my return walking the next day. I was also informed that the spare room was actually the bedroom for the dogs. They offered to put the dogs outside, but I said “NO”. Bring’em on! I guess the dogs usually own the bed. Mayhem gets the pillows and Angus gets the rest of the bed. I was ready for this Lab loving challenge!  

Angus and Mayhem

Before I could even draw back the covers, Angus jumped on the bed and strategically blocked my entrance. I faked him out with a zag to the left. He fell for it and I was able to secure a pillow and enough real-estate to sleep for the night. Angus then proceeded to arrange himself that his body was next to mine and his head on my arm. Mayhem however was a little upset about me stealing his pillow-laden real-estate. Mayhem decided to sleep on the floor.  

Amongst friends and embraced by the unbridled love of their pets, it was a good night!

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