Archive for July, 2010

Seattle Children’s Hospital: 50 days, 100 reasons to give

“Individually we are one drop.  Together, we are an ocean”. – R. Satoro

Through the collaboration of physicians in nearly 60 pediatric subspecialties, Seattle Children’s Hospital provides inpatient, outpatient, diagnostic, surgical, rehabilitative, behavioral, emergency and outreach services.

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Day 81 – When Mother Nature calls…don’t answer.

Brrrrrrr! Holy Schnikees it got cold last night! So far, for the entire trip, I have barely needed by sleeping bag for more than a pillow. Last night I woke up with my teeth chattering and shaking. While fighting my deflated mattress, I quickly got myself into the sleeping bag and got warm.

15-minutes later…my alarm went off! Damn!

I was packed and off like a turd of hurtles shortly after 5am this morning. Again, another beautiful (albeit cold) morning to be walking. The first 10 miles were nothing but winding gently through the valley and directly next to the Big Horn river. Absolutely beautiful farmland!

Early on I met Bob, an owner of some of the beautiful farmland I am referring to. Bob (and his dogs) greeted me kindly and we talked a bit about his land. Bob has owned this land since 91, and lived south of here, in Big Horn, before that. His family originally homesteaded this land back in 1877, the year after General George Custer died in battle just up the road.

Before leaving Bob wished me God’s blessings and drove off into the Sunrise on his 4-wheeler. Thank you and it was a pleasure meeting you Bob!

Today marked the second time that I have been busted for…well…you know, doing my business. I know, I know…this is something we aren’t supposed to talk about. So I won’t…in detail! 🙂 There is just no-no way to maintain your dignity when you are hanging off of a fence post on the side of the road. In the middle of nowhere I might add! The same nowhere where you couldn’t see a car coming in 5 miles either direction!! Oh no, the moment the trousers are dropped…a truck will drive by.

You get the idea...

 I’m sure it is equally disruptive for the passenger of the truck though. Driving in the middle of nowhere at 75 mph, you and the kids spot a cart on the side of the road. Examining a bit closer…WHAMO… the kids are forever blinded with what they just saw! Walking across the country isn’t pretty folks… 🙂

I’m quite surprised that I haven’t been bitten by a snake yet. Walking down the road, and often in the gravel/grass, a person can begin to daydream. Walking today, I came across two LIVE rattlesnakes! One was a baby just leaving the road and the other, a big’un slithering/rattling into the grass! I’m surprised I didn’t freak out too much about that…but I did keep walking however. In addition to the live snakes, I did see several dead deer, skunks, turtles, and a couple flat rattlers.

Today was the biggest pass yet to climb. I honestly don’t think the passes in Montana will be any harder than what I climbed today. We’ll see. At the top of the pass, you could see the length of the Big Horn range and towards the Tetons. At the top, the last 17 miles of the walk was really quite pleasant. An almost gentle decline the entire way! 

Between Gillette and Sheridan I set my new walking record of 40 miles. Yeah…but ouch! I hope to not do that again unless it’s somehow tied to getting donations towards the end. I was thinking about doing a 24-hour or 50 mile walk to accelerate fans/donations towards the end. We’ll see…

Sheridan is a beautiful, happening little town! I know this because I had to walk to the absolute other side of town to make camp. Very surprised to see the variety of businesses, architecture, art and entertainment. Very nice!

Day 80 – Howing Coyotes and Antelopes who want to fight

I bet when Ben Stiller or Tom Cruise walk across the country, their air-mattresses don’t leak air. For this trip, I would prefer to be of smaller stature instead of240  lbs (after losing 35 lbs). I just think it would be easier…

Although I had given up and stopped worrying about the mattress, I continued waking up thinking I could hear the mattress leaking air. It wasn’t until about 3:45 am that I stayed wake to listen and think about it. At 3:47 am, I realized it wasn’t the mattress. It was a frigging pack of Coyotes that were howling constantly nearby. Sleep was no longer on the agenda at this point. My alarm did go off at 4am while I was packing my stuff though.

My tent, tarp and Runabout were caked in mud from last night. With the ground still wet outside, there wasn’t much I could do. In the dark, I packed everything back up and began walking before 5am. As I have said many times during the early days of my trip, I love walking at dawn. Cool temperatures, beautiful sky, peering eyes from the nocturnal animals seeking an early breakfast (me).  Lucky for me, today’s animals were more scared of me…kind of.

It appears that today’s 30+ mile stretch of road is filled with migrating Antelope. Not just a few, but easily observed over 1000 of the buggers throughout the day. The last thing they expect to see at 5am is some dude pushing a baby stroller along the highway. I can’t count how many packs of 5-10 that I scared the crap out of all morning. Want to know how high they can jump? I’ll tell you…it’s frigging HIGH! 🙂

At one point walking along the road, I heard a Crow going “caw, caw, caw” (sp?). I couldn’t see the nasty bird though. Turns out the noise, was coming from a huge Antelope about 50-yards away. This time, I wasn’t scaring this dude though. He kept lowering his head and scraping his hoof to the ground. Oh oh… I have seen the TV Shows where animals fight back, and this appeared to be ripe for prime-time coverage! All I could think of was that his prong-horned, white-butted creature was about to charge! In my head, I visualized several scenarios on how I use my Runabout to fend the scoundrel off!  Wasn’t necessary though, he eventually (slowly) walked the other direction, and we both got away with our dignity. Whew!

Today was my first glimpse of the Big Horn mountain range. Awesome! This was my first sight of real mountains on my journey. I’m sure the excitement will soon go away as I’m cursing their ascent and descent!

While not on my map, I passed through the little town of Leiter. And when I say Little, I mean, a single building that housed the post-office, general store and cafe. Cafe?! Yeah, a little slice of civilization would be nice! I stopped in and i arrived just after a couple of farmers sat down. Long story short; the food was great and the service lousy. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way! 🙂  The owner doesn’t get many customers in there and she had to work by default. The place used to belong to her Mom and Sister, who both had recently passed away. So now, in addition to running a farm 35 miles away, she runs the restaurant daily.

One of many Methane stations seen during the day.

 

She mentioned that the placed has a little bar in back, but that isn’t busy anymore. I guess the place was booming over the last few years when the Methane mines were being built. The guys would work all day and proceed to drink all night. This of course lead to LOTS of DUI’s in company vehicles. The company now has GPS installed in all the trucks and monitor whether or not…they spend their evenings in Leiter. Ugh…now they don’t.

The last nine miles of today’s walk was straight, overcast and filled with some beautiful farm/ranch land. Many of the farms had markers indicating that they had been around since the 1800’s.

Final destination was the little town of Clearmont, which had the only services between Gillette and Sheridan. I was able to throw my tent directly next to the town’s convenience store/park. The weather was perfect, the store owners were friendly, and ultimately it was a good end to a long day… 

Day 79 –The Flat Jack Burrito

There absolutely could be NO perfect timing in choosing to leave Gillette. The day I left, the super-hot weather, turned to rain that afternoon. I can’t win! While in Gillette, I made a friend by the name of Dennis. Dennis was from Michigan and moved here about 3 years ago. He had lost his job and was recruited by a local construction company to move here. He isn’t the only one! Over the last 2 years, metrics show that the Gillette population has become 20% people from Michigan. It has also grown another 8% with people from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Georgia. What’s up with that?

It appears that it is hard to find people to work in the area. In addition to the abundance of coal mining, Methane Gas has recently brought a lot of jobs to the area. For all you unemployed people out there (including me), you may think about looking into the area. I’m just saying…

There was absolute ZERO services available for today’s walk. Nada! I was lucky just to find a guard-rail that I could sit on or even find a scrap of shade. Towards the end of the day (around 7pm) I decided to stop, due to the storm clouds forming ahead. They (again) were the ominous types that you just don’t want to mess with. But…where will I camp? I am in tall grass prairie land filled with snakes and no homes close by.

In the middle of nowhere, there was however, a piece of land that a construction company was using to store their equipment. This looked inviting, as it would provide some shade and potential shelter. In the middle of all the equipment, there were several semi-trailers that looked just perfect! My tent, when squished down a couple of inches, would fit just perfect underneath! I spent the next hour building my camp and getting ready to hunker down for the night.

Within ten minutes of finishing building camp, you could see the rain and wind bearing-down fast. I got in the tent, and WHAMO, the wind blew my spikes out of the ground and slid my tent a bit! I forgot to take off my shoes, so immediately I was getting dirt and mud all over everything. No matter, life preservation is more important than a clean tent.

To all: It is important to remember however; that a Clean tent is a Happy tent!

I layed down on my mattress and started to stress a bit. Remembering the wind damage I observed in Missouri and South Dakota. I soon realized that I was laying underneath a trailer that could very well blow over and squish me. Great! It didn’t help that the trailer was shaking and making an eerie whistling noise. A whistling noise that didn’t stop all night I might add…

The storm did eventually dissipate after a while and I faded away with plans to get up before dawn to begin walking. My sleeping bliss was, of course, interrupted several times with my damn mattress refusing to stay inflated. I gave up though, and just embraced being entombed like a burrito.

Seattle Children's Hospital: 52 days, 100 reasons to give

If you’re reading from outside of Seattle, you may have heard we like our coffee – a lot.  For those of you reading in the area, did you know that in addition to your generous donations to support Children’s Hospital, you can also support Children’s while enjoying that delicious coffee drink?

Tully’s gift cards for Children’s

Your love for coffee can help support Children’s uncompensated care.

You can purchase $10 and $20 gift cards from the Seattle Children’s Gift Shop and 10% will be donated back to Children’s. The Tully’s cards work like a debit card; the amount is preloaded and subtracted when purchases are made.

You can buy them at the Seattle Children’s Gift Shop or call 206-987-2238 to order by phone.

Here’s a link to some ways to help Seattle Children’s Hospital just by shopping:

http://www.seattlechildrens.org/ways-to-help/shopping/

Seattle Children’s Hospital: 52 days, 100 reasons to give

If you’re reading from outside of Seattle, you may have heard we like our coffee – a lot.  For those of you reading in the area, did you know that in addition to your generous donations to support Children’s Hospital, you can also support Children’s while enjoying that delicious coffee drink?

Tully’s gift cards for Children’s

Your love for coffee can help support Children’s uncompensated care.

You can purchase $10 and $20 gift cards from the Seattle Children’s Gift Shop and 10% will be donated back to Children’s. The Tully’s cards work like a debit card; the amount is preloaded and subtracted when purchases are made.

You can buy them at the Seattle Children’s Gift Shop or call 206-987-2238 to order by phone.

Here’s a link to some ways to help Seattle Children’s Hospital just by shopping:

http://www.seattlechildrens.org/ways-to-help/shopping/

Day 77 & 78 – Lazy is as lazy does

If I hadn’t regained my iron-will, I may have become a permanent indentation in my bed at the Gillette, WY National 9 motel. What the heck happened? I haven’t figured it out for sure, but I do know that over the last 3-days my motivation almost dropped to zilch.

Don’t take that wrong…I would never quit. Just a bit mentally exhausted.

Yes, the heat and long days played a part. My theory though is that it had to do with so much sensory overload, I was let down for a few days. What do I mean by that? I just visited the grand daddy of tourist spots between Murdo, SD and Sundance, WY. In addition, my friend Aaron visited and I made some new bicycle friends. Then, and all of a sudden…nothing! It didn’t help that I could read my biking friends blogs and they were traveling so far and so fast! By the time I reached Gillette, they were already in Yellowstone National Park. As I said in the title of the other day’s blog…Next time I do this, I will ride my bike.

I know, I know…………..WAAAGGGHHHHH….you big  jerk!

Well, the pity party of 1 is now over. I just want you to know that it is rough out here on the open road. 🙂

Since I haven’t travelled much further than the bathroom or down the hall of the motel, I’m wondering what I can write about today? Well, how about what I have learned (unwillingly) lately?

While the sources aren’t verifiable, it appears…that I am old! When did this happen? Doesn’t every 40-year old get out to stretch his legs and walk across the country? This could possibly explain why most people (friends and foe) thought I was crazy when beginning this trek. Actually, I believe that most of those people still think I’m a bit nutty, but they are having fun watching my sanity unwind.

When/Where did I learn this? Repetition in responses from people I have met along the way. Such as:

“You are how old?

“Hell, I’m 50, I’m only a few years older than you”

“A little old to be walking across the country aren’t you”

“40? You could be my daddy”!

  • Note to self: This response may not be directly attributed to walking, but more to hanging out in a karaoke bar.
  • Note to audience: Don’t hate the player…hate the game!

“Oh, we are all in our 20’s…but that’s cool”

I’m not sure if I like the new life-lenses I appear to be looking through now? Before, I almost thought I was the same age, if not younger than many of the people I met on the trip. I would have sworn I was younger. Nope…they were usually younger than me?

I’ve still got a lot (not that much) of time to process all of this. Maybe it will help me to settle down and start acting like the old fart I appear to be. But at least for now, I refuse to hide my youthful spirit and continue living life as if there was no boundaries. To quote my (now) favorite tv commercial:

“I’m a Toys-R-Us kid and I refuse to grow-up”!

At least until September 10th…