Saturday, December 27, 2008

Gainesville VII: This is the end

Just kidding, this isn't the end. Not the end of the walk anyway.

I'm happy to say that by this time tomorrow I should be caught up writing up to this point, and only about 120 miles walking wise from the Gulf Coast and the end of the book. The year is coming to an end as well and also the time where I can say, "Hey, I'm in my twenties," which rest assured I say all the time much to the confusion of my talking partners. I should probably come up with a new tag line, especially since it won't be true soon.

Yes, with the end of so many things coming, there are also beginnings coming. A new year and a new country by virtue of a new president. A new decade of my life and leg of my journey, Gulf Coast to Pacific Coast. And hopefully the beginning of me being a writer, it's either that or I really become homeless. Adventure!

New Journey, editing. Time to make my writing significantly less crapulous, in an operation I call, "Operation make my writing significantly less crapulous." Hmmm, maybe my tag line skills need some work. . . . ADVENTURE!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Gainesville VI: Lil Walk

Pages Written So Far: 250+

I finally succeeded in resetting my internal clock and woke up this morning, the key word there folks was 'morning.' I'd been waking up after dark and working through the night, only to fall back asleep around noon the next day. Bad decision, with ADHD it takes the right setting to be productive, it's a balancing act I have been perfecting over decades but for something the length of a book it needs to be absolutely perfect. In the daytime I am waaaaaay to distracted and the public places I usually work at are far too busy, particularly these last few days before X-mas.

Still, it was a great day. Instead of writing I walked. All told with the walk to the mall and back and the rest of my strolling, I walked more then ten miles and it felt good, a bit short even. The time writing has helped me a lot, I have been refocused on the reasons I started this whole sha-bang for in the first place and the many changes it has made in me. Writing has also returned to me a lot of the peace that I had in the beginning of this journey and it makes me want to get on the road. It's all about finishing up here and being patient, I have no way to get back until later anyway.

It's also come to my attention that part of my goal in this has been completed already. I have changed my life and I will never be going back to the path I left. Being in the mall made me realize how far away from that world my life has gone. I will never return to the world where 40 hours of my week are someone else's or where I make more money so that I can buy a smaller handheld computer that tells me what to do all day everyday. For some people this life is perfect, but I realized today that it wasn't just 'not for me,' it is impossible for me to return to at this point. I don't know how my life will work or where I'll go after I am done walking, but good path or bad, I know it will be the life I chose and not the path life chose for me.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gainesville V: Waiting, writing . . .

All goes well in the land of the gator.

I am writing away and wasting away as well unfortunately. Things are progressing nicely with my book efforts but my body is bloating and decaying, I long for the road. I want to get back out there but the best thing and the most logical thing really is for me to catch up on this writing and try to do something with it while I am on the road.

Meanwhile, the realistic expectation of the end of this venture is coming into sight, 4 or 5 months from now, but whatever. I find myself thinking a lot about what I'll be doing afterwards. Long story short, I don't know yet. I have a lot of traveling I'd like/need to do and a whole lot more ideas, but I'd like to keep working on the non-profit. I got a nice email, and those always revitalize me a bit. Still, a lot depends on if I can get published and how well it goes with the end of the walk.

If I can't get a book sold then I will very likely end up teaching English in South Korea to get out of debt, if not that . . . ? The world is my oyster. In my wildest dreams I see having a home and a relationship, a base to come home to between my adventures and a partner to join me on them. More realistically, I'll try to ready another outing while sponging life away on various friends couches. I suppose that has it's charm too.

Things aren't too interesting here, but I'll see how the future looks.

The past on the other hand is pretty easy to see. I 'googled' myself and there is a whole lotta info out there on me. Even some of the things that might not seem to be about me are, but I'll let you guess about that. The other Skip Potts that comes up a lot is a strange story. I don't know him personally or otherwise, but he comes from a tiny town in Texas called BurkBurnett. This is notable because that is where my father grew up, it's a town where everyone has the same first three digits to their phone numbers and the place where 'the last picture show' was filmed.

The last time I was there was for my Grandfather's funeral. His name was Lloyd Lee Potts, I am actually Lloyd Lee Potts III legally. While we were there we picked up a prescription at the local drug store. There was another Skip Potts and his father was also Lee Potts, it took a while to get the right medicine. I never met him, in fact I have never met another Skip, but knoing that he is out there is just one of the many coincidences around in this world. That is to say, the world is pretty damned small, go poke around in it a bit.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gainesville IV: Fleet of Fingers

Pages Written: 150

Days on Walk: 101

Just checking in and getting some non-book (hopeful) material written. I've been kicking butt on the novelization of my walk's first half. I was lucky enough, or smart enough to have a lot of material written during the first month of my journey, after that. . . well, I've got notes but it's going to be getting harder. The good news seems to be there there will be plenty of material, especially to cut, which will be good because I hope that it will be readable, not work.

The bad part is that it looks like my X-mas plans are falling through, so . . . well, I don't know. It may be that I hunker down and finish writing and start editing, or, I may just be out on the road camping for X-mas since I doubt it's a couch surfable date. I've got some thinking to do.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Gainesville III: But these shoes were made for walking, walking!

Pages since last blog: 80

Well, I remain in my self imposed prison to due my servitude of one book. On the brighter side of this, my ADHD causes me to watch TV and movies while I write or I will go totally crazy. So I am catching up on the world in sitcoms, drama, film and, of course, commercials.

On this note I have only one thing to say:

I just saw that Britney Spears came out with a new perfume called 'curious' and I must pose the question, "Will Justin Timberlake come out with a Cologne called Bi-Curious?"

Just checking in between chapters.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gainesville II: Writer's Cell Block

Just a note to say that it seems an entire pizza and 2 liter of Coke Zero coupled with my severe ADHD is not the best recipe for productivity. That is unless productivity is defined by random outbursts at the television, excessive eyebrow arching and pacing around my friend's apartment.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Month in Math: NOvember

Miles since last month: 420.5
Miles total: 1448.5
Average Daily Mileage: 14.02
Miles left: 2427
Dragging sickness and cough: 1
States on Route: 3
Damn fine turkeys: 1
Blogs so far: 69 (teehee)
Car accidents: 1
So much more: 1

Looking back over my blogs for the last month and the notes I've taken I remember the 1st in Greenville, SC. I don't know if there is a temporal equivalent to vertigo or what it is called, but this gives me that. It feels like time has been stretched out like taffy, this is so much more than a month. It's a good thing. If a normal life is a turkey then mine is now a turducken. Stuffed with the crazy adventures of several lives all competing in flavors, each succulent and delicious. . . or so I imagine. For God's sake will no one make me a Turducken next year? Deep Fried to seal in all the goodness? Mmmmmm . . . 3 birds in one.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What the H@#$ are you doing in: Gainesville, FL?

Days until next blog: ?

I had been planning on doing a blog on Thanksgiving, past, present and future, being on the road, all that junk. But with rest my mind comes back as well as all the creeping problems that I can nearly outrun on the road.

Yes, I am waaaaaaay off track. I came to visit my friend and see someone I know for Thanksgiving, now I am here until sometime in the future which is unspecified. The problem is, I am down to my last few bucks, well, last few hundred bucks. I need to figure out how I can keep going, I need to find some cash or earn it. The plan is to take a few days and plan out the media and Ed. Program contacts for the route ahead, but really to take the next few weeks with a slight gin buzz trying to write the better part of a book in my friends spare bedroom.

I'm fine with having no money, but I need the promise of some sometime in the future or I won't be able to finish without an extend stay en route for work and saving cash. Of course with each month I wait somewhere saving money, the time where my 0% APR cash advance on my credit card comes to an end nears as well. It's a fine balance.

After a week or two of a head start on this writing I'll head back to where I left off, on my own again, with an uncertain future but knowing I need to move before I become a burden on my friend or settle in. It's not so much cash I need, I can stretch things out for a bit, but I need to know that there will be something in the future.

Stopping is a risk, I'll be using more cash sitting, on a bet that I could get published when I know it is certainly not a guarantee. Come on publishers, Daddy needs a new pair of shoes.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Brantley, AL: Disaster!!!

Miles since last blog: 5

Route

Today was nearly the worst thing that could happen for a walk and at nearly the worst time. Although my mileage for the day is 5, I actually walked about 22 miles, I just did it in the wrong direction. The problem is that a lot of roads in Alabama aren't labeled if they are outside of a city, another problem is that it was cloudy. If it's cloudy I can't tell what direction North is, or any other direction for that matter.

The plan was to do between 40 and 50 miles today, 10 or 15 Thanksgiving morning, a few Saturday night. Then good mileage Sunday through Tuesday. That would get me to Mobile still with the Back up of having Free to help with my stuff should I get into any tough spots on the road. When I figured out that I had been going the wrong direction, due West instead of South, and that I was only 5 miles closer, I wanted to throw a fit. I wanted to throw things and try to tear the car door off Free's VW golf which my laptop was sitting on. Instead I called my friend in Florida and went to McDonald's. No point in feeling stupid later too.

So I won't make it to Mobile with Free, I had nearly written it off anyway but now hope is gone. The tunnel worries me more than the bridge and I don't want to go 50+ miles around it all into the middle of nowhere.

Some fast food, a beer and a few sandwiches and I've let it go mostly. No use worrying about what I can't change. Enjoy Thanksgiving y'all, I will here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Troy, AL: Thank you Holiday Inn Express!

Miles since last blog: 34.9

Route

Sleeping indoors on this cold night is enough to make me happy, but I've been lucky enough to have a visitor I met from earlier in the trip (Chapel Hill, NC) catch up with me on her way to California. It was great to see a friend and maybe I will get to see her again in Cali, also I will be heading out to an old friend's house for a few days for T-Day and some much needed R & R. When I return I'll be finishing my trek South to Pensacola, FL and the Gulf where Free and I will part ways.

From the Gulf I will be heading West until California and starting a new chapter in my journey, alone once more. Hopefully the next chapter will be literally starting as I will try to take a few weeks off over the duration of Louisiana to try and catch up on writing and possibly even editing film.

Going South . . .

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Matthews, AL: The Road Ahead

Miles since last blog: 17.0

Route

Yesterday's unscheduled day off to visit the Civil Rights Memorial was fulfilling but left me a day behind. Last night we stayed a t a new CS place and while Free slept, we drank wine and walked to visit Hank Williams grave which was up the street. I met some great people in Montgomery, had a few great experiences and ate some excellent food.

Tonight we lay in a log cabin with our own rooms courtesy of a Troy University Hammer thrower. I have 10 days left with Free before he heads off to London and I am on my journey alone again. Hopefully I can get to Mobile, AL by then because there is a series of tough parts ahead with bridges and tunnels and making my way through with Cherry and without help may prove to be impossible.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tallassee & Montgomery, AL: Alligators are the new bears

Miles since last blog: 33.1

Route

Today I was noticing that the area around me was turning more southland swampy and I was surrounded by 'gator' influenced signs. I was thinking about alligators and there was a rustle in the water along the roadside. My legs spontaneously, and without my permission, shot me into the road leaving my head wondering how I got there and just what was in the water behind me.

This is to say that my mild fear of bears has been replaced by a mild fear of alligators, although I would still be happy to see either.

Also, here is the first TV spot we have been able to get online:

video

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Notasulga, AL: Cold and Cold

Miles since last blog: 23.2

Route

I took a day off yesterday to force myself to drink massive amounts of liquid in the hopes that sickness would be drowned by this morning. It largely worked, my cold is minimal now. Also in part thanks to my Couch host in Auburn who gave me various natural pills and teas and the like.

For my part today, I took several hours off to drink hot tea. First at a coffee shop and then later at a "tea time" organized by one of the roommates we were staying with. Nine lovely girls who go absolutely berzerk when you mention Chic-Fil-A, they were so convincing that we immediately went there after tea. We were left wondering.

Also, under the "In the South Football is Religion" heading, we have the question: If Auburn is the Tigers, what is "War Eagle?"

Why is this religion? Well, much like the biblical flood recounted in various religions in different ways only agreeing that there was a huge flood, the story of "War Eagle" (which is the battle cry of the Auburn Tigers) has many different tellings agreeing only that it was Georgia that they were playing and that an eagle circled the field before something crucial happened.

After that hey diverge. In one story the bird was a veterans pet who had fought in wars with him then circled the field, landed and died. In another it was a random eagle who circle, left and was later eaten by a local who shot it. The final is the no frills simplicity of good timing. Now they have a trained eagle that circles above the games. Signs, miracles, twisted tales and legends. If this isn't religion I don't know what qualifies.

After the few hours of tea break and Chick-Fil-A I scooted on down the tracks (literally the railroad tracks during the dusk hour when it is dangerous to be on the road). Tonight it is cold, I'm in a tent in the yard of a church, which has internet apparently, and I can't feel my fingers while I am typing. Time to get wrapped up in my sleeping bag and keep warm and hopefully well.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Opelika, AL: Change for a Time

Miles since last blog: 16

Route

Unbeknownst to my travel partner or I, we, in addition to crossing a state line last night, crossed into a new time zone. Had I known I would surely have done a small jig at least, it's a pretty exciting thing to have traversed a time zone on foot. Not to mention the practical value of this. My parents and friends in places to the west are now an hour closer to my time which makes phone calls easier. I also have gained back the hour of light that I had lost during the time change a few weeks back which is excellent. And something else very important I'm sure to remember just after I turn off my computer.

This is not the only change however. As I felt when I entered Georgia, entering Alabama seems to be a shade more Southern. People talk just a little bit slower, are just a tad more friendly, and the land is a bit more sparsely populated leaving my walks just to me in ways that are usually reserved for night walks.

Today in the morning I passed by a school where someone had apparently seen me up the road. They asked me to come up and take pictures with the children. About thirty little kids crowded around me and I felt a little bit like Indiana Jones in the beginning of Temple of Doom. They offered me water and gave me delicious snack cakes and the kids jumped up and down and cheered at everything, even planes flying in the sky. I wondered if I could remember a time of such pure and simple joy.

It made me think of my high school biology teacher talking about throwing his jacket in the air and catching it on the way home from the bus after the rain. He said he felt sorry for us because we lived in a world where we would never experience those carefree moments, we already knew too much and had too many worries. These kids didn't and it made me smile to see them. On a good day walking I can get those moments back for a few seconds, today was one of those days.

Lanett, AL: The Buddy System

Miles since last blog: 31.7

Route

First off, thanks Econo Lodge of Lanett, you rock for donating a room for the night.

High point of the day: Receiving a phone call from "Buddy," my pal on the survival course I took this Summer. He sounds like he's doing really well and gave me a great compliment. For those of you who don't know, this school was a huge deal for me and really helped me get some peace and a better grip on what I was doing with my life. Buddy was a big part of that along with the rest of the crew there.

In particular though, I think of Buddy when I am having a bad day. During the first few days of the course Buddy got sick but just kept going, I think he would have kept going until it killed him but we stopped and rested. Now he was tough and that may have been good or bad, but what I always think of him for is his incredible willpower and determination. If I have even a fraction of this I can finish this walk. I admire this and his personal life, a wife he loves and has loved since High School if I remember correctly, something I hope to find someday but find hard to imagine right now.

Thanks for the call Buddy, you're always there when I need you.

Low point of the day: About 30 minutes later, after I crossed the Georgia-Alabama border, when Free told me he probably wasn't coming back after he leaves at the beginning of December. This makes my life a lot harder as well as lonelier and I will miss my new Buddy.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hogansville, GA: Sick and Tired

Miles since last blog: 21.3

Route

Well, I am still enjoying myself walking, I did shake off that bear. Part of what built that wall for me though was the nagging sense that I have been fighting off something, and this time it isn't feral dogs in Virginia.

When I came into Georgia I started sneezing, when I got to Athens I was coughing, by the time I hit Atlanta my normal walking day proved to be too long and difficult for me and I wasn't recovering like I had been.

It was the wall, it was not enough food or too many drinks, anything but being a bit sick. I'm not that sick, if I had a normal job I wouldn't even notice, but when you want to walk 30 miles and you are exhausted by 20 what do you do? If you make 30 miles you can sleep inside, or you can get rest and sleep in a cold tent. How do you balance in this situation? It's not as if I have a place to stay, rest and get better. And not having health insurance, while a calculated risk I stand by, still doesn't make the dilemma any easier. So I'll try to go the same distance but with more breaks, camp tomorrow and couchsurf the next, after that . . . ?

If I can make it to when Free leaves I was planning on taking a bit of time in one place then. Maybe hop around New Orleans from couch to couch for a bit, resting, writing and recuperating. Even earlier today I hadn't admitted the sickness, but just after I quit for the day I coughed, no big deal I had been coughing, this time though was different. As a child I was sick a lot and after that cough I recalled the sickly sweet taste/smell combination that hinted a real sickness might be in the works.

Tomorrow's gonna be a long day.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Newnan, GA: Biyah!!! or 'How Skippy Got his Groove Back'

Miles since last blog: 14.8

Route

What is Biyah!!!? It's a power cry. One that will insure you won't be elected president true, but a power cry nonetheless. It's more though, it's a mantra. The Dirty Dirty had stolen from me, but I got it back. It wasn't a long walk today but it felt good. I had no iPod so I sang, I had a harmonica so I practiced playing and I enjoyed walking and seeing the country again.

Next time you feel down or powerless, let out a Biyah!!! It'll do a body good, way better than milk.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fairburn, GA: From Soul to Solace

Miles since last blog: 24.1

Route

I'm a little late, I know, but the Dirty dirty struck again. Although I walked out yesterday, we were beckoned back by the promising soul of the New Mastersounds. Needless to say it was a late and great night with the only disappointment coming at the end when we found out McDonald's was closed for the night.

The day itself was trudging. Typically after an hour or so, I fall into my groove and just coast through the day in thought, this was not the case yesterday. I never found my groove, I suspect that the New Mastersounds created a soul vortex which sucked up any excess souls hanging around for the show last night.

Today's agenda is simple: walk, movie, camp.

As a term of Free's accompaniment on this journey, we had to keep today, the 14th of November open to watch the new Bond Movie. This is a term I willingly acquiesced to. So, later today in some back water town in Georgia, with the Dirty dirty long shrunken and disappeared from Free's rearview mirror, we will watch the new Blonde Bond Bombshell kick some bad guy butt and deliver witty repartee.

signing out, Potts, Skip Potts.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Atlanta, GA: Dirty dirty walls and 12 dollar socks

Miles since last blog: 19.0

Route

Well, those of you who have run marathons, or seen the movie 'run fatboy run,' know about the wall. Well, for some reason, the Dirty dirty, Atlanta, was a wall for me. Apparently long treks have walls too. Atlanta has for some reason been a checkpoint in my mind since the beginning of this trip and that may have been a factor for me. Also was a series of great hosts on Couchsurfing which led me to want to slow my momentum to hang out more and finally, I may have been just a touch burnt out.

After aborted runs, busy days filled with interviews and errands, getting hit by a car, heading down the wrong road for miles and general fatigue, I finally walked to a destination in Atlanta and hopefully took down my wall brick by painstaking brick, step by painstaking step.

Today the painstaking steps were a little less painful though. All day I couldn't help but think about Vincent Vega, John Travolta's character from 'Pulp Fiction.' At one point during the movie he lambasts a shake for being $5 then tastes it and decides, "it's pretty good, I don't know if it's worth $5, but it's pretty good" or something like that.

I was finally convinced to buy some new socks. $12 socks. It pains me even now to type this it seems so ludicrous to pay that much for socks, I mean, they're socks. Nevertheless, I tried them, and they are sort of, well, heavenly-ish. It helps that my 'trade-in' shoes were size double E (which is for extra width), even my weak left foot was fine today as far as blisters go. The shoes weren't all of it though, the socks seem durable.

Normally I get a hole in a sock after one or two outings. Even the most durable cotton or performance sock in the past has shed little bits of itself which under repeated motion and pressure ball up into little pebbles of cotton which tear at your foot during a long day and create blisters.

These socks seemed unphased by my journeys, as if because they were new and this was their first outing I was only letting them know what was in store for a normal day. They shrugged it off, thinking, "this is what we do, we're socks, we can't just fall apart now." I was impressed. It's only been one day, but I have 3 pairs now and I think this could be the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship. Is it too early to name them?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lilburn, GA: And the hits just keep on coming

Miles since last blog: 19.9

Route

Well, I was hit by a car today. Not so much hit, as bumped and the riding on the hood for a few feet, but still. I'm okay, just thought I'd let you know I'm broken in, it had to happen sometime I guess.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Auburn, GA: Blues skies in Georgia

Miles since last blog: 32.5

Route

After loosening up, I decided that at the end of my walk today it would be fine to drive into Atlanta and couchsurf for the night, then return to where I had left off tonight in the morning. This way I still walk it all, I get to sleep inside, and I get to spend a bit more time in Atlanta. This was a very good decision.

After settling in at our CS destination we got directions to a local Tex-Mex place. We never made it there. Along the way while looking for it we stopped dead center of the street looking at a restaurant so dark we sat an extra half minute trying to figure out if it was even open. It turns out it was. It also turns out that Heaven is in Atlanta, GA, but here it's called Fat Matt's Rib Shack. It was too attractive and southern for us to pass up.

The first thing that you notice when entering FMRS is that the windows are not tinted, it's actually that dark inside. Which draws your attention even more to the glowing hole in the wall that was the gateway to the kitchen. In it stood a portly good natured woman with one tooth and a big welcoming smile.

The second thing you notice is that the food comes in portions like 1/2 slab, full slab, 1/4 or half bird.

The room is pasted with Blues magazine pictures, framed with posters and on the far wall under a banner which states "live music nightly" is a mural of Mount Rushmore with the Presidents replaced by Muddy Waters, Rob Johnson, B.B. King and one other man who not even the employee knew. Blues piped through speakers is the dim light and the smell washes over you when the door opens. Barbeque.

All the ambiance was nice, but the real business was the BBQ. I ordered a half slab of ribs and Free got a half bird. We sat down with a picture of Marvin Gaye who was to serve as the sign for which table to bring the food to, this would not have been hard to discern since we were the only people sitting in the restaurant that didn't work there or already have food.

The food came quickly and when I picked up my first rib by the bone the meat stayed on the plate simply letting the bone slide out. It was just that tender and that moist. I took the meat and dipped it in the trough of BBQ sauce they had provided. Then followed pure bliss. I'm sorry Dad, but this was amazing. The flavor and texture would be impossible to describe, we just sat for a moment wide eyed at each other and then reached across to get a taste of the others food. I can't remember ever making that much noise while eating food in my life. Moans and deep almost meditative breathes were the only things besides occasional outbursts at the incredulous deliciousness to interrupt the complete devastation of our meals. Suddenly at the end of the ribs the two slices of wonder bread made sense as we sopped up any trace amount of rib or chicken on our plates and dipped the bread n the last glorious bit of sauce.

Immediately I knew I could eat another slab but realized that his was a taste so good that I would have to visit again and the taste would be better spread out. Even now I could easily go back for more. Although I am a voracious eater, food rarely effects me this way. As we drove away we smacked our lips still miles down the road. We both agreed that it was worthy of being written about and neither of us had a second thought about covering the same territory literarally, it seemed the least we could do.

it's a good thing Fat Matt wasn't there, I don't know if I could be held responsible for what I might have done in tribute.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

?, GA: And now for something we hope you'll really like

Miles RAN since last blog: ?

Ok, not as prepared with town and mileage as normal, but what can I do with a midday blog?

As I am running on time according to my month's schedule, but a day behind for couchsurfing request, it was decided by me last night that I would attempt to run the entire 66+ miles to my next host today. It deserves to be said that my companion, Free, and I, are very different in numerous ways. For instance, I like to push my own limits and Free likes to push other people's limits. The line of reasoning was more or less similar last night, "well, it'll at least be an interesting story." This seems to be a main argument when I decide on a course of action.

I knew I would need a good night's rest if I was to attempt this. Free went to bed, then C. (the girl we were staying with), and finally I headed into my room where I spent my time editing footage until about 2 a.m. My inner sadist decided that this was probably enough of a challenge for the next day and I headed off to dreamland.

I dreamt of flying, that would make this easier. It's possible that this was spurred on by Free and I wishing to skydive, but it's expensive so we decided to use it as a celebration when we arrive in Cali. In a theoretical universe, Free and I would have some of our dichotomy sharply illustrated with this adventure.

Upon Free's arrival at the Skydive takeoff point, the conversation might go something like this:

Insturctor: "I think that's one of those parachutes they use for dropping tanks off in the desert."

Free: "Uh huh,"

Ins: "Well, I don't think you need all of that. And are those a few extra parachutes strapped to your side?"

Free: "Yeah, I had room so I thought I'd bring them."

Ins: "Is that a french press hooked to your belt?"

Upon my arrival I would however rush onto the plane and jump out at altitude without a parachute thinking, "Surely if I had really needed a parachute someone would have given one to me by now."

The instructor would then jump out of the plane to catch and save me, when he caught up to me I would probably invite him along and offer to buy him lunch since he brought the parachute.

In any case, I forgot to set my alarm and got up at 9:30. Being late there seemed no reason to hurry. I wandered about the house eating pop tarts and slowly packing up. Our host assumed I wouldn't run since there was no temporal possibility for me to arrive in Atlanta today. This did not deter me however, it just made me relaxed and slow. I headed out at a slow jog. before two miles were up I was thinking that I had had a very bad idea. As is often the case though, after the first hour things seemed to fall in line. I ran on the flat and downhills and walked fast uphill. I picked a very cold and windy day to try this out. I had under 60 miles to go when hunger drove me indoors, after a meal I'd be ready to head out and destroy my body even further.

I was however, saved by the bell, or rather the Austin Powers theme song on Free's phone, courtesy of E., Free's friend in Greenville who had set up the TV interviews for me. The sign and business cards had arrived and she could drive halfway to meet Free and hand them off. While I was waiting for Free for lunch I begin to slowly freeze. Having sweat soaked through my shirt and being in an air conditioned restaurant was doing me no favors but giving me plenty of time to think about the way I was going about things. As often happens, I decided I was stupid and that I was now much more intelligent than I had been seconds before. When Free arrived I decided to go with him because it sounded more fun.

It was, probably, I suppose we'll never really know. The thing that I have noticed is that I expect this trip to be a wonderful and life changing experience, but then find myself desperately trying to remain rigidly the same in some aspects. I want to walk the USA, that much is true, but all the limits and time constraints and rules that exist around it are self inflicted. I started this venture with an aspiration to set myself outside of the normal world in a permanent way, to never return to the life that society carves out for us and we complacently accept, but things aren't always what you think they'll be, sometimes they are much more.

I got a tattoo of the world map on my leg this summer (even though Antarctica is suspiciously absent I consider this future planning with the Greenhouse effect). Tattoos, I think, are a lot like children. They are rarely exactly what you imagined but you grow to love them anyway. Originally, I got my tattoo as a commitment to see the world and continue traveling, but this summer during my survival school I looked down and realized that it was something much more to me suddenly, even if the old meaning was still there too. When I look down at that tattoo now I notice I always look for the spot that I am on within it, and that the whole rest of the world is still there silently putting me into context as tiny and knowing that any waves I feel don't even appear in the world view. From here, we all look peaceful and serene, and that's enough to make you feel that way as well.

Walking out of my old life I expected a change, and I got it. I wanted to escape the regular world and then created it around me and had to remove myself again. Even now when I get down to the core personal meaning of this walk I realize it was always about living my life as I wanted to and that the only person left keeping me from that was me. So, in the place where so many epiphanies have surely taken place, a KFC in Georgia, I decided that i would let go of a few of my rules and take down a few more of the bars I had set up to jump over. I wanted to walk across the USA and that is what I'll do, my way. I'll walk when I want to walk, as far as I want to walk. I'll stop when i want and stay an extra day somewhere if I like.

I don't know if I am looking for enlightenment, trying to save the world or become the man I always believed I was, but I suppose I'll figure that out at a McDonald's.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hartwell & Athens, GA: The Deep South

Miles since last blog: 68.1

Yesterday's Route

Today's Route

The thing about Georgia is that I have always heard of it. That's not the case with a lot of states, but Georgia is different. Savannah, Atlanta, these are some of the quintessential cities that come to mind when I think of the Deep South. Crossing the Savannah river at the border into Georgia lived up to all my expectations. The beauty of the surroundings, the peach and song riff on the sign and the already dropped famous name of Savannah enveloped me. I felt deep fried and seasoned with southern flavors not one mile in.

Even the kindness has been amplified with the border crossing, as well as the appearance of a curious thing called to go drinks which you can take when you leave a restaurant. Yesterday I met two people on the road in Georgia, a deputy (I get stopped about every other day) and a man in his front yard just down the street from where I met the deputy. I gave them both my card and both contact me today via email or phone. One to tell me he thought I was crazy but after visiting the site was inspired (although he may still think I am crazy) and the other to find out how far I went and where I was going next, he had been impressed by me it seems.

It's nice to be in a place where people are effected by this so openly, to see that there is some outcome to this trip even before it is over. I feels good here, and very friendly.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Anderson, SC: A Day with Skip

Miles since last blog: 36.3

Route

Today we have a new President!

Also, I recorded a bit of my walk today, I'll try to post it here sometime tomorrow. Oh yeah, my hair is dyed black from Halloween.

Video Update Click Here

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Greenville II: Growing Pains

As always when I am in a place for a few days I am starting to go a bit stir crazy. This is no doubt fueled a bit extra by the massive amounts of Halloween candy I've been eating.

I've been really enjoying Greenville. Some of the things we've done here include: finding bronze mice, walking the largest-curved-pedestrian-suspension bridge in the world (and possibly the one with the most qualifiers as well), listening to street jazz, eating at a BBQ place which hands out towels instead of napkins, learning my blues name (Pretty Liver Bradley), and of course going out for Halloween.

Tomorrow I'll be on "Your Carolina" so that's pretty cool. Things seem to be moving along as they will and I'm relaxing a bit and loosening my control. A friend of mine wrote me (actually several did, thanks all) and told me a Dutch saying, "Some people feel the rain, others only get wet."

As for people who called or wrote asking how they could help, please send the website to your friends and ask them to donate, even if it's only $5 or $10 that's enough to help a bit. I'd like to make sure it's clear that all the money goes to the non-profit, I am completely funding this walk and it's costs (or rather me and Visa) because I think that this is important. Second, if you know of any great educational programs that are doing great things or schools that need help, email me and let me know, we'd love to promote these programs and help them if we can raise funds.

I've gotta get my beauty sleep for the interview ;) Goodnight and keep on moving, I will.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Greenville, SC: The Month in Math

Miles since last blog: 23.5

Route to Greenville

549.5 Miles walked
17.73 Miles per day average (w/days off)
27.45 Miles per walking day average
0 Hours in the rain (The sun shines on Skip)
2 Flat Tires
30+ Forest Gump references
1 Not-so-evil twin
1 TV spot
1 Radio interview
3 Newspaper Articles
4 States
1 District
2,753 miles left (roughly)
5 Months to go (about)

Hmmm . . . I guess I opened a 7 or an 8 pack of adventure (see Catonsville, MD blog)

Also, thanks for all the calls and emails. The night walk helped me clear my head and get perspective and the response has been nice seeing that people care out there. The whole thing has pushed me back to gain the perspective I had lost. I need help on the road, but the important thing for me to remember is that only get one chance at this so I need to do it right, and for me, at the heart of this, "doing it right" means doing it my way. In the rush to create a new and different life where I could help people and live as I wish, I went and created the very thing I was trying to escape from. I can't say it won't happen again, but I am getting better at recognizing my mistakes and correcting them. I want to show people that if they are strong and have courage they can live the life they want, not the life they think they should or the life they can get safely.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

On the Road

The early morning has always been my time. Even as a child I was awake and knew that that was the way it was supposed to be for me.

Right now it's 2:30 a.m. and I am sitting on a stone bench at a stone table on the side of the street in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The thing about those hours between Midnight and about 4:30 is that the world is silent. There's a principle that says that the mere act of observance changes things. It seems to me in the grand scheme of the universe there is little more we offer in our lives than to observe, the changes we make may feel titanic, but in fact they are insignificant. The universe is just happy to have someone watching. But in whatever corner of the world you live in there is a window of purity where even the asphalt sparkles under the street lights. There is a time when you are not bent and broken, mutated and manipulated by the watching eyes of the rest of the world and you can think thoughts that are truly yours and perform actions entirely your own. It's now that time of night when the air is thick and heavy and you feel like your swimming through the world. I love these hours.

I needed this time tonight, alone, back to the basics. Carrying my pack and sleeping bag into the night to find what I had been losing my grip on. When I started this journey I had such a firm grasp on the peace it was bringing me and the joy of the experience, I'm afraid I have been losing that a little.

There are many things I want to do on this journey and it seems they are all suffering from each other. My writing has ceased and my blogs are drivel thrown on the internet just to have something there. Videos are ready for editing, calls are ready to be made, schools ready to visit and interviews to be made. Everything is breaking down including me, the only thing it seems that can take all the pressure is my legs and right now I can use them to escape into my night.

Simply put, I need help. Or else I let something slip away. Should I keep working on the documentary and promoting educational equality at the expense of the experience and peace that this simple walk started out with? Do I keep that peace and stay true to my own needs at the expense of the charity? I have to let go of something soon because when I stop the walls start closing in on me and the weight of work waiting for me makes me restless enough to walk even when I have nowhere to go.

I feel cool and relaxed now that I am outside and have bled my troubles out. Now I can find that peace that I have lost. Once, I remember saying that just seeing these stars at night were enough to make this journey worth it. I'm going to go find that time again and hold on to my world until all of you start to wake up.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Spartanburg II: The End of Innocence

Guilty, just so guilty . . .

video

It's been a bad day for other reasons, but . . . hmmm, silver lining . . . ummm, I'm looking forward to the artist colony potluck tonight.

Gaffney & Spartanburg, SC: South of South

Miles since last blog: 57.7 (34.7 & 23.0 respectively)

Yesterday's Route

Today's Route

That's right, it's a BIG BLOG. Two days, two states, and a 1000 mile barrier down (1004.9 miles total on route). I'll be posting a celebratory video as soon as I can get it downloaded, edited and uploaded, with all the other still-to-be-made videos. But time off is coming and in a good place, as we move south it just keeps getting friendlier.

Little was noteworthy about the walk to Gaffney, SC from Gastonia, NC. It was particularly beautiful when I entered SC directly into a National Park where the colors were FINALLY changing (something I haven't really seen before) and in the evening we bedded down on the lawn of a local fire house.

Today and more specifically this evening promised more. I called my host and realized that I had told her and my next host the wrong days, I was now showing up a day early for them. Well, before we arrived we decided we would spend tomorrow in Spartanburg as well if our host let us. She had set up a potluck with some others from the local artists' community that lives in glorious flats downtown, but as we were a night early, we would miss it unless we stayed. That puts me on time for Greenville anyway and it looks like we'll be there for a stretch doing press.

Tonight was a pleasurable surprise. We showed and our high energy host took us out to Thai before seeing a movie projected on a wall downtown and viewed from teepees constructed of used construction materials and bamboo, part of an art installation downtown that my host built. We watched "Blazing Saddles" which was interesting since we had been quoting it all week and we found out that our host worked at a branch of the camp that free worked at. Our world just keeps getting smaller.

Surprisingly, the last few lines of the movie really struck a chord with me, which I don't believe was even the intention.

Waco kid: Hey cowboy, where you headed?
Slim: Nowhere special.
Waco kid: Nowhere special . . . I always wanted to go there.
Slim: C'mon then

Monday, October 27, 2008

Gastonia, NC: More, more, more

Miles since last blog: 26.2 (a marathon :) )

Route


Alrighty then kiddies and kiddos. I'm trying to add a little bit of content here to my blogs and even past blogs, but I'll let you know when those go up. For now it'll just be the addition of my daily route to my blog (see above), you can click on that and see exactly what I did today.

After trekking into Gastonia we stayed with a reporter who had met Bizarro and let him stay with her. Bizarro and I were her first surfers even though she isn't yet on the site, what are the odds of hosting two cross country walkers in a week? She confided in us that she was more comfortable this time but that when Bizarro had spent the night she had been so nervous and afraid that she was seeing signs of impending doom and had to drink in order to get the little sleep she was afforded. I think CouchSurfing is like this a lot the first time, but she seemed relaxed last night.

We have been interviewing the people we've stayed with, so I'll try to get up those interview and retro-actively post them in a bit on the days blog. So much content, but I can here the insomniac in the midnight hour screaming more, more, more . . .

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Charlotte, NC: Bizarro Skip

We met, we battled, we talked, we hugged it out, we compared gear, stories, calf muscles, we filmed, we did interviews for the news, etc, etc. In all the hubbub we never got around to actual walking which adds a little to the next few days, but I think it was worth it to meet another maniac walking across the country.

Tonight we're at a friend of Free's and tomorrow I start my trek towards Greenville and the next press blitz. We hope to meet with some schools and programs along the way and have been getting some solid interviews with locals and teaching professionals. It's nice to be getting around this corner of the work and into a place which is more directly linked to what the whole thing is supporting.

As always, I'm tired, but it was quite an experience to meet Bizarro

Friday, October 24, 2008

Charlotte, NC: The Promised Land

Miles since last blog: 31.1

Well, the last 7 miles the other night proved fateful. After narrowly avoiding a truck on a bridge, my headlamp went out, an hour later, my wheel went flat again. I went the last mile on the side and front wheel only, "Dukes of Hazarding" it in. Along the way a couple pulled over and offered me a ride to Richfield (which is where I stayed that night). They had seen me about 30 miles earlier leaving Asheboro and it was around 11 pm at the time (before my tire popped). It felt good to talk to someone and to be recognized.

The next morning we were awoken by the police, we run into them a lot. We were packing up already after he said we could stay now that he (and the businesses in the area) knew what we were doing. It would have been nice to sleep longer, but we were already moving.

The day was very hard. Due to another navigation problem I realized that I had missed night's goal by 0.2 miles and that I would have to go 18 miles further than I ever had in 3 days to get to Charlotte by nightfall. Going was slow, then fast, then very fast (nearly 4.5 mph), then I had a few interviews (Newspaper and radio), then I slowed down again. Pain set in and a permanent grimace set upon my face and my walk shifted into something more Mr. Hyde-like then Dr. Jeckyll. I probably looked like I had a severe mental handicap, for the first time all the Forest Gump references I get had some merit.

I made it though after some address issues. Now I have some time to catch up on research, setting up meetings with schools, finding places to stay, writing out my route, finding camera equipment, getting new-more hardcore-tires, editing, downloading and uploading video, doing laundry, dealing with the service on my cell/wireless net, emails, planning the next few days camera work and interviews, and if there's time maybe even eating or relaxing. But let's not go overboard, I only have the afternoon, okay, no eating. Just kidding Mom (probably).

Back to work . . . volunteers wanted.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Asheboro & Richfield, NC: T minus 2 days

Miles since last blog: 76 (and counting)

I hope you didn't miss me too much. It's okay, I'm back now and I'll try not to leave you again.

Well, yesterday was supposed to be a 50+ mile day. I started later than I intended after hitting my alarm for 2 hours straight. I finally pried myself out of the last bed I'll see for a bit and snuck out the house careful not to wake anyone since it was only a little after 7am.

Shortly down the road I noticed I had a flat tire, good thing I was late, I may not have noticed in the dark. After running back up to the house, snagging a bike pump, pumping up the tire, running the pump back and returning to Cherry, the flat had returned as well. Bad news, not the way you want to start a LONG day. I took Cherry apart, grabbed exactly what I needed for the road and headed out on the road leaving Cherry to be fixed by Free when a bike shop opened. It felt weird at first not pushing something, I wasn't even sure that I could do it all day because the muscles you use a re a little different, but in the few hours before Cherry returned to me (via VW Golf) it turned out I could. I set an early pace just short of 4 mph.

Despite pushing Cherry, sometimes downhill in the wind as I discovered she would stop due to the wind if I let her go, through hilly country, I kept up my pace at 3.8 mph. This kept me in a good mood, that and knowing that when Free finished in Chapel Hill he would bring lunch before he passed me in route to our final destination for the night.

Some days are long enough to be good and bad. I was able to hold my pace until after 7:30 pm getting over 44 miles in by then, but still no Free, which meant no food save a Snickers and 3 energy bars. The expectation that food would be there soon had kept me going, but after a call (my phone and GPS hadn't nearly worked all day until then) confirming we had no idea where each other were and that no food was coming, I crashed, completely. It didn't help that I was on a 4 lane highway in the dark with no shoulder, thus forcing me to push Cherry through the rough. I could barely go, it has shocked me how much this walk has ended up being a mental challenge and almost not at all physical. A phone call had destroyed me.

Eventually we found each other and ate, by then it was after 10 pm without a meal. To top things off, my internet had been shut down due to billing errors and could not be turned on at night. I had no idea how far I had made it and could only guess. We camped on the lawn of a local Baptist Church.

***

I woke up a few hours later and forced myself to get ready. We packed up the tent and gear, hed lunch and went to find free wireless internet which we got at a local hotel. I found out I had only gone 47.1 miles which put a few extra miles on the next days, 66+ for 2 days left. The point of going so far was to make the last 2 days easier, but now I was staring down the barrel of two 33+ days after a long day. No internet and continually spotty functionality of my phone and pressure of distance and time put me in a bad mood. I lamented aloud as to why I was doing this, it was especially difficult after having such a nice time and meeting great people in Chapel Hill, I liked it there.

Nevertheless, the road beckoned and I heeded it's call. Going was slow, monotonous but continuous. I was due to stay on the same road for the next 50 miles or so. I wanted to call Bizarro Skip (http://walkamerica2008.blogspot.com/) and tell him I needed an extra day.

Free called me at about 2 pm, he told me that that was exactly what Bizarro had just told him. Just like that everything was better. I actually felt like trying to make it by Thursday night now that it wasn't an obligation. As I said, so much of this is mental. I felt better and though I still was walking a relaxed pace, I no longer felt like I wanted to stop.

Right now we're in a Fast Food place and i am about to head back out on the road. I'm going to try for a few more hours, one of the things driving me is the chance to break my own 2-day distance record of 82.5 miles which I set just a little while back in Virginia. Yes, I am crazy, but it gives me more freedom and ease tomorrow to decide what I want to do.

Two days until I meet Bizarro. I'd better keep on truckin'

Monday, October 20, 2008

Chapel Hill IV: When Procrastination Goes Bad

Another day here in Chapel hill, lovely town. After getting up late and having a very slow lunch I've decided that rather than walk today I'll start early tomorrow. Normally this doesn't change anything, we never have appointments. However I must meet Bizarro in Charlotte Thursday night or Friday morning. I have 114 miles until then. So the next few days are looking hard.

Do I work hard all day while I'm here? Into the night and then wake up on task tomorrow? Or do I go out and visit with some new and old friends tonight and get a little further behind in work and with a little less energy tomorrow? That little part in the back of my head that got me through college says, "go out, you work best under pressure." I wonder if my legs agree?

In other news, my hopes were dashed a bit this morning. Guinness got back to me about attempting the longest 24 hour walk. The current record is 142.25 miles. That is ridiculous. The running record is 153.6 miles if you want a little perspective on how fast this dude was walking. I'm not that fast, well, there is always the 3-legged-race. The record is only 61 miles currently, that's easy . . . anyone feel up for a challenge?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Chapel Hill III: The Return of Couchsurfing and Education

My last day here in CH, NC. Last night I put together my first couchsurfing meeting which was fun and I met a few great people that I hope I can meet again, and today I did an overseas interview with the Couchsurfing media. Now I am in a coffee shop taking down phone numbers for possible sponsors, corresponding with people and trying to find someone to fill Free's spot while he's gone.

Along those lines, we have mostly been focusing on media until now and recently we have shifted into the education phase. We have been interviewing and researching all about education and programs in different parts of the country. Sometimes people have wondered exactly where the money they donate will be going. Well, one place is buying supplies for schools in desperate need, like a grammar school we ran across interviewing teachers that ran out of paper last year and had no funds to buy more. Unfortunately, this is an all to common story which it is the aim of PFEE to help remedy. Of course, this is only a symptom of larger problems, why should a school in the USA run out of paper when another school across town has all the amenities they need and regularly change their sports team's uniforms.

Ultimately, if we can get enough funding, this is our true aim, to help even out the system through outside influences like the aid and cloning of effective programs such as the tutoring program we will be supporting in Maui, Hawaii. It specializing in helping some of the native Hawaiians catch up and excel in school as they are a largely marginalized and forgotten portion of the population there since we have moved in and taken over.

We also have a few resources to lists of schools and needs for supplies, not money, your donations will go towards fulfilling needs like textbooks for every child in schools we visit (textbooks that aren't 10 years old), microscopes, books for libraries, calculators, etc. There will be more upcoming on education, both good and bad, sad and inspiring.

Please, donate at PFEE.org so that we can make people aware of the problems and pool our efforts to try and fix them.

Also, anyone is free to join me for any portion of the walk, even strangers. I welcome anyone, feel free to contact me, my info is on the site PFEE.org

Friday, October 17, 2008

Chapel Hill II: What a Long Strange Trip It's Been

As a mathematician I have to just say "WTF?" What are the odds? But also, the scientist in me says, "There is something more going on here than meets the eye." Or maybe thats just the Transformers theme song.

What are you talking about Skip? Stop being so Cryptic. What I am talking about is . . . Bizarro Skip.

We have found, a man, walking across the USA, from California to Boston, who was a English Second Language Teacher, and wears a Superman T-shirt, and is about to cross our exact route in the other direction. Oh yeah, and Free knows him, from when they worked in AmeriCorps together, another non-profit.

The Superman T-shirt sounds innocuous, but for those who know me, it is not. I was actually thinking of getting a Superman tattoo this weekend. I was saying to Free, "It's almost like seeing the Bat-signal for me."

Free's response, "and then having two guys show up."

Weird, to no end. I am utterly fascinated at this and am convinced that we must meet. We must meet . . .

Also, I have (finally) posted a video online of my trip, check it out . . . video

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chapel Hill, NC: This little piggy stayed home

Miles since last blog: 32.4

Well, after 9 days of straight walking at an average of 30 miles a day, I am allowing myself a few 'days off' at an old friend's place. In actuality I will be working on press, places to stay, interviewing people and finally getting some video and picture content ready for the website.

There will be time to blog too, so look to the future my friends. As a side note, I have passed a milestone having less then 3000 miles to go on my journey, WOO HOO!!! I have also walked over 800 miles so far (+/- 807.7).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Stem, NC: I Heart the South

Miles since last blog: 27.4

Well, I didn't make it as far as I had hoped today. In fact, Free had already set up the tent ahead, but who can resist hospitality like this. My experience with the South so far has been tremendous, although I did hear a story about a guy having a gun pulled on him for driving a Chevy today. Nevertheless, I love the South so far in no small part to it's people. I don't know if hill people still exist, but the rest are just so nice.

Frequently people stop to talk to me and tell me I'm inspirational, the news is picking up the story everywhere we go now and tonight I have a roof over my head again, thanks to the charity of some great local people. The short version is, i stopped at a market to buy myself some dinner and just then a guy recognized me from walking in a town up the road (which is usually why people start to talk to me), free pulled up to meet me and so did a police officer. It seems someone had called about "a guy pushing something." Well, all the excitement brought people out of their houses and one of them, Ben, offered us dinner. Another gave us batteries and a toothbrush for free.

We came over and ate, I had homemade wine which was very tasty and we talked for a few hours. Eventually, it was about time to go and I was having a hard time getting moving (from 240 miles in 8 days or two big glasses of wine, i don't know), they offered us a place to stay. Free went back to camp which is about 5 miles off, but I couldn't resist a bed, shower and breakfast.

So tomorrow is extra long, this is an experience I'll treasure for a while. It is nice to meet people who are so openly, and more importantly, genuinely friendly. Often in other places I feel like politeness is a cultural habit or obligation, here it is a part of the people I have met. Truly, I am not sure why what I am doing has meaning, but it seems to, and I feel more human for the experience.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Henderson, NC: Thank you Ambassador Suites!

Miles since last blog: 34.4

Soooooo tired, but Free earned his keep and then some by going into town ahead of me and getting a room donated to us. That means a shower and a bed. I stink, I'm tired. 7 days of walking totaling about 210 miles will leave you, broken-ish. Two days to go until a day off (which is a day where I just don't make progress on the walk, and sleep the same place two whole nights).

Great thanks to our hosts, Ambassador Suites, you rock!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Brodnax, VA: Welcome to the South, no really

Miles since last blog: 30.6

Brodnax isn't so much a town as a dirt road, with lots of dogs, but I've got that under control now. It's also my name in Klingon if memory serves.

My Dad was nice enough to share his concerns that I might offend people in the South with my last blog, I think his exact words were, "You know they can read in the South, right?" I didn't bother reminding him that they probably had tv's and dvd's down here and that most people are at least peripherally aware of the movie 'Deliverance' and associated jokes.

Now, it seems that yes, the movie 'Deliverance' and 3 episodes of 'My Big Redneck Wedding' didn't put my mind in the perfect state for my first night in the backwoods of the South, but a series of close calls with dogs hardly set me up for a comfortable first night. Most of my friends from the South make jokes about these things, but just in case it's one of those "I can make fun of my sister, but you can't make fun of my sister" situations, sorry. Perhaps if this upset you, you might be better off in Northern California (real N. Cali, in the mountains) where people, who are mostly white and well-off, are afraid to say or hear anything that might be construed as offensive in any way by any of the many kinds of people they do not meet on a regular basis.

It's okay for me to make fun of Northern California, I'm from there, and so is my sister, from an area not to far from our own real live rednecks. See, we're not so different.

With that said, today was a day devoid of fear, I've adjusted and as I said I have a doggie defense system-wheeling around at them generally scares them back to bark-only-distance.

In fact, the only thing that persisted from yesterday as far as the South is concerned is the hospitality. A man actually pulled over and waited for me to come up the road so he could see what I was all about, meet me and shake my hand. That was really nice.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Blackstone, VA: Welcome to the South

Miles since last blog: 29.6

The word of the day is "dogs." But we'll get to that later.

Yes, I am officially in the South. Red Country for sure during this election year. Today, I passed my first rebel flag on a flagpole in someone's front yard. A short time later I was nearly hit by a raised and camouflaged, mud covered 4x4 with a rebel flag front license plate. The South, but not just the South, the backwoods. Yes, my excitement at new experiences and country soon turned to fear as I heard footsteps through the woods. I kept waiting for someone to yell, "PURTY MOUTH!" and for hill people to comes flooding out of the woods, feet as bare as their gums.

To console myself I laughed off my movie driven anxieties with some southern music, 'Big Old Jet Airliner' by Steve Miller Band (which incidentally I thought was Big Old Jed and Lina when I was young, why that mean couple was carrying him away I don't know), just I was starting to get into this swing of things and singing the first of the periodic shotgun blasts started. They would be present off and on throughout the rest of the day. You have to understand, I grew up in the Bay Area first, gun shots were not signs of fun there, they were signs of robberies and murders, that kind of thing sticks with you, especially in unfamiliar places.

Of course the other thing you always hear about the South is about incredible hospitality, and I will say that today most people passing me waved and I was offered my first ride, which I of course declined.

There was a lot to today, but the most important thing to talk about is dogs, I'll leave the rest for the book ;) I haven't been afraid of a dog since my uncles pit bull R.I.P. took a bite out of my butt when I was a kid. Previous to that the only dog I was afraid of was my Grandma's Chihuahua 'Chiquita,' who in retrospect was likely a Gremlin. But today a pair of Doberman Pinchers scared me pretty good. You see, houses out here range from trailors to grand estates but most of them have a few things in common: giant yards, and no fences.

I being a city boy, see a dog off leash in a front yard and think, "ooh, one of those nifty electric fences."

When the dog gets closer, I think, "Wow, that fence is really big."

Closer still, "Hmmm, I don't see the collar, perhaps he's just trained to stay on the property."

And finally when the dog's nails are tapping on the asphalt 5 feet behind you, "Uh oh."

Ultimately, I was not attacked, but it was only the first in a series of dog run ins, most at night when I can't see them and don't know they are there until they are feet away from me and still running.

A few nights ago the night was peaceful and beautiful, tonight as I tried to make it to the camp Free had set up, I was trying to tip-toe on blisters past houses in the dark in case they had dogs.

Now we sit in a tent on a dirt road, sounds, not always nature sounds, are all around us. Did I just hear a whisper?

"Purdy Mouth . . . "

Friday, October 10, 2008

Midlothian, VA: Perspective

Miles since last blog: 17

Today I felt surprisingly rejuvenated. I was surprised to see that a 14+ mile day yesterday and a few tasty beverages now serves as a day of rest. The human body continues to astound me, I'd say my body, but I am pretty sure anybody could do this physically, it's the mental fortitude that's hard.

With that said, it's a lot about perspective. Originally, I just wanted to walk. I decided that if I was going to do this, I should try to help people as well and I formed PFEE.org (People for Educational Equality) and found something that I was very passionate. My reasoning more than anything comes from personal philosophy, even if it doesn't always seem like it, that own drum beat that my drum pounds out is fairly well thought out and planned. I wanted to find something that could really change something, something that would give as many people as possible the most opportunity to find happiness as possible.

For me the key to anything I've wanted has always been my mind, which I believe has a bit to do with the education I received. So I can try to give people opportunities they don't have by improving the educations they get with resources and programs. Then again, I haven't been getting the kind of donations or press that I had hoped for. I have received both some and I do believe that things are snowballing, but now is not the best time to be starting a non-profit.

Perspective is the word of the day. When I use that word feel free to yell and scream and run around yelling, "that's the word of the day!" The stock market is poop, yes, poop. it's less than 66% of what it was at last years high point. There is an election coming up and while for half of the country this will be a good thing, that means that for half the country it will be a scary and disappointing thing no matter who wins. Perspective. Are you yelling? C'mon, let's get pumped!

Fiscally, people aren't in a giving mood except for a few of you wonderful good samaritans who are great people. As I said, not a good time to start a non-profit. Still, it's a great time to make people happy.

I think the donations will come in time, but right now people are always happy, or even excited, to meet or see me. In a world plagued with problems, it seems I can remind people that good and amazing things are still happening, even if we are not sure what makes them good or amazing. Maybe even inspire a few people to realize that they can do something if they make the decision to. It seems to me after doing quite a few 'crazy' or 'weird' things that people say they couldn't do, the hardest part of any of them is always the decision to do them and the commitment to stay with them.

I can't change the world . . . this month, but in a world where the weather report in NYC calls for occasional stock-broker-like-precipitation, maybe I can make some people happy . . . and give them some perspective. AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Richmond, VA: No more dates

Miles since last blog: 14.2

Okay, since the dates are up there I guess I'll start doing without my own. Well, I woke up against my will in Ashland. It's not that I didn't like Ashland, I just didn't like waking up. Even though I was exhausted last night when I arrived to camp, I couldn't sleep, not for a long while. When I did wake up it was because Free was informing me that the police were coming to work in 15 minutes and we needed to go. I wasn't functioning. I had been asleep for maybe 3 broken hours after 48 hours in which I had walked 84 miles. Free was taking down the tent which was covered in brush, I was trying to help but mostly standing slack jawed and fiddling with things on my carrier.

We packed up but I knew I couldn't walk yet. I grabbed the one-man tent and my sleeping bag and wandered into the woods. I was so thankful to have them, I was so tired I could barely put the tent together for the first time. I had to wake up a bit more to get my brain working, when I finally got it all set up it took me time to fall back asleep, I cursed the morning birds chirping, then the trains, then the lawnmowers, finally I got to sleep. It wasn't long, maybe an hour that I got to sleep when it finally came, maybe an hour and a half. I didn't feel great, but good enough to walk.

The timing was right, shortly after I got on the road a reporter from a local paper came pulled over and interviewed me. I needed the boon, Still it was hard to get going again, my legs just didn't want to move what I now felt was a relatively short distance. It wasn't pain, just shear exhaustion. I made it of course and a shower was a just reward.

My host baked cookies, we went to sushi and out for drinks. A fine night. I still don't yet have a plan for tomorrow, but maybe tomorrow will have a plan for me.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ashland, VA 10-08-08

Miles since last blog: 39.8

Sleeping on the lawn of the corrections facility of town is probably not the best idea, but when you are this tired you just don't care. Over the last two days I've walked about 84 miles, tomorrow should be a nice easy 14.5 into Richmond and a nice couch. I walked well into the night tonight and it was actually quite nice. I forgot how peaceful walking at night by the moonlight is. You can focus on the sound of your feet, the smell of the woods and the simple act of walking so much more without the distraction of light and constantly being passed by cars.

It was a good night, but I'm glad it's over, soooooooo tired.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fredericksburg, VA 10-07-08

Miles since last blog: 42.7 (+wrong turn)

Oh yes, the day was a far cry from those happy times last night of cookie dough ice cream and Breakfast at Tiffany's, but it is good to get moving again and we have a nice place to stay tonight as well. It was just the 44 miles in between that was a little tiresome, but worth it. Tomorrow looks like camping for sure, maybe with rain, it'll be a good change from the ordinary and make me appreciate the return of good weather in the future more.

Getting in cars when I am not walking does seem to be worth it. I was getting so focused on mileage every day that i was forgetting to experience the towns I visited. Tonight after dinner and a shower we headed out to a local bar, which was nice, and I got to see a bit more of the town too. The only reason I have a place to sleep tonight is because the other night when I went out dancing in DC with my host we met the most awesomely generous 3 minute bar friend ever who hooked me up with this place to stay (not her even, but a friend of hers). Yes kids, sometimes it pays to be sociable and go out, especially when it's getting so cold out.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Alexandria II: Toto, I don't think we're in Egypt anymore 10-06-08

Okay, I have a confession, no that sounds too ominous, a decision then.

I've been convinced to get in cars and public transportation on my days off. My hosts at various places as well as my friends and family have convinced me that it isn't cheating. In the end the only person I had to convince was myself, for some reason I had this diehard conviction that I needed to do this whole thing in unbroken steps. I realized though that it is the best interest of the charity work as well as everything else for me to not be so rigid.

In any case, today was a good example of why. We rode the metro into the city to visit 2 teachers unions, NPR and National Geographic. We got contacts and promises, we'll see where things lead, but a connection with any of them would help the charity as well as the documentary immensely.

Tomorrow is looking like a nice long day so I'll be getting up early to make the 43 or so miles, to where my next bed might possibly be, in the daylight. It'll feel good, hopefully I can get to Richmond dry, soon I won't be so lucky . . .

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Alexandria, VA 10-05-08

Miles since last blog: 12.3

Yes, I am in Virginia. Tomorrow I'll head back into DC to try and visit possible sponsors or press connections. Wish me luck!

Not much writing tonight, but the high-light of the evening was being able to speak Czech for 40 minutes with the lifeguard of my hosts condominium pool. He is on a year of work here, and I am staying with a friend from Prague so it came up naturally and I had to find my way downstairs to practice my Czech. It was wonderful.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Washington, DC II: District of Cool-umbia 10-04-08

Miles walked since last blog: 0 (actually, many, but not on my route so . . . )

Well, we are waiting around until Monday more or less. We want to head by a few possible leads and the weekend isn't a great time to do that. Nevertheless, we shot some good (I hope) footage today for some online videos and the documentary and even got a few photos which I know I've been lacking. Give a brother a break, it's hard to photograph yourself walking and how many of those arms length camera shots of me could you possibly deal with? I mean, I'm pretty but even I need some variety.

I've gotta say though, it is pretty cool coming to the nations capitol and seeing so many famous and historic sights in such close proximity to each other. We interviewed some people at the National Mall (which is not the kind with stores, it's really like a park with awesome buildings everywhere) about education and politics and a few other things and it felt productive in a good way. Something different and meaningful in some sense more than just distance. (Obligatory woo hoo! here)

With the pros come the cons unfortunately, and there are plenty of cons in this town, wink wink, nod nod. I still have no connectors for either my film or video cameras to my computers to load things on the internet you kids all seem so crazy for, I tried, I did. Alas, at the electronics store I went 0 for 2 with my purchases as far correctness and functionality.

Though we won't be leaving town completely tomorrow there is some possibility we'll be heading to the south side so that when we get moving we'll be a few hours ahead of if we stay here. My legs could use a stretch anyway. I need to be walking, when I stop my appetite is ridiculous and unreasonable. Last night I bought a ton of food thinking it would last me a while and even with going out for breakfast it was mostly gone by 10 a.m. I'm gong to need a second non-profit just to feed myself soon.

Tomorrow we hope to help our host paint her living room as thanks for letting us stay, we'll see how that goes. For now it's time to research the future, from what I have heard today it seems to involve a political decision of some sort or quite possibly lizard people in silver suits, it depends on what channel I turn on.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Washington, DC 10-03-08

Mile since last blog: 11.2

They say the Heart of Rock and Roll . . . is still beating! No wait, that's Cleveland.

That's right, I'm at the Heart of Democracy, and it's still beating. Not as effective the second time around I guess. And it seems that democracy may recently have had a triple bypass, nevertheless, still beating and on a healthy diet. I invited democracy to walk along with me for awhile and get some good solid exercise, but democracy said that it was "busy" something about some vote or whatnot.

Anyhoo, I'm surfing yet another couch in a new not-a-state, but now I have a buddy! Yep, Free is here now. I showed him the camera tonight and we discussed how to go on from here. We seem to have agreed that it is a good idea to be around on Monday so we can go pester National Geographic and NPR and tell them to help me . . . somehow. We'll head out on the town tomorrow to get some much needed filming done. Woo hoo!

I'm pretty tired. It wasn't a long walk today, but it was a long day. Things are coming together, we rock out from here out.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Greenbelt, MD 10-02-08

Miles since last blog: 27.9 (+ some being lost)

Couchlogue, couchdate 100208: I remain, boldly going where no couchsurfer has gone before. Or at least that's what my hosts tell me.

A lot of places that I stay are in smaller towns or suburbs if I am lucky enough to find a place. Not typical places for travelers to visit, so many times (5 out of 10 so far) I am the only couchsurfer they have had. Tonight I am staying with 5 Indian guys. The night consisted of delicious Indian food and the Vice Presidential Debate which inspired raucous hilarity among them. I believe this was because of how the candidates would be asked something and then say point blank, "I'm going to talk about something else," or just do so. Also apparently there was a very funny interview they watched before that I missed. A fun night, we even had some nice conversations about India, education, politics and took some pictures to commemorate their first US hosting on Couchsurfing (which is pretty big in India apparently).

Today was not a good navigation day though. I thought I was mostly over these little dilemmas, but I am always surprised by new circumstances. Closed roads, giant walls separating roads from their continuations, lack of road signs and State Parks where roads don't even appear on my phone navigator are only some of the problems that I experienced today. There was also a considerable amount of busy-roaded bridge running, which I am seriously considering making into an illegitimate adrenaline sport. There is nothing like hitting all out sprint speed while pushing a 120lb (why does it keep getting heavier :( ) carrier during a lull in traffic over a bridge to make you thankful to be trying desperately to stop said carrier in the meager shoulder awaiting on the other side. I am actually starting to enjoy this practice, perhaps the walking is getting to me.

The Great American Couch Rider, over and out

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Catonsville, MD 10-01-08

Miles walked since last blog: 9.7

Well, well, well, here we are at the beginning of a whole new month. I suppose I should do a . . .

MONTH 1 - REVIEW

2 legitimate flat tires
478.5 MIles walked (15.95 miles/day average including days off)
1 Pair of shoes stolen/lost
1 Laptop broken
2 Broken front wheels
? Many new friends
0.5 Days walked in the rain (not bad eh?)
4 nights camping (also not bad)
Many socks
? Dozens of blisters
1 Unexplained foot rash (gone now, woo hoo!)
1 Night in a police station
1 Bridge from hell
Several old friends
30+ Calls from Mom
3,266 Miles to go (roughly)

Well, not to bad. I'm hoping to have this be about 6 months long, but I'll have to increase my mileage. To be fair, I missed more days than I'd like this first month. But sit back, load up and relax. Wait, . . . do you hear that?

PSSSST

Oh yeah, I just cracked open the second can of adventure in the 6-pack. Let's roll Cherry.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Baltimore 2B: or not 2B 9-30-08

Ok, an answer to a common question. What do you eat?

On an average walking day, I eat about 3 energy bars, one energy drink, a ton of water, some type of huge meat-filled sandwich item for lunch with whatever accompanies it and as much of whatever I can get for dinner.

My days off however are different, I try to load up as much as possible.

Today I ate:

2 sandwiches (turkey and chicken)
1 rice crispies treat
1 entire bag of fun sized snickers
1 bag of chips
1 lb of sesame and pineapple chicken
half-pound of pepper beef steak
half-pound of noodles
2.5 fillets of salmon
some brownie bits
2 bowls of pesto pasta
tons of water
bit of salad
1 glass, okay, 2 glasses of wine.

Why am I writing this? I'm hungry again and can't sleep. I am toying with raiding the fridge, but it's two floors down in a dark house that's not mine . . . hmmmm

Baltimore II: Baltimost 9-30-08

Alright, when last we met I was tired. Now, I am full of Asian cuisine and rested. Two days ago I was couchsurfing and I offered my host (Hereafter referred to as Free) an opportunity to come with me in his car and film for the documentary. Things lined up right for him for a few months and I thought I'd give it a shot.

Yesterday morning I was readying my gear and setting out from his house when he told me he would join me on Thursday. I have a buddy! This is very important, I could explain why, but rather I will just tell you what happened yesterday.

Shortly after I left Free's place I noticed I had a flat tire. After the bridge I had been worried this would happen, I was just happy and amazed that it lasted to get to Free's house in the first place. In spite of the flat, I was so happy that things were coming together, i was so happy to have someone coming along that I couldn't stop singing loudly. Sometimes as I passed by a building both a bystander and I would be startled by each others presence and my songs. It didn't stop me. I checked my navigation stuff, the nearest Bicycle shop was 24 miles ahead of me. I called Free. While I kept moving for about an hour and a half on my flat, it was slow and damaging to my tire I'm sure. Then Free showed up, took the tire and got it fixed. It took a while because of the travel and having to wait for the shop worker to show up, but without him there is no telling how I would have gotten it done. It was like a serendipitous verification of my decision to invite him along.

During this time a policeman came and questioned me about who I was and what I was doing. I told him, he seemed a bit incredulous but friendly, advised me to wait further off the road and left me with a look that said, "Nutty Californian." I got moving but didn't go to far before my cell phone died and I had to stop to charge it for a while. By this time I was 3 hours later than I had wanted to be. I called and let my host know I'd be late, he was very nice and said not to worry what time I showed up.

I tried to pick up my pace anyway. About 20 miles in my leg started hurting. 31 miles in, my front wheel popped off.. with 4.5 miles to go and it being dark out (8 p.m. exactly). I couldn't be mad at Cherry (the Chariot's name) though, she'd been beaten to a pulp on the bridge and still carried me 31 miles into the day. I decided to go on without trying to fix the wheel since I had only 4.5 miles left, which seems very short these days. I was interrupted in my reflection by a man warning me that someone up the street had just had a gun held to their head when they were with their child and to be careful walking or if I was camping around the area. He also told me that a girl had been hit in the back of the head with a 2x4. I assured him that I was on my way to an actual home.

I suppose especially with the broken carrier I looked like I was homeless. Perhaps if the neighborhood was as dangerous as all that, my homeless look was my protection. Nevertheless, I listened for footprints behind me.

4.5 miles isn't bad . . . unless it's filled with hills and you have no front wheel. Let's go to the imagination factory! First, imagine you've walked 31 miles, still with me? Good. Now, hold your arms slightly out in front of your hips. Find a friend to pull up on them and try to keep them in the same spot. Really, you're doing an excellent job, just a little more. Now, walk for an hour and a half up and down hills, and remember, keep your friend pulling on your arms. Congratulations! You just imaginated the end of my day. During the last 15 minutes I got a little light-headed. What surprised me was that I still felt like I could keep going.

I guess my body is adjusting, or I have broken the part of my brain that tells you to stop doing stupid things. Either way, I win!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Baltimore, MD 9-29-08

Miles since last blog: 35.4

Today was just ridiculous. I keep expecting that I will have an uneventful day where I just walk and show up somewhere, eat dinner and go to bed and struggle for something to do my daily blog about, but that just isn't the case.

With that said, the events of today have left me extremely exhausted and I have only the strength to write something totally different and fill you in about today, tomorrow.

I've been waiting to do this until after I had left Baltimore, but I simply can't wait anymore. Much thanks to the Winick's for putting roofs over my head in 3 separate states now and inviting me into their lovely homes. They have been generous in donations, spirit, companionship, and so much more. Without them this first month would have been a drastically different and much harder process. Who knew there was a family out there that was so nice, I think it's because they are from Connecticut, where the only word I could think of to describe anything was 'nice.'

I have made so many connections on this trip, some I am convinced will stay for a long time if not for life, I sincerely hope I can pay back all the kindness and hope that people have given me by living up to and above their expectations. But no pressure.

Thanks Winick's and everyone else who has in some way contributed to my success, I couldn't do it without you.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Havre de Grace III: Grace Under Water 9-28-08

Well, so far I have been lucky.  Even though I said I would be staying one night, my hosts let me stay for three nights due to injury and weather respectively, and the weather outside, just for the record, is frightful.  But there is no delightful fire, delightful hot chocolate on the other hand was available to me and I delighted in every drop of it.

I also found a somewhat kindred soul in the man I am staying with which is nice. I am trying to convince him to accompany me for a ways on my journey, but we'll see how that turns out, I could use the help with my (surprisingly) many non-walking tasks. I have a place to sleep inside through the end of the month which is amazing, but looking at the map of hosts my camping time is running up on me fast and I will be extremely glad for my NJ friends one-man tent as the weather turns against me. I've talked with him on the phone since and it seems a lot of the equipment he gave me was from when he was cycling across the country. He had made it pretty far in separate runs before he stopped. So it is easy to understand some of his investment in my finishing, if for any reason I couldn't finish I would hope that someone would. This week won't be bad though, I have only one 30+ mile day planned this week which will make my mom, and quite possibly my legs, very happy.

It continually amazes me with my experiences how quickly you become a part of a household, maybe not a relative, but welcomed in so completely and with such care. I will be (couch)curfing my way through the other side of Washington DC from here and I look forward to every experience more and more. Looking back I wish I could have spent more time the places I've been, particularly since I am so much more comfortable now in this situation. I look forward to a time when I can have a house and host travelers wild-eyed with schemes of adventure and discovery. It is nice for me to be that vicarious conduit to another world for others who long for it but are otherwise happy or stuck in their lives.

I am falling in love with couchsurfing. I know it sounds weird and scary with the strangers and because we are such a society of distrust and fear, but just for your own peace of mind, check out the sight, sign up, meet people on it if only for coffee. I hope you will be as blown away as I am by the incredible goodness that is still left in a world where we are bombarded constantly with worries of evil.

And on that note, I'm off to Baltimore . . .