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 . . .

Havre de Grace II: Return to Grace 9-27-08

Ahhhhh, aren't days off wonderful?  Or mostly anyway.  Well it looks like I have a place to stay tomorrow night again (where I am right now) which is good because a storm is coming in.  Then next week is sunshine for days, great traveling weather and by then I'll be looking forward to getting back on the road.

It felt great to rest and around 4:30 I even got a visit from an old friend from Prague who I was very close with.  There are times when this walk feels great and like there is nothing else I should be doing more, but for every path chosen there is one untaken.  

As much as this adventure calls to me, there is a part that is lonely at times.  It's not so bad most of the time  When you meet someone who you have a connection with or you see someone who reminds you of times with people in your life who cared (that you have actual face to face contact with) and then you have to leave them behind you again, well, it spikes that loneliness right into you.  It's not that I don't want that life, I do, I want friends and family and a life that's more permanent.  Still, there's a part of me that needs to do this or I'll never be able to devote myself to that life the way I should be able to.  

It makes for a very nice and very, very difficult day to go through this.  You are always thankful for the connection on the road and you try to be strong and leave or watch the other person leave, but afterwards, that's very difficult.  If the bridge tested my body and mind days like these test my heart.  Wow, that sounded cheesy.  

I need tomorrow off, but it will be good to get back on the road, focused and in that meditative peaceful state of perpetual movement.  After all this is over which will I opt for?  Settle down and form long lasting relationships or more adventure?  I don't know yet.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Havre de Grace, MD 9-26-08

Miles since last blog:  38 (+++?)

There are barely words to describe today.  I am happy to be staying in a bed again, and I think I may just stay for two nights to get some rest.  A friend from Prague might come meet me for the afternoon since they live in the same state.  That will be nice.

But back to today.  I am a pretty amiable guy for the most part, I like people of almost all different kinds which at times even surprises me given my past feelings towards humanity as a whole.  There are still a few things I hate.  One is people who yell or honk at me, but I'll talk about that another time.  Two is any road that has Mount, Mountain, Hill, Summit or Grade in it for obvious reasons.  And finally, I despise bridges.  They are always trouble.  Today for example both my navigation systems told me to cross a bridge which is approximately two miles long.  

This bridge did not have a place to walk on it.  Actually, none of the bridges in the area do.  Normally, I am walking across bridges that my nav systems tell me I can't because I can see on the satellite pictures from google earth that they do have sidewalks and not walking over them adds 12 miles to my journey.  I prefer it that way.  I'm not going to say that it was fortunate that the bridge was under construction, but it was . . . under construction.  I decided rather than go I don't even know where to cross the river, I would cross in the construction zone since no one was working and at the end of the day I was only 4 miles from my bed.  How could I stop?  Well I did, and often, but only to catch my breath.

I'll spare you the gory details (suffice to say there was many wooden planks involved and moving of heavy things like generators), but that 2 mile bridge took me two hours and fifteen minutes to cross and I was working hard the whole time.  So today, though my knee hurt from mile 12, I kept going, and now, my knee hurts sure, but so do my arms, back, the rest of my legs and my psyche.  Lucky, except for my knee, the rest actually will be better tomorrow.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wilmington, DE 9-25

Miles since last blog:  29.9

Texas school of Medicine as I know it has one remedy for everything:

"Walk it off."

Wind knocked out of you?  Walk it off.
Asthma attack?  Walk it off.
Cancer?  Walk it off.
Hurt leg?  Walk it off.

So today, that's what I did.  The first 16 miles were swell, but shortly after that my leg muscle which kept me an extra day in Philly tried again to assert itself through mutiny.  But I would have none of it, or rather, I would have some of it.  I did schedule into my day a break for pain, which coincided nicely with rain and lunch, but I still hit my goal for the day.  Also to be perfectly honest, I enjoyed the extra day in Philly and miss my new friend, so the leg didn't do that much damage.

Tomorrow I have a slightly more difficult choice.  Do I try for a long day to have a place to sleep and get back on schedule (which no one cares about but a tiny psychotic portion of my brain), or do I go a relatively short 25 mile day and camp in the rain?  Still trying to decide, I suppose the point is moot if I don't get a response on Couchsurfing.  Nevertheless, I need to decide when to set my alarm clock now because I am fading fast from a delicious pie and sausage induced coma.  Thank you couchsurfing, and awesome family who gave me my own room.  Now I can sleep just as soon as I finish this bl . . .

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Philly II: Cheesesteaks for all 9-24-08

I wasn't planning on blogging tonight.  I'm tired and hurt and I have to start early tomorrow to make sure I can get to my next couchsurf in case I hurt still.  I wasn't planning on blogging, but I got online and checked my email, and maybe it is my depleted physical being or the fear that no one would care about what I'm doing, and was overwhelmed to feel reached out to by people.

The comments about my blog are possibly the most wonderful reward that I could personally be given.  It fills me up with emotion when I hear that someone has connected with me, what I am doing or something I wrote.  There's always been a part of me that I felt wasn't understood, and to know that that part which drives me now is striking a chord with people is having a profound effect on me and for the first time maybe I feel small and humbled.  I'm not a humble man, but these things that people are giving me do make me feel small in the best way possible.

And of course, there are donations.  They are coming in and another fear is washing away.  I am glad to be bringing awareness to an issue, but to raise some funds to actually do something about it is the real point.  And they are coming from people I don't know, it is surprising and nourishing to me that a parent of one of the children from the New York class I met, both donated and sent a personal email to me.  I never expected it, and I only hope that I can live up to everything that everyone is giving.  

Thank you everyone for keeping me going and lending meaning to my actions that I alone could not give them.  I may not change the world but it is definitely changing me.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Philadelphia, PA 9-22-08

Miles since last blog: 29.7

Phinally in Philly, Phenomonal.  Good couch, good food, good people, bad muscles.  More tomorrow (when my muscles and general energy level are better).  


Tomorrow.  One of the reasons, one of the dozens of reasons, I am doing this whole thing, is completely selfish.  It wasn't even an original reason, but it is quickly moving up the list of motivations.  This trip is restoring my faith in mankind a bit, and with it a connection to people that I had nearly entirely lost.  

It's not just that people are helpful, it's that they are so different and yet so many times you slip into short yet incredibly comfortable relationships where each person gleans bits of wisdom and new points of views from each other.  I have a friend who believes that everyone has something has something to teach you.  If that's true, then doing something like this helps some people give freely, and helps attract to you people with a lot to give.

I am couchsurfing with an amazing girl who plays guitar and banjo and sings with an amazing voice, but don't take my word for it.  Check out papertrees on myspace.  She is a vegan in the music industry, certainly I have now ranged the left-right gamut.  And the nice thing is, that I am struck in awe by these people, which simply didn't happen to me that often before this experience.  

Probably, the best thing I learned in survival school was no something they even intended to teach me.  Looking at 1 to 5 years on the road alone (I have more plans after the USA) my greatest fear was the loneliness.  But in the scant two weeks with 11 amazing people I learned that if I was open to the moment I didn't need a house to have a home, and I didn't need someone I've know forever to find in someone an old friend.

So when I meet these amazing people, my connection with the world is restored, and in a few hours I've made an old friend that I'll miss when I'm gone, and I don't feel so lonely.  

I'll live in my moments, whatever comes.  Especially if it's toast and bananas.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Morrisville, PA 9-21-08

Miles since last blog: 33.3

That's right, another day, another state, gotta love these tiny East Coast states for making you feel like you are accomplishing something.  

So sleeping at the police station was interesting, which was great and bad.  It would probably have been better if it wasn't a Saturday night, but as it was there was something going on with fair consistency until about 2:30 a.m.  Still, it was warm and inside.  I slept about 5 hours which is still pretty ok, especially compared to outside sleeping.  Other than that, it was great.  They were extremely nice.  I woke up to a donation from the guys on duty, a lunch bought for me by a local diner and morning breakfast and conversation with an officer.  All in all, one of my best mornings on the trip for sure.  There was even another guy sleeping there after he missed his bus, his name was Dre and we got to talk a while too before I left.

Then, walking.  What more to say?  My feet hurt now.  There are blisters on every toe of my left foot.  Oddly enough my right foot is completely fine.  C'est la vie.  Well, I still am not sure where I am sleeping tonight, so I had better be off soon.  Looking forward to a nice couch tomorrow.  Mmmmmm, couchsurfing.


Update:  Slept in a grove of trees behind the Burger King I ate at.  The sleeping bag and ponchos are awesome.  Thanks all.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Middlesex, NJ 9-20-08

Miles since last blog 30.5 (plus lost walking)

I'm at the police station, sleeping (soon hopefully) in the lobby on a blanket in the corner.  Not arrested, don't worry, just indoors and near a bathroom.  Woo hoo!

I got lost today which always takes a lot out of me.  It turns out that although my navigator was right about being able to walk over some bridges (albeit some were so narrow I had to take apart my gear and transport it piece by piece), it was wrong about there being sidewalks on either side.  Which was more or less a big problem since it was a highway.  I can't imagine what they were thinking.  Are the sidewalks for people who have fears of going over bridges in cars only?  "Okay Bob, we'll let you out here, see you on the other side."  The planning mystifies me.  

Nonetheless, I made my goal stopping point tonight even if I did walk extra hours to do it.  Biyahhh!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Jersey City, NJ 9-19-08

Miles since last blog:  23.9

I finally escaped NY, although it wasn't nearly as dramatic as when Kurt Russell did it.  I even have my banner, that combined with the fact that a team in Britain is attempting the world record distance for the three-legged race, leads me into tonight's diatribe:  Politics.  

I've been trying to avoid it, but it has been on my mind a lot lately and today forces my hand.

Politics have gotten out of hand.  You know this whichever side you are on, but what's different is this:  It's your fault.  No, it's not the Democrats. No, It's not the Republicans either.  No, it is most definitely not Ralph Nader.  Now, as a warning, this my get long and a bit preachy, but I'll try to infuse some humor and lots of unreasonable tangents to keep it entertaining.  (For those of you not wanting to read this, skip down to ***)

The reason politics is so screwed up is because we no longer have parties, we have teams, which play against each other.  And whichever team you're on, you cheer when your team talks good trash or the other team screws up and you laugh at them.  Go team.

Except, they were meant to be parties.  We've turned politics into a tug-o-war with our government and country as the rope, being pulled back and forth and fraying going over the center line again and again.  Sure, this is really, the politicians doing this, but 
we are the ones cheering and buying the box seats.  If we didn't support this kind of behavior, they wouldn't do it.  That's the nature of elected office.  Honestly, when you see the candidates slinging at the other party doesn't it make you a little ashamed?  Who cares if they may even be right, shouldn't we expect more from the leaders of the free world than low blows?

Whichever side you're on, you probably think half the country is filled with idiots, and you're probably right no matter what side you're on.  It's just that half of the total idiot populace agrees with you.  

Politics shouldn't be a tug-o-war.  It should on the other hand be a three-legged race.  Two parties not quite working in concert, but both trying towards similar goals, even if they don't always agree.  That's politics as it should be!  Right now politics is sadly more like the TV show "Gossip Girl" which I hear is fascinating or revolting (like politics).

So that's the three-legged race part, GO Brits!  (I have my own record attempt up for review so let's all be supportive).  Now for the banner tangent and the real reason for all of this.

Today being the first day I have my banner, I went through highs and lows with it.  The low, walking through NYC in a heavily populated area for 2 hours with not so much as a question about my charity.  Finally a man with a class of students asked me about it and told the kids to listen because this was something really cool.  I couldn't stop smiling, still in 3 hours in Manhattan, no donations, not even a real prospect.  

Almost immediately after I got into New Jersey a man on a bike stopped me and gave me $5 before even knowing why I was walking, just because he respected the deed.  He refused a receipt and rode off, but not before I gave him one of my new cards.  

About an hour later he called me and asked me about my gear, did I have a tent?  No.  How about cooking?  Cooking, . . . no.  He said to keep walking and he'd find me in an hour or so.  True to his word he called a few times over the next two hours to check where I was and where I was going and actually got close and said to wait, he was bringing me things but to be careful because the people in the area didn't like "people like us."

I didn't know him from Adam, I didn't know his politics or anything and although this comment was a small red flag in my head, I also know that while many people would be upset by the phrasing of this, they would also tell me to be careful going through certain areas and say things like, "Oh, I wouldn't go through there."  Take these things into consideration before judgement.

He arrived and said, "watch out around here, they don't like us because of this,"  he was patting the skin on his arm.  I'd like to make clear right now, that I have been warned now about a lot of areas, largely by friends and relatives who for the record are liberal like me.  Aside from very few others, I am the only one I know of who has spent any time in these areas other than when lost, and in the words of a friend recently lost in LA, "Compton isn't nearly as dangerous as Dr. Dre lead me to believe."  In other words, there is nothing to fear except fear itself.  I think one of my friends said that too ;)

We continued.  He had a car full of things for me, I could see it in the back window.  My first thought was, "Oh god, no, there is no way I can take all this stuff and carry it.  I just cut the weight I was pushing down."  

The list goes like this:

A military cocoon sleeping bag, heavy, bulky, amazingly useful and warm.  Reluctantly I agreed, this is something that will be great with winter coming, and it's better than buying it later with money that could go to charity.

A one man tent.  Again, I agreed for the same reasons even though I had something, this was too good to pass up on the chance I would need it later.  The rest went similarly,

A lightweight camp stove
6 pepsi cans
A vitamin water with a special top you can use with just one hand
2 rolls of toilet paper, which I eventually gave back for space
A bar of soap, which I had been dreaming of, why does everyone use gels now?
A packet of lunch meat, eaten immediately
A bag of pretzels
2 peaches
2 chocolate bunnies
Camp cook and eatware
A sleeping pad
A bicycle, he offered later, I turned this down
maybe more?

Every once in a while he would stop and say, "I don't know what else I can do?"  There was probably a correct response to this situation, but I think I usually just stood there or thanked him again, neither of which was probably the correct answer.

"I'm one of those good republicans," he offered.  "I look at you and I know you must be a little left of center, but I see you're doing something.  Most people (on the left) just talk a lot, but you are out there practicing what you preach and that's worth something."  I actually tend to agree with this even as a liberal myself.

"I'm an old warrior," he said again.  I, being a Californian who was raised in a liberal town with liberal friends and relatives, found him an alien type of creature.  Not in a negative sense, just not something I was used to, he was like a character that I would see a friend do, but I liked him despite our disagreements and some of the things he said.  He talked about lots of old warrior type of stuff, though he said he was never in the military.

Yes, we saw things very differently.  Yes, his political views were very different from mine.  We both knew that.  Still, he kept saying amongst many other things, "Education is the key to success," and things like that.  We found common ground.  Once more, I imagine he saw in me something someone was doing that was worthy of dreaming of.  "I hope you realize when you accept money or things from people that they are helping you because there is a part of them that wish they could go with you."

Even more, I found in him many things that I would aspire to be someday.  I am trying to do something good, but if I really dig I don't know that if I saw someone on the street with a banner that I would do everything he did.  He gave and gave and seemed almost self-chastising when he didn't know what else to give.  He went a place he was uncomfortable to help a person he didn't agree with.  For all of what many of 'my people' would call misperceptions and wrong ideas, this man has a great heart.  I have met no one that took it to heart greater that I finish and be successful, most people like it and want me to succeed, but this was something more.

For the record, he is the only total stranger that has contributed.  For the record, what he gave me tallies up to be far more sizable than any donations I have received (aside from places to stay), it actually probably exceeds that of my entire family and friends at this point.

"Wherever you are someone knows, there's always an old warrior around," he said.  "I'm not a religious man, I mean I don't go to church but I consider myself one of Jesus' soldiers.  I see people or things and I know I have a mission, and I always complete it.  I think there's a reason we met today.  I don't know what it is, but things had to line up just right to run across you.  I dragged my heels today."  I have heard this before from religious people on my walk.  Things were meant to be.  I'm a skeptic by nature and I am not religious, but maybe for them I was supposed to meet them.  He looked up at the sky and yelled, "Is that it Lord?  Have I done enough?  What else should I do?"  In my world to now, he is an alien, but I liked him.

Maybe I'll meet you someday, and by then I'll be (or at least feel) like an old warrior.  And if you agree with me, you can say, "Let's try a three-legged race."


Shortly after this I met a man who was fascinated with my carrier.  He had lost his license and kept fist pounding me and saying, "I like your style."  He told me to stay away from smoking, gesturing at the cigarette in his hand, and drugs and that he was once the 17th best cross country runner in all of New Jersey.  We walked away in opposite directions and he startled some kids by yelling out, "I like you, I like your style.  You keep going!"

Other high and low-lights:

+New shoes
-New shoe blisters
+A great shower
+I used both the banner and cards today multiple times
-I was hassled by the NYPD for . . . I'm not sure, loitering?
+I'm couchsurfing with really cool guys and had good Indian food for dinner
+It's bedtime

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Queens V: The City that wouldn't Die

I hate "One Day Air," I am now on my third day of waiting for my package, a banner which will hopefully distinguish me from other crazy road people.  It is 7:15 p.m. now which means it will not likely come until the fourth day by which I will be gone.  There is a part of me that argues, "you've waited this long and it will be here tomorrow, just stay another day.  What'll it hurt?"  

Then the rest of my brain says, "shut up, you're an idiot and we listened to you yesterday, which makes us idiots and we don't like that.  Tomorrow, we aren't listening to you, even if it makes us even bigger idiots."

Mmmmm, it reminds me of politics, but I won't go into that.  My friend Mimi who I am staying with says she'll mail it forward anyway.  To where?  I don't know, who cares, I need to move.

Booooooooorn Freeeeeeee!  As free as the wind blows . . . 

That's the song I'll be singing on the road tomorrow.  So if you see a guy singing that song and pushing a cart in NY, he may not be crazy, he could be a charity worker.  

Or perhaps in honor of my new shoes, 

These boots were made for walking 
and that's just what they'll do . . . except I'll have to change the lyrics for accuracy to

These shoes were made for running
But instead they're gonna walk

Again, I digress.  Nevertheless, these are important things to consider if you have recently run your ipod through the washing machine.  

I am my own sound system, and

Sound systems gonna pick me back up, ya
One thing that I can depend on . . .

Queens IV: The Wrath of Queens 9-17-08

Curses, this city has a way of grabbing on to you and not letting go!  Okay, it isn't the cities fault at all, but that sounds a bit better than, "the one day shipping didn't come again."  I like it here, but even if this borough does share a name with the most awesome band in history it is a bit nerve racking seeing days, nice days, fly-by while doing things that aren't walking.

I am getting things done is the good thing.  I do have cards which I can give out which help with credibility and I even have a receipt form on the back so people can officially donate straight to me if they see me.  I put white felt lettering on my ponchos today that says, "PFEE.ORG" so people don't think I'm JUST a crazy homeless guy walking in the rain, but a crazy homeless guy with a purpose.  I made 4 t-shirts.  Three say "Walk Across America" on the front, although I got a couple of the iron-on letters backwards on the first one.  Hopefully it looks kid-like and in line with the charity.  I made one which reads, "I'm a PFEE" and wore that out to Burger King where it worked pretty well when a few people asked what it meant.  No donations there, but still, it's a good start and I'll get better at this.  All of the shirts have the website on the back.

I even wrote a lot for the book I am trying to write while I do everything else.  Or rather I rewrote a lot since I am possibly changing the writing style.  Still, 5 days of warm weather are gone, 5 nights without rain, 5 days later I'll finish.  Oh yeah, and I applied to break (or more likely set) a Guinness World Record on my walk, 4 to 6 weeks to find out if they accept my chance for an attempt though.  Wish me luck.  

And still, the banner which will grace the front of my chariot has not arrived.  Should I stay or should I go now?  If I stay there will be trouble, but if I go it will be double.  Or so I hear.  

Stay tuned for "Queens V:  Night of a Million Billion Queens" or "Jersey City:  The Other White Meat"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Queens III: The Son of Queens 9-16-08

At last things are getting done.  As I went to bed exhausted last night, even after walking 15 miles for various errands I did throughout the day, my legs were decidedly not tired.  Never have I had such clear mutiny from specific body parts.  They want to walk, even when the rest of me is totally crashed, they are tired of this sitting.

Well legs, tomorrow we start again.  I'll head out of Queens and back up through Manhattan to get to the George Washington Bridge (which is the only way out of where I am at on foot) and then south on the other side until I hit Jersey City.  It'll feel good to pass another state border.

Now I've got to do a little walk or my legs have threatened to repeatedly run me into a wall.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Queens II: The Revenge, 9-15-08

Ahhhhh, sweet time, it heels all wounds, and creates new ones.  

New laptop bought, new shoes bought, new socks o'plenty, stomach finally better after 30 or so hours of intense and unreasoning pain, and oh yes, the hives, slightly less hive-y but still there.  

Now that ducks are a row, they are getting agitated that they can't see what's going on in front of them.  Yes, the new traumas are mental, I'm going nuts I tells ya, stirrrrrrr crazy.  I like my trip, I do, but I also want it to end at some point in the future.  So sitting in one place for 5 days while my computer was broken doing nothing is not exactly the most healthy thing for my state of mind.  Now at last with a new laptop, I have become embroiled in a temporary frenzy of work, this will not last but, wow! look at all I'm getting done.  Even a blog!  

The plan:  to send out press releases tonight and leave Wednesday morning hoping that Tuesday I will get some of that sweet NY press we hear about on the West Coast.  Mmmmmm, pressy.  

Donations are starting to come in, keep them flowing people, it's for the children.  No, really, it actually is for the children, so send some cash.  PFEE.org

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Queens, NY 9-14-08

Miles since last blog:  34

It's been a few days. Well, the good news is PFEE and I got our first press, both print and TV. Woo hoo! Also, I am in NY, NY, which was my goal and it's a pretty cool place. . . to be stuck.

Yes, I have had a few problems. I've been mildly sick, which erupted in a 2am oral pressure release (aka, vomiting) last night, but then I was able to sleep. Also, my computer continues to suck egregiously and not let me use it, and while I do get to use my friend Mimi's, it does not let me do navigation for walking for no apparent reason. All this is of course beside the point since I my shoes were either stolen or thrown away while drying in the sun outside the local bakery during breakfast. So, I have a pair of $3 slippers I bought, but that's about it. My knee injury still persists and the hives on my feet seem to be "chilling," nothing seems to persuade them to leave or become stronger, I suppose at some point I could name them.

Nevertheless, I am periodically in high spirits, after all, I am among friend in a great city which feels homey in a similar way to the way Prague did. Last night I even got to go to a Burcak festival at the Bohemian Beer Hall nearby. This is a Czech festival for the new wine they hold in a beer garden. It was strange being in such a familiar situation in such a new place, I kept expecting someone I knew to walk into the garden. It made me a little homesick for Prague and friends.

The plan for tomorrow, a feverish and intense search for a shoe sponsor.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Old Greenwich, CT 9-11-08

Miles since last blog:  37.5

Last night after I arrived I had walked 37.5 miles. My feet hurt, in spite of or because of, my new insoles. I have small bumps all over my feet, I think they may be hives. A tendon in my ankle felt like it had been hurt badly after I got my shoes off for a minute. As per normal, the back of my calves were splotchy and molted like a rash and I couldn't get warm for a little while after I stopped walking. Glamorous, no?

I have the day off again today to rest and recover and this gives my time to think. I haven't yet talked about the charity in my blog, so here it goes.

37.5 miles. At the end of the day it feels like a great accomplishment. After all, I'm in a pair of 3 year old running shoes, pushing 90 lbs of equipment, just a paper with scribbled directions on it and often I run out of water for periods. Meanwhile, cars pass me all day long. They have GPS, they have AC, they can accomplish what I take all day to do in a mere half an hour.

This is how I feel about our education system. I was lucky enough to be a car, with all the tools and gadgets. I went to good public schools and my parents always checked to make sure that that was true. That 37.5 miles, that's learning to read. I breezed right through it, something many of of take for granted and do everyday. For children in underfunded, under-resourced schools where the faculty is constantly inexperienced and shifting off to "better" schools, learning to read is not that easy. For them it is like walking that 37.5 miles. It is a great accomplishment, that is incredibly difficult.

PFEE.org is committed to finding community based educational programs and schools that need help. Whether that help is funding or resources, PFEE is dedicated to leveling the playing field for millions of children who are falling through the chasms (they are no longer cracks) in our educational system. The simple fact is that the system will not fix itself. A large protion of funding for public schools comes from property taxes and thus the rich schools continually are improved while the poor schools continually degrade.

Please visit PFEE.org and donate.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Milford, CT 9-9-8

Miles since last blog: 22

Mmmmm, another day off. I'm really spoiling myself now.

It's raining out, not to jinx myself, but not a drop has hit me since I began my walk, both days it rained were my days off so far. And what a day off this is, I'm staying in a very nice Connecticut home with my own bed and bathroom, laundry, food, a big screen (which I haven't turned on) and even foosball. This is not your normal couchsurfing experience. Last night I had salmon for dinner, I guess this is the karma for all that roughing it coming back in spades.

Still waiting on my first news experience which I believe should be sometime today and then I'll use the day to take care of various other things I neglect on walking days, like insoles for my 3 year old running shoes and new moleskin to keep me from getting any more than the three blisters I already have.

Thunder, pshaw, I'm inside, get it all out before tomorrow sky because I got 38 miles to go then.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Wallingford, CT 9-08-08

Miles since last blog:  81.3

We will call days 5, 6 and 7 the Phoenix. On Day 5 I was a mere 7 miles from my place to stay that night, the front axle on my carrier broke. After a few phone calls I just had to submit to the only choice I had which was to balance it on the back two wheels for the remaining distance. This would have been easy if it had been flat, but it wasn't.

I tried to Jerry-rig a new axle at a local hardware store, but it still wouldn't stay on. Finally I made it to my couchsurfing destination and passed out after doing some work on my laptop. When I woke up on Day 6 my computer no longer worked. This wouldn't bother me in everyday life, but here it meant no navigation, no contact, no blogging, no looking for sponsors, no tracking my movement, etc, you get the picture, I need a computer.

Eventually I got my computer on long enough to get directions to REI so I could get my wheel replaced. Watching the weather after it was talking about the storming conditions we could expect the next day from what used to by Hurricane Hanna. I looked at my notepad I use for navigation, 30 miles. There are times when I feel like there are things actually working against me.

On the morning of Day 7 I had to lay in bed an hour longer than I planned, I couldn't get up. I headed out at about 6am to ensure I could make it to REI before it closed that day. There was no rain. The new jerry-rigged axle seemed to be working. I was moving faster than I had the whole trip. I still had no place to sleep for the night but I was going to reach REI with plenty of time to spare at this rate and I felt pretty good. So, I made a decision. I called the person I was supposed to surf with the next night and asked if I could show up tonight between 10 and 11. He said sure, so I had a place to stay that night. It would mean a total of 54 miles that day.

Immediately after the call, my makeshift axle busted, still 4 miles away. I wheeled it on the back wheels. It hurts, it hurts your hips, your arms, your back and it tires you out. I got to REI and exchanged it. I needed directions to my next destination so I was calling friends and trying to get my computer to work. Eventually, one of them came through.

I surmised that in order to make it there on time I would have to make 4 mph the whole way, 24 more miles. Almost a marathon. So, I started jogging. Between walking and jogging I started to pull ahead of my time and evetually it went from a countdown of miles to a count down of half hour periods.

Around 9 pm I got lost for about 10 minutes and ran out of water. The lead I had built was blown. I went from trying to keep pace, to just trying to keep going by the final 15 minutes. Of course, I made it eventually and it was actually just the sort of day I needed. After problem after problem all week and feeling trounced by this process to come back and destroy 54 miles, 4 of which I had no front wheel on my 90 lbs of crap for, it was empowering. How do you spell man? S K I P, and there may be an M in there somewhere, I can't rememebr I think my body ate my brain.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dayville, CT 9-04-08

Miles since last blog:  26

It is night in Dayville and I am . . . tired. There seems to be an arguement between my "magic stick thingy" (which is a device that uses satelite GPS stuff to track me and tell me how far I've gone) and the map program on line. Online believes I travelled 26 miles today, while the stick thingy says 43. I know which one it feels like . . .

As an add on to this, I hate hills and mountains. Wheeling around 90lbs worth of crap is fine. Actually, it's even ok going uphill, but holding it back while going down for extended periods of time is a torture even to excrutiating for even Sisyphus. I also need to eat more, more frequently. Time to pass out.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Providence, RI 9/3

Miles since last blog:  31.9 (on route)

I get a lot of questions like, "Where do you sleep?" and "What do you eat?" and "you're crazy." Okay, that last one isn't a question, but I do hear that a lot. Well, I'll try to answer a few of those now.
Where do I sleep? I must ask myself this 1000 times during the time it gets dark and the time I know the answer. Invariably at that time, the answer is "oh, here."
The first night I slept on a patio behind a bar, at the suggestion of the bartender. The second night I slept in a cemetery in North Attleborough, MA. Tonight I am sleeping in a house, couchsurfing in Providence.
If you don't know what couchsurfing is, find out, it's easy, it's on the internet, I'm not going to tell you about it, but it is really cool.
What do I eat? Honestly, I'm still trying to figure this out a bit. The first day I didn't eat enough and then I felt terrible the first half of the second until I forced myself to eat a bunch of candy and then I felt great the rest of the day. I have since stocked up on various sugar and fat laden snack foods and try to eat at least one meat heavy ,meal a day because I think I need more protien. The plan now is to buy a huge vat of peanut butter.
You're crazy. Hmmmm, yes perhaps I am.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Canton, MA

Miles since last blog:  24.1 (by the route)

First day tally:

43 miles
3 flat tires
1 return of the flat tire: super flat
Many, many wrong turns
2 pairs of socks ruined with holes
2 beers, mmmmmm
2 new friends, Brie and Ari (sp?)
1 bar to sleep behind tonight
1 I put the "severe" in perseverence
1 marriage proposal
1000+ Donut shops passed, seriously MA, what's the Dunkin; Deal?

we'll see how my legs feel tomorrow . . .