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.