Wednesday, July 8, 2009

El Finalo Bloggo

That's right, it is the end of it all, sort of. My final short video is up (see the bottom) and now I am officially onto my new blog. Hope you enjoy. Cheers.

Part One

Part Two

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lahaina, HI: Afterlife

I'll be getting video up just as soon as I can. My poor little laptop has pretty much given me all she's got with memory and I have no Scotty to help me. The first 5 minutes are done more or less, but you'll have to give me a bit of time.

In other news, being that I am no longer walking, I'll be switching to a new blog which will be starting up immediately to deal with my continued adventures and my trouble coping with post walk life.

Find it here: Skip Potts - Adventure Nerd

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Santa Monica Pier, CA: That's All Folks

It wasn't what I pictured but what ever is? I didn't cry, just so you know. The important thing was I finished, ran right out into the ocean and dove in.

Surprisingly, what was moving wasn't reaching the coast, maybe if I had gone alone it would have been more moving for me, but I wouldn't trade the way things did end for anything. It was a mess, a random reporter, friends from survival school, family and a few more friends. No one knew what was happening. I didn't know whether to walk to the end of the pier or into the ocean, and everyone was trying to figure it out. I'm not accustomed to these kinds of messes anymore, I just keep going and before long the decision is made. I had a small reprieve doing a jig for the camera man and being sprayed with Champagne by my buddies that walked in the last 8 miles with me, then I headed down to the ocean.

Like I said, surprisingly, the water wasn't the most memorable thing, though jumping into the water felt good, it didn't feel finished, it was just too simple. Then we went to the park and slowly, those same friends and family showed up, a few couch surfers joined in and even a few more friends who were running late. What ended the walk was that, being there with people I knew and loved, joking those old familiar jokes and knowing that nothing would quite match just sitting in a room together and laughing. Several times I just sat with a dopey grin on my face watching my friends in way that might even seem creepy, but it was so simple that the only thing that could result was pure well being and happiness. People are the only version of home I know now.

I'll do a few more blogs here, and try to get two more videos up and then we'll see. Thanks so much for being a part of this.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Walk into the Sunset

Schedule of the day:

Start of Route (Verve Lounge) @ 11pm
Westwood & Olympic @ Noon
26th & Olympic @ 1pm
The Pier @ 2pm (Walk End)
Beach Park #1 by 4pm (Potluck)

Route

Friday, June 5, 2009

Beverly Hills, CA: 9021-Whoa

Miles since last blog: 16.7
Miles Total: 3801.1
Miles left: 7.8

Route

Saturday's Route

From the Lobby of my Buddy's Hotel the cool ocean air blew in and filled the room with the air of the sea.

"It's all done." I thought to myself knowing it technically wasn't, but feeling that a distance of less than 8 miles was negligible.

"Nine months," I say all day to people wanting to know how long it took me to walk the US. They don't know my name, they call me 'Superman' because of my shirt.

"That's like having a baby," a lot of them say.

"Yeah, through your feet." I always joke back. The symbolism of time hasn't been lost on me though. I've thought about it many times. This walk has taken on a life of it's own, for me it is a person, and though some new life will be born to the Pacific tomorrow, an old one will end. The idea that this will live on only in my poor memory is a little sad to me, there are many parts I have already forgotten and many more that surely will follow.

Tomorrow will be happy and sad, I've glimpsed a little of it already. I'll probably blubber at some point but not too much. My image of Saturday afternoon is getting clearer and clearer but I still have nothing for Sunday or any of the following days. I suppose I'll just float for a while. There's an idea, maybe I'll get supplies and tubes and head north to just drift down a cool summer river for a few weeks.

My glimpse of Saturday has been in the form of old friends. D, an old friend from high school is a hair stylist in Beverly Hills and my route took me right past her salon, which is the reason I now have a fabulous new LA doo. I should have known I couldn't get through LA without a makeover, in Beverly Hills they even make sure their homeless wanderers are stylish. And Buddy, I've mentioned him before. There's something about starving in the desert and almost dying that forms a strong bond between people. He was my 'buddy,' of the buddy system buddies, during survival school which ended a scant 10 days before I started this whole trek. Tonight was the first time we had ever seen each other indoors.

It's from Buddy's hotel room that I am writing this morning, I woke up at 4 am and couldn't sleep. The night had been filled with stories and laughs and beers, it felt like a peek at the future, but at 4 am my legs ached a little in a familiar and sad way. I wanted to do something, I walked downstairs and filled my canteen that Buddy had gotten me and I had carried all the way across the country. I walked past the signs for the gym and the pool and felt a general air of not knowing what to do with myself. It's the worry I've had for a while now, afterwards, after this climax, will life be blah? Will I be returning to the black and white Kansas after walking the colorful roads of my Oz?

I will be happy to end, but I don't think it will be long before I'm putting on my Ruby Running Shoes and hitting the road again, maybe not on foot, but who knows.





Here's a schedule for Saturday if anyone is interested in walking the a few of the final miles or showing for the potluck.

Start of Route (Verve Lounge) @ 11pm
Westwood & Olympic @ Noon
26th & Olympic @ 1pm
The Pier @ 2pm (Walk End)
Beach Park #1 by 4pm (Potluck)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Alhambra, CA: The feat of feet


Miles since last blog: 24.7
Miles Total: 3784.4

Route

There's been a sacrifice. My pinky toe has lost it's nail. It's the first time that it has happened to me, but I suppose a tribute to the walk is in order and to be fair it was only a few square millimeters anyway. SO, no, it's not like my first born son or a lamb or a virgin or anything, but still I kind of liked the idea that if I was randomly polled to see how many toenails I had I could fit in the majority and say '10.' I mean, it's not that I just hop on any band wagon, but this one adds the convenience of not getting the follow up question, "How many toes do you have?" which is a bit weird. But enough about my toenails, or lack thereof.

Tomorrow is my last 'big day,' but it's still less than 20 miles to my stop point which is just 5 miles shy of the pier. I get Friday off and then a short walk in with a few friends and family before I start my next steps, whatever they may be. I'm thinking voluntary mascot for something that doesn't need it, like I could become a mascot for puppies. I'll keep thinking about it though.

The low mileage tomorrow doesn't mean the day will be any easier though. The daily treks with my heavy pack are taking a toll (see paragraph 1) on my body. My feet hurt like the first week. They feel bruised and broken and even at the end of the day when I've gotten a bit of rest and get back up to do something, I walk like an old man. My shoulders hurt, my knees hurt, my neck is doing 'interesting' things. Nearly 20 miles will be no picnic, but it will be made easier by the ever nearing Ocean which I can feel in the air and probably am fooling myself into believing I can smell, but it could just be the rain I got today.

I have no idea what the hell I am doing anymore.

24.3

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Claremont, CA: Too much, Time on my hands

Miles since last blog: 19.7
Miles Total: 3759.7

Route

I am now within a distance of the pier that I have covered in one day before. With four days to go, it looks like I'll have it mostly wrapped up by tomorrow leaving a little bit for later in the week and Saturday with whoever wants to join me. I'll have a lot of time to think and try to wrap my head around this being over and the idea of staying with people I know every night. Weird.

48.7

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Rialto, CA: Coasting

Miles since last blog: 17.0
Miles Total: 3740.0

Route

Well, I had fun in redlands but it was time to make a break for the coast and away from the Eastern side of the Inland Empire where all the smog from LA and the west collects, poor Redlands and San Bernardino. I was shocked, shocked, to see a blue sky when I hit Rialto in the afternoon and was thoroughly unprepared for it to clear up resulting in a mild sunburn. The next two days I'll be turning in most of the mileage for the remainder of the trip and then taking a bit of time off to try and wrap my brain around this whole shebang being over and done with. And maybe I'll get a haircut too.

68.4

Monday, June 1, 2009

Redlands, CA: Coming Home

Miles since last blog: 13.3
Miles Total: 3723.0

Route

I've been staying with some cool college-ish age kids here in Redlands. I always feel comfortable in this environment, I feel comfortable most anywhere, but especially in a place like this. A place like this is a house with a few roommates in a residential neighborhood near a park. It's older and has a porch, the furniture is older but not shabby, comfortable, and the floors are wood. There's always beer in the fridge and a guy at the kitchen table studying. I've always loved this place and have seen hundreds of versions of it, but never lived there.

A place like this makes me think of my past and wonder if I had ever done this how my life would have been different. I doubt I would have come here. I worked hard and bought my own track house and was busy being overly grown up when I was in school, I wonder if I can come back and fit into this life later on when I am older, calmer and can sit still long enough to go back to the university system that always seems to be calling to me.

In any case, it's been nice and regenerative. I've met some cool people with great lives and goals and dreams and it feels good and right to be moving on from here. So little time left.

86

Friday, May 29, 2009

Beaumont, CA: Psyched



Miles since last blog: 10.1
Miles Total: 3709.7

Route

I'm finally getting excited not just for the walk ending, but after the walk, of course this corresponds directly to getting deeper in debt but I can ignore that a little bit longer before the hounds begin to bay.

I know you've all been twiddling your thumbs and doing your underwater basket weaving and thinking, "WHAT IS SKIP GOING TO DO WHEN HE FINISHES!?!" (It seems a sizable portion of my readership statistically is insane)

Well, I don't have a long term answer, but the short term is: Traveling. I am booked up for about two weeks visiting the 'rents in Hawaii starting a few days after the walk and then a week after that I plan to go back to Prague for two weeks, sometime in or after there I am also trying to find time and cash for Buenos Aires and Roatan (Honduras). Color me excited. My skin is actually hot because I am so incredibly psyched to GO, GO, GO!!! Now that the walk is in it's last 8 days (a few days ago when I said ten my brain was fried from the sun, I had 12 left even then) I am starting to have solid dates and places and people to meet in them that I have known and loved for more than a week. I had no idea how exciting it would be, but many of these plans are sort of coalescing today and it is leaving me super charged.

It's hard even to think of the past at the moment. So here I go, Blythe. The desert was hot, maybe a little too hot, and I hadn't walked far, maybe a little too not far, before long, I had to rest out of the heat. I had been sketching out some of the lyrics for my long planned zombie comedy musical romance and the heat of the day and dryness from singing had worn me out so I slank back off the road behind a broken down old shack and laid down in the dirt. The flies were buzzing and I couldn't get a decent rest, "cool its youz guys," I snapped.

Down the road a bit of dust was being kicked up and a car was bouncing up the dirt that passed for a road. A tall dark man got out and started questioning me, "what are you doing?" "do you want this cold glass of ice water?" "do you want to stay at my house and get food and a shower?"

I said yes to all of it, which probably left him a little confused with respect to the first question. His name was Marvin, a nice guy who was into cage fighting and being a pastor, I wondered if ever at the same time. I could see him rubbing a guys face against the cage bars, "repent sinner!" he would rasp in the victims ear. I stayed the night in his living room and all the next day he let me rest, waking me periodically to feed me and take me to see his other family, which he helped out but wasn't 'involved' with. He twirled a loaded gun on his finger and was nice as hell, funny too with a past that was as wild as my hair in the morning. I was a bit sad to leave such a great guy and character in the dust when I trekked off into the sunset, but my cousin was coming from the state capitol and I had to get moving.

The days with Cousin Kathy passed beautifully in a colorful haze of sunsets and fast food deliriums. We had our adventures, helped another man walking across the desert, found a stranded motorist and helped him with his overheated car, we were a duo of preemptive Sam Becketts (Quantum Leap) traveling through the desert to put right what could have gone wrong. I got a cactus to the foot and Kathy snarled at the Dead fish in the barnacle shores of the Salton Sea. We rode the Painted Canyon and hunkered into mineral baths, those were the days.

Since then I've rolled rough and said goodbye to Kathy, Ando (my carrier), and a host of other things like my tent, sleeping bag and blanket. I've been couchsurfing and experimenting with authentic homelessness in the cold and windy passes exiting the Coachella valley and the giant dinosaurs that lie beyond it. But I've said to much. Until next time my monitor mates, my blog buddies, my life lovers, my my my.

97

Banning, CA: Numbers



Miles since last blog: 15.6
Miles Total: 3699.6

Route

200 Blogs, 3700 miles and 9 months later, I'm only about 100 miles from the coast. I'm couchsurfing, and last night I slept for a paltry hour. I have not slept since. Tomorrow I am only walking 10 miles and talking to one class, I am reasonably caught up on video and photos as well, which means i can start dredging my memory and get back to writing that I have been terribly negligent in. I know I say that all the time lately, but every once in a while I bust out some move for you guys, right? Give a weary traveler a break, damn.

In any case, the sun has set on the desert. It is a small, but meaningful, bit cooler where I am now which makes the days easier. This and the fact that there is regularly places to eat and get water makes a enormous difference in my day. The coast is calling.

106

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Whitewater Rest Area, CA: And rest I shall

Miles since last blog: 28.5
Miles Total: 3684.0

Route

I'm sleeping in a rest area tonight, it's right in the pass between some mountains where it's so windy that on the other side is one of the biggest wind farms around. I'm putting on my clothes, all to most of them, and hunkering down. Looks like I'll have a bit of down time in the future and I'll be catching up on writing and photos, but as promised, here's a few videos I had to chop up to fit on Youtube.

1) http://bit.ly/19O14O
2) http://bit.ly/9LP5u
3) http://bit.ly/pSE9K

122

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Palm Desert, CA: Thank you Comfort Suites!!!

First off, thanks so much to the Comfort Suites in Palm Desert for giving me a place to lay my head tonight.

Second, I am working very hard on getting some video up tomorrow. If you are on Facebook it is already up along with a host of new photos.

Third, I am going to bed, I've been working on this all day. Goodnight.

La Quinta, CA: The Much Awaited . . .

Miles since last blog: 7.4
Miles Total: 3655.5

Route

Short walk today, I'm in no hurry at the moment and just happy to be in civilization again. People are where it's at. They're where the magic happens. Out in the desert or in the city, it's the experience of interaction that brings such a unique and mystical seeming feeling to this life. I'm now entering the final ten days, that's sort of a non sequitur but I thought I'd just throw it out there so you can do as you like with it, call it a girl, idolize it, I don't care, it's yours now. Oh wait, there's my train of thought, where's that ticket? Ah, here it is-next stop, the non-story story.

The Non-Story Story:

Today, I met a man, the comedy trekker. He's a young guy who started a walk across America a few years back where he'd stop in comedy clubs and do stand-up along the way. He made it pretty far too, from NYC to Texas. I can't blame anyone for stopping in Texas, just watch my Texcape video on youtube and you'll know why. I knew who he was from before we had met because I research other walkers, but I didn't know much about him. I didn't meet him through any kind of social network or our similar pass times, no one alerted either of us that we were in the same vicinity, nope, I met him at Burger King. I sat down across the aisle from him and some of his friends, they were on their way back to LA from a trip to Phoenix which I gather now was for his Birthday.

If you've been reading for awhile, you know I have this Kismet that follows me around sometimes, for instance, I met another guy walking across the desert, not for any charity or purpose, he was just trying to get to the other side and didn't have a car. I'd followed his tracks all day and even remarked on video and in a text to my cousin (whom was being amazingly awesomely helpful as a support vehicle for a few days), then I caught up to him at a rest area because I sat down on the adjacent bench and recognized his shoes from the tracks, he read my sign and we started talking. I gave him a bottle of water and my cousin gave him a ride to the next town.

Now, I am here to offer a less mystical explanation than Kismet. Odds are, had I gone any other way or any other speed, I would not have met either of these walkers of the earth here in one of the most barren (okay, I'm on the edge of the barren part in civilization now, but whatever) parts of the country. The thing is, unless I do walk some kind of magical path, which let's assume I don't for the moment, had I gone another way, SOMETHING else would have happened. Chances are, I would have been dazzled by whatever that event was too, and who knows, if I had gone a bit faster maybe I would have met with a fate even more amazing. So the story here is really no story at all, the story isn't about a magic path, it's about making a path that will cross with others so you have more chances of getting experiences like these. For some this idea may take away from the experiences I've had, the idea that they aren't destiny or beyond our grasp. I submit instead that it is empowering, to know that I can affect this kind of event on my own life completely with my own actions and not dependent on fate or the stars or anything else, but simply by mixing things up. But hell, I was a mathematician.

The Non-Story Story:

When I meet people, like the Comedy Trekker, it inevitably comes up to the point where someone says, "Gee, you must have some crazy stories." And I'm sure I do, the thing is, I can never think of them. It occurred to me in the shower that this is probably because a stories worth or craziness is based on what you are used to, and I am used to a crazy life.

The fact is, that when your week starts with being picked up and taken home by a cage fighting pastor with two families who constantly twirls a gun on his finger and talks about when he used to deal drugs for the mexican mafia, and ends with a couple of 85 year old gay guys who have been together for 55 years and are telling you about dinner at Liberace's house a block away, none of your stories seem all that unusual to you anymore. The fact that the middle of the week was filled with a day where you got stung by a bee on one foot and then stepped into a cactus and had to pull out 20+ barbed thorns from the heel of your other foot and at one point even got your hand stuck to the very same cactus leaving yourself in a painful yoga pose, well, this doesn't seem out of the ordinary either. It was the same day we headed up painted canyon road, woke up at some mineral baths and saw the Salton Sea and Joshua Tree Nat'l Park, you know, a normal day.

Maybe this is why when someone asks me, "Any good stories?" I can't think of any. To someone else, maybe each of these days are okay stories, to me there is no story, it's just my life.

146

Monday, May 25, 2009

Indio, CA: Civilization

Miles since last blog: 23.4
Miles Total: 3648.1

Route

Hard day at the office kiddos, more soon. I know, promises, promises.

155

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Chiriaco Summit, CA: Preparing for Reentry

Miles since last blog: 36.3
Miles Total: 3624.7

Route

Soon my loyal followers, soon you will hear of my journey across the desert. You must be patient, but here's a glimpse at the future.

Tar Baby Cacti
Chupacabra
Truckers
The Salton Sea
Joshua Tree
Painted Rocks
Buttocks Hydration
Walking the Earth and doing good (take notes Hulk and guy from Kung Fu, I don't beat anyone up)
The Cage Fighting Pastor
A Gay Old Time
Goodbye to Old Friends

I'll do my best to catch up soon, but feel free to put your vote in on which of these you'd like the most to hear about since I am not sure I'll get to them all . . .

176

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Desert Center, CA: MIA

Miles since last blog: 22.0
Miles Total: 3588.4

Route

I know, I know. I haven't been writing much lately and what there has been has been half-assed, you'll just have to be patient because tonight is no exception. probably another night or two until I am fully functioning again here. See you then.

211

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Middle of Nowhere, CA: Slowly, but surely

Miles sine last blog: 25.3
Miles Total: 3566.4

Route

Not too far for two days walking, especially with help from my cousin. But i've been enjoying her company and the ability to get out of the sun when I want. I'll make it across the desert eventually, and while I'm not necessarily trying to prolong my time here, I'm not pushing myself too hard either. That would make the experience utterly miserable and right now I'm still having a bit of fun. Don't forget, the experience is what it's all about and if I can't enjoy it, I shouldn't be doing it at all. It's not about surviving, it's about living. So I'll do things my way and don't you worry your pretty little heads.

Although to be fair I would have gotten further tonight if my cousin's car battery hadn't died, I decided to walk back and meet her and wait for a charge. By the time we got one I was tired and had lost momentum, that slippery devil. Tomorrow I should make it to Desert Center, which I suppose is the actual middle of nowhere, then I think we'll take a day off and go have some desert fun.

A lot has happened, but I'm really too tired to talk about it tonight. I've met some cool people and seen some beautiful things. People don't give the desert it's dues, but maybe that's because it's hot as hell.

232

Monday, May 18, 2009

Blythe II: Decisive Indecision

Miles since last blog: 8.1
Miles Total: 3541.1

Route

The choice was either walk the interstate 100 miles which has rest areas and gas stations, or walk the legal way 120 miles with nothing. 100 miles is too far for my normal tactic of "better to ask forgiveness than permission" and so I tried to call the CHP, they could decide for me. They did, in a way. The CHP is not open on the weekends here so I couldn't ask permission, I had no place to stay in town, thus it was time to leave. If I was lucky I could make more than 20 miles and be within 100 miles when I woke up, I stayed a long time in town waiting for it to be cool and planning on walking at night.

Eight miles down my track I was hot and wanted to take a break, I found a beat down old shack off the road and laid down behind it. A short time later a man pulled up and we said our hellos. Eventually he offered me to stay with him and his family for the evening and I never turn down a shower or a home cooked meal unless I have one waiting somewhere else. So here I am, only eight miles in, within reach of the interstate still and my cousin slated to show tomorrow afternoon.

I can't walk on the interstate with my cart, but with my cousin showing in the afternoon I could leave it behind the shack and come back for it in the car when she arrives, leaving me free to walk off the side of the road enough to be legal. An interesting proposition. I don't need to make it far, a 16 mile stretch and later a 9 mile stretch with side roads everywhere else along the way, but do I head back and leave my cart all day? Hmmmm, it's a thinker. The only reason it's a question is mostly because of the fact that I had already resolved myself to the idea I was going the other way and the prospect of isolation and pure nature had started to excite me, on the other hand the interstate would have supplies, be shorter, I'd have more time to spend having fun with my cousin. I think I know what I'll choose, but I won't know until I show up in the morning at my cart which I did leave behind the shack tonight. Hmmm.

New MexiGO!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Blythe, California: The Golden State

Miles since last blog: 5.6
Miles Total: 3533.0

Route

A few days ago it started, the pressure bushing back on me from California. I couldn't explain it but as I pushed towards it, it pushed me back, I didn't feel ready. When I wrote this originally I wasn't even in California, I was less than a mile away in a Hotel room I had gotten donated. I used the room as an excuse not to enter California last night, I was nervous. I sat in my room, I showered, I wrote, I edited, I clipped my fingernails and realized why I was nervous, I was getting ready for a date.

California is where I came from, I haven't lived there in more than a decade and I wanted to come back the right way, not feeling tired and dirty but clean, fresh and triumphant. I wanted to make a good impression, I realized for the first time since I left that California was still my home and there is a something in that that never leaves you no matter how far from it you go. The thought of walking across the state line, now fills my eyes with salt water and my stomach with butterflies. I can't say why, perhaps it's even more, the last border, the end of this all, I don't know.

When I walked up to Exit 1 in Arizona it was almost Sunset. The Colorado River that defines the border of California here was a shining golden ribbon dressing the land. It had been a hard road to get here and would be easy across but I couldn't bring myself to walk it just yet.

Miles outside of Quartzsite, AZ I came to the furthest off ramp and sat under it in the shade trying to regain a bit of coolness, composure and energy and I decided, out of fatigue and heat and laziness, to continue walking into town via the interstate. It was my great mistake. Though I had talked to a Highway Patrolman the day before another officer stopped me a mile past the off ramp.

Immediately I knew this officer wasn't like the other officer. Officer Gibbs had been kind and thoughtful and in much the way i have found most police on this trip, just wanted to help. Officer Castillo, or as I call him, Officer D'bag, was no such officer. He was the kind of officer portrayed in movies and television, the kind that makes people despise the law. I knew this immediately because instead of driving up slowly on the rumble strips to make noise or to signal me in some other way that he was there, he drove quietly up behind me and then hit the siren at full volume to startle me.

We crossed over the familiar territory, I had talked to another officer (whom he did not know), what I was doing, why I had moved to the interstate (the other roads had simply gotten too hot and difficult), all D'bag had to say was, "yeah, it's against the law to walk on the interstate."

This was true and I couldn't fail him for noting it, except that he wouldn't really offer a solution or anything else, not even punishment, he'd just purse his lips for a while and the say, "it's against the law to walk on the interstate." The other thing he said was that people were calling about me.

I told him several times that I would get off at the next exit and he, not knowing what to do simply kept repeating his line. This kind of boldfaced stupidity is hard for me to deal with, on the rare occasions I run into it as an obstacle I just try to think to myself, "this person is precisely the guy I'm trying to help, precisely the reason I chose to help education, if he was just a little bit smarter this would be a much less painful experience."

I said my goodbye and made an exit realizing if I left it up to him we'd be stuck in a perpetual loop of torturous line rehearsal. It was over, I'd have to be careful crossing out of Arizona now which was unfortunate since that was where there really weren't any other roads on the map, and where crossing the Colorado River, there was only one bridge, the interstate.

My dealings with D'bag were over, I thought. I walked and a few miles later he started creeping up behind me again. I scooted off the road to let him pull up in case he wanted to tell me something but instead he stopped a hundred yards back and sat there in his car. Great, now I had a creepy stalker cop. Another miles down the road, just two or three miles from the exit I would take, he pulled up again and got out this time.

"Hey, we keep getting calls, so you're going to have to get off the interstate."

"What do you want me to do?" I asked. We talked briefly and Officer D'bag laid out his intricate plan. The plan was to lift my cart over a barbed wire fence onto what may or may not be private property and send me out into the desert where there was no road, many ditches and rocks, snakes and no water or food as there would be shortly on the interstate. There was no reason to fight, it would go nowhere, I just dragged him down to the worst place I could find and made him help me move my cart over the fence and was off. I was furious, this wasn't about the law, surely throwing me over a barbed wire fence was proof of that, and the spirit of the law was about protection, which this surely wasn't. On the shoulder of the interstate I had been more than a full car width away from the near lane which also had rumble strips beside it to warn drivers or me if they were off course. I was safer on the interstate than I was on many of the roads I had traveled throughout my journey.

No, what it was about was made abundantly clear when I asked if I could just stay on this side of the fence but walk in the rough which was still straight and relatively passable even 20 to 30 feet off the side.

"We'd still get calls," he said. Yes, it was made clear that safety and the law were not priorities here, just so long as Officer D'bag and cohorts didn't have to answer a pesky phone. Never mind that this would send me into a far more dangerous situation which was in all likelihood also illegal, or that the barbed wire fence really didn't hide me and wasn't any more likely to stop calls than if I had been on the other side. Simply, the only explanation was that at one point in his life officer D'bag had come to a crossroads which was either clown college or police officer, and he chose police because the word 'college' had in all probability intimidated the crap out of his poor atrophied brain. I wasn't on the highway so I wasn't his problem, who cares about the law or safety of anyone?

As I said of Quartzsite, AZ, I was lucky to have the rest of the people I encountered not taint my memory of the area which they accomplished by being incredibly nice. The next morning however I had to deal with the repercussions of my previous meeting with D'bag in which he pondered aloud how I was going to get to California and suggested a route which was about 40 miles linger through the middle of nowhere rather than the short and safe interstate walk.

I walked side roads as long as I could but knew there was a six miles stretch with no mapped roads. I quickly reached that point and headed out into terrible mountains on what looked to be ATV trails. They were a double edged sword, it was good to have a trail that was slightly worn, but they often went on some of the worse courses for steepness and path because those were the most fun on an ATV. A few times I had to sneak back onto the interstate when no other road was remotely reasonable in direction and during that time I would sprint until I found a suitable place to get off, my temper which had submerged in town was burning white hot. If D'bag had caught me I doubt it would have been a very productive encounter.

Eventually I landed on my final off map road. I'd been over several fences and this was just one more to add to the list. The mountains were incredibly steep. When I would go uphill my head would often be pressed against the handlebar of my cart and my feet would slide back sometimes for a foot or more until I found purchase again and started climbing. The rolling nature of the land was even more treacherous for going downhill. With no brakes I would lean back so far I was nearly skiing on my shoes being pulled down the rocky slopes by my heavy partner until I had to break into a full sprint down the hill while trying to steer with one hand so my things wouldn't drop into a crevasse.

Occasionally I would look down on the interstate with great distain for my foe to pass so I could spit venom at him from afar, but I never saw a sate troopers car. The path was dangerous, arduous and easily one of the least enjoyable things I had done in a long time. By the time I had checked in to my hotel I had long since forgotten most of this, when I dipped into the pool I felt clean and free again, but even now when I think of him it fires me up. Abuse of authority is one of my very few hot buttons. Before now, I always said that I had never had a bad experience on this walk with anyone, at most, they had been awkward but well intentioned or a draw, but Officer Castillo, excuse me, D'bag, changed all that. Then again, making 3500 miles is pretty good.

**********

After all the trouble, when I got to the bridge just ten minutes after leaving my hotel, there was a walkway. I took the shoulder in protest, and also because I was already on the other side of the fence. It was hot but I was distracted by the people jet skiing in the Colorado River, it was California, it was time for fun and games and the sun on your face.

I tried about ten hotels before finally getting a room donated at the Motel 6 in Blythe by the very nice people in the office. Others had wanted to help but couldn't and many just said, 'no,' or lied about not being able to. It feels good to be home. Home, what a word.

ALONE/TOGETHER - My newest video

267

Ehrenberg, AZ: Rock beats Scissors

Miles since last blog: 19.3
Miles Total: 3527.4

Route (approx.)

Yes, we are all familiar with it. Rock beats scissors, scissors beat paper and paper beats rock. As ridiculous as that last one is, paper beats rock, hmph sounds like we need a better game, we know it well. New one now, Free Hotel Room beats State line.

Yep, still in Arizona but only 0.7 miles from California, I can see it from here, the Colorado River that marks the border shone brilliantly in the sunset as I waltzed up to the Best Western here in Ehrenberg, AZ. As much as I want to get into Cali, and I am far more anxious than anyone believe me, I do need to rest and slow down a bit. Tomorrow I will cross over into the final state but for tonight I was donated a room and got to take a dip in a wonderful pool, it's an excellent place to bed down if you're heading across country through the desert, there's not much else around and it's clean and comfortable. I should be so lucky tomorrow when I am recounting my adventures. Until then . . .

277

Friday, May 15, 2009

Quartzsite, AZ: Bodily Harm

Miles since last blog: 35.9
Miles Total: 3508.1

Route

It's always whining about the heat isn't it? Let's change that. Due to the thing we aren't mentioning I am having a few bodily issues besides fatigue, the most interesting of these is that the tip of my left index finger occasionally goes numb or to sleep. I'm attributing it to the heat and dehydration, but I don't really know. That one is my favorite, when it first started, I just pretended a tiny venomous spider had bitten me and that was the entire effect, stupid little spider.

Another injury which is indirectly from heat is my neck. The other day when I was hopping fences to cool off in aqueducts I somehow irked where my neck meets my back and now I act like Michael Keaton's Batman. You know the one, the one that has to turn his whole body to see something next to him, that Batman. Mostly it doesn't effect me much walking but every so often I like to see if a car is going to send my flying into the desert and when I turn to look behind me, I turn to look behind me.

In addition to these are: all my finger tips are peeling, normal blisters, dry skin breaking off, burns and a small friction rash on one leg.

And then there are the people. They've been nice in Quartzside, aside from one bad apple which I'll talk about later but it is my understanding that he does not spoil the whole bunch . . . girl. Since I arrived this afternoon I have been bought lunch, a shower (at a truck stop, I didn't know about these) and now even a hotel room at the Super 8 Motel that I didn't know existed until the end of my night when I strolled by it as I was leaving town.

Good town and a good night for what is probably my last night in Arizona, I'm not sure though, I have a number of different plans from here to Indio, CA and I have decided what to do yet. Heat and hotel rooms are the most likely factors in my near future processing. Tomorrow, you'll hear about the Bad Apple, not tonight, it will be part of the story of my illustrious return to my birth state (geographically, at least). Huzzah!

270-290?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bouse Wash Rest Area, AZ: Mojave? I said LESS jave.

Miles since last blog: 43.0
Miles Total: 3472.2

Route (unable to map)

I know I've said this before, and at the risk of being redundant or whiny, it's effin' hot out here. I have never been so hot in all my pathetic little life, and I don't enjoy it. Let's go back to when I was happy and naked (cue wavy image and flashback music).

Waking up after a full nights sleep in the shade with just my little snow white feet in the sun put me in a pretty good mood. I cleared myself to go get some food and then take photos and video of the Hot Springs, things were going well and I was tempted to stay an extra day to take advantage of a sign I saw saying they might trade work for board. I thought it would make good video and experience but opted instead to keep moving and maintain what little momentum I had mustered.

I started off on the dirt roads I've become so used to. It was a little bit longer to get the next interstate crossover but it kept me off the roads and the radar of the highway patrol for a bit. It wasn't so bad, the dust isn't as refractive as the asphalt so it actually kept me a little cooler while it was smooth and even later on I set off route on a trail beside an aqueduct (which I swam in a number of times to cool off during the day).

The allure of my off route swim lane kept me off route at the fork in the road. I had two choices, a) the walking route provided by my navigator which was 9 miles longer but kept me off the interstate, or b) the interstate which was shorter but illegal. As is my nature, and that of Captain James T. Kirk (whom a facebook quiz told me I was), I chose option C. Jumping fences and heading out on the desert through private land where there were no roads but maintaining visual with the interstate and my swimming fun. This lasted for about ten miles before I came to an overpass.

I suppose you could call it a bridge, a bridge to nowhere, and after hanging out on one of these for a few hours I don't really see what all that election fuss was about. The overpass did indeed pass over the interstate, but there were no on or off ramps and the road terminated into dirt which seemed to go nowhere on either side. I decided to sit over the highway, eat dinner in the middle of the street and watch internet television until my battery died, then I peed off the overpass. You can blame my dad for that.

By then it was dark and although my plan had been to join the interstate and head down that for the first time, the thought of jumping several barbed wire fences in the dark didn't appeal to me much and I headed off into the dirt to find another way. It's only once it gets dark that the temperature is bearable, pleasant even, the kind of weather you might happily walk in and would be smart to do so. The only problems with this is that in the dark and dirt you can't see much so it's harder, the day is so impossibly hot that you can't sleep in it and once it cools off you are so drained it's all your body wants to do. I tried to walk, I really really did. You have no idea how much I want to be out of this desert but the curse of it is that I have rarely had a more than 20 mile day due to it's stifling-ness. I set up camp a scant 3 miles later.

As little control as you have with sleep, you have just as little over waking up unless you find a way to shade yourself. The sun comes up early and though the light isn't a factor every morning at 7 am a piping hot Skip is served from his easy bake tent. Last night I had gotten almost 8 hours of sleep but I felt more tired than ever. I had set up camp at first under some power lines, but the buzzing and the vibrating tent poles that glowed blue sparks when the touched each other or my sign which I usually lean against the tent convinced me of two things: a) I should move my tent or face the possibility of waking up in blue flames, and b) I should come back when I understand physics better to do some boss experiments.

I moved my tent until the poles stopped vibrating on their own and went to sleep postulating designs for a perpetual momentum device and puzzling over how motion is turned into energy and wondering if I could wake up: a superhero, with cancer, or at least a burst of energy. Sadly, I was as I said only super tired, I blame the power lines.

I woke up and went directly to the aqueduct. The sides were steep and cement and there was a tall fence all around. I hop fences for breakfast, and on at least this case that is a literal statement. While I thought about whether or not to get in or just dunk my clothes the decision was made for me and I slid with a momentary flail and the a commitment into the water. Getting out was no less graceful as I ripped up several riverside plants in my efforts to climb the algae covered bank. For a moment I considered that my cart would be stolen and I would just have to drift 20 miles down the duct in search of a way to get out only to walk barefoot to the interstate where someone besides me would gain quite a story out of the situation and for a fraction of the price.

Eventually I made it out and onto my foray in interstate walking. The highway patrolman on duty did his best to ignore me, he told me this later when he stopped me. Someone had called about, "a guy walking down the interstate with a stroller." He was very nice and friendly and informed me that it was illegal to walk on the interstate but okay to bike, I knew this already and was prepared if necessary to dazzle him with an argument on why I am really much more like a bicycle than a normal guy. The argument was mostly show though and thankfully I didn't need it, the officer told me all the things he should do and then slowly talked himself out of each of them. I could see this was really more of the argument that he'd be making to his superiors on my behalf and that from the beginning he had wanted to let me keep walking but had to at least check things out since he'd gotten a call. He let me go on and said that he'd only have to come back if they kept getting calls but he'd only gotten one so far.

I continued on still. And the heat, this is what it is all about, the heat. My mind doesn't work out here. I catch moments of thought, literally moments, like, " . . . when I get there . . . " and " . . . 10 . . ." and " . . . not an animal . . " These things by themselves mean absolutely nothing on their own and the fact that they were coming out of my brain would have worried me could I muster the emotion. My watch said 1:15 at one point and my brain naturally assumed that it was the temperature. I can't even think, that's how hot it is, I can't listen to music or podcasts, listening is too much for my poor brain to do in this heat. It's too hot to do anything, including walk, but that's what I have to do and really my only option. One of the only things keeping me going, the new advent of signs for Los Angeles, which was exciting for several minutes before the excitement melted and got my hands all sticky, no wait, that was my brain that melted. In any case, I've made it to a rest area as you may have guessed and though I do plan to walk more today, not for a while, not until I use all my change on the vending machines, charge my laptop and the sun de-lightens up a bit.

300

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tonopah, AZ: El Dorado Hot Springs


Miles since last walk: 21.9
Miles Total: 3429.2

Route

I know what you're thinking, "Hey, why is Skip naked?" Okay, you can't see me but you are probably now thinking, "Hey, why did Skip just tell me he's naked?"

Well, for either question the answer is the same. Tonight upon reaching Tonopah I had a quick dinner and was on my way back out into the desert to take advantage of the bright moon and cooler night air. I made it about a block. A block into my journey I came to El Dorado, the City of Gold. Except the gold is spring water, and the city is really a laid back hot spring with a little camping area. The good people here let me in gratis (free) and I got to partake of a wonderful set of varying temperature spring water tubs, and in the nude!

"Why are you going on about being naked?" you might rightly ask. Well, maybe not, many people know the joys of nudity, but it is really something more here. Being someone that typically camps on the side of the road or sleeps on someone's couch, I don't typically get to spend a lot of time in the buff, occasional hotel stints but as much as I am able to feel at home in almost any place, I don't really feel at home in hotels ever. So being free of clothes and feeling comfortable, well, it's been a very long time.

The El Dorado Hot Springs are awesome, quite the oasis for a weary traveler. As I sat in the tub I let my arms stretch out along the sides and my shoulders rest on the back, heels out before me touching the bottom of the tub and the rest of my body rising and falling with my breaths and the air in my lungs. It was heaven. I went back and forth between the warm and cool tubs for more than an hour as a few people came and went in the other tubs. No need for the hot spring tonight and relaxing, watching the stars overhead and floating there was perhaps the first time my body felt cool and complete on this entire trek.

My bed is a pillow topped lounge chair that I plan to stay birthday suited up for since it is very likely one of the only chances I will have in my entire life to sleep naked in the desert with no fear of creatures and feel the wind on my skin, what an incredible way to spend the night. I may try to do a work trade with them and spend another night to get some video, pics and rest, otherwise it's back to the desert with this salty dog. Time to get back in the tub.

350

Monday, May 11, 2009

Buckeye, AZ: Hot on my trail

Miles since last blog: 17.1
Miles Total: 3407.3

Route

The goo has me. The goo that has been striking me when I am leaving towns for long stretches of desert. I just drag my heals enjoying luxuries like the occasional availability of food, water and shade. I'm tired, glad I'm near the end, a few miles left, must finish.

For the second time during my journey I broke down and paid for a hotel room. So weak, that's like a week's worth of food, weakness. I guess incredible heat and more than eight months on the road is my krypotnite. Blech, looking forward to getting through the next 200 miles or so and back to a civilized temperature.

And a managed to make a video during the day as well:

MOUNTAIN MAN

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Avondale, AZ: Feelin' Hot Hot Hot!

Miles since last blog: 19.6
Miles Total: 3390.2

Route

That's right I've finally moved on from my temporary roost of Phoenix and back towards the goal of the Pacific Coast only four weeks away and now less than 400 miles which gives me TONS of time to consider my strategy post walk for this thing people call 'life.'

At one point during the day an electronic sign flashed me the miserable info that in that particular intersection with all the asphalt's help it was a dismal 113F. I think I'm gonna have to make some adjustments. I've never been particularly good at enduring heat, mostly it just makes me tired and I had to seek refuge a few times today. I see more night and early morning walking in my future but it begs the question: When will I sleep? I'm not really good at sleeping in the heat or waking up in the morning so admittedly the low temp areas of the day are problematic for walking as well. Hmmm, I'll have to think about this one a bit more while I'm walking. The good thing is, if I think long enough and keep walking I won't need a solution anymore because I'll be through the desert.

Though I am still in the Phoenix Metro Area with gas stations and restaurants I couldn't find a place to sleep on this side of town so I am camping out, bummer, I had been hoping to get a few dozen more miles out before I ran out of opportunities to shower and sleep in a cool room. I'm trying to sleep in the heart of a business complex on the gamble that no one will be here on an early Sunday morning before I wake up and I can get out with charged gear and move on to find a napping place tomorrow afternoon, we'll see how well all this works out. Oh well. In other news, my favorite traveling bear, Kodiak, has returned to the road and begun to blog again. You may remember him from his brief stint with me in Texas. Good travels Kodiak.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Phoenix III: End Game

Now, I am an Olympian the night before his event. I have the calm solemn demeanor of an undertaker preparing to embalm, it's a side of me that very few people have ever seen and tonight is no different, I am alone when it starts. Now is when I am focused, even when I am doing things that would usually require this kind of serious and strict attention the task at hand is little more to me than a game. University, Survival School, Teaching, Relationships, you name it, I'm always there with a joke and a smile, having fun and rarely needing a fraction of my full attention even if I give all of my energy. When I am at work, I look like I am at play because I am, I don't do things I don't like to do generally because money isn't much of a motivator for me and I am clever enough and adaptable to get by whatever the situation. I'm not a humble man, it's not a confession so much as an admission of guilt. Things are easy for me, I'm not bad looking, I'm smart and funny and creative. And so, I find myself searching endlessly for challenges, it's one of the things that led me here.

That is the reason for my concentration. Tomorrow I will start what I typically joke about as "the big end boss at the video game of my walk," a 250+ mile trek through the hottest and most desolate desert I have yet crossed at a time when it will be over 100 degrees every day. None of my normal bags of tricks will help me here, it is sheer determination and willpower and dumb stubbornness that will get me through those miles. It is a time when I am stripped down to my core and tested to see if I am worthy of the life I have been given, a time where I try to prove myself on my quest to gain acceptance into my next life when this one ends in less than 30 days.

It's another reason for the sober tone, the watery concentration that looks over my things without seeing any of them, trying to focus instead on where all the pieces fit and what they mean, why am I doing this again? I fight the big boss, I slay him and walk slowly into Los Angeles and to the Santa Monica Pier with plenty of time to rest and think and then the old me is gone, something new and unknown will stand on the edge of the Pacific Ocean with tears in it's eyes. Nine months to birth born of hardship and thought and a country that once seemed as foreign to me as any other, this new me will stand confused and hopeful, lost on a jumble of thoughts and friends and family, awash in a path that is already being constructed by the world for me. Nine months in which the walk has been a life in itself, a life I will put out when I reach the Ocean, and I will cry for it. The only place it will live on is in my memory or story and I am a poor archivist if ever there was one.

After the hero wins at the end of the movie, then what? It's something we never see. Sitting at home, tapping his fingernail on his front tooth as he watches television. Is it post traumatic stress syndrome from the loss of an old life that I have to look forward to?

It's calm here and the wind from the ceiling fan blows through my hair, hair that started in a place and time from when I was bald in Florida now waves lightly. Time barely means anything to me anymore except as a practical matter. I need this much water for this much time, I can go this many miles, I must have this much food, there's no thought to things strictly related to time or patience, no longer any consideration to anything that doesn't require years of life. A month hardly seems different to me than a day anymore but I can't really imagine that sounding like anything but a lie to anyone else. I don't know what day it is most of the time and I don't want to. It's a solemn state yes, but there is no sadness in it. It is a puzzle to work on, a puzzle that I can't turn away from and yet I work on it with a meticulous yet removed concentration that makes it something more than just fun, in fact, it is not fun, nor is it a labor, it just is. Eyes closed or far off, I suppose now that I am close to being something new, I am searching for where that piece fits and what it does, crossing my eyes over the magic eye painting of my life and knowing the picture is there, knowing my eyes can see it, but not yet sure how to. The same inept superman feeling.

I sound as if I am babbling, running nowhere, but writing is a sad vessel to carry thought. A small mouth of a river trying to let out an ocean. Who would God be without the Devil, or for that matter what would the Roadrunner be without Wile E. Coyote, where would Don Quixote be without his Windmill? What am I when I slay my nemesis? Where will I be in 30 days? It's a simple question I still don't know how to answer. Will I break away from my old life only to find myself in a new role pre-determined for me by my actions, is there something that people like me are supposed to do after we do things like this? Will I be strong enough to make my own path again in spite of that path? I feel I cannot stop, cannot be stopped, but I know that isn't the case and in fact the logical side of me sees no way around possibly even years stopped if something new does not pop up to bail me out of prison I have built with years of living truly free. And yet as I said, I feel I cannot be stopped. I'm doing good out here with the people I meet and if I fall it will be in a brilliant and glorious flame that people will wish upon.

Again, do not confuse my thoughtfulness for sadness, and though I try not to let it in, pragmatically I know not all great dreams end in success. That doesn't mean I'll stop dreaming though. Enjoy the following video in my continuing efforts to catch up on my editing and posting.

DESERT WIND

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Phoenix II: Days go by

The thing which is most beautiful about my life, and as you've seen there are hard parts, but the most beautiful part is the unexpectedness. Not only do I do unexpected things, which I'll get to, but since my life has no real 'baseline,' or usual, every experiences maintains the richness that is so inherent in the deed. Sleeping indoors for instance, a shower, anything that might seem normal in a life of routine, with the exception of walking, is vibrant for me. The same way you can taste something better with a clean pallet, that's the way I taste life, and the hard parts of my life lend as much flavor as the good times, after all, if you ate sweets all the time you wouldn't really know the taste of sweetness.

And the unexpectedness, well, it's unexpected. One night I'll be hanging out with a beautiful blonde woman who grocery shops out of dumpsters and is dating a homeless guy, and I sleep on the floor of her unheated apartment. Another night, there I am staying in a luxury high-rise, driving a BMW SUV and eating a dinner including hand-rolled Kim Chi brought back from Seoul, South Korea on dry ice and Kobe beef grilled on a tiny clay barbeque from Japan made by my gay Hawaiian host.

Life is like Kim Chi, you don't know what the hell is in it until you try it, and still there's a bit of mystery. Okay, it's not as poetic as Forest Gump, but at least I'm original

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Phoenix, AZ: Triple Digits

Miles since last blog: 12.5
Miles Total: 3370.6

Route

Not much to report from here, working on catching up on the videos for those of you who enjoy them better than work and beginning the first day what what conspires to be uninterrupted triple digit heat until I hit the other side of the desert in California. But at least my distance left is only triple digits too.

Happy Cinco de Mayo, here is el video.

CARLSBAD

429

Tempe II: Night of the Living Video

I know it's been a while, but I made a new video of old stuff. My last few days in Texas.

Here's the link, but the sound quality is much better on facebook if you can find it there.

TEXCAPE

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tempe, AZ: I am, I am Superman

Miles since last blog: 23.6
Miles Total: 3358.1

Route

Superman Complex:

When you give yourself an unhealthy feeling of responsibility. Feeling you need to save everyone around you and that no one can do their job better than you can do it yourself.


Yes, this is me. Yes, I know it. I've heard this come out of peoples' mouths for well over a decade now. I've made a few steps in the right direction, for instance, I stopped dating girls I thought I could 'save,' girls with problems that needed help. I'm done with that, I want a strong self-reliant, blah blah blah girl that only exists in my mind now.

Even though I have made this modicum of progress with my condition, I doubt I'll ever progress much further. I have insane goals for myself, a few I have never even mentioned due to the level of insanity, but I like that. There is a lot of me that thinks of 'content' as a four letter word akin to 'giving up.' I never want to be satisfied, not unsatisfied either, but a place between those words that we don't know yet, contentedly discontent and always striving to push myself just a little harder. If I stop this process, it's the same a death for me or at least the lack of what I consider life.

I've also long since come to the conclusion that you can't really ever save anyone, you can only provide them with opportunities to save themselves, which I suppose is a way to save them but that's a technicality. It's the level that I take this too that really is the unhealthy thing. I realize it, and I know that I could be called anything from 'too good of a guy' to 'an egotistical lunatic with delusions of grandeur' or worse but it's me, they're probably both true.

On my list for the future, a small part of it that I'll let you see to impress upon you the scale of weight and insanity that drives me:

Swim the English Channel
Motorcycle across South and Central America
Learn to drive a motorcycle
Get a degree in Particle Physics
Help out friends and family who are having financial troubles
Learn a musical instrument
Create or do something that will help with Climate Change and Energy Crisis
Write a book
Make a documentary
Inspire people to live the lives they want instead of the lives they think the should live

The list goes on like this forever, even though many of the things are for personal gratification (like learning a musical instrument) they are more because I feel like I am deficient in some way for not having already done them and that I need to be able to in case that particular skill is called upon at some point, to never fail when I am needed and often help when unexpected.

I was thinking about this when I was talking about some problems with friends and family on my walk today, that it was unreasonable for me to feel like I should be able to swoop in and stop foreclosures, bankruptcies, confusion, whatever. It's not that anyone says I should do this, it's that I feel like it is in me somewhere to be able to help in these ways and not doing it feels like I am doing something wrong. It may be that I can't change the world in the way i'd like to in some of my more grandiose goals but wouldn't it be wrong if I thought I might be capable? I feel like an awkward teenage Superman if I am one, one who tries but doesn't know how to wield his power effectively, but still I should get there in my mind. In the theme of like congregates with like, here's a link to a friends blog from today: Goals

And then of course there's this



436

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Apache Junction II: Walking off into the Sunset

Miles since last blog: 31.6
Miles Total: 3334.5

Route

Deep breathes, this is one of the moments you've been waiting for Skip. Deep Breathes.

The Walk is almost over. In fact, I have the exact date and time I plan to finish and plenty of time to reach it.

The Date: 6/6/9
The Place: The Santa Monica Pier
The Time: Approximately 2:00 pm

Exhale.

I'd love for you to be there. Yes you, and you too. And you. I'd love to see as many people show up, new faces or old, to show support for the charity, the walk and of course if there's any more support left, a bit for me. I'm not kidding when I say that this will be one of the first great moments of my life, hopefully the first of many more, and I would like to generate as much energy and press as possible for everything involved. So, in short, come and walk or just watch me walk in.

After the end I'm hoping to find a park or some place in town where we can all congregate and do a potluck/party type event. Any help in the selecting of venue, organizing, contacting the press or anything else is very welcomed since I will be limited with what I can do. And by all means, invite everyone you know, the best problem I could have right now is too many people show up.

Check out PFEE.org, my contact info is on there if you want to help.

461

Apache junction, AZ: ?

Miles since last blog: ?
Miles Total: ?

Rpute?

I'm in AJ, AJ is nice. I know it's nice because they buy me food and drinks, so many drinks. I like it here and all the people are very very nice and funny. It's time to go to sleep though, don't you wish you were here, I wish you were here, we'd have a lot of fun you and I . . . sleeping . . .

Friday, May 1, 2009

Superior, AZ: The Life

Miles since last blog: 25.7
Miles Total: 3302.9

Route

9:30 was when my body really started to move even though I had been awake for a while. At 10 am the reporter I had met on the road the day before was coming over to interview me.

"Hey Superman!" she said as I opened the door. My Superman shirt is currently in rotation and as much as I try to avoid it, I was also wearing my red shorts which makes me look even a little more ridiculous than I normally do. We talked a bit and the interview turned into a field trip to a local school where I talked to a third grade class which was a good way to start the day.

Then we hit Jack in the Box, admittedly I had wanted to get out of town earlier and knock out a bunch of miles today but you can't really beat a newspaper article, inspiring kids and my main man Jack. I headed out of town just after noon but not before buying a sandwich for the road.

The road was amazing, dangerous, unique. I climbed through construction on a winding highway over canyons and mountains biding my time between floods of traffic on a road with no shoulders. The road crossed up over 4600 feet and during the course of my walk I walked into and out of the Tonto National Forest. It was strange to see such lush green amongst the red and alien rock formations that are normally reserved for the barren desert and Roadrunner cartoons. The red rocks jutted from the mountain and from between bushes, pines and oaks.

The descent was no less awe inspiring. I went down into Devil's Canyon which was composed of the same windy and shoulderless road harnessed in on both sides by sheer warm toned rock faces from which you could here mountain goats bleating between the noise from passing cars. I fell further and further behind my schedule as I stopped to look for the goats and took picture after picture of the rocks in the changing afternoon light.

Before sunset the rock walls were staggeringly shifting into black shadows and brilliant color in the direct light of the horizon, as the sun fell and the sky turned orange to mimic the rocks and then pink, the rocks themselves transformed into warm black cutouts at the base of the sky. In the following half-moon light they took life back again and without detail managed to play with the light in ways that revealed new majesty from what was visible in the daylight.

The night also brought more of the same or similar danger as the day had. Long streams of cars threw themselves caustically around corners while I stood pressed against the guard rail with my carrier just a bit over the white line, on the other side of the guard rail the land fell away at a steep pace and there was nowhere to go anywhere. If a car hit, it would hit the carrier first and I would be pinched into pieces between it and the rail before the car ever even reached me. I was glad to get of the mountain in spite of its beauty for this very reason, but not before crossing a tunnel and a bridge along the way. Tunnels are my nightmare, if being trapped on the side of a mountain is bad, being trapped inside one is that much worse, you can't even jump.

As I sat at a rest stop in the town of Superior eyeing a park across the highway to sleep in, I talked with my mom, "Is it safe for you to cross the street?" she asked. And somehow I feel that all the progress made in the last 3300 miles was lost somewhere in the conversation. I laugh and tell here I think I'll be alright. It was a wonderful day. I'll post pics later retroactively.

488

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Globe, AZ: Today's Blog is brought to you by the letter B

MIles since last blog: 20.6
Miles Total: 3277.2

Route

512. As a old mathematician this number immediately feels warm to me. Something about countless nights I have run across it on my way trying to sleep.

2x2=4

2x4=8

2x8=16

2x16=32

2x32= 64

2x64=128

2x128=256

2x256=512

and so on . . .

and so it is an old friend with nice properties, it feels very round despite not having zeros. It feels more like a circle to me then a number with a zero in it even, maybe that's because I associate the numbers with things and characteristics, not physical looks. Numbers have feelings and personalities for me and spend a significant amount of time thinking in terms of them even where it wouldn't naturally make sense for others, like in new models of world governments or spelling of words.

Tonight 512 means two things. 1) it's about how far I have left to go, maybe a few miles further, maybe a few less. Tomorrow I'll jump below 500 miles left for certain. 2) it's the number two just as much as the number two is the number two, and the number two is the letter B. And actually, 512 isn't just two, it's nine twos, or nine B's. So here we go.

2=B=Batman Voice. When you walk up to 35 miles a day you do things to keep yourself busy, no, that's wrong, that implies you have set them in motion, that you decided to do things to pass time. In actuality this is half true, some things just happen. Like the Batman Voice. The Batman Voice is literally MY Batman voice, seeing what I would sound like as Batman as I walk down the road. I say things like, "Your an idiot" to passing cars, and yes, just plain old, "I'm Batman." Of course you have to do a Bruce Wayne as well to differentiate. None of this is really a problem until you walk into a gas station in the middle of nowhere.

"Hello," the cashier says.

"Hello," I reply. Wait a second, oh no, I just said hello in the Bat Voice. Crap, now I'm stuck speaking in the Bat Voice and being a weirdo for the rest of my shopping experience, wonderful. No chance of sticking around here, I thought to myself. The idea to simply clear my throat didn't occur to me until much later.

4=BxB=Bananas. These are good to have. They contain Potassium which is necessary to keep your muscles from cramping. But you know what you can't get in the middle of nowhere? Bananas, such is the leg predicament I have had later. I know, I know I could carry a bunch with me when I leave a town, but seriously, after a few days in the carrier at high temp, there's nothing appetizing about that.

8=BxBxB=Buying Bread. This is just a helpful tip if you are crossing the country by any means and are also, like me, eating sandwiches along the way. Buy bread in town, in a big town. When you buy bread in the middle of nowhere it's often already past the 'sale by date' because no one is there to check and they don't sell bread that often. I recently bought some of this bread, is was frozen when I bought it and I have yet to try a piece but I've had some pretty dry stuff before. Buy your bread in town.

16=BxBxBxB=Baba. Last night a nice old lady on the Apache Reservation, a Baba, bought my groceries for me after reading my sign. She was just waiting at the counter when I got there and it is a gesture that is rare and very nice. The fact that this morning to men were waiting for me on the road to Globe and had brought me a drink and some food just added to what is a very nice memory of crossing the reservation.

32=Bed. I have a hard time sleeping these days. Beds are too flat and the sleeping bag is too confining. I used to be better at this, I wonder how long it'll take to get used to sleeping in a bed again.

64=But I could have been finished already #1. If I had taken the ADT, the American Discovery Trail, to the North, I'd pretty much be done. But I took the long route and I've met people and done things that were amazing. But I could have been finished by now #2. If I hadn't taken so much time off, like a during the holidays at my friends house, I'd be done by now. Then again, the time to write and reflect was as useful as the walking itself.

128=Bah bahhh bah dah da da dahh . . . If you can't recognize that, I understand. But it is the Legend of Zelda theme song (a game in which, I can assure you, you spend a lot of time walking around) and like the Batman Voice, I was powerless to stop singing it for the final hour of my walk today.

256=Buddies. Now is the time if you ever thought about visiting me on my walk, it's getting hard at the end and I could use a visit, an email, a text or a call. It always helps to feel that connection.

512=Blogging. Yes, shortly this blog in the form you have known in for so long will cease to exist with the end of the walk. What happens then? Not even I know that.

Peridot, AZ: He's Alive!!!

Miles since last blog: 34.5
Miles Total: 3256.6

Route

Spotty internet tonight, just checking in from my camping spot off US - 70.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fort Thomas, AZ: Blah

Miles since last blog: 22.1
Miles Total: 3222.1

Route

Short day. Woke up later, started off down the road and was almost immediately stopped by a nice man named Chuck who took me to lunch. Got back on the road but couldn't ever quite regain momentum. Tomorrow I enter the Apache Reservation, I myself am 1/64th Apache which means absolutely nothing, nevertheless it is the case. I'm camped out on the edge of Fort Thomas behind a church and my writing tonight is very dry. My lack of energy, creativity, and the a few other clues lead me to believe I might be fighting something, still, closer and closer to Phoenix every day.

568

Monday, April 27, 2009

Safford II: Black and White


The Comfort Inn and Suites of Safford, AZ was gracious enough to afford me another night to recover. Most of the day was spent lying in bed watching television and going slowly stir crazy. The highlights of my day were a few phone calls, texts and a walk to a local convenience store where I met a guy biking across the country. That's right, the country is swarming with hobos and our spirit is infectious. Laid off, out of work, have you thought about riding the rails and sleeping on the couches of strangers? Or biking through the mountains and camping in the forest?

Let me tell you a little bit about what might be in store for you, it's a little story I call 'Yesterday.'

Recently I'd been mixing things up as a sort of experiment in keeping things fresh, event the results of the experiment were mixed, it was going alright. It starts with sleeping, Hotels, etc., the previous night I had decided to sleep on top of my sleeping bag and using just my wool blanket which is normally my pad under the bag. I just flipped stuff on the chance that it might be warm enough and that my sleeping bag would be more cushy bedding. It wasn't warm enough and the problem with laying out camp in the dark is that a lot of times you set up in places that aren't really suitable either. I've mostly learned to sleep around and on jagged rocks, but you can't deal with cold other than warming up. So I woke up in a tangle of sleeping bag and blanket and completely unready to take on the day with a half lame calf.

The good news was that I only had 11 miles into town where I was hoping to find a place to stay for the night. You know how that turned out from the first line, but let's pretend there's more to a story than it's end. I was moving slowly, brushing my teeth with a dry brush and toothpaste and letting the sun hit my back and chest alternately before I suited up for the day. When I went to put away my backpack a hundred plus moths flew into my face from the small pouch on the back of my carrier. When I opened up my hat another 20 or so flew out. This continued all the way down the road the eleven miles, me slowly loosing moths upon the world.

Before I got into Safford I walked through the tiny satellite town of Solomon where I stopped to use a gas station toilet, on the wall there was a spot carved out with a swastika and the words 'WHITE POWER' in blocky letters, I tried to imagine it was very old but most of the wall was fresh. When I came out to men with shaven heads were entering the store, another guy with short hair was standing outside by some motorcycles and checking out my cart.

I slowly pulled on the gloves I bought to cushion my hands my second time in Austin. The man with short hair came over to talk to me.

"What is this thing exactly?" He said nodding at Ando, my carrier. Talking about stuff, this is how guys relate if what I remember about regular society still holds true. I note that I am slipping further and further away from that society and that at times I find myself eating with absolutely no manors, shoving things in my mouth and not able to remember the motor functions of civilization. I humor him and play along in the man role.

"This is my cart, it's a baby jogger actually, I carry my stuff in it."

"Why are you walking across the country anyway?" I can't see his eyes because of some mirrored lenses that remind of the nineties Oakley fad. I size him up and go with the basic answer.

"I'm walking for charity, Public Education, trying to help out some of the schools that need it." He shrugs, not so interested in education I guess.

"Public education," he mumbled. "Yeah, I guess most schools are pretty bad shape these days. Hey, let me ask you something, this new president, what do you think about him." I already knew what he thought, it wasn't what was scrawled on the wall, no reason to think that was him, but his language 'this new president,' not Obama, not 'the new president,' but 'this' new president. I don't feel like getting into a debate but I'm not a liar either.

"Well, I tell you one thing, I think he'll be good for education."

"Yeah yeah," he seemed to be searching for something, he wanted to identify with me somehow I could see that, but he wanted to get something from me too. "But what do you think he'll mean for the war on terror?"

Christ, I don't want to get into this, this will go nowhere, what's a neutral response? "Oh, I don't know." The truth is, that like most other things, I just think people are too afraid of this, you're more likely to be killed by a falling coconut than a terrorist attack, perhaps we should go after the coconuts. No reason to lend credence to these idiots by being afraid of them. There are far more terrifying monsters lurking out there and attacking the USA, ignorance, economics, tubs without little grippy flower things on the bottoms, you name it.

"I read that loud and clear." He said smiling and nodding. Apparently he took this as my agreement with his obvious position. The two men with shaved heads came out, they were his friends.

"What are you doing?" They asked.

"Nothing," he said. I saw my opportunity to leave.

"Bye," I said and started walking off. Maybe if I was lucky, what would stay with him wouldn't be this false agreement, but instead that I said something positive about the president and education.

The walk was peaceful into town and the Comfort Inn and Suites was the first Hotel I came to. A very nice woman was behind the counter and she called the manager and got me a room donated for the evening. When I asked about a pharmacy to resupply she offered to drive me into town after she got off of work at 3.

I took a shower and ate at the restaurant across the street which was owned by the same people as the hotel, The Manor House, good Philly Cheesesteaks. True to her word, at 3 o'clock she drove me to a pharmacy where I picked up 50 SPF waterproof non-greasy long lasting Sunscreen, new moleskin (pad bandages for blisters), a few gatorades and a snack. When I got to the register she paid and told me in the car on the way back to the hotel, "some days you just have to give yourself over to the needs of others." It was that simple for her, as simple as not liking Obama was for the other man. It takes all kinds, I'm lucky people seem to like the path I travel, I get the best parts of them, the niceties all intact, but the woman seemed only nice to me. There were layers to her of course, but none of them were harsh or mean, just deeper or shallower views of the same woman, it's always nice to meet these people and in my life they are the majority.

The main thing the road offers is experience, time to think, sometimes too much of both, but isn't even a flood of too much experience and thought better than the doldrums? It either is or it isn't and we are a wonderful time in history to decide which one is for us.

I'm trying on different 'road names' or monikers, feel free to suggest one. So far my favorite suggestion was Hobo Hemingway but that would be more than a little presumptuous for me to try on. Thoughts . . .

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Safford, AZ: Thank you Comfort Inn and Suites!!!

Miles since last blog: 11.3
Miles Total: 3200.0

Route

So close, so very close.

590

San Jose, AZ: Crimps and Cramps

Miles since last blog: 30.0
Miles Total: 3188.7

Route

15 miles into the walk today, my left calf seized. If you've seen my calf, you can begin to imagine how much this is super not cool. When you are 15 miles from the town behind you and 26 miles from the next town, there's simply not much you can do about a problem like this, or any problem really. I sat down and ate some goldfish crackers and tried to walk on favoring el injuro maximo, but when I came to a little dirt pull out I decided that I wasn't going to get a better chance for a rest. I laid there for about an hour which is always fun because inevitably a few people stop by to make sure you aren't dead, which is nice of them.

I got up and walked another 15 miles, a bit carefully. I was still favoring my left leg but I was also enamored with the high mountain desert I was walking through here on the Eastern edge of Arizona. Since my trip to Carlsbad Caverns I always look at craggy awesome mountains with a suspicious eye. Under the smooth rolling hills of red dirt and dried grass which are occasionally interrupted by broken red wisdom teeth of rocks I know something is hiding. I even saw a few caves from the road which I wanted to go explore, alas, my walk wanting to be finished and my calf cramping precluded this possibility even more than the fact that the caves are on private property. I'll be back mountains, when I'm not on route or injured.

The cramp, it's not a big problem, so long as it goes away. If it persists, my tentative date of a May 31st finish will slip slide away like Paul Simon. This is the crimp in the plan, it's always there, even if this cramp goes away and I stay as prepared and preventative as possible, a cramp or other problem could spring up at any time. I'm just outside of the relatively big town of Safford and I plan to walk in tomorrow morning and try to find a room for the night and walk out if I can't, no paying tomorrow. But even this bed rest puts a bit of a crimp in my timeline. This month I have already walked about 480 miles which is often what I do in an entire month and I have 6 more days to go. This month I will break 500 miles for only the second time in my travels, it's possible my body is just getting fussy with me.

I suppose I'll find out one way or another. On the bright side, it was cloudy today so it was cooler during the day and will be warmer tonight. Hooray for Arizona!

605

Friday, April 24, 2009

Franklin, AZ: Pacific Time

Miles since last blog: 35.0
Miles Total: 3158.7

Route

I had a diatribe in mind for tonight but it was kind of a downer so I booted it. I'm in Arizona! I'm on Pacific Time. Feel the awesomeness.

634

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lordsburg II: Chiming In and Selling Out

"It's almost over." It's a thought that runs through my head a lot. "Less than 40 days until you get to the coast probably."

"Leave me alone," another thought chimes in.

"At 25 miles a day you have only 27 walking days left,"

"I know."

"If you average 30 miles a day, that's what you do, then its only 22 or 23 walking days left."

"I know," that voice, it's irritatingly persistent. I manage to run my thoughts onto something else, but it always jumps back in.

"You're only 240 miles from Phoenix. You'll be in Arizona tomorrow."

"Shut up."

One voice always pushing me on, revving me up, the other voice puts fingers in its ears and goes blah blah blah until the first voice shuts up. It's hard to escape this struggle.

"String Theory says that everything is made up of the same string substance," My iPod goes on, one of the many science podcasts I distract myself with when I need it one or two hours out of a long day. "And the way they appear differently is by vibrating in different ways, so you see -"

"DUDE!!! If you try, you might make it to the coasts by the 24th of May!" Chimes in the first voice.

"I'm trying to learn here, leave me alone, now I have to rewind it."

Sometimes I know exactly what I want, other times it's like this. Monotonous thought, routine, I hate routine. This circularity is the kind of thing I usually walk away from and come back to later with new tools of thought when I can actually make some headway. Normally I walk away, that says something huh? The problem is the further I walk, the louder the voices argue, and if I stop they just go completely insane with fervor.

Break the routine. Break. I need a break. This is the thought as I roll around in another dirt field another cold desert night. I smell, more precisely, my favorite shorts smell after 5 days on but I don't like any other pair. It's 3 am and I'm not falling asleep.

Then it's 8 am and I'm awake again. I need a break, it's funny how a repetitive thought before you sleep can wake you up like a call to war. By 10 am I have new tires and I know I am not going anywhere. Break the routine. There's a few hotels in town but none of them are donating a room tonight, I can see that. I buy in, sell out, break down, get a room somewhere with a pool and laundry and HBO, a place next to a McDonald's. It's not what I should have done, I should have walked to Duncan, AZ today and tried to take a break there, I didn't feel so bad this morning despite the lack of sleep and rough days behind me. it's the first time I've paid for a place to sleep in almost 8 months.

I'm in debt, I'm at peace with that, but it's true. A hotel room, for a homeless and unemployed guy, it's not cheap and doesn't help the cause in anyway, but it does accomplish something, one thing. Break the routine.

There's a crucial step missing somewhere in this whole quest. It's a part of the Heroes journey, not that I am a hero, but there's a reason literary journeys have steps, we need them. The short version is that the Hero 'Refuses to Return' (to the normal world) and then later through a multi-step process, returns anyway. In survival school, the final night we had a 14 mile solo walk in the moonlight back into camp to think, reflect and re-enter society. Something tells me that won't work here.

I don't know what it is, I don't know if there is a way back and I know I don't want to go back. I also know unless something big and unexpected happens, I am going to have to return to that world in some way. I just don't want to go back to the life I had before, dreaming back on the one glorious note that graced the song of my life. I see the longing in others. I've contacted and kept in contact with people who have done this before. BJ Hill, who I called Bizarro, suddenly and happily started calling and texting me as of last week.

"Can I give you some advice." he said, it wasn't a question. "Stay on the road. It's not great out here right now." I've heard the sentiment from others. I think it's because we've all gone the same way at some point, we've all had the same trials and thoughts, we all walked or ran or biked or drove off for the same reason. Break the routine.