Great Country, Great People

Campfire

We were looking forward to a lot of things before embarking on this journey across America.  First and foremost, was spreading our message to get out and get moving.  Our mission is to inspire and educate folks on ways to lead a more heart healthy lifestyle, and we are working on that everyday.

Secondly, we wanted to see the country up close.  That means the beautiful landscape, the small towns, the tourist traps (including the largest ball of twine…just kidding of course), and especially the people.  We were curious to learn more about the different cultures that are spread across this great country.  All of this is a work in progress as we have only completed roughly 15% of our journey.

What stands out most to me, is the friendliness of the people that we have met.  This includes the locals, as well as those travelling, whether on vacation or to escape the winter from the great white north.  Everyone to a person, has been friendly and here are just a few examples of what we have witnessed:

While walking through Prescott, I came to a busy intersection and I witnessed something that I don’t believe I would have seen back home.  A man’s truck (yes, most everyone drives pick-ups out here) broke down and he was pushing it slowly uphill towards the traffic light.  From two separate cars stopped at the intersection, two people jumped out and helped this guy push his truck.  Of course, I was on my way to assist when I saw they had it under control.  Really, I was.

We have met a bunch of people, transients for a lack of a better term, here at our current campground in Camp Verde, AZ.  They have a community fire pit and Kate has been longing for a fire since we left Michigan back in mid September.  Camping and camp fires go hand in hand, i guess that’s why the word “camp” is in both, and Kate loves camp fires.

The first night here, upon finding the fire pit and the conveniently chopped stack of fire wood (courtesy of the campground, and complimentary I might add), Kate was on a mission to have that fire she had been longing for.  Many of the places we have been thus far did not allow camp fires, as it has been so dry out west and the risk for those large out of control fires was extremely high.  This was the case throughout California and the desert region.

Alas, Kate was in her glory and the fire soon drew a crowd, something else she had been longing for.  Two months on the road with me is enough for anyone to seek out the company of others.  We were amazed that within a few minutes of the sparks hitting the air, that we had a nice gathering of folks and a chance to interact with people other than ourselves.

It was interesting to find out that most of the people were from the Midwest.  We had the northern Midwest virtually covered.  Michigan of course, Wisconsin, and Minnesota were represented.  We also met a new friend from Alaska.  The cold weather states were well represented.

The stories and conversation never stopped and what was interesting to me is that everyone has one, a story that is.  The young lady from Alaska for example, is a true inspiration.  She had two strokes and a heart attack, and a real cool outlook on life.  Another lady has a grandson that has had 7 heart surgeries before the age of 20.  In all honesty, it made my issues seem small and insignificant, yet they showed compassion when hearing my story.

The stories continued with accounts of abuse, divorce, disorders, you name it.  People opened up about their pasts, and we grew to have a great respect for one another.  It was a very comfortable conversation, except for the brief moment when one man said, “I assume we are all liberals here”.  Barb, a smart lady from Wisconsin, quickly changed the subject after I engaged.  If you know me, I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut about politics.  I’m working on it however, and quickly recognized and respected Barb’s ploy.

The friendliness was not confined to just the night around the fire, but rather on many other interactions we have had thus far.  The waitress and manager at the local steakhouse who shook my hand and told me to keep up the good work, after we told them about our mission, and the fact that we walked 18 miles that day for a good steak.  The homeless people we met in Blythe, CA.  One man in particular stands out.  Even with all the challenges he is facing, he engaged with us in conversation, and could not thank us enough for the meal we had brought him (which come to find out, he shared with a fellow person down on their luck).

We have walked through some pretty poor areas.  Places where the temperatures are commonly over 100 degrees and the homes, trailers, and yes shacks make you wonder how people survive the heat.  We have walked down residential streets where folks were out in their yards, or sitting on their porches.  Virtually everyone offered a friendly wave or said hello.  By the looks of things, these folks were living in abject poverty and most likely didn’t have two nickles to rub together, yet that didn’t seem to bother them.

It was also nice to see the animal friendly people we met in Blythe.  These two folks, one cat lover and one dog lover, hung out in a truly depressed part of town and took care of the strays.  It was heartwarming to see people caring for god’s creatures that didn’t have anyone else to provide them food and shelter.

All in all, anyone and everyone we have come in contact with has been friendly, and also supportive in the instances where we shared our story.  This trip has been an eye opener in many ways and what I had hoped I would find, that this country is still filled with good people no matter what you read in the headlines, has truly been the case.  Most Americans have big hearts, and are good people.  That is one thing that makes this country great, and I hope that never changes.

I can’t wait to continue to learn more as we move into states like New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and beyond.  My guess is we will see different cultures, and the goodness in people, no matter where we go and what their situation, will still exist and shine a light on our journey.

Until then, keep moving friends.  Remove the excuses and obstacles and get out and move.  You never know who you might meet along the way that will inspire you,  or simply make you smile, and perhaps, become someone that you can call “friend”.  We never can have enough of those, at least that’s the way I see it.

Cheers,

Chuck

 

 

What It’s All About

Beyond Hope

When we were planning this journey across America, one thing I was looking forward to was the time I would have to reflect.  I realized there would be countless hours with just me and my thoughts, as scary as that may sound, and it would bring the opportunity to put things in perspective.  Finally, with all of life’s stressors in the background, I would truly have a chance to figure out what’s important in life.  Heck, I might even find answers to the questions that have plagued mankind for centuries.  You know, why are we here, and what is it all about?

While I am still working on those age-old questions, I have been able to navigate through the cobwebs leading to my brain, as well as wade through the dead brain cells that are the residue of decades of a continuous stream of beer.  I think I made it all the way to my brain matter, as if that matters, and had a chance to really reflect on my life.  It is still a work in progress, however, it is amazing how clearly you can think when all the distractions are out of the way.  Well most of them anyways, there are the cars and trucks whizzing by, and the threat of coyotes and rattle snakes with every step after all, but you can’t have everything, can you?

At the age of 56, I have more mileage behind me than in front of me.  Well, maybe not from a walking standpoint, but most likely from a time point of view.  At least I doubt I will make it to 112.  With that in mind, I realized that I lived a life similar to most others.  Part of that reality is what I want to change.

In my 20’s 30’s and 40’s, the primary goal was to provide for my family.  That meant going to work each day, fighting traffic, and putting up with the demands of customers and bosses.  Much of it was truly BS, but we do what we have to do to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads.  It’s considered normal and hum drum, and most people complain about it.  That is, they truly aren’t completely happy with their lives, or for that matter, fulfilled.  I was no different.

I was lucky in some ways in that I had a level of freedom with my jobs that many desk type jobs don’t have.  I never had to punch a clock, nor was tied to a desk.  My jobs allowed me, for the most part, to attend the kids, and now grand kids functions, whether it be sporting events or school concerts.  That is truly something that cannot be replaced in my mind.  What I have realized, is that it’s the memories, and the time I’ve spent with loved ones that truly stands out on this journey through Chuck’s surviving brain cells.

Life changed for me in a heartbeat however.  At age 54, health issues that I never expected slammed into me like a ton of bricks.  These are the types of health issues that prevent people from fulfilling many of their dreams that are so easy to put off.  Heart attacks take the lives of folks in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond, before people ever really start living.  What I mean by that, is so many people with all sorts of dreams about life after work and after most of life’s responsibilities have ended, are struck down before they can live out their dreams.

I was lucky, diagnosed and treated in time and given a second chance.  For me the choice was clear.  I would now plan to live, as Frank Sinatra once said, my way.  Sure, I’m only 56 now, and in order to live in today’s world, I will have to find a way to make a living.  Living today isn’t cheap, and there is the reality of paying for healthcare, food, shelter, etc., but for now, at least for the next 6 months as we trudge across this great nation, I am going to do it my way.  I am going to enjoy the journey, stop the worrying, and enjoy all that this country and its people has to offer.

That can be hard for me in some ways, as the old habits of dwelling on problems and letting the small stuff bring me down still pop up from time to time.  Still, I am working everyday to find the joys that life has to offer.  Hey, maybe that is what it is all about.  It most likely is different for each and every one of us, but maybe getting joy out of life should be our primary goal.  Maybe it is fulling a dream, or helping others (finding your purpose), or simply having fun.  It really doesn’t matter as long as you have identified that for yourself and you are experiencing it each and everyday.

We have a long way to go until we get to Myrtle beach, and a lot more time to ponder life, but I can tell you this, I am going to enjoy each and every step, even the ones that aren’t very comfortable.  There is a big world out there, and I want to see it up close.

When my  story is finally written, I want there to be few regrets.  I want the people who meant so much to me over the years to know exactly that.  I want to have accomplished something significant in this world, something that has meaning.  We have targeted that “something” that has meaning in my life right now.  It is what nearly took me out, heart disease, and with the help of the world’s best wife, no offense to the other wives out there, we are making progress one town at a time, one step at a time, and one interaction at a time.  After this journey is said and done, who knows what is next, but I can tell you this, we are going to figure it out and go for it.

You see, what I have found out so far, and it is early  in the process, is that there is a life to live.  Not how someone else wants you to live, or what anyone else, including society thinks you should do, but what you want and think you should do, what fulfills you.

More to come as I continue to find these answers, but I hope each and everyone that reads this finds their own happiness and fulfillment.  Maybe all it will take is some dedicated time to think about it all.  I would highly recommend finding a distraction free way to reflect.  It will be well worth it, because the way I see it, none of us are beyond hope!

Cheers,

Chuck

 

 

Walk Updates

Chuck walking roadside

We began our walk across America for heart disease on October 1st in Oceanside, California, so I guess it is time for a comprehensive “walk” update.  With almost one month in the books, and 270 or so miles behind us, we are well on our way.

There have been moments of sheer boredom, some really cool and exciting experiences, and to be totally honest. some moments of doubt.  The moments of doubt have lessened as we have overcome some physical issues by learning how to manage the daily walking activites.  We will touch on that below.  Anyways, before we began this journey, we figured that we would experience a lot of different things and really get to see this country up close and personal.  So far, that has certainly been the case.

First let’s start with our purpose.  Sometimes I wonder what good all this walking is doing.  I’m talking about the big picture.  Are we making an impact? Are people following along?  Is our message getting out to the masses?  I’m not sure yet, but we have gained some momentum.

As a heart patient, with a collection of stents in my legs, we thought if I could pull this off, it would inspire others to get out and get moving, especially those who have been afflicted and have more or less given up on becoming active again.  The goal is to inspire others.  We have had some help along the way in getting our message out.  Fox 2, and Charlie Langton back home, featured us three times on local TV and Charlie was able to get airtime once on WWJ radio. Argo at Elvis Radio gave us 4 minutes of airtime just prior to our walk, to tell our story to the world.  Lastly, there have been newspaper articles in the Oakland Press and one upcoming in the Pala Verde Valley Times in Blythe, California.  All of this is good press and helps spread the word, which is to get out and get moving.  My ask is that all of you share our posts and blogs to your fiends, and truly make this a movement for everyone to lead a more heart healthy lifestyle.

As for the daily grind, 5:30 AM comes early everyday, especially when you are still exhausted and stiff from the day before.  I woke up this morning and told Kate that I didn’t want to go to school today, being funny of course.  Her reply was, “it makes you miss getting up and going to work, doesn’t it?”  Yes and no.

It certainly is a grind, and the walking can be tough.  My legs aren’t close to 100%, and I really feel it when walking uphill for a long stretch.  There is plenty of that.  Of course when you are starting from an ocean you are at sea level, and by the time we reach Flagstaff the elevation will be somewhere around 7,000 feet.  That will be like climbing the stairs of a 700 story building, although over a much longer time frame.

All in all, we have held up pretty good.  I have my usual calluses to contend with, which can be painful in their own right, and numb feet when we get to the 5 mile mark.  At 10 miles, sharp pain in a couple of toes occurs.  The good news is that most of this subsides rather quickly, when I stop and rest for a bit.  This allows us to motor, or walk I mean, on for a few more miles.  I have learned to stop and rest, even if it is for a few seconds, every mile or two, with a longer break somewhere between 3 and 5 miles.

The heat has really been a factor, and that could change for the better as early as next week.  There have been days over 100 degrees, with nearly every day over 90.  There also hasn’t been a cloud in the sky for weeks.  This is the type of weather you dream about back home, well maybe not the 100 degree part, but I have to say, I’m starting to miss the variety of weather we get in Michigan.  Maybe not experiencing all four seasons in one day, which can happen back home, but you get my drift.  Walking 10 miles or more in 90 plus degree heat with the sun pounding on you isn’t all that pleasant.

I recently wrote about the logistics of the trip, and it is a daily task to make sure we have what we need while walking.  This includes food, hydration, sun block, maps, and protection from predators and more.  We have found a routine, and Kate is unbelivably organized, which helps when dealing with a knucklehead (me).

Finding accommodations hasn’t been overly simple either.  There are RV parks and campgrounds along the way, however we have to be fiscally responsible while making sure they have reasonable accommodations like water, electricity, and sewer.  There are some sketchy parks, and we have found a couple, but overall, so far so good.

One challenge is finding a park that is in the correct vicinity of where we will be walking.  Our goal is to establish a “home base” for 3 to 7 days along our route.  We then move our camp as we walk a certain distance away from our current home base, and towards the next potential “home base”.  The main consideration is to be efficient.  If we move too far ahead, like we did with the first move, we are back tracking with the car too far to get to the starting point of that day’s walk.  If we don’t move camp far enough, we would be finding the challenge of moving too frequently, which takes time.  It is simple a process and takes a bit more time out of our day than I would like from a planning perspective.

When we get to extreme rural areas, like where we are currently, getting supplies is an issue.  Case in point, there is not a grocery store nearby.  The Family Dollar is the closest thing to a grocery store, and you can forget about fresh meats and produce.  It just means you have to be prepared for the areas ahead and plan in advance.  Good thing I have Kate with me or I would probably either starve or have to live on a diet of Twinkees.

At the end of the day, we are making progress, both physically and mentally.  Our focus is two-fold; stay healthy and make progress towards North Myrtle Beach, and secondly, to make sure that what we are doing is making a difference.  As for the latter, some of that is up to you.  Get out, get moving, spread the word, and be good to your heart!

One last update from a route perspective:  We are currently in Salome, AZ.  Our route took us from Oceanside, to Temecula, near Palm Springs, through Indio, and through Blythe.  All cities in California.  From there, we hugged Interstate 10 (nearby roads and trails) into Quartzsite, AZ, continuing near the 10 to Hwy 60 which will take us towards Prescott, AZ in the next week or so.

Here are some estimated dates and locations as we near some of the larger cities on our route east:

  • Albuqueque, NM on or about 12/25
  • Amarillo, TX – 1/20
  • Oklahoma City, OK – 2/10
  • Memphis, TN – 3/15
  • Atlanta, GA – 4/5
  • North Myrtle Beach, SC – 4/26

(This is based on getting up to 20 miles per day, with a few days off sprinkled in, and no unforseen surpirses, wish us luck).

Cheers from the road.

Chuck

Logistics and Stuff

HobsonWhen the idea to walk across America first popped into my head, it was simple in its concept.  Start at one ocean, walk for a while, and stop when you get to the other ocean.  No problem.

The primary concern was my ability  to walk extensive distances, day after day, and although that is still a concern, we have found so many other things that also need close consideration.

A lot has been learned in the three plus weeks since we started walking on October 1st.  You need good shoes and socks.  Check.  You need a route and a map.  Check.  You need an ample food supply and emergency provisions.  Check.  You need sun protection (that’s an understatement).  You need your health.  Double check.  All the planning and work we put into accounting for the expected, and somewhat unexpected has certainly paid off.  However, we have found that some things are going to catch you by surprise.

First off, we expected the terrain and heat in the southwest to be a challenge, and it certainly has been just that.  The steady incline has been difficult on my surgically repaired legs.  Flat ground, not a problem, but inclines require a slower pace and frequent stops to get the blood flowing to the feet and calf muscles as needed.

The heat has been another obstacle, although not one that we can’t manage…at least so far.  It has been near or over 100 degrees practically everyday since we left Oceanside.  I swear I haven’t seen a cloud in weeks.  The midday sun is relentless, and makes you feel like you are in an oven.  So much for saying ” yes, but it’s a dry heat”.  Anyways, we start early and finish 8-12 miles by noon, and then pick up later in the day, although there are days when even late afternoons offer no reprieve from the intense heat.

Then there are the disruptions, like finding friends along the way.  Furry friends that is.  On a sad note, on the morning of Friday the 13th, when driving to our beginning walking point for the day, our vehicle struck a dog on a desert road.  There was no avoiding it.  Anyone that knows me knows my love for dogs and this really was difficult.  The car sustained a bit of damage, but that wasn’t even a minor consideration when thinking of the poor animal that lay motionless on the road.  We called the police and in short order they handled the situation.  Kate and I were extremely upset, so much so that walking that morning wasn’t an option.

We made a monetary donation to the humane society and vowed to be vigilant when driving, even though there are times, like this one, where an animal darts in front of your vehicle at the last possible moment.  Still, I felt like there had to be a way to make it right.  Enter the next canine encounter.

Kate has always had a heart of gold, and as I get older, I think she is rubbing off on me more and more.  We have seen a countless number of homeless people and stray animals since we embarked on this journey, but that is a subject of another article.  A few days ago, we ran across a stray Chihuahua.  He was strolling down Hobson Way in Blythe, CA, at about 7:30 AM on a Sunday morning.  We have been regularly handing out dog treats during our walk and actually have dog food and water in the car for such occurrences.  I immediately  pulled over and we called for the dog.  Amazingly, the dog came right to us.

I’m sure Kate thought this was a bad idea, as I get attached rather quickly, and of course, we really cannot accommodate a dog on our trip.  We are out walking all day and a hot RV is no place to keep an animal while we are gone.  I could see in her eyes the old, here we go again look, and she immediately said, “don’t get any ideas”.

We fed the dog and gave it water.  Kate petted him and he let me pick him up and snuggle a bit.  He seemed extremely content and comfortable with us.  Now what?  Right or wrong, we decided that the streets are no place for a small dog.  We were not in the nice part of town, the days were hot, extremely hot, and he was walking right along a busy road.  There were no tags, he appeared to be itchy (fleas?), probably hadn’t eaten in a while, and wasn’t fixed (not good for the stray dog population, which apparently is an issue here).

We did what we thought was best and called the police, who took the dog to the shelter.  It was difficult when I put the dog in the back of the squad car.  The dog gave me a look like, “where is he taking me, and why is he taking me”?  It broke my  heart.

Feeling like I owe the dog world one after that awful occurrence on October 13th, there was only one thing to do.  Go to the police station and find out where the dog is, and inquire about adopting him.  Of course Kate wouldn’t allow me to keep him (sad face), so I had to find someone who would be willing to take him.  My first thought was Ryan and Emily.  They were talking about getting Roxy a friend.  How perfect?

After about 100 texts back and forth, this seemed doable.  We would just have to figure out how to ship him home.  At the same time, I pinged my  two sisters that live in California.  They would be a few hour drive away from dropping off the pooch, and both have dogs.  To my surprise, there was no hesitation from either of them in stating their willingness to take him.  Yep, I have some pretty cool sisters.

So, we are now in a waiting game.  We have to wait 5 days in order to make sure nobody claims him.  I will be at the shelter when they open on Thursday to adopt “Hobson”.  If all goes well, we pay the small fee, he gets the treatment, fleas, ticks, heart worm, and neutering, and in 14 days, we can pick him up and add him to the family.

These things are things we have to do, I guess it is just in our hearts.  We have also met many homeless people along the way and when we can, we stop and either give them a water and some money, or buy a meal for them.  We have done that from time to time back home, but in Blythe, it seems as though the opportunity arises on every street corner.  Sad but true.  Again, that story is coming.  It has just been unexpected, and is throwing us a bit off our schedule.  That’s ok, though, we will adapt.

To finish up on the logistics piece, we have had to combat ants, extreme cold (don’t want frozen pipes), extreme heat, dust storms, errors in mapping (walking paths that aren’t there or seem impassable), exhaustion, and some really sore feet.  All in all, we were able to overcome these challenges thus far.

I’m sure there is more in store for us from an unexpected standpoint, but with Kate in charge, I sleep pretty good at night.  Thanks for following our adventure, now make sure you are getting out and walking, staying active, and are treating your heart with the respect it deserves.  After all, we aren’t doing this for our health (well, maybe we are, lol).

Best to all!

Moving On

Desert (2)

We are tired of the desert.  That’s pretty much an understatement.  We knew going into the walk that it would be tough, and it has been exactly that.  95 degree plus days have come one after another so far, without any end in sight.

It is pretty amazing really, how anything other than your typical desert creatures, lives here, and that includes people  Some people do it by choice for heaven’s sake.  We are here in October, not necessarily the hottest time of the year, and the thermometer has reached 105, with more 100 degree days ahead.  Kate actually said, “I wouldn’t even want to be a bug here”.

The nights offer some reprieve from the heat, generally getting down into the low 60’s, however, as soon as the sun comes up over the mountains the next morning, it’s game on.  But that is enough about the weather.

The landscape is beautiful, albeit repetitive.  There are areas in the mountains/desert that you would refer to as an oasis, which have gatherings of Palm Trees and shade.  Some are local parks or walking trails like the Coachella Valley trails, and some are cities like Indian Wells.  They mix a little green in here and there with all the brown.

As for the walking, we have built up to about 15 miles a day on our way to our goal of 20.  20 is just not possible in this heat and elevation for an old guy with duck tape and baling wire holding his legs together.  Kate is holding up extremely well, however succumbs to the heat when we are nearing 10 miles for the morning and the heat starts to take its toll.  I call her RoboKate, but there are times when she proves that she is still mortal.

On another note, my friend Daniel walked with us for the first four days.  They were pivotal days as they allowed us to navigate out of Oceanside and get us 40+ miles into the hills and on our way.  He owns a tax business and has been up against it with the October 15th deadline.  It seems a lot of people file six month extensions.   Anyways, those first four days set the tone, and Daniel deserves a lot of credit.

I can’t thank him enough for his support and efforts.  He sacrificed a lot, including 4:30 AM wake up calls, in order to get us off on the right foot.  He also provided a lot of important tips and information about enduring the grind, diet and nutrition, and handling certain situations including the elements.  Navy Seal guys know all about that stuff and I took to heart every piece of information he was offering.  It was also fun to chit-chat while walking, especially dogging the Tigers and their recent managers.  Hat’s off to a good man!

We are moving camp tomorrow to a city called Blythe.  We currently stand at 143 walking miles in, with a few more to go tonight, and Blythe should be our last destination in California.  During the week or so there, we will have the requisite number of miles in to reach the Arizona border…I hope!

Whether you have been to California or not, you may find the following a bit interesting:

Things I found out about California

  • Traffic: Well, one thing I haven’t figured out are the traffic lights.  Seems there is a light for each lane.  Two lanes typically turn left, and I’m not sure that Google has that figured out.  At least she, we call the Google voice Judy, doesn’t account for the fact that the right lane, of the left two lanes, becomes the third lane just before most intersections, when she tells you to take the two left lanes to turn left.  You try to figure that one out.  Thanks a lot Judy, you have caused me to look like a tourist on the roads, who has no idea how to drive.  Anyways, it takes forever to get through a light, whether you are walking or driving.
  • Can and bottle deposits: California appears to have a knack for taxing things.  There are however a lot of things they provide for those extra taxes (like the global warming tax on gasoline).  I mean, they are going to stop global warming right?  Sorry, that’s off the point.  Bottles and cans have a deposit when you buy soda or beer just like back home.  What is odd is that most retailers don’t take them back and reimburse you.  We found out from a friend that you can take them to a local recycle place, but get nowhere near the 5 or 10 cents per can or bottle that you paid when you bought your beverage.  Pretty sneaky California.
  • The people seem to be nice.  We get waves and hello’s when walking.  The locals are mostly friendly.  This might be because they don’t have to deal with the seasons like we do in Michigan.  You know, almost winter, winter, still winter, and construction season.
  • It is multicultural here for sure.  I’m not sure about northern California, but it is nice to see all the cultures blend together.  I found it interesting that it is even more apparent on the TV stations that we get in the Desert.  Some are in English of course, some are in Spanish, and some are Japanese.  The Japanese station left an impression on me as they had a panel talking politics relating to the North Korean issue, and nobody was arguing or cutting other people off.  A good old honest discussion.  How strange.
  • The weather.  It was hazy by the ocean.  There is a marine layer that seems to come in during the morning hours and takes some time to dissipate.  The temperatures never seem to vary, or at least in three weeks we have been here.  It is always mid 70’s near the ocean, and freaking hot in the desert.  What is funny as well, is that there has been day after day where there are no clouds in the sky.  None.  In the desert, the lack of cloud cover leads to a relentless pounding of the sun’s rays on you.  I told Kate today that it almost feels like your skin is on fire.  She could barely grab the handle of a retail establishments entry door due to it being in direct sunlight today.  Crazy stuff.
  • All in all, it appears to us at least, that California is a nice place to visit, but not where I would necessarily choose to live.  It’s different, some good, some not.  The beach where we initially stayed, Oceanside, is nice with a lot to do and see.  There are beautiful sunsets and all, but it is different from the good old Midwest, I’m not sure exactly why.  That may require some time and additional thought to peg.

That’s it for now.  We trudge on.  We have found in the desert that the best way to proceed is for Kate to move the car a couple of miles forward at a time so there is a place along the route to beat the heat for a few minutes and restock the water supply.  I’m not sure how long we will be able to do that as the location changes.  I will share more on the logistics of it all in the next blog.

Until then, Cheers.

 

 

The Dime Story

Dimes.jpg

I promised some of you that I would share the dime story one day.  Today seems like a good day to do just that, and it is relevant to our walk across America.

But first an update:  We are now 92 miles in.  Kate and I put in 12 miles this morning starting at 7 AM in an effort to beat the heat.  We finished around noon sometime, and are in the vicinity of Palm Springs heading to Indio.  That’s Indio not India, although it feels like we have walked far enough to get to India.  All is good and we are ramping up according to what my legs and feet will allow.

Ok, on to the dime story.  My Father-In-Law, Bup, passed away about 17 years ago.  He was a rather simple man who ran his own landscape business, and was able to provide for a family of 7 (5 kids, my wife Kate being one of them, good luck with that, right?).

Bup made a modest income and between he and Janet, my Mother-In-Law, they made sure their 5 kids had a wonderful upbringing.  It wasn’t materialistic as many of our kids have experienced since then.  There weren’t fancy vacations and plane trips to Florida, Mexico, California, or Hawaii.  There weren’t new cars in the driveway when the kids turned 16.  There weren’t a lot of frills so to speak.  But as my wife has said many times, it was a great childhood and we did things like go to the lake, and take a boat ride to Boblo Island.  They didn’t go into the park mind you.  That would cost too much on a landscapers’ salary, especially one with 5 kids, but Bup and Janet made sure they went, and went as a family.

Kate’s mom and dad were loving parents and giving people.  They donated and volunteered to help those in need up until the day both left this earth.  They would help anyone in need with a whatever they could afford money wise, but mostly with their time and effort.  Fantastic people who have left an indelible impression on so many who they have come in contact with during their lives.

I told you all of that, to set the stage for the dime story and put it all in perspective.  Kate’s mom Janet, left us 2 years ago at the age of 95.  Her longevity is truly amazing based on her diet, which could have thrown the whole medical community and its scientists scurrying to figure out how a woman could live to the age of 95, powered mostly by sugar and junk food, and be as healthy as she was for all those years.  But that is another story.  Janet lived another 15 years after Bup had passed, and shortly after his passing is when it began raining dimes.

It has been recently discovered, that Bup, a man of modest means, had somewhat of an affinity for dimes.  He actually mentioned saving up dimes in some of his writings to Janet, while he was in the  service during World War II.

Certainly, he was not the kind of guy to foolishly waste his money, so floating dollar bills around, or heck even quarters perhaps would be considered extravagant.  Nope, the dime was fitting for Bup, who really didn’t place a lot of value on having a lot of money.  Being a good father and a giving person made him rich beyond that of someone with a million bucks in the bank.

That is why it was, let’s say interesting, when it started raining dimes after he passed away.  Let me describe what I mean by “raining dimes”.  It became somewhat commonplace, pretty soon after his death, that family members would find dimes.  I’m not talking about random change on a sidewalk, say three pennies, a nickel, and a dime. That doesn’t count.  It had to be a lone dime.  And, I’m not talking about a dime in a place where you would expect to find a dime.  I’m talking about places where there is no way that a dime could have accidentally been lost.

I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking that there has to be an explanation for each dime finding.  I understand that completely.  I am a person who puts a lot of emphasis on logical explanations.  I dismissed the notion that Bup was leaving us dimes for quite some time.  It was a cute story, and I would pretend to buy-in to make Janet feel good about the whole thing, but really, a dead guy handing out dimes, c’mon.

As the accumulation of dimes grew to fill a scrapbook, along with a few piggy banks here and there, I was still a non-believer, until one night.  Joe, my  step-son, was living with us for a brief time after college, and there was talk of a dime found by someone in the family that day.  I can’t remember the exact details, but it’s not relevant at this time.  What is relevant is that later in the evening, Kate told Joe and I of the finding.  Of course we scoffed and made fun of it in our usual insensitive humorous way.  Guys do that, right?

Anyways, it was time for Monday Night Football, and Joe and I went downstairs to watch the game.  As it seems to be the norm in our house, the remote was missing.  We looked in the cushions of the couch, various shelves, on top of and under the coffee table, you know the usual spots, when Joe said, “there it is, under the couch”, right below me actually.  I reached down and picked it up and yep, there was a lone dime under the remote, as if Bup was there saying, don’t mess with me boys.  Joe and I were silent for a moment and an extremely strange feeling overcame us.  Ok, you got my attention, maybe there is more to this than we know.

Well, since that fateful day, we have all found numerous dimes.  All the dimes in the picture above have been found by Kate.  Gram, what we affectionately call Janet, had scrapbooks full of dimes.  Others in the family have found dimes in the oddest places even after they have cleaned cars, rugs, you name it, they turn around, and there is a dime.  They have been found shortly after talking to Bup in a time of need, asking for him to watch over us from heaven.  It truly is remarkable.

So that brings us to today, and our trip across the country.  It has been, even in the early going, a bit of an emotional trip.  We are doing it for a cause for one,  Secondly, I’m lucky to be here, and lastly, it is a trip of a lifetime in many ways.  So, it would seem fitting if we found a dime here or there, and guess what?  Yep, you guessed it, we have.

My first dime was found on our second day of the walk, when a park bench showed up along our route, at just about the time when I really I needed to sit.  Of course, taking advantage of this dumb stroke of luck, I dropped m back pack and had a seat.  Directly next to my right thigh, on the bench, was a Canadian dime.  I’m not sure why it was a Canadian dime, So Cal is a long way from Canada after all.  It would have been understandable in Detroit being across the bridge from Windsor, Canada and all, but in Southern California on a bench out side of Oceanside?  My theory is that Bup wanted it to stand out to make sure I got the message.

My second dime is a doosie.  We were driving to a place to begin walking for the day.  We didn’t have the exact location of where we left off the day before, so we arbitrarily stopped in that vicinity, along that road, and Kate stopped to let me out.  I walked to the back of the car and set down my pack to organize my things for the hike.  As I set down the back pack, there was a lone dime, on the side of a random road in the dirt.  We could have picked anyplace along that road to stop.  I could have arranged my things in the car.  How is it, right where I bend over, that there is a dime in the middle of a desert road’s shoulder?

Kate also found a dime.  We believe Bup is telling us good work and keep it up.  Her dime was found outside of a cavern in Arizona on our way out to California.  She found it by the RV, in the dirt parking lot, immediately after we walked through caverns that possessed orbs, which were caught on film.  There are stories that people passed in the caverns decades ago and their spirits still reside in those caves.  My brother-in-law John captured these orbs on nearly every video he took.  For real, I can attest.  Again, I am not necessarily a believer, but I was stopped in my tracks when I saw the videos.

So that’s the dime story.  You may or may not be a believer, but the evidence suggests there is more to it than meets the eye.  I would love to hear if you or your family has any similar stories.  My guess is there are many ways that those who have left us, still communicate with us.  All we have to do is pay attention, and perhaps have a little faith.

50 Miles In

Desert

As we are progressing through our walk across America, I’m finding that there are just some things you really couldn’t have planned for.  You may have thought about it, researched it, but until you are out there and experiencing it, you really can’t know how to handle certain variables that spring up from day-to-day.  That must be why the Marines coined the phrase, “improvise, adapt, overcome”.

Some examples of this are the topography (rugged terrain, hard to simulate in Michigan), heat, exhaustion, foot pain (didn’t happen until this week), oh and the bugs.  Kate mentioned that we learned a lot about the RV since we left, and I agree.  Little things like trying to prevent ants from entering our home.  Yep, we got them in Oceanside.  The little guys must have thought they would get a good meal in our RV and formed a line to get in.  It led from a nearby shrub bed to one of the leveling jacks that was deployed and touching the ground.  Marching in single file, they entered one at a time.  By the time we noticed, there had to be hundreds of them in the RV.  We did our research, found out how to keep them out, and more importantly, how to exterminate the unwanted guests once they are in.  Lesson learned.

As we proceed inland and the days go by, we feel like we are making progress.  It is slower than expected, but again, we are facing some new challenges that were somewhat anticipated, but not 100% accounted for.  Because of that, we are not yet getting our estimated 20 miles in per day.  We hope to be getting in that daily mileage once the terrain levels out and the heat dissipates, which should be this week.  The good thing is that we are not on a specific timeline, however, from a cost standpoint, we cannot drag on this project for too long for obvious reasons.  Budgets are budgets after all.

We are finding some real cool items that have been lost or discarded on the sides of roads.  Some are commonplace, some are very bizarre.  We have decided to save these items, well at least the ones that are safe to touch, and by the time we are finished, we should be able to start a roadside museum of lost stuff.  Here is a partial list of what we have found so far:

  • A single die as in dice
  • A domino
  • Men’s underwear (designer brand)
  • A shoe and a flip-flop (not that uncommon, but we only found one of each)
  • Scissors
  • Half of a spoon
  • Men’s shorts (must be the same guy who lost his underwear)
  • A 1990’s computer monitor
  • A used diaper
  • A military ID
  • Someone’s debit card

Additionally, we found a few dimes along the way, which is a story in and of itself that I will share at a later date.

We are currently staying in Desert Hot Springs (aptly named as it is in the desert, is freaking hot, and there are mineral springs here), and plan to move our camp in a few days towards Blythe, CA, and the Arizona border.  It should take a few weeks to get to the border and I will be a happy man, for various reasons, once they reach that point.

Thanks for reading this update and following along.  We are just getting started and there is much more to come.

Peace and love to all!

Chuck