The Journey Is Ongoing

Toroweap Point

It’s been a crazy couple of months since I last wrote, but that’s life I guess.  The ebbs and flows, the changes in direction with many decisions to be made both consciously and subconsciously.  Some of our recent decisions bring us to where we are today.

We set out in September with the goal of walking across America.  The walk was estimated to take 6 months, and a specific financial budget was set along with plans to promote and continue to raise funds along the way.  That initial plan, as many of you know, has taken a slight detour, temporarily.

Starting on October 1st, 2017, we walked 1,000 miles from the pier at Oceanside, California, through the entire states of Arizona and New Mexico, right up to the Texas border about 60 miles or so east of Roswell, New Mexico.  This portion of our journey ended on New Years Day, 2018.

The first leg of our journey was filled with challenges, enjoyment, a feeling of accomplishment, and yes, some pain.  When Daniel and I left the pier on that sunny October day, the first portion of the trek was uphill away from sea level and into the nearby California hills and mountains.

I immediately had doubts that I could continue beyond the first few days of our journey. My 56-year-old (to the day of the start of the walk), freshly repaired legs were no match for the climb in elevation and the rigorous amount of steps needed each day to reach the sandy beaches of South Carolina in our targeted 6 month time frame.

With restricted blood flow in my lower extremities, oxygen, a key component for hard-working muscles, was not reaching my feel at calves at the necessary rate to respectively keep them from getting numb and cramping.  Numb feet become very sore, and cramping calves make each step miserable.  It was after day three that I had my doubts about taking another step.

Daniel and I spoke that afternoon and it was decided that I needed to get back to basics.  It didn’t hurt that we tackled most of the incline over those first few days, however assessing our pace, the miles walked each day, and most importantly the amount and duration of rest stops needed, was in order.  The next day would be more of a test run, or walk if you will.

I backed off the ten miles we covered each of the first 3 days, the vast majority of which were uphill, down to seven miles.  The pace was reduced a bit, and more 30 second to 1 minute rest stops were added.  The combination of these two things lessened the demand of oxygen the lower leg muscles needed to perform their duties, and we saw the light shining at the end of the tunnel.  My fear of continuing had turned to hope.

From that point throughout the entire journey, there were still days in which the pain and numbness was prevalent, however, it was tolerable for the most part.  We were able to add miles to our daily walking goal, based on the terrain, and occasionally we reachead our initial daily goal of 20 miles.

Many people have asked what it was like to get up every morning, day after day, and go out and walk 10-20 miles.  Were you tired?  Sore? Dreading the day?  The answer not really.  Quite honestly, I felt good most mornings, without stiffness or soreness, and looked forward to what we were going to encounter out on the roads and trails.  I was kind of surprised how our bodies adapted.  Sure, there were bouts of exhaustion, but nothing that getting a good night’s rest didn’t resolve.

The challenges continued with extreme weather conditions throughout the trip.  The California desert in October was relentless.  Not a cloud in the sky, day after day, and temperatures that consistently hit or exceeded 100 degrees in the midday sun.  That was a mirror opposite to the weather we confronted around the holidays.  The heat turned to ice storms and sub freezing temperatures that are not conducive to questionable circulation and blood flow in the legs and feet.  It also isn’t a friend to RV living, just saying.

A combination of these challenges, along with a few “interruptions” (like adopting a dog) put us considerably behind schedule and made it difficult to find the time to properly promote our cause and thus continue to raise funds.  Our estimated time frame for completion was in jeopardy of doubling, which in turn put a strain on finances to some degree, and getting back home to work, friends and family (not necessarily in that order).

About the time that the cold weather hit, an opportunity arose for me to continue my career in the business world, and it was a good one.  The money, and the type of work was very compelling to me fitting in with my skills and experience.  Balancing the facts that the cold, wet and windy weather made it difficult to walk and RV, that we were significantly behind schedule, that the budget was tightening, and I wasn’t feeling 100% (various things), the offer to come back to Michigan and jump back into to corporate America (not necessarily what anyone wants to do if given the choice) had to be considered.

After quite a few discussions with Kate, who was with me every step along the way, and an integral component to the success of this project, we decided to accept the job offer and postpone the remainder of the walk.  Postpone is the key word here.  We figured that there was no rule book that said we had to do it all at once, and quite honestly, living in today’s world can be expensive no matter how frugal you are.  Retirement is a few years away, so knowing we can physically and mentally do the walk, and have 1,000 miles under our belt (or shoes I should say), why not make hay while the sun is shining (earn and bank some money for the future) and pick up where we left off at some point in the not too distant future?  This break will also allow me to follow up with my doctor and continue to work to repair the damaged arteries in my legs.

Our plans are to get back on the trail and finish what we started.  In the meantime, Walk For The Beat has decided to continue to do the work we set out to do, and that is to help people lead more heart healthy lifestyles.  We will continue to offer information about diet, fitness, and general heart healthy tips.  Additionally, we are committed to helping America’s youth avoid the growing problem of obesity.

I want to conclude by thanking everyone that has supported us.  Dr. Kazziha, Anne Klauke, my good friend Daniel Yowell, Pati Root, our family and friends, and all the people who have attended our fundraisers and donated money to our organization to help fight heart disease.  I have one message for all of you, it’s only just begun!

Love to all!


Walk Update Happy Holidays From Roswell

Alien christmas tree

The days come and go.  One step after another leads to slow and methodical progress.  We are now approaching 900 miles since we started our journey in Oceanside, California, with the border of Texas in our sights.  It is hard to imagine that we have come so far, yet there is so much farther to go.

It has become routine now.  There is still the issue of logistics, finding a good route in each area we are camping.  Some walking spots are alongside roads with cars and trucks whizzing by.  In many cases the shoulders are large enough to feel comfortable, yet we are always cautious not to get too close.  Some walking spots are through towns, and others off the beaten track.  They all provide interesting experiences along with various challenges.

As the holidays approach, we are thankful for the ability to get up each and every morning and experience all this great land has to offer.  That includes the people, the cultures, the landscape, oh and in some cases the local cuisine.  Although we mainly eat in the RV and bring our lunches with us, every now and then, you have to experience the local fare, like the Laguna Burger in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  It said it was world-famous after all and it didn’t disappoint.

Walking as much as we do, it is hard to out eat the calories we are burning each day.  Fitbit tells me that I am burning on average, 4,000 calories per day.  That is double what is typically considered the standard intake of calories I should be consuming, and therefore I have lost a few pounds.  Weight loss for me was not wanted as I am virtually down to my high school weight.  However, with help from our resident Registered Dietitian and good friend, Ann Klauke, I have been able to level out and hope to add those few pounds back on over time.  Plus, peanut butter and honey sandwiches are delicious.

Most everything is holding up well.  I have to battle calluses on my feet no matter how often I switch out my shoes.  That’s not a new problem however, but it adds to the pain when walking.  I also still get some cramping, especially walking uphill for long stretches, and have to battle numb feet from the decreased circulation.  Some of that has improved as we put more miles behind us.

Kate has recently been experiencing some back pain as well, which is interesting, I mean who knew that Robo-Kate would get aches and pains.  At one point along our journey, I entertained the thought that the girl wasn’t human.  I had a hard time keeping up with her.  She has more energy than the Energizer bunny.  Still, we are able to manage these issues and keep moving forward each day regardless of how we feel.  A few well-timed breaks have helped.  Sometimes we have to tell ourselves that we aren’t spring chickens anymore, although I’m not sure even spring chickens could keep up with us.

Upon arriving at our new location in Roswell, we chatted with the owner of the RV park.  It turns out that her husband had a heart transplant in his mid-50’s.  This all culminated from an injury he experienced in his 20’s.  After the injury, the doctors told him he would have to take it easy and most likely wouldn’t be able to go back to work.  He decided to start walking.  Yep, walking, simple as that, everyday.  Six months later he was back to work.

Eventually, almost 30 years later, the heart transplant was necessary, however the walking helped get him back on his feet, no pun intended (OK, it was intended), and back to a somewhat normal life.  No matter what your age, or what your fitness goals are, whether it be weight loss, general good health, or toning up your muscles, never underestimate the value of simple walking.  After all, our bodies were designed to move.

With that said, I wish everyone peace, love, and joy for the holiday season and into 2018.  Start thinking about your New Year’s resolutions and make sure you add a walking routine to your list.  In the meantime, we will be spending Christmas with the aliens here in Roswell and will send along your best wishes.

Walk Across America Update

Trail 2


When deciding to walk across America, the main goal was to inspire people to get moving.  It is so important to stay active in order to attempt to avoid heart disease.  Sure there are a lot of factors that contribute to the disease, however staying active is a simple way to help maintain a healthy heart.  That goal remains the top priority of the walk.

Other goals have become evident as we continue across the country.  We are now over 700 miles into “the walk”, and I have realized that there is more to it from a personal level than just the original goal.

I have found that it is a battle of attrition.  By that I mean walking 10 to 20 miles everyday can become tiring.  Beyond that, it is a test of living a more difficult life.  I realized that more today when reading about settlers that ventured into the Albuquerque region in 1598.  I began to think about what life must have been like back then, compared to our lives today.  Nothing was easy, from the physical demands, right down to procuring and preparing of food.  Everything we take for granted today, like the ease of bathing and eating, was a chore.

Admittedly, we are not exactly “roughing it”, however, it is a long way from living in a house with all the conveniences that life in the 21st century provides.  I want to prove to myself that I can persevere.  This includes all the logistics that goes into planning routes on a daily basis, living with less stuff, the physical demands, and dealing with all the challenges that come our way during this journey.  It hasn’t been overly easy, but then again, we have heat, running water (if it doesn’t freeze), and grocery stores (at least in most places we stay).

It is a test to some degree, and I know I have led a pretty easy life thus far.  However, challenging  yourself now and then is a good thing.  Knowing that you can rise above the inconveniences can prove a lot, not to others, but to yourself.  That is what is truly important.

As for the walk itself, it hasn’t gone completely as expected, however, we get up every  morning and have been able to meet the physical demands that each day has laid in front of us, at least, thus far, fingers crossed.  It has also brought a bevy of memories that we will never forget.  This includes the beauty our country offers, stuff you don’t see from the freeway.  The landscape, the wildlife, the sunsets, terrain, and all the different cultures we have experienced thus far.

America is truly an amazing place.  We have seen folks living the California dream near the ocean, and those struggling to exist as we moved inland.  We have walked through Hispanic, Asian, as well as Native American communities.  One thing remains consistent, all the people we have met have been friendly and accommodating.

As we walked through Navajo country in eastern Arizona, I wasn’t sure exactly what to make of it.  That included the laws of the area, there are signs telling you that you that you are no longer under US jurisdiction, as well as whether or not you are welcomed in the area.  I’ll admit, this was all new to us.  I am glad to say that we have been welcomed and treated extremely well.  We have been offered water and given advice.  it has truly warmed our hearts.

We have walked on busy roads, desolate trails, up mountains, through rough terrain, through busy city streets, and in off the beaten path residential areas.  With virtually every step, we attempt to take in all that is around us including the beauty, the people, the wildlife (have to be careful there), and of course the hazards.

We have encountered some ares that we simply couldn’t walk.  Our planned route took us up mountain roads that seems unsafe to drive let alone walk.  Fortunately, there have only been a few of those.  In cases like that, we find alternate paths, some of which have come in state and national parks.  Those to me have been the most enjoyable to walk for various reasons.  One thing I have enjoyed is the challenge of navigating a course through the park.  It’s not always straight forward, and the trails are not always marked.  Additionally, there have been areas that truly test your conditioning.  This includes elevation changes, along with the ability to overcome various obstacles (cactus, rocks, snakes, and more).  At the end of the day, it is these “parks” that have provided the most beauty from an aesthetic standpoint.  Here are the parks that we have walked through:

  • The Painted Desert and Petrified Forest – Arizona
  • Bright Angel Trail – Grand Canyon, Arizona
  • Coachella Valley Preserve – Thousand Palms, California
  • Indian Canyon – Palm Springs, California
  • Joshua Tree National Park – So Cal
  • Prescott National Forest – Prescott, Arizona
  • Willow Lake Trail – Prescott, Arizona
  • Bell Rock Path – Sedona, Arizona
  • Red Rock State Park, Gallup, New Mexico
  • Cibola National Forest – Wingate, New Mexico
  • Three Gun Spring Trail Head, Albuquerque, New Mexico

I can’t wait to see what is next and yet try not to look too far ahead in our journey.  It’s tough enough to plan for the day ahead without having to look at what will be awaiting us as we move into Texas and beyond.  In that regard, the old live everyday to the fullest philosophy applies, which is exactly what we are doing.  That is a philosophy that is truly good for the heart!

700 miles down, and 1800 to go.  To be honest, I am looking forward to North Myrtle beach.




For The Heart


When embarking upon this journey across America on foot, it was reasonable to believe that we would see and experience a lot, both good and bad.  We have done just that, and when you think about it in the grand scheme of things, we are just getting started.

This walk has allowed us to look around, and we do just that, with a purpose.  As we walk, we look at the businesses in each town up close.  We look in the windows.  Many of them are simply out of business.  We look at the homes and yards as we walk through residential areas.  We look at the people, the kids, and quite frankly the junk and squalor that is laying around.  It has truly been an eye opener.

The one thing that truly stands out is the amount of poverty that exists in our country.  I’m a numbers guy, so I know that we have only walked approximately 600 miles or so, and have made our way through only a few dozen of the thousands of towns in America.  However, it is also apparent, that the similarity in the 36 or so towns is too great to be considered a coincidence.

Town after town seem to be forgotten, or using the old political line, left behind.  There are boarded up store fronts, depressed areas, homes that look like they have been abandoned (but haven’t), and jobless/homeless people, almost too many to count.  In a word, it’s sad.  I could offer my opinion on why this is so, but really, what do I know?  What do any of us know?  There are so many factors, so many forces at work.  Yes, we could demand more from our politicians to come up with solutions, and we should.  But then again, what do they do right?  But let’s not go there, let’s talk about what we could do as American citizens who have hearts.

Stop for a minute and look in your closet.  Do you have more clothes than you will ever need or use?  I know I do.  Take a moment to think about those out in the streets that have nothing for themselves or their children.  Then stop and look in your pantry or cupboards.  When you get hungry, it is so simple to grab something to eat and in many cases, be able to choose from five or ten different snacks, right?  Then think of those who have no idea where their next morsel of food is going to come from.

Now, tell me the last time you felt thankful and blessed to have an ample supply of food (other than Thanksgiving), running water, or even a roof over your head.  The point is, in our busy hectic lives, we take a lot for granted.  Sure, anyone who has those things has worked hard for them and most likely has earned them.  People shouldn’t feel guilty about it, just fortunate and grateful.

Now think of what it would be like to live without those things.  Imagine looking your kids in the eye when they are hungry, and telling them there is no food.  Or when they are cold and telling them there is no heat or extra clothes or blankets.  I’m telling you poverty is running rampant in this country.  It’s more widespread than you can imagine.  The question then becomes, what can we do about it?  I say, do something from the heart, for the heart.  Let me explain.

As Thanksgiving drew closer, Kate and I knowing that we would be away from our family for the first time, talked about what we were going to do for the holiday.  It was a strange feeling for sure, and a bit sad.  She quickly came up with the idea to locate a food bank or homeless shelter where we could volunteer our time.  Her parents did this often in the city of Detroit, and certainly, there must be one of these types of places in the small 5,000-person town of Holbrook, Arizona.  That proved to be the case.

Earlier that week we were curious where the road outside our RV park went.  We are always looking for a better walking route and do a lot of scouting in our car prior to the next day’s walk.  Wouldn’t you know it, no more than a half mile down that road was the Bread of Life Mission.  We immediately stopped in and asked if we could volunteer to serve meals on Thanksgiving to those in need.  The answer we received was an enthusiastic yes.

The next day, we had the idea (I’ll take credit for this one) to see if they needed anything for the meal.  Kate stopped into the mission, and was surprised to find out that they didn’t have some of the standard Thanksgiving meal fixings, gravy is one example.  They also didn’t have pumpkin pie or soft drinks.  What is Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie?  Kate took the list and went to shop at the local grocery store.  She acquired a store discount card to get the best bang for the buck.  We did have a budget after all.

We arrived at the Mission early on Thanksgiving morning to help set up and were greeted by warm and friendly faces.  This includes the staff working there, and the folks that either call the place home or were there simply for a good home cooked meal, something they rarely get.  Everyone was thankful that we came to help.  It really was an amazing feeling.

The meal was a success.  There was plenty of food, and even some leftovers to serve for dinner that night.  Hunger doesn’t stop with one Thanksgiving meal.  This mission provides meals any time during the day, 365 days a year, and even delivers to folks who don’t have the ability or means to get to their building.  Other than the deliveries, their rule is come when you want and eat, you just have to eat here.

I took this for granted initially, then thought about what is involved to continually feed dozens of people each day.  They need food of course, appliances, kitchen utensils, someone to cook and someone to clean up.  Obviously, they also need funding.  It’s not magic.  Behind the scenes there are so many people doing a lot of great work to make sure underprivileged folks can get a nutritious meal.  It is amazing when you really think about how it all comes together.

As I said, the Mission does great work and provides all types of support and services.  I must honestly say, we were humbled and touched.  So much so, that above and beyond the groceries we bought and the time we spent helping, we made a monetary donation to help with other needs they may have.  I’m not looking for an at a boy, or a medal, but simply conveying the warm feeling you get when you help others.

I have spent many of my years on this earth taking for granted all that my family has had.  Sure, we struggled at times.  When we were just starting out money was tight, and we were trying to raise a family.  However, when you look at those without, whether it be food, shelter, or clothing, it wasn’t a struggle at all.  After all, we still had shelter, enough clothes to be somewhat fashionable and warm, and enough food to prevent ever thinking of going hungry.

At the end of the day, it takes money and people to make a place like the Mission function.  The Executive Director of the Mission told me that some of their funding has been appropriated to areas with larger populations (primarily Phoenix).  In some ways that makes sense, however, it leaves so many others in the cold, literally, who live in rural towns across the state, and who are attempting to serve those in need in their own communities.  Poverty isn’t just in the metropolitan areas after all, as I said, it is everywhere, in every state.

Places like the Bread of Life Mission exist in our own home towns.  You may not realize it at first.  You, like myself, probably drove past some of these places everyday to and from work.  When you peel back the onion, you will find that there are good people either working for peanuts or volunteering at these types of places to help others in need, right in your own backyards.  Perhaps, those good people are some of your friends or neighbors.  The key is, when you see one of these places, stop in and ask what you can do to help.  They won’t be shy.  Get involved and help.

To go along with that last thought, here’s my idea; there are approximately 350,000,000 people in this country.  Let’s say that 35,000,000 people have the capacity, both physically and financially to help.  That’s only 10% of the population.  What if every one of those 35,000.000 did what I suggested above and stopped in and asked what they could do to help, and not just on Thanksgiving, but throughout the year?  Imagine what could be done.  I’ve added some ideas of how to help below.

Here is what is currently happening.  Some people do nothing.  They live their lives and spend their money, heck they earned it.  They buy more clothes than they need, and shower their kids (guilty) and grand kids with tons of “things”.  I think spoiled is the word.  All is good, for them.  Of the people that can help, some do what I am suggesting above.  Others go online and get their credit card out and donate to the organization of their choice.  There is no wrong answer, it is individual preference, I just ask to think about where your money is going and what good it is doing.  In other words, how much of your donation is actually getting to those who need it?

If you want to have the greatest impact, the first thing I would recommend is to determine what it is you can give.  This includes both time and money.  Secondly, determine where you want your money to go.  My personal preference is to give within our own local communities, to the organizations that do the most good, like the one I described above.  Sure, the larger national or international organizations do some good work, but if you take a moment to look at their annual report, you might find that a good portion of their spending goes to high administrative and promotional costs as well as salaries for the executives that can be extravagant. I myself shy away from those.

What I am asking you to do, is to stop and think about all of this for a moment.  Think about what it would be like to be hungry 24/7.  Think about all the children who have nothing, no food, little clothing or toys, and perhaps no shelter.  Then think if it is something you can turn your back to.  We couldn’t, whether it be a kid, a homeless older person, or even a stray puppy.  All of god’s creatures need a little help now and then, and we have the ability right now to do just that.  We just happened to see it right in front of our own eyes.  That is what truly makes the most impact on a good-natured heart.  When you see it firsthand, you immediately want to help.  It doesn’t have to be that way however.  We can be proactive!

If you do decide to follow my advice, I promise you one thing, you won’t regret it.  Helping others in need is one of the best feelings a human can experience, and the Thanksgiving meal is one experience that we will never forget.  We will do our best to continue to help when and where we can as we continue this walk, and will pass this message on to as many people as possible.

I have one more request, please share any additional ideas that can be added to the ones below, so this forum can be a resource for all.  Lastly, if you feel so inclined, share your own personal story of giving.  We would love to experience them with you.

Ways to help:

  • Go to your local retailer after any holiday and buy their sale items (food items, clothing, etc.) that are often 70 to 90% off. Then take them right over to your local shelter/church/mission.
  • Buy grocery store gift cards to donate. The shelters can use them for what they need.
  • Buy the 10 for $10 sales that you see in many grocery stores these days and donate them.
  • Find gently used items around your home and bring donate them.
  • Volunteer your time. There is a lot of work that needs to be done, and who knows, you may have a skillset that is in need.  It also may be a menial task that provides a ton of help.  Find the time.
  • Talk to others and do some of this stuff as a group. It may add some fun to the gratification you will receive by helping others in need.
  • Google is a great resource to find places near you that provide the types of assistance mentioned above.
  • Monetary donations are always welcomed. $10, $20, $50, $100, whatever you can afford to give.

Great Country, Great People


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.





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!





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.