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

Pre-Walk Travel Update #2

Toroweap Point

We made our way to the Grand Canyon and are enjoying the trip out to Oceanside, our starting point for The Walk.  Quite a way to travel and we have seen and done a lot in just a few days.  However, as the day draws near to start the walk to combat heart disease, there is still so much to do.

But first, lets list out what I have learned since the last update:

  • It can get cold in Arizona ~ 22 degrees overnight ~ this is not good for water pipes in an RV if you’re not prepared
  • The Painted Desert in Arizona goes on forever, or at least it seems that way
  • Route 66 is just how you would imagine ~ old little towns with a couple, like Williams, Arizona worth checking out.  The rest of the towns are sleepy at best
  • My wife learned how to use voice command on Google, so now she doesn’t have to talk to me while I’m driving, although I still feel like the Shell Answer Man
  • The terrain is far more ominous than I ever thought, oh boy, that might suck a bit when the walk starts
  • Michigan roads are hands down the worst
  • I miss my dog

So what’s in store for the next few days.  We made it to California, just inside the border, to a town called Blythe.  Our campsite is right on the Colorado River, pretty cool.  We are preparing to depart for our final westardly desitnation, Oceanside, CA.  Hopefully, we will by there by 5 PM this afternoon.  The driving gets a little more difficult when you are attempting to move 20,000 lbs up steep inclines, but we are managing.  Todays ride will be up and down until we get closer to the ocean.

Once we are in Oceanside, I will try to get in some serious workouts before the 1st.  Driving for 6-8 hours a day takes its toll and leaves little time to get in the miles necessary to prepare for the walk.  Additionally, we have a bit of promoting to do to let folks in Oceanside know what we are doing.  It’s a labor of love.  Most important, we will be able to see my sisters, brother-in-law, niece, nephew, a couple of cool pets, and some great friends.

Our brother-in-law John will be leaving on the 2nd to head back home, and we will be hooking up with my friend Daniel who has committed to walk with me for a bit.  Maybe up to 3 months.  He is an awesome guy and very resourceful.  I will share more about Daniel on another blog.  Other than companionship during the walk, it is probably good to have a second person along for security, and he fits the bill rather well.

Stay tuned for more updates and pictures on Facebook.  We will be attempting to share as much of this beautiful country with you as possible (once I figure out this Instagram thing), since we will be seeing it up close and personal (hopefully not too up close when it comes to rattle snakes and scorpions).

Ways you can follow along:

One last thing.  In order for us to fight heart disease, we need financial support.  Our focus is currently on childhood obesity, through our partnership with Playworks. Childhood obesity is a significant problem in this country.  The childhood obesity rate in 1980 was 3%.  Today it is nearing 34%.  That will only create more heart related problems, as well as other health issues, as our children and grandchildren age.  Please consider donating on our website at http://www.walkforthebeat.org.  Click on the donate button and follow the prompts.  Every dollar helps.

Thank you and love to all!

 

 

Making Our Way To California

Memphis

We made it to Alma, Arkansas.  Yep, the fine town of Alma.  For those that are geographically challenged, Arkansas fills the gap between Memphis and Oklahoma.  Other than that, I’m not sure why else it is there.

I did find the people in Arkansas to be very nice.  The RV park works on the honor system.  Get there after hours, spend the night, use their water and electric, then if you leave before they open, just leave the money in an envelope.  Try that in Michigan.

Anyways, other than almost taking out power to a church in Nashville, and going the wrong way down a road that never ends, or that has enough room to turn around a 35′ RV, the travel has been fine.  I did want to share some things I learned since we left Michigan on Sunday (seems like a month ago):

  • It’s freaking hot down here in the south
  • Elvis is still and always will be the “The King”
  • My brother-in-law needs to learn what good BBQ is
  • My wife is amazing for putting up with me
  • And…you can make friends anywhere you go, especially four-legged ones…if you have food

The Graceland tour has been the highlight for me thus far.  So much to see.  They built a new facility across the street from Graceland that houses all The King’s artifacts, cars, planes, awards, etc.  Elvis passed away at 42, so it is amazing how much he accomplished in his short life.

One quick note, we got four minutes of airtime on Elvis Radio, courtesy of Argo, one of the DJ’s at the station.  Do they still call them DJ’s?  We talked about why we are doing what we are doing, and what we are trying to accomplish at Walk For The Beat.  They were more than gracious, and we appreciated the opportunity.  Hats off to our friends at Elvis Radio (SiriusXM 19…tune in).

Our next stop is Elk City, Oklahoma.  We will be passing through Oklahoma City on our way there with a quick stop at the 45th infantry division museum.  It’s a WWII thing.  Bill Mauldin was in that division and was a famous WWII cartoonist.

After that, one more stop, then two days at the Grand Canyon (bucket list item for sure, just as Graceland was for me).  One more overnight just inside California, then we will arrive at our destination in Oceanside, California on the 27th, and begin the walk on October 1st with Brother-In-Law John, and good friend Daniel Yowell.

I will post pictures of the Grand Canyon, and give further updates upon arriving in Oceanside.  Until then, carry on and be good to your heart.

 

Walking

 

 

nature-walk

You’ve hear it a million times.  Heck, probably close to million from me alone.  Walking is good for you.

People know the benefits of walking, however many still don’t take time to do it on a daily basis and get by walking just enough to perform their daily tasks.  What I want to shed light on are the ways walking can benefit you.  Here are some examples:

  • It’s considered exercise.  Your body was meant to move.  Sitting, standing in one place, driving in a car for extended periods of time is considered the new smoking from a health standpoint.  Walking exercises approximately 20 muscles, and if you push your pace to about 4 mph, you will elevate your heartbeat and get in some much-needed cardio work.
  • Walking keeps the blood moving.  Your arteries are like the plumbing in your house.  Blood need to move, that’s why your heart works so hard.  It brings oxygen to the muscles.
  • Walking strengthens your legs, lower back, and your core muscles.  This helps prevent injuries like strains when we do something out of the norm like moving furniture, or that end of the year yard work.
  • Lastly, and most overlooked, walking helps your mental state.  I went for a two-mile walk this morning.  The last few days have been a little stressful, with planning to leave for our trip on Sunday and getting all the loose ends tied up.  I noticed that during the walk, some of that stress vanished.  I was noticing the squirrels, the trees, the green grass, and all of the great things nature has to offer.  What a great way to reduce stress (a major heart disease culprit).

Even if you don’t plan on starting a full-fledged workout program, you can always find time for a walk.  Grab a good pair of shoes, a friend, and maybe even your dog, and go. Thirty minutes of walk time will go by a flash, and you will be doing your heart justice. You might even meet a few nice people along the way.

Enjoy, here is to your good health!

 

What Changed?

IMG_20170520_092447.jpg

Most days I am asked a question or two about heart disease, the planned walk across America, or just life in general.  The other day, I was asked a question that seems common and natural, however, I had never been asked that question before.

This question made me stop and think for a moment.  The answers, and there are many, are well-known in my mind, I just never had to format and communicate them in order to make sense of it all.  I will attempt to do that here, as my mind can be a jumbled mess at times.

First, the question.  It was, “what has changed for you since being diagnosed with heart disease?”  See, I told you it was a logical question.  Well, here is the answer…EVERYTHING.

Ok, I can be a little more specific, and try to focus on the root of things.  After all, everything from my job to my house to my future has changed.

The first thing that was impacted was my overall outlook.  I am still working on quite a few of those details, however, priorities have changed.  What may have seemed to be important before, like work, my golf scores, so many other details in life, still have importance to some degree, but they have been moved down the list.  The golf scores priority has moved near the bottom, as has my desire to play the game.

Let’s stay on the subject of golf for a moment.  It has been a passion of mine for nearly 50 years.  Some would say I have become an accomplished player, winning my high school tournament, playing in college, and competing in local events.  I even went as far as attempting to qualify for the US Senior Open when I turned 50.  I liked to play, and when I played well, it brought great satisfaction.

However, when you come to grips with your own mortality, as a friend once put it, it makes you realize that some things aren’t as important as you once believed.  Now a days, whether I shoot a 68 or the dreaded double snowman 88, I don’t get too excited, or get too upset.  After all, it is just a game.

I think that describes it pretty well.  The priorities have become family, purpose, and being a better person to all I come in contact with.  As I said, I am working on some details, but overall, that tops the list.

With that said, family is the biggest part of being a better person.  Being engaged in conversations, being present, being there if someone has a need or a problem are all ways to be a better person, and who better to do that for than family?

From a work perspective, money is no longer the major driving force, as it has been in the past.  Thinking that way may have led to some of my issues.  I was employed in a high stress job for years, and certainly it took its toll.

Today, I do the things that I like to do, with people I like to work with (not that some of that didn’t exist throughout my career, but perhaps I now look at those relationships in a different manner).  I look forward to going into the office and doing what I can to contribute.  In the old days it was a grind, with the constant pressure (and reminders) of the monthly quota that would hang over my head as a member of a sales team.

Enjoyment/satisfaction is another area that I could say has changed.  I now take the time to realize something cool is happening around me, or a scene like a beautiful cloud in the sky (nature’s miracles).  I have a better sense of appreciation for things like that.  This probably has slowed my mind down a bit as well, which is also calming.

Overall, it is all perspective.  That is what changed.  I looked at myself at age 55 and wondered what I have accomplished on this earth, and what more I could do, knowing now, that you never know which day will be your last.  I think of the people I love, and in turn, I try to do the things that would make them happy.  Heck, I even smile at complete strangers whenever walking through a store.  I remember a line Dolly Parton once said, “if you see someone without a smile, give them your’s”.

All of these things are a work in progress, but the foundation has been set.  I’d like to think I was a good person before all of this happened, but as with most, if not all people, there is always room for improvement.  I now work everyday to be a better person for all of those that I come in contact with.  If we all did that, what a wonderful world this would be!