Monday, February 28, 2011

I've got to Maintain.

I know I can walk for miles on end, for days on end. Sometimes I have to take time to take care of my "world". Tuesday I must get to a laundry and wash these clothes. The van is aromatic, and not in a good way. The world "took a sanding" on the beach and today after I rolled most of the sand mixed bubble gum coat from the beach away the fabric is nearly bare of protection. Washing clothes and myself is top of the list, then a little tender loving care for our world, before I go any further.

Where miles don't matter.

Having seen my Son off on is adventure to Europe all on his own, all I gave him was a hat and a pair of socks, it was a day for the beach. In all our miles traveled we had not walked on a beach. From Fort Lauderdale to Savannah,D.C. to Maine we never strolled along the sands, watched the tide come in and marvel at the awesome force of the ocean I thought I would get close to the water and take a few pictures to send off and get back on the road but I was drawn to walk along the beach. Suddenly it was the end of the day. I somehow found a place by the highway to stay and get a ride back to retrieve the van while walking up the coast. And since my odometer stopped working a few days ago my only way to know close to the miles is by mile markers on the road I noticed I had traveled thirteen miles as the gull flies. I am not walking for a destination or miles walked to prove I can. I did not realize the hour of the day or the paint being lightly sanded off the canvas of my tiny world. Today, the miles don't matter.

And you would not believe the number of diabetics I met.

That's what matters.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Back from Vacation

We walked hundreds of mile from Fort Lauderdale Florida into Georgia and through historic Savannah. All the way I passed locales people flock to year round to get away, to relax, to avoid the cold weather, to visit history and take in the natural beauty of the south east. I am walking to coax people to action for their health and the well being of the ones they love; walking to help the cause of awareness for diabetes. Yes, I hope some will find their way to give to diabetes research and management organizations. Moreover, I wish to inspire everyone to be more active so they can prevent diabetic onset or control it better with exercise. Whether you live and work in the beautiful getaways or are on vacation, a little athletics goes a long way.
I took a little time to enjoy a visit with my son. We went for a walk. Now that I have returned to South Carolina I came back further north than from where I left because I like the cooler weather so here I sit close to the ocean somewhere in Myrtle Beach. The Dogwoods are beginning to bloom here, as they are in Savannah, and spring is just around the corner. I have twelve days to walk north from this part of the coast. Where I end is determimed by the wind, the weather and the people I meet. From there I will return to my home and take care of spring chores and business then wake up and get back to the work. Spring chores, my vacation.

The Sun

I crossed the bridge into Savannah and on the ground I found the SUN. I really did, a six inch yellow and orange ball with the word SUN printed on it. I rolled it alongside the World for a time and then picked the SUN up and cradled it in my shoulder bag. All through the city I mused to myself about having the SON with me and when I crossed the final bridge out of Savannah as the SUN set I set out for the SON again. Driving through the night, into heavy storms, over mountains, across valleys and plains to see the SON again. I hugged the Son when I saw him the first time, I hugged the SON when I left him. The days of cradling the SON over, I drove into the SUN...

Friday, February 25, 2011

What's to come.

I apologize for the next post, I was tired and it took over a day to write it during a long drive to see my son and a much needed long sleep in a rain storm that rocked the van during the night. I am not going to check what I wrote so just know it is raw and I was beyond tired.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The bugs, the bulls, and the bells.

VFrom Midway, where I had washed all my blankets and clothes my van smelled fresh but the baby-wipe bath, Bag balm protection and cologne left me lacking that spring fresh feeling as I began what turned out to begin my three day walk thru Chatham County-Savannah Metro. A thirty two and one half mile odyssey. I must have prepared fairly well because the gnat-flies weren't interested in me, at one point early the first day a man passed me and I could see the bugs swarming all around him even from across the road.
The first miles were calm, the wind gently helping us move toward Richmond Hill. I crossed an intersection where a man in a Jeep was taking a photo of us as he waited to turn, I asked for some help to get some air in the soft world. He quickly agreed and pulled off to the side so we could plug in the air pump to his lighter socket. As I pumped up the world I said, "I guess you want to know what I'm doing." He replied,"It's none of my d-----d business. If you don't want to tell me, I don't need to know." I have never gotten that response before, especially from a person so willing to help me. Georgia is friendly like that out in the country. We ended up talking for awhile about health, and the difference between city dwellers and country folk. His name was Bo and he was as down to earth as they come. My next fill up was from a sweet southern bell who wanted to know my story for her "little friends" in her preschool class. She thought they would be so excited about our adventure. I found a large white feather, the prettiest I had ever found on my walks and later gave it to a woman who stopped whose husband had just been diagnosed with diabetes. She appreciated the gift and the message to walk with the ones you love to help them stay healthy. She was going to hang the feather from the mirror of her pretty white truck. Then there were the three young men with a four wheeler in the back of their little pick up who wanted to see if I wanted to sell he world but admitted they only had five dollars and still needed to gas up the ATV. You've gotta' love the country friendliness. That is about the time the wind picked up, which really got the ball rolling.

When I got to the far side of Richmond Hill at the last road before a long straight to the river I foun a municpal building and a fire house, side by side, where I was sure I could have stayed. It was almost four, we had walked thirteen miles, but something spurred me to go back from the parking lot I stood in. I looked at my watch, it was three fifty six. Driven, I rolled on another five and a half miles where I stayed the night. An astrology buff I know was talking to me the next day, in conversation she shared the time Mercury passed into a new position. The same moment I felt the urge like quick silver-mercury to charge on. The bridge crossing was so windy the ball buffeted and spun against the bridge rail, by the far side of the river the cool wind had made the world flop as I rolled it. On one side of the road was Loves restaurant and marina, on the other side was a park closed for construction. Gated off, it still allowed for a couple who had stopped for a picture. Instead of stopping for the night at the Marina I asked for use of their lighter socket and pressed on. I walked a longer distance than I had ever walked pushing walking the dog, carrying a pack. It was the wind that spurred me on and not the changes in the stars.
I was in Savannah, the destination I had been pressed to give since beginning this journey. I was on the outskirts, I just had to make it to downtown and the river. On the second day we made our way just before an expressway where there were many motels. During this long walk I had not gotten a room, always sleeping in my van. I thought since I would be in the historic downtown the next day I deserved a shower, a relaxing night in a bed for the first time since the first week in January and checked in to the cleanest looking pace. The manager rode me to the van and I then settled in, took a shower and cleaned the dirt from days of wind and filth blowing on me. Then I realized I was just a gueast imn a house of roaches.they where crawling up the walls, out of the electrical sockets and the final straw was when one walked across the bed to see what I was eating. I picked up my things, took them to the van, returned my key to the front desk and parked in a vacant lot on the other side of the highway for the night. The manager said he'd give me a different room. I just wanted to get as far away as I could from the building. I had gotten my expensive shower and just wanted to sleep.the van is comfortable and bug free.
The last day in Georgia we were up and going early to make sure we could get to the historic downtown. After walking through a depressed section of town where every house was in need of paint I turned onto Bull street because I liked the name. It let me directly into the park s and tourist section and the beauty the city is known for. Fields, fountains, monuments, historic markers, churches and homes rich in architecture steeped in southern culture. in that setting I was intervieweed by the college press and three beautiful bells from Southern Magazine before I made my way to River Street, the cobblestone riverside walk and the ferry. My hope was to get to my next state by the way of the ferry. I thought it was a long-shot but gave it a try. The ball was to large and the mansaid he could not accommodate us. While walking over to the cobblstone rampway up to the old town center a woman ran up to me asking when the the show was going to begin. The dock was lined with local street people who weave grass flowers and things to sell to the tourists so I guessed I was thought to be another attraction for the visitors to the city. My weathered hat, cane and mountain man look I am sure begged for an old southern story. In New York City we got the same sort of response as if we fit in to the city and it's catering to the tourist's entertainment.
I walked up the ramp and found myself at the cotton exchange of old. It was also the Freemason's hall. Next to it was displayed the oldest bell in Georgia that chimmed the cities important events . It would also be rung each evening to announce the end oof business. As I read the historic marker, a far off church bell chimed. My business here was concluded.
As I was standing there a young man walked up to ask my purpose. He reminded me of my son, not in looks so much, still his demeanor had me thinking of my boy. He was working across the street at The Outback Steak House and offered to ride us to the van when he got off work in an hour and a half. That gave me enough time to pull the plug in the world and fold it into a neat package. While I was waiting for the world to melt into a pile of canvas a young family stopped to take a picture of the Mason's Hall. The farher had an infant in a cloth carrier on his chest and I was again reminded of my only child, when I carried him in the same manner. Then a young mother with her parents came to pose in front of the old town center with her newborn and I was swept to the memory when I was walking my new baby in our neighborhood. It was his first spring, he was just beginning to notice things beyond the faces of his parents. As I walked around our block he saw at tree with its spring leaves and gasped in awe. Then noticed the blue sky and clouds. He gasped again. A house, a gasp! Flowers! A gasp! All the sights and smells were rushing over his senses! The newness was too muich for him, he was gasping air in but was too young to know that he needed to exhale. I was his tiny hands turning blue and rushed him frantically back into the house so he would breath again,where he could relax in the comfort of his parents arms, the familiar face of his protectors.
I longed for my son face again.
The young man later pulled uop in his small car and we packed the world, the dog and all into it. It smelled of the musty musk that young traveling kids have. The young man was saving his money for spring when he was going to walk the Appalachian Trail. We talked of life, his urge to travel, the young urge for new sights and experience. He shared to hardship he went through with his Mother death to diabetes; the amputation of her leg, the debilitating decline. I could sense in him another reason for his travels. When he dropped me off he thanked me for what I was doing and praised the good cause. I thanked him and longed for the sight and musty smell of my own son.
I drove to the bridge and crossed the Savannah River into South Carolina. And called home where my son was visiting his mother before he began his journey to get to Europe. He had left her and gone to visit a friend by the Kentucky, Tennessee border. I know it may be a long time before I see him again so I called him and drove through the night, through blinding rain storms to hug my son, and yes, smell his musty odor.
I have not had a rain day, a day of rest since I began this trek. In two weeks it will be over.
For the love of my son, I am taking a couple days off.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Saving it for later.

I am going to reserve my closing out Georgia for after I get across the river, one way or another, into South Carolina.
Have a healthy and wonderful day Georgia!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

If not you...

Diabetes is a global tragedy, if it does not effect you then ask yourself if it effects someone you love. If so, do something.
Your choice Georgia!

Not just another Bridge

Okay, I have no idea where I am going with that title but I did cross a river yesterday. With the wind pushing me almost all day and a hearty lunch to keep me going. When I began the day in Midway I had to stop at the most historic corner I had seen. This place had half a dozen historic markers which told of two men who signed our declaration of independence among other interesting facts that would be lost without these signs. Across the road from the church corner was the cemetery that I was told is haunted. I can believe it with all that history.
I finally worked my way out of town and started burning through the miles. Georgia is the first state in many that actually has mile markers. In the northern states I would walk all day and not know until the end of the day if I had walked fast or slow. I Massachusetts you better know what road you are on because the street signs only give the name of the intersecting road. As the wind picked up my pace grew faster and I didn't want to know how many miles I passed so I wouldn't look at the mile markers. PaSsing from one county to the next I was holding the world back, the wind was spinning out of control at times where the rope I have attached was jerking us from side to side. This must have worried folks driving by because I was visited by the local police. Who observed I was keeping off the driving lane. After all, everything to the right of the white line is ours, pedestrian friendly.
The miles blew by like the wind. I thought about stopping for the night but something spurred me to keep going even though I had only one possibility of a ride. The sun was sinking low and the world was in need of some air as we passed over the river into metro Savannah. I walked a couple more miles to the Wal-Mart and as it became dark I called the number of the woman who said she would be my "miracle" ride. She didn't answer. Over the next two hours I tried three more times, no answer. I posted myself at the Subway shop next to wally world and realized I had made it to "the big city" again and had become invisible to the busy city dwellers getting sandwiches for dinner, shopping for an hour at the video game shop and rushing home to be mesmerized in front of plasma. I thought of waiting until the police woulkd come late in the night to question me, but I called information for a cab and after choosing one of the seven choices I got my "miracle" ride from a man who was from Romania and had studied holistic medicine for years before coming to the states. He was a fountain of knowledge, philosophy and advice. He gave me his phone number and told me to call if I need to know something at any time. His is a number I will keep in my wallet for I learned much from our conversation. We both agree, there is no chance meeting. He called it, with his Romanian accent,"affinity." So, by surrendering to the notion that things happen for a reason and all things have a silver lining if I just get out of my own way I was honored to meet this gypsy soul and receive his gift of knowledge I can keep forever.
Not just another bridge, hmmm?

Monday, February 21, 2011

A stroll to Midway

We left the Volunteer Fire Dept. Of Riceboro and worked our way away from the stinging sulfur smells of the Chemical plant and enjoyed a beautiful morning walk to Midway. The wind was strong and cool so I asked a few who stopped for help to keep the pressure of the World up with the electric camping pump. I also made a maintenance stop to patch a frayed seam over northern Canada. When I made m way to Midway I decided to go a mile to the East to the laundry and there I received a ride back to the purple van in a tiny purple Tracker, sometimes things just work out well. After washing my clothes and air drying my blanket in the spring like sun and wind I was given help by the Midway police dept. Who helped by allowing me to sleep by the municipal building and shuttle me to the van after I rolled the World back to their office at US17. After a pleasant night of sleep we have a long walk to the next town.
We are very close to Savannah and I am walking until March the 10th so I will decide what to do when I am there.
Have a wonderful day.


I received a call from home.
A bill was passed in the Kentucky State House.
To acknowledge my mother for the humanitarian work she achieved during her life.
A plaque to honor her selfless work for women, children and the elderly.
Gerta Bendl, public servant and my mother.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

From The Piggly Wiggly to Riceboro

I was getting ready to leave Eulonia from "the Pig" when a man pulled up. He had been sent by his sister to find out why a man was rolling a big blue ball. It turned out he had lost his brother to diabetes. He said his brother had traded in his insulin for alcohol and denial. He did not want to go the way of his brother and learn more of what he could do. It struck me that after loosing his brother to this disease it took a guy passing thru his quiet Georgia town to spark his desire to test his blood sugar. I guess I am doing some good. It is a shame about his brother though, like the man I met my first day in this state who told me after he retired he gained thirty five pounds and when he went to the doctor he told him the reason was "just plain 'sorryness". That mans' doctor told him "There's no pill for 'sorryness, you gotta' change your ways."
While I walked the fourteen and a half miles to Riceboro I had time to myself and many visits from many people. One was a second visit from a man I'd met the day before who had been cured of diabetes after receiving a transplant of a second kidney and a pancreas. He was receiving disability and was only able to work and make a small amount to supplement his income and cover his bills because the doctors would not release him for full time work. He stopped to give me a few dollars from the gas money he had just received to begin a painting job he got that morning. I was touched deeply by that act from this man who had endured so much.
As he walked away he told me he and his family love me.
I loved them back.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Out on a limb...

I am going to stretch a little, pound this into the pavement and go out on a limb. If you love someone,care for them, say you'd do anything for them; then get with them and walk, ride a bike, go to the gym, work around the yard or play in the woods. Show them your love and stir it up, have some fun. Love yourself up by breaking a sweat. It may help save your life. Yes, I said it, Love yourself. A tough concept for some, even me but after awhile it gets easier to love and respect others when you give yourself the same respect, the warm regard, I'll say it again, the love you would show you parents. After all a loving parent wants their children to be happy. So go ot on that limb, and smile.
I kept waking up thru the night not wanting to take the chance and write this helpful hint down and send it out to whoever might read it. If you find yourself smiling a little more blame it on that guy who's rolling the world through Georgia. Love yourself, it's a movement.
There, I said it. Now maybe I can move on. Like to the rope swing on the end of the limb.
Do you know what to give a clown for her birthday? No, not a polka dotted PT Cruiser, you make her smile.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Watching the sun rise or watching paint dry.

At the end of the day last evening I applied just a little more paint to the worn spots on the world. The paint acts as a tread to keep the fabric from grinding away on the roadway. Overnight the dew covered the top surface of the world and reactivated that last round of paint so this morning my job is watching the paint dry and waiting for the sun to rise over the Georgia pines.
My goal for this journey was to walk from Fort Lauderdale where I began on January 10th and walk north until spring. A few days earlier this week when the world had a thin coat of frost I thought I had walked too fast but this morning I am swatting the occasional mosquito and gnat-fly (little blood suckers!). In the Northern states they are called black flies, in the mid-west they name them buffalo gnats (they actually have a hump on their backs that resemble the buffalo). In Maryland horse country they name them simply gnats. Everyone of them are an irritant. Indiana natives gave me vanilla extract which works for awhile, up north some use vodka, I never wiped alcohol on myself. I found Vermont's Original Bag Balm applied around the brim lin of my hat drowns the little 'buggers. I'd rather wipe a tiny black spot off from my cheek than scratch an itchy bite.
The sun is up and now a light fog is beginning to roll in. Patience, it seems, is the theme of the day. When the wind blows against the world your pushing through the steady and slow tack against the wind gets farther than stubbornly forcing against nature. Nice (the dog) doesn't seem to mind the wait.

Since I'm sitting here I will mention something I have noticed in my travels about this disease diabetes. In my opinion it is epidemic. One out of each thousand people who I speak to tell me they have no history of diabetes in their family. More often than not someone in the car has diabetes or has been told they are "borderline" and should make changes in their lifestyle. More physical activity, better eating habits, even proper sleep and lower stress in your life can help. Being positive, in my opinion helps. Some trials in life are a test of patience, like wacthing paint dry or waiting for the sun to evaporate the morning dew. Some things you just have to let happen and calmly wait through the process.
This will be a good day, if you have patience. Enjoy yourself.

3 A..M. full moon play in words..

Die or beat this

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nice (the dog) has his way.

This morning we started a bit later than I wanted. I just couldn't force the dog to get out of his comfortable spot in the van. I would put a couple treats in his food bucket, he'd eat them and jump back in. We walked miles and he never once played with the leash and since it was sunny he was laying down in every shade spot I got close to. When the good woman at the edge of Darian said we could stay on her lot tonight rather than make the ten mile run to "the four way stop" in the next town I was glad to take a short day, if only for Nice (the dog) who quickly fell asleep on the porch of the second hand store -Use it Again and Again-. I got a ride back to Muddcat Charlie's and took a quick and oh-so-cold shower in their bathhouse and made it back to the world to patch and touch it up. There are a lot of seams that are needing patched after thousands of miles. It is a fragile world, made only of canvas and a rubber bladder, after all
When I added the days I have walked and the miles traveled we have two full days of grace even after our early afternoon stop today. I am sure glad Georgia is so friendly to us. It still feels like home after forty three years since my family moved to Kentucky from the great state of Georgia. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A special request.

Today as I walked along US17 I passed a schoolyard and the children and their teacher came over to the edge of the field to see me. I crossed the road to their side and told them my story. One of them was diabetic. Later in the day when school was out she and her mother came to pay me a visit. Her mother asked that I not forget the type-1 diabetics in my writings. To that end I will pass on this special request from a concerned mother. My hope is to encourage those with the means to give will choose an organization and donate for research to help the children as well as adult "type-1" diabetics find cures for this global disease.
Please. You can make a difference.

And pardon my poor writing skills...

I did it again...

I haven't a clue what I wrote at two o'clock this morning. I hope it made sense. I am back on US17 heading for the next bridge.

The Bridge too far...

Early morning yesterday I was up before the dawn to prepare for the day. Still, it was eight o'clock when I hit the road. The day before I had made good time and traveled my ten mile goal quickly and was able to have some daylight, enough to make some nessesary repairs and touch up the paint on some of the canvas world. My mind was feeling confident, my body had issues. My heals' injury was taking longer than usual to loosen out which had me limping badly and breathing deliberately with each step. I was glad to be on the outskirts of Camden County with the cars speeding by on their way to work because the expression of pain on my face may have concerned someone had they stopped to talk. After nearly three miles, a couple bananas and some jerky' for protein I was feeling a bit better. I have realized I must eat well to keep from cramping as well as drinking a lot of water. We have to keep water going in to help filter our bodies! The first miles left my leg cramped or maybe it was from walking the steep roadside through the tall and dry grass while pushing the ball carrying a backpack and shoulder bag; oh, and then there is Nice (the dog) who had to have his play time.
Then the wind came. It is hard to describe the difference the wind makes. It simply can double or triple the time I take to travel a mile. The day prior I had walked ten miles in five hours, at the end of this day I had walked twelve in eight and a half. As hard as the wind had been I was surprised I made that distance.
I had help when I crossed over the first short bridge from a couple who stayed behind me in their car. The wind was strong and Nice was playing with the leash most of he wa across. I had help in the same way getting over the second bridge but it was much longer and the wind was just as strong. Twenty or more cars and big trucks were backed up waiting for me to edge over that bridge. During the day I met a young man who gave me his number who said he would transport me back to get my van if it wasn't too late to get to church in the evening. As I approached the long two lane bridge into Brunswich I was rolling into a Friendly Mart intent on getting help to go over the bridge. Pride to walk every inch would have caused a traffic jamb about a mile long and there by some grace was the man I had met earllier ready to give mme a ride. The boy working at the Friendly Mart watch over the world until I returned with the van. This was one of those situations where pride would have possibly gotten someone hurt.I let the airout of the world and got over the bridge which was six tenths of a mile from guardrail to guardrail. I made it safely to the firestation who allowed me to park out back just as it became dark; the world reinflated and my ego no worse for the wear.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Still keeping it simple.

My little message can't get much simpler than it is, Walk for your health. Walking can help prevent the onset of diabetes. Walking can help control diabetes. Giving to diabetes research organizations can help develop cures. Help yourself to live healthier, take a loved one along to show how much you care and go walking.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Too tired to tallk...

Okay, that's not very likely but this Monday morning before the sunrise I am 'whooped. Sunday morning about this time I was sleeping in the van at the shell station at I-95 and US-17 when I heard an old wreck of a car pull in and park two slots over. I thought it was an employee of the store who was coming early because when I looked out my window in the dark all I saw was someone get out and he looked like he was stretching a bit before he got back in the car. I thought then that he was just napping until the store opened up. I began to get myself dressed for the day. It was frosty and cold so I took my time and I was in no hurry to get out of the van so I wouldn't disturb the man. When daylight began to break I had dressed and had a piece of fruit for breakfast and got out to fill the World with air with my camping/car lighter/ pump. Soon the man stirred and came out from the car. When I said good morning and asked How he was doing this morning he replied, "I've had better days." It seemes he wasn't working at the gas station, he had been traveling home to Jacksonville, had a tire blow-out as he approached the highway exit, was saved by hitting the guardrail and was able to drive the totaled heap of metal to the parking spot next to me. The early morning stretch I had seen was his flourish of reaction from seeing the damage. The passenger side of the car was shredded and it was miraculous that he got it to the parking lot with the rear wheel wrapped in crushed metal and listing inward. Obviously, the man had seen better days.
We talked for awhile as I prepared for the day. I offered him a phone, he had one and was waiting for his friends to wake up. I offered him money, he had money. I offered him food, he was not hungry; I wouldn't be hungry after having my life flash before my e eyes. He did take a bottle of water just in case his day became worse. Last night when I returned to retrieve my van his car was gone and I am guessing he made it home.
We had some interesting conversation in our short meeting and shared a few insights during our 'chance meeting'. A good diversion for both of us to keep our minds from the troubles of the day. My day turned out great and I hope his ended safely to his girlfriend who (what are he odds) has a nine year old daughter with type 1 diabetes.
Now the sun is edging to the horizon and I have not even wrote about my walk into Georgia, the two lane bridge with wide grating that I had to carry Nice(the dog) over. Or the warm people I met during the farthest distance I have walked in one day during this journey. I will have to walk less today and write more later. Suffice it to say, Sunday when I walked into Georgia I really felt like I was at home again.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

First Memories of Home...

The earliest things I remember are of Georgia where our family lived until I was five years old. As I have walked closer to the state that cradled me in those formative years I can't shake off the sense that I'm coming home...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Many Rivers...

When I wake up I take my first painful steps to stretch the healing heal but never think that I should take a day to... heal.
Everyday has it's trials, its gifts and bridges to cross. This day I crossed a few I'd never imagined. Walking upon the Trout River bridge I talked to a woman for a few minutes on her way into work from sixty feet above her, and as I got to the rivers edge the dock workers in their hard hats were assembled for the morning briefing. They wouldn't stop looking even after a wave so I gave them a brief of my own, "I'm walking for diabetes. If you have a Mother or Sister who is diabetic go walk with them to help control it and show them how much you care." My voice carried pretty good to the hundred or so men and from their positive reaction the message did also. Other bridges are just short and narrow where I have to get out the road flag to give oncoming traffic a warning message. This morning I had one of those too. A good day for bridges. The Nassau river bridge was a bit windy but like the several creek bridges it had a wide safety lane to walk on. Those were just the physical bridges,the spans I joined today were many more than concrete and steel. I was called over to a children's day care where I was asked to tell the children what I was doing and why. I have never seen so many children pile out of a child care school. I kept the message simple, " If you love your friend or family member who has diabetes go for a walk with them to show them that you love them." The message doesn't change from young to old or from race, religion or class.
There were other bridges, personal moments shared with individuals throughout the day where we brightened a Sunny day. A gift I could never receive if I didn't "stretch" and "heal".

Friday, February 11, 2011

The short of it.

I was feeling a little bad for walking my shortest distance on Thursday. It had rained all night and into the morning, a cold rain and the clouds never parted as I walked to Jacksonville's Main Street. Two good gentlemen Invited me to have lunch at the restaurant in the Museum of Science and History,the Mosh. I almost broke my tradition of never turning down a kindness but after explaining to them I had just had breakfast with the Firemen the two mens' logic of missed opportunity had me thinking straight again; a salad and lively conversation go well together. My voice projected well in the open space of the museum allowing all around to eavesdrop so I only had to tell my tale once. My two companions had never met yet we all enjoyed exchanging stories as Nice (the dog) enjoyed much attention outside leashed to the world and the metal sculpture outside the museum window. He was visited by a woman in a wheelchair who had lost her leg to diabetes while her friend came in to thank me for walking for diabetes and tell me of her friends hardships with the disease. She seemed nearly in tears with gratitude. Nice gave her friend therapy while I gave the woman inside a hug and encouraged her for her support of her beloved friend. My lunch mates and I. Talked of how strong the feelings of loosing a parent are even decades after their death, of hardship leading to greater knowledge of oneself, of all things having a purpose if we can just stand back to see it. Much as wanted to stay and talk there was a crowd of school children building as well as many business people by the world so I had to leave. As I walked away the women at the table next to us congratulated me for my accomplishment. After spending a few moments with the folks around he world the group of school children grew to fifty or more and as I rolled past I gave them the four sentence explanation fit for their young age to top off their visit to the museum. I was glad I took the advice to accept the offer for lunch, the opportunity saved.
The rest of the day was filled with moments rich with happy conversations like meeting long lost friends. I couldn't help but feel at days end that the day hinged on my willingness to share a meal and later to be open to everyone I met, whatever their station.

There's a country song in there somewhere...

Breakin' in a new pair a' boots thru Jacksonville headed North to God Knows where
Passin' sights that look so familiar , like Broadway in Derby city
When I'm seeing Jax's Pearl at 1st and Main.
Talkin' with the man at the appliance store like we'hd grown up together playin marbles on the floor...

Aww heck, I'm going back to sleep...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Into the Heart of Jacksonville and over the St. John's River

Wednesday started cool and sunny. I received a set of boots for Nice (the dog) and a pair of boots for myself thanks to our friend Lisa in Maryland, Bruce who is a Fireman in Ft. Pierce and his father who is retired from the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue, he received them and brought them to me early in the morning. I am always humbled by the good in people I meet. After a few necessary patches on the world an our reboot we made our way into downtown Jacksonville. An off duty policeman and his little daughter found our best route over the St. John's river and I had the pleasure of balancing the world atop the three foot high 'jersey' barrier wall of the Acosta bridge into North Jax'. With the help of the local firemen who found us a safe place to park the van and the help of a sweet woman and her two lovely daughters who brought me home made cookies. I was whisked back to get the van while it was still light.
It rained through the night and is expected to stop and clear out this afternoon. I am about to get on my way heading north on 17 toward Georgia.
Have great day!

Lisa and her Nice work!

When I met Lisa Ruben, a dog lover, in Maryland last year she impressed me with her ability to get things done. Without prompting she contacted Muttluks, a Canadian company that make dog boots and dog clothing for all weather. Marianne Bertrand, Muttluks founder approved supplying my dog Nice with all the things a travelling dog will need. Marianne has also donated hundreds of pairs of dog boots to the special service dogs of 9-11 and more, a special woman dedicated to the comfort and safety of our best friends.
With the help of the Muttluks team and Mike Johnston Nice has received all weather boots, fleece lined boots, fleece jogger *****, belted coat, dog jog rain suit, and a reversible snow suit. Thank you Muttluks for your care and help.
And thank you Lisa for helping when you saw the need.

Lisa, and her hard work...

I want to give an heartfelt thanks to Lisa Ruben who met me on the roadside last spring in Maryland. She took it upon herself to ask the help of Red Wing Shoes to supply me with Vasque Hiking Boots. I have used this footwear on all my journeys and have found them to be the best. For their help I thank the whole Red Wing Shoes Team and especially Joann Winger for her help in locating and shipping boots to locales from north to south. I even have a pair waiting for me when I return home and prepare for our spring walk for Diabetes awareness. Thank you Joann for the happy feet. Thank you Red Wing Shoes!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The First Step

So, your back hurts a little. It will loosen up.
The rain has made your joints ache. They need the oil can of motion.
Your neck is sore from falling asleep on the couch. Swinging your arms back and forth just might relax that.
Every injury you have ever had may scream at you its excuse, its argument for inactivity. It will burn or sting and object in some obscure manner at first. Or constantly, like my torn tendons or my over-strained carpenter's back.

Just take that first step. Breath. Step. Breath. Step and breath.

An old car left sitting eventually rusts into place and it takes a bit of work to get it rolling again. Don't give up on the restoration. You are a classic.

Step and breath.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I was already wet...

When I said I was going to rest for the day, I could have lain around in the van and slept. But when the rains ebbed and the roadway dried, I couldn't fight the urge to go on. I put my gear on, made sure Nice (the dog) ate his morning meal, filled the world with air, then made the final decision to go or stay by the highly scientific manner of flipping a coin.

I lost.

Before I was able to walk fifty yards, I was reminded that I am doing a good job of bringing awareness to diabetes when a woman came out of the business where she worked and told me so. As the mist we walked into grew heavier, many people stopped on the side of the highway to encourage us while others stopped to get a picture and ask, "Why?" One couple stopped, and the woman informed me that her partner had just been diagnosed with diabetes. When he asked what he could do for me I sad he could get out and walk to help his diabetes. He offered me a donation instead. At least he walked to me from his car.

The heavy mist turned to rain as the wind blew in our faces and, like the waves on the beach, the wind came in sets of three with the last being the strongest. I was soon soaked, and the gusts forced me to use the slope of ditch to help me keep forward motion with the waterlogged canvas ball blowing backward in the heavy gusts. The rain was so heavy at times I had trouble rolling for the water pouring down it. My hand would hydroplane or slide without any traction. The gusts and rain came stronger, colder, and more relentless. The dye from my hat dripped from the brim as I held my head down against the stinging rain. Nice walked behind the world to get shelter as we walked. The wind nearly bent me over backwards many times. I laughed at the wind and called out to it, asking if that was all it had.

It had more.

There were a few brave souls who stopped during the windy downpour. One to get a picture. It was raining so hard she kept wiping the water off the screen to make sure her pictures came out well. A couple stopped with a bagged lunch and a large meat covered steak bone for Nice. I stood there and ate the sandwich as Nice tore the meat off the bone in the hard rain as the world whipped to and fro held by the rope and mast I have attached to it. The dye from my hat didn't change the flavor of the sandwich or the banana at all. Loosing my body heat I crammed the extra water and the can of cola in my leg pockets and pressed on. The couple said their house was not far and he would wait for me. I never saw a house or "not far" has a different meaning at sixty five miles per hour. A woman stopped with a pickup truck to offer a ride. The truck was filled with tools and a compressor. I was already soaked, I could never have held the world in the blowing wind and the thing weighs so much I'd have never been able to roll it atop the tools or the high bed of the four-wheel drive truck with the added height of the lift kit. She told me she had just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I thanked her for the offer but I was already wet and asked her to take good care of herself. She assured me she would. Nice loves blondes in pickup trucks so he was not too happy when I sent on her way.

Ten minutes later we made out way to a shopping center with a large overhang and shelter from the rain. We had walked six miles in the harsh weather and made great time doing it. Sometimes when the world is soaking wet it is easier to force against the wind. A man had given me his phone number the day before to call and get a ride for the van. I only had to wait a couple hours for him to get off work. I was grateful for it.

The day of rest was a struggle, but I did reach a few people. So, I call it a success... even if I did feel like Lieutenant Dan strapped to the mast in a movie I saw long ago.

Get fit, stay healthy, go for a walk. Even if it's raining a bit.

Not Hard Enough

It has gone from an heavy rain to a light mist. It is before noon and after flipping a coin I am going to put my Blackberry in a zip-lock bag and venture on.
Excuses, excuses.

Rejuvenating rain.

When we began walking out of the historic part of St. Augustine I was intent on getting a few miles to get to a good place early in the day where we could spend Superbowl Sunday and not be by the busy highway while people were rushing to bowl parties. As usual Nice (the dog) began the morning playing with the leash as I slowly plodded north. He also tends to play more when I am laking enthusiasm and seems to keep pulling on my leash until I work out of my gloom. He frolicked all morning. I stopped for a light breakfast thinking that might help, Nice tugged and jumped after we rolled away from he restaurant. I even stopped and got my hair cut at a barber who was open early on Sunday. It was good to be pampered a bit but my attitude checker continued to jump, crouch and tug as we made our way out of the city center into the open highway. I learned from passers by that I had several miles to go before there would be any suitable place to stop. The cool, cloud filled sky began to mist a light rain. Nice still had some bounce and walked with the leash in his mouth. We finally settled into a pace as we walked by the airport.
When I walked up on a reporter who had set up a tripod and camera just as the rain let up Nice took this opportunity to dig a deep hole. By the end of the interview the reporters shoes where buried in sandy soil. I finally came out of my mood. The sun began to shine and despite a head wind we quickly made our way to a shopping center where we could stay, and coincidentally an Irish Pub where I could watch the Steelers loose. I was born outside of Pittsburg, but you can't win them all.
It rained all night and all morning. Now that I have resigned myself to resting for the first day in almost a month and the rain has stopped it is misting. I will only put my gear on if the roads dry for awhile and the speeding cars stop swirling a heavy, dirty mist as they pass. Nice is snoring while I sit in the Duncin' Donuts.
I tallied all my days mileage and I have 9.3 miles over the daily average of ten so I could relax today rather than roll the six to eight miles I am told we will have to make it to the only gas station between here and there... Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

St. Augustine and Superbowl Sunday Sunday Sunday!

We spent the night outside the fire station on Ponce De Leon Blv. And this cool cloudy Superbowl Sunday I am hoping to find an early ending point and be able to get a ride back to retrieve the van. I have my pup tent just in case. I am feeling tired this morning. Not very enthusiastic about writing.

Maybe it's that we have not had a day off from walking since we began on the tenth of January. I will come into it before the day is over.

Take a stroll for me.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Left Behind...

I met a man today who had been diabetic since he was six years old. He was the same age as me: forty-eight. He told me his brother was also diabetic but had died at the age of forty because he did not take care with his condition. He spoke a few words of how important it is to stay on top of diabetes and thanked me for the work I was doing. I reached out to shake his hand before he quickly pulled away... In his patrol car.

If you are reading this and are diabetic, please do your best to manage your condition. If not for your own health, for the family you will leave behind.

Burning daylight or Not the worst, not the best.

It is a little foggy and overcast this saturday morning, I think I'm in Dupont Center. At least that is where the last road sign said. I am at the crossroad of US1 and 206. I have had my coffee and still need brush my teeth before we make our run into St. Augustine. Before I do...
I called my son Ethan last night who is staying with friends in Tennessee awaiting the arrival of his passport. He has decided he is going to travel across Europe like so many young people do while he is still young and has, as he says, only one responsibility - "To stay alive." He walked with me last year thru seven states while we promoted Diabetes awareness. When he came with me he was a little angry like a lot of nineteen year old kids are but by the time we crossed the last roads into Acadia National Park by Bar Harbor Maine he was in a much better frame of mind. We had some close moments during our three months of constant contact though at times I had wished I hadn't let him us the Walkman radio/cassette which stymied our sharing some moments because he kept the volume to a buzz you could hear ten feet away in loud traffic. When I spoke to him last night and in recent conversations I can tell he is calmer, not angry, and a moderator in the situations with his friends rather than the problem. This makes me proud. I made many mistakes in my life and some were while raising my son. Sure parents may have hopes for their children and some of those may not come to pass but for the lot he drew in this world I am proud.
Now I am off to greet the new day, closer to the time I can hug my boy...
Kahill Gibran wrote of Children-

..." You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth... Let your bending in the archers hand be for gladness; for even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."

Returning the favor

I was talking with a police officer the other day as I was passing through his city and his dispatch called for him to check in. He told me they wanted to make sure he was working. I have been helped by so many police and firefighters I did what anyone would in that situation, I had him run my license for wants and warrants. It took me a moment to convince him to do it. Then he frisked Nice (the dog) for good measure.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Misty Update

I had a great day pushing against the wind walking from Korona into Palm Coast. The wind kept my progress north down and at the end of the day I was helped to get haven at the Human society Shelter, taken out to dinner while still able to get almost ten miles. It is misty this morning. And I can't see the top of the nearby cellular tower. I am told I have seven miles before the expressway and some stores. The World will be heavy today and the sand will stick to the wet canvas but it is not raining. The mist is not enough to stop me. It is times like these when I would rather be a clod of excuses and relax for the day. The forecast is not getting better and the animals here are making me sad, plus having Nice(the dog around this environment makes me uneasy.
Diabetics need to carry on daily so I will make an effort.
For the cause!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Make no mistake...

I spent my night sleeping in my van and waking up every hour to the sound of the freight trains barreling by just across the busy highway in the lot of a volunteer Fire Department parked next to a dumpster that smelled of feral cat musk. I walked most of the day alongside the four lane divided highway with the road disappearing out of my line of sight far ahead in the distance. Cars would stop some distance ahead and snap a novelty picture, the occupant would sometimes wave, not in thanks or to say hello, but to get me to get the friendlier shot. Then they would drive off without a, "How do you do."

When I am rolling along the berm of the highway, I am constantly pushing against the World, against gravity, to keep it from rolling down the slope. This I do with one arm that aches as the other steers the rope attached to an old willow staff I hold in the other. Wrapped around my wrist is the leash for the eighty pound force of nature I call Nice (the dog) who remembers every car and truck that has ever given us a ride and pulls ahead when he sees the model of his favorite friends -- especially if they toot the horn as they speed by at sixty-five miles per hour or better.

All during the day yesterday my Blackberry that safely hangs on the only safe place on my person where it will not get lost or crushed is from a string about my neck was blinging prompts to FaceBook from dozens of people who were requesting to be friends. Apparently we had been covered heavily in the day's news cycle, and it is just a cycle - I'd rather create a movement for fitness for the prevention and control of diabetes and an online bombardment of donations to every diabetic organization on the planet. But for the day, Nice (the dog) got more buzz than the cat who was called for jury duty and for the day Ted had nothin' on me.

When I finally decided to stay awake and write a post (I never know what I will write) it pressed on my chest-top and Facebook was on screen. Blackberry has a simple format that shows a place for my status and the latest status of my friends and I can usually see the most recent list. There on top was the post of a friend that announced that at 3:30 a.m. her Mother passed, that she was her hero. I don't know how her mom died, but I do know it can be the most moving event in a child's life, young or old. The tears rolled...

Make no mistake, I don't like having my picture taken. I don't enjoy walking. Carrying a backpack is a burden. And without Vermont's Original Bag Balm I would be chapped and walking like a bow legged cowboy.

Make no mistake, If not for the love and memory of my Hero, Mom...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Speeding thru Daytona

After enjoying a good nights rest by New Smyrna's Hidden Treasure and spending some time getting to know the new proprietor of The Scoot Inn (formerly known as The Fairfield Inn), we began our day that itself was filled with hidden treasures. First we met the minister if the Baptist Church as we passed by. He had just taken the ministry and had seen us last year on the last day of our walk when we were in Bar Harbor Maine (Last week I met a couple who work at Acadia Park who stopped for a picture because they had also seen us on our last steps of our thousand mile trek.) I had an uplifting talk with him, his secretary, and deacon. It was good to talk to someone familiar with charitable ministry to answer some concerns I had. I left them after getting a boost of air in the world that also needed some early morning ministry.

I walked on to meet another person of faith who was a follower of the Buddhist faith, a deciple of Paramannsa Yogananda whose book, "Autobiography of a Yogi" is very enlightening for all faiths. We talked for a good while and I again walked on, uplifted as I worked my way toward Daytona. On my journeys I meet people of all persuasions and we/they all have common bonds when we lower the gates.

Walking on I met a man who had lost friends recently to diabetes and was shocked to hear that exercise was a factor in controlling diabetes. I gave him some literature and he was on his way to telling other diabetics he knew that they should do more than simply rely on medicine for their condition. I thought everyone knew that fitness makes a difference...

I stopped for lunch and to give Nice (the dog) a good long break from the sun. I shared my lunch with Nice, giving him the meat while I ate the vegetables and pasta. The owner who spoke with his wife in Italian as I ate would not let me pay for the meal. I thanked them and we walked on well fed and rested. The world is filled with good people.

Now in Daytona two sisters stopped to talk. I took this opportunity with them to save the world once again with a boost of air as the cool wind and clouds cause the world to get soft. As we finished the task of maintaining the world, three women pulled off the road and came up excited to find us and more excited to know our story. After a happy conversation one of the three asked if they could pray with us and it was on, a by-the-side-of-the-road lively joinin' of hands come to Jesus prayer meetin'! The three church ladies, the two sisters, and me were all smiling and happy, even Nice had a grin--though I think he was more interested in the black and white kitty that was in the nearby trees. Like The Cable Guy says, "I don't care who ya' are. That's good stuff right there." After the exchange of a couple hugs, a bunch of waves, and "I love you's" out the windows, we were bouncin" off the curbs and swervin' around utility poles all the way out of Daytona and into Holly Hill.

It was starting to get late but something told me to just keep walking. I had the phone numbers of two people who said they would help with a ride to leap-frog the van up to wherever the World came to rest at the end of the day, but the sky was getting pretty low in the west when a man and woman turned in to hear the story of the world. It wasn't long before they offered their yard as a safe haven for us, and in a few short blocks and a care package from the cheesecake shop on the way, we were on the way back to the Hidden Treasure at the causeway bridge in New Smyrna. Even with all the long conversations of this first day in February, we had made it though some four cities and eleven and a half miles of sidewalks to end the day with the best homemade Jewish-Italian pizza I have ever had, a salad, a back yard fire pit, a talking bird and a shower. Some days I can't help but smile all day and believe I AM livin' the dream.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Goose bumps in Florida

Yesterday I was walking when I met a woman who was walking and another who had pulled up in her car. We talked about my journeys and gave Nice (the dog) some water and a MilkBone from the woman in the car. The woman who was out for a walk was also diabetic and had forced herself to do it. She told me she had been speaking to her friend about how she had exhausted all her excuses not to exercise knowing it would help her condition. She apologized for not having anything to contribute. I responded that the best thing she could do for me was to keep walking and that my hope is to inspire diabetics and those at risk to get fit. More than any contribution, and if she found herself making reasons not to walk because of this pain or that, to remember that I walk everyday with a torn Achilles tendon and a back riddled with injuries. After I named a few of the excuses I work through she said her's were not so bad. When she said she would keep up a walking regimen after my stories, I got goose bumps. I had done some good by example. That's my icing on the cake.
So if you are making up reasons to sit around instead of being active. remember it doesn't get easier later. It only gets later.

February Thanks

On this first morning of February begins and the light of the sun begins to rise bringing color to the clear Florida sky I want to thank all the people and moments who have made this walk what is, a blessing. From my sisters and brother who have given me encouragement and support to the women I met yesterday as I passed over the bridge to The Hidden Treasure and insisted I stop for the last night in January I was going to go on with this list for an hour or so but I am about to enjoy my morning coffee with the good people at the fairview motel who let me take a shower and stay in on of the newly renovated rooms. ( I slept in the van so Nice(thedog) wouldn't stress).
Dennis to "k", thank you all!

Please walk for your health, it could save your life.
And thanks to my mother for the example to do something for others.
Gotta' go!