Monday, September 30, 2013

First to Last

The first person I spoke to, before we walked out of St.Clairsville, was a man who stopped to ask about the world. He then thanked me for my efforts. His wife was diabetic. He told me of a recent episode where she lost consciousness, despite her best efforts to regulate her medications. He urged me to keep spreading the message.
The last person to speak to me was the parish priest at St. Michael's, after I had walked into Wheeling and been offered to park at St Michael's School. The principal of the school and I met in line at a nearby store. As the sun fell over Wheeling I was visited by Father McSweeney of the parish. He told me he has two brothers with diabetes. Both had passed on from the disease.
As he walked away he said in his thick Irish accent, "Peace. Joy. All good things."

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Fork in the Road

The first time I walked thru Cambridge I turned to the road that led to Steubenville along US-22. Since then that route has become clogged with "fracking" traffic. During the break from the road, when Nice (the dog) twisted his foot, I retraced the steps of years ago. Even without the increased volume of gas exploration vehicles and the Walmart rigs traveling to the new distribution hub I was lucky to have made it through. Many of the places where I had walked at night back then would now be more risky because the flow of trucks is almost constant now. I have learned to avoid narrow roads with guardrails tight along both sides of he road. Many spots along 22 I would now skip by, taking a ride or letting the air out of the world and transporting it in the van.
Part of the "drive" to walk to Pittsburg a second time was to reflect on what I have learned in the past six years. When I came to the fork in the road I decided to take the less traveled road to Wheeling, West Virginia. It was relaxing to walk along the Old National Highway,US-40, and the back roads for the past few days, without the constant traffic. Now I am approaching the outskirts of Wheeling. The roads are filling up again. It may be a few miles farther than the road I took six years ago, but it has been much more relaxed.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Going to school.

We were invited to talk to the entire seventh grade class at the middle school in New Concord. I transported the world there in the van. We inflated the world in the gymnasium where I spoke to them about my journeys, my family who have suffered from diabetes and the many who have shared their success, through activity and healthy diet, in preventing and controlling the disease. I also encouraged the class to learn who in the school are diabetic, what they can do do help if their classmate is in distress. I answered questions, then we had a group photo before Nice was surrounded with attention and petting hands.

Monday, September 23, 2013

New Concord

Our first day back from the two week rest for the dog's sprain went very well. The beastly heat changed to cool days and the trees have begun to turn. Nice (the dog) knew why I we had stopped two weeks past because each time he began to tug and play with the leash all I had to do was tell him to stop one time. He gets smarter with age.
I saw the young man who saved me from a tornado at the end of the day. He had been one of the first to break me of my stupid pride and insist we put the world in the bed of his truck and race the wall cloud that was bearing down on us. As I held onto the world the clouds overtook us and a great wind tossed the world out of the bed of his truck and ripped the lacings off the ball. I found out later a funnel had touched down very near where he had found me helplessly holding the world as it lifted off the ground. That was a lesson in" Pride can get you hurt."
Thanks Tyler!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Back to Hick's Road

Two weeks have passed since Nice (the dog) sprained his wrist while playing tug the leash. We have been visiting family and I have had the world out in Monroeville, Pennsylvania where my diabetic, 86 year old uncle lives. We walked a short distance together. The world got soaked there by a sudden hard rain, so when I arrived to visit my sister in Arlington, Virginia I had to get it out to let it dry. We walked for hours . I inflated the world when I arrived in Louisville. I saw my son. I walked the 2 1/2 mile loop in the park where I first began playing with my boy so many years ago. I reflected endlessly about how this toy-world has changed my life and has inspired others to change. Nice (the dog) has healed well and is anxious to walk more than a couple miles a day. He hasn't shown any signs of a limp in a week and is stronger than when we began this journey in the beginning of August. It is time to continue, before he pulls my arm out of socket.

Uncle Bernie

This is the man I have been talking about for six years. I began these long walks by trying to get to his surprise birthday party in 2007.
Just a few years late... I took a wrong turn in Sheboygan.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Twist

We were walking along the East Pike out of Zanesville toward Norwich when Nice (the dog), while frolicking by my side, twisted is right front foot. He began to limp badly. Luckily we were a few hundred yards from an intersection with a gas station/store, a restaurant and a hotel. We rolled/limped to the station. As we were walking across to a shade spot on the side of the store a State Patrolman pulled up to ask what the world was all about. I explained my mission and quickly explained that the dog had just sprained his foot and asked for a ride to retrieve the van. He was on his way back to the post (I had passed it earlier). My van was parked a short distance farther . He agreed, so I tied the world to the shade tree and we got in the back of his cruiser.
Fifteen minutes after his injury we were back to the van and Nice was off his feet.
When we returned to the world I parked at the restaurant next to a shade tree , got Nice comfortable in the grass and a bowl of water then went in the diner for lunch. The manager didn't mind me using the space for awhile so I stayed to see how Nice was doing. After a couple of hours it was clear that an overnight rest to recover from a twisted foot was not going to be enough. I decided it was time to pull the plug on the world.
The next few days are forecast to be hot so I am going to let him rest, then see if he is ready.
Every goal has a twist. Sometimes the twist changes everything.
I am following this road to look back on what I have learned from the time we walked it six years ago.
I think it is time to stop for a paws.


A woman stopped to ask my purpose.
After hearing what I had to say she told that she was diabetic. At one time she had to give herself five shots a day. She told me by walking, and loosing weight, she was now free of medication.
When I walk, the people I meet are my inspirations to find a way to continue.
Another woman was talking with me who told me she had been so large she could not leave her room. She was unable to fit past the doorway of her bedroom. She was now a small person that I would have never guessed had a problem with her weight. She said she began to eat healthy and when she was finally able to get out the door she walked. Rolling her eyes she said it took a lot of walking. She said it took some time but she did it.
I haven't been posting about the many people I have met on this walk who have similar stories. Whether they are insulin dependent and stay healthy with activity and diet, have been able to cease taking medications through their own efforts or (like me) are preventing the onset of diabetes by taking preventative "steps" they all take steps. They keep going.

Monday, September 9, 2013

New Holland to Zanesville, again.

In case you did not know, I walked this road six years ago. It was the first long walk we had done. My diabetic Uncle was turning eighty. For his surprise birthday celebration I walked to Pittsburg, PA..
I remember the places I had to stop from exhaustion and the physical strain of carrying too much weight, eating heavy unhealthy food and carbonated beverages, walking until I could walk no farther and would have to lay down.
Retracing my steps, the stops, the hills and ditch ways I charged through, the gifts of food I accepted it is clear to me now I needed to slow down. Not charge up an in incline and not accept every can of soda, candy, fried food, burger and pizza that good intentioned people brought me.
Now I walk the path with a calmer pace, walk slower uphill, eat mostly fruit, vegetables and baked chicken ( I share most with Nice (the dog).) I go longer and farther, with more energy.
It did take my walking six thousand miles and then some to be standing on the coast of Oregon to get one message...
"Don't put diesel fuel in a sports-car."
The winds of the Dakotas taught me about the futility of battling gravity and the elements.
Walking through Zanesville I am almost embarrassed looking back. But like a child, sometimes you have to do it, to don't it.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


I had a blanket, for years it kept me warm.
A tear welled up as I walked to the garbage container.
The time had come to let it go.
It had no holes, no frayed seams.
By tossing it away I felt like I let go of some pain, sweat...and tears, anxiety, loneliness and doubt that I have slept under for so long.
No amount of washing could mask the funk it had absorbed. Literally and figuratively.
That, in introspection, is why the "comforter" was so hard to give up.
Necessary and symbolic.
Goodbye blanket...

Friday, September 6, 2013

"too awesome!"

It had been a long distance under the hot sun. We stopped at a shade tree in front of a white-fenced house just past a farm equipment business.
It seemed familiar to me. I had stopped at this spot before.
I removed my shoulder bag and pack, sat down for a proper snack & let-my-shirt- dry-rest.
After a few minutes a man drove in the drive and off in the grass before coming over to talk. He was a calm and deliberate presence. We had met here before. He owned the property and the farm implement store. He hadn't changed, this he attributed to healthy living. The same morning meal of oats "out of the box", nuts and berries everyday. As he told me about how he had developed his business, his advocacy for "no-till" farming and his philosophy on life I remembered him more clearly from before. He was what he preached, consistent and calm, deliberate and patient. Just as he had been when I met him six years ago.
We talked awhile before the excitement.
Two women stopped to talk.
A man pulled of the roadway, trotted over to us, handed me a drink, told me he'd heard what I was doing and had to bring me something. Then he turned right around and went back to his car.
The women left also.
The man and I resumed our conversation in the grass, under the shade.
The world was in the sun thirty feet from the road and twenty feet from where we were sitting.
Then a loud skidding sound from a car slamming on the brakes caused me to look up to see a car had over steered and his right rear contacted the left rear of the man's car who had stopped to hand me a soda. He had been waiting to pull back into traffic. No one was hurt, but it was very dramatic with pieces flying as the speeding car glanced off the good gentleman's car.
There was hardly a pause in the calm farmer's conversation.
We kept talking. The farmers daughter pulled in with her two children. His wife arrived. We talked about healthy things and after about twenty minutes I thought it was time to "mosey" on into Wilmington.
I crossed to the opposite side of the road.
As I passed I called over to the scene of the accident asking if everyone was alright. To my surprise everyone was smiling. The man who had hit the other called back that they were okay adding, " It's because you're too awesome!"
I don't know about that...


I took my time through Rushville. The Old-22 passed the cemetery, down a steep valley to a small bridge and the old school grounds. Then up the other side following the contours of the hillside to the remnants of a thriving town of the past. The highway bypass sometimes does more than make a convenient commute.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

To Lancaster

We left Amanda at daybreak. The drone of the highway in the distance, I decided to take the Hamburg Road. The GPS showed it was one tenth of a mile shorter distance to Lancaster. As I approached the turn off I saw very few cars using it. A more relaxed day was what I was hoping for. What I found was a little more exciting. The road was full of twisting turns around hillsides and steep ditches or guardrails on both sides. The dew was heavy in the grass which made the world heavy and slippery. The scenery was a good trade-off for the extra effort. Old barns and rolling hills dotted with a farms in the distance is not a view you get from the broad-cut highway.
The traffic on the old pike remained steady all morning. Apparently the 45mph speed limit is merely a suggestion. Heavy trucks hauling rock, I later was told, use the road as a short-cut to avoid the Main Street of Lancaster. Adding to it, a local radio station was reporting of World guy sightings, some went out of their way to drive the road so they could get a glimpse. That just gave me more time to patiently wait, take in the sights while holding the weight of the world on my shoulder and stand in a ditch.
A man who had stopped to bring us water six years before found us as we stopped to rest two miles from Lancaster. He offered to ride me back to the van when we made it to the edge of town.
He was a WW-2 veteran who has been working to get all the states in the nation to approve flying The Veterans Remembered Flag to honor all American Vets. He said he didn't have many years left. This was his way to leave something good behind.
After we had gotten to Lancaster, leapfrogged the van to the end of the pike, we made our way to the east side of town where the man then helped with another ride to the spot where we stopped for the night.
The day was relaxing in that few people stopped on the narrow Hamburg Pike. The reunion with the man who I had met six years ago seemed to be, again, worth the effort.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Amanda Holiday

I left early from Circleville. I had the road to myself except for the occasional passing truck. Shortly after it became light I did something I usually do not, I accepted a ride...
We had walked four and a half hours, most of the distance to Amanda. We were stopped in a driveway for a break when the first visitor of the day pulled in. It took her about one minute to offer us a ride to town. She said she wouldn't tell anyone.
She gave us a ride the last miles into Amanda. She said she never offers rides to strangers. I rarely get a ride for convenience. We both broke with tradition and she rode me into town. I climbed in the bed holding the world by its strapping while Nice (the dog) rode "shotgun" in the cab of her truck.
Straight to the heart of town and the "chief" who gave the "okay" to park in the lot by the church.
I spent the holiday resting, cleaning, visiting with locals who came by,talking to family and friends by phone, painting and patching a few of the most worn spots on the world.
I took the Labor Day Holiday off.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Coyote named Dog

Outside of New Holland I met a few farmers at the crossroad that bordered their lands. One of the men was followed by a dog that, to me, resembled a coyote.
We talked for awhile about my journey to Pittsburg and my uncle being an example to diabetics that, with care, they can live past eighty. My uncle had managed his diabetes. My mother had lost her battle with diabetes aged fifty four years.
While the men and I talked, the animal played with passing cars. Standing at the edge of the road, he would wait for a passing auto to approach, then step onto the road. This would cause the traffic to edge over into the opposing lane. The further the cars would move over, the more he moved into the road.
I asked if the "dog" belonged to one of them. The farmer told me his family had adopted the trickster six months earlier when it showed up on the farm, then would not leave. "We named him Dog. I don't care if he gets hit, but the family has become attached to him."
I was about to walk through the night and walk seventeen miles into Circleville the next day. The man with the "dog" gave me his phone number, in case I needed help. The man went back to his farm, but while I spoke to the other farmers the "dog" remained, continuing to play with traffic.
When I walked away, "Dog" followed. I thought he would go back to his adopted farmhouse , he kept following. He followed and followed. Not only that, he taunted Nice (the dog). He was quicker than Nice, who was on a leash attached to me. Nice was obviously frustrated. He, "Dog", became more bold, nudging the passing autos over by walking further and further in the road. This went on all night.
The next morning, just outside of Circleville, we stopped at a gas station/ food mart. One of the women inside brought me three expired breakfast sandwiches. I gave "Dog" one to keep him away from Nice before I handed the one to Nice. "Dog" had already scarfed his down and tried to steal Nice's meal. Bad idea, considering he had been taunting Nice for fifteen miles and finally got close only to steal food. Nice left a mark. "Dog" didn't try to get the third sandwich which I also fed to Nice.
Continuing on, a policeman came and told me I had to leash "dog" or he would have to take him to the shelter. He was still following and playing with cars. I leashed him and then called the farmer to tell him that "Dog" had followed us all night, got beat up by Nice and I had been forced to leash him. The "dog" the man didn't care about the night before was suddenly very important. Grandma came to pick him up within the hour.
That was six years ago. Two days ago when I passed by the crossroad again I didn't see "Dog". I guess he eventually lost his game.
Today I met a man who gave me a piece of jewelry he made from the jawbone of a coyote. I didn't ask on what road he found the bone.
I have a good idea...