Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Jewels of Simpler Times

We have the world at our fingertips now.
In the palm of my hand I can explore cyberspace with more technology than man took to the moon.
Not so long ago a child would be happy with a "breaker" and a bag full of marbles.
Walking out of Clovis, by the train yard, I found a glittering prize washed to the surface of the sand.
I imagined the hours this ball of glass helped keep a circle of boys entertained before they retired it to the rail and the westbound train.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

St. Vrain and Melrose

St.Vrain had the oldest Post Office in New Mexico until it was closed recently due to budget cuts. Two houses and a roadside picnic area was all it had to offer. It was all I needed. The wind had been against me and I would not have made the seven and a half miles to Melrose before it became dark.
The woman who walked me in Ohio one day earlier this summer had called her relative who lived by Cannon AFBto see if she could help me with a ride as I passed through her area. Though many had stopped during the day (I meet all kinds of people) she was my only contact. Because we were at the roadside stop We has to deflate the world and take it back with us to the van. I then drove back to Clovis to get some supplies for the long distances ahead. After Melrose the towns are very far apart. Once back at St.Vrain I inflated the world and began work on two spots that needed a patch. That is when I was invited to visit with the people at the third house in town, about a quarter if a mile down the road. They picked me up and let me shower. After watching a little barn-pool I was back to the van and a good nights sleep.
The highway runs alongside the railroad. The double line along this corridor is one of the busiest I have seen. The mile-long trains trains seem small out on the high plains where you can see a water tower eight to ten miles away on a clear day. The conductors have begun giving me a toot' of the whistle as they pass. Sometimes they have to stop and wait their turn and idle out in the middle of nowhere. A train hauling. Mile of coal stopped short beside me. The conductor got out of the engine, walked over to ask what I was doing. Gave me an encouraging word and got back in the engine and rolled away.
I made it into Melrose early and after I got a ride I spent some time touching up the world. The road ahead was going to be long so was taking advantage of the last short day before the long haul to Fort Sumner that would take two days with only another small town, Taiban, that had a working Post Office. Fort Sumner was thirty six miles and Taiban was twenty two.
I was still sore from the last two days ouin Texas when I walked thirty seven miles.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Clovis, Cannon AFB.

The last two days walking out of Texas the wind favored progress, thirty seven miles. The walk from the border town Texico; into Clovis, the crosswind in my face was challenging. Aside from a direct headwind, it is the most difficult.
Each state has its own standards for roads . The big, flat, Texas emergency lane turned, comparatively, to a sharply tapered and much narrower paved berm. One mile per hour was all I could muster for the eight miles to Clovis.
A schoolteacher, whose husband had joked with her to take in the man she had seen with a dog walking along the side of the road, did just that. She met me on the road to Farwell the previous day to offer a meal and a shower when we arrived in Clovis. When I found a safe place, Iron Horse Detail Shop, her husband came to my aid while she prepared a hot dinner. Shepard's Pie. The warmest times come when sharing a meal with a loving family. I am glad the schoolteacher mistook her husbands' sarcasm for suggestion, her husband was also.
The next day, with similar wind conditions, I labored out of Clovis to Cannon Air Force Base. On the way out of town I met the man who would give me a ride back to the van when I stopped by Allsup's store near the base. He had brought me bean burritos for breakfast, most of his hispanic family suffered from diabetes. He had been diagnosed two years earlier. For lunch; delivered hot by a woman who had heard I was walking for diabetes awareness, I had deep fried chicken fingers with gravy for dipping. I know better, but ate it anyway. The previous day filled with fruits, nuts and vegetables didn't leave me drained of energy. Wind, grease and beans slowed me to a crawl into Cannon.
Don't put diesel in a jet.
I had salad for dinner.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Into Texico, New Mexico.

From Farwell into "the land of enchantment", New Mexico the border is the railroad tracks. Everyone had told me I might need to take a detour. the border was under construction. The road to Texico was barred to traffic.
The last few blocks of Texas were like a ghost town. As I approached the barricade blocking the tracks a small tumbleweed rolled by. I rolled the world down the center of the street.
The public radio tuned an "elevator music" version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" thru my Walkman's earbuds as we ambled along to the colorful bricks across the tracks.
I took a few pictures. We were stopped for a few also.

Sudan, Muleshoe, Farwell.

I had arrived early in the afternoon in Sudan from Amherst. The sun and wind helped dry a fresh coat of paint I put on the most worn parts of the world. I fell to sleep early so I could get going before daylight. Rising at two, I was on the road at four with a good wind at my shoulder. It helped me along all day until we were at the Muleshoe city limits. I was met by the mother and son team from the independent cable television of Muleshoe. I was very tired during the interview, I thought my answers rambled. They put the entire interview on Youtube. Then the wind shifted and blew directly at me. A tumbleweed rolled straight down the middle of the highway. The headwind made the last of the seventeen miles at the end of the day difficult to push against. I had a good dinner with some of the local dignitaries and had a good night sleep in a motel.
I was going a bit later than the morning before, we rolled out at five thirty. Twelve hours later after twenty miles we made it to Farwell on the border with New Mexico. We were given a ride and a place to park at the Napa dealer.
These long and hard days have made for tired nights with me having little energy to write.
I have not watched this interview but have heard it is a good one. Here is the link.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Texas Roundup and aTaste of Texas.

Along the highway out Shallowater the wind was putting me to work blowing at my face hard from northwest. It was slow going. Far ahead I noticed a crop-duster flying low. A few seconds later my nose dried with the smell of petroleum. For the next mile or two I watched as the yellow plane strafed his load along the field, the three others beside him, the highway and me. I lifted my bandana over my face not concerned people would think I looked strange. That I am used to that. I was almost under the planes path when he finally noticed me and purged his tank in one last, thick swath of black. Tasty.
Not long after that I passed through the town of Roundup. Little was there save for the chirping prairie dog town.
Another memory of the day was when a man stopped with water and two bags of walnuts. The words he said about beginning to path to getting healthy: it's the first step.
I also have been glad for the energy boost the walnuts have given me the past two days where I walked thirty eight miles...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Silent in Sudan

After a Sunday walk to Amherst, today we walked to Sudan where I spent the afternoon painting the world, again. The road is hard on it.
I have sixteen miles to get to Muleshoe tomorrow so I won't try to write anything. Don't have anything to say anyway.

Just One

The first day of November, diabetes awareness month, the crosswind blew hard from the direction I was heading. Working my way from one side to the other I spent most of the day tacking to find an angle that kept me moving toward Anton. The only line I could be sure of often was beside the bed of the train tracks. The gravel and brush would hold my forward motion while the rocked hump of the track base acted as another hand. By the tracks was slower-going but less strain on the shoulders for the thirteen mile hike from Shallowater.
When the wind would shift direction slightly I could move to the pull-off lane of the divided highway and not struggle to a standstill.
At times like these, one step forward is my satisfaction,
knowing I will get where I am going, eventually.
Old Mac told me once, "A wall is painted one stroke at a time. Bring the well with you. Keep it moving, keep it wet."
It is diabetes awareness month, make the first step, just one, then go to the next .

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Dog Whisperings

Outside of Littlefield Nice (the dog) looked longingly to a house far from the road on the opposite side of the divided highway. He softly called, almost whimpering as we walked past. His low toned murmuring lasted only a few moments. I thought no more of it. The dogs inside the house went into action alerting their humans of the spectacle outside and insisted they do something immediately! First they lured them to the window knowing that they would have to save their compadre attached to the giant ball and chain. The woman of the house was soon in her car to come hear my side of the story.

The little things.

During these walks, where I seem to randomly choose a starting point, there are many moments which assure me I have made the right choice.
On my way to Lubbock, driving through the Texas plains,I stopped to get gasoline. I had been questioning my choice to begin another journey in Texas for diabetes awareness. What good could I do in this land of wide open spaces? Standing in line at the gas/food mart I noticed everyone of the nine people in front of me were more overweight than I. Even the two small children whose mother was buying them snacks before school. It made me realize that awareness needs to be shared everywhere, even in the small communities of the plains.
Sharing this story with a man after I began walking out of Lubbock he told me they have a saying in Texas regarding the prevalence of diabetes and obesity, " at least we are better than Mississippi."
On another note. When I was last in Texas a young man met me as I was heading to downtown Dallas. He asked to walk with me for awhile. He knew the downtown area and walked with me for twelve milled or more into the night and guided me to "the grassy knoll" where I had planned to end that trip. Over the past two years the young man's Facebook account had no activity. His cell phone had been disconnected. I thought I would never see the man again.
Yesterday as I walked to Littlefield, hundreds of miles from Dallas, the man pulled up to ask if I remembered him. Very few people walk with me for any distance, especially a dozen miles into darkness. I could hardly contain my gladness to see him again.
It is the little things that keep me going forward.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


The soaking rain overnight gave the canvas world it's first drenching after replacing the patchwork. It held up very well. A horrible wind stirred overnight into a torrent, the world trashed outside the van as I slept. The winds that blew in had almost completely dried the fabric and had blown the clouds away. It also made the first day out of Lubbock a challenge. The thirty five mile per hour winds were the strongest I had endured since I walked the Dakota and Nebraska Plains. The cup of the ditch and resistance of the grass was sometimes the only way to keep moving forward. The first steps away from the campground was accompanied by classical music from my Walkman radio. It was Halloween. The Sorcerer's Apprentice boomed as the wind swept me through straw grass. The Tempest buffeted my eardrums and the headwind strained my muscles against the weight of the world. On my way to Shallowater a man stopped to talk on his way back from lunch. Being a small town, I asked if there were place he knew of where I could park overnight. He arranged for me to park by his employers building.
When I arrived I was greeted by a ghoulish crowd who poured out of the building. Costumed minions of the Dark Knight, the master over his science laboratory. ( insert sinister laugh here)
I so much enjoy Halloween.

Out of Lubbock

They say, in Lubbock, it's six hours from anywhere (in a car). From the heart of town, by the Buddy Holly Memorial, it took me six hours to walk to the city limits and the KOA campground. On the way I was interviewed by a local tv news photographer. He had been told I was on the road by a friend. She and I talked while we waited for him to arrive, she had recently been diagnosed with diabetes after suffering from a stroke. She said that she loved her rich foods and sweets, that changing habits was hard. It seemed having a stroke was not enough to convince her how important eating healthy and getting active can be. Her friend, the photographer, confided that she was stubborn. Depending on medications can't replace good diet and exercise.
A man stopped to talk. He said he had spent years searching for the "truth" about being healthy. He had come to a conclusion, after spending thousands of dollars on contraptions and books, that nothing other than healthy diet and daily activity is the key. He said he was not a vegetarian but ate very little meat. He was older than all the men he worked with and had more energy and endurance than his coworkers who loaded up on fast food and cola. Maybe if I talk to enough men like him I can convince myself to go vegan...
Have a wonderful day. Take a walk. Eat something green. Feed that burger to your dog. Then honestly compare to yesterday when you sat on the couch eating barbecue and drinking "the dew" then begrudged walking to the mailbox at the end of your driveway.
A rolling stone gathers no moss.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Everything Lubbock