Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Day by the Lake

We got going a little late from the salvage yard and as the sun came up the traffic had me in the grass, the wide four lanes and pull off was now diminished to grass and ditch. It wasnt particularly hard going, most grasses had been cut since spring. Too many miles to the next town. Dandridge (Named after Martha Dandridge Washington), I set my daily goal for a Love's truck stop about midway. I-40 runs parallel thru that stretch and it was about three quarters of a mile from the road we were walking on to the expressway interchange.
I had met a newsman from Dandridge who would give me a ride after he made his afternoon Deadline. I had walked all morning on the narrow road while people commuted to work. None had time to pull off and the driveways were few. Unlike the previous days where I had "good luck". When I saw the man standing in the church parking lot ahead of me, holding a camera, I thought he might be the person to ask. He was gracious enough to help later,when he had finished for the day.
When I arrived at the busy truck complex, with acres of pavement, it was teaming with tractor-trailers. While I waited for the ride I found a small bit of shade against some shrub trees surrounding a shallow, green pond, littered with truck tires, next to the tire service building. While Nice (the dog) buried himself deep under the shade of willow and cedar I watched as three trucks pulled in and had a tire replaced with lightening-fast efficiency.
Upon talking with a man who worked there, it was alright to park and sleep but "company policy" restricts abandoning a vehicle.. He suggested I walk to the other side of the highway, where there is a closed truck stop. Adding that if he found any vehicle "abandoned" the next morning he would have to put a "dot on it". Finally he said, "I think that's a wonderful thing you are doing. It's a great cause...Good luck with that." He turned and walked away. Dots were his responsibility, far be it from me to stray from the norm.
I had enough time to walk the distance over the bridge to the overgrown, boarded-up complex. I stashed the world in the open beside an abandoned mobile home, amid the tall grass as he drove in. I got back to the world, parked under the shade of the pump-awning, patched a few holes Tennessee had worn in the world, had a good night of sleep,without the glare of lights and even got a visit from the County patrol. They assured me the "park and ride"area by the roadwas safe to leave the van in the morning.
The attendant of Love had wished me luck, it was working.
When I researched the distance to go back to the main road to Dandridge or take the scenic lakeside they were now about the same so I took the Douglas Lake route.
I left out early enough to see the sunrise over the lake from several vantage points. The roads were a little winding but almost all the grass was cut along the scenic boat landings and lakefront homes. There were many stretches with trees to shade us almost the entire way to town. The scenery was worth any added distance or effort.
When we got to the edge of downtown we were stopped at an historic home, now antique shop, who's proprietors suggested I park under the old tree on the side of the house, built in 1820. The couple who were part of the business both filled my head with historic facts about the town and surrounding area.
The town was saved by a dyke built to hold off the lake when it was created for hydro-electric power by the TVA. Dandridge is the only town in the nation named after our country's first First Lady.
A nearby field, now part of the lake was a battlefront during the Civil war. The battle was over grain stores. Many fought and died to survive. Some say the inlet over the field is haunted.
I was able to rest in the cool van and get a needed rest for the early start to Newport the next day.
The attendant of Love's wish was granted,again.

Junkyard Daydream

We passed the afternoon at the recycling center parked beside a flatbed truck loaded with the carcass of an old winching rig. With the sun bearing down, Nice (the dog) found the concrete under the shade of the large truck to be the coolest spot. His head was streaked by the end of the day, from the oily drive shaft and brake lines. I tried to coax him to the ever increasing shade as the sun crept slowly behind the loading dock we were parked against. He was obviously correct in staying there. The concrete he was laying on hadn't seen direct sun in months. I sat at the side door of the open van, shielded from the sun but not the sweltering heat. There was little else to do but watch the parade of cars and trucks loaded with all sorts of metal extrusions, cans, steel frames and lawn furniture.
I couldn't bring myself to take a picture of the Mercury Mark IV, brought in by trailer, as the salvage workers rolled it into the large doorway to be weighed on the scales. It would soon make its way to the wrecking yard in the rear where they would dissect the old collectible of various parts, dump it upside down in an open topped trailer with other heaps, then to be hauled off to the shredder. Like the two loads I had seen leaving from the far gate earlier in the day, the old relic would soon be a new kitchen appliance, bridge beam or pipeline.
The woman who brought it in probably needed a few dollars, or the space in the yard, or revenge for her ex-husband. Who knows?
The doors closed. The workers went home. Eventually the shade covered the van and I was able to nap in a hot sweat until darkness fell. Then I could change into dry clothes and sleep for a few hours.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Coach's plan, the Hail Mary.

Walking into Knoxville or any large(ish) city I can be sure few cars will give any ground. In the country they slow and move over as far as they can even though I have the world totally off the roadway when they pass. Not that I expect any consideration, it is interesting that in the city most cars bear down, almost daring me to make a mistake.
Few people stop in cities, whereas in small towns I can count on an extra break for conversation with the locals.
It being a Sunday on a holiday weekend I wasn't surprised that no one stopped. A few slowed to snap a picture. I walked nearly eight miles before the first person walked up to me to talk.
"Coach" was the second to stop and talk. After talking for awhile he told me that after he retired from coaching high school football, had hip replacement surgery his health suffered as he gained weight and eventually had to carry nitro-glycerin for his ailing heart. When his doctor told him he had become diabetic he refused to accept the diagnosis. He told the doctor he would be back in a few months and prove him wrong. Ultimately he has lost ninety pounds and the coach is free of medications.
He offered to have me come to his home for a shower and even wash my clothes when I finished for the afternoon. (The road becomes too hot for Nice (the dog) after temperatures get above 80 degrees and sunny.) he was going to make sure I got a ride for the van and have me come for dinner with his family.
When the time came for the ride he sent a young man who was working and staying with him. When I was dropped at the van the coach had another errand for the man and he also was busy with his auto-mechanic. ( Coach is a busy man) When I had the world stuffed away in the van I called for directions. The coach had me call his young friend to guide me in, "old school", rather than a simple address I could plug into my smartphone. The young man texted that he would call me back. After I sat down and had lunch at a restaurant, I received no call back and Coach didn't answer. I didn't judge any deeper than that they were busy.
With the ball loaded up I found a laundromat to make use of the afternoon. Returning to the area where I had deflated the world and no return calls I found a place under shade trees to rest for the walk to the heart of Knoxville Monday, Memorial Day. I was able to get some sleep in the relatively cool spot and awoke at 3am.
Ready to go, a little after 4am, I grabbed the keys from the ignition to see that I had left the key turned on when I raised the power window before I fell asleep but forgot to turn the key to the off position. The battery was drained dead. There was nothing I could do at that moment about the drained battery. At such an hour, on a holiday in a deserted mall district heading toward downtown.
I quickly resolved to throw my fate to the wind, not dwell on my stupidity all day, to get a Cab at the end of the day. I was certain I would be stranded somewhere in downtown Knoxville, as the streets would be barren. Of coarse I dwelled on it all day to the point of distraction.
I was able to tour downtown with literally no cars on the streets. Only a few delivery trucks and a few city workers were making their rounds. Only after passing to the road heading east out of town did one person stop and get out of her vehicle to talk.
She videoed our conversation so she could share it with her children. She had lost weight and was working slowly toward lowering her blood sugar levels.By the end of the interview, when I told her the grocery store I was planning to have as my end-point for the day, she said she would see about getting me a ride and a 'jump for my battery. It turned out she lived by the store and she called me a few minutes later to have me meet at her auto-mechanic's place, who happened to be across the road from the store.
She then gave me a ride while Larry (the mechanic) watched Nice (the dog) under a shade tree where he and a few others were performing mechanics under the shade of a different tree. When I returned ,Larry let me stay in the yard. He also fixed my tail lights and topped off the fluids in my van.
I needn't have worried all day. Things worked out even better than I could have hoped.
Had Coach not missed my call, allowing me to rest and get started early I would not have met Crystal where I did. Or Larry.
Further, this evening, I have walked out of Knoxville proper and got help before I asked.
I walked by a salvage yard that is very close to my planned daily endpoint. I paused to take a photo of an old Buick set upon blocks I front of the recycling building. Out from it came the proprietor and within a minute he was offering a ride and a place to park close to the relic overnight.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Rested and Ready

It has taken two days to roll the world from the West side of Knoxville to the East during this holiday weekend.
Nice (the dog) rested all day Saturday, while I covered the world with a heavy protective coat...of paint. He walked only from shade to sun all thru the day from a long leash tied to the van. He was ready to go at the end of the day, wagging his tail when I would move the world around, finding parts to paint, with no signs of the limp from the previous day.
When we started walking at 4:30 Sunday morning he pranced and bounced beside the freshly painted world as we lumbered out on the empty highway. Four lanes, with a center turning lane all to ourselves makes the world able to roll unencumbered. Cars can be seen thirty seconds before any need to weave to another angle or go to the grass. A one mile per hour raceway. Wind, gravity, temperature, moisture, maintaining motion with the least amount of friction all go into play for me.
I think the day of rest was just what he needed.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Mountain and the Rockman

I had been walking along the foothills before, what the locals call, Rockwood Mountain when I came upon a man tossing stones, into the bed of his truck, from a pile of mostly head-sized rock. He was pumping them off the ground with machine-rhythm. He was getting winded though, was beginning to stagger when he would move and reset over the diminishing pile dumped at the base of a steep driveway.
When he noticed me on the road, he stopped...clearly wanted to speak, but had to steady himself against the truck bed for a couple of deep breaths before waving his arms excitedly and asking me to wait a minute, pant-pant, he wanted to talk to me. As he got his breath I rolled over to him.
He was out there, throwing stones to make a few dollars, but it was just the therapy he needed. He had had troubles at home with his girlfriend that morning. He told me a little about it, he was at his wits end. Seeing me and being able to talk to someone about it calmed him dramatically.
At the end of our conversation he thanked me for walking by, he said he couldn't believe he would be smiling that day. He was that upset.
I saw much in him that was a mirror of my past. Working to overexertion when stressed can lead to injury. I advised him to slow his rhythm. Stealing a line from a veteran I recently met, "Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast."
He was smiling when I walked away.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

When the Pup won't Hunt

The Friday morning, beginning the Memorial Weekend, we were parked at the Methodist Church and school grounds, at intersection of 70&321 between Lenoir and Farragut. Being the last morning of school, the entire student body and their parents where gathering for a year-end ceremony/assembly. I was given permission to park, knowing I should be gone before the whole school and church property were filled with cars. We started on the road before daybreak.
The road to Farragut was more straight than the challenging curves of the previous days since Rockwood, the grasses along the sides were just as overgrown on long stretches and the guardrails were tight as we traveled the valleys and hills. . When we got closer to "civilization" more mowed lawns allowed me to do more than stand in place, when cars passed, than roll over into waist-high grass, covered with dew. When the sun rose high it, and a steady breeze, dried the cut grasses enough to where I could roll along ditches and in front yards without soaking the canvas ball with dew. The world gets heavy sometimes...
As we approached one large yard a woman came from the house that was set back a few hundred feet from the road. As she got close her grandson let her dogs out, though she had told them not to. One was an old German Shepard She said he was harmless and got along well with others. The problem was that Nice (the dog) has issues with all German Shepherds, stemming from a heated discussion he had with a retired police Shepard at a fire station in Newark Delaware years ago. As a result Nice (the dog) has not forgotten has an elephants memory of the experience.
The woman kept the old dog, by his collar, at a distance and I tossed her the extra leash I carry while Nice grumbled and lunged at his imagined adversary. She led her old boy back to the house while we waited. When she came out with the leash she also had a bag filled with two portions of dog food ,almonds, a banana, grapes, two protein bars and some water. Nice (the dog) ate one of the bags of food while we talked awhile before heading on our way.
I didn't notice, until later, that Nice had re-injured his front leg joint when he was trying to pull me, with all his might, toward the other dog, staining this way and that to get advantage against my weight.
We had stopped for a few minutes and when Nice (the dog) got up I noticed a slight limp. The sprain, from when he was a puppy has been recurring when he plays and jumps sideways to-and-fro, it was likely he strained it again surging to get to the old, harmless Shepard.
We soon came to an area of well groomed lawn by a golf coarse, after we walked into Farrogut, where Nice (the dog) lay down in the sun and cool breeze. The temperature was Springlike, the grass was nearly that of a putting-green I thought it a good place to let him rest and took off my pack. A dollar bill lay on the ground a few feet from where he lay. A sign of a good choice, perhaps?
When I got up to leave he was slow in rising, his foot was sore, there was no denying it. After a few hundred yards I decided we would need to stop. We were walking no further this day. Even though I had made no contact a for a way back to the van. Far from rural farmland, we were now in a "well-to-do"area, a person with a pickup truck to haul the ball was unlikely.
I told myself not to worry, everything will work out, things happen for a reason, etc. and sat down to post a few pictures on my Faces Book album with my worldwide connectivity devise (otherwise known as a smartphone).
I was going to let Nice rest.
After about a half an hour a car pulled off the road (not suitable for such things). It was a woman and her daughter. They had seen us earlier on the road and... One thing led to another... I pulled the plug on the world, tied it to a fence post while we rode in her SUV to retrieve the van.
When we arrived at the Church Nice got up from the backseat and looked down at the ground...then at me. I lifted him off the seat palaces him on the gravel pavement.
The woman is a fitness trainer. She agreed wholeheartedly, from experience, that exercise and a wholesome diet can do wonders for any body. I was grateful to meet her and her faith that the body- mind, and spirit can transform with some dedication.
I got back to the deflated globe, loaded it into the van and found a shaded spot at a shopping complex a short distance up the road.
I called Nice's Holistic-distance healing-(the stuff really works) veterinarian and while she sent him healing energy we took a nap for two hours. When we awoke Nice had no limp, but we agreed a little rest is necessary.
This morning, Saturday of the Memorial Holiday weekend we are still at the mall and will stay the day. The side of the mall is partially vacant and the shade trees in the green-space is better than some parks I have seen. The man from the Nail Salon said it would be alright when he came for a picture with his daughter. It will give Nice time to heal. This morning he wasn't limping when I walked him over to the grass but he was stiff upon getting out of his sleeping spot. .
This also gives me an excuse to repair world with a little paint , glue and canvas. That world won't heal without a little human intervention.

When Nice finally rose an stepped from the van he obviously favored the sore front leg. The song on the country radio station went something like..."Love starts limpin', love starts limpin' away. This live we're livin' gets harder every day..."

Friday, May 22, 2015

Time and a Bottle

At a momentary pause from the traffic, I glanced at my feet and saw a bottle buried in the gravel. The grass plow tracks impressed across a swath where the cutting blade had exposed the road base, and the bottle. I pulled it up, unbroken, filled with rock and dirt. I took a few moments to work the tightly packed contents. The bottle looked to have been tossed there at the time the road was laid, 1970's.
I put it in my pocket and walked on, wondering to myself what in the world I needed with a Pepsi bottle from my teenage years. What would I do with it?
A few miles, hills and curves later I came upon an unique roadside store. Inside I found a woman sitting at a kitchen table off to one side of the sparsely stocked shelves.
Against the far wall was the coffee pot, little antique sugar jar with matching creamer .
Looking to the side I saw a wall of collectible bottles.
I believe this was a sign...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tennessee Testimonials

I could write a book of all the tragic losses people have shared with me of their friends and family members concerning diabetes.
Loss of feet, limbs, sight and life.
I met a preacher last Sunday. He walked out from the small roadside church. One of many in Crossville erected of metal and faith. He had lost well over one hundred pounds after suffering heart troubles and diabetes. Through self determination and dedication he was now a dapper dressed dispenser of "the word" to his flock of faithful.
Yesterday I stopped on the roadside to talk to a man whose daughter had come home from school telling him of a video the school had watched that was filmed by two of their teachers with me and the world. (I had been told the children had to watch with their heads tilted to one side because the teacher held the camera sideways) He brought a large bottle of cold water, wanted to get a picture for his kids and offer me a snack cake. He was the snack cake delivery guy. After accepting the offer he brought out a stack, one of each that he had and an extra honey bun. I had left the zipper open on top of my backpack so I let him load them in, asking him to take care next the baby cucumbers and cherries I had brought on my own. We laughed at the irony of loading up the guy walking for diabetes with sugary cakes. The man wanted so much to do what he could for me and what else can a snack cake guy do but dispense them?
By this time a small congregation had formed. After my light hearted sermon about the irony of snack cakes the women from the close-by business and the happy snack cake bread-winner had gone, but one young man remained.
He was a young man, looked fit, healthy in his twenties. He shared that he had been diabetic but lost one hundred pounds which he had gained after moving out on his own as an adult from his parents home. With diet and exercise he was now free of diabetic symptom,s taking no medications.
Determination and dedication.
Who knows, maybe a little faith in himself.
Love yourself, go for a walk.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

At a Crossroad

On a long contemplative drive she had come to a conundrum. To participate, or close herself away. She spoke to her "higher power" asking for a sign to follow her urge to help the needful.
Moments later she came to a crossroad that stopped in all directions
while a man and his dog, leading the World by a string, crossed before her.
The Himalayas will now be richer from her giving.
No mountain is too high for a loving heart.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The High Street Whirligig

When his wife called him while she was on her way to work at six fifteen telling him to get the camera and find that guy out on the highway pushing a giant ball with a dog he told her she was nuts. He had other things to do. Yard work, for instance. He set about trimming edges and filling boxes with clippings. Hours after his wife called he was roused from his shrubbery-watering by a call from the road.
I had taken a scenic route thru his small town. His road went back to the highway. It was quiet, lined with pretty houses.
A whirligig in his yard was spinning from the sparkled as it turned, I was mesmerized as I walked toward the yard.
Naturally, I couldn't help but say something to the man in the yard about it. He would not have seen me, he was too deeply entranced in his yard irrigation to notice anything else. His yard was perfect, the whirligig, though planted prominently in the open space of the yard, looked out of place.
Once we struck up a conversation he told me about his wife and chuckled that he got to do his yard work and get the picture she'd asked for.
In regards to the whirligig, it was his wife's addition to the yard. Amongst his trimmed edges and painted borders the military veteran showed some disdain for the glistening distraction.
It took away the eye from his perfect yard.
I asked him to let his wife know he would not have got that picture if not for the whirligig.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

BonDeCroft to Crossville

There was a good chance for rain sometime during the day, so I carried my little tent. I could erect it quickly, in the case we were far from shelter, when a downpour came.
On my earlier walks I would carry it always. One day I realized I had carried the tent over one thousand miles without using it. There would invariably be a shelter, or a person would appear, they would provide us a ride the few miles back to the van or take us in until the rain ended. I decided to have a little faith and stopped carrying it.
The threat of rain led me to be cautious so I put the tent in my pack. The few extra pounds felt as heavy as a house when I began, though at times the pack weighs much more. I soon forgot about it after we started out in the dark.
I rolled out for the last hours of darkness on the open road before daybreak to avoid the morning rush of traffic and the occasional roadside conversation. We traveled a few miles before the road became busy or people began to pull off to talk or slow to take a picture.
It was well after ten o'clock when the rain began. We were directed to a building by a man who had brought me breakfast by the roadside. The building by the intersection to the town of Pleasant Hill. The structure looked like it had been an old gasoline station, now used for storage. It had an overhang that provided Nice (the dog) and I just enough room to stay dry. The rain became heavy, the cars on the highway threw up thick clouds of water in their wake. I was scanning the area for a place to erect my tiny house when a man, his wife and her mother stopped for a visit under the awning. The couples son is a type-1 diabetic and they wanted to say hello. We talked a bit before the man rode me back the few miles to the van while the ladies stayed with Nice and the world. A few minutes later Nice was comfortably relaxing in his captains chair. The man then stopped at home to get their son and we had a picture taken in front of the world before they left.
Once again, I had carried the tent, for physical therapy, without needing to use it.
Soon the tapping of rain on the roof of the van lulled me into napping for an hour or so. I was awakened when a man came tapping on my raindrop speckled window. He had seen us the previous day but was unable to stop and wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to talk. I was refreshed from the nap, so talk I did. Soon he knew my life story and the dog's too.
With his phone we checked the progress of the rain clouds with his GPS. It looked as if there would be a break so I prepared to resume since the man had offered assistance when I was near Crossville, I thought I might risk it again between cloud fronts.
It was still raining slightly and Nice (the dog) looked at me with wide eyes. I plied him with bologna that someone had given me, to no avail. He was not getting out of his comfy spot. For the first time, I left him in the van. It was sure to be overcast with clouds the rest of the day, had I not taken the chance I would have stayed on the van with him anyway. Leaving the windows open,with water and food, I left him. I felt guilty, he put his head down and closed his eyes.
I walked through Pleasant Hill then back on the main highway, still carrying the tent just in case. It stayed cloudy all day but the rain stayed away.
When I finally got back to the van Nice hadn't moved.
Back in Crossville, one of the first things I did was open my backpack to take out the tent.
It may seem foolhardy to believe the planets will align all the time but it is no reason to carry a house on your back, just In case some rain should fall.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Spartan Crusaders

On our way into Sparta we met Margaret who was having a meeting with the Sparta chamber of commerce that afternoon. Her concern was healthier food availability in the growing city. Food deserts exist, even when surround by rich farmlands.
As we walked up the "mountain" leaving Sparta the next morning we met the President of the Sparta chamber of commerce who was of a like mind in the noble thinking of sustainability.
It was not lost on any of us that without plenty of wholesome food, not generally produced by big distributors, it's lack could be a factor in the growing spread of diabetes and and other disease.
Plant a seed.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

"Take me to safety!"

After I awoke at the WallyWorld two men drove alongside where we were parked to ask what I was up to. They had seen us on the road. After a few questions he offered to ride us over the Smyrna Bridge, they are constructing a new one and the old bridge is very narrow. The men were working at a house out that way, gave me their cell number to call when I arrived.
The road to the lake was fairly passable but the valley roadway going to the bridge
was narrow with a guardrail on on side and a ditch with a rock face on the other..
Just when I had made it to the base of the bridge the men appeared,they had finished for the day.
When we loaded the world up in the bed of the truck the driver asked if I wanted to go just to the other side or up the hill where it was safe. I opted for safety...