Into the Void

Monday, June 28
Today I had my first slight bout of depression. After spending a night at a hotel in Bend, my wife dropped me off where where she had picked me up the previous afternoon. After some hugs and tears - I began my walk again. Up to this point I had had periodic visitors - my friend Ken, my son James, and my wife Cynthia had all taken drives to visit and say some last goodbyes. Now, with 200 miles behind me and 2,800 in the front, I am truly on my own. I will not see another familiar face until Labor Day weekend when my wife is scheduled to visit in Casper, Wyoming.
The Chinese say that "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the very first step," so I took three and headed sadly on down the road.

Tuesday, June 29
Today was the day of hawks. For whatever reason, they were much more plentiful than usual. Red Tails (the only ones I know by sight) and many other seemed to accompany me along the way. Some ranchers were mowing hay and the hawks seemed to have no problem spotting mice and voles exposed by the mowers. I found a dead hawk and thought a donated feather might adorn my trailer perfectly. I picked it up but it smelled so bad I decided I didn't really need one. In addition, a herd of mule deer followed me parallel from a distance while I walked along the road this morning. They seemed as curious about me as I was about them. Lots of jack rabbits and a coyote too.
Shade seems to be mighty scarce in this part of Oregon. The pictures of Eastern Oregon might be surprising to those of you that have never visited. Many people have images of towering firs and pines but most of Oregon actually is a high desert.
I had not planned well enough for water. I'm not sure what I was thinking but I did not buy water at the "one store" town of Brothers. Maybe the desert had heated my brain a bit. Instead I purchased  two bottles of orange juice, some peanuts, and continued on my way. While walking down the hot highway and mentally working through the math it seemed as if I would be cutting it close if I were to make it to my destination. But, as luck would have it, I spied a mobile home with what looked like a water pump beside its driveway. Therefore, I went right up, flipped a switch, and sure enough - water came gushing out! As it didn't look like anyone was home and no dogs presented themselves, I decided to help myself by filling several gallon jugs (I'm starting to take advantage of the opportunities presented without the reservation of shyness).
Did I mention that the day was hot? Well, it was hot and it was to be my hardest yet in terms of physical punishment. Burns, Oregon was 56 miles away and I wanted to make it in two days. My decision was to walk as much as possible today so I could arrive in Burns tomorrow afternoon. Therefore, I hiked 32 miles leaving 24 for the next. It was a real test but at least it didn't have many hills.
I am always grateful to the people who stop their cars to wish me well. Everyone seems supportive. I have been offered food, drink, and money. Thus far, I haven't taken any food. I always hand people one of my business cards and a copy of the Bill of Rights. One guy took my picture to put on You Tube and spread the word. I told him thanks.
Have you ever heard of Riley, Oregon? Probably not. It consists of a small Post Office and a store. For me, it was an oasis in the desert! I quickly downed a couple of fruit juice and a deli sandwich and then bought a couple more. While there, I talked to the man at the counter who was bar coding my purchases. I told him that eventually we would all have bar codes on our foreheads the way our government was going. He said he had known this was coming all his life - for him it was the "mark of the beast." "Cool," I said, as I headed out looking for a place to camp.
Camping that evening, I was too tired to bother cooking - some peanuts and power bars washed down with water was fine.

Wednesday, June 30
I was up at 4:15 AM and on the road by 5:30. My morning routine consists of instant coffee (I normally hate instant coffee but Starbucks makes some tolerable stuff), instant oatmeal, and a trip to the woods (oops - there aren't any). After that, it's break camp and on my way. The mornings are best for it is not scorching hot. The "scorching" doesn't begin until around 10:00 AM!
One of my first real hassles has been the new road construction I've encountered. I always try to stay to the edge and out of traffic which is normally no big deal. But for the last 50 miles it has been a big pain in the a _ _! In paving the road, the state has put indentations about two feet from the roads edge which serves as an audible alarm when the car drives over them. This I understand is a great thing for sleepy drivers but it is terrible for me. It is hard enough pushing this thing without this hassle added to it.
I made it to Burns at 1:30 in the afternoon. After three days camping in the heat, it was literally "cool" to take a shower and have some air conditioning again. I will be here for two nights.

Oh Brother, Almost to Brothers

Saturday, June 26
I am at a motel in Bend, Oregon. My wife Cynthia drove from Eugene to find me for this will be our last opportunity to see each other until she flies to Casper, Wyoming over the Labor Day weekend. In the morning she will drop me off where she picked me up. After this, I will truly be on my own.

Friday, June 25
In the late afternoon while looking for a place to pitch my tent I heard a honking horn. I couldn't believe it, but here was my son, James, and two of his friends! Being young and adventurous they driven from Portland to see if they could find me knowing that I would be somewhere east of Bend, Oregon. I was greatly surprised as I did not know that they were coming. Though they did not stay long, it was fun to share a moment together for it can be pretty lonely walking down the hot highway. They had even brought a six pack of cold beer with them.
It was an enjoyable evening.

The Cops - Wasn't it Just a Matter of Time?

I knew it would eventually happen and it did.
While walking in the hot sun yesterday I decided to take a lunch break. I parked my trailer along the highway and clamored down a sandy embankment seeking the shade of a large juniper tree. While resting there, a radio show from Reedsport called and I had my first interview on "live radio." Feeling pretty good about the experience and somewhat rejuvenated, I started on down the road once again feeling fine.
By now the sun was growing hotter and I decided to heed my wife's advice and put on a long sleeve shirt for protection - but where to change? Looking around, I figured I could quickly change my shirt between the cars zooming by - but I had better be fast - I didn't need any charges of public indecency! Well, guess what? As soon as I had the one shirt off and before I had the next one on - that exact moment - the Deschutes County Sheriff pulls over. There I stood shirtless and surprised! What to do? I kept dressing! As he got out of the car I took control of the situation explaining all and winning over a new friend in the process. His name was Officer Wells, a nice grandfatherly type figure with a calm demeanor. I gave him one of my business cards and told him to check my blog for I would mention him by name.
But in a larger sense, what is my responsibility to the police? I had no reservations explaining to him about my trip - but what if I didn't want to share? There is always a natural disssonance between the authorities "need to know," and the individual's want for privacy. Until recently, a person in this country did not have to identify himself unless he had done something wrong, but the Supreme Court has changed that. Now, a citizen must identify himself to the policeman when asked.
Legal question - Did I have a right to only give my name and nothing more? You might ask, " Who cares? What's the big deal?" Yet these small questions a very big issues.
I'm reminded of an early television show called Combat starring Vic Morrow. It was about some American GI's during WW II and much of the plot was simply avoiding German authorities. Weekly, the show provided tense moments as the Americans would smuggle themselves through "checkpoints" being asked by German guards with thick accents, "Your papers, please!"
Are we there yet in this country?
(By the way, the sheriff said he already knew about me.)

* A "Son of Liberty" in Sisters, Oregon

Next Stop - Bend, Oregon

Thursday, June 24
Well, for better or worse, I am “branching out” having just stood for four hours this afternoon on a Sisters, Oregon sidewalk. Given the choice, my feet would vote to walk a great distance rather than to simply stand four hours in old style leather shoes. Anyway, I can now say that the “Son of Liberty” has ventured beyond the Willamette Valley, crossed the Cascades, and is heading east in the morning.
Until today, I was yet unsure of which route I would be taking to the Idaho border. There are but two choices from here - Highway 20 or Highway 26. Why undecided? It is because each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The more northern Highway 26 has some population along its route (and that is stretching it by a long shot) and more scenic wonder. The negative is that is gains much more in elevation with corresponding twists and turns as it passes through the southern foothills of the Wallowa Mountains. Highway 20 on the other hand, is more southern, more hot, and has less people. The positive is that it is easier to walk if you have the water. My choice was decided after a conversation with an Oregon State Patrolman - I’m taking Highway 20. He assured me that water would be available at key points and it really is easier traveling. So there it is. I will walk the 22 miles to Bend tomorrow, then continue on Highway 20 toward Brothers (see if you can find that on a map!). Then I’m looking forward to Saturday and a rendezvous my wife Cynthia. She is driving from Eugene so that we might be together once more before I get too far out of range. I am making a small list of a few items she might bring as well as some she might take back. I am really trying to streamline my packing style and this will be my last chance to make any changes. I am lucky to live in Oregon and be able to work out the early wrinkles.

* Images from Belknap Hot Springs to Sisters

Sisters, Oregon

Wednesday, June 23
I have just returned from breakfast to my motel in Sisters, Oregon. I am at the moment mustering courage to dress into my outfit and then push my cart down the main street to a community park. I suppose that I do not need to take my cart along but it is always good as a discussion starter when people see that I'm on a cross-country journey. Already the day is growing warm and I am sure I will be warmer still in my woolens. Today I wish to talk to random citizens, ask questions, and to share my love for history. I have copies of the Bill of Rights to distribute, as well as three different editions of the Declaration of Independence. This should be an interesting day as I have not yet stopped long enough to do this. During breakfast I talked to a gentleman who had no reservations telling me what was wrong with this country. In these exchanges I try to listen and to not lead people into answers - I already know my own opinion, but I do not know theirs. Whether I agree or disagree isn’t the issue - I want to hear from them. We’ll see how this goes.

Yesterday, June 22, I set a personal record for distance walked in a day. My best guess is that I went over 32 miles. I had no plan on doing this but as Sisters represented a warm shower and cool sheets I put out the extra effort and made it. I started walking at 6:15 in the morning and arrived around 7:30 last night. I could hardly move and I think I learned a lesson! I hit my room and immediately hit the bed. But this morning I feel fine. I must add that yesterday the climb from Clear Lake to the top of the pass at Hoodo Ski area was quite the climb! I simply went into a “head space” and put one foot in front of the other eventually getting to the top. While sitting in the shade having lunch, a couple of friends on their way to Cleveland stopped to wish me well. Watching them drive away, I felt a bit like the tortoise in “The Tortoise and the Hare,” and was all the glad for it.

* From Eugene to Blue River

Contrasts and Pleasant Suprises

This is the first internet available since departing Eugene.

Friday, June 18
The plan had been to leave Thursday but due to last minute preparations I was unable to leave until 8:30 Friday morning. After embraces and fond farewells I was finally on my way. Walking through Eugene and Springfield, it seemed a while before I could again enjoy being in the country. Passing a rock quarry business, I stopped and asked them to weigh my cart - 152 pounds! Yikes. I have since added some things to it and I would guess it is more like 160+. I hope both it and I can handle the load.
Leaving Springfield, Route 126 becomes quite beautiful heading up the McKenzie River Valley. As it was another sunny afternoon, my biggest concern seemed to be "making tracks" putting distance and the familiar behind. After 24 miles of hugging the side of the road trying to stay out of harms way, I began looking for a place to stake my tent for the evening. Seeing none, I finally walked up to a house and knocked asking if I might pitch my tent on the grounds for the night. A nice woman gave me permission to camp under a gazebo in her back yard and I did not even have to set up my tent. It was a warm near summer night and I awoke several times to the yipping coyotes and bright stars. Up early at 4:30 and on my way east.
Concern: My cart. I hope it holds up the length of the trip for in it I carry everything.

Saturday June 19
Leaving Walterville in the morning, I was not sure just where the day's end would bring me. Again, I just wanted to put some miles under my shoes and face the first real hills since leaving Eugene fully loaded. It was another day of hugging the side of the road and watching the beautiful scenery. My cart can be either pulled or pushed. I have been mostly pushing it but tried pulling for several hours - pulling is much harder on level ground. Therefore the basic rule will be - "pushing" on level ground and "pulling" when going up hill or down.
I handed out my card and copies of the Bill of Rights to several stores and people along the way - most people are appreciative and wish me well. Stopped at the Vida Cafe and a nice waitress named Shirley gave me me lunch for free when she learned I was walking across the country. I am trying to eat at establishments when possible. I figure that the food is healthier and I can save my freeze dried food for necessities
Toward the end of the day my cell phone batteries were giving out and it started to rain. I donned my gear and "worked through it" heading for Blue River, Oregon thinking maybe I could find a motel for the night to take a shower and recharge my batteries - both mine and my cell phone's. Unfortunately, it was not to be. One motel was closed, the other was six miles out of town, the only campground was up a hill and miles away - what was a poor boy to do? It was raining and getting dark and I did not know the answer, so, I started walking, looking for something - anything at all. I finally came to an ancient abandoned house with a veranda porch whose floorboards were rotting and contained many gaping holes. As it was still pouring and I did not want to pitch tent in a downpour, this "rat hole" looked like the perfect spot for me. I threw down my tarp, blew up my mattress, tossed out my sleeping bag, and crawled in for the night.
In the morning, I was glad to get out of there without anyone having called the sheriff. I imagine this will not be the last of these more desperate experiences.

Sunday June 20
Ahhhhhh..., I have just finished soaking in a natural hot spring at Belknap Resort. Talk about a change of conditions! Never underestimate the unexpected.
By morning the rain had stopped and I again wanted to see how far I could cover in a day. My average has been about 24 miles which I feel is pretty good considering I am pushing 160 pounds. Well, about three miles into my day's walk, my best friend, Ken Clark, called and said that he had made a reservation as a gift at Belknap Hot Spings Resort and would like to join me if possible. As Belkap is only 16 miles east of Blue River I figured that it would count as a full days journey with a hot soak serving as the coup de gras. As I write I am feeling recharged. I have had a shower, a soak, a clean set of clothes, the electronic gear is charging, and I am enjoying company with an old friend.

Monday June 21
I will be leaving after breakfast. Based on the road ahead this looks like it might be my first "pulling" day as the elevation gain will be quite steep. I have have had hills thus far but have not yet faced a real mountain climb. My guess is that the daily distance could drop considerably starting today. Well just have to see how it goes.
I will probably be unable to add a post to my blog until reaching Sisters, Oregon. Please be patient as much of my walk is "out of service" with my best hopes for blogging being at motels along the way. Wish me luck.

Home Again (For Now)

Tuesday, June 15
I have now walked the 65 miles from the ocean's edge to my door. I arrived home at 1:30 yesterday afternoon tired and sore but feeling quite good. The weather has been cooperative, I've had a chance to test the trailer, and I have already gone 1/50 of my trip!
Yesterday, I had my first interviews with people. I was walking along the road and ran into a man begging for change on a street corner. I sat down and we talked about his life situation. He allowed me to take his photo after I assured him it would be treated with respect (even the downtrodden want respect). I gave him $5, shook his hand, and we wished each other well. Still savoring the good feelings from this first encounter, I soon stopped to chat with some men drinking beer on a park bench. At first defensive, they soon dropped their gurad and we had a friendly interaction in the hot afternoon sun. They were very appreciative that anyone would ask for their opinions and offered me a beer (which I declined). As I walked away they wished me well.

I will be home until Thursday. This small break will allow for last minute adjustments before taking off. Having hauled my trailer 65 miles up and down hills has me thinking again of how to lighten my load. I will separate things into three piles: necessary; probably necessary; not necessary. This will be a most difficult chore.

I wish to acknowledge some acts of kindness and express my thanks to:
- the little boy who gave me $5 and an orange before driving away with his grandmother.
- a civil libertarian on the Oregon beach who gave me much encouragement.
- a war protester on a hot Florence sidewalk who handed me $7.
- a man at the market who thanked me and gave me $2.
- the couple who stopped to give me some Gatorade and well wishes.
- the many cars who gave me a wide berth when passing.
- the men who allowed me an interview.
- to the gods for the 26 cents I found along the road.
- to the my students who walked with me to begin my journey.
- and mostly, to my dear wife Cynthia and her support of my adventure.

* A Perfect Day

Beautiful Beginning

Saturday, June 12.
Accompanied by students and friends, I could not have wished for a better beginning. Starting at the ocean's edge, I knelt to collect a small memento of sand and surf, then we, as a group, turned our backs to the Pacific and started east. Three miles later and with fond farewells, the students boarded the bus and headed for home. Since a picture speaks a thousand words, I will let the pictures speak since I at the moment am to tired to write. When the sun shines, as you will see, Oregon can't be beat.

* Let the Fun Begin.

Decisions, Decisions

They say the entire Oregon Trail was littered with discarded debris. True to human nature, Americans heading West, quite simply - overpacked. Faced with future uncertainties - both real and imagined - these early pioneers found it difficult to separate what was truly needed from what was simply wanted. Do we take this? Do we leave that? Many people found these choices difficult and as a result, wagons creaked and groaned as straining oxen began moving slowly forward. Over the miles, by necessity, old choices would be revisited, "Do we discard the chest of drawers, toss the family china, or abandon the dear grandmother we love?" Tough decisions with real consequences.

Yesterday I packed the trailer I will be transporting with all the items I wish to take. As I live but five miles from school and it is fairly flat, I figured that this would serve as a good trial run giving me a proper "feel" for what it will be like to haul my supplies and gear. Well, I must confess that both man and machine strained under the load! As I walked to work in the growing heat I thought much about the high deserts of Oregon and Idaho, and the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming.
Returning home at the end of the day, it began to rain - a little at first but this soon turned into a downpour. My rain gear, being in the bottom of my supplies, was forsaken and I decided to bear the wet. Soon "soaked to the bone" each passing car seemed only to add insult to injury by providing an additional drenching. Arriving home tired and wet, I found it a chore to haul the fully laden cart up the driveway and into the garage - so much for the Rocky Mountains!
Like the pioneers of old - I have some important decisions to make.

Sure hope Grandma is doing well.