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.


  1. Well, Mr. Brown, I have faith in you. My dad saw you when he was driving back from Idaho, if that makes you feel any better.

    I'm rooting for you!

  2. Day of hawks - sounds good to me! Not sure if you care, but you might see Swainson's hawk, ferruginous hawk, golden eagle, and prairie falcon, in addition to red-tails, out there in Eastern Oregon.

    Thanks for keeping your blog - it makes for good reading!


  3. Hi Ray,
    It is always good to read what is happening with you everyday. I'm sure mom and I aren't the only ones following your way on the map. With every step you are getting closer. TAke care of yourself.