Saturday, November 1, 2014

Days 1-5

The Night Before

              No sleep. Maybe slept a max of one hour, but anxiety, nerves, excitement, reluctance, and self doubt gripped me for most of the night. It felt like the best thing and the worst thing to do all at the same time.

              When I was packing my belongings in my apartment a few months prior I had come across an old notebook I had kept since I was in about middle school. It is one of those zip-up notebooks that used to have the three rings on the inside to keep notebook paper in, neatly organized. I had, a long time ago, done away with said rings, and by now was packed to the rim with old pages from school. This had been a collection of notes I had taken from middle school through college, but, more specifically, the ones I had doodled on.

              Since I was young I had made a pact with each of my teachers (all in my own mind, of course) that everything within the margins was their territory. I would write the notes they beckoned, and put down the answers to their quizzes, but everything outside the margins, where the three holes were, was MY territory. This is where I let my imagination go when teachers rambled on about this or that. This was where I spent the most ink. This is where I had my fun. If the teachers weren't keeping my full attention, I was outside the margins, in places where creatures that have never existed lived. This was my escape during the long school hours I was made to attend. From time to time I fully commandeered entire pages I deemed unnecessary for school use.

              I had not looked in this notebook in years, only opening it to add another year's worth of notes, quizzes, tests, worksheets, and handouts. So when I was about to put it into a box, I opened it. It made me so happy that I won't waste time trying to describe the feelings in words. It came as an affirmation, a nod from my past selves, a hand shake from all of my selves from middle school to college for having saved these. It had only been three years since I'd graduated from college, but somewhere around 10-15 years worth of doodles lived here. It was like sitting in those classrooms again, with those teachers in front of me. I was reminded of great times, terrible experiences, and everything in between. This notebook, to me, is priceless and definitive of who I am meant to be.

              I spent most of that night photographing many of those doodles. I hope to be brave enough, one day, to share them. I hope that I can use them to thank those teachers somehow, to show them that I (hopefully) was not just wasting time in their classes, but becoming who I was meant to be. I hope that if anything comes of these doodles, I can give back to education, to teachers. Their patience with me must have been beyond infinite.

              By 5am I was finally finished photographing them, and turned out the light. The last time I remember looking at the clock it said 6:30am, and I was still wide awake.

              My alarm went off at 10am, and it was time to get up and finish final preparations. I had a wonderful salad lunch with my parents, before setting off by 2pm.

              Thus the adventure began...
Day 1
              I started by calling this Day 0 since it was halfway through the day before I started, but it quickly became too confusing to say "Day 0, Night 1," then, "Day 1, Night 1- No wait, Night 2," and I am a simple man, so no time for that nonsense.

              Last minute preparations were underway as I packed the last of the stuff I was using at my parents' house, taking my last shower, having my "last meal." Both my parents were beyond supportive, they were amazing. Mum helped me psychologically, preparing my mind with various questions and curiosities. These were integral for my inner fortitude to begin my journey. Several things she asked me about I had not quite thought through until I had to put them to words, this prepared me. My dad, here on out referred to as Papi, helped me in a more physical sense, in building my wagon (the DragonWagon), putting together the load, and hooking up a solar panel and battery to keep my camera going. Both of these aspects were essential, and without this balance, I may never have begun. I cannot thank my parents enough for all they've done and do for me.

              So, Day 1 started at 2pm. Everything was packed and ready, everything was prepared. Mum and Papi were there with me for the "launch." We said our goodbyes since we weren't sure exactly when (and morbidly but unmentioned, if) we would see each other again. I might've made it to the end of the road then turned around and come right back. As I started the first few steps of the journey I found myself feeling silly. Here I am with a funny hat, funny looking shoes, camelbak, and a wagon strapped to my hip resembling some sort of ox, and I am about to be seen in public. The wagon, stacked to chest height with an assemblage of random necessities, had a solar panel on top making it look like a Mars Rover catastrophe. I was suddenly and almost overwhelmingly embarrassed as I passed the first of the neighboring houses, although no one else was there to witness. I turned around as I continued walking to bravely wave at my parents, who stood there side by side in a picturesque moment of love, and it gave me courage. This is it. This is the beginning. I got to the end of the block and as I turned the corner, realizing this was the first busy public street, I stopped the wagon. I took a few steps backward so I could see my parents' house again, and there they were, still watching. I took off my hat and raised it to them in salute. They waved back. This gave me the last ounce of strength I needed, I knew I was not going to quit.

              It is an awkward feeling to do something in public that is so far out of the norm. It feels foreign and unfamiliar. Pulling my little wagon along the sidewalk felt strange, but not as strange as the speed in which I got used to it. It took much less time than I thought to "become one" with my wagon. I wondered what I looked like to all the people driving by, their gazes following me as they passed. My answer came quicker than I was ready for.

              Sheradon. I think he said his name was Sheradon, maybe Sheldon. I had repeated "Sheradon" back to him to make sure, and he said yes. Either it was a miscommunication all around, or pity he gave me by not correcting me, or his actual name. Less than an hour into my walk, only two or three miles away from the house, I saw a car, that had driven past me, turn around. This PT Cruiser stopped in a driveway on the other side of the road, and a teenage looking kid got out. He crossed the road to my side, then went back to the car, then crossed to my side again. He walked in my direction, on the same sidewalk, while the car still sat there. I had just turned on my camera a couple of minutes before to get some super exciting footage of my walking, but I am so glad I did. This kid, dressed in his Sunday best, tie, long sleeved purple button up shirt, clean black slacks, walked committedly towards me. He had a paper bag in his hands. As we got close enough we said hello to each other, and to my complete surprise he offered me his food, the paper bag. I'll have to refer back to the video to see exactly how the encounter went down, because to be completely honest I was taken absolutely by surprise. (Again, I am beginning to sweat while I write this. This was a very special moment for me) I didn't know how to react. I thanked him and said it wasn't necessary, but he insisted, and gave me $5 as well, right out of his wallet. I thanked him, then he turned away. I called back to him before he crossed the street, and asked his name. I repeated it back to him to be sure I heard him right, told him mine and shook his hand. I thanked the lady in the car, still waiting across the street, as Sheradon got back in.

              Less than an hour into my journey I had been given a bag of nuggets and $5, but that was not what I really received. What I actually received was kindness, hope. Sheradon showed me a side of the world of strangers that I have rarely seen and am not accustomed to. He saw a person dragging all of his belongings with him on the road, decided he needed help, and helped. I cannot express how touched I am by this. I thought, in a moment, that I should refuse his gesture, that I didn't need it, but I didn't want that to be the reaction that this kind of service deserved. I didn't want this kid to go home thinking "I'll never try giving people anything again if they're just going to refuse it." I hope he goes through life knowing that this is the right way of doing things, that even little acts of kindness can be huge. This was huge. As I ate the nuggets, continuing my walk, I felt a regret creeping up on me. I really, truly wished I had given him something, anything in return. What could I have given? It dawned on me. A drawing. A page out of my sketch book. A finished, original piece. "Whoa buddy!" came the ever present negative voice in my head, "what would he want with that shit? It's not worth anything, it's not good, and he probably wouldn't want it anyways." I fight this voice on a daily basis. This is the voice that kept me at my job for three years too long. This is the voice I am working on muting. I wanted to give him a piece of me in return, no matter the value of it, because it would have been better than nothing.

              This moment, I felt, was extremely important, and very influential on my trip.

              Before having set off I had glanced on Google Maps to see where the first place was I should stop and roughly what lay between Palm Bay and Orlando. A whole lot of farms, nothing, farms, and a town. I decided then not to pour over the map for long, and let the adventure be what it was going to be, other than deciding where to make first camp. I had seen a canal on the map that crossed over US192, and decided it wasn't too close or that far from I-95. Well outside the outskirts of Palm Bay/Melbourne. I am amazed I made it. I thought for sure, while looking at that map, that I would never walk 11 miles, but I did, somehow. I walked for 5 or 6 hours straight, only stepping in for 5 minutes at Mum's school, knowing she had an event, and to shake hands with her principle whom I had spoken with about this journey. It was an attest to my power of will and determination in my journey, even though every step I took was echoed by the voice saying, "stop," and "go back." Every step.

              My mother drove out to meet me about a mile before I stopped. She couldn't help herself, and I was glad for it. She drove out to make sure I was ok, to tell me how proud she was, that she couldn't believe I was doing it, and, just maybe, to give me a way out. I thanked her, hugged her, kissed her, and went on. This was very important to me. I had to do this.

Night 1

              While I was amazed I made my destination, I didn't make it there before sunset. I have found the sun has been setting by about 7pm which means that I must have made it there about 8pm, in darkness. I got to the bridge that crossed over the canal, and my skin, which had been cooking under the sun for a better part of the afternoon, was still sweaty but now freezing. I barely felt the cold since my muscles were so warm, but I knew I had to get my tent up quick, and stabilize my temperature, lest I get sick on day one. That would have been embarrassing.

              I decided not to cross the bridge tonight since there was a seemingly perfect little spot next to it to camp in. I was hidden from the cars by the concrete wall of the bridge, and protected from them running me over in the dark by the metal railing connected to the wall. There was a slight downhill from the road, so I was well out of sight, and there was an electric pole I could set up next to. Perfect.

              Not perfect. Far from perfect. Since it was dark, I had to use my flashlight to see, and as soon as the light went on, mosquitoes from a mile radius were on full alert. I was, after all, setting up next to a canal, AKA mosquito breeding grounds. They COVERED me. I was swiping swarms from my ankles, that merely relocated to my wrists, which then found my face, neck, and eventually got desperate enough to bite through my clothes. I would smack my arm and kill only the five slowest ones at a time. I had to pull the DragonWagon through the grass on what suddenly seemed like a 90 degree slope, straight down. The wagon rolled over four or five times, each time somehow getting exponentially heavier. When trying to get smart, and turning it uphill to roll it upwards, it rolled onto its back wheels (the heavier four gallon water jug being in the back) popping relentless wheelie after wheelie, digging the rear deeper and deeper into the grass and dirt. I finally got to my "perfect spot," exhausted and drained of most of my blood (don't forget to keep imagining those mosquitoes, because by this time they are getting worse. They have gotten a taste and told their friends to join the party), but the wagon kept trying to roll down hill or flip sideways. I jammed it up against one of the wires keeping the electric column in tension, and began, finally, to set up the tent. You have never seen such speed, blood and sweat flying in the night air. I was extremely motivated to get this camp site up. Everything was backwards from how I'd planned it, everything was turned around, but I didn't care. I couldn't care, I didn't have enough blood to care.

              Finally, the tent was up, I threw in sleeping bag and other essentials, and I was in, but I was not alone. As soon as I got in my tent I had to start clapping, but not out of celebration. Every time my hand met, the impact killed 10-15 mosquitoes, and I wish I were exaggerating. So many of these bastards made it inside that I spent the first 10 minutes trying to kill them all, and save what little I had left in my veins. My tent was a graveyard. My ankles were bloodied. I had not slept the night before, I was ready for sleep, but sleep would not come too easily.

              My "perfect spot" had another down side, a more literal one. I had set up my tent on a downhill, and it quickly taught me the frictionlessness (sure, it's a word, let's move on) of my tent floor and sleeping bag materials. The yoga mat was not much help. Every 5-10 minutes I had to wiggle my way back up the tent, lest my feet burst through the opposite end. Not only that, but my "perfect spot" was so close to the road that the cars were deafening, and the trucks were surely on a straight path to run me over and kill me. Every time a truck approached, I kid you not, I thought this was it, this was the end. I would die in my silly little tent, with all the mosquitoes I'd killed, under some trucker's tires, on some silly little adventure. The fear was irrationally gripping due to my dazed and exhausted state. I did not sleep. I did not rest. I was tested. It was a trying experience.

              Then the voice set in.

"See, idiot? This was stupid. You never should have done this. You should have stayed home. You never should have left. Why are you doing this? This is dumb. Go home."

              Self doubt is a powerful enemy.

              The real craziness of the situation was settling into my mind as I tossed and turned and slid and wiggled back up. I started thinking about all the reactions people had to me telling them what I was doing, and they varied as much as there are colors, but on this night I was focused on the negative side of the scale. I saw the faces of people looking at me as if there was something broken in me, the people who gave me blank stares, and the people who just didn't know what to say. Everyone who had somehow given my water bucket of confidence a drip of black doubt came to the surface. Then, I started thinking of those who encouraged me, supported me, helped me, or just got completely excited about what I was doing. All the people who said they wished they could go, the people who said they wanted to know more, and the people who asked questions. They were filters for my water bucket. They helped at night. Thank you.

Day 2

              The previous night had done its damage. My ankles and wrists were slightly swollen and covered in dried blood where the mosquitoes had feasted. My clothes and sleeping bag were wet from the morning dew and shotty work I'd done of covering everything. The harness straps on my wagon had broken from all the rollovers it had done. My will power was shaken, but not broken. I had anticipated the straps might break, so I'd brought wire along to mend them. I just hadn't thought that they would break on the first day. I patched them up after breaking down the camp, and was ready to head out, but I was tired. There was no way that I could've maintained the pace of the first day, walking 11 miles for 6 hours. I managed to walk for two hours then took an hour break.

              On my breaks I read and drew on my break, and it gave me strength. I walked for another 40 minutes. It obviously hadn't given me that much physical strength, it must have been more psychological or metaphorical. I rested for two hours, I read, I drew. I walked for another hour, and this was it for the day. It was about 5pm and I was already setting up camp. I slept. I slept a beautiful sleep until dawn, and I was rested.

              I noticed, eerily enough, that whenever I walked past a field of cows, no matter what they were doing, they would all stop and stare at me. They would follow me with their gaze until I was quite a distance away. Strange feeling.

Day 3

              This day was a good day. I picked up a good rhythm, walking one hour and resting two, managing three walks per day. I roughly estimated it was about 3 miles each walk, so it could have been 9 miles for the day. This made me feel good, determined. I was feeling great about it all, until a worry started to fall heavier and heavier on my mind... I was running low on water. I had had such confidence with my 4 gallon water tank that I didn't worry about running out before I needed to refill, but I hadn't come across anything other than vast farm lands for the last couple of days. I couldn't be sure how far ahead the next town was, since my map research only went as far as the canal, and glancing over the farmlands. I didn't take studious notes of how many miles between A and B, then B and C, with alternates D, E, and F. I had thought I'd let the journey take care of itself. Once I had to start tipping the tank to refill my camelbak I began thinking of alternatives. I could go into one of the massive farmlands, hope there is a house, hope there are people in that house, hope that they're willing to allow me some water. I could wave down a car and ask them to give me a ride, but leave the DragonWagon behind? I could hide it, or give the driver the water tank and some money, and hope they'd be willing to do it, and not drive off with it... I could... I could... It was endless guessing and second guessing, assuming and conjecturing, despairing and self assuring.

              I found myself becoming a detective. I analyzed the trash on the ground as I walked by it, gathering what clues I could. Other than busted tire treads and roadkill, there were several items of McDonalds breakfast containers. "People don't tend to hang on to those for long before eating them and throwing the trash out the window. That shit's nasty when it's cold. It couldn't take them longer than ten minutes to eat a McMuffin. That half eaten bagel still looks fresh, as do these three well dispersed banana peels."
              I hadn't come across any cross roads the past couple of days, but today I crossed three. They, however, were not paved roads, but gravel. This meant I was still in farmland. No signs to speak of, and it was getting late. I would get an early start in the morning, to try and beat the heat of the sun.

Day 4

              After a decent sleep I woke up early and set off. I was determined to get somewhere today. I kept a brisk pace and charged forward. I looked for more clues. I found more McDonalds trash, must be getting close. I saw another gravel crossroad. I started to see what looked more like houses than barns, with smaller properties that were less and less like farms. I came across another crossroad, and, yes, this one was paved, but with no painted lines on it. I'm getting closer. The house numbers were now plastered on mailboxes by the road, and they were descending from the 9900's. Closer now. My first paved road WITH lines. Hope. Finally, after another paved road with lines, and house numbers descending to the 8000's, my very first "Reduce Speed Ahead" sign. I knew this was it. I'd made it. A town.

              The town of Holopaw seemed to consist of a Citgo gas station, where I managed to refill my water and buy some more canned food, and a restaurant, called "Restaurant." I found nothing else within eyesight of this "town." The Citgo and the restaurant, called "Restaurant," were on either side of a major intersection of 441 and 192. I rolled on over from the gas station to the restaurant, which had a sign out on the road, reading, "Restaurant. Holopaw Produce. Fresh Fruit & Vegetables." I was very excited, since I hadn't had either since the trip started. I rolled to the front door to find quaint little tables outside, one occupied by two ladies. I greeted them as friendly as I could, trying somehow to not look like a stray vagrant, uncoupled myself from my wagon, and started toward the door.

              "Watcha look'n fur, h'ny?" asked one of the ladies sitting outside. I mentioned the sign saying fruits and vegetables, and that I hoped to get some. "Aw, that's an awwld sign, h'ny, we don't sell that no mo'." I was slightly amused and taken aback, and did my best to politely ask if they were open for business. I might have offended one of them, or just ruined their pre-rush smoke break, but they mentioned they had a menu inside on the table. I had a delicious breakfast, the Holopaw Omelet, which would apparently "take a minute, since it's gawt everth'n 'n th' kitchen." This was a well appreciated meal, since all my previous ones had come from cans. I thanked them, and asked them if there was anything on the road between here and St Cloud. There apparently was, and it gave me hope. I set off again.

              The DragonWagon was now refilled with water and food, and it showed. It lagged behind me and made me realize how much easier it had been while I was dwindling the water supply. I now had somewhat mixed feelings about filling it to the rim. The sudden addition of weight must have taken its toll on the wheels, because on my first break from walking I found one of the front wheels had worn through the tread and was getting down to the threads, starting to fray. I decided the only thing I could do right now was to rotate it to the other side, and hope it lasted. I enjoyed the rest of my break, drawing and reading, then set off again.

              Not long after, I start to hear a "whirrr-whirrr-whirrr-whirrr" from one of the wheels. I tried glancing behind me, not seeing anything, until I started to feel the wagon really lagging, almost pulling me to a stop. This had suddenly become a much harder pull than before, and it wasn't the water weight we'd put on. I pull over and check the wheels, and there it was, staring me flat in the face. One of my rear tires was completely deflated, and its ball bearings were busted. The rim was scraping against the axel. I was dead in the water.

              I'd thought the wheels might eventually wear down, but I hadn't expected one to be completely bald and the other to break down all together within the first 4 days. This was a brand new wagon bought especially for this trip. I turned the wagon on its side and started disassembling the busted wheel. There was nothing I could do, all the ball bearings were gone and lost, the piece that held them together shredded. I was wheels up on the side of the road. I might have to quit this trip. I might have to go back home. I figured I could flag someone down and use their phone to get help, or try to find some tire place or mechanic shop around, but I'd have to somehow hide the DragonWagon so no one would pilfer it. Just as the possible solutions and gloomy ends were battling it out in my head, a Sheriff pulls up.

              Well, at least I would get to sleep in a cot, possibly get a decent meal. I wondered if, when he arrested me, he would just leave my wagon out here, try to fit it in his car to take with us, or just have some Sheriff van or truck come to take it away. I dreaded the process of having to inventory the whole load as they checked it in, and threw me in jail. I guessed this would make for a decent story, something to laugh about when it was all over.

              The officer walked up to me and asked me if I was ok, so I told him I was, but that I seemed to have broken down. I still had the wheel and multitool in hand, so as not to seem threatening or be mistaken as a weapon, I set them both down on the side-tipped wagon. He walked up to me and the DragonWagon and asked what I was doing. I explained vaguely that I was walking to Orlando. He asked me, "where you comin' from?" I said I'd been walking since Palm Bay. "Shiiiit." I laughed at his reaction. "That's a helluva walk, where you headin'?" I told him I had a few friends in Orlando willing to put me up for a while, then maybe Ocala, and that I have a sister in Philadelphia. "Aw, hell naw, you're not walkin' to Philly." I told him it didn't seem like it at this point. I began asking him if there were any tire shops or mechanics around. He didn't seem to think there were any, but he offered to check for me and come back to let me know. At this point I was blown away. How had I gone from thinking I was going to get arrested, to having a Sherriff officer drive around town looking for a tire shop for me? This was unreal.

              The officer asked for my ID, ran it, offered me water (had it been the day prior I would've jumped on the offer), then came back with a ticket notebook. He assured me this wasn't "a thing," he just had to report that he'd seen me, and take my description. He asked for the usual, social, address, eye color, tattoos, scars, if I was homeless, if I was in a gang, etc. Then he started to write down what I was wearing, and as he looked down at my shoes he asked, "what the hell are those?" For the entire trip thus far I'd been wearing Adidas Adipures (sounds so fucking fancy), the shoes that cover each toe individually. I explained to him how great they'd been so far, and that they hadn't given me any blisters at all this whole trip (I really am impressed by that), but that I had my army boots in the pack just in case these broke down as well.

              Once he had finished writing up his ticket, he took another look at my poor wagon. He stared a little longer at the wheel I'd dismantled, then moved the multitool I'd set on it to get a better look. "Y'know, I think I have these wheels." I may have blurted out, "shut the fuck up." I asked him what he would have had them for, and he mentioned he'd gotten them for his lawn mower, but it had been too heavy for them. He started debating aloud, saying it might just be easier to drive home and grab them,  see if they fit, rather than driving around for a mechanic shop. I expressed how grateful I would be, and off he went, telling me to "sit tight." I couldn't believe it. He came back about an hour later with two extra wheels that fit perfectly, and I was incredulous. He dropped them off, said, "have fun, good luck," and drove off before I could think of a better thank you. I replaced the busted wheel and the fraying one with these two new ones, and marveled at the conditions of the situation. This officer is the only person who had pulled over this whole trip to see if I needed help, other than Sheradon, and just so happened to have an exact match for my wheels. I really had to stop and think about that for a while. Amazing. Thank you Sheriff McCue, I hope I read your name tag right.

              I continued onward with renewed hope and fresh fervor. This had been a challenging day, but it turned out for the best. I now had four tires rolling, and two that I could mix and match parts with in case of an emergency, only I didn't realize how quickly that emergency would come. Not long after replacing wheels, only a few miles down the road, that dreaded "whirrr-whirrr-whirrr-whirrr" returned along with the leg burning lag of the wagon. There was no way. This was too soon. I look back to see it plain as day, one of the new tires the officer had given me had lost all its air in just a few miles. I did the best I could to haul the dead weight to a safe spot where I could set up camp, work on switching it out in the morning. I was done with this day. So I drew, well into the night.

Day 5

              I woke up early, but refused to get out of bed. I kept looking at the wheels, which were eye level with me laying in my tent, with pure resentment. I didn't want to get out of bed, have to break down the camp, and change a tire, and hope the frayed one would make it. I was tired and I hadn't slept well. I lay there, awake, for an extra hour and a half before getting up. I broke down the camp, brushed my teeth, had breakfast, read a little bit, drew a little bit, all in procrastination and defiance of the wheel problem. Eventually I did it. Instead of strapping the two torn up tires under the wagon like I had done the first time, I strapped them on the top, maybe so the world could see their shame. I was now back to having the frayed tire teetering on the brink of destruction. I pressed forward.

              On my second walk of the day I passed by a Cozy Bear Cove Inn and Bar. It seemed quaint, next to some grocery food store. I considered stopping in, but decided against it, considering I had recently replenished, and I should press on to hopefully find some tire place. I'd gone a little while past it, when, much to no one's surprise, the frayed wheel went flat. That's right, "whirrr-whirrr-whirrr-whirrr." I decided maybe it was a good idea to go back to the Cozy Bear Cove Inn, see if they had any vacancies, and hopefully someone would know where I could have a Viking burial for my damned tires, or just a place I could get them fixed. It was not an easy haul. The DragonWagon fought me the whole way. It fought me hard. I felt like I'd pulled it for miles by the time I reached the inn again. The bartender was nice enough, but couldn't offer me a room, they had no vacancy. She did, however, inform me that there was a place just up the hill, past the Serpentarium called the Colonial Motel, and that there may be a tire place next to it. Hope and dismay were swelling inside me, fighting it out for territory. I set off again.

              "Whirrr-whirrr-whirrr-whirrr-whirrr-whirrr-whirrr-whirrr-whirrr-whirrr-whirrr-whirrr" It was getting harder and harder to pull this thing, I thought it damn near impossible, until finally, the whole wagon rolled over onto its side. I thought maybe I'd gotten too close to the shoulder of the road, where the flat tire was, but as I came around to flip it back over, I found the nasty truth. The back wheel on the same side must have taken too much stress from the front one being flat, that it too had wasted through the tread, and had completely deflated. I flipped that wagon over like a football player hitting a dummy sled, somehow cutting my leg in the process without noticing. It was much heavier. I got it back onto the road and pulled it with a vengeance until I reached the motel.

              I managed to snag the last room, drug the wagon in, and immediately went for the bathroom. Shit and shower were priority number one. I'd only gone once in the woods, where I learned how not to dig my shit hole, and had had no shower the whole trip. It was time. This was when I found out my leg was bloody and dry. I assumed it must have been from when I flipped the cart. The adrenaline had been flowing strongly.

              I took my time disassembling the tires, and checking their conditions. I had spotted the tire place about a block or two away from the motel, so I strung up the wheels, and set off. I managed to order a couple of full replacements, and a couple of inner tubes, which should get me to Orlando. After that I'll have to figure out an alternative method of load transportation.

              I walked back to the Cozy Bear Cove Inn and Bar, and ordered a couple of beers and a hearty meal. It tasted like undaunted success. I made friendly conversation with the bartender and a couple of patrons, and had a few laughs. Once I was finished I put in a call from the bar phone to my parents, and left them a message saying that I was alive, about where I was, and what had happened to my wheels. I'd also said that I wouldn't be reachable at this number, and that the motel had no phone. After that I came back to the room, and started writing this whole mess down.

              My parents, however, being the concerned and loving people they are, employed their detective skills to finding me. They had called the number back, spoke with the bartender who happened to know where I was staying from our conversation, drove over to the motel, found out what room I was staying in, and treated me with a surprising rat-tat-tat on my door. I was completely surprised and overjoyed. I explained my whole ordeal to them, and my solutions. They explained their whole process of finding me. Apparently the bartender knew exactly to whom they were referring over the phone "Aw, you mean the walker?"

              Mum and Papi offered to take me home to fix the DragonWagon, but, though I was tempted, I declined. I want to finish this trek to Orlando, then reevaluate the wagon. I have come about 50 miles on foot, and have about 20 more to go. I am almost finished with my first goal, and I can't quit now.


  1. What a phenomenal account! Although I’ve already heard most of the stories, your written account fills in all the missing details and it’s so fantastic to “be” there on the walk with you.

    I’m so impressed with how you tackled and overcame everything thrown at you: the voices, the water, the wheels, the mosquitoes, the hills: each event making you stronger than the last.

    Being who I am, of course I love your stories of the angels on the road. The thing about these angels is that they never expect anything in return. Don’t worry that you didn’t give them anything. They helped because that’s who they are. One day you will be an angel to someone else.

    I love you and I’m bursting with pride. Already you have done what millions can only dream of doing (or might never even dare to dream). Xxx Mum

  2. Love it .... Really makes you feel some of the feelings you went through. Waiting in Philly for ya!! Xoxo

  3. I loved every minute reading this! The detail is fantastic. Your descriptions had me anxious you were facing! i love how you described self doubt and I'm certain to some degree everyone could relate. I know I really did. I'm in awe that the sherrif was the only one to stop and had the exact wheels!!! That was just like validation that this journey was meant to be yours! Amazing Christian, please keep writing!

  4. Christian, your journey is truly beautiful. It appears you taking part in the ancient and sacred tradition of a Vision Quest while weaving in and out of the context of the modern world. I've enjoyed reading your blog and your story of battling a combination of psychological and physical barriers. Very inspirational. Though self-doubt can be paralyzing and destructive, I hope you continue to challenge it and reach new heights of enlightenment. I wanted to share a quote from a moving art film by Louie Schwartzberg that I recently watched. It contained views of the 4 corners desert landscape with time lapse cinematography. I'm planning a camping trip there in mid-November and can't wait to see nothing but miles of emptiness, breathtaking natural beauty, and glitter of stars overhead. I hope you cherish the opportunity to experience nature in such a unique way during your trek (mosquitoes aside, of course. It is certain and proven that they are pure evil. Hence, a blessing that I now reside in the NW. Speaking of which, give a shout if your travels should lead you to the Rose City. Summer is our best kept secret and ideal for camping.) Anyhow, this was the opening quote for the film: "It is the sandstorm that shape the stone statues of the desert. It is the struggles of life that form a person's character." -Native American Proverb
    Wishing you safety and sustenance through your quest into the unknown, that you may arrive reborn.
    Carry on!

  5. Kiki - what and extraordinary account! Makes us feel like we are sharing each step of the journey with you. Tamsin and Connor keep asking where you are, how far you've got, where you're sleeping and what you're eating. You write with such brutal honesty, we feel we are right in there by your shoulder. Please keep walking, reading and drawing - you are an inspiration. Love you!! xxx

  6. Awesome account of your journey thus far! I am enjoying going on this trek with you through your words. I wish you the best of luck!!

  7. Chris, amazing journey, crap tyres.

    Good luck on the way to Orlando,

    Bob (House)

  8. Amazing simply amazing! So glad to hear you are safe! Never stop writing!

    I Love You Chrisitan!

  9. GodDAMN, you are a modern day adventurer. This is the sort of thing that people just don't DO, as you and your doubting voices well know. As I read, I try to imagine myself in the situations, accomplishing these things. That's so much harder to do when I know that this isn't fiction. This man, this adventurer, is someone I know, someone whose beard privileges I have abused and lost. This is someone I've stood with and wished I could know better. This is AMAZING.

    Sympathy on the mosquitoes, though, seriously. That's nasty.

  10. Not sure my comment went through, so I'll try again. This is a future book right here! I loved reading about your doodles. I'm a doodler as well, (though mine admittedly were of poorly drawn cats or play with words) and it was neat to see someone who gets it like me. Yours definitely helped develop you as a person. You should share them! I love seeing doodles and works like that. Things that we never really imagined anyone else seeing or judging and just drew/wrote for ourselves. As far as the journey - I am so hating on that wagon for you! I need to read your other entry to see what became of that situation. Excellent writing! Keep trekking!

  11. I love your stories! Keep on trekking and PLEASE keep writing!