Let me back up a bit. Early Friday morning I walked into Price Utah from Helper. It's a short walk just about 7miles. As we were pullin in I was stopped by a group of people who were standing outside. We chatted it up and took pictures together for about half an hour. During that time a guy (I like to call him farmer James... but its more like inventor James) that had seen us waking the day before through the canyon stopped and brought some food for Leeroy. He mentioned that he lives in Wellington which is just past Price and that if we needed anything I could call him. So I got his number and fully planned on using it.
Now let me tell you about James. He was born and raised in Price (from what I can tell), married, has 3 boys and owned a few businesses. He recently sold them and at the age of 32 has developed a wireless technology that is made for underground minors so they can use cell phones underground. He seems like a guy that would fit in really well in Portland. His fashion and his way of thinking or life. James was a great host and he is great with his kids. A very gentle hearted guy. I enjoy being around him.
Back to the story, so Saturday night we are all siting around a bond fire, just hanging out and getting to know each other (telling stories and what not). When (as always with me) the conversation turned to one of faith and God. The mood instantly changed and our light hearted conversation turned serious. Talking about faith usually isn't the issue, It's when you disagree that the air gets tense.
So James says "I think it all works out in the end man. It all balances out...Like what the buddhists believe...we do some good and some evil... just try and do more good." He takes a drag of his cigar as he looks up at the night sky and stares at the full moon. I respond with, "it doesn't work like that man." I take the last drag of my cigar and then flick the rest into the fire. In my head I'm thinking here we go, I know this is the turning point of the conversation. James looks at me and I can see the hint of joy in his eyes...He loves to debate! James raises his hand as if to point at me and says with a seriousness in his voice, "Steve man, look at what you're doing" (I have had this used on me a few times in past debates). I quickly respond with "Just because I am trying to help orphans in Africa doesn't erase all the bad things I've done or balance out my wrongs in some way."
He bends down and picks up a handful of rocks with his left hand while holding his right hand up and away so he doesn't burn himself with the cigar in case some ash fell. He tells me to put my hands out and as I lean towards him in my chair he pours a few rocks in my left hand and says "that's your mistakes." And then pours the rest into my right hand and says "that's the things you have done right, it will all balance out."
I start sharing with him all the mistakes I have made in the past. How I was more or less a womanizer and everything else I've done. My point was that this project or the good I do doesn't balance that stuff out. And just as I was going to go for the "home run" and break out the bible verses I've been really going over the last week, he stood up and says he has to go pee. It seems like the last few times I've been in these debates something happens right before I get to the good part!
When he returned the conversation turned. We talked about the rest of my route to Denver. I thought that I would try and bring the convo back around when the moment was right. I was about to walk in to 150 miles of pure desert and James had a lot to say about what was ahead but I didn't really listen at first. I said I would deal with it as it came... I'll find a way. But he was persistent and got me worried. Not just about the desert but about what came after the desert. The Roosevelt tunnel was about 2 miles long and there was no where for Leeroy and I to walk through and getting around it would add a ton of miles. I said I'll figure it out. He said once I was past that, there is about a ten mile stretch with no shoulder that's right on the side of a cliff. Not to mention making it to Vail. The highest pass I would have to cross. At 12000 feet it would still have snow on it! Again I said stubbornly, I can beat all that I'll figure it out. But all that lingered in my head. He kept mentioning high way 40 and how great it was, easy, lots of food and water for both Leeroy and I. As the night ended and we made plans to have another bond fire the next night.
The next day I took a ride out through the desert and was trying to come up with a plan. I got worried not for me but for LeeRoy. I needed to figure out food. The landscape literally turned into just dirt. I got back to Price and thought about all the possible ways to do this. I got on the phone and talked to a few different people. The best idea was to go ahead, bury food and water for us both about every 30 miles. I was stoked! I had a plan! I want to try the impossible...
To be continued....