Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Leaving Utah

Today marks another pivotal moment! I just crossed the border from Colorado into Kansas. Yeah! I've got to be honest though, the first initial miles and states crossed seemed like greater victories. Now the financial progress is looming over me, while the finish line is coming closer and closer, and it kind of stresses me out. I want this walk so badly to be successful. I feel this incredible responsibility to provide for the kids in Kenya, who are depending on me. 
Even though technically today I walked from Colorado into Kansas; this specific blog entry details my walk from Utah to Colorado.  Okay, lets take the story back to Utah. I was about 18 miles from Jensen to the boarder of Colorado, which I had walked all in one day.  Nearing the boarder, I tried to pick a good song to listen to as I crossed. As you may or may not know, I love jamming out to a good hip hop song. So on this particular day, I picked  the song, Stay Fly by Three 6 Mafia. It just sets the mood; I think to myself, "look at me now." It's all ego and pride at this point. Sometimes I have to get into that mind set to press on when my body is nagging me to stop. Music is the bridge to the other side.
     We walked over the last hill before we saw the boarder of Colorado. Leeroy and I had been melting all day from the heat and I was ready to stop, but the boarder was just right there.  Now I don't know what it is, but every time I accomplish something big I get the giggles. This moment was no exception.  I giggled with excitement. Yes, I'm a giggler.  In these kinds of situations, I either do one of two things: I giggle or I cry. 
LeeRoy and I strutted all the way to the boarder as I'm just laughing, hootin and hollerin,' singing as loud as I can. I'm turning my swagger up to 100,000 and just living it!  Every time I get to the boarder of a state, the first thing that I do is pray. I am so grateful that God continues to carry me through. The second thing that I do is set up camp. I like to sleep right at the border.  Each of these little victories feel so sweet and I just want to soak it up.  After I set up camp, I took a picture to capture the moment.  I watched the sunset while daydreaming of the finish line.
The next morning I woke up early (I rarely sleep in). I had a package waiting for me in Dinosaur, Colorado.  And let me tell you, this town really lived up to it's name. It was such a small town; so small in fact, you might have thought that it was extinct itself. There were dinosaur statues everywhere. It was quite the sight.  I went to retrieve my package but it hadn't come yet so I walked around the corner and had some breakfast.
     I noticed that one of the little booties that I had made for Leeroy had fallen off, so I had to make another one for him.  I called Shawn and Andrea, who are friends that I made in Vernol, Utah. I asked them if they would bring me some leather from Vernal soon.  So that afternoon we met at the local Bar and Grill in Dinosaur. We shot some pool, and my friends gave me the leather that I had requested.  While we were playing pool, the owner of the bar came up to me and asked if I would come back again later that night. Apparently, she had invited some of the locals to come out and hear my story. So later that evening I made a cameo appearance. I talked with some of the people, ate some food, and shared my story. Everyone was really receptive and kind to me.
    During that night, I met a guy named Don. He was an older gentleman. He had long grey hair that was pulled back in a ponytail. His face was leathered with deep creases. He seemed to have lived a lot and seen a lot in his time. I could see it in his eyes. By the time he had sat down to talk with me, the alcohol was all that I could smell.  He initially started asking me questions about my project. I figured he was so drunk that he wouldn't remember me in the morning; so I shifted the conversation towards him and started asking questions about his life.  He told me that he has been married eight times and that he worked on oil rigs all his life, except for when he was in the Vietnam War. I was immediately drawn to his story. He had a lot to tell, and I was ready to listen.  At one point he started to tear up and I didn't know what to do. I could see the pain and struggle in his life and the scars that were left by it all. I think that I went too far when I asked him if he had ever had to shoot someone when he was in the war. I could see the internal chaos in his heart. I quickly changed the subject and tried to keep the conversation on a lighter note the rest of the time.
After the conversation with Don, the crowd started getting rowdy. Leeroy and I left soon after. Monday morning I got up early, picked up my package and headed out of town toward Hayden.  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hayden to steamboat.

 I'm currently in Limon Colorado and there are some pretty fierce storms all through Kansas which is where I'm headed so I've decided to take a few days off. Since I've been in Eastern Colorado there have been storms, tornado warnings, flash floods and just all kinds of crazy weather. I'm trying to catch up on my posts from the past few weeks, so lets pick up where we left off.

 As I'm leaving Craig I get stopped by a reporter and we have breakfast together outside on the patio of the restaurant. It was the typical interview (not to sound ungrateful) but they tend to be the same just in different locations. While we were there, I met these two ladies who were listening into the interview next to us. They were completely in shock and awe at the entire project and Leeroy. They were in town visiting but were heading back towards Steamboat in a of couple days. They said they wanted to bring me food on the road and wanted to know the route I was taking. I put that little nugget of hope in my back pocket, finished our interview and headed out.

The landscape totally changed, more mountains, more rivers, and trees.  Let me tell you about trees, they are AWESOME!  Trees provide shade in the heat of the day for me and LeeRoy and I will tell you what, nothing is better than taking a break, kicking back in the shade of a big tree. Makes me feel a little like Huck Finn at times.

*Sidenote, here's the problem about posting blogs out of order. I already wrote about walking into Hayden and just the trouble I had in town and sleeping overnight at the park. You can go back and read that here: 

I know this is confusing but bear with me. So not getting any sleep in Hayden, I got up early, packed my stuff and headed across the street to get some coffee and a breakfast burrito at the local gas station. THE COFFEE WAS TERRIBLE! I asked if there was a coffee shop in town else where but sadly there wasn't so I headed out. I walked about four blocks and saw a sign for a coffee shop… hahaha YES! Leeroy and I quickly took a detour and let me tell you, this place turned out to be a little haven for us. They not only gave us coffee but food and even hay for Leeroy. One of the owners had some in the back of his truck… Unbelievable! I told them the story about my horrible night and not being able to sleep and one of the other workers at the coffee shop spoke with their church and set up a time for me to be able to go and sleep for the afternoon in the church basement on a couch. Sooo good!!! I slept for a atleast least 5 hours and headed back out on the road around 4pm.

Leeroy and I were on highway 40 for about 11 miles when all of the sudden on the other side of the road an ice cream truck pulled up.  That's right, I said an ice cream truck!  Now if you don't believe in God this is an example of Gods  provision.  I look over at her as she was laughing with her window down. She said "hey, you want some ice cream?" You just can't help but laugh at those kinds of moments, complete and utter joy!  I crossed the highway and walked up to the window of the truck.  All of a sudden I felt like I was an 8 years old again in the neighborhood trying to pick out what ice cream I wanted. I laughed the whole time. The ice cream man doesn't stop on the HWY for anybody!  Now here's the thing about picking your ice cream… its a big deal!  I don't like the push-up pops because I feel like I'm getting gypped somehow.  I don't like Klondike bars and the rocket pops are too small.  The Super Treats melt too fast, which left me with the ice cream sandwich or the chocolate fudge bar.  I went with the ice cream sandwich. We talked and took pictures for a bit.  Not only did she give me a free ice cream sandwhich but she also donated.  I tell you what, life doesn't get much better than that moment right there.

 Now the lady I met in Craig wanted to bring me food.  I would just like to reiterate, I might be the only person who is going to walk across America and gain weight.  Just about the time I am going to stop for the night the lady, her boyfriend, his brother and his girlfriend stopped and they brought me a feast!  Jalapeno poppers wrapped in bacon, corn on the cob, two hamburgers, potato salad, and a green salad.  I mean it was INCREDIBLE!  They also brought me a bunch of water.  I set up camp at the boat launch and feasted.  But as I'm sitting there eating all that delicious food, a guy pulls up and says that he had seen me in the paper.  He got out of his car and we took some pictures. He made a donation to Needle2Square and he asked me if I needed anything. Turns out, he owns a store back in Hayden and wanted to bring me whatever I needed. I told him I would really appreciate some bug spray cause  the mosquitos were eating me alive. So I set up camp and an hour later he came back with 2 grocery bags full of candy, chips, soda, bug spray, and toilet paper. That was crazy, absolutely crazy! I sprayed myself down with the bug spray and uncomfortably slept on my flat sleeping mat.

The next day I got up, packed up and we walked all the way to Steamboat.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

People are what matter....

     Leeroy and I had a good nights sleep, thank you to the Village Resort for letting him sleep in the room with me as well as for the free room. It was amazing! Leaving Winter Park I got a ride back to Frazier by Moose who drives the resort shuttle. He dropped me off at the coffee shop that was the last place that we stopped. I walked in to the coffee shop and grabbed a cup of joe as I chatted with the locals and then headed out.  It was good to be moving forward. I walked the 2 miles  between Fraser and Winter Park. As I walked  in to town I met a mom and her daughter .. The daughter was about 23 I think and I'm not sure how old the mom was. Any way they invited me to have breakfast at their condo and as  always I said yes. I love to meet new people. The condo was about a mile away just at the end of town. I told them I could be 45 mins to an hour... She looked at me like I was crazy. With disbelief on her face she said, It's just at the end of town it's less than a mile. I smiled and nodded ... Yes I know but goats are slow and I'm sure people will end up stopping me wanting to talk and take pictures. The plan was set and I headed on my way.  Haha wouldn't you know it, an hour and 15 mins later I get a text message from them "You on your way?"

      I eventually made it there and was stoked to eat a home made breakfast again and drink more coffee.The other people at breakfast were educated individuals with a verity of masters degrees. I felt a little out of place cause I didn't even understand what half of their degrees were in but I guess that's normal for me. When am I not out of place? We talked a lot about what I was doing and they wanted straight facts and figures like the cost brake down per child per month per year per second per …whatever.  I did my best to give them all the info I knew but the reality is that it's not as easy as facts and figures. Unexpected things happen and it's always more then we plan for but I know that God Provides. One of the women there was the CEO of a Ronald McDonald House and I desperately wanted to pick her brain. As Needle2Square grows, I want to be ready to grow with it (if that makes sense). We had a little think tank going with everyone in the room.They actually had some really great ideas which not only inspired me but got me thinking in a different direction.

     We said our goodbyes and I left there with my mind grinding hard. I took some notes on my phone as Leeroy and I got back on the road and kept walking right into a huge rain storm. Once it got too wet to continue walking we pulled off and I made a little hooch for LeeRoy and I to get under. I ended up laying down and slept through the rainstorm all together. At about 5 the rain stopped and we headed back out. Walking almost to the top of the pass (about 3 miles from the top) there was a little turn out. We kicked out and I set up our tent about 60 yards off the road.  Just as I was getting ready to turn in for the night I see this young girl come walking through the trees in my direction with a McDonalds bag in hand. Apparently she had seen me as I was walking up the hill about an hour before, drove the 15 miles down the hill to buy me food and then drove back up to find me. Haha how crazy is that! On that note I would like to say I am so shocked that this young girl would hike in the woods to bring some crusty goat guy like me a meal. I mean what about "don't talk to strangers" and "safety first". In all seriousness though, people are what matter and she was a great example of that.

     The next morning I walked the 3 miles to the top of Burthud Pass and right as I got to the top I met a lady. We got to chatting and she told me that there was a big storm coming in and I needed to find shelter. At the top of the pass there was a " warming hut" which means a restroom with an added room on the side that was lined with benches. It had a sign that said no over night camping and no dogs inside. I figured they would be cool with LeeRoy being inside since he's not a dog. Haha  it never did rain and I never saw this so called crazy storm but we made the best of it by asking the people that stopped to use the bathroom to help me make a Harlem-shake video. That was a lot of fun!

     Burthud Pass is part of the Continental Divide trail that runs from Mexico to Canada. At the warming hut I meat two guys in their mid 20s that were on that trail. We started talking about our experiences on the road. In the back of my mind I thought that what I was doing (walking across America) is a lot like all the other hikers out there that are walking the multiple trails that criss-cross America. But after talking to these two guys and several others along this journey so far, I've come to realize the major differences between my self and them. An example of that is that everyone is in a hurry, they are on a time crunch. Most of these treks are for 7-8 months avoiding the winter months all together. They also do everything they can to avoid any kind of civilization including roads, towns and highways. They try to be as deep in the wilderness as possible which is the complete opposite of me and my route. Firstly, I am terrified of the wilderness and I truly don't like to camp that much. Secondly, I love pavement and so does Leeroy. Walking on dirt trails is always uncomfortable for the both of us. And lastly, my goal is to meet people and share the story of Uzima while raising money along the way.

     Not long after, the two guys left and an older guy in his late 50s came in. He seemed a little…um, I'm not sure how to describe him…  he was just in his own world. The kind of person that will say stuff that is rude or just not cool to say and have no idea he's offending others.  Any way he was telling me that finishing this Continental Divide trail would be the triple crown for him. That means he would have walked the Appellation trail, the Pacific Crest trail and the Continental Divide. We talked for a bit and as always I started asking him personal questions. I learned quickly that he is not a big fan of people. That he loved to be out on the trail cause there he was alone. The whole time I couldn't help but think that I would be so bummed to not get to meet and hang out with people along my walk. 

     He asked me what was the coolest thing I have seen on the road thus far and I told him a little girl donating all of her savings to this project. That was obviously not  the answer he was looking for. He was probably thinking some beautiful mountain top view or something like that, but honestly I really don't care about that stuff. Don't get me wrong, I have seen some really cool sights on this trip so far and I've loved it but they are trivial compared to the look people get when their gears start moving and I hear them say "I want to do something, I want to make a difference!"  When I see someone step out for something they believe in after we talk and later I get an email from them saying "I'm doing this thing or that thing"; to see them make a change in their life or community in there own way. That is the most amazing thing I have seen on this journey. More beautiful than any sun set and more awe inspiring and majestic then any starry night and more powerful then any wild storm. The miracle of changed lives... People are what matter.