Monday, September 30, 2013


I'm not ordinarily the kind of guy that gets all emotional at nature. I don't get overly sentimental at a moonlit sky, snow covered mountain tops, or sunsets over looking exotic beaches. I can appreciate it's grandeur and beauty on some level. I can enjoy it. But even after seeing the awesome complexity of something like say, Yellow Stone Park, I don't have a moment with  "MOTHER EARTH".  Instead, I always think, "this is so incredible."  But it has it's place. God is the creator. Seeing all of the splendor of the world gives me confidence that God is real. It points me back to Him and draws me to worship. The realization of God's magnitude has lead me to this one very defined moment of absolute truth:

Joy is incomplete without worship. 

Let me illustrate what this means with a real life example: When you watch sports and your team wins a big game or someone on the team makes a huge play, there is that overwhelming zeal and excitement that you literally cannot contain. The joy you feel in that moment leads to cheering and praising of the team or player; you are giving worship.  I have some of my own moments that lead me to worship, such as: Lake Louie's in Canada, the starry skies in Kansas, and the moody cold emotional ocean shores off the Oregon Coast. The joy that I find in those beautiful sights and places lead me to worship the creator- NOT the creation.  If you are standing before the ocean and are struck by the awe inspiring immensity of it all and think, "oh Mother Earth ".... then you are missing the whole point.  Here is another way of looking at it: take any amazing work of art in a museum. Though the exquisiteness of the piece may draw out a certain emotion, the glory still goes to the artist. The painting didn't create itself. The whole thing came from the imagination, mind, and the hand of the artist.

 My point is this ... don't miss the point... What ever beautiful scene you are looking at in nature, it's whole purpose is really to point you to God. To worship GOD.

Something is up there!

I left Hot Sulphur Springs early in the morning just as the sun was coming up. The road ahead was long and flat, surrounded by mountains on either side. We walked most of the day with nothing too special or out of the ordinary. Walk walk walk. Ten or so miles later, we found ourselves at the edge of another town called Granby. LeeRoy and I headed straight into town and across a parking lot of a Chinese restaurant. A woman came marching out the front doors of the place while walking straight towards us. "What are you doing?" she asked with a scowl on her face. By now i'm pretty used to all the questions and curiosity that I get, so with a friendly smile on my face I  answered, "walking with a goat across America".  She stared at me for a bit and replied, "what kind of a jerk does that to a goat?" Taken back by her question, I pointed at myself with my thumb and said "this kind?" She looked me square in the eye and said, "I'm calling animal control!" and walked off. I couldn't believe what just happened and couldn't help but laugh. I kept walking on but the owners of the restaurant came out and invited me in for a free meal. I never refuse a free meal, so I tied Leeroy out front and went right in. The owners were so friendly and generous to me, unlike the strange women from earlier. They brought out so much food that I ate till I couldn't and ended up taking most of it with me. I thanked them for the meal, got Leeroy, and continued walking. Animal control never showed up. 

About half a mile into town I spotted a veterinary clinic and decided to stop to have LeeRoy looked at. Anytime I walk through a town and come across a vet, I like to stop just to make sure there isn't anything wrong that I might have missed. His check up went great, so we continued down the road.  I planned on staying in town and getting a hotel for the night, but none of the ones that I called wanted LeeRoy on their property, so we kept on walking in search of a good spot. Not too far off the main road I spotted a red barn-like building that looked abandoned, so I went in to check it out. It was definitely abandoned and looked like a decent place to post up for the night. So I got comfortable, finished my fried rice leftovers, and went to bed. 

In the middle of the night, I was woken up by some strange noises coming from the second floor above me. It sounded like someone was trying to rob the place and I was extremely freaked out. Tussling around, knocking stuff over back and forth, I could hear the sounds dash across the floor of the second level. (My first thought wasn't to pray, to be honest.) As I layed on the floor GRIPPED by fear, in my head all I was thinking was shit shit shit shit shit... It just repeated in my head the whole time. The light from the moon just barely lit the room and I could see LeeRoy in the corner unfazed and completely asleep.  Eventually I gathered myself and reached for my pocket knife and flash light. Then I stayed as still as I could, listening to every sound as if it was a matter of life and death. I concluded that by the sounds of whatever "it"was, jetting back a forth, that there was a 50/50 chance it was not a person. But I couldn't be sure. I made the decision to "storm the castle" if you will. The plan in my head was to quietly unzip my sleeping bag and run up the steps yelling at the top off my lungs and just kind of free style from there.  Haha. (Oh man, just thinking back, not only was that a bad plan, but the execution was even worse.)  I unzipped my bag, pealed it back so I could jump up quickly. I started to get myself ready in my mind ..clinching my fist ... I opened my knife and tightly wrapped my fingers around it. Flexing my muscles to get the blood rushing, my heart is beating so fast, it feels like it's going to explode out of my chest.. 1,2,3, GO!!!! I jump to my feet and take a huge breath to scream, and (in 'perfect timing,') I suddenly start chocking on my own spit!!!! I make it about two steps and stop. I am coughing my lungs out and my eyes start watering. (In my head I'm like, "oh noooooo.") Retreat. (Haha.) I get to the open door to the stairs and all I can do is shut the door. There's an orange bucket with some garbage in it. I set it in front of the door (as if that will help). And I drop the knife and fold over coughing so hard.. It feels really crazy, the whole thing is happening so fast.  I'm looking over at LeeRoy, he is on his feet. I can see that he is confused, but ready to tumble too... I gathered myself together and listen intently... Nothing. No movement..I'm staring at LeeRoy and  he's staring at me ..  As if to say, "what the heck are you doing?" His ears move around scanning for any sound of danger. I think for a brief second. I wish I could do that with my ears, it would be helpful in this moment.  After what seemed like five minutes of standing completely still, I came to the conclusion that what ever "it" was, was gone... 

I laid back down and did my best to fall back asleep. Then next morning I woke up suddenly.  While remembering last night, I held still and listened... After the coast was clear. I let out a little laugh.. I looked over at LeeRoy and he looked back as I turned onto my side. I whispered to him. Crazy night huh? ... I wish he could talk.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Kremmling to hot sulphur springs

    It's about a 18 mile walk from Kremmling to Hot Sulphur Springs. Although it's not a super challenging walk, it was super windy and chilly along the way. But I can't complain; anything other than the scorching sun seems to be a blissful contrast to the heat stroke LeeRoy and I have been encountering lately.  

     As I had mentioned earlier, I have been listening to a lot to books on my I pod. My current audio book that I have been going through is called: Atlas Shrugs. The theme of the book tells the story about a man with the will and courage to fight against the grain of moral corruption. Reading this book makes me realize how true it is that you can be challenged and convicted in your own life, simply by looking through the eyes of someone else's. I had never heard of the book prior, but sometimes to pass the time, I will listen to just about anything. ha ha. I walk for miles each day, tune my brain on auto pilot and drift off into a whole different dimension. Today consisted of exactly that. It helped me get through most of the miles.  At about mile fourteen, I needed a break from the book.... I was at the edge of a canyon that led into Hot Sulphur Springs. It was about 5:30 in the evening, and I really wanted to make it into town by 7.

    The last four miles through this canyon were so perfect. It was maybe one of my favorite sights; it's beauty simply breathtaking. Walking next to the river provided a stream of coolness which provided just enough relief to really enjoy the scene. It was like viewing famous artwork brought to life. LeeRoy and I got our second wind and I cranked up the music; singing at the top of my lungs. It felt glorious to be up there and indulge in this exceptional view, with a little bit of music of course, to really set the mood. Nothing better.
    Speaking of indulgences, I'm obsessed with gas stations and food! At times it feels like those are the only two things I can even think about. They are the finish line for the day, and I obsess. You would not believe how food is such a comfort.

    Leeroy and I walked into Hot Sulphur Springs just around 7 PM. And in perfect timing: there behold was a burger joint, but it had closed five minutes prior to my arrival. But the workers were gracious and made me a burger anyways. I grabbed a quick burger and sat outside to eat. Now I have to tell you about the mosquitoes out there. They are killer! They don't even care about any bug spray at all. I have a few different kinds of bug spray and none of them seem to work. I swear to you, I would spray myself down with Off  bug spray, and I could hear the faint sound of 100 mosquitoes laughing at me. 
    While I ate, the owner of the restaurant and I chatted it up. She also owned the hotel at the end of town and offered to let LeeRoy and I stay there for free. We were stoked. We headed over there. We checked in and I tied up LeeRoy right out front of my room. I noticed that there were a few guys a couple of rooms down. I  found out that they had been living at the hotel for a few months working on a construction project. It was also quite apparent that they were completely intoxicated and high. (Side note: in my entire life, I have never had to turn down so many drugs so many times, as I have while on this trip. It has honestly been shocking.) Anyways, two out of the three guys came over to me while the third one stumbled around in the back ground. I assume that you can imagine what it's like having one of those typical conversations with drunk people.  This particular conversation was no different than any other. In the midst of the slurring and rambling, I was asked the most common question that I often get, "do you smoke?" (and they aren't talking about cigarettes...ha ha) As I was giving my answer, I look over just in time to see LeeRoy up on his back hoofs headed to the side, charging the "third" drunk guy and dropping him like a sack of potatoes. I yell, "hey!" and run over to try and resolve the situation. The guy is laying on his back and LeeRoy starts rolling and pushing him with his horns. After I get there, I immediately get in between LeeRoy and the guy. I help the guy up and check to see if he's okay. He's mad but so drunk that he can't really articulate it. He's just cussing and yelling at me in cryptic drunk language. He was talking about killing my goat and suing me for every penny that I have. I laugh at him (I have to admit) and reach into my pocket and hold out 13 cents... ha ha. I apologize and asked him to stay back from LeeRoy. He yells a few things as he walks away with his friends, but the only word I understood was the "F" word. The tension seemed to have subsided.  I headed into my hotel room to take a breather from the chaos. But low and behold, the drama was still not finished yet. It wasn't even more than five minutes later that I see the same guy out there messing with LeeRoy! At this point, I have had it. I felt like I was a bear and I'm seeing my cub getting messed with. I ran out and told him."Hey man, stay away from my goat." He says, "its fine, I used to have goats." (In my head I was thinking, that's what they all say.) At a height of agitation, I tell him, "I don't care. I'm asking you to please leave my goat alone." "He wasindecipherable while saying something about being an adult and he can handle it.  I tell his friends, "hey, keep an eye on your friend, I don't want him to get hurt." They take him inside their room. Then about thirty minutes later I see him out there again pulling on LeeRoy's horns! Now I'm pissed. I walk up behind the guy to catch him off guard and freak him out. I get really close and yell as loud as I can, " HEY! I TOLD YOU TO STAY THE F*** AWAY FROM MY GOAT!"  I used the "F" word. I did. And I have to say that it always sounds so stupid when I hear myself say it. I just don't typically use it and I felt really dumb right after. It just doesn't fit me. I'm not an angry type guy and not very good at "tough talk." 
    In this moment I had two options: stand up to a bully and refuse to back down; or resort to the nice guy approach, which seemed to be ineffective at this point...I proceeded to step into this guy's personal bubble and get in his face. (Again, not what I normally do.) Thinking back, I probably could have handled it differently.  But at the time, I felt super defensive and protective of LeeRoy.
      The guy pushes into me and we start yelling; he's cussing at me and it's heading nowhere good, fast. As the situation was climaxing, his friends run out and grab us. Thank God, because I had no intention of actually hitting this guy or having a real fight. The whole time we were yelling at each other I was thinking, "oh crap, if this guy hits me, he will probably knock me out. ( he was way bigger than me). So, should I swing first? Unless I catch his chin just right and really stun him, I'm only going to make him come at me with a vengeance." I was in over my head. His friends took him back to his hotel room and closed the door. I was beyond relieved. I knew that I have better conflict resolution skills than that. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

2:44 am

I'm laying in bed in Colby Kansas. I've been here for much longer than I wanted to be... I started having severe pain in my back and hips.  Normally I can muscle through it.  But this time, I had to see a doctor. There was absolutely no way of pressing on in this kind of physical condition. So I went to the local clinic. It's a good news bad news deal. The good news is: the doc gave me some meds and I feel so much better. The bad news is: the doc thinks that I have Tendonitis in my back... In addition, the meds are causing me insomnia....So with extra time on my hands, I am going to blog...
Where I'm at in my blog, I would be writing about Steam Boat Springs, Colorado.  However, I'm not going to yet, and this is why: I encountered some really challenging situations that I still haven't finished processing yet. I am not quite ready to write about it. In fact I think I may save that whole group of events for the book. Without a doubt, it was  a wonderful and difficult time. My mom came out. And we talked through some things. My time there, put me in situations that have provoked growth in all new ways. It also revealed things in myself that I thought that I had worked through, but it's clear to me that I haven't entirely yet. It has challenged me on my faith, my character, and my integrity.  I'm still kind of thinking this whole thing through. In time I will share the events that lead to this reflection with you.

The next town I hit after Steamboat was Kremmling Colorado.  And to keep on trend, this was also a very small town. I pulled into the first open restaurant  I was not so much physically drained, but mentally and emotionally. I had a quick meal and headed across the street. I checked into a cute little hotel. The rooms were only $20 a night, but they were amazing. The only drawback is that you had to share a bathroom. But it turned out to be no big deal because I was the only  one renting that night! The owners were an older couple; the wife was the one in charge. Her husband was my favorite of the two. A rounder fellow with overalls and a big beard. He was a bit goofy/dopey. He seemed like he could be a character off Duck Dynasty. Together he and I scouted out a good place for me to tie up LeeRoy for the night. We decided to tie him to the hand rail by the back steps. There was some new landscaping recently finished in the back of the hotel, and the goal was to keep LeeRoy from eating all of their hard work! Ha ha. It was about nine P.M, and I didn't want to sleep yet. I told the owners that I was going to head back to the bar, to get some coffee and use the Internet. I instructed them to call me if there were any problems. 

I left the hotel and headed across the street to the bar. I could tell it was going to rain soon. LeeRoy hates the rain.  So I had the thought that I should get back soon just in the case LeeRoy freaks out. When I got to the bar I ordered a coffee and asked if they would change the channel to the game. What game? I don't know or care. I just like to watch sports and root for the underdog. After a few cups of coffee, I get a phone call from an unknown number. It was the hotel!LeeRoy was causing some problems. The service was so bad that I had a hard time understanding what they were saying. Either way I figured it had something to do with LeeRoy, so I quickly paid, packed up, and ran back to the hotel. When I got there I was greeted with a story. 
After I had left LeeRoy, he had been trying to get in the door at the top of the steps.. He was standing on his back legs and putting his front hoofs on the door... It was really loud and scared the owners. I had headed over to the bar so the old man ran over to the bar to find me. He didn't really remember what I looked like except for the fact that I had an orange shirt on. He walked into the bar and looked around, but didn't see me. So he headed back out front and ran into a man that happens to have an orange shirt on. And get this: his name happens to be Steve. The old man goes up to him and says, "hey Steve. "
The intoxicated man says "ya"?  
Old man, "ya got to come with me, LeeRoy is all willy nilly." 
Drunk guy, "what?" 
Old man,"LeeRoy is jumping up in the back door."
Drunk guy, "what are you talking about. Who's LeeRoy"?
Old man," LeeRoy, your goat!" 
Drunk guy, "man I think you are looking for someone else." 
Confused, the old guy apologies. He told me that he figured that I walked to the Chinese restraunt lounge to eat, so he went to look for me there.  Upon looking for me, the old man instead finds a different guy with an orange shirt. The old man walks up to him and says, "hey man, your goat is freaked out." The new guy responds, "my goat?" Old man asks, "is your name Steve?"  The new guy says, " no." 

Without explanation the old man just leaves. He figured there was only one other place that I could be ..a different bar just up the road ... He walks up there and sure enough there is another guy with an orange shirt. He walked up and just point blank asked him, "is your name Steve?" The guy says, "no." He heads back to the hotel and tells his wife the story. When I finally met up with him, the whole time that he is relaying the story to me, he has that shocked and awe look in his eyes. By the time I went back to look at LeeRoy, he was laying down completely asleep.  We laughed about the story and I headed to bed. The next morning I awoke to a knock on the door. A reporter was waiting and ready to interview me. She was in her late 30's or early 40's and super nice. I think she may have smiled the whole time. We made a plan to head over to a little spot for breakfast. As we walked the two blocks to the restaurant, she looked at me and talked to me like I was a rock star.  LeeRoy didn't seem to like her much and kept trying to get at her with his horns.  Once we made it there, we ordered food, and I just started talking. I usually don't even wait for questions, I just dive right in. She looked at me so intensely. At the end of our meal, I asked her if she had any questions. She just looked at me--mouth half open. "Ummm no," she said... We sipped coffee for a bit. She kept finding reasons to tell people who I was and what I was doing. Sometimes I feel like a show pony.

 We ended up walking to the post office to  pick up a package that I was waiting for. Leeroy and I head headed out of town to Hot Sulphurs Springs, Colorado.