Archive for October, 2008|Monthly archive page

Day 80–New Mexico!…!…!

I’d like to introduce my crewperson this week.  His name is Ed Carlson.  He lives in Damascus, Maryland with his wife Gwen.  We met 20 years ago on the first day of my first Appalachian Trail section hike.  He was the first thru-hiker I met.  I saw him occasionally during that week.  We have stayed in touch over the years and developed a good friendship.  Ed and Merrie are also friends.  He was one of my 2 best men at our wedding.  It has been a while since we have visited and I am enjoying our week together and the chance to catch up on the happenings in our lives.

We were up very early this morning and I was running at 8 a.m.  At 10:30 I entered New Mexico and set my watch to Mountain Time!  We are now 2 hours earlier than home.  I alternated running and walking again today, this time for the first 6 hours.  I took one break after lunch for 30 minutes and finished after 9 hours with 30 miles.  I saw 2 new animals today; a quail with some fancy headgear and a tarantula.  I went into the brush hoping to flush the quail and get a better look but it was gone.  The tarantula was crossing the highway.  I helped it cross so it would not get run over. 

There is so much to look at here.  I am sure I see lots more than those who are driving through but also sure I miss lots too just because I am focused on moving and making miles.  Today is dedicated to Sigurd Olsen, a conservationist and author of the mid-1900s.  Among his books is “Listening Point”.   He had a special place he spent much time contemplating nature and other things of interest to him.  By being still in his special place he could see and understand things that otherwise would be missed.  Perhaps we should all be still some times and see those things about us that are missed in our hurry.  It does seem that the slower I go the more I see and learn.

Day 79–still heading south from Dalhart

I had hoped to get out of Albuquerque quickly and have an early start Sunday.  Again though circumstances led to a long trip back to where I had left off.  This time we were 50 miles out of Albuquerque at Taco Bell.  A man backed into our rented car.  We had things in the trunk and could not get it open.  So back to Albuquerque and the rental agency.  They got the trunk open and to save time we decided to keep the car and work aid from the back seat.  We had lost 3 hours though and were tired when we reached Tucumcari and decided to spend the night there.  That meant a 2 hour drive in the morning to the start.  We also needed groceries and had to wait for the store to open in Tucumcari.  There were no stores with the needed supplies on the route.

We reached my yellow flagging marking the spot at 10 a.m.  I started and alternated running and walking 4 hours before stopping for lunch.  After lunch I walk 2 1/2 hours before stopping for the day.  Other than the very smelly feed lots loaded with several thousand cattle ready for market the course was very much like the last few days.  This is the last of the prairie before entering the hills of New Mexico and dryer terrain.  We have ahead of us 75 miles with no towns or services.  That means anything we need during the day comes from our supplies in the car.  At the end of the day we drive 35miles back to Dalhart for dinner and a motel. 

Today is dedicated to my mother’s sisters, Aunt Clara, Aunt Ruth, and Aunt Wilma.  You are important to me and remind me of my Blake heritage.  You each contributed to making me who I am.  I love all three of you.

Day 78–south of Dalhart

I started the morning with a good breakfast of eggs, refried beans, and biscuits and gravy.  Rick drove me south of Stratford to the starting point and I headed out.  The wind was again behind me and made for easier going.  We saw a herd of maybe 50 antelope this morning.  They were grazing near the road and did not run until I started clapping my hands.  I alternated running and walking into Dalhart where we stopped for lunch.  Rick had bought me 2 grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches with French fries.  This is a beef town.  Rick had hamburgers that remind me of the ones we used to get before the fast food restaurants took over.  They are large, over-the-bun burgers with slaw and other fixings.  It warms up after lunch and I’m able to walk with only a short sleeve shirt for the first time this week.  We have to travel to Albuquerque this evening so I stop at 4 p.m.  Rick will be leaving in the morning.  I have enjoyed his company and his constant effort to have ready what I need to keep hydrated and filled.  I have also enjoyed his company on the roadside when he walked and ran with me.

Today is dedicated to Mr. L. A. Kelly.  I was about 13 when Mr. Kelly took me hunting for the first time.  He liked to rabbit hunt with beagles and as far as I know he did not hunt anything else.  He had a beagle named Joe and I inherited beagles that my brother Ben trained and hunted before he entered service.  Mr. Kelly was a friend of my dad and lived across the street from Roger Coan.  I met Roger about this time too and the three of us went rabbit hunting at every opportunity.  Mr. Kelly was old and missing a thumb but he was a dead shot at rabbits.  If I was near he would usually give me the first shot and then he would shoot when I missed, which was too often.  Those days with Mr. Kelly listening to the dogs chase rabbits were some of the happiest of my childhood.  He taught me about rabbit habits and tried to teach me patience during the hunt.  Most of the time though I would hurry and try to head off the rabbit before he turned back.  My hurrying usually alerted the rabbit and he would sneak past me and I’d hear Mr. Kelly’s gun go boom.  He would be holding the rabbit when I got back to him.  I don’t hunt anymore but I still really like to hear a pack of beagles chasing a rabbit.  It is a sound that will always take me back to those happy times with Mr. Kelly.

Day 77–7 miles south of Conlen, Tx–pictures updated

My legs were tired from yesterday and did not like running so I walked today.  The weather was good.  I wore a long sleeve shirt and wind vest most of the day.  I was expecting gentle wind behind me from the north but instead it was from the south and made the day more challenging.  I saw more jack rabbits today and several pheasants.  Rick made a trip to town at lunch and came back with coffee, a vege sub, and chocolate chip cookies.  I went until 6 p.m. and finshed with about 27 miles.

I am going to miss this country.  I am still in the Great Plains.  This part is even less populated than west Kansas. The past few days I have been passing large ranches and the few towns are small.  There are fences along the road with cattle and some horses in the distance.  Back home in North Carolina we keep cattle and horses in pasture.  Here pasture just is not the correct word.  Pasture  cannot describe the size of the area I have been looking at.  It is huge and open quite often with a home in the distance that’s 2 or 3 miles off the main road.  The cattle are scattered and only seem to congregate around the old style windmills that pump water for their trough.  Often when I top a rise in the road I have to stop and just take it all in.  I can only imagine how it felt to be here before we added the towns and farms.  Being on foot here makes me a part of something huge but very small at the same time.  I have heard some people here talk of feeling claustrophobic with all the trees and buildings in the east.  I have never felt that way before back home but that may change now. 

Herman is still on my mind today.  I hope and pray the surgery went well.  He is such a good man.  Please continue to pray for him.

Day 76–10 miles into Texas

We got up to find stars and a bright full moon with no clouds.  What a welcome site!  I was running by 8:30 alternately running and walking every 15 minutes.  I kept this up most of the day.  Rick was on the ball crewing bringing me coffee, sandwiches, and Gatorade regularly.  He also walked with me several times in the afternoon.  We entered Texas about 2 p.m. and continued another 10 miles.  The weather was cool enough all day for long sleeves.  The whole day was a welcome relief from the past few rainy cold days.

Herman Forbes has been mentioned here before but he is such a good friend that I am dedicating today to him too.  Herman has been having been having back problems and will have surgery tomorrow (Thursday) morning at Carolinas Medical Center.  Please keep Herman and his wife Laura in your prayers.

Day 75–Just south of Guymon, OK (Oct.14)

This morning we were earlier and decided to do a fast food biscuit for breakfast.  The sit down breakfasts are taking too much time.  It was raining again  this morning and 41 degrees.  I had nothing but the cotton gloves Rick gave me, so we went by the hardware where I found some good fleece gloves.  I also bought a “Hot Noggin” for my head.  It is a helmet liner that is waterproof and fleece lined.  It works great in the rain under the hood of my jacket or by itself for cold wind.  We then headed out and I was running by 8:30.  There are no mile markers along the highway in Oklahoma so I alternated running and walking every 15 minutes.  By noon we had made the 14 miles into Guymon.  I was so cold and wet that I stopped for lunch and to warm up in the motel.  Rick had been by Taco Bell and had 3 burritos waiting for me along with some coffee.  Then I headed out for another 4 miles before calling it a day.  Rick and I spent the rest of the afternoon watching TV and went for Chinese dinner.Like Sunday, today was a messy day.  I was checked on by one patrolman and offered 6 rides.  The 5th person to offer me a ride did catch my attention for a minute.  She was nice looking and in her 20s.  Her sweater was too small though.  Too bad some of you 20-something  wildlife guys were not here!  I think she was disapointed when she saw me.

Bill Bowerman died Friday.  He is famous for wrecking his wife’s waffle iron designing soles for running shoes. His innovaive designs helped spark the running boom.  He also coached many runners at the University of Oregon and wrote “Jogging”.  I am sure all runners owe him a debt of gratitude.  We would be a lot fewer in number and probably have a lot more injuries without his contributions.  I ran today to honor him and thank him for those contributions.

Day 74–Just south of Hooker, OK

Rick and I were up at 7 and off to breakfast.  By the time we had eaten and drove out to the start it was 8:40.  We were we expecting a wet, cold, and windy day but the wet part never happened.  I made good progress and Rick joined me several times.  I saw my first jack rabbit today.  At first I was not sure what it was but when it stopped and stood up where I could see its ears, I knew what it was.  I did not realize they were so big and fast.  They’re as big as Stanley!  Later we saw 7 at one time feeding on the wet grass.  The sign announcing the city limits of Hooker gave us a good laugh.  It has a madame painted on it.  I had coffee there and went another 4 miles before we stopped for the day.  We went back for a picture of the Hooker sign.  I bought a half gallon of milk and drank it down in 5 minutes.  Then we drove off to Guymon to find lodging and dinner for the night.

Shirley Lassiter is an MTC member and a veteran of the Ellerbe Springs Marathon.  She is almost always at club events as a volunteer.  At the Ellerbe Springs Marathon she has called splits, helped with the start, worked registration, helped at the finish, helped with awards, and helped at aid stations.  She can do it all.  At other club events she can be found working the aid stations.  When we have a shirt run she is usually either participating or picking up the pizza and sometimes both.  All this help is often going on while she is watching grandchildren too.  Shirley, you are one of the hardest workers and most loyal members in the club.  It is always a pleasure to work with you.  I dedicated today’s run to you.  Thanks for all you do to make the Mangum Track Club the special group that it is.

Catching up–October 10, 11 and Day 73

I took Friday off but I felt guilty about it–at first.  Thursday was a tough day and I don’t know all the reasons.  I do know one though and she was about to leave me and return home.  Merrie came Sunday and we had Monday together driving up to Kansas.  But Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were all about walking and running with only brief times when she was with me.  It had been more than a month since we had seen each other and she was about to be gone again.  Friday and Saturday would be our last time together until December.  I could not spend that time running and miss out on our last chance for some time together.  It was the right decision for both of us.

After breakfast Saturday morning, Merrie and I went to the airport where I saw her off at 1:10 p.m.  At 1:30 Rick French had arrived and we made our way back to Kansas.  It was a long trip with rain and darkness slowing us down.  We got to our motel in Liberal, Kansas about 11:30 p.m. 

Day 73–Running into Liberal, Ks

Rick and I did not set the alarm.  Even though we were both tired from the traveling we still awoke at 7 a.m.  A check of the weather looks like 3 days of rain ahead.  We had breakfast and drove out to the start about 21 miles north of Liberal.  I jumped out with a short sleeve shirt, my Golite jacket, and rain hat.  Rick drove off to the first crew point a couple of miles up the road.  I soon found that the shirt and jacket were not enough.  The wind was driving the rain sideways and I was getting wet and cold immediately.  When I met up with Rick I was not quite sure what to do.  My extra shirts were in the room and I had no gloves.  I did have my Goretex jacket though and put it on over everything else.  That took care of the cold wind and wet body but not my hands.  I put them in the pockets but the wind was blowing water into the pockets.  I had to keep emptying the water out and my hands were still cold.  The only thing I did have was some of the Walmart dry-bags (thanks Brady).  I put them on as mittens and fastened the strap around my wrist.  Water did eventually come through but my hands stayed warm.  Rick and I took a lunch break at noon.  We drove back to Liberal and Burger King where he had a good-looking whopper and I had 2 vege-burgers.  We both had coffee.  After lunch we stopped by the room and I put on a dry shirt before going for another 3 hours and arriving in Liberal on foot.  I was offered 7 rides today and checked on by 2 deputies.  That is a record for offered rides.  One guy was even going in the opposite direction! 

I am dedicating today to my mother, Myrtle Eunice Blake Dawkins.  Mother was born October 12, 1917.  I don’t know how much of me is me because of her, but it is a very large part.  I do know that the doctor told her before she became pregnant with me that she should not have more children.  He did not think she could carry any more to term.  But here I am (and Roger too).  Mother had to do lots of exercises while pregnant to keep me.  Of course that was probably the easy part  of having me.  The hard part was the next 51 years she spent teaching me how to be an adult.  Anybody who knows me also knows that being an adult is something I sometimes fight hard. But Mother never gave up on me and even in her eighties sometimes threatened to turn me over her knee.

Mother taught me so many things.  She taught me how to iron a shirt and sew on a button.  She taught me to behave and only switched me once.  She taught me to forgive.  She taught me to pray.  She taught me how to win and lose by playing games with me.  The list is long and I’d never be able to complete it without leaving many things out.  But one thing she taught me that is really relevant right now is about “The Little Engine That Could”.  “I think I can, I think I can.”  There is no telling how many times I have thought of that lesson in the past 3 months.  It has been there every time it was needed.   Mother, thank you for all the lessons you taught me or tried to teach me.  I am still working at many of them.  I hope you had a Happy Birthday!  I miss you.

Day 72

I awoke today not feeling good and stayed that way through the whole run.  I don’t know if I was tired or dehydrated or just having a bad day.  My mood struggled. Merrie ran out to meet me several times and that helped but I still could not get into a good mood.  About 1 p.m. I stopped and headed in.  We passed a store though and I had a coffee and decided to go some more.  I still did not feel good but managed to make another 8 miles before heading to town in the car.  It was the windiest day yet in Kansas and would have been hot except for that.  Also we had 5 miles of road construction that prevented Merrie from reaching me in that area.  I was glad the day was over and hope for a better one tomorrow.  It is 25 miles to Oklahoma and I would like to cross the border while she is with me.

Today is dedicated to Bill Parsons.  Bill was the burn boss for my first 4 years at the Sandhills Wildlife Depot.  Bill is a good leader and knows his way around a fire.  But the most impressive trait Bill has is his coolness.  He maintains that cool even in hairy situations and always is able to make necessary decisions at the right time.  I have told others that if there are people somewhere with their finger on a nuclear button, I hope they are just like Bill.  Smart, cool, and not too hasty to with their decisions.

Day 71–Meade, Ks

Today we got up on time, ate breakfast, and I was running at 8:45.  I was a little stiff but there was no soreness from yesterday.  I walked the first 3 miles and then settled into a routine of alternately walking a mile and running a mile.  The afternoon got hot but I continued the routine until about 3 p.m. and walked the last 4 miles into town.  My feet were really sore from all the pounding.  Tomorrow I am going to try changing shoes after lunch to see it that will help.  I will be glad to be moving on from Meade.  All of our meals are at the local truck stop.  There are few choices that come without meat.

Back in the mid-90s we were introduced to a new runner.  He was a co-worker of Mark Long.  Mark got him interested in running and he joined the MTC.  His name was Mike Sellers.  Mike was a very nice guy and we all liked him.  He was new and not fast but he was exploring his limits like the rest of us.  There was no reason for him or us to think he would not be around to run with the club for many years.  Then tragedy struck.  Mike was murdered.  For a long time we did not know many details.  Those we eventually found out were terrible.  Mike had been cut short in his life.  But he is still in the Mangum Track Club.  Check the list and you will see.  I am glad we continue to honor the members that are no longer with us.  Our memories keep them alive.  And I thought of Mike during today’s run.