Archive for November, 2008|Monthly archive page

Day 115–Twentynine Palms, Ca

I ate well (interpret as a lot) and went to sleep early last night and this morning went better.  I started at 7:30, walked a couple of miles and then ran 5 of the next 10.  Also, I was out of the big hills and only had rolling stuff today.  The wind came again later in the morning and was strong and in my face again.  I worked hard and had 16 miles at noon.  My goal was the motel in Twentynine Palms and I needed a 30 mile day to get there.  Roger and Kim went to town for lunch and brought coffee and bean burritos back for me.  I stopped only long enough to eat and continued to push the afternoon.  The wind died down some after 3:30 and I ran a couple more miles.  I arrived at the motel at 4:10 and that’s a good thing because the sun was already ducking behind the mountains.  We did a quick trip to the grocery for milk and Burger King for 3 vege-burgers for my dinner.  Roger and Kim went out for dinner, but I like to get “to go”  food for my room so I can eat sooner and get to bed early.  It just takes too much of my resting time to go out and sit in a restaurant waiting for food.

When I started directing races I decided to get my shirts done locally at Sports World.  Even before that, they were making Mangum Track Club shirts for me when I had a shirt run.  The decision to keep the shirts local with Sports World is one I have never regretted.  They have always made sure the shirts were done well and that I was satisfied.  I also feel that we have become good friends.  David, Duff, Andy, and Carolyn, thanks for all the support and encouragement over the years.  Thanks for your friendship.  I dedicated today’s run to you.

Day 114–milepost 62, California Highway 62


Roger, Kim, and I left Parker, Arizona for good this morning. By the end of today it would be 80 miles behind us and closer lodging would be in front at Twentynine Palms. It took an hour to drive out to the start but we got up in Parker on mountain time and gained an hour when we drove into California. We started at 7:30 Pacific time. I was tired this morning. The first 3 miles were flat. After that I had a 2 mile downhill followed by a 14 mile climb. The wind was from the north and in my face during the climb. After I topped out there was a turn to the west and then to the south and the wind was no longer a problem. I was able to run a couple of miles after the southerly turn because the road was now headed downhill. Other than the long climb the road and scenery was the same as I’ve been looking at the last few days. I think change is coming soon though. I only have 200 miles to San Diego.

Today is dedicated to Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek. The show fired my imagination in the 1960s and remains my favorite television show of all time.

Day 113–milepost 116 to 88, Highway 62

We had biscuits at McDonalds this morning and headed out.  The sky looked good until we began approaching my drop out point.  There was a storm coming from the south and my start was just at the western edge.  We saw lightning once and heard some thunder so I sat in the car. The rain was light and we saw no more lightning so after a 15 minute wait, I hopped out and headed west.  The rain stopped in the first mile with me getting only slightly wet.  After another couple of miles I changed from a jacket to the wind vest.  You would think that by now my feet would be so tough that there would be no more problems.  Yesterday, though, they were wet most of the day and that softened them up.  Today there is no shoulder and I have to run and walk most of the time on the grainy sloped dirt and rock next to the shoulder.  Many times I shake out my shoes and brush off my socks when I stop for water.  In between stops I just deal with it.  If I stopped every time something got in my shoe I would make no miles at all.  I stopped for the day at 28 miles because we had a long drive back to Parker for the night.  My feet were happy when I took the shoes off in the car.  I managed to prop them up a little for the drive.

There were some interesting sites today.  In addition to the cloudy desert again, we crossed the Colorado River aqueduct that takes water to southern California cities.  It carries a lot of fast moving water.  We saw the deserted town of Rice.  All the buildings have been burned.  There is a fence there that is hung with hundreds of pairs of shoes.  There were also numerous historical markers.  It seems that many (a million or more) of the men who fought in World War II trained at one of the eleven camps in the area.  I took pictures of two of the markers so take a look for the story. 

If you have kept up with my journal you know how important the State Farm agents have been to me.  Two weeks ago, Anita and I came into Globe.  We were met there by Dan Hockersmith, a retired agent, and taken to his home where we met his wife Carol.  I explained to them our needs for lodging as we covered the area north of Globe where there are no towns for 87 miles.  Dan and Carol opened their home to us for four nights as we passed through their area.  They cooked for us, took me out to eat, let me wash my clothes, and then crewed for me on Saturday so Anita could head home.  Then, the next week, Dan called to see if I had found a crew for the Wickenburg to Parker section.  When I told him I had not, he drove 150 miles to Wickenburg and crewed for me the next four days as I did the 110 miles to Parker.  I have had many blessings during this journey.  Dan and Carol are an example of just how blessed I have been.  I went in looking for help and got it.  I also found new friends.  I dedicate today to those new friends.

Day 112–California!

I’ve been looking across the river at California for two days.  Dan and I talked about it before he left.  I decided then that crossing the bridge would be “the beginning of the end.”  But to not cross the bridge would be to end the journey in Parker and that is not an option.  The only thing to do is finish this journey in the way I intended…at the Pacific Ocean, preferably at Mission Beach.  I do not know how that finish will feel but I do know that I am ready for it.  It has been a long time since July 15.  Merrie has stood by patiently all that time and allowed me to pursue my dream.  She has supported and encouraged me and dealt with things at home that should have been my job.  It is time for me get back home and be her husband again.  And that job can be a lot of fun!

Roger and Kim came in yesterday.  We had breakfast and I started from the motel.  I crossed the bridge and stopped at the California state line sign for a picture.  Shortly after that the rain began.  I wore my jacket but it was too warm so I changed into a wind vest.  The vest was not quite enough in the heavy rain but there were only brief periods of that.  The first 10 miles out of Parker were really rolling with lots of small ups and downs.  The rain continued until about noon.  At 16 miles I passed Vidal Junction.  The next buildings or houses will be in Twentynine Palms, 92 miles west on Hwy 62.  With the rain stopped and the road now flat, I made good time the rest of the day and finished with 27 miles.  The clouds hung around all day making the usually bright and hot desert a cool place.  The mountain tops were invisible and their dark sides were mostly purple.  It was the first time I have seen the desert like this and I spent some time looking at it and taking pictures.  I doubt that it will stay this way long.

Today is my daughter Erin’s birthday.  I could write pages about Erin!  She came home from Thailand in September and I have not seen her yet.  I look forward to seeing her and her husband Tong soon.   Today is dedicated to you Erin.  We have a lot of catching up to do when I get home.  Happy Birthday!

Day 111–Parker, Az and the California!! border


Sunday, November 23

Dan and I ate biscuits from Burger King and headed out to Bouse. He dropped me out just before 8 a.m. I walked a half mile and then ran 6 miles without any walking. It felt good even though my legs were tired. The scenery is dry desert just like all the last two weeks except there are less plants and even few cactus here. The only things that seems to thrive are creosote bush, dirt, and rocks. There is little ground cover. There are still a few cattle so I assume that further from the road or possibly after a rain there must be more for them to eat. The good part of today is that I am heading toward the Colorado River and that means mostly downhill. As it warms up I alternate walking and running. Traffic really picks up about noon so I take advantage of four wheeler trails when they are available. I arrive into Parker just after 3:30 and meet Dan at the Dairy Queen. They close at 3:30 today but Dan has convinced them to wait for me. I have a large pecan-cluster blizzard to celebrate my arrival in Parker, my last Arizona town. California awaits just across the river. I finish today with 26 miles at the Bridge Inn in Parker. I have covered 389 miles in the past 16 days without an off day despite the two shorter days caused by the injury. I have two days off in Parker before Roger and Kim arrive to crew me into California. I am thrilled to have a chance to be still for a change.

I was thoroughly checked out today by the Arizona DPS (highway patrol). He was nice but very business like and is the first law enforcement officer to ask for identification. He look it over and called in the number, all the time asking me questions about where I was headed, where I came from, and various trip questions. After he was satisfied with the license, he cautioned me about walking along the highway, commenting on the amount of traffic and their fast pace. I thought at first that he was a little more thorough than necessary, but then remembered that lots of illegals cross the border in the Arizona desert. I can understand why he would be suspicious of a person walking along the highway so far from a town.

Today is dedicated to Saundra and John Smith. Saundra was my first wife and is the mother of our children, Dana and Erin. John is her husband. They are both fine people.

Day 110–Bouse, Az

Dan and I had breakfast in Hope and drove back to the start.  I was on the road just before 8 a.m.  Today I seemed to be tired at the start.  It is the 15th day in a row so I guess there is reason to be tired.  Running was not what my legs wanted to do so I walked all day.  At 3 miles I left Hwy 60 and turned onto Arizona 72 toward Parker.  The shoulder immediately got a lot smaller.  The white line at the edge was right at the edge of the road.  I had to be very careful with traffic and watch for passing cars.  They almost never blow their horn and come flying by way too close for my comfort.  After a few miles I noticed a four wheeler trail next to the highway fence about 50 feet off the road.  It was crooked in places and went through the washes adding some ups and downs but much safer.  It must be how lots of locals get to Bouse because it went on for miles and ended in town.  I stayed on the trail and only came out to the road to meet Dan for aid.  We finished with a 25 mile day.  Tomorrow I will do the 27 to our motel in Parker.  It is only a half mile from the bridge over the Colorado River that separates Arizona from California.  

This journey across the U.S. will soon be over.  I have spent many nights in the homes of State Farm insurance agents or in motel rooms provided by the agents at their own expense.  I will contact and thank each of you after I get home but I did want to thank all of you here too.  You have been such a blessing.  I really do think State Farm sends you all to “Nice School” because you are all such good, caring, and generous people.  I might have given up and gone home if I had not connected with you guys in Tennessee.  Then Missouri, Kansas, and Arizona agents all came forward too.  What a story I have to tell about all of you!  Thanks for making my journey comfortable, enjoyable, and successful.  I dedicate today’s run to all of you.

Day 109–3 miles west of Salome, Az


Friday, November 21

I bought Merrie’s plane ticket last night. This morning Dan and I went to Burger King for biscuits and I got online and bought return tickets for Merrie and myself. Now that tickets are bought I have a real schedule. The finish date is December 12. Rick will fly in December 6 and crew me the last week through the finish. Merrie will fly in Thursday, December 11. After the finish Merrie and I will take a few days to look around out here and fly back from Phoenix December 18. I should have no problem meeting the schedule. I have 332 miles to go and 21 days until the finish. The plan calls for only 15 more running days. I am having a hard time believing the end is near.

Today’s run (I can say run again) began at 7:40 a.m. I walked the first two miles and then ran a mile. The rest of the day I continued alternating miles of running and walking. My leg is better than yesterday. I don’t think it is ready for hills again but I have not seen a serious hill in a week. It is hot here. The temperature is mid-80s but the low humidity evaporates any sweat quickly. That is saying a lot for me because I really put out the sweat. The scenery for the days since Phoenix is much the same with little grass but lots of mesquite, creosote bush, and some cactus. I am told there are lots of roadrunners and some javalina here. There must be something because hunting season just opened and the motels are full of hunters. All I have seen is one road-killed roadrunner, a few dead skunks and coyotes. I finished just west of Salome with another 30 mile day.

Today is dedicated to Kathy French (Rick’s wife) and their two sons, Hunter and Parker. Rick is coming back yet again to help me. He has spent a lot of time and money supporting me on this run. None of this would have been possible without the support of his family. When I ran through Taylorsville early in the journey, I stayed at Rick and Kathy’s house. Kathy cooked for me, washed my clothes, drove me out to the course, and was enthusiastic the whole time. Hunter crewed for me in Taylorsville and Missouri. Parker is in college but I did see him a little and he was always encouraging. I joked with Rick that he was spending so much time and money on me that Hunter and Parker must feel that I was their older brother. Never fear guys. This will soon end and you will have your dad back. Thanks for loaning him to me. Kathy, I appreciate all your help and support. Thanks, too, for letting Rick take so much time away to help me. I am in your debt.

Day 108–Aguila, Az

Thursday, November 20

Andy and I slept a bit later this morning since we had a short drive to the start. We went by Burger King for breakfast. I felt like protein this morning so I ordered two egg biscuits with vege-patties on top. While we ate breakfast I posted the latest entries to the journal and checked email. We then headed out to the start and Andy crewed for me until 11 a.m. Dan Hockersmith drove up then. Andy had a plane to catch back to Boston and Dan will crew me into Parker. I will miss Andy. He is one of my best friends and I don’t see him nearly enough. This visit I spent most of my time on the road or in the bed asleep so our visiting took place mostly in the mornings and evenings while he was driving.

During the morning I ran a couple of times for 200 yards or so. It did not feel bad but I was trying to be patient. After noon, though, the walking started to get old. I need miles and running some really helps the numbers at the end of the day. I began on a slightly downhill section and ran a mile. I was careful not to push the pace and to watch my footing. At the end of the mile I went back to walking and could feel no ill effects from the run. I did another mile run followed by a mile walk with the same results. At 5:10 we ended the day just west of Aguila, Arizona with a total of 30 miles. I ran a total of 8 miles of the 30, all of it in the afternoon and my leg seems fine. It’s not 100% yet and I still cannot push off or run uphill but it’s good enough to make a little time of the flats and downhills. The change in pace helps me feel better too.

I have received a number of encouraging emails and phone calls from friends and family since this journey began. Each one helped me keep going. I saved many of the emails in a “motivational” folder and would read them when I was discouraged. Thanks to each of you who took the time to write or phone me. I dedicate today to all of you.

Days 106 and 107–Wickenburg

Tuesday, November 18

Andy and I were up and out of the house by 6:30. I had not paid attention to the drive yesterday but he found the ending spot with no trouble. I had a lot of canal left and it was good going. Not having cars and trucks to worry about let me enjoy the scenery along the canal. The neighborhoods changed and I could see into lots of back yards. Also there were people along the canal getting in their exercise. Shortly after lunch I had to make a decision about the route. Should I stay on the canal to Bell St. or take Cactus St. over to Highway 60? Andy had checked both routes and explained the pros and cons of each. Cactus had the best sidewalks and shoulder so I elected it. I liked the canal better but now I had stores again. Coffee and food were all around. I finished Cactus and now I was on Hwy 60. It would lead me to Wickenburg. All this part of Hwy 60 was developed. There was a Taco Bell for an afternoon snack and a Dairy Queen. Andy and I had pecan cluster blizzards. I went a few more miles, leaving the city, and ended the day. Again there was no good way to calculate the milage walked because the canal and city streets have no mile markers. I’m still unable to run without pain so it was an all-walking day.

Today is dedicated to Greg and Julie West. They were my State Farm hosts in Hutchinson, Kansas. I felt at home in their house and went to my first high school football game in years with Greg. They kept ice cream in their refrigerator and had to buy more while I was there. Thanks, Greg and Julie, for making my stay in Hutchinson one of the finest on my journey.

Wednesday, November 19

Today was a straight shot up Hwy 60 toward Wickenburg. Andy would drive ahead and meet me every couple of miles. Most of the day was uneventful. I tried running again and still cannot. Andy did surprise me with pizza for lunch though. The afternoon was hot again. There is absolutely no shade on the highway and the temperatures are warm for this time of year. Yesterday and today were in the upper 80s. I made it almost to Wickenburg. Tomorrow Andy will crew in the morning and Dan Hockersmith of Globe will drive over to crew for me the next few days.

I have not missed stopping at a Dairy Queen that has been open since I left Sunset Beach. They have all been good and welcome stops. I wish to dedicate today to my friend who runs the DQ in Rockingham. Bill Waterman is such a nice guy. He always greets me with a smile on his face. There’s nothing like a friendly ice cream man!

Days 103, 104, 105–in the heart of Phoenix

Saturday, November 15

I decided to run on Saturday so that I would have a head start crossing Phoenix. My right calf had been tight but there seemed to be no problem today. Anita left early this morning. Dan and Carol Hockersmith, my State Farm hosts, were crewing for me today. I started off well and ran the first 2 miles before going to the walk/run pattern. I planned to do no more than 20 miles today so I would be ready for the new crew. About 6 miles I stopped by a construction site porta-potty. There was no one around so in I went. I was finishing up when a motorcycle pulled up and the guy was planning the same thing I had just done. He was not expecting anyone and I came out just as he reached for the door. I think he was a bit startled. I said hi and went on with my run. Just after 10 miles, my right calf tightened up and was very painful. I walked ½ a mile more and called Dan and Carol to pick me up. I was not happy about the problem.

Dan drove me to a motel in Apache Junction. That had been the plan, just not so early in the day. I spent the afternoon in the room icing my calf and then massaging it. About 5 p.m. my new crew, Andy Roy and Jennifer Kline of Boston showed up and we went to dinner. Later I massaged my leg again and went to bed not knowing what to expect the next day.

I will not dedicate this day. It was a day of injury and uncertainty.

Sunday, November 16

I am without internet access so I’ll post when I can. Entries will be written daily and copied to the blog periodically when access is available.

We got up at the usual time. Walking around the parking lot proved to be painful so I had to come up with a plan. Andy and I discussed the mechanics of the injury and decided that pushing off the big toe was creating the pain in my calf. I took scissors and a knife and cut off the sole of the shoe that is under the first two toes. Trial showed that walking was not totally pain free, but it was bearable. I decided try it. Andy and Jennifer dropped me out about 10 a.m. There are no longer any mile markers but I think I did about 16 miles by 4:30 p.m. I had to do it slow and stay on good flat pavement avoiding rocks and holes but it was a lot better than nothing. And a lot better than I expected.

Yesterday was Roger Coan’s birthday. I would have dedicated yesterday to him if not for the injury. Today was a very positive comeback though. Roger has been my friend since high school. We got into a lot of mischief back then. Only sometimes did we get caught. I was almost uncontrollable at times back then and he usually watched out for me. He continues to watch out for me. The week before last he flew to Albuquerque, rented a car, and crewed for me a week. His only requirement was that I not make him listen to any of my “radical, liberal political ideas.” I enjoyed his company and only occasionally did we discuss politics even though the election was held while he was out here. We did enjoy watching the antelope graze and looking for elk and mule deer. We also both enjoyed the feeling of being in large, open country. Thanks for your help Roger. Happy Birthday.

Monday, November 17

I did not know what to expect today from my leg. I went on the premiss that if I could not be fast I could still cover lots of miles by staying out there a long time. That’s my usual tactic anyway isn’t it? Andy and Jennifer dropped me out at 7:40. I wore new shoes today and not the cut up ones. There was some tightness in the beginning but it passed and I made good progress all day. Once as I crossed the highway a car was coming and I forgot the injury and tried to speed up. Pain reminded me immediately of the injury and it took a few minutes to get my rhythm back. Andy and Jennifer cruised ahead checking out the turns and the neighborhoods. The checked on me regularly. In the afternoon I finally reached the Arizona Canal. It runs southeast to northwest and will save me some miles and keep me out of traffic. Andy joined me there for several miles as Jennifer drove ahead and met us at the road crossings. We continued until 5:20 before calling it a day. I think today’s milage totaled in the high 20s but I changed streets several times and walked on the canal. There is no good way to measure it.

Sunday afternoon we met Tom Pangborn’s sister, Katherine, her husband Ken, and their son Andrew. Tom’s family is letting us stay in their mom’s house during our time in Phoenix. It’s nice to be able to spread out and have our own rooms.

Today is dedicated to my Hearts buddies. Brady Beck, Jeff Marcus, Pete Campbell and I meet monthly to play hearts. I have missed the games while on the road. I hope they have been staying sharp because I’ll be ready to take them on again in January. I wish you each of you guys the Queen of Spades and 12 hearts!