Monday, July 28, 2014

7/28/14: 1351.1 to 1358.0 miles. Schwinn Little Ranger Stroller

Schwinn Little Ranger Bicycle Trailer/Stroller
I bought one of these yesterday at Target for $94.99. It was marked down from $189.99. Today, I tossed my backpacking gear in it in a haphazard manner and went for a walk. Wow! It was awesome! (Ok, so awesome is overused by writers today, but it really was AWESOME!)

I took a quick five mile hike on the four lane. Pushing it was like pushing nothing at all. Yes I did notice it a little going up hills, but it was easier than carrying a pack. After a mile or two, I forgot it was there. But wait! That's not all! There was something even MORE amazing, if that is possible.

My Fitbit pedometer measures my stride rate.  Usually, it is from 115 to 120 when I'm not using a click track on an audio book. Pushing the cart increased my stride rate from a low of 120 to a blistering high of 128 steps per minute. When I looked back, there was even smoke rising from the pavement! Minor exaggeration. The extra speed is only about 1/4 mph, which isn't significant. What is significant is that from past experimentation, I learned that when the stride rate is higher the effort is less if I'm letting the increased stride rate occur naturally. 

The walk on the left was a five and a half mile walk this morning without pushing the cart. The lows were sometimes caused by stopping to take pictures, so they averaged about 560 to 605 steps every five minutes. The walk on the right is approximately the same route. It was a little shorter at five miles. The pace ranged from 605 steps each five minutes to 643 steps each five minutes. Keep in mind, I'd already walked eight miles before the second walk, so theoretically it would be a bit higher if it was the first walk of the day.

The paradox is it seems to take LESS energy to walk pushing the cart than to walk without pushing it. I'll have to test this more thoroughly, but there is a logical explanation. A study showed that Kenyan women walked more efficiently carrying a jug of water or a bundle of sticks on their head. The reason was the shift in the center of gravity allowed their legs to work at 85% efficiency instead of the 65% efficiency they had without the load. 65% is normal efficiency for most people. My theory is that pushing cart causes the center of gravity to move so the legs are more efficient.

So, is the cart practical? I've only had it one day, so I can't predict how it will last. I think I'll have to change the front wheel to one that is more durable, but I'll wait and see on that. I'll also replace the tubes with hard tubes so the tires won't go flat. The cart is rated for 80 pounds, but I think that is stretching the limit due to the material on the bottom. 50 pounds is probably more like it. There is plenty of space, so a person doesn't have to worry too much about bulk. That allows for more options in buying inexpensive gear. I don't see where I would carry more than 20 pounds plus food and water. 25 pounds would be a more normal load depending on the distance between resupply points.

With the cart, I can seriously start planning some overnight trips. I probably won't stealth camp. There is a town about 21 miles from here that allows camping in their city park. They even have rest rooms and I think showers. 

For some reason, I've nicknamed the cart "The Cadillac." It seems luxurious compared to carrying a pack. I don't even like Cadillacs, but I think the name will stick. I'll have to add some personal touches like a water bottle holder. Maybe one day, I'll add GPS and a solar panel. 

78/28/14: 1340.5 to 1351.1 miles. For the Love of Roadwalking

I've been pondering the differences between hiking and backpacking vs. road walking and road walking trips. This pondering will likely occupy my mind for some time. I know the differences for myself, but hey, I'm trying to sell other people on the idea that walking on the roads and road walking trips can be as fun as hiking and backpacking. I understand it is a tough sell to some, and those aren't the people I'm trying to reach. I'm more interested in reaching people who are already interested. These people are seeming more information.

Road walking is not hiking or backpacking. Road walking is a different activity although much of the gear is the same. I do both, and for me the state of mind is somewhat different in each activity. As I ate a banana and raisins on a toasted whole wheat tortilla, I decided road walking is more akin to bicycling than it is to hiking and backpacking. When riding a bicycle, I focused on the journey more than on the destination. The destination was an excuse to take the journey. 

I'm still pondering this concept and I think it will take several posts in the future to define road walking. For now, I'll leave it unfinished.

This morning, I started out before sunrise walking on the four lane. There is a wide shoulder, so I wasn't worried about traffic. I found the oncoming headlights annoying at first, but soon learned to look down before they got too close. I don't think I would like to hike for a couple of hours on a busy road.

I started looking for places to stealth camp. It rained almost all night last night. Everything that was low was wet and buggy, so I started looking high. I found this noise suppression wall on a high spot that had some bushes. It's important that headlights from the cars don't reach the spot. As long as a person made camp after dark and broke camp before sunrise, they could camp behind those bushes just to the right of center. I guess I'd have to try it once to see how it really works.

The sunrise on the desert was beautiful this morning. I decided to cross the road to get a better picture.

It might be tempting to walk to that distant tree on the far right, and I've done it. However, there is a deep arroyo on the way that is difficult to cross. Shortcuts can be longer than they appear. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

7/27/14: 1330.7 to 1340.5 miles: Chris,Grapes.

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This is a long leg and a short leg. It completes segment 21. The short leg enters California! 

The states are gradually getting filled in. 

Yesterday morning, I went to Kind Souper's. While there, I bought 3/4 pound of cole slaw to eat at the table outside. While eating, a man I estimated to be in his mid 50's walked by. He was about 5'10, normal weight and tanned. As he walked by, he looked like he wanted to join me, so I invited him over.

He was making the rounds on foot looking for work. He'd been to Wendy's and a few other places. He isn't homeless, but is living on the edge in a home. He hasn't been able to find work in eight months. There are some problems people living on the edge face. For instance, everyplace wants people to apply online. That works fine for people who can afford the internet. It works fine for people with their preconceived employment criteria. But it doesn't work so well for someone who has a felony from 1991 and is trying to get work. It doesn't work fine for someone with an employment gap. It doesn't work fine for someone who walks all day putting in applications and can't check their email. It doesn't work well for people who can't afford a cell phone. In other words, it doesn't work for people like him. 

As I sat there, I realized he has another problem. He is deeply tanned. So am I. This was the second day in a row someone has sat outside at a table with me. Both were poor people living on the edge. I've come to realize having a deep tan is a mark of homelessness or living on the edge. There a rich people's tan and a poor people's tan. I can't really describe the difference except to say the poor people's tan is from many days in a row in the sun instead of a vacation tan. It's a little redder and the skin is a little rougher.

He didn't ask for money, but I gave him a few dollars. He said I didn't have to do it and I said I wanted to. 

This morning, I walked a few miles along city streets. I found this grapevine hanging over a fence and took just one grape to taste it. Hope the owners wouldn't mind.

Further along in my journey, I met a guy riding his bicycle from Topeka to California. He had just the type of trailer I want to use for a push cart. He got it at WalMart. It looks like it would be perfect for me. He said he was carrying lots of gear because he liked to have fun. He has a lawn chair and stops to fish every chance he gets. Now that I think of it, I should have told him about the Arkansas River along the bicycle trail. He was headed in that general direction, so maybe he already knew about it.

We talked for 5 or 10 minutes and then we went on our way. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

7/26/14: 1313.5 to 1330.7: Pushcart. Tailor for God

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I'm getting behind on posting again, so I combined two legs.

Animated Street View: 1313.5 to 1322.7
Animated Street View: 1322.7 to 1330.7

Jul 25

I've started noticing many one shot bottles along the side of the road. Sometimes there are pints. 

Sunrise is a special time to walk. The air is usually cool and still. The skies are beautiful.

Jul 26

I asked Nate Damm what type of pushcart he used on his walk across America. Here is a picture of it. They cost about $175 new. Maybe I can find a used one somewhere.

Today as I was on my walk, I got the thought, "Who is your Jesus."  I'm not Christian, but given that this is supposedly a Christian country, I used Jesus. A person can substitute whatever name they want for whatever they worship. 

Christians ask me if I believe in Jesus. I'm Jewish, so the answer is confusing. I respond by asking, "What does it mean to believe in Jesus?" Not a single Christian has been able to give me the answer. I've asked the same thing about the Gods of other faiths, and I have never gotten an answer. 

So, mentally, I ask, "Do you believe in your toilet?" Blasphemy, some would say. But a person shows their belief by doing what they are told. A person has faith in the toilet to take the crap out of their life and they show it everyday. Once I wrote an article called, "Faith in your toilet." 

What does this have to do with Jesus, God, whatever it is that is, or whatever a person worships or follows?

A person shows their belief by their actions. If a person says they believe in Jesus, then their actions show me the Jesus they believe in. The same with any other name for God. In fact, one could argue that the actions of a Christian define Jesus. The same is true of any other faith. The actions define the term they use for the higher power.

I don't have any answers. The questions are rhetorical. Well, I do have some answers.

In Judaism, it talks about making garments for God. It is not on the physical level as Jewish people cannot describe what God is. Garments are physical manifestations of God. When a Jewish person does a mitzvah (a commandment, usually defined as a good deed) they are clothing God in a sense. They are "dressing" the God they believe in. Well, I'm not a tailor and my tastes in clothes aren't all that good. However, the thought of being a tailor for God is a bit scary.

The next leg on the virtual hike is the last one in Nevada. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

7/23/14: 1305.1 to 1313.5 - Pockets of Peace (POPS)

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Pockets of Peace (POPS) are places a person can sit in the shade and be left alone for awhile. It can be a shady spot near a store, a picnic table in a greenbelt, a bench by a library, or anyplace a person feels comfortable sitting for a spell. Not that I know how to make spells or anything. I'll have to read more Harry Potter books for that. 

It is difficult to find POPS in the desert, and that makes them more precious. A lone tree or bush where a person can get some shade will suffice.

After a couple minutes road noises start to disappear and the sounds of birds starts to appear. It used to be places like this would have bugs, but it seems like bugs are disappearing from the world.

This area is just a short distance from HWY 50 and just down a steep embankment from a Loaf and Jug gas station. These pockets of peace are all over Pueblo, and they are all over most towns. People might consider them threatening, but I've never seen anyone in them. I suppose if one came early in the morning, they might find some homeless person wake up. They want to be left alone.

This shady spot is invisible to anyone who would be looking from a distance, and anyone who walked by probably wouldn't care. It would be a good place to sit and drink some water with a sandwich. 

Any kid worthy of the designation would love to climb this tree. Well, at least in past times. Now kids have other interests. I saw two meandering down the bicycle trail on their skateboards. I'd have taken a picture, but I don't take people's pictures as it may scare them in today's world. At least I don't take them from close up.

When my son and I backpack, we christen these POPS by making a cup of coffee. When a place is special, a person should sit for some time.

Afterwards, I got a drink at the Loaf and Jug. There were eight people getting gas, probably spending about $35 apiece for a total of $240. Their cars averaged about $20,000 apiece. There was $160,000 of metal there that would eventually rust. Repeat this maybe 20 times a day, and it starts to turn into real money. Money people have to earn by working. This shows the paradox of economics. If people don't consume, people don't have jobs. A certain amount of material possessions is necessary. What if everyone only bought what they REALLY need? Food, shelter, clothes, and minimal transportation. We could probably all work a couple hours a day. Now people work all day so they can sit around a couple hours a day.

My thought is to have a small place to live and turn the whole world into my living room. I could go to the library or many other places for free internet. I wouldn't need to stay long -- just long enough to type my blog and to charge the batteries on the Kindle Fire. Is this taking advantage of other people's work? I don't know. It's an interesting question, isn't it?

The virtual hike is still in the Nevada desert. California is drawing me forward only because it is a political boundary between two states made by people long forgotten by most. Each change in the road surface likely occurs at county boundaries. 

I've decided to use a bivy sack if I ever real-hike this route. I've decided to travel as light as I can, but I'll need a cart of some sort for water in the desert. Now that I've put the need out to the universe, one will appear when I need it. I'd like to test the theory of a cart. 

This afternoon, I took a 2.3 mile hike. It was 95 degrees. The heat didn't feel bad when I was in it, but I did feel some effects after I returned home. I'm going to have to start rationing water so I drink enough. That's part of the experiments.

The boundary between suburbia and prairie is only seven minutes away.

Someone from Denver is going to fix that for us. They will develop this area in the next few years. Maybe the housing bust will keep going and they will wait ten years, but it is coming.

I found this place of peace along the way. It doesn't look like much, but all it takes is a flat rock to sit on and some shade. 

This is the view from the inside looking out. I sat there for a few minutes enjoying the shade. Although it was 95 degrees, the combination of the shade and a breeze made it comfortable. 

There were no ants. There are no ants anyplace. Am I the only one to notice this?

This is the type of place I'd avoid if it wasn't near home. Don't need any ticky tacky neighbors calling the police and tell them I'm doing something like eating at a picnic table. 

On the virtual hike, there are some hills and some things that look like trees. Well, they are trees for a couple miles. Haven't seen any of those in awhile.

7/23/14: 1294.3 to 1305.1 miles. Sauntering

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While reading a book about English composition, I read an old article that gave the definition of sauntering. One theory was the word originated to describe people making pilgrimages during the Middle Ages. The people would say they were going to the Holy Land or some distant cathedral, but in reality, they were sans terre, meaning landless in French. Today we would call them homeless. 

Many of the homeless people today say they are on the way to another city when I talk to them the first time. 

I'm reading Anti-Clock, Walking Across America by Wes Jacobs. Wes writes like Thoreau. The book is not about the walk. It is about his ponderings during the walk. He said, "If I told people that I sought freedom most of all to compensate for a lifetime of clock bound duties, many were unable to envision the broad definition of liberty I was suggesting."

Wes would often stop to observe ants, cows, people, or whatever else he observed. Whether it took an hour to walk a mile or 15 minutes did not matter. There is plenty of time in each day to walk the 20 miles needed to cross the country in a reasonable time. On this virtual hike, if it became a real hike, there would be plenty of time to walk 23 miles a day and have hours left over. If something is interesting, why not stop and observe it.

In some of the early posts, I described the homeless as ambling. It's a comfortable pace which gets them there eventually, but, since they are not bound by a clock, they don't have to worry about when they get there. I suppose they have their rounds and their rhythm of life. 

In 1977, Joe Sinischalchi (sp.) said to me, "I don't like when people drive fast when I want to drive slowly, and I don't like it when people want to drive slowly when I want to drive fast." Today, I see we don't like to be bound by other people's clocks and expectations. Some of this is necessary, but most of it is artificial, and it is used to control other people.

Yesterday morning, I saw these weeds with their seed balls. Unfortunately, I left my camera home, so I went back around noon to take the picture. I'd forgotten exactly where they were so I had to do a little wandering to find them. 

Why do four lane roads attract me so? I think it is knowing this road, which goes by the name Hwy 50, stretches all the way to California to the west, and far to the east. I could follow this road almost without thinking for many days. The virtual hike will intercept this road in Utah, I think, and follow it across much of Nevada. 

Some may think walking of the shoulder of this road is dangerous, and maybe it is. The way I look at it, the shoulder is wide. There are no intersections, and nobody is going to hit me from behind while passing, which they might on a two lane road. I've never felt any danger walking on four lane roads. It is illegal to walk on interstates, so I don't go there. If I choose to stop, I usually get far off the side so it doesn't look like I'm hitch-hiking.

This apple tree was hanging over the wall. I estimated there are enough apples on this tree to make two apple pies a day for a year. Canning apples is easy. I wonder if the owners of the home will use any of them? Imagine if all the trees in the picture were apple trees. They grow easily in this area and don't require any special attention. There are few worms or bugs that bother the apples. There was a time, in 1920, that there were more apple trees in Pueblo than there were people. There were about 20,000 people and 23,000 apple trees. There were also about 3,000 cherry trees. Well, I'll certainly visit this area later and pick up the drops when they fall. It will be fun to have apple cobbler made from free apples. 

These two pictures go together. The first one is the space between the wolfpacks of traffic, and the second is a wolfpack of traffic released by a traffic light about three-quarters of a mile ahead. Most of the people are likely going to work at the industrial park about 10 miles to the east. They are bound by the clock and are headed to the security of a job so they can buy more things so they need to have a job. Ok, people need to work, and there is nothing wrong with that. But people don't need to work so hard to be bound by physical possessions. I wonder how many of them noticed they were passing an apple tree?

The people in the cars were fun to watch. Most of them didn't appear to notice me, or if they did, they pretended not to notice me. To be fair, I pretended not to be watching them, too. I didn't want to intrude on their privacy by staring. Some waved, and I hoped they saw my wave before they raced by. Some were drinking their coffee and appeared to be enjoying the driving time. Others seemed to pointedly stare straight ahead while passing as if they thought I presented a threat to them. Of course, that's my interpretation and not what they were thinking. One child, about 8 years old, waved excitedly when she saw me. I waved back and smiled.

I hated to go home, but I, too, am bound by the clock. I have to work myself. It's not hard, but I have to be there in case I get a phone call or an email that needs attention. Besides, I wanted to make this blog post before the feelings of the walk disappeared.

Good news. One of my responsibilities this morning just disappeared, so there will be time for a second, although shorter, morning walk.   

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

7/21/14:1287.1 to 1294.3 miles: WIndow washers

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Yesterday, I walked a few miles around the city in addition to my normal walks outside of town. I saw these guys washing windows on the new judicial building. At first, they were progressing evenly, but as they neared the bottom, they may have started to race a bit.The one in the middle didn't have as many windows to wash, so he had an advantage.

As I watched them descend down the sides of the building, I pondered how normative behavior can slow the work pace to that of the slowest worker. This is something that is talked about in books on Scientific Management. If all the window washers are getting the same salary, than why should anyone work faster than the slowest worker? Maybe that wasn't the case in this situation as there may be safety considerations to staying at the same height.

I wondered about how much these men get paid. Surely, they do not make as much as the attorneys and judges who will be working inside the building.

Frankly, I don't see the point in building this new building as the old one was working fine. More waste of our tax dollars.

Monday, July 21, 2014

7/21/14: 1,279 to 1287.1 miles. Hummingbird butterfly

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Animated Street View

This hummingbird moth was feeding from a sunflower in our backyard last evening. They look almost exactly like hummingbirds. Nature is amazing.

The rising sun gave some of the trees fall colors.  

Cattails used to be common here, but now this is one of the few I know that is left. They got replaced by another plant that looks almost like a cattail, but doesn't have the "corn dogs."

On the virtual hike, there were TWO small towns on this leg. Both looked like they had a place to resupply. 

Ok, I admit it. I'm counting the legs to California. There are six of them. It will be gratifying to add another "states visited" map. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

7/12/14 1269.2 to 1279 Miles - Completed Segment 19

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Animated Street View

I took about a week off from posting, and rather than going back and trying to fill in the blanks, I just picked up from today. It was cool this morning, and about 62 degrees. It was a perfect day for walking.

The sun was a bright reddish orange and it was rising directly in front of me on the bicycle trail.

The morning walk completed Part 2 of the hike. The next part is Northwestern Nevada to entering Idaho. It is about 900 miles long.

The yellow circles are the next segment. As I leave the trail of green circles behind me, I'm committing more to completing the virtual hike. In a way, I'll be sad to leave Nevada behind. It was a long state and it was all desert. In fact, I've been in the desert since  entering Utah. It's not time to mourn leaving the desert as there is still plenty of desert ahead in Oregon and Washington. I never pictured them as desert states.

There is about 80 miles left in Nevada, so I'll enjoy those while it lasts.

Here is a link to segment 21.

From now on, the legs are often shorter than 10 miles. The reason for this is I had to add intermediate legs to force the route onto the correct roads. If I were to plan the route again, I'd vary the length of the legs throughout the route. These artificial milestones give a sense of progress. It seems to be better if the distances between the milestones vary. I guess it's like counting exits instead of mile markers on the interstate.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

7/12/14 - 1228.4 to 1238.4 miles: Bread of Shame

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Yesterday was a good day. I found $20 on the bicycle trail as I mentioned in yesterday's post. I went to the bank in the afternoon and found my bank account had $190 more in it than I expected. 

This morning as sunrise was nearing, I was deciding where to go. I decided to go to the starting line of the 48 State Virtual Hike. It is a little more than a mile from where I live. Just down the street, I got two stunning pictures.

The full moon was setting in the west and the sun was rising in the east at the same time. This always happens on the day of the full moon. Notice the mackerel skies portending rain later today.

This event is significant because Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed on a similar day, although during a different month. It would have been the month of Nissan, when Passover occurs. The Christians have their interpretation of Sodom and Gomorrah all wrong. They think it is about sex, but the book says nothing about sex. Here is what the book says: 

Eze 16:48 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy.

In Judaism, we have something called, "The Bread of Shame." If we get an undeserved blessing, we are to give a portion of it to someone in need.  Yesterday, I received an extra $210, so I wanted to give some away. 

As I passed under I-25 crossing over HWY 50 in Pueblo, Colorado -- the intersection marking the beginning of the Virtual Hike Route, I decided to stop at that McDonald's in the upper right corner of the arch. It's not my normal fare, but I decided to get a couple hash browns and coffee. 

Having decided to experiment with Planetwalker's vow of silence, I wrote "2 hash browns and coffee for here" in my notebook. After the cashier greeted me, I nodded and smiled while I handed her my notebook. That was the last time she looked me in the eyes. Chuckling now that I think about it -- maybe she initially thought the note was a robbery note and she was getting over her fright.

As I left McDonald's, I walked through the gas station parking lot next to it. It is an "interstate exit" gas station and I'm surprised so many tourists were awake so early. I saw an old man standing outside the open door of a car. His clothes were clean and he had a wooden cane, but his blue pea jacket gave him away as being homeless. It was already getting warm. The homeless often wear all their clothes, because if they leave them in their camp, they get stolen.

Still maintaining my temporary vow of silence, I walked towards him as I opened my wallet. At first, I was going to give him $5.00, but I decided on $10. As I approached him, he asked if I could help an old man buy breakfast. I handed the man the $10 and smiled at him. I wanted to hug him, but I didn't want to scare him. Perhaps sensing my thoughts, he spread his arms showing he wanted to give me a hug. I hugged him close for about 10 seconds. I could feel his body start to tremble. We needed that.

As I walked back on this bridge, I saw this random tomato. How did it appear there in the last 40 minutes or so? Oh well, I took a picture and walked on.

Later, I took a walk in the prairie and saw this cactus. The picture is begging for a caption. I thought of "Cactus Man selling Balloons." 

I crossed the prairie, and went on the now familiar four lane. I was looking forward to a 32 ounce glass of water at the Loaf and Jug. A person has to be hot to really enjoy cold ice water. 

So far today, I've walked 8.4 miles. I'm looking forward to the short walk later today to get a head start on tomorrow's miles. I'm starting to enjoy HOT, and the hotter the better.

See you down the road,
Meander Thaller

Friday, July 11, 2014

7/11/14 Found $20! -- 1218.4 to 1228.4 miles

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The miles for this entry started yesterday. I wrote this part while waiting for a friend at a Chinese restaurant.

People waste so many resources on what they think is beautiful. Not what IS beautiful, but what they THINK is beautiful.

This bank is a perfect example. Others see a neatly designed landscape. I see weed free grass kept that way by deadly chemicals. I see crushed rock probably taken from a pristine area. I see grass that needs an inch of water a day to survive. I see non-native trees that need water. Meanwhile, farmers can only plant half their fields because they can't get enough water.

Would would be wrong with "Natural Strips." Cut whatever grows. After a time, grass starts to dominate. If they want trees, why not plant Chinese elm which doesn't need water. It's a wonderful shade tree that doesn't form large branches. What if they planted fruit trees instead? No chemicals please. They need water, but they return fruit. I'd rather walk in the prairie a short distance away.

Get over it people! We live in a desert! 

This morning, it was already 71 degrees when I started walking around 5:30. After thinking for awhile, I decided to take the bicycle trail towards the University. Lucky i did, as I found two neatly folded ten dollar bills on the bicycle trail. This is the second time I found $20 in my meanderings. 

I re-shot the picture one of my cats deleted yesterday. It is of the northern part of Pueblo. It's only a couple miles away. It doesn't seem like much nestled between many miles of open prairie.

Clouds were already starting to form over Pikes Peak. Usually, this leads to afternoon thunderstorms in that area. Those storms tend to avoid Pueblo, but maybe we will get lucky.

Yesterday, I learned the Greyhound bus goes east on Hwy 50 to Fowler and Rocky Ford. Fowler is about 36 miles away and Rocky Ford about 54 miles. The bus leaves Pueblo at 2:30 AM.  When I'm ready, I may take it to Rocky Ford and walk back in a day. I'll want to wait for cooler weather. Perhaps I'll drive the route first to see what's there. 

If I ever get to the point where this hike might become a reality, I think I'd start with a practice hike following HW 50 across Colorado. 

Enough dreaming. It's time to cut the grass.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

7/20/24: 1208.4 to 1218.4 Stealth camping

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I tried cooking my oatmeal on medium heat today instead of slow cooking it on low. It predictably started to boil over, but I quickly turned the heat down and took the lid off for a minute. The oatmeal turned out lumpy instead of creamy as I like it. There must be something about the maximum temperature during cooking that determines the consistency of the oatmeal.

It was 59 degrees when I started walking about a half hour before sunrise. Last time I was too warm when I wore the fleece at this temperature, so I didn't wear it. It was a bit cool, but it felt good. Especially when compared to the hot sun during the day. The morning hours are certainly the time to get in the miles. 

As I wandered up the slight grade of the four-lane, I started thinking about places to stealth camp. For those that don't know, stealth camping is done in marginally legal areas. Make camp after dark and break camp before sunrise. Leave no trace of being at the campsite. I say marginally legal, because camping on the side of state roads is technically legal in Colorado. Still, it's better to avoid law enforcement and undesirables. From the books I've read about roadwalking, there is always someplace to stealth camp. The night reveals the hidden areas.

I found this little spot along the side of the road. The flash makes it look bright, and you can see at the top of the picture it's getting light outside. The bushes out of the picture to the right would make the spot completely hidden in the shadows to people in cars. The problem with this area is the drainage ditch. It could fill with water during a storm. Residual moisture might attract bugs. We don't have many bugs here, so they aren't a problem. The other problem with most areas is finding a level spot to sleep. Many of the level spots are also areas that collect water during rainstorms. We don't have that many night-time rainstorms here, so that may not be a problem. 

There are often good places to stealth camp on the "other side of the fence." Sometimes the fence divides the road from a secondary road on the other side. It makes me wonder who the miles of fences along roads are for. Are they to keep people traveling contained on their ribbon of asphalt? Are they to keep outsiders off the road? Or are they for animals? I understand when fences are along private property, but why do they put them where it's obviously not private property.

In the perverse way of society's thinking, people walking along a road are either a threat or odd. They would rather not see either of those types. Anyone who has broken down alongside a road understands how things change. The traffic moves faster than a person imagines inside the car. Sometimes the birds are singing. The climate controlled cocoon of the car is gone and they have to deal with the weather as it exists. The person may wonder if they will ever be rescued. What if a person who stops to help is a serial killer?

Today, while listening to "Life on Foot" by Nate Damm, I realized road walking is simply a different set of equations than backpacking in the wilderness. Each has its own set of fears and difficulties. Usually the fears are unfounded. The difficulties disappear as one learns to deal with them. After some time, things that appear to be hardships are a part of life and are no longer hard. I also realize everything is different while doing it than it appears to the person watching. Little pleasures become big pleasures and big hardships become little hardships. Yes, sometimes things happen that do cause concern, but it happens while living in a city, too. 

I was going to show a picture of Pueblo from a distance showing how small it appeared in comparison to the surrounding desert. But one of my cats stepped on the keyboard and somehow erased it from the camera. Not long after she stuck her head in the old pickle jar I was drinking out of. Her head got stuck and when she raised it up, she dumped the water all over herself. Fortunately, the water didn't hurt my keyboard. Poor cat. 

The Virtual Route finally turned north on this leg. There will be a short western leg later to touch California, and then I'm done with west until somewhere in the southeast corner of the United States.