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Wednesday, June 30, 2004



I had walked around the campus and satisfied myself that York College is a rather small 4-year college Monday night I stopped in at the Levitt Library at York College Tuesday morning, and did some reading and took some notes in history. I miss being able to spend what time I like in college and university libraries. although doing so has been a major distraction from employment. I visited the main office to get what information I could. York College is sponsored by the Churches of Christ, and advertises itself as a Christian college.
I was stopped on the way out of town by a York Police officer and went through the usual routine, then reached the highway and headed East. It was overcast part of the day, then cleared up later. I stopped just outside of Utica to sleep. I passed lots of corn and some soybean fields, and probably other crops I didn't recognize. This part of Southeastern Nebraska is still pretty flat. Last summer around Ord there were lots of grasshoppers last year; this trip has been most notable for their absence, except for a few small ones.
A few miles past Utica a trucker stopped and offered a ride for about 6 miles, which I accepted. He had spent some time in the Marines and appreciated the difficulty and slow speed of hiking, and thought that people don't seen to do enough nowadays to help others out, so wanted to do his little bit. He observed that drivers in rural areas tend to be better at it; close to cities, they ignore hikers, and in the cities, they're as likely to run a hiker down as pick one up; meaner was as close as he could come to the word he wanted to use. I've observed similarly, which is why I've been sticking to rural areas and am a little bit apprehensive about going through Lincoln. From there I hiked on into Seward, reaching hear about 1 PM.
I noticed that the Supreme Court in its wisdom has decided to protect the freedom of commercial purveyors of gross obscenity to use the Internet to exploit the unsuspecting, including children. One more piece of evidence that government of the people, for the people, and by the people is being replaced with government of the people, by lawyers and judges, for the secular elite. I'll say it again: The problem is that over the nations history, the Supreme Court has effectively claimed the role of ultimate arbiter so that in effect the Constitution means what the Court says it does. It has an effective veto over Congressional law, presidential activity, State law, and even local school boards, which gives it more power than the Constitution's authors ever intended to be exercised by such a small group of people so insulated from responsibility for their decisions. So there's my public political rant.
I expect to stay here overnight and may post again tomorrow before I head for Lincoln, another 25 miles.

Monday, June 28, 2004


York II

I hadn't mentioned that at the park where I've stayed the past couple of nights, there have been a some squirrels that like to come chatter at me to help wake me up. I hadn't seen many of them before coming to Nebraska.
Last night two of the three high-school girls that I chatted with Saturday night came by again, with a different friend. I had given them the address of this blog, they had looked over it, and seemed to be impressed. I was flattered. They had more questions to ask, about my family and circumstances. They gave me some things to think about, too, about my relationship with my family. I could probably do more on my end toward improving it, but there is still only so much I can do.
Since I like hanging out in libraries a great deal more than trudging along the highway for, it should come as no great surprise that I typically wind up at the library rather longer than is strictly necessary to update this blog, which in turn adds up to delays of half a day or so in my travel plans. However, I still would like to drop in at York College to look around, and I need to do some laundry before I leave for Seward, Sometime tomorrow. An 18-mile a day pace is pushing it; around 12 miles is more doable, but this will be another 2 days or so.

Sunday, June 27, 2004



On the way out of Aurora, I passed a little girl out riding her bicycle. For some reason she asked my if I liked nature; and I answered with a somewhat tentative nature. She said "I don't. Not really". I thought that was a bit sad; childhood is the best time to learn that kind of enjoyment. There wasn't much I could say to that, so I went on.

I only got a few miles out of town before I got just too tired to go on, so I found a place and settled in for the night. Got up late the next morning, and went on through the smallish town of Hampton, in Hamilton County, where I was stopped by another County Sheriff's deputy. I went on into the next county, where before long I was stopped again, this time by a York deputy. He offered me a ride *through* the county, to the other side, apparently in accordance with department policy toward transients. I declined this invitation to move on through without stopping, and spent the next several miles pondering the attitudes of society toward transients, vagrants, and the homeless. If every square foot of land is already owned by someone jealous of its use, what room is there for those who have no place of their own?

I'm aware that homelessness has been an increasing problem in society since about the late 1970s. Many of the homeless do have more than their fair share of problems with drugs, alcohol, and mental illness of one kind or other. But the necessities and conveniences of life, such as cleanliness and grooming, that most of us take for granted demand considerable attention when does not have reliable shelter or transportation.
Then, too, I find that the very fact that I am a stranger with a backpack automatically makes many people suspicious: Even though I know myself to be harmless, it doesn't show on sight.

I got past another small town, Bradshaw, and a Hispanic family offered a ride the rest of the way into York. I stayed in one of the parks overnight, and was greeted by a trio of high school girls. I stopped to chat with them for a while, and they offered to buy me a hamburger (a couple of them) and a drink, which I accepted. (graciously, I hope). I woke up rested and in time to change clothes and go to Church.
York has a small branch which meets in a rented suite downtown; attendance was a little bit low, since not all the people who regularly attend were there, but those who were were friendly, although they seemed to take it for granted that I would be OK. Today was the anniversary of the death of Joseph Smith, so the talks dealt on that theme. They are a little bit behind schedule on their lessons, so we discussed the ministry of Abinadi (Mosiah 12-17 in the Book of Mormon), and for the Priesthood lesson, spiritual and temporal self-reliance.

There is a small college here in York I would like to visit, and I need to wash clothes, so I expect to stay here tomorrow and then head for Seward on Tuesday.

Friday, June 25, 2004


Aurora II

Aurora has been something of a disappointment, although it could be my own shyness.
It seems to be difficult, unless one already has family, business, church, or other social connections in a particular town, to make any. Money helps, somewhat.

I've been feeling rather lethargic since I got here; even a good night's sleep didn't help much. After a long day in the library yesterday, I wandered over to the magic show, which was the main A'ror'n days event, about the time it was closing, and hardly managed to speak to anyone. I visited the Edgerton Explorit Center, which was interesting, but not as much as I had hoped. Next door to it is the Plainsman museum, which I didn't see. I may not get far today, although I would like to make it to York by 10 AM Sunday so I can attend church.

Thursday, June 24, 2004



I got hung up reading in the Central City Library, so I didn't leave until after 5 pm. I crossed the Platte River just south of town. If I hadn't already known that the Platte was near dry from the drought in Western Nebraska, I would have been disappointed; as it is, I could have waded across the three trickles. There were more ATV tracks than water. No trace of the Oregon or California wagon trails remain, this area is given over to farmland, and I saw from the Nebraska Highway map I carry that I had crossed the Mormon Trail; very near to where I slept outside Palmer Monday night. I made about 6 miles before it got too dark to see, and camped out again in a field. Today got increasingly cloudy, windy, and rainy, and yes, I got wet. I reached Aurora about 2 PM.
Coming up out of the Platte Valley, the plains are not quite perfectly flat, but close enough to it for plenty of corn and soybean fields. I saw a couple of wheat fields, as well, and a pasture with a few cows. Nothing spectacular, unless you are thrilled by agriculture.
As a sometime student of physics, I have found that textbooks are sprinkled with examples of high-speed photography taken by Harold Edgerton of MIT. I was delighted to learn that there is a science museum here dedicated to him and his work (Aurora was his hometown). One of the town's major summer festivals, A'ror'n days, started today: I may visit a few events, but it's not such a major event that I plan to stay long. I expect to stay the night here and leave for York, sometime tomorrow; a 23 mile or 2-day trip.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Central City

I dawdled over some old Reader's Digests while doing my laundry, and left St. Paul rather later than I intended. I crossed the Middle Loup River just south of St. Paul, then headed east on Highway 92. The landscape was again rather hilly, with scattered clumps of trees and more hay and pasture than farmland. Within a few miles it flattened out some to gently rolling hills, and there were more cornfields and the like. I made about 12 miles, and stopped for the night on the edge of a pasture about 2 miles south of Palmer (It would have taken me too far out of my way to go into town). I say pasture, because the middle wire of the fence was electrified! I got up at daybreak, and continued east. By this time the hills were gone, and there were fields of corn, with some soybeans and hay. One shady spot where I stopped to rest was the front yard of a local farmer who came out to visit.
He mentioned a few other people who had come by over the last few years on trips of this general sort; some of whom he had helped. He gave me a tape with his collection of Western Songs and poetry: I don't know when I'll get a chance to listen to it, but my Dad is interested in such things. He recommended that I try some Amana 12-grain bread, made by a colony in Iowa, when I can find it. I refilled my canteen and spare water bottle there; a good thing, because I needed it. The sky was clear and the sun out all day for the first time since I began. I reached Central City about sunset, completely exhausted in spite of my many rest breaks, and slept in the city park. This was the furthest distance I have gone in a day.
One of the three people that offered rides, when I declined with thanks, left with the comment. "I understand, I've been there myself". And the conversation with the farmer, as well as with a few others, left me wondering about my habitual expectation of unpleasant responses from my encounters with other people.
Among my various mediations, I've come to the conclusion that I could, and should, so a lot more in the way of being actively friendly toward other people. Since I can remember, I've been somewhat reclusive, waiting for other people to show signs of friendship. But what if friendliness is not an innate, unchangeable character trait, but a collection or pattern of behavior, composed of skills that can be learned? It would do me good, I think, to watch friendly people and see how they do it.
I'm starting to rethink my policy on accepting rides: I haven't decided to change it, yet, but I'm seriously wondering if all those hours I spend just walking couldn't be put to better use talking to people, and if the benefits of going slow are really worth the exhaustion. It's something to think about, anyway.
I didn't see much new in nature sights: I saw quite a few of those red-winged blackbirds. When there's a breeze, they can almost hover over one spot on the ground or even back up, by flying into the wind. A useful technique; I had thought only hummingbirds could hover. Perhaps that means in still air. I hadn't expected to cactus in Nebraska, but there is some: Rather small and stunted compared to what I grew up with in Arizona, but definitely there. Also, I some small spiny plants with leaves that reminded me a lot of the mesquite trees I grew up around.
Next stop is Aurora, Nebraska. I could probably do that stretch in another sunup-to-sundown pull, but it's already too late to start one of those, and I'm not so well-rested that I'm eager for it, so I'll probably report from there tomorrow. There seems to be a big three or four day community event in progress there, which I might catch some of.

Monday, June 21, 2004


St. Paul II

I had some nice conversations yesterday afternooon, one with one of the LDS Church members who lives in St. Paul, a friend of the pastor of the Happy Church; and was able to leave a Father's Day message for my Dad. Later, as I was at the park, a couple of older children came by and we had a chat, and then a teenage girl who is also LDS came by. As I was trying to get to sleep, after dark, there was a bunch of thunder and lightning, and two St. Paul police officers and a Howard County Sheriff's deputy stopped. I identified myself and explained my intentions. They knew about the stop a couple of days ago next to Cotesfield, so that seemed to satisfy them about who I was. One of the St. Paul officers was appropriately incredulous that I'm intending to walk the distance, but his partner said that in Australia, it's not uncommon for people to go on "walkabout", going from place to place, finding odd jobs from time to time.
At any rate, in spite of my opinion that I had sufficient shelter and preferfed to rely on my own resources as much as possible, they were concerned about the severe thunderstorm warning in effect until 3AM with possible tornado activity in, and would much prefer I had more protection. So they took me to a motel courtesy of the Salvation Army.
All of them were friendly and polite, and since I was raised to respect the law and those who enforce it, we had no problems. The Howard County deputy who actually drove me there and talked a little about his work with the schools and the Law-enforcement oriented Explorer post. He mentioned that a lot of young people these days seem to be growing up without respect for the law or those who enforce it, possibly because of what they get from home. He sees his job as to try to teach about the law and create a more positive attitude toward the police.

After I get some laungry done here, I will be heading for Central City, Nebraska. This looks like another two day hike.

Sunday, June 20, 2004


St. Paul

I left North Loup Friday afternoon. It rained off and on all afternoon and evening, so I broke out my poncho to keep the worst of it off. I passed the Happy Jack Peak Chalk Mine (a local historical site and very minor tourist spot) about 5 miles southeast of North Loup, along Highway 11. A few miles further I passed a local scenic lookout, which offers a nice view of the North Loup River and the opposite bank. There are several other views that are nearly as good at various spots along the highway, if one is taking the time to look and not speeding by, and I was too tired, footsore, and anxious to find better shelter to enjoy it much, and it was already getting dark. This stretch of road runs close to the river and in a hilly area, so there were more trees and fewer farms on this leg. Cotesfield is one of those "if you blink as you're driving through, you'll miss it" spots, and it was well after dark by the time I arrived. Just before I got there, a sheriff or deputy stopped to make inquiries; he was about as polite about it as any I've met, and he even offered a ride the last few hundred yards, I mentioned that I intended to find an empty spot and lay out my sleeping bag and crash for the night. He didn't object. When I got there, I did just that. About sunup I woke up and and headed on out to St. Paul. I passed Elba, which is a little bit bigger, but the highway goes around rather than through it. This stretch of highway goes away the river and there is more flat land, so more corn farms. I didn't see much animal life except for farmer's dogs, a cottontail rabbit, and a poor little chipmunk running for its life and barely keeping pace with my shuffle...until it zigged and I went on by. Lots of birds, a bumblebee sipping from a thistle (So it is a weed: it still had a pretty purple flower!), crickets, and even frogs.

I got to St. Paul rather earlier in the day, about 6 PM;
talked to a group of men and their families who were doing some kind of clearing and burning. I found the city park, taked with a few young teen boys and and elderly lady who was watching a couple of her granddaughers, stayed the night in the park without being disturbed, except by the noise of rowdy teens out for Saturday Night cruises. I made sure to find a place with a roof, since the forecast was for nightime showers, but if it did rained, it wasn't much: I had a nice sound sleep.

St. Paul doesn't have an LDS branch of its own; the nearest ward is in Grand Island. I tried to contact the Bishop there to see if there were any members in St. Paul who could take me to church, but could't reach him. I did reach one of his counselors, but only managed to confirm that there are indeed a few LDS families in St. Paul. My attempts to arrange for a ride to services in Grand Island and back were unsuccessful.
So, this morning as I was looking for the library to do this update, I ran across The Happy Church, a small one of the evangelical-pentecostal variety that had only about a dozen people at the service. They were friendly, inquired a little about my trip, and let me change and freshen up as much as I had time to do before the service started.
I found no fault with the sermon; it was good biblical teaching (regarding the Fatherhood of God, fitting for a Father's day theme) The pastor and his family were friendly enough to offer buy me a lunch and point out one of his LDS friends.

One of the most common reactions I've found when I've talked to people, is amazement that I'm intending to walk the whole way. I've declined several offers of rides in the last few days.
Yes, I could reach my intended destination a lot faster with less inconvenience (cold, wet, windy, sore shoulders, back, and feet, no place to wash or clean up, to name a few). But the point of this trip is not so much getting to the destination as what I experience along the way.

Friday, June 18, 2004


North Loup

I left Ord rather later than I intended, in the afternoon instead of the morning. The sky was overcast and the weather cool, but not wet. I tried to take it easy, resting every mile and a half or so. As well as lots of cornfields, I passed a couple of herds of cattle, (one with calves), and a few horses. They paid rather more attention to me walking by than most people do. I noticed a beautiful red-winged blackbird. Here in rural central Nebraska, drivers tend to wave at others, whether or not they are acquainted, so I made a point to wave at passing motorists. Not much social interaction beyond that; walking is a good way to spend time thinking.

I reached North Loup just before full dark, had something to eat, and found a place to lay a bedroll for the night. Not the best, unfortunately, because an hour or so later it started to rain; a slow, steady soaking (about 2 tenths inch, I heard later), and by the middle of the night I was getting water inside and underneath my tarp and poncho. By morning I was counting my curses instead of my blessings. I hung out most of the day at the local convenience store, but I couldn't bring myself to do more than nod and say hello to the customers and clerks, and they weren't inclined to converse. The library didn't open until 2:30, which means another short day of travel.

North Loup's big annual event, Popcorn Days, is a three-day festival featuring...what else? August 27, 28, and 29. In the meantime, the Comstock Windmill festival, a 4-day Country Music concert closer to Ord just ended, and the area is getting ready for the Comstock Rock festival, in the same location, July 12-15.

As for myself, the next leg of the trip, to St. Paul Nebraska, will take a couple of days. There are a couple of small towns along the way; Cotesfield and Elba, where I should be able to refill my water.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004



Confounded delays. I meant to leave Monday, Tuesday, Today... tomorrow for certain, ready or not. This time the delay was a massive headache. I had intentions of finishing up all my preparations and leaving today, but accomplished next to nothing.

One of the many reasons I am taking this trek is that I hope for some health benefits. I've had struggles with depression and have high blood pressure, and exercise is supposed to be good for those. I found for myself a long time ago that being physically tired at the end of the day is an excellent remedy for insomnia.
This works in combination with diet. Since I can't carry a lot of food with me, don't have cooking gear, I don't have money to burn, I have to avoid a convenience store and fast food diet. Snacks high in sugar, salt, and fat or cooking oil won't do.
I'm not particularly concerned about losing weight: I figure if I need to lose any, it will come with the exercise. I'm more concerned with too few calories than too many. High nutritional vaue and least weight for the dollar works out to mostly but not exclusively grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, not highly processed. Meat either requires cooking, or if it's been prserved and processed enough not to need it, it costs too much. Besides, coming from higher on the food chain, it is inherently more expensive anyway. Since this kind of diet is fairly close to my understanding of what is healthy anyway, it shouldn't hurt.
I will be setting out for North Loup, Nebraska tomorrow morning.

Monday, June 14, 2004


Conflicting opinions

Recently I have heard two types of opinions of my behavior in this particular trek.
One seems to be that the idea is blind, heedless, suicidal folly, running away from rather than facing my problems, and that it manifests a critical and coldhearted disregard of those who really do care for me.
The other seems to be that I am an intelligent, kind person, that this is a courageous and even somewhat enviable adventure: I'm doing the best I can in an imperfect world, and that I have every right to make my own decisions on the best to live my life.

I am reminded of an exercise in one of my High School texts, "Language in Thought and Action", by S.I. Hayakawa. It's not original with him, but I don't have the source ready. The "Conjugation of an irregular verb" follows the pattern:

I am determined. You are obstinate. He is a stubborn, pigheaded fool.
I am courageus. You are foolhardy. He is a suicidal maniac.
I am sensitive. You are too easily offended. He is a crybaby.
I am prudent. You are timid. He is a coward.
I am deliberate. You are a slowpoke. He is lazy.
I am open-minded. You are wishy-washy. His moral compass is a weathervane.
I sometimes make mistakes. You are a sinner. He is a criminal.
I am intelligent enough to see the merits and demerits of a proposal, especially when the same one has been presented by umpteen different people. You jump to conclusions without giving other people a full hearing. He won't listen to anyone.

I could create other examples, but these will do. We all like to think well of ourselves and prefer the company of others who speak well of us; who pay attention to us and do not disagree with everything we say or find fault with everything we do. But how do we know what either friends or critics say of us is accurate, and whether to heed or ignore it? In particular, how do I evaluate what is said of me?
To vary the words of a popular song, "You can't please everyone, so you have to please..." God. I'm not qualified to judge how well I do that, but I do give it some attention from time to time.
Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address has words to express my intentions: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives [me] to see the right..."


Almost ready...

I should finish most of the moving out later tonight. There is some yardwork I need to do for my brother before I go, and I need to do the final selection of what I will take with me and packing, which is delaying my departure until Wednesday.

I haven't made a big deal about my religion, but lest there be any doubt, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints (A Mormon, for those who don't recognize the proper name). It's a significant part of my life and I'm not leaving it behind. I attended church in Broken Bow yesterday and said my farewells, although I may be back to visit sometime. The talks in our worship services focused on Missionary work, and the Sunday School lesson dealt with a few chapters in the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 29 and Alma 1-4). I consider the first of these to be one of the most profound discourses on the relationship between religion, government, and political freedom ever written. Those people in America who are recognized as the Founding Fathers implicitly understood these same principles and wrote them into the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

Saturday, June 12, 2004



Now that my library is moved, I've been working on the papers I've been lugging around for years. One class is autobiographical source material. I tend to keep more of that than is strictly necessary, but it tends to help me recall specifics about events and people I would have otherwise forgotten. Every once in a while I go through and try to winnow or sort it. I've sketched an autobiographical outline three or four times, but it's never been a top priority and there's no time for it now.
Another class is notebooks. I'm not sure when I began keeping and carrying around spiral notebooks that I filled with various ideas for the ideas and projects I was working on. I don't throw those away; when I fill them up or lose track of one, I start another. I've accumulated dozens of them, and unlike my diarizing, most of these aren't dated. They tend to overlap, and I would have to give approximate dates from the context.
Then there is other reference material; potentially useful information that's not easily replaceable. Most of this stuff is partly sorted, but "partly" means that a lot of things that should belong together are scattered in various different places. Condensing them isn't quite as formidable a task as I have feared, but I have a target date to meet, and I'd rather not have it slip too much. But all this has to get left behind for me to pick up again later, I hope.
Not that this has much to do with travel except to the extent that life is a journey: Looking at where I've been is a useful exercise in deciding where I am now, where I want to be going, and what I need to get there.

Friday, June 11, 2004



My departure date may slip a little, but I can't let it slip too much. If possible, it would be nice to reach Glenwood, Iowa by July 4. I have personal reasons for wanting to visit.

For a bit of historical background, in early 1846 the Mormons left Nauvoo, Illinois, intending to settle somewhere in the Rocky Mountain basin. It was an exceptionally wet and muddy spring, and it took them several months to cross Iowa, and Brigham Young ordered several "instant towns" set up along the way to raise grain to feed those who would be coming later. They got as far as the Missouri River, and camped at a place they called Winter Quarters (later called Florence; now part of Omaha), and in Council Bluffs, back on the east side. The next year, 1847, only a few companies of pioneers went on to found Salt Lake City. Most of the Mormons scattered in settlements across eastern Iowa, and stayed there for up to 3 years.
My 3rd great-grandfather was a founder of one of these settlements; then called Coonville, and my 2nd great-grandfather was born there. Family records called the place Keg Creek, and in fact Keg creek runs through the town. In 1850, Brigham Young sent a letter calling on those who had not yet made the trip to come out West, and in response, most of the Mormons did. There was at the time an increasing number of non-Mormons moving into the area. My ancestor sold out his holdings there and moved his family out. The town was resurveyed, renamed Glenwood, and became the county seat of a new county. So..I don't have a close connection to the town, but there is a connection. I visited there a couple of years ago, and I don't mind visiting the place again.

Thursday, June 10, 2004


Route planning

I've finally managed to move my library into storage; now I get to work on other papers I've been lugging around, and seeing what I can condense.
I have a preliminary plan for the route I will be taking. Starting from Ord, Nebraska, I intend to go through
North Loup, St. Paul., Central City; Aurora;, York; Seward; Lincoln; Plattsmouth; and Glenwood, Iowa. I'll decide on further details as I approach.
I don't much care for either large cities or very small towns. A couple of years ago when I went through Omaha, I was dismayed by the cages around cashiers and the like at motels and convenience stores; and they tend to be designed for the automobile, not the pedestrian. On the other hand, a town of a few hundred with only one store, or perhaps not even that, has few of the various resources I may need.
I'm not certain how long it will take to get this far: At least two weeks, perhaps more. Based on my experience going through Utah and Colorado, I'm planning on about 15 miles per day. That may not seem very far. When I was in High School, I could go a mile and 3/4 in 35 minutes easily without a problem, and in my 20s I could do a round trip of 8 miles or so in an afternoon. Now, with a heavier backpack, more fat, more years of a sedentary bookish lifestyle, and noticeably less stamina and tolerance for the heat...I've slowed down.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004


Getting Started VI

Progress on packing and sorting is going slow: can anyone tell I don't like it? At least I managed to sell the washing machine, which eases money worries a little. Only about half my library got moved into storage, but I really do expect (and need!) to get the rest done today. Then, it's to sorting the various papers I have been lugging around for years.

I found another of my old journals, and while thumbing through it, found that I had been considering a trip something like this as early as 1984; 20 years ago. I relied more heavily on other's opinions then and was advised out of it.

With all the self-help books and articles there are around, I haven't found many on the art of starting and continuing conversations with strangers. Perhaps I'm not using the right search terms? But it's going to be critical for me to do so, a lot more than I have been comfortable with or accustomed to.

I'm not the first to notice that in our busy and disconnected society, we often know people across town better than we do our next door neighbors. I while ago I noticed an article by an American Indian that criticized our society for this very thing. I have some ideas on the whys, but if I'm doing research, I need to know what other people think.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004


Getting started V

I finally got most of my enyclopedia set, physical science texts, and computer books out of the library and into storage, and I hope to get the rest of my the library today. Details of trip planning won't take that long, and have to be a bit flexible anyway.

One of the things I need to work on is starting or continuing conversations. I tend to be overly shy and reserved about getting started, although I think I do well enough once I get started. But as far as getting people to talk to me;
"Are you a man or a mouse?"
"Squeak, sqeak!"
So...on this trek I'm doing research for a book on American life. Among other thngs.

Monday, June 07, 2004


Getting started IV

I talked with a few people about my plans yesterday; I found rather less criticism and more understanding than I had anticipated. Generally, I mean to take Sundays off from hiking.

I've made all too little progress on the packing and sorting I have been meaning to do, and none on selling my stuff. I may have to start with what meager leavings were in my checking and savings accounts I just closed: I can go farther than one might expect on what I have, and I am somewhat surprisingly not worried about being able to earn more when I'm on the way. I'll have more to report when I'm actually on the road.

One of the suggestions I read dealt with foot care and preventing boot root. Good advice, and not hard to follow. It also led me to think of some comparisons to that and to moral rot of society, but I'll just mention it: no long article on the subject.

Saturday, June 05, 2004


Peace, Peter, me, and what's right.

A friend referred me to the Peace Pilgrim (www.peacepilgrim.org). Several years ago, I read Peter Jenkin's "A walk across America". My own journey has some similarities and some differences from both of these. Peace Pilgrim had a clear spiritual purpose and a message to share. Jenkins had some sponsorship in his travels, and was much more of a hiker, with appropriate equipment, and was on a something of journey of discovery. He also had his dog as a traveling companion, at least for the first part of his journey.

When I started this account at the beginning of the week, I mentioned that I wanted to report on what I see, both good and bad. But recently I've been reviewing the journal I kept some 25 years ago as an LDS missionary in Bolivia. I see now that although I was trying to do the right things, I was too self-centered and focused on the negative. Is that still the case? Have I learned anything? I need to focus more on what's right with America.
But I'm not so much searching for purpose and meaning in my life, as in finding ways to share mine. How I can do that without given offense I am not certain. A further purpose of my trip is that I am looking for practical education in dealing with people and things that I can't find in books or behind computer screens.

Since I'm avoiding sex, violence, drugs (including alcohol and tobacco), and theft, I'm not excessively worried about personal safety. I don't care to be associated too closely with hitchhiking for those reasons and because it goes against the grain of my ideas on self reliance. Fair exchange is not robbery: I need to be able to offer as much help as I am offered. But the digihitch site does offer some useful and practical tips on hiking along the road (rather than cross-country).

Friday, June 04, 2004


Getting Started III

Preparations are still going slowly. I have the stuff I'm trying to sell moved so it can be examined and taken away, which makes room for the stuff I have to move in to replace it, but this is going more slowly than I had hoped. The starting date is more likely to be the 14th than the 7th.
I also took a look at an internet map: I will be taking a few state road maps, once I dig them out of wherever I last put them, I have a few intermediate destinations in mind, but I want the flexibility to visit places I had not planned on. I expect to avoid the freeways and larger cities; I don't want to compete with automobiles. I've also given some thought to my "rules of the road", a few things I do and do not want to do.
Such as: I don't plan to accept offers for rides. Based on my experience a few years ago and more recently, they are likely to be offered. If I were in a hurry, I would take the bus or something, not walk. I want to see the country, not zoom by it in a flash. A bicycle trip might be just as appropriate, but since I don't have one of those...I do what I can.

Thursday, June 03, 2004


Getting started, II

A friend who I told about my plans asked me when I'm planning to leave. The answer is, no earlier than June 7, no later than June 14. In the meantime, I've advertised my stuff for sale and have a few nibbles, but no bites. I may have to reannounce tomorrow, plus a couple of corrections.
My sister-in-law wants me to do a bunch of work in her garden before I go, so I have to sandwich in that between my moving stuff around for buyers to inspect and out of the basement into storage. Or the other way around. So, progress is slow, but I didn't expect it to be fast.
It still seems a bit odd that I'd rather hike across half the continent than apply for a job. But "looking for work" has too often meant a dreary routine of filling out forms that don't show my best skillls and don't match the requirements of jobs I don't really want, followed by an equally dreary waiting to see whether my application will be ignored or turned down. It's enough to depress anyone. I need better than that.
To quote Shakespeare, "...Though this be madness, yet there's method in it..."

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


Getting started

In Ord, Nebraska, the local radio station has a weekday call-in hour where people can advertise to buy, sell, or trade. I can sell my car (an old clunker that I paid $200 for and is now worth half that, plus costs more in insurance, registration, gas, and repairs than I can afford) and furniture I don't need. Better to sell it and buy again when I reach my destination, than move it across the country: it doesn't have that much sentimental value. That way, I can hopefully clear some debts and get a few more supplies I will need. I meant to do that today, but missed my window.
Other preparations involve packing up my library for storage, sorting through my rat's nest of old papers I have been lugging around with me for years, and a little bit of trip planning. Those are going to take a few days. Walking is a SLOW way to get around; I don't recommend it for long distance travel for one who is in a hurry to get someplace. But if the price of gas keeps going up or something interrupts our oil imports, we may someday ALL be back to riding shank's ponies.

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