Day 119, July 31, 2012

share and show love
  I woke up at about 7:30am. I felt the sun warming my sleeping bag. The weather said it was gonna be 106 today, so I planned to only walk a little in the morning and then stay cool during the hot part of the day.
       I got up and packed. I went back across the street to fill up my waters at the McDonald's. I left there around 8:15. It was about 10 miles to an exit just west of Tucumcari. After the exit it was pretty much bare desert for a while as far as I knew. So I started walking on I-40 and hoped to get there before it was gonna heat up.
         The walk was mostly uphill but I was really on a roll and pushing hard. I think I was going faster than normal since I had to get into a groove. I couldn't believe how fast I made the 10 miles. I came to the exit and there was a gas station/dairy queen in one. To get to it you had to cross a cattle guard. It was all bare desert rolling hills as far as you could see around there.
        I went in and it was about 11:30. I ordered a drink and sat in a booth where I found an outlet. It was a pretty small place and the employees were looking at me. I was hoping they didn't mind that I sat there all day.
          I ended up staying there and relaxing out of the heat. At around 6 I heard someone at the counter say "he rode here from Oregon". I looked outside and saw a guy on a bike. So I went out there to meet him. His name is Joe. He graduated from Oregon State and wanted to do something after college, so he decided to ride a bike across America to DC and making a stop in Oklahoma to visit a friend.
       We talked for about 2 hours! He was such a cool dude! He was really roughing it homeless too and we were able to relate on a very high level of how we experience living this way. It was really cool. Before he left we exchanged info and are able to message back and forth and stuff. I was so interested in his trip and how he has made it so far. I for sure wanted to keep up with him.
       We both left there as the sun was starting to set. I felt good and wanted to get a little night stretch in before calling it a night. I was gonna have to rough it along side of the highway, but I was willing to do that.
       I walked until it was about 10 where I was wanting to find a spot. There wasn't much around besides just a small piece of land off the shoulder before a barb wire fence was up about 15 feet off the highway. So I kept walking when finally I came to a dry creek. I saw it down a little slope with my flash light. So I rolled my cart down the slope through the weeds and grass. I was using my light to look at each step ahead incase of snakes or anything in the dead tall grass.
      When I got down to the dry creek it was actually not bad. It was pure sand and soft. There was a bridge where there were about 5 square concrete tubes going under the interstate. I flashed my light into one and it was clean and bare. I walked into it hunched down a bit. When I was under there it was way quieter. So I went back out and pushed my cart into it and it just fit perfectly. I pushed it about 10 ft in and then made my bed there right next to it. It was just wide enough to lay my sleeping bag across it in the soft sand. It turned out to be a good clean spot.
      Just when I laid down and was about to go to sleep around 10:30, I had a tweet from a man named Corey Brooks. He was also walking across America with a crew. He and his crew are raising money against violence and to build a big youth center in one of the most violent cities in America, south Chicago.
      Corey Brooks was nominated for an award in Vegas, so they were stopping their walk in St Louis MIssouri to head to the ceremony in Vegas, then they're headed back to continue the walk after the weekend. So he had tweeted me and said they were on their way down the 40 and wanted to stop and see me!
        I was so excited as I have followed their journey and love what they are doing. So I had to stay up a while and wait, but I didn't care. I stayed up until 2:15 when they had said they were getting close. So I put my reflective vest on and went up to the shoulder to wave them down. Before they got there a cop turned around on the interstate and came speeding back to me.
      The cop got out of his car and came up to me slowly. He asked what I was doing out there. Then I realized the truth I was about to tell him was going to sound insane. But I told him "I'm walking across America, and another group walking across America is coming to see me because they were on their way to Vegas to an award ceremony". He looked at me like I had just smoked a pound of crack. Mind you, it's 2:30am now. So then he asked for my license while still looking at me very weirdly. He took my license and told me to stay there.
        So about 2 minutes later, here comes this RV driving up with a huge wrap all around it saying they are walking across America. I was so happy they pulled up then so that the cop would see I wasn't just a clown lookalike crackhead standing on the interstate with a reflective orange vest on at 2:30 in the morning. This group of about 10 guys came walking back and one of them had a huge video camera. Then the cop came walking out like he was in a dream. I think he was really trippin.
       So we sat there on the side of the freeway and shared stories and what we are both enduring. It was really cool and we connected deeply. Even though I felt like a zombie and was exhausted, it was a great 30 minutes of visiting. The cop stood there the entire time just listening and he looked blown away. They said a prayer for me before leaving and it was a powerful experience. Corey is a person I look up to. Not so much his faith (although strong) but more of his dedication to helping communities with his sacrifice. I really see him and what he does as a model for what I would someday dream of doing. I hugged them before they left and they also gave me a shirt and a camel back. Very nice people.
       After they left the cop walked up to me, he then had a look of admiration. He shook my hand and said he really appreciated what I was doing. He then said to be safe and to be careful sleeping under the bridge. It was really cool to see how he went from being very unsure of me at first, to now having a powerful validation of my journey. It was awesome. He left then too.
        So there I was alone again at about 3:30am, maybe 4;00, I can't remember. I turned my flash light on and hiked back down the hillside. I hunched down back under the bridge and went to where my sleeping bag was laid out. I laid down and was extremely tired now. I fell right asleep.


1 comment:

Emma Sitton said...

I find it so wonderful that you are able to find other people, like yourself, to connect to. I love this story, and it sounds like this was a good day for you. :) Stay strong, man.