Day 130, August 11, 2012

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      I woke up early. I opened my eyes and saw someone across from me sitting behind a bush stretching out. I rubbed my eyes as it was a little blurry. Then I could see that there was a bed and some gear. The guy was homeless and had slept right across from me and I didn't know.
       I watched as he packed his things and eventually took off walking. After he left I closed my eyes for another short 20 minutes or so. When I woke up I was tired but wanted to try and hit some thrift stores ahead of me early to have a better selection.
      I got up and did my morning routine. I strolled out of the park at about 8am. I walked through a neighborhood going west and then tied back in to the 66. I walked down the 66 west and things quickly got rough! It was a sketchy area and the people looked to be on drugs.
       I walked to an indoor flea market and the sign said they opened at 12! So I needed to kill time. There was nowhere around to hangout so I just walked west another half mile until I saw a Starbucks. I stopped there and was just gonna wait until 12. I really hoped there were shoes there and that I wasn't wasting my time.
       So I sat there using the Internet until 11:45am. Then I headed out back east to the thrift store. I really hated backtracking but I needed shoes. I ended up leaving my cart at starbucks. It was outside in the fenced in patio and people were sitting there. I took a chance and hoped nobody would mess with it. I took all my valuable stuff in my backpack and left. It was really weird walking with my backpack, and it really made me realize how crazy it was that I started only with a backpack and no money or food. I had that feeling again like I had when I walked away from the beach in Florida. It made me realize how thankful I am that I have made it this far. With no preparation, training, or planning, I made it over 1800 miles on basically just a splint of hope and a bitter prayer.
        So I walked back to the indoor flea market. When I went in and asked where the shoes were, they said they didn't really have any shoes. My stomach dropped a little. He said if there were any shoes, they would be mixed in hidden and the workers hadn't seen any.
       So I walked around and scrummaged the whole building! And nothing. A few pairs of dress shoes here and there and that's it. I had a few more lots to check in the far back corner. I walked into one of the last lots and on the bottom shelf of a structure, I saw some brown shoes. I grabbed them and set them next to my shoes, and they looked close in size. So I tried them on and they fit!! Just my size. They were brown boots and the soles were fairly fresh. I couldn't believe it! The price tag was 18$ and I had about 23 left. After they rung up it was $21. I had $2 left in my name. And I knew what I was going to do with it.
         I swapped my inserts and put my new shoes on. They felt awkward at fist, but felt much more secure and fresh (as far as the soles and support). I walked back to the Starbucks and hoped my cart was there and hadn't been messed with. When I got there it was all good and some of the people outside were still there.
       So I packed up and left walking. I went west again on the 66. The area from there just got rougher and rougher. It was so bad that I was getting asked if I had drugs every mile at least. That and for cigarettes.
       It upsets me because drug addicts give homeless such a bad wrap. There are so many good homeless people who really do need food. But the drug addicts give them a bad name and cause people to accociate homeless with losers. I have been homless for close to 2 years and I have met some really cool homeless with stories that blew me away. Great people who have very legitiment reasons for being homeless.
         I walked 5 miles and stopped at another McDonald's across from the college. I got a burger there with a coupon I had. I sat there a little while but the people roaming around outside by my cart worried me, and I decided to get out of the area especially before dark. So I left walking west again. When I went outside, next to my cart was an old man with a shopping cart picking from the dumpster. I talked to him a little and he couldn't even talk. He was shaking and seemed helpless in a sense. I ended up giving him every last penny I had. After I gave it to him he couldn't even say thank you. He tried but couldn't get the words out. He was really struggling.
       So here I am again in New Mexico, Penniless for the third time across the country. I walked away with not a worry this time. I knew I was going to be ok. I didn't tell anyone on Facebook or twitter that I gave away all my money. I don't need to tell anyone and have them worry. I know I will be fine. And this blog is posted about 2 weeks behind so by the time this journal is online I will be hundreds of miles away.
         I walked through downtown. It was a really cool downtown with neat bistros and shops all around. It was really pretty and there were cool people walking all around. Still a lot of tweaks, in fact more tweaks here than any other city I have EVER gone through. Weird.
        I was walking behind a couple that came out of a building. The guy had a pizza box. He passed a garbage can and threw it in. They were about 50 yards ahead of me. When I came to the garbage can, I picked out the box. I opened it up and it was fairly fresh chicken and pepperoni pizza from red brick oven. I munched that pizza down like the gift from god that it was! It was delicious. And I will do what it takes to survive. I trust god will make it possible. Maybe not easy, but possible.
        I passed some other homeless people after that and felt so giving. After the pizza I just felt like things are gonna come to me as long as I give along the way. So I passed out snacks I had to a few other homeless.
         I crossed a river and came into a part of town that was a bit ghetto. It suddenly was dark clouds above rolling in. I kept walking and then the wind picked up out of nowhere, heavily. Then it suddenly began to pour hard right away! Not even a sprinkle, just sudden hard rain.
      I jogged to a shopping center ahead and took cover under an overhang next to a little Caesars pizza. I sat outside of there staying dry and it was really coming down. A guy came out of little Caesars and said "sorry sir but we are gonna have to ask you to move on". I flipped out on him! It was absolutely pouring and there was no cover around besides that. I was asking him if he's telling me I have to go into the rain!? He kept saying sorry, but I told him there was no way I'm moving until the rain let up. That's rediculous to kick a pedestrian out into a storm to get soaked. He said "I'm sorry but we have to ask you to move on, customers are saying you are making them uncomfortable". He walked back inside and I stayed there. I was really frustrated from this. But either way I was going into the rain. I felt I had the right to stay dry there for the downpour.
          So as I stood there in frustration, a guy walked up and sat next to me. He asked if I had a cigarette. I told him no and that I've never smoked one. I was still a little angry. He said he was lost and had fell asleep on the bus. He needed to get home but had no money. He was telling me he had a long way to walk but was looking for an empty water bottle he could use to get water for his walk. I was still not 100% focused on him and still angry from the other issue.
       The rain was coming down, it was dark and gloomy, the wind pushed trash all around. And suddenly my entire field of vision was all dark and negative. The things I saw were dark and ugly. My thoughts were negative too. It was an all around bad moment. Then it hit me, what if this is a test? I'm about as upset as I've been this whole journey. This is about as ugly of scenery in a moment of being in an ugly ghetto with trash and drug addicts all around. What if this is testing the person in me?
      That thought really captured me and I was focused on that so much that the anger was conpartmentalized. I looked at this guy and then felt I could finally 100% engage in him. Before this he was talking to a zombie. Now he had my attention. I said "where are you going?" he said "trying to go home but I need water". He was calm but seemed sincere on needing a water bottle to have water to carry for the walk home. Then I realized, I really only have enough jugs for me to survive through long desert stretches. I gave him a cracker snack thinking maybe just giving him something would be enough. Money or food I don't mind giving away, but this was something I acquired for surviving. Something I needed. All the money or things I have given away were not things I really needed to survive. They are things I could do without for now. But the water jugs were my saving grace in the desert. So I was reluctant to give him one. I kept questioning him hoping he would have an idea to figure something out. But it came to the point where I was ready to go as the rain stopped, and I had a decision to make. All my survivor instincts said not to spare a water jug. I don't have money to replace that now. I'm penniless. I can't afford to let this tool to survive slip away. It seems too careless and rediculous. I felt that this was the line where I say no, and just leave.
      But something pulled me in. I had a moment where I just felt I needed to make the selfless choice. How have I come this far with nothing, and now I can't give away a water bottle? So I made the choice and didn't like it. I gave him a gallon jug. It was a partially bitter gesture as I gave it to him. I said good luck to him as nice as I could in the frustration and walked away.
         I was immediately in the next 10 steps questioning that decision. Was this stupid? Am I getting to the point where I'm crossing into stupidity being so selfless? What if I run out of water and that gallon jug I gave away was what killed me? I have already come to a point of being close to running out in the desert. And it is no joke. It's not to be taken lightly. Did I just make the wrong choice....?.....
         I walked another 10 steps and got onto the sidewalk. I was holding my head down in this battle going on in my mind, really thinking I'm losing and that it was for sure rediculous.
     Then as I was looking down, I saw something on the ground as I rolled by the dirty wet sidewalk. I stopped and stared down at a wet, folded, dirty twenty dollar bill.
       No way this just happened. I just looked at it and put my hands on my hips. I felt chills and goosebumps come over me. I looked around and nobody was even close. I stared at it for about a minute and then finally felt a small grin on my face. I was shocked and felt like screaming it out, like someone who won the lotto. But I held it in. I bent down and picked it up. It had dirt and little leaves on it. I grabbed it and just looked at it.
        When I looked up as I smiled I saw the sun blinding my eyes! It had been dark for the past 10 minutes at least, and just now the sun shined through a little hole just the size of the sun. It was so bright I was suprised by it and put my hand in front of me to block it.
        Then thinking about the series of events that just took place sounded rediculous. It was so cliche and like a story made up. What was going on?
       I'm not religious and have nothing against anyones beliefs, but these are just facts of what just went down. Pretty wild!!! Now I could buy 20 gallons of water by the way.
      I walked about 4 more miles to a taco bell. I stopped there for a break. It started raining again so I covered my cart with my tarp while I went in and plugged in at an outlet. I ordered a water and just hungout.
       I left there around 9pm and walked another 2 miles. I came to the very west edge of town. There was a burger king, McDonald's, and autozone. I went behind the auto zone and made my bed on some rocks behind the dumpster corral. It was very hidden so I felt comfortable mentally there. The rocks were a bit jagged and big, but it would do. Just after I laid down a rat darted by about 10ft away from me. I had my tarp ready incase the rain came back. I fell asleep around 10:30. I wanted to get back onto a roll the next morning as I would enter into many miles of desert. I wanted to get back to 20 miles a day and get through it fluidly, especially now with better soles under my feet.
       It started raining in the middle of the night. I woke up and grabbed my tarp. I draped the tarp over my cart and over me. It was just enough to keep me and my things dry. I slept decent that night.


Heather Freeman ( said...

This is one of my new favorite entries you have written. The trials you've gone through & then the amazing outcomes are so inspiring!

Anonymous said...

Hi Nick -

I have been reading your blog since I heard about your story. I have mentioned your incredible journey to anyone who will listen. I find it incredibly fascinating, interesting and just amzing. I admire your selflessness and kindness so very much Nick. You give to others when you have nothing with no expectations in return and for it you are rewarded ten fold. I am not a religious person either and I don't really believe in organized religion. I do belive in the kindness of the human spirit and all the great people you have met on your journey have reminded me that there are great people out there and to not lose hope and faith in others. WOW!! You are an angel Nick. Thank you a thousand times. You have inspired me so much.