Day 156, September 6, 2012

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I heard a big rig lugging its motor and shifting gears as it made its way up the ramp onto I-40. I was laying off the ramp just a little ways and in some bushes behind the trees. When I looked around all I saw were some hotels just west of where the onramp was. I was pretty well out of sight. It was about 7:30am.
My knees were a little sore from the day before. I unzipped my sleeping bag and put some cream on them to relieve some of the pain. Before I stood up to pack I took all my supplements also and then stretched out a little. Stretching has never been so efficient with easing my body as it is now.
I stood up and packed my things up. Rolled up the sleeping bag, folded up my tarp, put my back pack and the rest of my stuff in my cart. I noticed a rear tire on my cart was flat.
I pushed my cart up the small hill and onto the onramp shoulder. I sat on the curb there and fixed my tire. I have had a bunch of flats and usually just put more slime into the tube, spin it, then air it up all the way. It has fixed all of them so far. Sometimes when I air it up all the way it will break an old slime seal in a hole, but more slime will move out of the puncture and create a new seal. Love that stuff.
After I fixed the tire I went down the onramp, and then back up the off ramp to get onto the interstate again. I walked a few miles to get to a more central exit in Kingman, AZ. I got off there and walked over to a Safeway to get something to eat. After Kingman it was another pretty long and lonely road of nothing. So I wanted to enjoy some hot food once more before leaving there and dropping into the desert again.
I went into a Safeway and put my cart right next to the door on the inside of the store. A lady was just putting the soup into the heating containers at the soup stand. They had a tomato and basil soup that looked really good. So I grabbed a small sized cup and filled it up. The soup was $1. I sat at a Starbucks table inside the Safeway to eat it. I was able to keep an eye out on my cart also from there.
I left there after relaxing for about 20 minutes. I walked back out to the freeway and up onto the shoulder heading west again. I walked another 2 miles or so when I came to the last exit. It was getting warm now and I don't know why, but I decided to take one last break before the town was over. Its probably because so much of my time walking is when nothing is around me, and I wanted to enjoy being able to take breaks when there is air conditioning and soft seats to enjoy. Also I needed to fill my waters before I left civilization again too.
I got off the last exit in Kingman and went to a Carls JR. I ordered a $1 chicken sandwich and sat there for another 30 minutes while writing journals. I filled my water jugs and left there and was ready to hit the road into the desert.
When I left it was pretty warm outside now. And I was told it was going to get hotter as I dropped down the grade out of Kingman. And it did. I walked a steep downhill grade on the interstate for a few miles, and when I reached the bottom it was wide open desert that was very hot.
I walked about 5 miles and was surprised with the completely changed ecosystem all of a sudden. It was all sand and the growth were all result of a very dry climate (dry air). Mostly brown shrubs and bushes. And suddenly there were lizards crawling everywhere. Just the scenery around me made me thirsty.
My left foot starting feeling tender as my shoe was rubbing on it funny. Since the shoe was 2 sizes too big for me the crease of where it bent at the toes was too far back. They were used and broken in to someone's size 14 foot. When my foot was a size 12 and the bend of their step was different than mine. So the bend was putting pressure about an inch in front of where my toes bent. It was not a bad pain, but it was getting worse each mile. So I stopped to look at my toes. When I pulled my foot off, my big toes skin had worn off. It was down a couple layers of skin and was oozing out a little.
I pulled my first aid ziplock pack out of my backpack and put some ointment on the worn off section. Then I put a gauze pad over the top of my toe and then taped it up real good with sports tape.
Just as I was finishing the tape job, I heard a voice behind me say "are you ok?". I turned quickly and I was surprised to see a man standing there and his truck pulled over a ways behind him. I didn't even hear him pull over. It startled me a little.
I told the man I was ok and just wrapping my toe where the skin was wearing off. He asked if I needed a ride or some money. I told him no thanks and I was all good. We talked for about 10 minutes. He was from a small town west of there and was headed to Kingman. He asked how far I would make it that day and I said maybe 15 more miles or so. He was a really kind old man and had a very easy going mentality it seemed. He offered me a place to stay at his house in his small town I would pass in about 10 miles. Although he was pretty cool dude, I just wanted to stop where I would stop that night and not walk far off the interstate, so I said thanks but passed. He shook my hand and said good luck and then took off. Very nice guy.
I put my shoes back on and hit the road. My foot felt much better that it was wrapped now. It still had a little pain each step, but much more bearable now since it wasn't directly on the skin. Also it wasn't gonna get worse now with the wrap on.
I walked another 4 miles or so when I came across a small bridge that went under the interstate. I spotted a little sliver of shade and decided to take a break. I left my cart up on the shoulder and took my sleeping bag down in the dry creek to sit on. I sat tucked up tight in the shade and against the concrete. It was pretty hot now and even though the shade was minimal, it helped me relax a lot.
About 15 minutes after resting I hiked back up to the interstate and kept going. When I got up there and looked ahead, I was surprised to see some very dark clouds in the distance. It had a dark fading drop from the sky too which looked like heavy rainfall. It is so bizarre since the skies had been clear all day and it was hot.
I kept an eye in the clouds as I walked and they seemed to be moving my way. I wasn't too worried because it was still calm where I was at, I just though "how bad can it be?".
The more I walked the worse it looked. It suddenly looked like the entire sky headed my way was black. That's when I started to think this may be a little nasty when it hits me. Even though the sun was still beaming down on me and I was sweating, I stopped to get my gear and myself prepared for rainfall. I mean I was literally getting sunburned, but in a matter of minutes, these clouds would dominate the sky above me.
I was all covered now and ready to go. I walked towards the oncoming black clouds and just wondered what it was going to be once it reached me. I looked ahead and also saw that there was an overpass about a mile up.
When the edge of the clouds were almost overhead a cool wind was picking up. The sudden shift of temperatures were enough to alarm me that this thing is coming on fast! Next was a light sprinkle. The sprinkle was not bad, but I knew it wouldn't last. The wind picked up and then a light roar of thunder sounded off abruptly. That's when the wind started to howl. Then as I expected, the rain picked up. And now here I am. In the heart of this.
The rain crashed down! It went from the spitting sprinkle in the heavy wind, to dumping drops! They were almost so heavy that the wind were not able to push them much more than a vertical drop. It absolutely came crashing down. Looking ahead it was black as far as I could see. And the sunny clear day from 10 minutes ago was now a gloomy dark beast spitting his anger out.
The winds picked up now and it was so heavy I was getting pelted hard with drops. They were hitting so hard i honestly though it might tear my pancho apart! The wind was blowing my pancho where it felt like it was stretching against my skin. Unreal.
I was getting hit so hard and with the winds I couldn't keep myself dry. I was fighting the wind to keep my cover down. Finally I stopped and pulled out my umbrella. Bad mistake. As soon as the umbrella opened it snapped the support Rods, blowing the material back all the way where it was inside out. It was all the way up where it looked like it closed up but up instead of down. It jerked the thing back so hard that I nearly lost my footing. I crunched the umbrella together and stuffed it into my cart under some bungees.
The overpass was about 1/4 mile up now so I picked up the pace almost to a jog. I pushed through the crazy storm and made it the the overpass! How lucky am I to have another overpass near me when a storm hits! It seems like every time I'm in this situation there is randomly cover. There literally were no overpasses for 8 miles, and now there's one here to help me weather the storm. There was really nothing else at all for miles.
I applied my brakes on my cart and pushed it up against a barrier so that the wind wouldnt push it. That's how windy it was. I had to climb up all the way to the bottom of the bridge. It was the only dry spot there. The wind was flushing water right under the entire bridge except for the small circle I found that was dry. I was right under the bottom side of the bridge up on the cement incline. I tucked away there and watched the monster monsoon roar by.
Lighting was striking very close and all around! It was wild! I was so lucky to have found this cover and just in time. The lighting shot down over and over and fast! I was plugging my ears when it struck close. It sounded like a gun firing off about 3 feet from my ears. Very intense!
I waited the storm out and was in shock. I just really couldn't believe how fast the storm came in. I mean in 10 minutes it went from sunburn to soaked and lightning striking probably within 100 yards. It was absolutely bananas.
It finally stopped raining and I made my way back down to where my cart was sitting under the bridge. I stood there for 5 minutes just looking around. It had passed now and the sun had just peeked through. In disbelief I took off walking again. About 1/4 miles in I was sweating and had to remove all the rain gear. 10 minutes later I had to put more sunblock on. So crazy.
I walked a while longer and then it was about sunset time. I had about 5 miles to go still before I was ready to stop. I stopped for a while to watch a really pretty sunset. It was a really cool 20 minutes or so. Just experiencing the power of what weather I had been through in the last 3 hours was blowing my mind. I watched the beauty of the sun dipping down behind the desert mountains and was just blown away by what beauty we are able to witness. Especially after how ugly it can get in the same day. What a wild world this is. Being out here is such a powerful way to experience it. It just blows me away how a car or a wall of a house can shelter us from knowing what is out here. There are some very strong elements that I've never been able to mentally consume until going through it first hand with little protection I have. And it's right here in my home land. I never knew what forces of nature are all around us. Being in a house, I would never catch the full effect of what we have evolved past. It really makes me appreciate what we have moved beyond. That seems to be sort of a catch 22. We evolve past the dangers of what is around us, but it's the very dangers we need to face to realize how much we can appreciate the evolution. I've never realized this is what some of the things in my life are there for. Protection and health. I've never seen things this way.
So I headed down the interstate again now in the darkness. I threw on my reflective vest and a headlamp so that traffic would see me. My knees were in a good amount of pain as I went past the 20 miles mark for the day. I had about 4 more miles to go.
I got into yucca finally. I was about 2 miles from the last exit where I planned to find a place to stay. Just as I was passing the "exit 1 mile sign", a cop pulled over right behind me. He came up and asked if I was ok. He approached me in a very friendly way and really just seemed to want to know if I was alright. I said yes and that was was walking cross country. I usually will say that up front to any authorities just so they know I'm not just a crazy dude wandering down the interstate. Well, I might be crazy, but at least I'm on a journey where they might see it as something respectable. I don't hardly ever tell people what I'm doing unless they pry. Il even just tell most people I'm headed west and leave it at that. I don't want to seem too proud of what I'm doing so I won't ever go around bragging or anything like that.
The cop was very cool and asked where I was staying that night. I said I would just get off on the exit and hideout somewhere. He told me he had a call saying i was in a fireman suit pushing babies down the interstate in the dark. Pretty funny. I get that a lot actually. He said Goodluck and shook my hand before leaving.
I got to the exit and there wasn't much around. I needed to find a place to sleep now and so I switched into hideout mode. When I do this I need to be aware of who and what is around. I keep a sharp eye out for people as I don't want anyone to see me duck into a hideout. That could bring danger if the wrong person saw me. So I looked all around, and it seemed clear to me. I spotted a fenced area around a pump of some sort between the onramp I was walking off of and the freeway. It was gonna be my spot. I walked out into the sand and got behind the fence. It was hidden enough for night. Daylight I would be more noticeable, but daylight is much safer anyways since more people are around. I feel it's much safer and I don't mind being seen then.
The spot was actually pretty good since the overpass, onramp, and freeway created a triangle around the ground I slept on. That means less wildlife (snakes ect.). I made my bed there and sat down. I used some baby wipes to clean the dust of my legs and arms from the day. After that I put some more cream on my knees and called it a night.
I walked 24 miles that day. Had some physical issues with my toe, had a guy stop and offer to help me, experienced some crazy weather, had some damaged equipment, but made it ok. Another day closer to the pacific ocean. Not an easy day by any means, but I had all I needed to keep moving another day. Even learned some lessons and felt personal growth. It was a day that brought more insight tithe way I view life and this world. I fell asleep on my tarp around 10:30pm.

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