Day 166, September 16, 2012

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I woke up hearing something creek. I opened my eyes and instantly was relieved that I was around something. It wasn't just sand for as far as I could see. There were objects of society around and it felt good to see that.
The creek I heard was coming from the tank next to where I slept. It sounded like a valve or pipe was making the sound. Maybe someone turned on the water or something. I'm not sure.
Right when I woke up I grabbed a full bottle of water and downed it. Man that felt good. I sighed after I finished and grinned as I was thankful for that. I ate some of the Mexican donut that I was given from the day before. Today was my birthday and the first day of being 26. It was a good day as I would see 29 palms at some point.
I sort of took my time lingering around and gathering my things. I was in no rush and wanted to just ease my way that day and enjoy approaching civilization again. Also my knees were still cramped and in a bit of pain, so I wanted to baby them also.
I packed my cart up and stretched out a lot. I was finally ready to go and walked out to the road. When I got to the road I had a weird feeling. Not sure if I was nervous to get to 29 palms or what it was. But I felt something weird.
I began walking slowly Down 62 towards 29 palms, which was roughly 15-17 miles away. I was about 2-3 miles in for the day when a blue Beamer passed bye. He waved to me and I waved back. I didn't think twice about it and just kept going.
About 20 minutes later a fire truck came zooming bye me with the sirens and lights on. I wondered what happened behind me as I kept moving. Then about 10 minutes later a work truck came from the east direction and stopped next to me. He asked if I was the guy walking the country and I said yes. It seemed out of place for some reason. Then he said "there is a guy in a white truck looking for you". I figured it was someone who was following my walk that wanted to come out to help me out. The work truck pulled away and I was thinking the person looking for me may have just been passing through and headed to Arizona maybe. I thought I would probably not see them and we missed each other. Little did I know, something else was going on that I had no clue about. And here is the story from someone else's point of view. A follower of my journey writes his experience from this day. This is a stranger to me from when I started this walk who would end up coming into my life in a pretty cool way. Here's the story in his words...

here it is-
Finding Hobo Faith (Nick Kleckner)
Here is the brief story of what just happened the last 24 hours so you can see an example of real life events that are not coincidence but more acts of God:
I have been following Hobo Nick (you can too at either @hobo_nick on twitter or on his blog at ) for the better part of the last 150 days. We have spoken many times via Facebook and had some pretty deep conversations about a lot of things in life. His walk across USA had me interested in his goals, reasons, etc as it has done for many thousands of people following his journey. We have become pretty close then on June 22nd he sent me the following note:
"Hey man. When I met the man who crawled 1600 miles a few days back, something hit me and spoke to me. Not sure what exactly, but something is going to happen once I cross into California. Something big. Something I will need witnesses for. Don't know why but I needed to let you know this. Might need you to be available around that time. Just something inside me tells me this, and that people are gonna need to know about it. Something really big."- Nick
At the time I did trip out a bit from this message but in so many times in my own life I have felt "something coming" or "strange feelings" about things in the future that I can't explain either. I pretty much just kept that message filed in the back of my head. Well as he approached Texas, then New Mexico then heading across Arizona and towards California is when I really started to think about what he said and wondered what it all meant?
Well on September 11th (nice day huh?) he Tweeted a chilling (to me) picture and comment that reads:
"This guy pulled off last night and said he had a message. He said he doesn't know my situation but something big is coming and to hold on Tight. He said it in a concerned and nervous way. Hope I'm not about to get violated by Bigfoot"
I immediately told my wife something is up, I dont know what or anything but I need to go out there ASAP.Then of course, life happens (kids soccer game I had to coach, big contracts at work must be handled, meetings, family events, the whole 9). Well on around Sep 14th I noticed I was not seeing any tweets or FB or anything from Nick! I sent his long time childhood friend an Email to call me but he was tied up to for a bit. I had an uneasy feeling but went to bed on it with no action.
Then Sunday September 16th hit and I read the chilling FB post from Nicks Mom that read "NICK IS MISSING AND IF ANYONE HAS ANY INFO TO LET HER KNOW!!!"
Now, I have spoke to Nicks mom too in the past couple months prior to this crazy news but I never told anyone except my wife about that FB message he sent me way back in June 22 when he was in middle America! So now I have this cold rush run through my blood like - OH CRAP what in the Hell is going on now!
One thing you should know about me is I was raised in the Church (not a PK or any crap like that but close enough), I am also no saint by any stretch but I do believe in God, and have my own personal relationship that guides me daily in this war zone called life. I am incredibly blessed with an awesome wife and 3 kids and play about every sport or hobby you can watch on Xgames or beyond. I don't really fear anything but this news literally stopped me in my tracks that I need to go out to the desert and find out what in the heck is going on!
So I called Hobo-Mom and asked her if she needs my help. She said yes so I immediately blew up my network of peeps and everyone I knew that could help just shy of the FBI and that call was about to be made too if I had to. I called every hospital in a 100 mile radius, I called every Po Dunk gas stop and store in the area, and Hobo-Mom called the Sheriff department in 2 counties. I called all of Hobo-Nick old friends and interviewed them like I was a damn FBI agent and "Is this something he has done in the past?" and all that crap. Nothing made sense that he was missing and NO ONE knew where he was for FIVE FULL DAYS?!?!
I was in a semi panic because I didn't want to tell Hobo-mom everything I knew about the June 22FB message, so as to not freak her out even more!! I just told her we need to exercise the same FAITH that Hobo-Nick shows every day- right NOW. She agreed, but how do you calm the mom of a missing HOBO?! Damn, my kid was missing for a few moments the other day and I freaked and she is not even a HOBO yet! (Someday God willing- haha). So I sat my wife down and she counseled me through the exact wording of what I should say and how to say it. The hardest thing I ever did was tell Hobo-Mom I got a message in June that suggested something would happen when he crossed into Calif, (and I needed to be there AND I WAS NOT!!) So I hit my knees and prayed that God would be in control and nothing bad would happen now.
I have been in situations in my life that it's not that farfetched that something crazy could happen but I just felt at peace this time. Something this time was different. It was like I had to go out there to be used for something and it had to be ASAP! By now it was Sunday night Sep 16th and I had done everything in my power from my dual screen computers and iphones and everything else I could get my hands on to blow up the internet, to get as much info as I could before I left to go searching! (again it felt like) You see-understand this is not the first time I have searched the open desert for a missing person. My own cousin James Perryman, to this day, is on the FBI missing person list and was last seen out in Hallerand Summit (at the peak before you drop down into State Line of Vegas). He is still gone, that was over 15 years ago and it has been a long road back for the family to overcome. I have ridden MotoX out in the desert many times searching for him. We were about as close as cousins could be. I don't typically lose many things, and when I do they haunt me a bit. James is gone and this felt kind of similar in a way as it was shaping up to be another desert search? I hoped not.
So I set my alarm for 4 am to find out what is out there. As I drove through the darkness towards 29 Palms from the Pacific Ocean I had a very calming feeling come over me and I posted on Facebook- "No Regrets". This time I was heading out into the unknown and I was not going to leave any stone unturned this time. I felt for Theresa Kleckner like she was my Aunt Loretta who lost her son James. No one should have to lose their child. We recently lost my 19 year old nephew "RJ" to a "fall asleep accident" on the 91 freeway on Sep 24 2011. He was a Scholarship Athlete and was heading to his dorm at CBU for his first year of playing left field. Also my HS best friend died driving to Law School when I was 24 from hitting a center divider on a freeway in Santa Barbara. So being around heavy loss has happened a few times in my life.
Today would be different, I really felt that way, as the sun came up in my face I felt like I was driving right into it as I passed the town of 29 Palms. I pulled over a couple police officers and questioned them too about what they knew about the area and the road towards Parker. From Rattlesnakes, to Scorpions to anything dangerous. Mostly the key info that came out of that meeting was the idea that there is Terrible Cell or internet service out there...NICE! To me that started speaking volumes for hope.
So my goal was to drive out to his last known scene where another Tweeter said he saw him last Friday."Rice Road" it is called. As I drove out there I felt like I was getting closer to him when I was about 15 miles out of 29 Palms. I pulled over to take a crap on the side of the road and walked over to an abandoned Shack (will post the pics- not of the crap, but the shack- Sickos)
I took a pic of the shack and felt like he was behind it. I walked around it but he was not there. (in hind sight you will see I wasn't that far off :/)
From there I headed out stopping here and there talking to anyone I could on the side of the road for info (there was only one construction crew about 15 miles out of town that stretched for about a mile so they were who I stopped to talk to). Just trying to get as much info as I could.
I then started off towards Rice Road which I think was about 20-30 miles away from the construction road work. I saw nothing out there- not even passing cars, NOTHING. After each passing turn and long stretch of road I hoped to see Hobo doing his Hobo strut. When I came to Rice road I pulled over and asked a gal from Twitter named "Pookie" to call me. (She has really made an effort in his aid and following him out to supply Hobo with food too at one point). Her husband is a big shot loud mouth MotoX Journalist that can send a shout out to millions of peeps fairly quickly through the MotoX community. (this is how I found Hobo Nick was from Ryan Villopoto Tweets many moons ago). So I felt the need to talk to her in case something came up I could rally the masses in short order though her husband. You see the MotoX community is no BS and they will put on a search like nobodys bizznass if they have to. We discussed everything and nothing made sense. It was on that call I shared with her the chilling FB message from June 22nd and she was fairly speechless. I told her I am sure he was just sleeping behind something and when I head back he will be on the road. So we left it at that, I took a piss on the ant hill, then headed back west.
I came around the turn about 5 miles from Rice Road and saw something in the road. I couldn't make out what it was at first but it was in the middle of the road and it was definitely a car at one time or another. As I approached it I saw clearly it was a steaming pile of yard sale SUV on the road and it clearly plowed the side berms and flipped and flipped some more. The door was open and my heart literally SANK. To me this was it. I am no CPR expert but I have been around a lot of injuries mostly from MotoX. As I jumped out of my truck I felt out of body like I really didn't want to go. The door that was crunched and sheered open and the back roof completely caved in told me there would be missing limbs or likely a ton of blood. So many things raced in my head. As I got closer I peeked around the corner and saw a young blonde girl in skimpy clothes just sitting there pale as a ghost and shaking pretty violently. She had to be under 21 in my quick guess. She was pale and shaking and sweating and had some blood splatters here and there on her legs and arms but I couldn't tell where it came from! I held her hand and asked her if she was ok. She just sat there and stared out the front window and shook like a freaking exorcism or something. I held her hand and prayed with her. During that time another dude was there on the scene almost within minutes, and he happened to be a Fireman I guess from the shirt he was wearing. He immediately had the authorities on the phone and started checking her out. I got her water and she started calming down. We got her dad on the phone and her boyfriend too which apparently was a marine at the 29 Palms Base. The dad was pretty shook up so the fireman dude said to me but was told all is ok and the girl is fine. She completely came out of her daze and was able to talk a bit and although she didn't say how the wreck happened I can only assume she fell asleep. She claims something jumped out in front of her. Maybe that part of the desert has leaping Scorpions or something.
I started to leave then remembered why I thought I was supposed to be out there. I asked the Fireman dude if he saw anyone on the road that was pushing a Solar powered baby stroller? His eyes lit up and said "Yea! I see him every day walking on this road!, hes like 10 miles that way!" and he pointed towards 29 Palms. I was elated, total euphoria from Fear and Unknown and Stress of loss (again) to everything is OK and oh by the way damn Hobo Homie is skippin down the
So I blazed a trail, was one of the most exciting 10 mile drives I have EVER done. I called his Mom on a brief open window of cell service. (Yes the cell / internet coverage out there was all but dead). I told her Hobo was not MIA now and a fireman saw him less than 10 min ago! She was elated and telling her that was one of the best moments ever. I teared up and pinned it across the desert. I wanted to keep her on the phone as I drove but I lost her in the next dead pocket of coverage. Holy Cow man we put crap on Mars now and I cant talk on a highway less than 3 hours away from Newport Beach? Damn Obama - haha
So here is the happy ending. It was like a book scene or better yet that road in the movie Dumb and Dumber where Jeff Daniels is walking along and Jim Carrey pulls up on the Scooter. I saw Hobo way the heck down the road and I pinned it with window down honking and yelling out the window. I came up on him with so much energy he must have thought he was about to get Hobo Raped on the 62. I told him I was Gene and he looked a bit shocked and we hugged. He was skinnier than I was so my first thought was I need to walk across the damn desert now. We talked about it all. I told him about the crash, and he totally knew what I meant when I said I was meant to be there. Only a few min earlier he saw all the crazy sirens and police and emergency vehicles blazing that direction and he was tripping out on that. I gave him 2 bags of groceries and immediately put his mom on the phone. They had a moment and I walked over to my truck to let them talk. I dont think he truly realized EVERYONE thought something was wrong because in his mind EVERYONE knew he was OK!? you see, he asked a dude days before to "Take this number and call my mom and let her know Im OK!!" Apparently the dude didn't do it. (Maybe his name was Obama too).
One thing was certain, God was there, it was so obvious. As I drove away I slowly came down from a very high euphoria of adrenaline and reflection. I pulled over to the side of the lonely desert road and just took it all in in absolute peace and quiet. The range of emotions from the week leading up to it all and the very day of such drastic highs and lows was pretty wild. What made this particular instance so incredible was to see the massive outpouring of other peoples caring and faith and general good will all over America. My facebook and twitter blew up like a bomb over this time span. I took so many things away from this experience but one thing that really settled in more than anything is the feeling of helping someone is more powerful than anything we could ever work for or earn or achieve or try and do for ourselves. If you want the feeling of happiness, go above and beyond whatever it is your doing and go help someone. I don't know anything more powerful in the world in 38 years of crazy life experiences.
Thanks Hobo Nick for teaching us all a little more about our own faith walk.
See you at the Ocean my friend - and yes I will bring the surf boards.
Gene Houston
.....pretty wild stuff from his angle. I was so upset that the guy never called my mom. But none the less, it seems things happen for a reason. And the weirdest thing to me was that when I sent the Facebook message to him back in Texas, I did it when I was half asleep in the middle of the night. When I woke up I had his response in my inbox and didn't even realize I sent him that message. It was the weirdest thing ever. I was totally in hobo zombie mode and wrote that in my sleep. And I NEVER do that. The whole thing was surreal. I don't really know what else to say. I guess you can take what you will from that. I don't really know what it all means but it is pretty intense. Bizarre too. But maybe it was fate??
So after Gene left, It was a weird feeling. It was funny that he found me and let thousands of people know I was ok, then it was just like "ok, see you later. I'm gonna keep walking through the desert" haha. I was VERY thankful for what he did though. It meant a lot to me and my family.
So there I was walking down the road again. I walked about another mile when another car pulled off. It was a black truck and the guy in it said he headed out to look for me. He had heard about me through his brother and heard I was missing. He had business in the area and wanted to come out to see if he could track me down and find me. He ended up giving me a bottle of Advil for my knees and then took off.
As he was leaving, literally 20 seconds after driving away, another car pulled off in front of me. It was a guy that live about 30 miles away. He also had heard I was missing and made the effort to head out on the 62 to try and find me. I felt a little guilty that all these people were out looking for me, but it also felt good to know so many people cared to make sure I was ok. He said if I needed anything or a place to stay when I went through his town, that he was just a short distance away.
As me and him were talking, another truck pulled off. It was a family and they hopped out and said "hobo nick!". They had made the trip out also to look for me! Now I was starting to realize how many people knew I was missing and that a lot of people were coming together in their own way to help me. They brought an iced chest with cold drinks and a bag of food. I was so thankful but still said I was sorry for worrying anyone. But they were happy to come out and see me.
After we hung for about 15 minutes I kept walking. Another few miles up another truck pulled off. This time it was a couple that actually lived in 29 palms. They also heard I was missing so they cruised out to try and see if they could find me. I was really blown away how many people came out. Just when they pulled up I had just got a flat tire on my cart and was sitting down to fix it. They offered to help me out and then they also gave me $10. We talked for 20 minutes or so and then they took off and I kept walking.
I started to think back at this point to when I woke up that morning where I really was pondering just giving up. If I would have laid back down I was fearing the heat may have broke the last straw and I could have never got up and out of there. I wondered where I would be now. I wondered who would have found me and in what condition. I don't know if the search party would have mattered then. I was so thankful that I was able to get myself out of that situation. It was a scary spot to be in.
I walked another 4-5 miles when I stopped for a break. I hadn't really been taking breaks since I was resting every time someone would pull off. But I stopped for a rest now. When I stopped another car stopped and gave me a water. I'm not sure if she knew me. I think she was just a stranger wanting to help me.
After a break I took off again. Another truck stopped and brought me another water. A girl from 29 palms had just heard that a person was missing and so she made the trip out to see if she could help. She turned around and went back to town after that.
About an hour later I was closing in on 29 palms and decided to take one last break. Right when I sat down an RV pulled off. He also came out to look for me. He had been following me for a while now and he wanted to come help the search. He was on his way to northern California from San Diego and actually detoured out of his way just to try and spot me to make sure I was ok. Wow! He gave me a Choco taco from his freezer in the RV and left after about 30 minutes of talking. That was a Dam good Choco taco!
After he left the same girl that brought me a water had went to the store and brought me another water along with a lunchable and some other snacks. She was so sweet. She even offered to take my dirty laundry home and wash them then deliver them back out to me. That was such a cool gesture. But I passed as I didn't want her to go through all the trouble. Plus my dirty clothes are like hazardous material and I spared her the filth.
I finally made it to 29 palms!! Such a weird thing coming into the town. It was a mixed emotions experience for sure. I felt a little anxiety with all the people and cars around, which is weird since I havnt had any anxiety for so long. In fact I've had none at all on the entire trip.
I walked straight to a jack in the box and it felt like I reached an oasis! It really was my greatest oasis! I went in and the air conditioning hitting me felt like I entered the gates of heaven! It was amazing. A place to sit, and hot food with a cold drink! Amazing.
I got in line to order possibly the biggest meal of my life. I was warn out and starving. I didn't have my full appetite still but hot food sounded amazing and I wanted a lot of it. Before I was about to order, a man came up to me and handed me some extra coupons he had. He looked like he was poor and possibly homeless. I wasn't sure. But he was a nice man. I told him thanks and then ordered a bunch of cheap food.
I took my food and sat at a table next to the man and started to scarf down! It was so good! It was like my first meal in heaven! Seriously. It was amazing. Plus the soft seat to sit in was a treat. An actual seat built for a body to relax. I've never seen it that way until I didn't sit anywhere but on dirt for about 5 days straight. Chairs are nice! The air conditioning felt amazing on my skin and I just felt my body soaking up the goodness. It was just all around great and I couldn't stop glowing and smiling.
I talked to the guy for a while and he told me a little of his story. He lived in an apartment down the road but suffered from some mental conditions. He saw a doctor multiple times a week and fought hard to keep his head on level. He said it was exhausting. He hated all the work he had to do to keep his mind balanced. And if he started to slip, his mind would slip hard and fast. He was also on a fixed income and had to really budget himself. He made the best of his situation and had a positive outlook. It made me wonder how many people were on the streets and just these few steps away from being helped. A lot of them don't have the support system that this man does. It would make me feel good to try and create a support system for those people. I wonder if I could ever do that.
I sat in jack in the box the rest of the night. The couple that lived in 29 palms (who helped with my flat tire) ended up meeting me there and keeping me company for a while. That was really cool of them and I appreciated them for that. Plus they were pretty hilarious which was great. I hadn't laughed for about a week. So it felt refreshing.
When jack in the box closed, I went out back and spotted a little hide out behind the dumpster. The space between it and the fence behind it was just big enough to get me and my Cart into. I made my bed on the dirt there and relaxed as I laid down. It was nice to be back into civilization, but at the same time I had to switch back into a little bit more of an alerted mode for night. In the desert I actually had the pleasure of not having to worry if someone might creep up on me at night. I was so hidden and far away that the elements were different. Although I didn't even realize it at the time. But at this point as I laid in a town again, I looked back and realized that.
I laid there a while when a cop car pulled in right next to me. I was thinking I was spotted and someone called it in. I figured he would come up and kick me out. But he never did. He actually never even saw me and was only there to eat dinner in his car. Now it was pretty comical. He was so close to me and had no idea I was there.
I fell asleep around midnight and was really looking forward to a day off. It has been a rough road lately and I really needed a day in air conditioning to recoup.

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