A day of purpose

Blog for today. Fairly rough story from early in my journey. 28 days left, More tomorrow.

4 days. It’s been 4 days since I left,  but if feels like forever. Waking up in the safety of a hotel room, I realize that it’s 10am. My first night in a hotel room and I’ve missed breakfast. I begin to pack up my things, taking the hotel shampoo and soap to replace my own. I eat a bland meal bar,  wishing I had something tastier.

I lug my 80 lbs pack down stairs and begin my days journey. With in minutes I feel the familiar pain in my arches, knees and hips. The exorbitant weight of my backpack wreaking havoc  on my body over the last few days. ‘Pain is weakness leaving the body’ I think to myself while I check my watch. It doesn’t tell the time,  but my pulse. 165 bpm and rising.

2 miles down the road,  I stop by a laundromat to wash my sweat stained clothing, happy to have an excuse to set my pack down. I talk with the locals and learn more about a town,  that despite being an hour by car north of my home town, I had never visited.

Crystal river a small town with people either retired or working the tourist industry of the town. Known for their beautiful river, springs and manatees, the entire town is themed accordingly. Full of businesses that had been there,  doing the same things for decades mixed with hotels and gift shops built in the real estate boom. The familiar quite desperation of the poor, serving the vacationers and retired that was typical of my own home town.

The owners of the Laundromat had lived in Crystal river for over 30 years, they knew all of the regulars, and had immediately spotted me. They,  like most of the people I had talked about my journey to, thought my ambition was impressive, but that I was crazy and going to fail. Their farewell wishes was a $10 bill and that I stay safe. “what’s the fun in that?”  I jokingly replied.

A few miles later I came across a GNC health supplement store. One of the supplements I had forgotten to get was Bromaleen, a powerful, natural anti inflammatory. I had first discovered Bromaleen when I started working out with my brother, a former Marine and personal trainer. If it worked for recovering from JD’s insane workouts,  it should work for this walk. The search ended in disappointment,  but resulted in another discussion of my journey rough the sales representative in the store. He wished me luck when I left.

At my 8 mile mark, I couldn’t keep going. The cumulative pain from 4 days of that backpack and the alluring call of a river side bench brought my days progress to a halt. I gave a call to my friend Brittany, a woman who can be described as nothing less than beautiful and brilliant. We talked about business, Charity and her friends in high places for two hours. Hedge funds, YouTube Rockstars, and micro finance were not unusual topics for us. I loved my discussions with Brittany. It is a relationship I have sorely missed as distance caused it to wane.

After talking about how moved in the world to an assistant to a hedge fund manager, I went to find my camp spot for the evening. A wonderful spot under a bridge,  in the middle of the swampy nature coast. The night was hot and humid, but the sky was characteristically clear for a spring night in Florida. As I walked along the dirt path down the side of the bridge, the sun sunk below the horizon. The beauty of the sunset was suddenly obstructed by thousands of bats leaving the concert if the bridge for a night of feasting upon the droves of mosquitos in the Florida swamps.

I set up my one person tent and laid down to rest. Rest did not come easy, and when it did, it was in few hour fits of sleep. When I awoke for the second time thanks to a semi driving over the bridge, I was in complete darkness. The bridge had blocked the sky,  and the moon had gone down.

Perhaps it was my fascination with space, or the years I had spent in the city, in able to see the true sky. Nothing prepares you for the staggering beauty of night sky,  revealed in all of its majesty. The endlessness if the blanket of stars and the dust cloud of the galaxy created a feeling in me that drove me to tears. I could not tell you what I felt, but it must be how the religious feel when they experience God. In that moment,  I knew why I had left, why I would keep going, and why I would never stop.

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Final days part two

I continued on, the miles getting longer and longer as my focus lacked. Finally, I passed a subway and decided to drown my overwhelm in food.

After a bit too eat, I remembered the cyclist app,  warm showers. I don’t use it often because it’s for cyclists. I open it up and look at the first listing in the area.

Carmen Matthews

Hey! You have found a great place to stay.  My wife and I have an extra 2 bedrooms and couches for more people. We also own the local brewery! So, if you are in Coos Bay,  come to our downtown location,  and have a beer and Introduce yourself. We also have a bicycle grain grinder for our brewery,  so maybe you can help us find out grain of you aren’t too tired.

Cheers!

With renewed enthusiasm at the prospect of a shower,  I grabbed my backpack and set off to the brewery. I sat down and, being generally opposed to beer, ordered myself a hard cider.

I drank a bit,  and looked down the bar. After all of my adventures and having to rely upon the kindness of strangers more times than I can count, I still have incredible social anxiety. With my entire body trying to resist,  I ungrateful move one seat down and start talking with an older couple.

Ed and Tracy had moved from San Francisco 4 years ago to escape the $8000 a month rent prices. While the small town life style of not much happening wasn’t to Ed’s liking, both Ed and Tracy are what the marketing industry call ‘true fans’  of Carmen’s 7 devil’s brewery. They told me about all of the sort that Carmen and his wife of in to the community. The revitalization projects they hold events to help fund. Between beer night at the local theater to bringing in traveling musicians to play at their pub, 7 Devil’s was a saint for their community.

“Annie,  Carmen’s wife is the real brains behind the operation. She was a microbiologist. She probably does all the brewing and the numbers. Carmen looks like he’s here for the fun of it.” Ed confided to me.

One of their most inspired ideas was ‘Co-Hops’,  a beer they were making with the collective help of the community. They taught the community what hops looked like and asked them to bring in the ones they found. The result is a community created mash that will help fund the new location of the local Co-op.

“a few more businesses like this, and they’ll completely revitalize this town ” Ed concluded.

The conversation went on,  but my mind was fixed on that phrase. My mind became an idea collider. Suddenly Ekal’ social entrepreneurship program meet with a homeschooling project I had worked on in Tampa.

We used the collective experience of my roommate’s network to create a set of business models that could be easily implemented by one or two people,  so home schoolers could have some early success in business while developing financial responsibility and networking skills.

The Ekal foundation’s social entrepreneurship program focused on businesses that could be started in the remote regions of India and we’re profitable enough to help fund the schools and revitalize the villages.

It was a beacon if inspiration. In my talk later that evening with Annie and Carmen, the idea became even more attractive. More powerful. I didn’t know where to start,  and for the first time since I thought I’d this journey, I was excited about that.

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My final days

I’ve come into the time period I’ve been dreading.  My final 30 days are upon me; excitement mixed with apprehension of what my next adventure will be,  where I’ll go and how I’ll get there. I’m inspired in the final days of my journey to do something I intended to do from the start. Write.

Writing has been a source of great doubt for me, not just on this trip but thru much of my life. For all of the fears I’ve conquered, taming the written word shall be one of the last great acts of my journey.

These posts shall be about just a few of the experiences I’ve had along my journey; the kindness and love I’ve shared with strangers and old friends. The first story will be a recent one.

September 7th, 2014

I wake up to the light drizzle touching my face that is so typical of the Oregon Coast. The clear covering on my backpack glistening in the morning dawn as water droplets roll off. I roll over and instinctively attempt to go back up sleep.

‘the sky is awake, time to greet the day’ I think to my reluctant body. My body pulls the bivy hood over my face, blocking out the sunlight and mist. I sit there for a minute or two imagining myself standing up and getting ready. I roll slightly to the side to attempt to go deeper into sleep when I tool onto something hard. Pulling out the cylindrical object, I discover the energy shot I had hidden the night before. I smile and welcome the much needed caffeine.

My day,  as these days often do began slowly. Shaking the water off of my gear.  Cleaning and drying every thing the best I can. For breakfast, I have several cookies I had intended to share with the cyclists at the state park, only to discover no one there upon my arrival. By 8am, I set out. The thick, drizzling must continued.

I pop in my headphones and half listening to the music, I begin to imagine a new story. This one started out with an enslaved orphan, being sold to a well dressed man,  set in the near future. She had been purchased to test medical treatments on,  but those designed to enhance, not to cure an illness.

Every third mile marker, I would eat a granola bar,  still remaining lost in the story in my head. The story progressed until the girl had attained freedom, with modifications and genetic alterations that allowed her to think and learn faster than the average person. She had battled her way with wit and strategy to get the better of her captors. Now set out to make a better world.

Checking my phone I had discovered I had walked 15 miles with out stop,  barely realizing the process I was making. Flow is truly an amazing state of mind. After a short rest,  I notice a sight familiar to few. A man, miles from town running behind a stroller.

I knew who it was. A few cyclists had been telling me of his story as they rode south,  and I was excited to hear it from him.

Stressed in running gear with several days of beard growth, this was the look of a fellow adventurer. This salt and pepper hair was short, with a well built upper body.

“how far have you come today?” His British accent greeted me.

“15 miles so far, came from Bandon. How about yourself?”

“done 48 km this morning, I’ll finish in Bandon tonight. Where are you coming from?”

“that’s impressive,  what, 45 miles in a day? You’re making us young kids look bad! Coming from Tampa FL, headed to Seattle. Yourself? ”

” haha,  I’m headed to Argentina, from Vancouver, By,  started 3 weeks ago”

Our conversation drew on. I explained about the Ekal foundation, he talked about his quest to bring awareness to male depression and suicide. We exchanged cards and went on our way.

The next few miles are difficult. I want sure where I was going to stay. There were no campgrounds and the areas I saw on Google maps for stealth camping turned out to be non passable. It was closing in on being dark and I had no idea that to do.

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