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Sunday, September 17, 2006
Got up after the sun, had a huge breakfast, watched his collection of turtles eat (they’re savage), checked messages and found I have an informal congressional hearing the 27th (guess it’s informal so I won’t have to wear shoes) and they are calling me Monday between 2pm and 4pm. Made a few calls and went snake hunting. The first few places we went we found nothing but a part of a shedder skin. At the end of the day we found a copper head (road kill) and 3 baby timber rattlers. Then off to the trail where I walked till just before dark to one of the nicest shelters (it had hanging plants).
Monday, September 18, 2006
Up and on the move. Stopped at where Rick works (Vision Quest) and waited there for the call. While I waited I talked to some of the kids and checked out the school. A lot seem to have an attitude and are prison bound if the teachers can’t turn the tide. The teachers make under $40,000 a year to try and turn their lives around. Clearly they are grossly over paid for the responsibility and hours while our poor sports figures and movie stars can barely make end meet on millions a year: is there no justice?
After seeing Rick in action I said “You said I inspire you, but you are my hero to increasingly devote yourself to making these kids aware of the environment.” He said it can be frustrating and trying but he still inspires me to see what he has done.
I got the call at 3pm, a 3-way call: Mike (his aide) in Washington, Jim McDermott in Seattle, and me on the grass with a satellite phone that loses the signal every 3 minutes. We talk a little and I told him why I did it then lost him, then just Mike called me back and looks forward to seeing me soon in Washington. He said not to worry about statistics because they have people for that; just tell my story, keep walking, and do what I do, and they will work on getting more press.
Borrowed a cell phone and called a few people, some of my family and friends will join me for support (just in case it is a trap like my bro says they are bringing bail money; it’s a family thing). I called my Uncle Bob’s: he had died 2 days ago and I know he is with me. Rick and I went to eat before I went back into the woods. He wanted to treat but I beat him to it when he wasn’t looking. Then he drove me to the trailhead and we did one last snake hunt and found a young one as well as a large timber rattler skin. The copperheads and rattlers can be found lying with one another. The mother rattler stays in the rookery (nest) with the young for a few weeks until their first shed. She then takes off looking for a place to hibernate. The young do also but may stay where they were born. If snakes are captured and let loose far from their nests they will wander looking for it and usually end up dying. The males have a range of up to 4 miles from their nest; females are much closer. The reason snakes don’t die during hibernation, where they can be partially frozen, is when the temperature drops the liquid goes from the cells to the blood so the cells don’t get damaged by ice crystals. See, I learned about snakes that don’t carry briefcases.
We said goodbye and I walked until a little before dark. I set up my sleeping bag and looked up and saw Rick coming into camp from the south end. He said, “Here’s your money back from dinner”. I said I wanted to treat, but I took it because in the deli I only heard with my ears. When he walked 2 miles (half of it in the dark) I heard with my eyes and heart. We talked and shared; I have found a new friend.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Got up and on my walk met two Vietnam Vets who congratulated me and invited me to stop by in North Carolina. Met some day hikers who said they saw something about it on TV. Slept in the woods.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
No rain last night (thank God). Met Kansas and his girl up at the next shelter. Made it to Washington Monument without seeing anyone. After reading the plaque, which read that it was a monument erected in honor of G. Washington, I realized this might be the first case in our history records of mis-appointed funds I may have read about. How the story goes is that originally it wasn’t supposed to be a volunteer project but a government project to build a two-seater brick outhouse for the park in honor of George. What happened was the guy in charge of the project took most of the money, convinced the locals to work for whiskey vouchers, gave them some comment and a scribbled note which was hard to read (not everyone wrote like on the Declaration of Independence), but ‘brick’ was crossed out and ‘stone’ written over it. He had them in two groups alternating days. The first group showed up, having already started with their vouchers, formed some of the rocks in a circle (there were lots of rocks from clearing the land for the park). The second group came (pretty much sober), figured the first group thought the second group had the plans and continued with what they thought was a two story stone (sitting or viewing) house. It took about 1½ weeks before they discovered (because they were told at the tavern that the vouchers would be no good soon which prompted them to investigate) what had happened and what they were building. So both groups got together the last day, left the top open (no roof), curved the top part and made a view and went immediately to the tavern. The main discussion was, could you believe it was a two-seater out house which they were annoyed about but started to joke about till one of the young men on the crew saw the new barmaid and exclaimed, “She’s built like a brick s---house!” With that everyone got silent, stared, and laughed, “She is built like a brick s---house!” So I believe that is how that expression came to be and you might still find the original requisition buried in the basement of the Smithsonian.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Made it to Harpers Ferry. What a nice town. The park preserved a piece of history. It doesn’t show the scars of war. Too bad we don’t seem to be able to show the failure to compromise or the unacceptability of differences in a way that we don’t repeat it. I wonder if that is possible. I know in my arrogance I have said I won’t do what my father had (pertaining to things I resented and disagreed with) and I saw myself become what I disliked and rejected the most. What I resisted persisted: the more I fought it the more power I gave it. When I finally accepted it, looked at the ‘why’s, then was I able to change.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Leaving Harpers Ferry I stopped into the AT Conference Center. When I told them who I was they couldn’t do enough for me. When I asked about getting a blurb in their newsletter, John (one of the staff, a young helpful man) said he had to ask his boss, which he called on the inter-office phone. After the call John didn’t look happy and started to apologize why he couldn’t do it. I told him it’s OK. I understand it wasn’t his decision. He said it was policy.
When I left I tried to figure out why they would have a policy like that. A lot of people walk the trail for a cause, so maybe it would cost too much for the labor and paper to print all of these causes, since they say they run the organization at a loss. Being skeptical and knowing about some nonprofits, I was amazed at how creative and generous some of them can be with their salaries, rentals to themselves, and benefits. I will have to check them out to appease myself.
As for nonprofit organization “The Long Walk Home”, we are still doing the paperwork, which costs $500 to submit. We finally got a lawyer to work on it (I hope). Don’t know the fee for that. Paid over $1000 for hats, have spent over $4000 walking (rooms, meals, equipment, calls) so far. Also $80 a year for the mailbox, the phone system and computer I am not sure about, and the help has been family, friends, and concerned citizens.
What we have taken in is about $1000 in checks (I don’t have exact at this time) which we can’t cash till we get the nonprofit status. I have received $140 cash while walking that I used for food.
I would rather see people give $5 and a few minutes of their time to listen to a homeless person, or buy them a sandwich and talk to them. Let them know they aren’t invisible; now that is charity. I know there are times when I have given to a charity out of guilt and the money never got to those who needed it.
Well, when I left Harper Ferry, John set up an interview with a trail club when I get to Bears Den, and I also did an interview over the phone with a local paper. I made it to a shelter that night meeting no one on the trail.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
It rained early morning and I met some scout leaders on the way out. Made it to Bears Den, which was closed till 5pm. Met Sheila, an ex-woman marine who served during peacetime. She liked the discipline and getting out of her small town. We found out the reason the hostel was closed was because a volunteer was critically injured while cutting down a tree. They had to get him to a hospital. It does seem the right thing to do. If someone volunteers their help to you and gets hurt while doing it, you take care of them. Why does it seem our government doesn’t do something that they have laws dictating we do? It does seem somewhat hypocritical.