Friday, December 21, 2012
I woke up pretty early. My knees were tight and locked. Sometimes I will go to sleep with something under them to keep them slightly bent, but I was so tired the night before that I honestly didn't remember to. I woke up on my back and my knees were burning from being locked straight.
I unzipped my sleeping bag and stretched out right away while still laying on my back. Stretching my IT band really seems to make my knees feel better quickly. So I stretched them out for a good 15 minutes and just worked my knees back and forth a few minutes to loosen them up. They felt much better.
I stood up and stretched out still feeling refreshed with being out of the desert. I felt good mentally and was very recharged in that aspect. I put my headphones in and put some music on while I packed my things up and got ready. I was still hidden behind the container and out of sight. I was all ready to go and walked out from the driveway.
I got a few blocks down when Jarret (guy who visited me twice the day before) wanted to meet me before I took off once more. He brought along his boss and his bosses wife to meet me. There was a man sitting down outside a closed down building next to a McDonald's. He had a medical boot on and looked to be homeless. I went up and gave him a few dollars. He was thrilled. He had such a big smile and was so thankful. I really felt like he was more thankful for the kindness that I sent him than he was for the actual money. That made an even better reward for helping the man. I relate to that feeling and how it can impact you.
I met Jarret and his friends right after that and we sat on a sidewalk outside of that closed down building just down a ways from where the man sat up against the wall of that building. Jarrets boss and his wife seemed to have joy in meeting me as I did with them. They seemed to be very kind hearted people and I admired the light and joking relationship between them and Jarret. I sensed that they enjoyed working together and it seemed they were good people from the way they talked. I sat and stretched as we talked about some of my journey. I was still tight and sitting down usually causes me to tighten up more. So I was staying lose the best I could. After about an hour of talking they were headed out and I was ready to get back on the move.
I was not feeling as good as I had hoped physically, but it still could have been a lot worse. But regardless, I was able to start moving. I said farewell and headed out. I jumped onto the 62 and started making my way to Joshua Tree.
I walked uphill toward the edge of town and it was warming up. I didn't plan on going too far for the day. In fact, I didn't really even plan on doing any long days for the rest of the trip. I was exhausted and couldn't afford any long days. I have no reason to push it at this point and want to play it safe from here.
Just as I exited 29 palms a car pulled over and a young lady walked toward me. She said she had seen something about me online and wanted to know how she could help. I told her prayers were what got me this far. She said she had some clothes at home and that she would track me down later that night in Joshua Tree. I really had no use for clothes at this point but figured I could give them away to someone who could use them. She took off on her way to nursing school. I sat down and took a break there. My feet were blistering a bit so I pulled off my shoe and popped a small section of fluid. The skin was so tender that it was almost falling off. So I just pulled it off and threw a bandaid over it. It wasn't too painful which was weird. Usually they hurt like hell after I pop them. I got up and continued.
I walked along the highway where there were just a few houses here and there. It was warm but not as bad as the desert had been in the days before. I passed a stretch where there was some road work going on. I moved to the middle lane that was coned off. It was fresh pavement but from areas I've walked through before they usually don't mind me strolling through there. And when I did, they didn't seem to care this time either.
I passed a truck with some road workers around it and they offered me cold drinks. I took a gatoraide and a water and told them thanks. About 5 minutes after that I stopped next to a large bush for a break. I plopped down on a rock there in the shade and relaxed while sipping on some cold goodness. I was very refreshed and just in a thankful mood. I really felt like I was getting to the home stretch and couldn't beleive I was so close to finishing the journey that started about 6 months ago. Did I really come this far ONLY walking. Never taking ONE ride. Starting with NO food NO money. Never pan handling. Sleeping outside (aside from about 4 indoor stays from complete strangers to me). Did I come this far giving away most of what I was given. Is this real. I don't know. But it's sinking in now that it is close to the finish and I can't fathom how far I have come. But more importantly, the way I was able to do it. That was the real challenge and the thousands of miracles on the way were what changed me. Miracles surrounded me every day. Like angels floating over me at all times. They were constantly there to watch over me and I learned to identify them more and more. Of course that's just the way I see this. You can take what you want from the stories. I think there's beauty in others interpretations of the events that happen to me along the way. In fact my views are constantly changing when others can tell me what they see from it. I have no question that my intuition is not as deep as others. But I often feed off of what others can tell me. It helps to open my mind up and connect the dots.
I got up and continued from my break spot. It was not much further until Joshua Tree now and I would stop there for the day after about 15 miles. I strolled into the town slowly and it was a pretty small place. There was just a small strip of places there and it was a little old and rugged. I stopped at a Mexican food place called Santana's. Some of the people I had met the day before wanted to meet there and hangout. I went inside and plugged my electronics in and ordered a drink. I relaxed for a while and then my new friends from 29 palms arrived. It was Jarret and his girlfriend, and also the couple who brought me the pizza from the night before.
We sat down and were just talking about random stuff. I made fun of myself like I usually do to keep the conversation in a light mood. And just because I'm so easy to make fun of. After a while we ordered food and just had a good time hanging out and laughing. It was really easy to get along with them as they all had good senses of humor.
Another family showed up a little while later to bring me supplies. It was actually the same guy who had come out and found me on the day of the search party, when so many others came looking for me as well. He brought his daughter and her boyfriend, and his wife. I went outside to visit with them a little and they said they were following me for a while and wanted to support me. They brought me a bag of snacks and drinks and some toilet paper. They were really nice and it meant a lot. It was another blessing to me. Just in a different form. Each person or group of people I have help from sends it in a totally different way. It's hard to describe but every care package or words of support seem so personalized. It's fascinating to me how unique and different they all feel. It just opens my eyes to how gifts can come in so many forms. And how good hearted people can come in different forms as well. It's been a spiritual experience in seeing this in mankind as well. Something that has and will open my mind up towards others forever.
After they left I went back in and visited with jarret and the crew until late. It was a good day and I looked forward to the final stretch of walking and hopefully meeting some other cool people along the last leg.
We said goodbye and we all parted. I left there a little later and was ready to find a place to crash. I walked a few hundred yards down the 62 and found an empty lot between two buildings. It was sort of a rough area and there were some tweakers walking around. But I felt like I snuck out and hid without anyone seeing me. Of course I can never be too sure or 100%. And I could be chopped to pieces and found in the morning to conclude a horrible story of how my long journey turns to crap. But I sensed I was safe. And I can only feel what I feel.
I was tucked away behind a bush and there were some bugs crawling there. It wasn't the best spot but it would do, just like many of the spots I've stayed at before. I laid down next to my cart and crawled into my sleeping bag. I laid there for maybe 30 minutes before I was ready to pass out. My last minutes awake I just thought about the finish. What will it be like. How is it going to feel? I'm pretty confident I will make it. But what if something crazy happens and I don't. I said a prayer just saying thanks for all the things that have happened to get me here. Thanks to whatever or whoever sent the blessings my way.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
I woke up pretty early. I was between a dumpster and a fence behind a jack in the box. I didn't sleep very well but I felt very rested just knowing I was going to take a day to rest. I had just went through one of the toughest weeks in my life and through the unexpected toughest stretch of my trip. It was a very emotional and spiritual experience. I was ready to have a day to just soak in what I could. Plus rest. I was excited to rest!
I got up and my eyes were heavy. It was a nice day and I felt good! My knees felt a little weak and sore so I wanted to get some ice on them throughout the day. I packed my things up from off the dirt there and packed my cart in. I slipped my shoes on but didn't tie them. It was gonna be a lazy day ahead.
I walked across the parking lot and went in to the jack in the box. I left my cart behind where I sat so that I could keep an eye on it through the window. I went in, ordered a breakfast sandwich, and sat down with a bag of ice on both knees. I ate my food and then checked my emails and other Internet stuff. I hadn't really gone through anything for 6 days and I was very bombarded. Mostly people worried about me when I was "reported missing". I answered what I could but there was so much I honestly didn't have time to reply to everyone.
I sat there relaxing for a while when the guy from the day before (who met me at jack in the box, and helped with a flat tire with his girlfriend) came in. He knew I was taking the day to rest and was cool enough to come keep my company. We just sat there and relaxed while telling funny stories. He was a pretty cool dude.
He left after a while and said he would come back. I went back to catching up on some journals and stuff while I could. I noticed out of the window that the man I met the night before was walking up. He came in holding a cardboard box full of coupons. He sat down and asked how and where I slept. I told him right behind the dumpster there. The night before, he was recommending some spots to sleep and most of them were more than a few blocks away. But I already knew I was literally walking outside and plopping down at the first hidden spot. I did enough walking already.
We sat there as I iced my knees and talked. He had just came back from a therapy session a couple towns over. He took the bus early in the morning. He seemed pretty excited to see me which was cool. I think I provided an ear to listen and an open mind for him, which I imagine some people don't have much of. He opened up to me a little more about his past and I appreciated how he felt comfortable telling me about that. It made me feel like he trusted I wouldn't judge him. And I understood a lot of what he was saying.
A little later he took off and the other guy came back. He brought his lap top and wanted to add some music to my iPod. I was actually excited for that since I was low on music that wasn't engraved in my brain. He put some cool music on there. Then he had some of my favorite TV shows saved on there also. A canadian comedy sitcom called trailer park boys. It's rare that people know about that, so i was pretty pumped he was a fan. We watched a couple episodes and we laughed really hard. I was having an epic day. From time to time I would still have the thought of how alone and challenged I was just a few days ago. Sometimes it's a weird world and you can be in different extreme places in such a short amount of time, both mentally and physically.
He left after a while and needed to get sleep before working the night shift. I was thankful for the company and it made the day much more brighter for me.
The other guy came back again (joe, guy with coupons) and came in just to hangout. I liked that he wanted to just come hangout. I felt lucky to have people around me and supporting me in little ways that they might not even realize.
A little later I had a pretty awesome surprise. I had grown up on a little dead end street in the country as a kid. And all the kids on that street would do the craziest most random stuff. Tons of great memories. Well one of the kids that was there from time to time was a kid name kurtis. He was a family friend of my neighbor and became a family friend to me as well. Well even though we lost touch after growing up, we still have that childhood connection to this day. And I had no idea, but he was stationed on the military base in 29 palms. He was alerted by mutual friends when I went missing and he planned to find me somehow. So all off a sudden he walked into jack in the box! I can't really describe this, but to see a face you know after 6 months of not having hardly any of that, it feels reassuring!
We sat down and caught up. He talked about how people were pretty freaked out and how the desert is dangerous. He knows how it can be as he has lived there for a while now. We told some old stories about growing up. Man, good times. Those are some good memories.
After an hour or so he left and said he might stop by again later. I was sitting there still with Joe now and just happy I had company all day. I didn't expect company all day and it was cool. I kept the ice on my knees off and on all day. It was a good day of rest.
A little later Kurtis came back with his family. His wife and 3 kids. It is very mind blowing to see someone my age with a full family! It's pretty cool. It gets me excited to have a family of my own someday. I really enjoyed hanging out and meeting all of them too. His kids were pretty cool!
So now it was evening and I was thinking I would go down the road a little to find a spot to sleep. Not yet, but that was the plan for when I was ready. I didn't want to go far, and only wanted to go the direction that I was already heading. A little later Jarret (guy who gave me music) and his girlfriend came back. She had just got off work and they wanted to visit again while I was still in town that day. We hungout for a little while and then they took off as he had to get ready for work.
I had another couple visitors just when I was about to leave. It was a girl and her boyfriend. The girl worked at a pizza place and just got off work so she brought me a large pizza. They came in and we talked for about 20 minutes. They were really nice and had some pretty funny questions about my lifestyle. I enjoy that and I'm pretty open about everything. It was closing time for the jack in the box lobby now so we headed out and they took off. As I left from there I was really happy with the day. I rested, iced my knees, had awesome company, and good food! Well good for my standard.
I walked down the road and it was time to switch gears and get into hideout mode. I needed to find a place out of sight. I saw a grass area down the road and when I got close it was a bus station. Had some good hideouts, but it had potential of being far to active with people for me to feel comfortable with. So I kept moving. Just past that there was a fed ex building. There was a storage container down a driveway with a gate and I found a spot I could hide behind it. It was cement and was light up with a light pretty good, but it would have to do. You can't always find a soft grass spot that's hidden we'll enough. And I prefer dark so I'm more hidden, but it was ok.
I made my bed on the concrete there and tucked up in a corner against the wall and right up next to the container. It didn't look like the driveway was used much so I felt confident I wouldn't be spotted.
I closed my eyes around midnight and was tired. I was back on the move tomorrow and wanted to rest up. It was a great day off. One of the best yet with having all the unexpected company. Needed that after the lonely desert road.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
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 www.worldinstrides.
blogspot.com ) 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.
Here is were I was MEANT TO BE THERE AT THAT TIME.
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 62....wow.
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.
.....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.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
I woke up and had slept pretty decent. I was still feeling good and right away thinking I only had one more full day of bare desert as long as everything went smooth. I got up with a positive attitude and was ready to tackle another day and meet my goal. I wanted to cover another 15-17 miles today. I was mostly guesstimating the miles at this point and was also using mile markers to do the math. My mind was so blurry that I hadn't been paying to close of attention the last few days, but I was getting more on track as I was getting closer. I stretched out and packed up. I was on the road and headed west again. Another day of open desert didnt sound too pleasing. I wasn't really looking forward to the same of nothing for another full day. But being patient will pay off. As soon as I get to 29 palms it is going to be worth it. And the level of appreciation will be vast. Man I can't wait to get there! I headed down the 62 and figured I would try to get a solid 2 hours of walking in before a break. Usually 2 hours takes me 6 miles, but since I've slowed down the pace with my knee issues, it's probably closer to 5. I went about an hour when a white truck pulled off and rolled down his window. He asked if I was ok and then held out a $5. I took it and was greatful. He also reached back in and grabbed a gallon of water. It was only about 1/5 of the way full, but it was more than I had. That meant a lot to me! I chugged all of it and it was so good! It tasted like gold compared to the water I had. And it was cool as well. Very refreshing. I had drank all of the drinks given to me up to this point and just had 3 gallons of water left. It might have been enough to make it the next day and a half to 29 palms, but just incase it wasn't, I had an idea. I took $20 that a guy gave me 2 days ago and an empty water jug and held them in my right hand together. When a car would pass I would hold it up with the $20 sticking out. I was hoping someone might pass that had a surplus of water. And I would gladly pay $20 for a gallon of water or so at this point! A few cars passed and then a man and his wife stopped. All he had was 1 bottle of water. I offered him $5 for it, but he wouldn't take it. He also had a 12 pack of beer that he offered me. But I passed. That sounded pretty nasty in this heat. I chugged the water and was still very thirsty. I was getting pretty far into the other gallon I was drinking too and was starting to realize that with a little more help, I was likely to run out of water at least 10 miles short. A few more cars passed but no luck. I stopped to take a break under another shade bush on the shoulder of the highway. I was feeling really tired now and had to force myself to eat more food. I ate a power bar and did not enjoy it at all. I had to really force it down. I had tried eating sunflower seeds here and there in the last few days and they tasted horrible. They are seeds I have had plenty times before and enjoyed. But for some reason they made me want to puke in this situation. I sat down for a long break and kind of hoped the food would make me feel a little better soon before I took off again. The scenery around was starting to look different which really was a good feeling now. It didn't feel like I wasn't moving anymore. The mountains were closer now and they were also more green. Seeing that really comforted me. I felt a little better after about an hour and was ready to continue. I left walking again and wanted to get roughly another 5 miles in. I got about 3 miles when my right knee popped. It wasnt a terrible pain, but i stopped and definetley needed to take a break. I didn't stretch after the last break and am starting to find that I need to stretch almost everytime I'm going to continue after a break. I stretched out and immediately felt better. I continued walking very slow. After a mile or so I felt ok and kept going. I walked a couple more and then stopped for another break. When I stopped a car passed me and turned around down the road. It came back and then pulled off next to me. It was a guy and his family. He said he had some water and he opened up the back of his SUV. He grabbed me 2 waters out of an ice chest. I told him thanks so much and said it really helped me. He asked where I was going and I told him. I was suprised nobody had really been asking me what I was doing the last few days since we are in the middle of nowhere. I told him I was walking cross country and was running low on water in this long stretch. He was amazed and shook my hand saying Goodluck. I said thanks again and he left. I enjoyed the waters while they were cold and they went fast. It was hot and I was still consuming a lot of water. I was going through my own water pretty fast also. I wasn't happy with how fast it was disappearing. I took a pretty long break again and snacked on the little trail mix I had left. It was down to about a handful. I had 2 cliff bars left and one power bar. After that I had a tube of raisins and that was it. Food was pretty low. I left from there walking again. I walked about 2 hours when a big truck passed me and then turned around. An older man stopped and asked if I was thirsty. I said I actually was pretty thirsty and he laughed. He got out and had an ice chest in the back of his truck. He had come from the military base in 29 palms where his son was being shipped out to Iraq. He had a sadness to him for obvious reasons. He pulled out a powerade and 2 waters from the ice chest. They were ice cold and I couldn't be happier. It really is amazing that so many people have given me the Nessesities to continue. As far down or as hard as it has been, I have yet to be stranded. He told me to be safe and he drove off. I drank all of what he gave me within 30 minutes. I don't think I realized how deprived I was of fluids until I had them to drink. 10 minutes after I finished the drinks I had cotton mouth already and was thirsty again. Another 20 minutes passed when a savior came my way. A red beemer stopped next to me and a lady driving said "are you nick?" I said yes. Then she said she had something for me. She got out and pulled a huge case of water out from her truck! It was enough to cover the final stretch! I just exhaled a deep breath and knew I was gonna be ok. What a good feeling. She ended up being the sister or sister in law of the guy who stopped in the white SUV with his family. He had called her and said to bring water since she was traveling across the stretch later that day. I was so thrilled and thanked her a lot. I also told her to thank the good man for doing that and helping me. It was about the best gift I've ever had! I packed it in my cart and kept moving. The sun was dropping and I wanted to move until dark. I was really pleased to FINALLY see a house! I came to the outside of 29 palms where there were a handful of houses. I was happy to see that and it was setting in now that I was getting close. Another car stopped next to me and it was a Mexican couple. The handed me a bag of Mexican donuts. Even though my appetite was not much, those looked pretty good. I walked past a few houses and some abandoned shacks. I came to an old closed down store and gas station. It was old. I found a spot out of sight next to that where there was an old tow truck and a tank. It was about dark so I made my bed there and laid down. I drank a few waters now that I had enough to splurge. It was nice to be able to drink without worrying about not having enough. I laid down feeling excited now. I was at the last homestretch before getting out of the barren mojave. Man, what a scary place. I was ready to hit 29 palms the next day and have signal again to contact everyone following the journey.
Sunday, December 2, 2012
It was pretty early and the sun was just up when I opened my eyes. I still felt really good and was extremely relieved at that. I was so thankful that my mind was still good and I really think the breakdown I had the day before helped me a lot. Plus all the people who brought me hope kept me stable.
I stood up and tested my knees again. They were feeling pretty rough today and I felt like they did a fair amount of work yesterday for the condition they were in. They hurt a fair amount and felt a little weak. I was now feeling closer to 29 palms. I guessed I had maybe 49 miles or so to go. I decided to try and get around 15-17 miles in for the day.
I packed up and was in a pretty good state of mind. I stretched out more today since I was up early and I just felt all around better. I felt much better after stretching and could really feel the benefit of loosening up. I took off down the road and I was feeling revitalized.
I headed west now along 62 and was doing much better. I had more water and everything was adding up now. I was still moving pretty slow and keeping close tabs on my knees. But it was night and day from 24 hours ago. I snacked on trail mix as I walked to keep calories in me. I still didn't have much of an appetite, but I knew it helped me with energy.
I walked a slow 4-5 miles when I stopped for a break. I was climbing a steady grade and was sweating a lot when I stopped. It was warm and I needed water. I guzzled down more than I liked, but I couldn't afford any more deficiencies. I just had hope that if I stay as healthy as I can now it will work out. Yes, I know I constantly change my game plan and strategy, but I just go with what I feel in the moment and trust it. That's all I can do.
After stopping for about 20 minutes I took off again. I was starting to worry about the outside world worrying about me. Especially my mom. I was thinking it might be getting to the point where people may worry a lot. It's been 4 days now. I thought I would try and use a phone if someone else pulls off. I wonder if they even have service through here?
I walked another 5 miles or so when I was ready for a long break. I stopped under a bush that looked exactly like the last 2 I stopped at from yesterday. It was pretty bizarre. The only thing that looked different were the mountains way off on the horizon. But as I sat down it was a bit of a mental game as I felt like it was on repeat and I hadn't moved.
As I sat there an old classic car came rolling up and pulled off right across the street from me. Two old men got out and were looking at the motor. They hadn't noticed me yet but I decided to walk over to them and see if they had phone signal. As I walked over there another classic car pulled off behind them. They were all buddies. I walked over and said hello as they were checking the fuse box and replacing fuses. They asked if I was ok and I said yes. I asked if they had a cell phone I could borrow. They did but they had no signal. I had an idea, I asked if I could give the guy my moms cell number and have him call her when he had signal again. He was really friendly and said no problem. He put her number in and I felt much better. They were headed to hunnington beach, also my destination.
They offered me a cold water and then fired their cars up to take off. I waved and said thanks as they drove off. That worked out well and my mom would soon be notified that I was ok and not to worry. That was the message I asked him to relay. Of course that would not tell the real struggles I had been going through. But none the less, it would keep everyone from worrying.
I left from there after resting in the heat wave of the day. I kept moving to tuck into the shade of the bush, but I managed to stay somewhat cool I guess considering the elements around me. I drank a fair amount of water and took off again.
It was still pretty hot and I was still going up a slight climb. I was drinking water at a faster rate now and was hoping it would cool off soon.
I walked another 4 miles or so when I stopped for another break before one last stretch. I sat down behind a pretty large bush actually. The shade was much cooler and the sun was starting to dip down to the mountain tops. The silence was still a powerful thing. Hearing the ring in my ears brought me back to the day before and how scary it was. I honestly was still not in the best condition now, but I really had let myself get too far down and malnurished. I didn't feel like drinking and eating when I should have. I wasn't gonna let that happen again. Still had no appetite and felt a little sick but I was way beyond where I was from the morning before. Wayyyy beyond..
The sun dropped down and I was ready to get the last couple miles in. I stretched out for a few minutes as I had tightened up from resting. I took off walking now very tenderly. I slowly made the last 2 miles of so and then pulled off the road.
I stopped in another wash about 50 feet off the road and found a bush to hide behind. As long as I'm out of sight I am ok out here. It was becoming more thick with bushes now and it was nice not to have to hike too far off the highway. The soft sand is a mission to push my cart and walk through.
I made camp up there and overall was happy I met my goal for the day. One step closer to 29 palms. I imagined getting to the town soon and it really got me excited. I couldn't wait to have air conditioning and some hot food and cold drink! I would give so much for that right about now! And people around would also make my mind relax a little too. I knew this was another step to appreciating life more. I am so far removed that I see how great we have it on the other side. I look forward to things I never knew I even liked. I fell asleep after sunset and hoped that my hope would stay elevated for the next couple days. I also imagined how good my mom felt now as she knew I was fine. And how she could answer to everyone else that is worried too. Let them know I'm well.