Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wuthering Hites

Boys Town campus
April 27

My first full day and I've already gone and gotten into a big hurry.  Fellow Furman Alum Gretchen, class of '87, is hosting me along with her family tonight and I wanted to arrive in a position to reach a camping spot for day three before she picked me up for the evening.  Therefore I skipped the dilly-dallying of the ADT, which meanders through a series of trails and city parks, and cut to the chase.
The expedited route meant slamming straight down the throat of Dodge Street, a major east-west thoroughfare.  I don't particularly recommend that any sane humanoid take this road.  Crossing Interstate 680 was particularly dangerous, although my mind was eased for some reason by the fact that I met a fellow loon job headed the other direction.
After two hours of urban mayhem I reached the relative safety of 144th street, a busy street, but at least a bit into suburbia and removed somewhat from the throngs of autos on Dodge.  This area is known as Boy's Town, after the famous orphanage founded here in the early 20th century by Father Flanagan, a visionary priest who believed all boys regardless of background, race, or creed were deserving of an opportunity.  According to the priest, “There are no bad boys. There is only bad environment, bad training, bad example, bad thinking.”  Agreed sir.  
After several miles on 144th I reached Chalco Hills Recreation Area and decided to dabble a bit in an environment not surrounded by concrete and shopping malls.  The park is based around Wehrspann Lake, a body of water constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers.  
Some nasty weather was starting to blow in (literally - some gusts nearly knocked me off my feet) and I was in reach of tomorrow's destination so I decided to use my lifeline and call Gretchen for pick up.  She arrived just in time - a steady hale had added itself to the rain and wind.  
We returned to West Omaha where I met her three children: Chris, Carolyn, and Carter, as well as her husband Ken.  Like many folks who have taken an interest in my tale they had traveled extensively, mainly because of their work, which took them to Oregon, California, the UK, and many other places in between.  We had many hours of interesting conversation, especially about the Paleo Diet which they had been trying out with great success.  
The weight loss program is based on the theory that ever since the invention of agriculture our diets have been different from what our body is genetically prepared to respond to - grains are the main culprit.  As a result we have developed diseases like Coeliac, diabetes, and Crone's since our body isn't able to digest the food properly.  Perhaps one day are systems will adapt, but evolutionary change takes many thousands of years and we just aren't there yet.  
After an incredible dinner of Irish stew, an unbelievable pear cake (I kind of wanted to throw the rest of it in my bag), and a couple of local brews we said good night.  Nothing eases the pain of the trail more than a soft bed and some good company.  Even more so as I may not be as lucky again for quite some time.  

16 miles/1822 total miles 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Back to the Dali Grind

The former territorial capital building, now Central High School
April 26

The return to trail life was indeed surreal, as it was prefaced by seven hours spent in airports and aboard various flying machines.  Since Eppley Field was only three miles from last year's finish line I chose to eschew a taxi ride to the start and hoof out directly after landing.
The new course through the eastern section of Omaha gave me a chance to see Ameritrade Park, the nascent home of the College World Series, which was christened with a South Carolina victory last summer.  Nearby stands the monument to Lewis and Clark, who met with the local Native Americans here.  I have now crossed paths with the explorers on three separate occasions now, once at Harper's Ferry and again in Belvue, Ohio before this, our last meeting.  They headed up the Missouri whereas I'll be following the Platte River.
At 20th street I spotted an intriguing building.  Perched atop a hill, the huge granite structure was clearly an important edifice.  Was I looking at the county courthouse, a magnificent museum, or a madman's mansion?  Wrong, per usual, even with multiple attempts at the correct answer.  This impressive structure was actually Central High School.  What was now a bastion of learning had once been an important spoke in the wheel of governance - the territorial capital was housed there until 1859 when statehood was granted and the legislative center moved to Lincoln.
Of course I had to walk the busy streets of Omaha to see all these places and I quickly became reacquainted with big city traffic.  Apparently many drivers are unfamiliar with the law: does a walk sign not give the pedestrian the right of way?  If not please let me know before I give out more one fingered salutes to these ignorant motorists who insist on trying to run me over.
I finished the day just to the west of Nebraska-Omaha's campus in the Old Loveland section of the city.  I'd say day one was quite successful, even if I do feel like a clock melted over a tree branch.

Ten miles/ 1806 total miles

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Waiting's Over (Almost)

As Thursday fast approaches I am a nervous ball of untapped kinetic energy.  Or at least I have been since my body recovered from the evil things my friends did to it during my going away party, unspeakable acts I shall not discuss in this space or any other.  Thanks to all of you who made it out and those of you who couldn't but really wanted to - the next few months will be easier knowing I have your love and support.  Next time we meet I'll be on the trail continuing my mission for the Wounded Warrior Project.  I am proud to honor those who have contributed recently towards the cause:

Dot and John Bishop
Sue Donnelly 
Durfey-Hoover-Bowden Insurance Agency (our first sponsor!)  
Kathy Haney
Anne Hawk
 Karen and Bill Lawton
Yvonne Murnane  
Jill Wiggins

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

In Other News

Three weeks left until I finally actually hike. Won't it be nice for me to actually have something to write about? Until then, here are a couple of great events to keep your eye on which just so happen to fit in with the motif of the Wilderness Walk for Wounded Warriors. I think I may have injured my fingers typing the entire title of the walk. I'll never do that again. Do what? Never you mind.

1. Dawn Crone (who you may remember from our Indianapolis episode) and her students have organized a 5K walk for the Wounded Warrior Project in Brownsburg, Indiana for May 19th. Come out and participate if you live in the nearby area. Click click click the purple pick to proceed to their page.

2. My brother recently interviewed two Marines who are hiking the Appalachian trail in to raise funds for disabled servicemen in need of adaptive vehicles. Visit their website at to learn more about their efforts.

3.  I learned recently of a program to teach Wounded Warriors how to dance the salsa.  Check it out on Facebook:!/pages/Soldiers-Who-Salsa/135213003167640