Much has happened since our last post. I know, I know, we sort of left you hanging in Ethiopia for about half a year. However, it being the last real day of Christmas break I thought people might appreciate hearing that Brandon and I are both still alive.
Yes, we did return from Africa in June. Our journey back was a difficult one for us as we were both recovering from illness. Delayed flights and long layovers made for a memorable travel experience—we were even able to take a trip to United Arab Emirates during a 31 hour layover. We brought back our amazing experiences with the African people and especially the children in the orphanages. Their warmth and enthusiasm for life were contagious. I also brought back a nasty little parasite, which was not a pleasant experience. I believe I got that from the “firfir” mentioned in the last post. Nasty!
Brandon and I started work on our book this past summer. We have found it a slow process, but we remain hopeful to finish the book. We spent the summer working near home, earning money for college. Of course, we found plenty of time to get together with our friends to run and hang out.
In August we both went back to college—Brandon went to Wheaton College in Illinois, and I returned to the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. This is Brandon’s first year at Wheaton, and he is working on linguistics and considering possible careers. I am now in the School of Business at Michigan and plan to go into financial services or investment banking.
Our Christmas mail brought a welcome surprise package from John Wallace in the state Washington. You’ll remember him as the See John Run runner who was originally from Negaunee, Michigan. John sent us DVDs with footage and pictures from the end of our trip to Road’s End, Oregon. John’s encouragement is appreciated. You should check out his Web site at http://www.seejohnrun.com for a complete listing of runners who have crossed the U.S. on foot.
Shortly after we finished our Run Across the USA, a hacker attacked our Web site. That resulted in the loss of all the wonderful blogs from that summer’s run. Fortunately, we have a printed copy of almost every blog. Since we finished our Run Across the USA, Internet spam has been hitting our site repeatedly. Some of the spam has links to undesirable sites. For that reason we have decided to shut down the message board. If anyone wants to contact us, you can still write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Or, you can write me at Matt Wyble, N5958 County Road 577, Wallace, MI 49893.
The people of Africa desperately need clean water. Many of you helped us in our quest to raise money for safe drinking water. We encourage you to keep the African people in mind when you donate money to charitable organizations.
When we finished our trek across the U.S., we really didn’t think we would ever consider another journey by foot. However, as time passes we both are getting the urge to do so. We are mulling over the idea of trying to set the world record for hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, and Brandon keeps mentioning a desire to walk from the Gulf of Mexico back to the Great Lakes.
I hope you all have a safe and happy new year! Thank you for all your e-mailed wishes and make sure to stay in touch!
This is Matt’s mom posting for the guys. Matt and Brandon both called home today for our first communication with them since Tuesday. I missed Matt’s phone call, but Sherry Newlin did talk to Brandon. Brandon’s phone call home was frustrating as there was a significant delay in transmission. Brandon and his mother Sherry ended up interrupting each other unintentionally throughout the conversation. Here is—to the best of my understanding—a recap of what Brandon told his mother. Part of the recap comes from Brandon’s May 27 e-mail.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Africa. The Water for Africa group has been very busy the past few days. The group has worked on two main projects. The first endeavor was working on getting water lines connected between the orphanage and the water source. The second task was building a room on the orphanage.
Both Brandon and Matt endured a few miserable days of sickness this week. Brandon awoke with a sore throat one day and tried to shake it off. According to Brandon, “That night we tried an interesting ethnic dish called "firfir," which was good and spicy, but turned out to be a big mistake. We flew out to Lalibela and I was feeling a little sick on the way there. The bus ride that went out to the actual town from the airport was long, windy, and bumpy. As soon as we got to the hotel room I went to the bathroom (which became a rather regular occurrence.) I then didn't leave the room for about a day and a half, sweating and shivering, sleeping and waking up periodically to satisfy the call of nature. I don't think I've ever been that intensely sick. I'm better now, by the way. As soon as I could stomach some food I started to feel less weak and worked my way from soup, to omelet, and even a double-cheeseburger tonight (what a treat).”
Apparently the entire group weathered two days of vomiting and diarrhea before they returned to Addis Ababa. In Addis they saw incredible, 2,000-year-old churches that are carved out of stone.
Brandon says, “We were able to dance quite a bit at a party one of the nights too. We've had a lot of good cultural experiences.”
Communication is very limited--the Internet is incredibly slow; phone calls are expensive and not readily available.
On Monday the group will take a day trip to the Blue Nile. Then on Wednesday they will all start their journey home, with Matt and Brandon getting to Green Bay, Wisconsin, Friday afternoon.
Well, we are several thousand miles away from home, but we're not in Ethiopia yet. Brandon and I are still in transit, along with a fellow member of the Water For Children Africa team named Caiel. We ran into some...logistical issues in Washington D.C. that caused us to miss our flight, and we ended up spending the better part of a day stuck in airports. We flew to New York, and last night we flew from there to Dubai, a large city in the United Arab Emirates. We were originally supposed to fly out 3 hours after our arrival in Dubai, but since we missed that flight it was another 31 hours until the next one departed for Addis Ababa. We decided not to spend any more time in an airport and reserved a hotel room and hired a taxi to take us there.
We have had a pretty fun time so far, it's like getting to see a bonus country that we weren't expecting to experience. The people have been very friendly and the scenery is beautiful, although it is very, very hot. We have booked a trip on the "Desert Safari" tonight, which sounds like it should be fun. I am told that we get to ride camels and belly dance. After that we will be heading to the airport: we fly out at 4:35 AM local time tomorrow morning, after which we will be on our way to Addis Ababa to explore Ethiopia!
Well, a couple of new things have been happening in the world of Run Across The USA. First of all, all of the funds raised for the trip were delivered safely to Water for Children Africa. There was a conference call between their organization, my parents, and Brandon and his parents where they thanked us for the gift. Apparently, they have also offered to let us accompany them on their journey to Ethiopia in June. While the dates are still up in the air and nothing is even close to decided, I am definitely hoping that we're able to go.
Even more importantly, Brandon and I will be on the Free Beer and Hotwings radio show this Friday (December 16) sometime between 8 and 9 AM Eastern. We will be there live, as both Brandon and I are driving to the studio to meet them in person. So, listen in!!!!
That's about all of I have for now. Finals begin this week, but I'll try to post again on Thursday to let everyone know the exact time and to remind everyone to listen in.
Well, I think we finally have all the pictures now. I separated them by day, whic means that all the pictures of the actual finish at the ocean are in this folder: http://www.runacrosstheusa.com/images/8-27 , while all the pictures that are of our homecoming are in this folder: http://www.runacrosstheusa.com/images/8-28/ .
Sorry it took so long, I had a hard time getting all the pictures! Hopefully our trust webmaster Tony will be able to update our images page for the final time now-at least until all the video is done.
Oh yeah, more crazy things are in the works-I'm going to Europe for spring break to just bike around (hopefully with some friends), and I have a few more cool ideas as well. School is going well, just boring. Anyways, that is all for now: as always, stay tuned for more wonderful media from The Run!
Thanks for reminding me WV Runner - the images from the finish line are now available at http://www.runacrosstheusa.com/images/8-27 . This folder also contains images of our awesome "welcome home" celebration back at our hometown.
So, that's about it for now. A book is still in the works, but I don't have a progress report for that yet. As soon as Brandon I can get together and lay down a framework, I'll let you all know!
You may notice that our forums and main page have been down for the past few days. That is because on the September 19th a hacker got into our forums and basically messed them up. Between that and me trying to fix them they were effectively wiped out. Thankfully, I was able to find a copy of all of the old posts through a filed saved on Google. So, I just spent the last few hours setting up a totally new forum and copying and pasting all of our posts into it.
Sadly, I don't have the comments- they only exist in hard copy form at my house back in Wallace, and even if I had them here I don't think I'd want to spend the days it would require to type them back in. I am pretty annoyed at the whole situation - I mean, who hacks a website whose main promotion is raising money for African children? Well, apparently a hacker that goes by the manly pseudonym "Dark Mare" does. While I won't bother going into all the details of my anger, let's just say that only now are wild thoughts of revenge starting to leave my mind.
The archives still won't work correctly if you try to sort by month, and the final pictures aren't up just yet. I know that I've slacked big time, but doing this was at the forefront of my desires, even though it wasn't very much fun. =)
Turning from the annoying subject to a much lighter note: As of September 19, Run Across the USA has raised $5,577.02 for Water for Children Africa. Of that figure, $2,000 is from pledges from Free Beer and Hot Wings and their radio affiliates and $3,577.02 is from donations plus t-shirts and wristband sales. The money has been raised in an effort to provide clean water for African children.
Don't forget that t-shirts and wristbands are still available through our Website - pick them up now, someday they will probably be worth millions after the blockbuster movie and Nobel Prize winning book are released.
So, life goes on. The past few weeks have been interesting. I don't really play it up, but my hallmates feel the need to tell everyone that they meet about what I've done. That is pretty fun, and it does have a certain level of mini-celebrity. Classes don't seem difficult, but I think a lot of that has to do with my perspective of what "difficult" really is.
Well, back to school. Hope you enjoy our old posts, and I'm sorry about the comments.
Well, today my classes officially start. The last week and a half have been a whirlwind of travel, meeting people, and getting ready for college life.
Already The Run seems like a distant memory to me, but I can tell how profoundly it has changed my thinking: Classes, homework, and midterms don't concern me as they would have a year ago, they seem relatively simple when compared to walking all day through the burning sun. I suppose if I can apply the tenacity with which we attacked to other portions of my life, I will be successful in whatever I do.
I don't know exactly how to define The Run for me. I saw the country, obviously, and more importantly I met hundreds of fascinating people, people who I hope to see again very soon. I strengthened my friendship with Brandon to a point where I would call him my brother. It was definitely a time of maturing, being out on my own with nothing to do but walk and think gave me plenty of time to contemplate every facet of my life.
I guess The Run meant more to me than can be easily summed up in any one news post, in the same way that it has meant many things to all of the different people who followed us along our journey with excitement, concern, joy, and prayers. It's amazing how something as simple as going from Point A to Point B can change and inspire people, and it was inspirational to us to read all of your e-mails about what The Run meant to you, and how highly you regarded our journey.
This journey has, technically, come to an end. Still, there are many things that remain to be finished, from simple tasks such as finishing our pictures (http://www.runacrosstheusa.com/images/8-26 for the most recent pictures, the last set should be up soon) and video, to much larger tasks like continuing to raise money for Africa and to write our book (which I hope you will all buy.)
People often asked us if we knew what we were getting ourselves into, would we have still gotten on that bus at 2 AM and headed off to the Atlantic. In retrospect, I can honestly say I would. The people, the experiences, and the land that we passed through fascinated us, strengthened us, and found us wiser for having completed it.
So, I guess I'm saying that I'm glad we did it - though I wouldn't do it again.
Well, we're done. I can't really find a better way to put it than that. We got on the road a little before 9, made our way down the winding, beautiful, and dangerous Oregon highway, and by 11 we could see the ocean. A few minutes later we were running through the Road's End beach, and then it was over.
We had a nice little crowd for our finish. Brandon and I, our moms, Brandon's aunt, cousin, and grandma, John Wallace (from seejohnrun.com), Mrs. Wallace (not related to John, she was the woman we stayed with in Salem), a friend of Mrs. Wallace's, two reporters from the News Guard (the Lincoln City paper), and the random passerbys who enjoyed the spectacle. Brandon's grandma had an excellent sign made to commemorate our accomplishment.
The pictures will be up soon, as well as a longer final post. This is just to tell you that we're done, and to give me some time to collect my thoughts. It's an incredible feeling to complete something so incredibly hard, and for now we just want to live in the moment. So soon I'll post something more poetic and really consider what all this means. Until then, rest assured that we're done.
Well, I won't make this post sappy, even though I would probably like to. I'll save the sap for the "wrap-up" post once we're done. It's about 10 at night right now, and I'm listening to my mom snore a few feet away (don't tell her I wrote that.)
They arrived today when we were roughly 9 miles from the coast, so that's where we'll start tomorrow a little before 9. Just a couple of hills, small curves, and one left turn away from the coast.
It's amazing how little we've really thought about actually getting here. We learned early on to block out the thought of finishing when the journey is so long, because it's maddening to think about it when you're so far away. That works really well until you're actually close enough to look forward to it in earnest and realize that you've become so good at blocking out thoughts of the end that the concept of finishing seems foreign and odd.
We are, however, both excited and eager. We ate a wonderful dinner, followed by ice cream (Brandon and I both had something called a Tsunami Banana Split, which was probably bigger than my actual dinner.) It was great to talk to John Wallace, and we could probably spend days swapping stories common problems and joys of our journeys. I have a strong feeling that he will emerge somewhere in our futures, perhaps as the catalyst for our next great adventure.
After dinner we took everything out of the stroller, only to find that last night had found it the victim of a ferocious sprinkler attack. Things in the bottom were soaked, but that wasn't too bad - generally if things are in the bottom, it's because we haven't used them in so long that we've forgotten them. We divided most of our shared equipment and mementos, laughing at the things that we brought along that never saw use. It wasn't too bad to do, and I'm glad we got it over with today, as it's one less thing to do tomorrow as we're sunning ourselves on the beautiful Oregon beach.
For those of you worried that the web site will soon cease to exist, don't worry. The site will stay up for many, many years. It also won't become completely inactive after tomorrow - we still have many, many videos to edit and post, along with pictures (by the way, the newest ones are here: http://www.runacrosstheusa.com/images/8-26 . They go all the way up to today - the "final day" pictures will get their own special section.) We also do have very sincere plans for writing a book, so check with us time to time to check out our progress, though it will probably not be completed until '07, and even that is just a random guess by me.
Well, it's time for me to sleep, even though I know I will spring quickly from my bed tomorrow morning from sheer excitement and jubilation. Until tomorrow!
RE: Wednesday, August 24. After we got on our way this morning, our stomachs led us to a friendly convenience store. Brandon was happy with his 1/2 lb. hotpocket and 1/2 lb. burrito followed by hot chocolate. We also had several phone calls to make--you know the press is always hounding us Once we had breakfast taken care of and our phone calls had been made, we headed toward Salem, Oregon, where we planned to stay with the Robertson's daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Wallace.
Our progress was stalled several times by the incredible number of berry bushes along the side of the road. The blackberries were delicious and just too tempting to resist. In fact, I have some footage of Brandon happily stuffing blackberries down his throat.
As we continued toward Salem, some people stopped to ask us what we were up to. After talking to them for awhile, they left with a promise to return with food for lunch. True to their word, they later appeared with burritos, fruit, ice tea, and cups of ice. We appreciate their thoughtfulness.
When we got to the McDonalds restaurant in Salem, as prearranged we called the Wallaces to come and pick us up. At about the same time the Wallaces drove up, Daniella Velasquez from the Statesman Journal in Salem appeared. We all went back to the Wallace's home where Daniella interviewed us, and we all talked about our Run Across the USA.
Later Brandon and I had a wonderful meal at the Wallace home--grilled chicken, rice, corn on the cob, salad, green beans, topped off by delicious watermelon.
Tomorrow morning at 7:20 we will call into a Kansas radio station for an interview on the Dan Tooker in the Morning Show. (See www.dantooker.com) After that phone call, Mr. Wallace will drive us back to the same McDonalds so the we can continue on our journey.
Mr. and Mrs. Wallace have been extremely accommodating and generous. We truly appreciate their hospitality and thoughtfulness.
Wow! Here we are in Salem, Oregon--nearing the completion of this awesome journey. It is hard to believe that in just three days we will be dipping our stroller tires in the ocean near Road's End Park.
If anyone else is trying to catch up with us tomorrow night, we will probably be around Grande Ronde. Did we mention that our mothers are flying out to see us and will catch up to us in the early afternoon on Friday? We can't wait to see them.
Good night from Salem, Oregon.
As I mentioned last night, we are going through the Cascades, which is the last mountain range of our journey. These mountains are covered with trees--it seems like we have seen millions of trees in the last two days. These beautiful pine trees blanket the hills so completely that you forget there are hills below them. The scenery is breathtaking.
Most of our walking today has been downhill. We started the day at approximately 3,500 feet and ended the day around 1,000 feet.
We only made one big stop today and that was to get groceries and to eat at a restaurant.
Brandon and I met a 53-year old woman today who is biking from New Jersey to Oregon. We spent some time comparing our travels across the U.S.
We continue to find things along the roadside. Even though our license plate collection is complete, we haven't been able to resist picking up more license plates to take home. Today I found four store-bought music CDs--each found separately along the highway.
After logging 44 miles today, it is time to stop for the day. Tonight we are camping out by a rest area approximately 15 miles west of Detroit, Oregon. Tomorrow we will be in Salem and will spend the night with the Robertsons' daughter and her husband. We are looking forward to meeting them.
As I sign off, I want to announce that we plan to finish our trip across the USA this Saturday. Brandon and I should get to the park between 11:00 and 11:30 a.m. We would love to see some of our loyal fans at the Road's End Park as we dip our stroller and feet in the Pacific Ocean. Come and join us!
This morning we caught up on some of our e-mail and took time for Brandon to write his lengthy post about our time in the desert. We were on the road a little later than usual, but still walked 29 miles today. About three hours into our travels, the Robertsons from Bend surprised us by pulling alongside us when we were by the Black Butte Ranch. These awesome people once again treated us like kings by bringing us lunch--Subway sandwiches and cranberry juice. As Brandon mentioned in his post, we really enjoyed talking to the Robertsons and very much appreciated everything they'd done for us. Before they left, they invited us to visit them again someday. Both Brandon and I can't wait to see them again.
We crossed part of the Cascade Mountain range today. That will be the last mountain range during this trip. The ascent was a long, steady climb of six miles.
For supper Brandon and I each enjoyed an MRE--meals ready to eat army rations--that the Fairfield sheriff gave us. We really liked the MRE that we had while in the desert; the MRE was a really good, tasty meal for lots of energy.
Tonight we are camping along the roadside in a national forest. The pine trees and cooler temperatures remind me of home in the fall. The temperatures are supposed to be in the 30s tonight. Although that is quite brisk, the cool air is a welcome break from the heat in the desert.
Our plan for the evening is to watch part of the Lords of the Rings, Return to the Kings on Brandon's laptop.
Brandon and I are setting a pace that will get us to Salem by Wednesday night. The Robertson's daughter and son-in-law have invited us to spend the night at their home. We are looking forward to meeting them.
Keep your posts and comments coming.
Some days are just tougher than others. This was a rough day.
When we woke up at our roadside campsite this morning, the cold of the desert night still chilled us. The sand and lack of moisture of the high desert caused my contacts to really bother me as we got started this morning. Once we got on the road, the desert heat pressed down on us. The desolate landscape added nothing positive to the experience.
Along the way, two people offered us refreshments to cool us down and keep us going. One lady stopped as she was driving by and gave us water and M&M candies. A man we met near a gas station gave us cold Gatorades. Their generosity picked up our lagging spirits.
With a single-minded wish to get to Bend by early evening, we pushed on. We only made one lengthy stop and that was to fix our handlebar. This time the other side of the handlebar snapped. We fixed the handlebar by jamming a battery into the bar and topping that off with the ever popular duct tape. Later in the day, apparently our axle wanted to join the handlebar in breakdown heaven, as it too snapped. Rather than stopping immediately to try to fix the axle, Brandon opted to tip the stroller and push it on just the back two tires. We trudged on and thankfully said goodbye to the high desert area.
By 6:30 p.m. we were in Bend. We found the Robertson home, which seemed like an oasis to us. We are EXTREMELY HAPPY to be here. For the first time in a week, we were able to take showers. It took a long time to get clean as I aggressively scoured away the dirt accumulated from a week in the desert. To be clean again felt wonderful! The clean clothes Mrs. Robertson washed were also very much appreciated. After we showered, she took what remaining dirty clothes we had and is washing them tonight.
The next luxury provided us was a wonderful meal of fruit, vegetables, steak, salad, and sourdough biscuits, followed by mint chocolate chip ice cream. The food was so good! Much of the food was fresh from the garden as the Robertsons had earlier in the day gone to their friend Ruth Tolfer's home to get the fresh vegetables and steaks. Ruth's daughter Mary looked up this Website and printed copies of some of our posts, so they knew all about us. After supper, The Tolfers stopped at the Robertson home to meet us. Knowing that Brandon is a loyal Packer fan, the Tolfers told Brandon that Bend, Oregon is the hometown of Packer kicker Ryan Longwell.
According to our calculations we have 187 miles to travel with less than a week to go. We are now thankfully out of the high desert area. However, we have a couple of quite desolate stretches to go (national forest) before we get into an area with lots of towns.
Tonight we are so grateful to be in a comfortable home surrounded by kind, thoughtful people. Thanks so much to the Robertsons and the Tolfers. We are so grateful. What started as a miserable day has ended so well.
Our faithful readers know that Brandon and I crossed into Oregon 7 days ago. Both of us have been very surprised by the terrain as we follow Highway 20 westward. We expected Oregon to be filled with pine trees and rugged beauty. Instead, the areas we’ve traveled have been high desert—visualize sand, rocks and sagebrush with vast empty areas and very few people. Add into this unexpected terrain high daytime and low nighttime temperatures as you visualize the conditions surrounding us. Tomorrow we will be in Bend. We are eager to get to Bend as people, like Oregon~Lover, tell us to expect a change of scenery.
Now I will try to give you an idea of what has been happening lately. We are currently over 30 miles from a town and lucky to get through to our parents on the cell phone. Brandon and I hope to have Internet access again soon and will personally post more details about our adventures in Oregon. We have tons to tell you. Brandon will post his observations and tell you about a strange sight he saw the other night…more details when we get to use the computer again.
Thursday night the Murrays of Hampton, Oregon, graciously allowed us to set up camp on their property. The Murrays recently purchased the entire town of Hampton—all 16 acres—where the family now has a café and plans to reopen a gas station. There are just nine residents in Hampton—seven of them are in the Murray family.
We have already acclimated to Pacific Time. So getting up for the Free Beer and Hot Wings Morning Show—our interview time was 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time—was tough this morning. As usual we enjoyed talking with the guys and really appreciate their support. As soon as we were off the air, however, we went back to sleep for three more hours.
On Thursday we reached another major milestone—3,000 miles. Brandon and I have been trying to get some high mileage so that we finish on time—Wednesday we walked 52, Thursday 42, and today 30. My leg problem from Pennsylvania has flared up again—probably because of the very high mileage combined with the hilly terrain. I am hoping that the leg will start to feel better soon.
My father's lifelong friend Mark Igo has acquaintances—the Robertsons from Bend, Oregon—who wanted to meet us. So, today they drove towards Brothers to see if they could locate us. The Robertsons came into Brothers just as we got there. After introducing themselves, we spent some time talking to them. Since we will be walking near their home, they offered to let us stay there tomorrow night. We gladly accepted their offer. She also took our dirty clothes so that she could wash them for us. Brandon and I are delighted to have met them and very happy they have been so thoughtful. We are eager to get to their home tomorrow night.
Tonight a beautiful full moon provided us with welcome light to walk by. Since the next town is over 30 miles away, we had to set up our tent along the highway. My mom is worried about rattlesnakes, but I assured her that there are no rattlesnakes in this area as the ground is too abrasive. That statement was based on something I read recently. I hope the book is accurate!
Just 8 days left and approximately 220 miles to go.
As Brandon posted earlier, we are at the Best Western in eastern Boise at the moment. Right now I'm sitting in the lobby in an attempt to get all of our pictures uploaded. When I am finished, you can check the new pictures out at http://www.runacrosstheusa.com/images/8-11/ until our webmaster Tony gets them up for real. Uploading the images wasn't working in our room, so I volunteered to head down here to get it done. I was also able to exploit their milk and cookies, offered daily from 8:30-10. Highly recommended.
I'm pretty tired right now, and several loud people are congregating a few feet away from me. Their purpose seems to be a competition to see who can talk the loudest. So, whatever comes out of this post, keep in mind that it wasn't created in an ideal writing environment. Now that I've made my literary disclaimer, on with my take regarding the events of the past two days.
Brandon and I got into Mountain Home about 6:00 last night, and we made good use of the Wal-Mart to fulfill all of our purchasing needs. As Brandon mentioned in his post, he wasn't feeling well, which added an element of uncertainty to our plans. Still, it just wouldn't have been a complete trip if one of us hadn't puked on the way.
As Brandon also mentioned, we bought some high caffeine drinks to help us stay awake through the night. Most readers probably don't know this about me, but I gave up all caffeinated beverages when I was 16 years old in an effort to improve my health and lose some weight (I guess it helped, I lost 17 pounds over the next two months), and besides some small amounts of caffeine from chocolate and ibruprofen I've been free since.
Like most other drugs, you build up a resistance to caffeine after a while, which weakens its overall "effectiveness" and increasing alertness. Obviously, a person who abstains from caffeine is going to experience much more profound effects from consumption than a person who has a couple cups of coffee every morning. I guess what I'm trying to say is that those energy drinks made me feel more awake at 4 a.m. than I normally feel at noon. It was amazing to watch them take effect and then gradually wear off, although I tried to pace them out to last me all night. The effect was even more amazing when I drank several cups of coffee at a diner the following morning. However, the subsequent couple hours of awareness were cancelled out late by the enormous crash when the caffeine wore off. With blurry vision I managed to follow Brandon to the hotel and get into a room before falling asleep the moment my head hit the pillow.
After napping for a few hours, I awoke to get a few things completed. We did our laundry and posted the pictures, two time-consuming tasks that we probably won't do for the rest of the trip. Brandon was able to watch his Packer preseason game, and we enjoyed 4 Domino's pizzas and an order of cheesy bread.
Oregon is looming; in fact, we will be there this weekend. Idaho was surprisingly tough on us, but we both feel that our journey is winding down - only about 500 miles remain between us and our destination!
The wristbands are in! Our webmaster Tony has been on vacation in Michigan for several days (which included a 300+ mile bicycle tour with our friends Scott and James). Tony will be flying back to Boston tomorrow, but tomorrow night he plans to update the website's Store by adding the wristband sales. Check out the website Saturday morning to order the wristbands. Run Across the USA and Water for Africa are both embossed on one side of the bands. The wristbands will be aqua blue (the color of water) and will be sold on-line in sets of 5. The price will be 5 for $10.00, plus $1.00 shipping.
So, right now I'm ready to go crash again. We will be on the Free Beer and Hotwings radio show in the morning. Make sure to tune in at 8:30 EST. And, as always, we thank you all so much for your support. The encouragement we receive from your posted comments and e-mails is invaluable. Your support has truly made this trip worth every hardship.
Last night we slept along the roadside as we were quite far from any town or people. Our night under the stars was quite cool - we felt like cowboys.
Brandon and I walked 35 miles today to get to Mountain Home, Idaho. Along the way we saw no businesses and very few houses.
Right now we are at WalMart in Mountain Home. This WalMart has been our all-purpose store today for dining, repairs, and entertainment.
Repairs. We repaired our stroller handle again today. In our last attempt we tried to fix it with hose clamps and electrical tape. Today we bought metal, wrapped that metal with duct tape, jammed the wrapped metal in the broken tube for the handlebar. We then applied epoxy around the crack and let it dry. After it was dry, we sprayed another layer of epoxy and immediately put duct tape over it. Once again, duct tape has come through to get our stroller on the road again.
Dining. For dinner I bought mashed potatoes, macaroni, chicken/cheese wrap, and Gatorade.
Entertainment. As we ate our newly acquired dinners, we sat and people-watched. Interesting, quite interesting.
My mom made us a hotel reservation in Boise for Thursday night, and we want to get into our room as early as possible. So, Brandon and I have decided to start walking to Boise tonight. We probably have 40 to 44 miles before we get to the hotel. To keep us awake, Brandon and I bought some high caffeine energy drinks. What is so important that would make us decide to travel through the night? There are several reasons. First of all, we really need to do laundry as our clothes were last washed 2.5 weeks ago. Second, we need to do some business things on the computer. Third, we need to get some sleep, of course. And, the most important reason: Brandon will get a chance to watch his beloved Packers play the Chargers in a preseason game.
Well, we're ready to start down Interstate 84 headed for Boise. Goodnight from Idaho.
Our feet were pounding the pavement for just 23 miles today, but it was a noteworthy day nonetheless.
Getting something to eat is always a high priority; so we started our day by having a delicious breakfast at a local restaurant in Fairfield.
The sheriff we met yesterday turned out to be very helpful and generous. After breakfast he allowed us to go back to the police department to take showers. He also offered to make us two new brackets for our stroller. Although we knew this would delay our departure for awhile, we gladly accepted his offer. As the sheriff had other things to do, getting the brackets made took some time to complete.
While we were waiting around the police station, we met Wade Brackenbury, who enjoys traveling all over the world. Dr. Brackenbury (a chiropractor) invited us to go with him to the local senior center for lunch. Brandon and I enjoyed a good lunch there. Dr. Brackenbury is one of the most interesting people I have ever met in my life. During his travels he has hiked in North Korea and Tibet, gone to remote areas of Burma, climbed some parts of Mount Everest, hitchhiked in New Zealand, and kayaked for six months on African rivers with a 17-year old while treating people along the way. Somewhere amidst all his travels, he married a Malaysian woman and fathered a child with her. He now plans to go to Vietnam as a chiropractor. Dr. Brackenbury has written five books, with one of them – Yak Butter and Black Tea – published. I found his tales of travel very interesting and informative. He also gave us some suggestions about writing a book and publishing it.
Our handlebar snapped on the other side today. It feels like we are putting a finger in one spot to stop a leak only to have another leak spring up somewhere else. Some of you asked about the many problems with the stroller. The jogging stroller has really been a good way to store our gear and transport it. Of course, I am sure the stroller was not designed for travel for such long distances and tough terrain. It is definitely showing wear and tear, but we are optimistic it will get us to Oregon.
Comments have been posted from five more states today: New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin. My cousin Michael recently traveled to Puerto Rico and also posted from there. Twenty-six states have had posts from them. If you are from one of the states that hasn’t posted in the last three days, click on Post Comment and leave us a short note telling us where you are from.
Brandon and I got a good early start this morning after having breakfast at the Picabo gas station. With a strong desire to get done earlier than usual, we only took two 15-minute breaks all day. One of those breaks was to talk to the Fairfield sheriff who had stopped to see if we were okay. We were glad to see him because he gave us permission to camp in the city park in Fairfield.
The front bracket of the stroller has a temporary fix that we fashioned when we broke down Saturday. The front bracket broke again today; we fixed it as we had done two days ago. The bracket is very weak and wobbly; we hope it will hold together until we get to a city where it can be repaired. When we were at the hardware store Saturday, we bought 10 corner brackets. The extras will have to serve as bandaids until we can get a solid repair done.
Once again, the temperature was very hot, and it was a relief to finally stop after 38 miles. We ate dinner at a restaurant in Fairfield. While there, we talked to four motorcyclists from Canada who bought us dinner. Coincidentally, one of the cyclists spent last January in Africa drilling water wells.
By getting an early start today, we have been able to relax a little before setting up our tent. The Dolphin-Bears preseason game was on in the restaurant, and Brandon and I were able to watch some of the game. Later we enjoyed malts at the nearby drive-in restaurant and now plan to use Brandon's computer to watch the the DVD movie Shaw Shank Redemption.
Several more readers posted today. Added to the states from yesterday are Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, and West Virginia. Thanks for taking the time to post. Are there readers out there from any of the other 29 states that haven't posted yet? If so, please add a short post telling us what state you are from.
602 miles left to go - Road's End Park is getting a little closer each day.
Brandon and I have been self-proclaimed "Moon Monsters" since our high school days of cross country. Last night we camped at the Craters of the Moon campground, which we figured was a great place for Moon Monsters. Even though it was around midnight, getting a campsite was easy as it was self service. We went to a board that showed all the campsites. Sites that were filled had a paper in a plastic sleeve. All we had to do was pick an empty site, fill out the paperwork, put it in the sleeve and then drop our money in the locked cashbox. Once we had our site, we set up our tent on the small pebbles and sand that made up the campsite.
Actually the whole area was a little odd because of the unusual terrain. As we walked toward Craters of the Moon we passed about 20 miles of ground that was covered with black lava rocks that sucked up the heat. My dad said the rocks are basalt.
This morning we were back on the road at 9 a.m. For much of the time, the temperature of the Strollometer was a blistering 120 degrees. After about 25 miles of desert-like terrain of sagebrush, dry grass, and the occasional tumbleweed, we reached civilization again in Carey, Idaho. We were so thirsty that we couldn't pass up a restaurant called the Watering Hole. Water was really important to us, and we drank three large pitchers of water at the restaurant.
Before we left Carey, we stopped at a gas station and bought food and 32-oz. root beers.
After weeks of no service, our Ogo worked which allowed us to once again check our e-mail.
Today we met two bicyclists who have already biked from Maine to the Pacific this summer and are now biking to Salt Lake City before flying home.
After walking 33 miles, tonight we are camping in a woman's yard (with nice watered grass) in Picabo, Idaho. As she has unlimited national minutes, she graciously let us use her cell phone to call home.
Brandon has calculated that we have 640 miles left to go; that is good news to me. Finishing by August 27 looks very doable.
The August 3 Eagle Herald photo really made us look "ripped." We loved it and wished we really looked that way!
Brandon asked readers to post and identify the state they are from. People from 14 states responded: Alabama, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan—U.P. and L.P., New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. Thanks to everyone who posted. We loved hearing from you and hope readers from other states will sign in soon.
After covering 34 miles today, we decided to stop in Ashton, Idaho.
As I mentioned in my earlier post, we had equipment problems this morning. With the assistance of Paul Roberts and David Phillipps, the handlebar is now better than it ever was before. I personally found it much easier to push the stroller once the handle had been reinforced. We really appreciate the repairs those guys made for us.
Brandon and I lost some time on the road this morning because of the broken handlebar, but we hope to make that up in the next few days. We think we can increase our mileage per day as the terrain is now much flatter. So far the hills in Idaho have been much easier to climb than the mountains in Wyoming. Early in our walk today, we went through a national forest.
We made two stops during the day. One was at a restaurant with a good buffet (pasta, pizza, etc.). While we were there, we took care of some phone calls we needed to make and then got on the road again. The other stop was at a gas station where the Pepsi deliveryman gave us some free sports drinks.
Tonight we are at a home in Ashton, Idaho, where we will pitch our tent. The homeowners generously gave us potato chips and grilled hot dogs.
Some nice people stopped us today and told us we could stay at their home in Rigby, near Idaho Falls. Brandon will look at our route again tonight to see whether we can change it so that we can go to Rigby.
I want to end my post tonight with this announcement: OUR LICENSE PLATE COLLECTION IS COMPLETE. You might remember from earlier posts that we have found license plates for all the states we have traveled through. In fact, back in Wyoming we found an Oregon plate, which was like doing your homework early. The Idaho license plate found today completes our collection. Please note: These plates had naturally separated from the cars they belonged with - no screwdrivers were involved.
Brandon and I got a good night's sleep at our hotel in Island Park, Idaho. Before we could get on the road, however, we had an unexpected delay. The handle of our stroller has been cracked for some time. You might remember that several weeks ago we bought hose clamps to secure the cracked handle on the stroller. Well, this morning we were carrying the stroller down the stairs of the hotel and the handle broke away from the stroller. Ouch! We now had a major problem with our equipment. As has happened many times this summer, generous people stepped in to help us. A hotel guest and a local cabin owner - Paul Roberts and David Phillipps - volunteered to help repair the handle. Paul and David disassembled the stroller and then used a metal sleeve, screws and a drill to fix the handle. After numerous trips to the local hardware store, the handle was better than new. We cannot thank them enough for helping us.
One correction to my post last night: Brandon (the navigator) informs me that our route does not take us through Idaho Falls. I believe the new route will take us south to Rexburg on Highway 20, west on 32 to Arco, back on Highway 20 to Mountain Home, and then northwest on the interstate to Ontario, Idaho.
With our stroller fixed once again, we are ready to hit the road again. That's all for now from Island Park, Idaho.
The rugged, beautiful scenery of Yellowstone captured our attention for the last few days. The scenery combined with the helpful, friendly park rangers made Yellowstone a memorable place for us.
As the morning sun was shining on our campsite, we said goodbye to Madison, Wyoming, and started on the road again. Near west Yellowstone Brandon and I stopped at a KFC and devoured an 8-piece family meal. We topped that off with parfaits and ice cream.
Highway 20 ushered us out of Wyoming, through heavy rain and pelting hail in Montana, and then into Idaho. As much as we liked Yellowstone, we are happy to once again see stores and houses and leave Mr. Grizzly behind.
By the time we finished walking today we had almost 36 miles logged. When we were done for the day we checked into a small hotel near Island Park, Idaho. Normally we try to camp out as many days as possible and hadn't planned to stay in a hotel quite yet. However, we really needed to bathe, and the comfort of a nice bed was irresistible. Getting cleaned up and sleeping in beds will make us both happy.
Tomorrow we will continue on Highway 20, and we hope to make it to Idaho Falls by Thursday night. We are down to just two states to go - Idaho and Oregon!
After spending the night at the Fishing Bridge warming hut, we had breakfast at the nearby grocery store. Fortified for the day ahead, we headed north. The scenery continued to be awesome and on our way to Canyon we saw some large, beautiful falls. We also saw the rocks that give Yellowstone its colorful name.
In Canyon we stopped for lunch at the local grocery store. While there we met an interesting guy who has twice hiked the Appalachian Trail. Currently he is on a 2,500 mile bike ride. While talking to us he gave us a great travel tip about campsites. He told us that national campgrounds often have a few sites exclusively for hikers and walkers. Therefore, a campground listed as “full” might actually have a site left for a person traveling on foot. Later in this post you will see that this information came in handy today.
After lunch in Canyon, we headed toward the west gate of Yellowstone. During the day Brandon and I were concerned about making it to the next campground before the office closed. We pushed ourselves to walk 43 miles and arrived at the Madison campground near the west gate of Yellowstone by 10 p.m. We discovered the campground was full and the office had just closed. The ranger was nearby and informed us that hiker sites were available and opened back up so we could set up camp. In addition, he lent us a big flashlight to use while we set up our tent.
Brandon and I have been extremely impressed by every Park Service employee we have met. Each has been very helpful and courteous, going out of their way to assist us.
We tried to contact Brandon’s friend, Jordan; he wasn’t available so we won’t be able to see him on this trip.
Before going to sleep tonight, I called home from an old-fashioned phone booth with swinging doors. Neat booth. As we crawl into our sleeping bags, you can be certain that we are tired but happy to be camping in Madison, Wyoming.
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, Chad Carlton from the Black Water Guest Ranch picked us up and let us stay at his parents' ranch last night. Chad also had Crystal, one of the ranch workers, get us some wonderful buffet food for dinner. The Carltons' hospitality, combined with good food and interesting people, made last night a very pleasurable experience.
After a great breakfast, Chad drove us to the east gate of Yellowstone. When we got there, the rangers told us our entrance fee had been paid by people we had met earlier in the week. The rangers were friendly and answered our questions about the campsite we hoped to reach at the end of the day.
When Brandon and I were just a couple of miles down the road, a highway safety worker stopped us. He informed us of a huge construction project up ahead that would make it impossible to go forward on foot. The highway worker offered us a ride through the construction. Since we have made it this far on foot, we really did not want to bend our rule of walking/running the entire way across the U.S. At that point Brandon and I had a difference of opinion as to how we should proceed. After discussing the situation, we decided to head back to the east gate to talk to the rangers about our options. The rangers were sympathetic to our plight and were very helpful trying to find a solution for us. Possible solutions included:
1) Taking an alternate route. They explained that if we took an alternate road route, we would be forced to walk an extra 200 miles. We rejected that option.
2) Hiking up a 30-mile trail. The rangers were willing to take our stroller and drop it off at the nearby ranger station down the road. We also rejected this option.
3) Walking through the construction area by gaining special permission from the federal highway department. Eventually a high ranking official turned down the rangers' request to let us walk through the construction zone. The federal official said the request involved an insurance risk that he was not willing to take. He turned down what was probably our best option.
4) Finally, the only remaining option: Walking across the old Cody Road, now called the Silvan Pass Trail. The Cody Road had its heyday around 1919, as it was the original road through Yellowstone. The road was taken out in 1950, and its name changed to the Silvan Pass Trail. The Trail has been closed for quite some time. We realized the stroller wouldn't make it through this trail. The highway guy was nice enough to offer to take our stroller through the construction and have it waiting for us when we finished walking through the trail. This option would get us just past the construction area and allow us to continue afterwards on our planned route. This seemed like a good idea at the time, and we chose to walk across the Silvan Pass Trail.
Having made our decision, we got some last minute advice from the rangers. One of the rangers then took us back to where we had stopped walking earlier. With snack food, a camera, and our camelbacks filled with water, we set off on the Silvan Pass Trail.
We hadn't gone very far down the trail when it appeared to end and turn into meadow and then swamp. We trudged forward looking for remnants of the path. At the same time, the elevation was going up. Now we were walking on a very steep slope. This area had previously been blasted as part of the construction process. To make things even more fun, loose gravel and rocks were rapidly falling away from our footsteps. (We believe the path may have been hidden underneath these tons of rocks.) We made our way VERY slowly - keeping the road under construction to our right (north) and the river far below to our left (south). By this time there was no path to be seen, but we continued trying to make our way west. We had to keep going up and down this steep slope. Going up and down was like rock surfing.
Now, don't tell anyone - especially the federal government - but twice we came to the road under construction and ran down it. When the lead car in the construction zone got close, we dove behind a bush. Then, the second time we ran on the road, we could see the end of the construction coming up and scurried up the hill to try to find the path once again so that we would come out just beyond the end of the construction. Of course, we had to descend toward the highway from the Silvan Pass Trail. This was down a torturously difficult slope to once again find the path. We held on to branches as we slipped and slid down the hills.
When we got to the end of the construction, the highway worker had our stroller waiting for us. Our detour started around 12:30 p.m. and ended with retrieving the stroller at 4:00. At that point we had only traveled five or six miles of our planned route.
I have titled this post "Oh, What an Adventure!" only because Robert Frost has claim to "The Road Not Taken."
After retrieving our stroller, we were on our merry way. We continued walking until a few miles down the road where several cars were stopped. When we got there, we saw a grizzly bear on the road. The bear was on the opposite side of the road, with cars between us and him. We got some great camera footage. After we walked past the bear, the bear made a move towards us. However, I assumed I was okay as long as I could outrun Brandon. I figured he couldn't eat both of us at once!
After we said goodbye to Mr. Grizzly, we pushed it into speed walking mode as we needed a safe camping area and already were five hours behind. Brandon and I walked fast and enjoyed the beautiful scenery, including hot springs and sulphur vents.
Our plan was to get to Fishing Bridge General Store and decide what to do next when we got there. Shortly before 9 p.m. we were just a mile from the general store when a ranger pulled up. He told us the store closed at 9 p.m. So, we sprinted there as quickly as possible. We got some food, which was the first meal since breakfast. We forgot our worries for those 10 minutes it took us to eat.
We were sitting outside the general store when it closed (actually at 9:30 p.m.); we still had no idea what to do next. It was dark by this time, we still weren't at the campsite, and the RV park had no vacancies. Brandon's suggestion was to beg the rangers for help since the rangers knew all about us and had already been quite helpful. One of the rangers we had talked to earlier was Ranger Credit. Ranger Credit graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids and later taught at a Christian school in Michigan. Ranger Credit was one of the first people who had previously heard of Brandon's college, Cornerstone. Anyways, as we talked to him he said, "You guys want me to bail you out, right?" Oh, how right he was. After checking with his superior, Officer Credit let us into a warming hut - which is basically a small log building. We have permission to spend the night here in this warming hut. Besides being a warm, dry place, we don't think Mr. Grizzly can come in for a midnight snack.
That was our day. We only walked about 30 miles - 26 on our route - but they were hard-earned miles.
Yesterday I mentioned that we made it to a small inn in Wapiti so we could get some much needed rest. Well, I slept for 11 hours straight and loved every minute of it!
When we got up this morning, we headed west toward Yellowstone. Along the way we saw a moose, but no other large animals. About 15 miles east of Yellowstone we came to a really nice ranch called the Black Water Guest Ranch. Interested in what this ranch was like, we stopped and talked to a guy named Chad who works at the ranch. After visiting for awhile we were on our way again.
By evening we had made it to Yellowstone with plans to sleep in our tent tonight. We discovered, however, that we were in a no-tenting area because of bear activity. Brandon and I were unsure what to do at that point because we needed somewhere to sleep tonight. We decided to call the Black Water Guest Ranch and ask Chad if he would be willing to come and get us. Chad was agreeable and soon came to pick us up at the Yellowstone entrance. What started out as an inconvenience has actually turned into great fortune for us. Tonight we are sitting around a campfire at the Black Water Guest Ranch. People from around the world--including several Britons--are staying here tonight. We have met many people and are enjoying this great opportunity. Those of you traveling to Yellowstone should definitely check out the Black Water Guest Ranch; we highly recommend it.
We hope to get at least 35 miles into Yellowstone tomorrow. The park rangers tell us that we would then be in a safe tenting area.
Good night and God bless.
Our day started with a 6:30 a.m. (Mountain time) interview with the guys from Free Beer and Hot Wings Show. It is always fun to talk to them and share our experiences as we travel across the USA.
After getting a little more sleep and then taking care of some work on the computer, we got back on the road. Our sleeping bags have been getting wet and were quite uncomfortable this week. So, before leaving Cody, we stopped at a store and bought waterproof sleeping bag covers. We think this will take care of that problem. Brandon and I also visited the Cody WalMart SuperCenter to replenish our supplies before we got back on the road.
Today we enjoyed the scenery of the Buffalo Bill State Park. Brandon and I also walked through tunnels; now that was not a fun experience since there wasn't a shoulder. When a car would come by, I would move the stroller up on the embankment to avoid getting hit. Anyways, we made it through safely and found it to be just one more new experience along our route.
After walking 24 miles, we decided to stop and get a good night's sleep at a small, cozy motel called the Green Creek Inn in Wapiti, Wyoming. This small town is between Cody and Yellowstone National Park.
Brandon and I are excited to get to Yellowstone tomorrow. Yes, we will be cautious with our food and try to avoid the animals as we travel. While in Yellowstone we hope to spend a night with Brandon's friend, Jordan Harrison.
That's it for tonight from Wapiti, Wyoming.
As my mother posted last night, Brandon and I decided to try an "all-niter" last night. We're both pretty tired at this point, so instead of writing it up, let me just give you the numbers.
Time started: 11 A.M. July 27th
Time ended: 6:30 P.M. July 28th
Total time: 31 hours 30 minutes
Time moving: 26 hours 10 minutes
Distance covered: 103 miles
Open stores over the total distance: 1
Sidewalks slept on by Matt: 1
High temperature: 118° F
Low temperature; 40° F
So, we did over 100 miles over a two day period. It was awesome to do in the sense that it's something we'll remember for the rest of our lives, but I assure you that it was one of the toughest experiences both mentally and physically that either one of us has ever had to deal with. It makes 36 miles a day seem so easy in comparison. It would drag for hours, and you'd have to battle through coming close to falling asleep on your feet. Still, we made it, and that's what is important. hopefully we'll get enough sleep so that during our Free Beer & Hot Wings interview we won't sound like a couple of zombies. To that end, it's time to get some much-desired shuteye. So keep watching, but don't expect any more 100 mile extravaganzas.
As Brandon mentioned in his post last night, we had a strange encounter with the management of the Log Cabin Inn in Ten Sleep. Our plan on Wednesday was to get a room at the Log Cabin Inn in the evening. When we got to the innkeepers' office, we discovered there were no vacancies. At that point we were faced with having to find another place to stay. So Brandon sat down in the driveway and pulled out his laptop to check for any other nearby places to stay. While he did that I went into a nearby building marked as a 24 laundromat to use the restroom. The restroom door didn't lock but had bathroom stalls with shower curtains as doors. I was in the stall when I heard the outer door open. To my shock the shower curtain was flung open; the innkeeper was standing there screaming at me to leave. To say the least, I was quite stunned. The building appeared to be a public building, but the innkeeper ranted that this was a private place and to get the *!?*! out of there. He then went on a swearing tirade. That was enough craziness for me--we immediately left seeking friendlier people and a new place to sleep.
Thankfully, friendly faces awaited us at an RV park in Ten Sleep. Some campers invited us to tent at their site. It was really cold last night--probably caused by our damp tent from the previous evening. However, the friendly people surrounding us were a huge comfort. In the morning the families made us a great breakfast while Maya drew us pictures to take with us. While talking to the RV park people we learned that an elderly couple had earlier gone to the Log Cabin Inn trying to get sleeping accommodations. The guy from the Log Cabin Inn flipped out on them before they could leave the inn. One word keeps going through my mind: CRAZY! The people at the Log Cabin Inn are now the #1 worst people that we have met.
After our breakfast with the RV people, we gathered up our stuff and were on the road at 11:00 a.m. Tonight we stopped in Manderson at the Hi-Way Cafe for dinner.
By the time of this post we had walked 37 miles. We are still on the move tonight. For several days Brandon and I have been toying with the idea of "doing a double"--which to us means walking all day and continuing on by walking through the night. We want to try to do another 50 miles before we stop to sleep again. The road we are on is fairly nice, and there is very little traffic at this time.
Bobbi Buckley posted a comment suggesting that the Log Cabin Inn encounter will make us better appreciate the good people who have helped us along the way. How true! Thank you once again to everyone for your support and prayers.
RE: Monday, July 25. It is noon (Mountain Time) on Tuesday, and I have finally been able to get a short--and choppy--phone message to my mom to post. As you can imagine, cell service is very limited in many parts of the West and definitely in the mountains. For that reason, we weren't able to call home last night.
Yesterday we traveled west on Highway 16 out of Buffalo, Wyoming. Shortly after leaving Buffalo, Brandon and I started our ascent of the southern Big Horn Mountains. The Big Horns are ruggedly beautiful. The weather conditions have dramatically changed--it rained all day and night and the temperature was under 50 degrees. (On Sunday we were walking in 100+ degree weather.)
By the end of the day we had logged 26 miles. In the evening we met some people from a youth camp who graciously invited us to share dinner with them in their cabin. We enjoyed our meal with them. Because of legal reasons, we unfortunately couldn't sleep in their cabin. So we set up our tent at a camp site that evening.
It is tough going through these mountains. We have 40 miles before we get to the next town which is Ten Sleep, Wyoming. Wilderness surrounds us, and we have been told there will be few businesses until we get to Ten Sleep. Somewhere down the road, there are some camping sites that we will try to reach tonight.
Thanks to all of you who have been so supportive and have followed our progress. We appreciate your interest and hope you're enjoying traveling with us through the West.
Well, almost time for us to hit the road and say goodbye to my parents yet again. It's a sad thing to do, but I'm happy knowing that I will see them again in a little over a month. We have locked in our finishing date, it's August 27th. I say it's locked in because we are purchasing plane tickets to return home the morning of the 28th.
So, there really isn't much else to say. We are all set, and a huge thanks to my parents for all their support and for bringing us the equipment that we'll need to this last big 1200 mile push to the coast. =)
Oh yeah, I finally uploaded the pictures. You can check them out at http://www.runacrosstheusa.com/images/7-23/ until our webmaster Tony gets them up for real.
Here is another installment of my coveted "top ten" lists (not that anyone's done a top ten list before). We found out yesterday that there are a lot more things on the side of the interstate than on a regular highway. This is probably because there is a lot more traffic and people can't just turn around on the interstate and get something that flies out the window or out of the back of a pick-up truck.
Yesterday was an interesting day all around, especially my almost incarceration for a domestic dispute with Matt, a woman. I think the real crime would have been why I was chasing such an ugly woman.
Here's the top ten list of things we have found on the side of the road.
1. License plates. This tops the list because it has become one of our hobbies to collect license plates from the different states. We have found at least one in every state we've gone through. We haven't had to resort to taking a screwdriver to a parked car, so all of our license plates were already separated from the cars they belonged to and abandoned.
2. Wallets. This has only happened a couple of times, and only once was there anything in the wallet. As we went through the high tourist traffic area around Mt. Rushmore, we found a wallet of an 8th grader from Pennsylvania. Although there was no address in wallet, we have a name and a school, so hopefully we can get his wallet back to him.
3. Action Figures. As we walk down the road, bored out of our minds, nothing cheers me up more than finding some toy, particularly with moving parts and some sort of action move. We found a little Spiderman figure with a little rope around its neck and immediately tied him to the stroller handlebar. He has been with us ever since.
4. Furniture. The most notable piece of furniture was a recliner lying upside down in a ditch. I went down, dragged it up to the road, and proceeded to relax for a few minutes in luxury as I ate oatmeal and saltine crackers.
5. A sledge hammer. We found this the first week of our journey in the middle of a thunderstorm. We started singing rainy songs to make ourselves less miserable and I glanced down and there was a sledge hammer. This became my marching baton and people passing in cars must have been confused to see this guy in a black jacket with hot pink stripes singing at the top of his lungs and carrying a sledge hammer.
6. Electronic equipment. Yesterday I found a pretty expensive camera still in its case. However, it was no longer operational because it had apparently been run over a few times and was cracked into a million pieces.
7. A truckers antenna. This fits perfectly into the flag slots that are on the stroller, so it seems only logical that we try to get better reception by installing an antenna.
8. A prophetic stick. This finely painted stick was apparently a gift or love offering from someone named Matthew to someone named Breana. The simple words "Matthew loves Breana" and "Breana loves Matthew" speak of a deep love that, as long as the stick remains in existence, will forever last. We weren't sure of the purpose of the stick, whether it was just decoration or for corporal discipline, but if Matt ever meets someone named Breana, it's sure to be love at first sight. Sticks don't lie.
9. Clothes. This ranges from baby shoes to baseball caps to underwear. People must just feel some urge to throw their clothes out the window of their car. So far we haven't found anything worth picking or wearing ourselves, but we alway on the lookout for free clothes.
10. Money. Quarters, dimes, pennies, half of a twenty dollar bill--we could become rich walking down highways and picking up money. Sometimes we weigh the cost of leaning down to pick it up (ouch) and decide if the money is really worth it.
There it is. Enjoy.
Today was a busy day in the land of Matt and Brandon. We didn't get to bed until pretty late last night, and had to be up by 6 this morning to prepare for our Free Beer & Hot Wings radio show call-in at 6:30 Mountain Time. By the way, "preparing" means exercising every possible means of waking ourselves up so that we don't sound like complete zombies during our interview.
The interview went well, and afterwards we got some continental breakfast before attempting to replace our tires and tubes with the No-Mor Flat tubes and new tires that my parents had brought. We won't go into all the details, but an hour and a broken tire later we were off in search of a bike shop at about 9 A.M. Sadly, the first two bike shops we tried didn't open until 10. However, on our third attempt we were able to find an open shop, Gillette Bicycle Shop. The people there were very accomodating, and we were able to purchase a new tire and get all the tubes and tires installed for a nominal fee.
Since we already had the stroller out and the contents mostly removed, we decided to also use this time for our monthly complete clean-out of the stroller. This is always an adventure, because things collect at the bottom that you had almost forgotten, and some things that you don't remember at all. This time we pulled out two paper bag's worth of goods; one bag of trash and one bag of mementos.
After grabbing some Powerades, my parents drove us back out to the mile mark we had stopped at the night before. It was nearly noon when we started, but we tried to make up for it by not stopping during the day. Brandon and I only had two voluntary (more on this in a second!) stops during the entire day, a bathroom break and a break to eat.
After our final break we were pushing hard, trying to get as far as we good before the 8 P.M. pick-up time that we had agreed upon with my parents. However, we ran into some legal trouble when a police officer pulled over and got out of his vehicle.
According to the officer, someone had called in a report that a woman was running down the interstate with a stroller, away from a man that was chasing her. Since I was pushing the stroller, apparently I was the female. How anyone could mistake a 6'3" 180 pound man with no shirt on for a female is beyond me, but I guess that I would make a pretty cute girl...
Anyways another officer pulled up (maybe the first thought he needed backup?) and we talked with them for a while, and also got a picture. Brandon asked to be handcuffed for the picture, but they said no.
After that it wasn't much longer until my parents picked us up. We got our 30 miles in today, not bad for starting at noon. Tomorrow we're hoping to start about 8, so hopefully we'll be able to get a little more time with my parents tomorrow night. Still, it was great to get so many things done today, and we were able to have some good time with them tonight at Wal-Mart and Perkins, especially making fun of my dad for ordering off the "55 and older" menu.
Well, I'm sorry if this post lacks the usual wit and good grammar that you've come to expect from RunAcrossTheUSA.com, but I have to go take an online college math test at 11 at night. The fun just never stops when you're running across the country!
This was a great day on the road. A circle of friendship seemed to surround our activities all day, starting with the Minich family and ending with the McNaughton family.
As Brandon mentioned, we camped with the Minich family last night. They cooked breakfast in their camper, which Brandon and I enjoyed very much. We said our goodbyes and pushed our stroller back down the road by 9:30 a.m. Our "vacation" time with the Miniches was an unexpected but wonderful surprise.
The weather was moderately warm and the roads somewhat hilly. The nice weather and a kickstart of Powerade made us much more hydrated than we were last week. Brandon and I saw the Crazy Horse monument which was really cool. The Crazy Horse head is not finished yet but already is bigger than all of Mt. Rushmore.
As we walked through Custer (South Dakota) today, Al, Suzanne, and Ian McNaughton happened to drive by. They stopped and invited us to lunch at the Dairy Queen. After a very enjoyable lunch with them, we continued to walk until 6:30 p.m. At that time, the McNaughtons picked us up as was pre-arranged. Ian was quite entertaining and wanted to run with us today. We hope that Ian will be able to run with us tomorrow morning. The McNaughtons treated us to an excellent meal and great dessert. After dinner we went back to the McNaughton's hotel in Hot Springs for some serious fun in the pool. Tonight we are staying with the McNaughtons.
As you can tell by reading our posts today, Brandon and I have really enjoyed "vacationing" with the Minich and McNaughton families.
For those of you keeping track of our mileage and location, we logged 28 miles and stopped west of Custer today.
My parents are driving to Wyoming this week, and I am really looking forward to seeing them. They are bringing us new tires and the NO MORE FLATS tubes John Wallace urged us to get. John said he had great luck with them in his travels across the USA. We hope they'll work just as well on our stroller.
For the first time in many, many days, it's really me - the one and only Matt Wyble.
I'm pretty tired, but I promised myself today that I'd post and give you all my own unique perspective on our unusual day.
The events of this day began early, at sometime around midnight. I awoke to find our tent flapping and rocking all around me, with the wind whistling all around. I managed to go back to sleep, but was given a much more rude wake-up call shortly after when our tent collapsed inward. This of course caught the attention of Brandon as well, as we were now both being smothered by our own tent. We unzipped the door and scrambled out to survey the situation.
It was extremely dark out, with only a few streetlights for light. The wind was more intense than any I can remember experiencing outside of Hurricane Ivan. We managed to still the tent and survey the damage: our metal tent poles had been bent under the extreme stress the wind placed upon the tent.
Realizing we had no choice but to move the tent to a more sheltered location, we began to pull up the tent stakes to prepare for a mad dash to the corner of a nearby building that would hopefully provide some cover. As I walked around back to get the bag for the stakes the wind picked up again, causing the tent to lift up and pin me against the stroller. Yes, for a little while I was squished in between the two, until Brandon was able to get control of the tent. We managed to get it to a safer location and secure it once again before wearily collapsing once more.
It held on until the morning, but the wind didn't let up. We tore down quickly and then Brandon went in search of some water. The town of Scenic was almost surreal in the morning light - the "Old West" flavor and design, and a complete lack of people. The only life that we saw was a very large dog that was wandering around the center of town.
Eventually the owner of (all) the stores in town appeared, and let us into the gas station to get some breakfast. Her name was Twila Merrill, and she was an interesting character herself. She's currently in her late 60's, but in her youth she was an excellent rodeo rider, a female pioneer in the sport. She even rode bulls until one nearly fatal ride that left her with a cracked skull and broken fingers.
After our "breakfast" of microwaved burritos and chocolate milk, we were on our way. We didn't start until about 9, but thankfully it was a fairly cool day. Still, our old friend Mr. Wind was still there in full force, which meant every step north or west was an effort. We met some nice people that are riding across the country to raise money for the American Lung Association, they were amazed at what we were doing. Still, biking across isn't easy either, and we wish them the very best.
We didn't stop again until a few hours later, when Brandon found an old reclining easy chair on the side of the road. That was just too tempting for him to pass up, and we made it a nice stop for water and a snack. After that we didn't stop until the "Country Convenience Store", which was like an unexpected oasis to us. There we were able to refill on water and eat some ice cream bars (try the English toffee if you're ever in the area, it comes highly recommended).
After that it was one long push to Rapid City. We thought it would be about 20 more miles, but it turned out to be more like 25. To complete this tale, let me just say that we didn't end at Holiday Inn Express until nearly 10 and ended up doing 46 miles. So now we're planning to rest and pig out on the morning's complimentary breakfast.
That's all I've got for now, I will upload the new pictures sometime before we leave. I guess the only way left for me to express how I currently feel is through the ancient Japanese poetry art of haiku, so here goes:
today was windy
yesterday was really hot
now we go to sleep
While at the KOA Campground near Interior yesterday, I spotted a vehicle with Michigan plates. The van belonged to a geophysics professor at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. This man knows the Morrison family--friends of mine--from Pickford, Michigan. (Hi, Carl!) It was nice to talk to another "Yooper." [For those of you not from Michigan, let me explain. A Yooper is a person who lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, commonly referred to as "the U.P."]
We enjoyed the comforts of the KOA Campground and were slow to leave this morning. We finally got on the road about 9:30 a.m. The town of Interior was about four miles from the campground. Once we got to Interior, we bought drinks and food for the road and headed out in the beating sun.
As Brandon mentioned in his post this morning, the heat is our biggest challenge right now. During the day our water supply got so hot that it was actually making us feel sick when we drank it. We had some apple juice with us that ended up tasting like apple cider in the afternoon. The problem with the area is that there is no place to hide from the sun. The distances between homes is extremely long.
You are probably wondering what the terrain is like now. The road is flat and the area around it is sandy and grassy. The scenery in the distance is mountainous and rocky. Today we walked through the Badlands National Park, which essentially looked like the rest of the land--except there was no fence surrounding it.
One of the "cool" things that happened today is that three nice ladies stopped as they were driving by and gave us some Powerade. Several hours later, they passed by again. That time they stopped and gave us grapes and Gatorade.
One of the "not so cool" things that happened was that we had another flat. The tire was basically ruined; thankfully we had another spare with us.
Today we met a young couple who are spending six months driving around the country trying to decide where to live.
By the end of the day, we had logged 37 miles. We finished walking very late today; in fact, it was dark when we got to Scenic, South Dakota. Scenic is a very small town with a gravel road running through it.
It is 10:30 p.m. (Mountain Time), and Brandon and I are sitting in the Old Longhorn Bar, "the Pride of Scenic." After a grueling day on the road, it feels wonderful to be sitting here watching TV and eating pizza while drinking cold water. As the only customers, we are basking in the pleasure of being indoors and relaxing. In a few minutes we are going to set up our tent across the street on a grassy lawn.
Tomorrow we have our sights set on logging 40+ miles and getting to Rapid City. We intend to check into a hotel and live it up! Just the thought of a clean room and showers will help us keep moving down the road.
Some of you have written that you are praying for us each day. Your prayers and good wishes are always appreciated.
As we mentioned in yesterday's post, last night we camped out next to a motel. This morning we started our day by having a good breakfast at a restaurant in White River. We enjoyed pancakes, donuts, and orange juice before hitting the road.
Like much of the country, South Dakota was very hot today. This was a tough day; the heat combined with the endless miles of grasslands is wearing on us. This area is hilly and not very populated. After Brandon and I left White River this morning, we saw no stores and very few houses. Needing some shade, during one of our rest stops today we rested by a bale of hay. We traveled 39 miles and saw only about 10 houses that were close to the road. There were very few people and very few cars.
We are getting into the Badlands and don't expect much change for a couple of days.
Tonight we are camping at a home on a Dakota Indian Reservation. Our cell phone and Ogo have no signal and expect that this will continue to be a problem for awhile. The homeowners here have generously allowed us to use their land phone to call home.
Our parents have been posting for us as we have no Internet access. If you have written any personal e-mails to us, we will respond when we have Internet access again.
Remember: We won't be interviewed on the Free Beer and Hot Wings Morning Show again until next week.
Thanks to TV6-Marquette, MI, for including us in their news broadcast last night. As always we appreciate everyone's support.
We got a decent start this morning, stopped only twice and were able to get in 39 miles. Today was uneventful and went by quickly.
Our two stops were for food. Lunch was in Wood at a convenience store. Dinner was at a restaurant in White River.
Brandon and I decided to stay in a motel called the Thoroughbred Lodge tonight. When we went to register the owners were not in. So we sat outside and watched a movie on Brandon's laptop. At the time of this post the owners still have not returned. So we have decided to set up our tent on the lawn next to the motel.
That's it for tonight from White River, South Dakota.
After enjoying breakfast with the Hulls and fixing our flat tire, we were on the road by 8:00 a.m.
Our next stop was in the town of Winner, which gave us an opportunity to get supplies and take care of a few other needs. Brandon and I went to a laundromat to wash our clothes before they got too nasty. This was also a good excuse to get out of the heat. It was so pleasant that I actually fell asleep in the laundromat! We also bought groceries and stopped at the Pizza Hut. The employees at the Pizza Hut generously treated us to their lunch buffet.
Today we met some young adults who are participating in a World Harmony Run. They take turns carrying a torch as they run through 48 states --11,000 + miles--to promote world peace. There are several teams of runners working together in this run. The team we met consisted of three female runners--one from El Salvador, another from Bulgaria, and another from Russia. They had a support van traveling with them.
Brandon and I finished at about 9:30 tonight in Witten, South Dakota (population = 87). The Harters from Witten were kind enough to let us stay in their grandchildren's playhouse. The playhouse is a first for us. (We'll take pictures and post them when we have Internet access.) They have also invited us inside for showers and some food.
We are now halfway to the Pacific. Brandon and I have actually traveled over 50 miles more than our anticipated route mileage due to many factors, including:
> wrong turns,
> long driveways, and
Brandon has looked ahead and has adjusted our route to trim off about 30 future miles.
At this point in our run to the Pacific, it is completely a mental battle to stay excited, focused and nice towards one another.
In closing, we want to pass on happy anniversary wishes to Brandon's grandparents in Wallace. Mr. and Mrs. Newlin are celebrating their 53rd wedding anniversary today. Obviously, they have also reached quite a milestone.
My mom says there will be a news clip about us on TV6 (Marquette, Michigan) tomorrow (Wednesday) at 7:00 p.m. Eastern and possibly a shorter version at 11:00 p.m. Eastern. If you get that channel, I hope you will watch that broadcast. TV6 will use some video we or the Newlins took during our Run Across the USA.
That's it for tonight. Good night from Witten, South Dakota.
Tonight we are in Dixon, a small South Dakota town that consists of a house and a bar. If you are trying to locate Dixon on a map, look about 10 miles north of Dallas or about 18 miles east of Winner.
We are camping at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Hull who have generously provided showers and food. The food--cantalope, chips, deviled eggs, and barbequed beef--was great. As we were getting fairly tired, the Hulls tell us it is a good thing we stopped at their home. Apparently the next house is about four miles down the road.
Homes and businesses are getting farther apart. In fact we didn't see another business after we stopped at the Dock 44 restaurant at noon.
Today we crossed the Missouri River and the terrain has changed considerably. There are many hills; in fact, these are the most hills we have seen in weeks. The scenery consists of many miles of swaying grass, bales of hay and grazing cows.
The Strollometer hit a new record today: 126 degrees. The weather stayed hot this afternoon. In fact, the Strollometer registered in the 120s for a long time.
The heavy miles are taking a toll on some of the equipment.
> The good news is that our axle is holding up okay.
> However, we noticed a flat tire at the end of the day and will have to fix the flat in the morning. [My parents are going to buy us some new tires and tubes and will find a way to get them to us.]
> This afternoon we noticed we were running low on water; after checking our 2 1/2 gallon water bladder we discovered a slow leak. We will to try to patch the bladder; if that doesn't work we will have to get another bladder soon.
It is always hard to get up and leave a nice comfortable bed in the morning. That was how it was again this morning; however, we finally got on the road at 9:00. Determined to get in some good mileage today, Brandon and I pushed ourselves down the road and didn't stop for five hours. By that time we were in Tyndall and had spotted a Dairy Queen. Neither one of us remembered ever eating at a DQ so we figured we'd try it out.
Later we encountered road construction, which meant "Hello, road tar." We got lots of tar on our shoes and stroller tires. We just figured we were resurfacing our equipment.
As we traveled along our route, a reporter from the Avon Clarion stopped us and asked for an interview. He is going to write an article for the weekly newspaper.
A quick note about Abby (see the post from July 3): Abby did not have any mud on her! And don't let Brandon fool you - there was definitely a connection there. Don't let Brandon's anti-romantic exterior fool you. Love is in the air!
We stopped at the A-1 gas station in Avon for dinner that consisted of a large pizza and Powerade. As we were leaving, a nice man offered to let us stay at his home which was just a couple of blocks away. So tonight we are at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Simek who also offered to let us take much appreciated showers. Before going to bed, we also watched some TV with them.
Both of us are feeling great and could probably walk double the miles if only there were more hours in the day. Today we ran/walked 39 miles before calling it a day.
My time passed nicely today as I listened to Adventures in Odyssey on my MP3 player.
Good night from Avon, South Dakota.
Well, it's the morning and we're packing up. I uploaded some new pictures, check them out here: http://www.runacrosstheusa.com/images/7-7/ Can you guess who Abby is?
Well, we need to be on the road. We both feel great, even though we'll get a crazy late start we were able to catch up on a lot of things. So, goodbye for now!
Well, once again I've managed to drive myself into hating food.
As Brandon already mentioned, my aunts Mary Claire and Susan are down here to see us, and we're staying at a Holiday Inn Express tonight. We're hoping to get a good night's sleep though, and get a nice start tomorrow.
Tonight we ate at the Silver Dollar Restaurant in Vermillion, South Dakota. It was some great food, although the presentation was weird: The pictures they showed of food in the menu looked disgusting, but it all looked and tasted great once it arrived.
As Brandon mentioned earlier, we both drank a half gallon of juice earlier today. It wreaked some havoc on my system with that, but thankfully I was fortunate enough to find "Whimp's Bar", a quality establishment in Burbank that thankfully contained a restroom.
The cat from today was great, he followed us for quite some time. I tried to have him ride on top of the stroller, but he was having none of that. I wanted to keep him, but I don't think that it would have liked oatmeal. So we said goodbye to him and headed to Vermillion.
Well, I'm getting pretty tired, and Brandon already filled in most of the details. We're planning on sleeping in a bit and getting a nice continental breakfast. So, until next time - stay tuned!
Our travels started in Iowa this morning and ended 35 miles later in North Sioux City, South Dakota.
Well, once again, we got going later than anticipated. Our plans to start early were thwarted by a flat tire that needed patching. (This is the second flat we have had on this trip.) Once that was fixed, we were on our way again.
Those of you who are using a computer that came in a black and white cow box might be interested to know that we went past the place where Gateway Computers was started.
When we stopped for dinner at McDonald's tonight a girl came up to us and asked if we were running across the U.S. She told us that her father had bicycled across the U.S. two times. We were quite impressed by that information. She then went on to say that we could stay at her house tonight if we wanted to. Unfortunately, her house was quite far away from our route so we had to decline her gracious offer. However, she called Steve, her father, who soon drove up on his motorcycle and offered to find us an alternate place to camp. So, tonight we are camping on the lawn of one of Steve's acquaintances. We really appreciate their help.
Our mothers got together and figured out how much has been collected for our charity so far. As of July 5, the profits from our t-shirt sales combined with charitable donations totaled $1,584. This figure does not include promised donations which have not been received yet--such as the generous donations from the guys from Free Beer and Hot Wings Morning Show and their affliliates. Thanks to everyone who has supported our efforts to raise money for Water for Children Africa.
Speaking of shirts, we currently have a good supply available. You may purchase a shirt on-line for $15 (which includes $3 shipping) or if you live near us, you can call our parents to pick up a shirt for $12.
My aunts from St. Paul, MN, are driving down to see us Wednesday. I am looking forward to seeing family once again. An added bonus is that as we pound the pavement tomorrow, we'll know that a comfortable hotel room awaits us at the end of the day.
Our mileage today was 38. We spent quite a few hours on dirt and gravel roads as we were trying to take a little shorter route.
The highlight of my day was pigging out on "blackberries" from a large tree. These berries looked just like blackberries but were on a tree--not a bush. Maybe somebody knows what kind of berries they are, and you could let me know in a post.
Along the road we met some nice farmers and spent some time talking to them.
Brandon and I went through Ida Grove and saw several castles and a large factory. While there we stopped at a hardware store to get hose clamps to fix the tubes that our handlebars slip into. The tubes had cracked, and the clamps are all we needed to fix them.
Even though this is the 4th of July, we are nowhere near any fireworks. Tonight we are camping out in the backyard of the Monk family. Their home is in the country several miles south of Moville, Iowa.
We need to get up early tomorrow so we will call it a night.
This morning Brandon and I were on the road by 8:00. When we got to Auburn, we found an Evangelical Lutheran Church with more than 45 minutes to spare before the service. With that cushion of time, we decided to go to a nearby store and buy cinnamon rolls and chocolate milk. We enjoyed our snack and a short nap at a small town park before attending the church service. The service was nice and the congregation was friendly.
On the road again, we headed to Lake View which has a state park and many people there for the 4th of July weekend. As we were hungry again, we stopped at a grocery store in Lake View. A girl named Abby was working there and Brandon actually talked with Abby. 4th of July came early for Brandon as sparks flew for the two of them. I think love is in the air! I will post a picture of Brandon and Abby as soon as I have Internet access again.
After Brandon said his goodbyes (for now), we took off down the road to try to hit our goal mileage. The time flew by - especially for Brandon with Abby in his thoughts!
We did 35 miles today and made it to the "downtown" of Arthur, Iowa, by 8:30 p.m. We knocked on a few doors before approaching the Smiths' home. They were both outside. When we explained what we were doing, they opened up their home to us. The Smiths are gracious hosts who gave us hamburgers, chips, and delicious stirfry. In addition, they offered us a chance to take showers and are washing some clothes for us.
So now it is time to retire to my comfy bed. I hope everyone has a great 4th of July. God bless the USA!
Well it's Friday night, we did 31 miles, and once again we've managed to find a free meal and a warm bed to sleep in. But let me fill you in on the day's events before I get to that.
We got up late this morning - after 7 o' clock, which is pretty late for us. Our first duty was to do our normal 8:30 a.m. EST check-in with the Free Beer and Hotwings show. They were funny as always, and really poked fun at Eric Zane for being concerned for us. We won't be on for the next two Fridays, but look for us to make a triumphant return on July 22.
However, our day with the media wasn't complete. At the request of TV 6, our local Upper Michigan NBC affiliate, Brandon's parents took some footage of us and asked some interview questions. Between those two events, my devouring of their continental breakfast, and saying goodbye to Brandon's family, we weren't on the road until 11 a.m. Still, our old saying applies: despite our late start, we still managed to kick some butt!
We didn't stop that much today, but we needed a bathroom break near Paton, Iowa. Failing to find a gas station or any stores in the town, we headed for Gus's Bar. Inside we were able to fulfill our primary objective, and make some unexpected friends as well. We met the Fields, who were nice enough to buy us prime rib dinners! They were awesome and much appreciated. They also said that we could stay in their lawn a couple miles down the road. After we finished eating our delicious dinner, we headed down the road to their home. Upon arrival, they extended their generousity even farther - they are letting us stay inside, and hot showers as well! It's so awesome to have a great place to stay, knowing we don't have to set up or tear down or sleep on hard ground tonight makes it like a holiday for us.
Well, right now I'm going off to get clean. It's great to have a nice place to sleep, and hopefully we won't have to use that dreaded phrase "despite our late start.." again tomorrow.
Well, Brandon filled you "early checkers" in about the details of the day, so I'll spare you that. Major props to Amanda for making it the whole way, and for Kristin for going most of the way, too. Those Newlins are a hardy bunch, the whole family went at least a few miles. I raced Josiah for a while - he is going to be an awesome runner someday, he was leading the way in his flip-flops for a long time!
So we did 31, got back to the AmeriHost in Boone (Iowa), swam, and headed off to the Golden Corral for dinner. The Golden Corral is an awesome buffet-style restaurant chain that we've seen throughout Iowa, but this was the first time we had the pleasure of experiencing their incredible array of delicacies.
Basically we all ate far too much, led by Brandon and myself. I don't think I could have taken in another bite, and I still feel extremely full hours later. Right now we're uploading the pictures from the past two weeks, checking a few things while we still have Internet access, and watching the Homestar Runner cartoons we've missed.
We're trying to get some rest tonight, since we have our Free Beer and Hot Wings interview in the morning. We also have an interview to do for TV 6 in Marquette tonight. I guess Brandon's parents are taping it, and they'll dub over it later. Pretty cool to get some coverage back home!
Well, I need to go watch some more Homestar. Not sure when we'll be able to post in "the flesh" again, so goodbye for now!
Oh yeah, check out the new pictures on http://www.runacrosstheusa.com/images/6-30/ They won't be up "officially" for a little while until Tony gets around to it, but you can have a sneak peek. That's just how much I like you.
Today started by waking up in our suite at the Oskaloosa WalMart. We tore down our camping equipment in the rain before seeking shelter and breakfast at the WalMart Subway. My first steak, egg, and cheese sandwich started on fire--so I got that one free. The second one was good, too.
After breakfast we braved the storm and set out on the road. We were quickly soaked but managed to get in 16 miles before stopping at a Hyvee supermarket. After picking up some supplies, we headed to the nearby Pizza Hut and their lunch buffet. With our bodies filled with pizza and breadsticks, we emerged to find it sunny and hot again.
Brandon had another strange encounter with a motorist today. Some guy went noticably over the white lane as he passed Brandon who was pushing the stroller. As he passed, he held his hand down on his car horn for one continuous long honk. We really weren't sure what that was all about; however, he seemed to be trying to scare Brandon.
A few miles down the road I was pushing the stroller over a road when I suddenly heard a snap from the stroller. The axle on the front tire had broken. Thankfully it broke near mile 20, and we were able to rig it up for a short time in an attempt to get to the next town. The tire kept falling off as we made our way down the road. Eventually we stopped for a bathroom break at a Subway near Monroe. It was there that the threading on the front axle bolt stripped away making the front wheel totally unusable.
We decided to head for Monroe with the hope that there was a hardware store open at 7 p.m. on a Tuesday. On the way to Monroe, Brandon tilted the stroller so that it was traveling only on the back two wheels. I walked down the road carrying the front tire. Still, the whole time we were not nervous as we knew the Lord would somehow provide.
In Monroe we found the hardware store already closed. We decided to go to the only store that was still open--Ralph's Reruns--which incidentally is open after 5 o'clock one night a week--on Tuesdays. We explained our problem and situation to the woman named Ralphi Munson who was working there. She said she might have someone to help us. Her husband Lee was working two doors down and came to talk to us after he was done working. After explaining our mechanical troubles, Lee said he could help and went to a parts store to get what he needed. A little while later we met him at an auto repair shop down the street where he was able to make us a new axle along with several spares. The new axle is far stronger than the original.
To our great pleasure, Lee then offered to let us stay at his home just down the street. Their Nascar-themed room and house are awesome. Lee and Ralphi also offered us beds and showers, and we eagerly accepted that offer. They fed us tasty grilled brats and burgers along with chips and salad tonight. Lee and Ralphi are fun to be with and have been very generous to us.
If you are ever in Monroe, check out the secondhand store called Ralph's Reruns and the Monroe Diner, which just opened yesterday.
We only got 31 miles in today, but it wasn't for lack of effort.
Brandon's father, mother, sisters and brothers are driving down to see us tomorrow. We are both excited to see them.
Today the weather played a significant role in our travels once again. The temperature on outdoor business thermometers read in the high 90's throughout the day.
A nice break in our journey came when we spotted a Chinese restaurant. Brandon and I enjoyed the Chinese buffet and a little rest before moving on again.
Toward evening stormy weather forced us to seek shelter. We tried to be responsible and get a room at the Comfort Inn, but they were all filled up and the nearest other hotel was five miles back. Still needing to get out of the bad weather, we went to WalMart. Fortunately the assistant store manager agreed to let us set up our tent on a grassy strip next to the store. Before we could do that, we needed to let most of the storm pass over us. We headed into the WalMart Subway and set up the laptop so that we could watch the movie Lady Killers. After the movie, we ventured back outside to set up the tent.
Brandon and I were a little disappointed with the lack of mileage today (only 30 miles), but we will hopefully make up for it with an early start and nicer weather tomorrow.
Goodnight from the WalMart in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
Brandon and I left Rome early this morning with plans to attend a church service in Fairfield. Our plans didn't work out as we couldn't find a Fairfield church with an 11:00 service.
The Fairfield Hyvee--a supermarket chain store--was our next stop. Both of us decided to pay $4.99 for the salad and fruit bar. We gorged ourselves on incredibly fresh and delicious fruit, hearty soup, and salad. After making other purchases, we headed out into the furnace.
Once again, the air was very hot and humid. The Strollometer hit a new record of 122 degrees.
A motorist driving by stopped and gave us some ice cold bottles of water. His timing was perfect, and the water was greatly appreciated.
In the evening we wasted some time trying to find a house but eventually a nice man let us stay in his yard on the east side of Ottumwa, Iowa.
Our mileage today was just shy of 38 miles. All in all it was a tough and long day.
Good evening, everyone, from the Rome, Iowa, home of Mr. and Mrs. Krieger and their two children. After traveling 35 miles today, we arrived at the Krieger home and asked if we could pitch our tent on their country lawn. The Kriegers showed their hospitality by giving us food, water, and a place to set up our tent. Brandon and I enjoyed sandwiches and potato chips followed by Jello fruit cocktail which Mrs. Krieger provided. The Krieger children--Brandon (almost 10 yrs. old) and Breena (6 1/2 yrs. old)--helped us set up our tent. To our great joy, we also were able to take showers after a long, sweaty day on the road.
The weather was quite hot again today--115 degrees on the Strollometer--and very humid. In fact, there was a visible haze in the air. I am not sure what relative humidity means, but relatively speaking, it felt like we were swimming.
This morning we got off to a late start leaving the hotel. Once we were on the road our progress was slow because of the road conditions. Pushing the stroller on a gravel shoulder was much harder than pushing it on a paved one. However, we were still able to get 35 miles down the road today.
We stopped for a much needed break and pizza at a gas station this afternoon. While there, we talked to several nice older gentlemen. Meeting new people is definitely a highlight of my day.
Tomorrow morning we plan to walk about 12 miles to Fairfield and attend a church service.
Well, it is time to go outside to watch the fireflies in the field before I fall asleep. Good night from outside of Rome, Iowa.
Brandon and I are happy to report that we have passed the 1,000 mile mark!
This morning Eric Fryer was nice enough to drop us off where we were picked up yesterday--the McDonald's in Farmington, IL. That gave us a chance to start the day with a McDonald's deluxe breakfast--good fuel for the many miles ahead. This turned out to be a good plan as we went 35 miles before seeing a single store.
The weather was very hot again today; the "Strollometer" registered 118 degrees. Along the route, a nice lady stopped to ask us if we wanted some water. Her parents lived just a little ways down the road so we stopped there for apples and water. That was a nice break and greatly appreciated.
We were able to run a lot after the weather cooled down today, and we finished with a total of 37 miles.
Dinner tonight was at an ice cream shoppe in Roseville. Brandon set a new personal record by eating 10 hot dogs for dinner. He topped it off with a Boston Shake, which is a shake with a sundae on top.
Tonight we are setting up our tent on the lawn of the youth pastor of the Roseville Christian Church. We are grateful for youth pastor Jason's invitation to stay there.
Eric Fryer called my parents to tell them that the article about us was on the front page of the Bekin Times and that he was sending copies to my parents. Awesome!
We both miss the Sweetness Express, but we appreciate that we have a nice place to pitch our tent tonight.
Brandon had a bit of an accident a couple of days ago. He'll talk about that tomorrow during the interview on the Free Beer and Hot Wings Morning Show. Remember to listen to our interview Friday morning at 8:30 Eastern/7:30 Central.
That's it for tonight.
When we posted yesterday, we hadn't yet arrived at the home of our host Eric Fryer. Now I can give you more details about our unique accommodations.
Last night we stayed in the "Sweetness Express," which is a 35-foot 1962 coach bus. The bus is named after the late great football legend Walter Payton. The owner of the bus is Eric Fryer, a former Marine who is the world's biggest Chicago Bears fan. The bus sports custom-made paint from Sherwin Williams. All but four of the Super Bowl XX players have been in the bus. The inside of the bus is basically a shrine of memorabilia--curtains made from Chicago Bear towels; signed, framed photos cover the walls; and it seems that everywhere has some incredible piece of the Bears' history.
This morning Eric dropped us off at 9:30 at the WalMart SuperCenter. Due to a need to resupply and refuel and an unexpected interview by the Pekin Times in the WalMart McDonalds, we didn't get started until after noon.
We want to mention that we now have the RunAcrossTheUSA.com sign affixed to our stroller as we travel. The sign is attached to the stroller with rubber bands and paper clips. The sign looks great and was given to us by Mark Klatt of Great Lakes Sports in Menominee, Michigan. Thanks, Mark, for this great sign.
As I mentioned, we got off to a slow start, but at Mile 20 Eric drove by and offered to get the Sweetness Express for us to stay in one more night. Of course, we readily agreed. Spurred on by this awesome offer, we ran a lot after the sun went down and managed to get in a total of 30 miles. We also knew as we ran that the Farmington McDonalds and their $1 hot fudge sundaes were awaiting us. By the way, I highly recommend those sundaes.
We are really grateful to Eric who was so willing to go out of his way for us. It was great to see him and the Sweetness Express again.
And now for the temperature report: The "Strollometer" reached a new record today--117 degrees.
Our host tonight is Eric's step-brother. The Sweetness Express is parked in the driveway of his home in Farmington. He is another generous person who has made us pizza for supper and let us use his cell phone to call home.
So now I must retire to the bed and air-conditioning that await me inside the bus. We will enjoy one more night on the Sweetness Express, which is probably the coolest place we have ever stayed. Good night from Farmington, Illinois.
First of all, we made 42 miles today and are in Pekin, IL.
We haven't been able to read any posts today as we have had no Internet access. My mom tells me several of you have posted. Thanks for your encouragement. For those posts that require a response, we'll try to do that in the near future. For now, our parents have to post and relay messages to us.
My mom is working on getting t-shirts out to people who have ordered on-line. Please be patient as she needs to get some things fixed before she can complete the orders.
Today we went over the Mackinaw bridge. For our friends in the Upper Peninsula, let me clarify that it is a bridge that crosses the Mackinaw River in Mackinaw, IL. It's definitely a lot shorter than the bridge that connects the two peninsulas of Michigan.
The heat caused us both to be quite tired--and at times a little dizzy--throughout the day. Our "Strollometer" was reading 110 degrees. The heat and exercise force us to rehydrate by drinking lots of water during the day.
Brandon bought 10 hotdogs and 8 buns for our lunch today. We ate all of them for a cheap $3 meal.
It's 10:30 at night, and we still aren't where we plan to stay tonight. We met a man and his son at a gas station in Mackinaw earlier today. Mr. Fryer offered to let us stay in his 25 ft. Chicago Bears bus. He says it is air-conditioned and that sounds VERY good to us right now. He is coming to pick us up at Wal-Mart.
That's it from the middle of Illinois.
Brandon and I were on the road a little before 7:30 this morning. Both of us now have MP3 players, and the music definitely helps us get moving--especially the songs with a fast beat. We got in 41 miles today and are happy to get our mileage back up again.
Our big stop during the day was in Gibson City, IL, to get food and water at a grocery store. It is a good thing we stopped there because there hasn't been much since Gibson City. If I were to describe Illinois in one word, it would be "corn." That is what we saw today--miles and miles of corn. There really haven't been many homes along the route since we left Gibson City.
We saw what we believe is the world's biggest dog today. The dog had a bark so low it was barely audible. The barking must have worn it out, as it quit barking after a minute or two and just growled.
A nice man is letting us pitch our tent on his country lawn tonight. We had hoped to watch one of our new DVDs tonight, but our laptop battery is too low.
We will continue our travels down Route 9 tomorrow. Keep posting--we love to hear from you. Your words of encouragement are appreciated.
Pika, Derek, and Lee left very early this morning. Thanks for visiting with us.
Pastor Jeremy invited us to his church service and to speak to the Sunday school class. The congregation was really good to us, and it was great to be there.
With all that activity this morning, we got a late start around 1:00 p.m. We only went 26 miles and were disappointed with our mileage today. However, we should be able to kick it up a notch and reestablish our routine starting tomorrow.
Tonight we are outside of Paxton near a small airport. We are camping out on a lawn of a home in the country.
That's it for tonight; we hope to get an early start and lots of miles in tomorrow.
As Brandon mentioned, we were surprised by hometown friends last night. Our high school friends, James and Jenny Smith, drove to Lafayette from Illinois. Pika Aderman and Derek Grinsteiner--former Stephenson runners--and Pika's father Lee drove all the way from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Mrs. Conley graciously allowed them to camp in her backyard.
Thank you once again to the Conley and Greives families for their hospitality. Thanks also to Mrs. Severinsen for making these arrangements possible.
This was really a fun day as our friends decided that they wanted to share in our journey. All five of them walked about 8 miles with us today. Later Jenny and James left and returned with delicious pizza, breadsticks, and shakes. Since Jenny has to work on Sunday, they left later in the afternoon.
The two of us did a really dumb thing today. Thanks to our idiocy in forgetting to fill the water bladders and the fact that the towns were about 25 miles apart, we ran out of water with about 15 miles to go. We learned our lesson and are thankful it wasn't hot outside today.
This morning we started out west of Lafayette, IN, and tonight we crossed the IL border. Brandon and I made 35 miles before stopping in Hoopeston, Illinois.
Dinner was at an A&W-style, mom and pop restaurant in Hoopeston called Hennings. A unique feature of the restaurant was that every booth had a phone in it that you used to place your order. The restaurant had really good food for really good prices. We recommend you stop there if you are ever in Hoopeston. Thanks, Mr. Aderman, for the great meal.
The pastor of the Church of God struck up a conversation with us as we were stopped by the roadside near his house. He guessed that we might be walking across the U.S. as he had driven by us earlier in the day. When he realized we were looking for someplace to camp, he offered his backyard. The pastor--Jeremy--and his two adorable children named Josiah and Anna are our hosts tonight. In addition, Mr. Aderman, Pika and Derek are camping with us before heading home tomorrow morning.
Thanks so much to our friends who traveled to see us this weekend.
We wish our fathers a Happy Father's Day on Sunday.
Today was a great day from the start. We had our weekly call-in on the Free Beer and Hot Wings morning show at 8:30 EST, and they informed us that they would be donating $500 to support our charity, Water for Children Africa. They also challenged the other radio station companies that carry their show to match that amount. Brandon and I always have a great time talking to them because they're hilarious, but today it was better still to see their generosity.
The radio show and a bit of procrasinating got us a late start, and after leaving the Conley house a little before 8:30 we weren't really on the road until about 9:30, and even then we stopped at Burger King, so we only had about 3 miles in at 10:30 when we started in earnest.
Friday and Saturday are great days for us to pass through populated areas, because we're both big fans of rummage sales. Today was no exception, and we stopped a few miles outside of Frankfort to purchase some DVD's. We got some great ones - Ladder 49, The Shining, Flight of the Phoenix, Meet Joe Black, and several others, all for a good price. I guess we won't be too bored on the camping nights now since we'll have something to do other than argue with each other.
The day was a perfect day for us, cool with a nice amount of clouds so that we didn't get too much sun. I spent a good portion of the day walking down the side of the road chatting on MSN Messenger via the Ogo. The shoulders were nonexistant in several parts today, but the road we were on didn't have a heavy traffic load for the most part.
When we finally arrived at Lafayette around 4:30, we were able to see what a great city it truly was. A mixture of old and new, with a wonderful downtown district, although the stone frog statues that sit on most corners were a bit odd.. West Lafayette, home of Purdue University, was very nice as well. We ended our day a few miles west of West Lafayette, out in the country. It should be a nice spot to start tomorrow.
A few questions seem to always arise when people ask us about our run, so I thought I'd clear a few up now:
Don't you get sick of pushing the stroller? It seems like it would be really heavy.
Actually pushing the stroller isn't too bad, even up hills. Up the mountains it can be rough, but there we switch off quite regularly to keep us fresh. It is much more difficult to take down hills, as it has a tendency to want to go much faster than the pusher wishes to go.
Sometimes it is actually nicer to push the stroller, because you can lean on it and take some pressure off of your legs. There are days when my legs don't feel good that I tell Brandon that I'll push for hours.
Don't Brandon and you get sick of each other?
Sometimes, but not as bad as we anticipated. We don't run side by side the whole time, so that helps. Also, I think Brandon just in general gets more easily annoyed than I do - he honestly doesn't bother me that often.
How do you pick a house to stay at?
Mostly we just go for whatever is closest when we hit our goal mileage. Usually we pick houses close to the road, because it's more awkward to walk up a long driveway to someone's house. We also try to go for houses where we know someone is home (obviously.) There isn't any real specific age or class group we go for - we've stayed in the yards of many different age and class combinations.
How do you ask permission to sleep in someone's lawn?
Actually, every day we switch off. So if Friday is my day to ask permission, Brandon's day to ask permission will be the next day we camp out. Our opening line is that we aren't selling anything, because that generally puts people's minds at ease. Then we tell them about what we're doing and ask permission to set up. You can usually tell by the second sentence whether they'll say yes or no, because most "no's" have already made up their mind about you when they open the door. We have been very blessed in that we've run into many great people who have been kind enough to offer us food and showers and even money to help us on our way.
Where do you eat?
Mostly we buy large supplies of food at Aldi or Wal-Mart a few times a week, and just snack throughout the day. We'll eat quite a bit of breakfast items such as dry cereal, oatmeal packets, and toaster pastries (Pop-Tarts.)
Well, those are most of the basic questions. I'll let Brandon get on to post now.
RE: June 16. Brandon and I enjoyed some time away from each other last night as he stayed with his relatives in Anderson, IN, and I stayed with my parents at a hotel in the same city. The pampering was great--Brandon's aunt even made us some homemade cinnamon rolls. Good stuff.
This morning we followed Brandon, his aunt and cousin from Anderson, Indiana, to rural Elwood, where we had quit walking on Wednesay. After repacking the stroller, Brandon and I said farewell to our relatives and continued on our journey. Highway 28 is a flat road with little or no shoulder. Travelling by foot was challenging on that road. Even so, we made it 32 miles today.
Along the way, we stopped at the Movie Gallery store. Brandon bought 8 DVDs. The stroller is really full of stuff now--we will have to think carefully before buying anthing else or we will have to send things back via UPS.
Thanks to the Greives and Conleys for picking us up tonight, treating us to Italian food and custard, and providing us beds for the nights. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.
Since we have been with my parents the last couple days, we don't have many stories to tell. To keep your interest, I remind you that I am working on my "Top 10 Things I Hate About Brandon" list.
Our Free Beer and Hot Wings Morning Show interview is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Eastern, 7:30 a.m. Central on Friday.
Well, tonight is our last night with my parents. Actually, Brandon is staying with his relatives tonight, while I'm in the Anderson Fairfield Inn with my parents. This provided us with a chance to be apart for once!
Today we started late (about 10:30) and ended early (6:30.) We only got a little over 28 miles in, but we wanted to end early so that I could get some time with my parents. Tomorrow we plan on being on the road by about 8, and tomorrow night we have some relatives of friends that are going to pick us up and provide us with another warm bed to sleep in. We both feel a little spoiled, although although even with all this TLC you still have to push a stroller for 30 some miles every day.
Today wasn't very eventful, although we were able to play with the Ogo a little bit more. It's pretty cool, we are able to instant message our friends while at the same time walking down the road. It provides a nice little break in the day, and the battery is pretty long lasting.
Well, I need to finish up a few things before I collapse onto my comfy bed. Stay tuned for my own "10 things I hate about Brandon" list.
Now the business part is over, time to tell the tale of today!
Well, last night was probably the roughest we've had so far. As Brandon so eloquently put it, I got to bed early to get my "beauty sleep." It was a beautiful evening, as I drifted off to sleep to the sound of a gently breeze against the tent.
I awoke as Brandon returned to the tent, and a storm was raging. We were both a little concerned, as it felt like the tent was going to blow away or collapse. Still, we like the adventure and drifted off to sleep. The next time I awoke our tent was flooded. What happened was the rain water got trapped under our tent in between the tarp that we lay underneath it and the tent floor. The result can best be described as an extremely leaky water bed. Mostly everything got soaked, and the tent, our clothes, and our sleeping bags smell terrible.
With that nightmarish night behind us, and knowing that my parents and a couple of warm beds awaited us that night, we packed up, said goodbye to the nice two women that we stayed with, and hit the road. It was wet for most of the morning, and we only stopped once at a McDonald's for some breakfast. I tried the Fruit and Walnut Salad, it was pretty good, although Brandon made fun of me for the rest of the day. I guess it isn't nearly as manly as the Deluxe Breakfast, but it tasted good to me!
Knowing that we were going to get pampered kept us going strong throughout the day, and we only stopped once at a gas station to rest for a short while and eat a little snack. We passed through Greenville and hit the Ohio cornfields, powerwalking along into Indiana, totaling 36.6 miles by 6 o' clock. My parents picked us up and we ate dinner at a nice restaurant, where Brandon and I ate like it was our last meal. Then came our return to the hotel, where we were able to examine and play with all of our new "toys!" I am pleased to announce that the Ogo works great, and our new socks should be great replacements for all the pairs that we fried. My mom is even washing our stinky clothes for us tomorrow, which is a big deal for us since it saves us a couple hours of daylight.
So it's pretty amazing to both of us to see how this RunAcrossTheUSA website has simply grown and snowballed. Tony Cappaert reworked it for us and it looks a million times better than what I had done.
I'm getting pretty tired (as always!) and we're still trying to hit our average mileage of 36 tomorrow, so that's all for now. Hopefully we'll be able to keep writing from the road, so stay tuned!
Serious Stuff First!
Brandon and I have been talking it over the past few days, and we both feel strongly that God's hand has been directing our journey, and we have been truly blessed in the people we've met and the donations they have so generously given. Therefore, we have decided that ALL the profit from the t-shirts will go to Water for Children Africa.
This is a retroactive change as well, meaning that we're also giving all the money back that Brandon and I have earned from selling them. Basically what this means is that the charity will now be getting all the profit from the shirt sales. In other words, your $12 minus the cost of producing the shirt is the amount given to Water for Children Africa. That works out to about $6 profit per shirt.
We are still accepting direct donations to us as well as money donated above the t-shirt value, and it is very greatly appreciated. If you would like to donate directly to Water for Children Africa through us without buying a shirt, that can also be arranged.
The system for donations and for ordering t-shirts is going through a major overhaul. Our volunteer webmaster, Tony Cappaert, is working hard on producing a more efficient and better-looking setup for ordering online. So, stay tuned for that!
Our morning started out with a radio interview on the Free Beer and Hot Wings Morning Show. Once again the guys were fun to talk to and very encouraging. In fact, they even had a couple of recommendations for us. One was to show a picture of our t-shirts on our Web site. Tony has already taken that suggestion and run with it. Check out the photo in The Store. Thanks, Tony!
The hot and humid weather surrounded us again today. Although we didn't start out until 9:30 a.m., we managed to get in 36 miles by 7:30 p.m. We have been mastering the art of power walking and have been able to get in some good miles.
I was almost eaten by two huge, vicious dogs today. To scare them away, I used Brandon's technique of raising my arms to look larger and then yelled at them.
Dogs weren't our only unfriendly encounter. In a strange, unprovoked act of malevolence, a guy in a truck tried to spit at us. When Brandon waved after he spit, the guy uttered a string of obscenities. To make this situation even more unusual, the man was in the middle of a bench truck seat and had to reach over another guy to spit on the stroller. Thankfully, he missed. Apparently, he doesn't like babies. Honestly, who would lean out of a truck to spit on a stroller?
We ate at Subway and then indulged our sweet tooth by drinking malts from an ice cream shoppe in Centersburg.
Tonight we are camping close to Galena, Ohio, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Link. Mrs. Link gave us pasta salad and absolutely huge slices of delicious watermelon. Mr. Link is treating us to McDonald's breakfast in the morning. We appreciate their hospitality.
Today we passed the 500-mile mark on our RunAcrossTheUSA! Besides that milestone, I set the new stroller speed record of 20.1 mph. As you might have guessed, we have been traveling on hilly roads once again. These two records happened on another hot and humid day.
This morning we went about six miles before stopping at a new WalMart Super Center in Coshocton, OH. As we were going inside, a Fed Ex deliveryman asked us about what we were doing. Apparently he saw us yesterday and wondered what we were up to. After talking to him a few minutes we went inside--pushing our stroller, of course--to do some shopping. We were very happy to find some good deals on running shoes and picked up more food for the trip.
As we were shopping, an attractive lady approached us. She was from the Coshocton Tribune and asked if she could interview us. Of course, we were happy to speak with her. The article she is writing will be in Friday's paper. Cool!
Michael Major, the store manager, approached us to talk about "The Run" and Water for Children Africa. He said he liked what we were doing and told us that WalMart would sponsor the purchase of everything in our cart. Additionally, WalMart would give us a generous gift card to use as we travel. We were thrilled and humbled by WalMart's generosity and Mr. Major's thoughtfulness.
Believe me, we left Coshocton with smiles on our faces!
We went 37 miles today and are spending the night at the Community Center in Martinsburg, OH, through the kindness of a local citizen.
This was an exceptional day! Thank you once again to everyone who has helped us on this trip--you are the best!
As we menioned in our post last night, we treated ourselves to breakfast at McDonald's this morning. We made it to the restaurant with just 10 minutes left for the breakfast menu. Breakfast was delicious!
The roads here in Ohio are quite flat, which is easier than the previous hilly terrain. My leg is feeling fine now.
The weather has been very hot and humid. Again today the "Strollometer" reached 115 degrees.
The stroller repairs made by Sam Minich seem to be holding up great. We really appreciated his help. Brandon and I pushed the stroller 36 miles today.
Tonight we are camping on a man's lawn outside of West LaFayette, Ohio. By the time we stop at night, I tend to be both mentally and physically tired. The chance to lie down, rest, and eat something is wonderful after putting in some long, hot mles on the road. Speaking of food, we bought more groceries today; our purchases included generic pop tarts, lots of instant oatmeal, bread, and 89 cents/per lb. peaches.
Tony tells me the site is getting quite a few hits a day. Thanks for thinking about us.
RE: June 7. Brandon and I were on the road by 7:40 a.m. Tuesday. With this early start we were able to get in a total of 42 miles of running/walking. Finding a place to camp was difficult as people were basically brushing us off and suggesting that we try a different location. Eventually we decided to stop walking and pitched our tent in an overgrown parking lot.
The weather was quite warm again today. In fact our stroller thermometer--now known as the strollometer--read 115 degrees at one point. This reading was when we were running and the "strollometer" was, of course, close to the pavement which added additional warmth. We figure the air temperature was probably around 90 degrees for some of our run today.
After a long day of running, we are tired. We plan to get an early start again tomorrow. We are low on food so we plan to run 10 miles to a McDonald's for breakfast and also to replenish our food supply.
We got off to a late start today and were faced with very warm and humid running conditions. A closed road forced us to look for an alternate route. Eventually we had to climb a steep embankment to get to a limited access highway. Getting the stroller up this steep incline was a true challenge! Yes, we ended up having to run awhile on the interstate highway.
During our run today we were in three states—we started in Pennsylvania, ran on some roads in West Virginia, and then crossed into Ohio.
When we were ready to stop for the night, we saw a Chinese restaurant with a sign advertising a buffet for just $6 a person. Our quest to eat at a Chinese buffet on this trip has been completed! We usually see Chinese restaurants at the wrong time of the day and were happy to finally find one at the end of the run.
I called home tonight and got some awesome news! The Ogo now functions! Cingular’s customer service worked with my mother to get everything set up properly. My mom rocks!
Our parents are helping us distribute t-shirts that have been ordered. We were amazed to find out that most of the last t-shirt order has been sold. A new order will be called in tomorrow. Remember to get your order in soon if you want a shirt from this next shipment.
We traveled 22 miles today and are spending the night in Steubenville, OH.
Well, we're getting ready to leave the Minich's for good right now. They have been so wonderful that it really is going to be difficult to say goodbye and go back to not knowing where we'll be sleeping tonight.
Brandon pretty much summed up last night, it was scary and definitely very trying. Like I said to him, it was probably one of the most scary experiences of my life. Being alone on a pitch dark road with absolutely no clue what to do is pretty humbling.
Alright, well I am going to take a nice warm shower and pack things up. Hopefully we'll have Internet access again soon, but if not my parents are most likely coming to see us next weekend, and hopefully they'll bring a working Ogo with them. Ours still isn't working, but we should be ordering a new one today, and we're really hoping and praying that there won't be any problems.
So stayed tuned as our journey gets back up into high gear. Oregon or bust!
We're spending tonight at the Minich's, a sort-of relatives-in-law to Brandon. We're in Clinton, PA at the moment, they were nice to drive us from the spot where we stopped for the night, did about 34 miles today.
It's nice to actually be on the computer and not have to pay to use it, this is only the second post actually typed by myself since The Run began. I don't know if it shows or not, but my mom takes notes during our nightly phone conversations and summarizes them into a wonderfully written exposition of the day's events. That isn't me.
To date we've averaged a little over 30 miles, a bit under our desired average of 34-35. However, I'm not too concerned because we've been walking through a couple sets of mountains over the past few days, and I've been trying to let my leg recover. It's been doing surprisingly well-elevation of it in our tent a couple nights ago really helped. I can't really describe it, other than it was a huge lump just above my ankle, now it's just a small knot in the same area. It hasn't hurt at all the past two days, I just have limited range of motion with my right foot, which causes it to slap a little harder than it should when I run. But I was still able to run quite a bit today, the only thing that is still tough is running downhill with the stroller.
This morning we got out of the motel pretty late, and then stopped at Aldi for supplies and then we had to stop at the Post Office to see about the socks that were supposed to be in via General Delivery. They weren't in, and won't be in until Monday, but the incredibly awesome Post Office Man was nice enough to arrange for them to be shipped ahead again when they actually do arrive, so we should be able to pick them up late next week at Delaware, Ohio.
We did about 34 today, even with starting at about noon. Tomorrow morning we'll probably start even later, as we're going to church before we get back on the road.
A few things I've learned so far on The Run:
-People are indifferent to whether or not they hit a couple of teenage guys with their car, but will stop completely or swerve into the other lane to avoid being even close to the (imaginary) baby they think is in our stroller.
-Cell phone companies are giant, faceless, evil, and clueless.
-People are pretty darn nice, especially if you're walking in the rain.
-Chicks are not at all impressed if you tell them you're walking across the country.
-Chicks are not at all impressed with Matt and Brandon.
-Chicks don't like us.
-Pennsylvania contains a set of hills called the "Appalachians" and another set referred to as the "Alleghenies."
-I am bad at getting Cingular employees to do what I want them to.
-My mom could probably talk Cingular employees to giving her money to use their service.
-It takes 10 times longer to pack up in the morning if a TV is on.
-Oatmeal packets taste best when eaten with your fingers.
-PB & J tastes better than filet mignon when the last time you ate was 20 miles ago.
-McDonald's arches in the distance can be like an oasis in the desert. Go Dollar Menu!
-The stroller is 10 times harder to have going downhill than up.
-Running for one day makes you smell worse than walking for 4.
So, in other news: My parents may be coming to visit soon! They will hopefully bring us a laptop and a functioning Ogo as well, so that we should be able to do pretty regular updates to the site. We've been on the road long enough now that we're starting to figure out what we need and what we don't need.
So, I'm uploading pictures right now. Check here if you want to check them out before our guy back home gets them all sorted, filed, and organized.
Hopefully they'll be up on the images page in a couple days.
Well, I'm going to go get some water and finish up the pictures. I just want to send out a very special thank-you to everyone who has helped us so far: the people we've stayed with, who've supported us, who bought shirts, who donated, our parents, everyone has been great. This has become a huge group effort, and both Brandon and I are really hoping that it becomes a phenomenon. So let your friends know, and make sure to stay tuned as our adventures continue during our RunAcrossTheUSA!
Our day started off with friendly conversation and humor. The guys from the "Free Beer and Hot Wings Morning Show" (Grand Rapids, Michigan) interviewed us around 7:30 a.m. The announcers--Free Beer, Hot Wings, and Eric Zane--were fun to talk to and encouraging. Apparently some people back home read our post last night and looked up the Web site for the radio station (www.wgrd.com). When I called home tonight, I learned several people had listened to the live broadcast--via streaming audio on their computers. Brandon's mother even figured out how to record the broadcast using her computer--that's cool!
The lady we stayed with last night was friendly and fed us ham, eggs, toast and coffee for breakfast. Those of you who know me realize that I don't normally drink caffeinated beverages, but I didn't want to seem ungrateful so I put LOTS of milk in the coffee. A homecooked meal was a treat, and her thoughtfulness was appreciated.
The kindness of many people was evident today. The rain was heavy and many people stopped to offer us a ride. One couple who volunteered to help ended up talking to us for awhile about our trip. The man and his wife are planning to bicycle across the U.S. this summer. They were very encouraging and gave us money to use as we travel.
After walking 34 miles, Brandon and I are enjoying the comforts of a hotel room tonight. My leg is feeling better each day, and a night's sleep in a bed will improve it even more.
Our Internet access is still via our parents. We are working on getting the Ogo up and running. Rumor has it that Tony will unveil some changes or additions to the Web site next week. We aren't sure what he has in mind, but we appreciate his help.
We have run/walked over 330 miles of our RunAcrossTheUSA.
Our route today took us again onto mountain roads in Pennsylvania. The combination of a stroller and pushing it up the mountain tends to make people curious. We meet people each day who want to know what we are doing. Today we met an older man and his wife who were traveling by car. The man told us he had hiked the Appalachian Trail last summer.
We walked 28 miles before stopping in Stoystown, PA. Our tent is set up as we are camping in a woman's backyard. Meals today included: Lunch--hot dogs bought at a store and heated in a store's microwave. Supper--the famous BP&J on squished bread, followed by some generic frosted mini wheats. Makes you hungry, doesn't it?
We will get to sleep early tonight as we have a 7:30 a.m. interview with Eric Zain from a radio station in Grand Rapids. The program is based in Grand Rapids, MI, and heard also in Philadelphia, PA, New Jersey, and New Hampshire. Zain's show is called Free Beer and Hot Wings Morning Show. Zain read our story in the Grand Rapids Press and interviewed us last week. We will call him again tomorrow morning. Gotta go now and get our beauty rest!
RE: June 1. On Wednesday, we got to use our water bladder in an unexpected way. As we were walking up a mountain, we came upon a man whose car radiator was overheated. To the driver's delight, we gave him some of our water to cool his engine. (For those of you who don't know what a water bladder is, it is a container that straps on your back with a small water hose to drink from.)
The mountains are definitely a challenge; we went up and down two today. After 31 miles, we stopped walking and decided to camp at the Friendly Village Campground (Campsite 134) in Bedford, PA. The stop here has definitely been a friendly one. While checking in, a nice couple asked where we were headed with the stroller. Eventually the couple bought us ice cream and ponchos, and they are charging our cell phone overnight. The ponchos will come in handy tomorrow as we are supposed to get more rain. Both the terrain and weather have made parts of our trip challenging.
Camped next to us tonight is a Polish guy whose first name is Wojtek. He lives in New Jersey and is bicycling across the U.S. Wojtek said he saw us going up a mountain and wondered who would be pushing a baby up a mountain in a stroller. It was really fun to talk to him and share our similar goals. I think he might have been relieved to discover equipment--and not a baby--in our stroller.
My leg is a little better; of course, I am still "duck walking" to compensate for the swelling.
We still have no Internet access; our parents are posting for us after we call home at night. Today we got the voice mail working on the cell phone and are happy about that.
Tony found the NBC25 broadcast script on-line; you can read it by clicking on the ABOUT THE RUN tab and then clicking on IN THE NEWS.
Today was an interesting one. Thinking that we should get rid of some of the grime from our week on the road, we stopped at a laundromat. While waiting for the washer to finish its cycle, I called home. My mom reminded us not to put our microfiber running shirts in the dryer since the dryer would probably be quite hot and ruin them. We put the rest of our clothes in the dryer and waited for them to finish. Imagine our surprise when we pulled out our Ironman socks. The socks had shrunk to little boy sized socks! Luckily, we have some regular cotton socks with us, and we will use them until we get more running socks.
As we left the laundromat, we met a news crew from NBC25. They had been next door doing a followup on a fire that happened on Monday. The reporter interviewed us and told us the interview would be on today. Of course, we didn't have a TV to watch it on.
Walking--instead of running--is still necessary as my leg heals. To walk up the Appalachian Mountains took us about an hour today. Coming down the mountain with the stroller is difficult.
We walked 26.5 miles before stopping to camp in Harrisville, PA. The homeowner and her aunt provided pizza and a shower for us to use. We are quite tired and appreciated her kindness.
On Saturday, we walked 26.2 miles to York, PA, and stayed in a hotel. We started our Sunday off by going to a church service that concluded at noon. Afterwards we walked 23 miles until we got to New Oxford, which is only about six miles from Gettysburg. Tonight we are staying in a gentlemen's yard. Brandon has been doing the hard work of pushing the stroller all day. In an effort to let my leg get better, we are not pushing too hard. The swelling is going down some. We are trying to play it safe until my leg feels heals.
Well, last night we had a pretty good night at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Weatherholtz. They were nice enough to make us food, let us shower, and give me ice for my leg.
I am having a problem with inflammation in my leg, but it's not too bad at the moment. Ibuprofen is my best friend.
Right now we're at an Internet cafe, not sure when I'll be able to post again. Most of the posts come through my mom at the moment, which is awesome of her.
The Amish are pretty cool to see, but the actual town of Lancaster has a large Latino population, which we didn't expect. We've been just enjoying the sights, although the area is hilly and the weather is HOT.
Well, I'm going to let Brandon post now, and go eat some of the yogurt that our last stop was nice enough to give to us. So, bye for now. We're still working on the Ogo still, should be able to post using that soon.
Today was a tough one for me. Last night was uncomfortable in the tent--at first it was very humid and then it was very cold--probably around 40 degrees. Good sleep was elusive and when morning came, we awoke to a tent dripping with moisture. I am not sure why, but the toughest part of the day involved running. One of my legs was quite sore, and I tried to run on just one leg. Now that was a challenge! I will switch to another pair of shoes tomorrow to see if that makes my leg feel better.
Our new speedometer came with a thermometer; today it reached 99 degrees! Anyways, Brandon is faring better than I am at this point. Brandon says "Hi" to everyone.
We made it 28 miles before stopping in Lancaster, PA. A very nice couple has agreed to let us spend the night on their lawn. In fact the lady gave me ice for my leg, offered to let us take showers, and cooked us some scrambled eggs. We are meeting generous people along our route.
I hear people are checking out the Web site daily. Thanks for all your interest. Tony will be posting some pictures for us soon. Our problems with Internet access continue; however, we are seeking other options.
We expected to see many Amish people in the Lancaster area. We have seen a few; in fact, we saw several Amish boys in a Cingular store! We were surprised to see a huge mall and many stores in this area.
This is all for tonight. We are very tired and hope to get some good sleep tonight.
RE: May 24-26. Our friends and family were with us Monday at 2 a.m. when the Greyhound pulled into Stephenson, MI. Within a few minutes we were on our way. After several bus stops, we finally arrived in New Jersey at about 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Soon we were starting our run across the U.S. The first day we were able to travel 40 miles before stopping at a really crummy hotel. Wednesday was rainy, we got lost, and we ran through a ghetto. In our travels we ran over the Ben Franklin Bridge and through the blueberry capital of the world. We went about 27 miles before stopping at the Holiday Inn Express on Walnut Street in Philadelphia—we were definitely “living it up” compared to the hotel on Tuesday.
WGRD (Grand Rapids radio station) called us this morning for an interview, which will play Friday morning. Eric Zane and his fellow announcer will be doing weekly radio updates.
The Ogo needed service from AT&T; so, our first priority Thursday morning was to find an AT&T wireless store in Philadelphia. Well, we have been unable to get it working and are now looking for other wireless Internet options. This post is being relayed through my mom. We will let you know when we have Internet access.
Can you believe this....while we were searching for the AT&T store, a guy on a bike approached us and asked "Are you guys doing something big?" The guy is a close friend of Dave Bronfenbrenner and Scott Sehon, who ran across the U.S. in 2003 and were one of the influences on our run.
Finally, we were on the road again and ran/walked 32 miles. I got to run an extra two miles to retrieve my wallet that I left at a pizza place. Tonight we stopped in a small town called Empreeville, PA. The terrain was hilly but we finally got to see the sun today. It was 30 degrees warmer today than yesterday. We decided to conduct our first test of human kindness today by knocking on someone’s door and asking them if we could sleep on their lawn. The first door we tried was a friendly one and we are now camping in the backyard of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Not only did they give us a place to stay but they provided us with water, bananas, apples, carrots, sandwiches, and ice. Today we set our new speed record as I got the stroller going 16.3 mph.
We are doing fine and are excited to continue our journey tomorrow.
Well, it's about 2 hours until we leave now. Everything is pretty much packed up, today was a blur as I squeezed those last precious moments in with my friends, while also doing quite a bit of work on the website. You'll now find a page on The Route, as well as an updated Store page.
Right now I just want to say goodbye, it's been a great couple of months at home. I'm scared right now of what the next months will bring, but I'm also excited. I can speak for both Brandon and myself that knowing and seeing how many people love us and want to help over the past few days has been an incredible boost to our confidence. Knowing that we are in their thoughts and especially that we're in their prayers is even more of a comfort.
Well, I better go load the stuff in our van. I'll try to get the Ogo working as we meander in our bus through Chicago, but who knows on that. In other words: I'll see you when I see you.
Oh yeah, hopefully Tony Cappaert will be nice enough to help us out on the picture page, as my mom has agreed to work with us about the pictures page.
=) It's a mere 16 hours to go before The Run begins, and it's absolute mayhem. I truly cannot believe we are basically leaving today. The past two days have been a whirlwind of fun, as we both rush to get in as much time as possible with our friends and our families.
Well, the original order of 36 t-shirts sold out within a couple hours of when I picked them up. However, don't fret. Another order has already been placed, and they should arrive sometime next week. Even this order is already almost spoken for though, so I'm sure we'll have to do another! They look awesome, and hopefully today I'll get the time to post a few pictures to show you all their beauty.
I'm getting pretty nervous now, I was a little sad yesterday at the thought of missing out on a "Stephenson summer", full of all the craziness and joy that I've come to expect over the past 3 years. It is tough to have to realize that I won't see my friends again for quite some time.
On a lighter note however, I'd have to say that almost everything is ready to go. Our list of "things to get" is small right now, and nearly everything on it can be purchased at any gas station.
Well, I really do need to make sure everything is ready. This afternoon/evening Brandon and I will be having a little dress rehearsal to go over any final problems, trying to make the most of the rapidly dwindling time now available to us. So, I guess this is goodbye and I'll see you at the coast!
Well, everything is pretty much set. We have all our equipment, the only things we're waiting on are Brandon's mp3 player and a tent footprint. In other words, we're doing well.
Today I really busted my butt to get a lot of things done. I went downtown to approve the artwork on our t-shirts (more on that in a minute), get another pair of running shoes (turns out the ones I ordered online weren't in), and get tickets to Episode 3 (theater wasn't open.) Somehow I made it back just in time to see Brandon on the phone and get an interview in over the phone with the Grand Rapids Press.
I'm a little frustrated right now, having to deal with a fraud situation from an eBay purchase. That is really annoying to have hanging over my head, but it's also educational, so I guess it's not as bad as it could have been. I also feel much better knowing that I'm going to get my money back since I paid via Paypal.
So, today I updated a number of the pages, all of the pages on the "Contact Us" tab actually. Also added a "Donate" page. I know that I haven't posted any pictures yet, and I don't have an excuse other than that I'm lazy. I need to set up some system for pictures before we go though, so stay tuned for that one I guess.
ABOUT THE T-SHIRTS: My supplier, the awesome Mark Klatt of Great Lakes Sports in Menominee, assures me that they'll be done by Saturday, May 21st. In other words, make sure to check back this week, as I have a feeling these shirts will go FAST. We ordered 36, and we'll sell more if we get more orders, but that will take time. So if you want them before June, you best be checking the website or contacting us for them. A good place to ask would be the Stephenson High School graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 23rd, as both Brandon and I will likely be there.
Oh yeah, Mark Klatt has done an awesome job for us, if you need uniforms or t-shirt printing of any sort done, I would definitely contact him. Tell him Matt sent you.
Well, I have to go to practice, then run. Running is something I've been taking easy lately, sort of like that last big breath before the plunge to the bottom. A morbid example I guess, we'll see how today's 20 miler goes.
Much has happened since I last wrote here. I've been getting complaints from my loyal fan base, so I figured it was time for an update, although it's late and I'm tired.
Things have been going pretty well as far as getting everything we need for The Run. T-shirts will be in by the 21st. Our tent is currently in the mail. The stroller is running well.
Brandon got back on Friday, but I was in Pickford this weekend visiting my homeboy Carl Morrison, so I didn't get to see him until Monday. Needless to say, there was a lot of excited shouts and screams as we realized that this crazy idea might actually work.
We are 99.9% sure that we're leaving on a Greyhound bus at 1:50 A.M. on Monday, May 23rd from the C-Store in Stephenson. That's the gas station on the corner of G-12 and US-41, for those that aren't down with the lingo.
Today Brandon and I went down to tie up a few more loose ends. I have to go back Friday to tie up some more, but basically we have everything we need. Still, I have a feeling this is going to be a hectic two weeks, as we scramble to get the last of our equipment and still spend time with friends and family before we go. Still, it's pure bliss knowing that in two weeks we'll be starting our journey.
That's all for now, I promise it won't be so long until I post again. =)
Just thought you all deserved a picture of our awesome stroller!
I did 17 miles with it today, not too bad overall. I loaded it with filled water bottles to simulate some weight, and it was difficult to even notice that the extra weight, although on rough roads it does become a bit more cumbersome. I'm sure I managed to convince half of the population of this area that I am a father - the looks I got from some people that drove by were priceless. Not that I can blame them, who would push a stroller around if there wasn't children inside?
I also set a PR for a new event called "the Trevor 400." I convinced Trevor, the long distance coach at Stephenson, to squeeze inside the stroller. Once inside, I shut him in, and proceeded to set a new record for the event, completing 400 meters on the track in 71 seconds, a feat I'm rather proud of. I was amazed that he fit inside, and the stroller isn't at it's maximum storage capacity yet (I need to remove the baby seat.) And, honestly, it wasn't terribly difficult to push him, even though he is about 140 pounds. That's comforting to know, just in case Brandon ever needs to take a break. =) In fact, there is so much room that we could probably have fit two Trevors, were he to have a twin brother or some other form of doppleganger.
Anyways, my new goal is to see if I can get under 65 seconds before we go. I see all sorts of events that could stem from this: relays, switch-offs, obstacle courses...a proverbial stroller olympics.
Well, I'm exhausted. Oh yeah, make sure to check out "Galaxy Song" by Monty Python. I just bought Monty Python and the Meaning of Life, and that is definitely the high point for me.
Final note: check out my eBay auctions if you happen to be nerd enough to be into vintage video games. The money you pay for the games goes to a worthy cause: me.
Well, Tuesday I ran my first marathon, by myself. I didn't time it, and I had to stop in the middle to coach, but it was good for my psychologically, though physiologically it wasn't too good. I didn't get enough sleep or nutrition that night, and the next day I paid for it in a lack of energy. I made up for that Wednesday by eating and sleeping as much as possible, so today I'm going for a 17 miler with the stroller.
I just ordered my sleeping bag, and our CamelBaks. I am bidding on a tent and an Ogo on eBay, and I just called Cingular yesterday to make sure that a used Ogo can still be activated and everything. They still sell them over the phone for $80, if it would come to that.
Yeah, don't take my jokes about Brandon's laziness seriously. We have an agreement: he's the super busy one, I'm the lazy one with tons of free time. Therefore, I handle most of the preparation stuff for The Run, he just shows up ready to go. =) It works out well, and it still leaves me time to find new hobbies, like Lunastix, which I bought for $0.25.
Well, I need to be going. Stay tuned, The Run starts in little more than a month!
Well, it's been quite a bit since I've last updated. So long, in fact, that I have been receiving inquiries into the status of our planned adventure. It's still on, I've just been too busy to update, and Brandon has been too lazy. My days have been filled with planning some of the details of our run, and locating and purchasing the equipment we'll need. I bought our stroller last week from Marinette Cycle Center. It is BIG, and will hold our stuff nicely. It handles really well, comes apart quickly, is very durable, and glides down the road. I'll get some pictures up...sometime.
I'm currently bidding on eBay for the tent that we want to use. I still need to get my sleeping bag and my CamelBak, but besides that I think most of our purchases could be made at nearly any sporting goodsstore or supermarket. The only impossible thing to get may be an Ogo. In retrospect, I should have picked one up at Christmas time. They've been discontinued, and they are very hard to come by now.
I know we need t-shirts, and I know we need pictures. To be honest, pictures are a pain and I haven't felt ambitious enough to devote a day to planning a layout and scanning a zillion pictures. I've been hired as an assistant track coach, coaching shot and discus of all things. I try to do my best, and I've learned a ton. It's very enjoyable, and I'm thankful for the work. Basically I spend most of my day running and working outside, then I go to practice and come home. It's a somewhat lonely existence, but I have managed to start a little tradition with my good friend Derek. Every Saturday morning we hit up all the rummage sales and secondhand stores in the area. Last week I bought a three piece suit, and I've also purchased several other things, including a jacket, a small TV for my car (for $0.50) and a couple games I plan on reselling for quite a profit.
Lately I've been reading more than usual. I just read "Catch Me If You Can", the true story about Frank Abagnale, Jr. that was turned into the hit movie of 2003 starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio. I loved it, and was amazed at his ability to circumvent the system. I now want to be a con man, but, as Brandon pointed out to me, I also wanted to be a professional poker player after watching the World Series of Poker on ESPN. So give me a week, I'm sure I'll forget all about it.
It's barely over a month until The Run begins, a fact that Brandon reminded me of when I talked to him on MSN last night. I'm excited, and I can't wait to get on the road. I think this will be a life-changing experience for both of us. I also know that once we're on the road, all of my frustrations and planning will be done. It'll just be me, him, and the road. And, of course, our loyal viewers, checking our progress.
Don't miss it. =)
Well, I have a new longest run, breaking my old record by 4 miles. I ran 20+ miles today, in roughly 3:04. My legs feel pretty good, and I was pouring on speed at the end with little problem. I can definitely tell I'm getting faster now that I'm in a bit more mild climate, and now that my body has once again become used to higher mileage.
This was my first week home, and it has been fairly eventful. It looks like I probably have at least one job lined up, and I'm also learning the ropes at eBay, as I auction off years of video games and assorted mementos.
I was experimenting with Microsoft Streets and Maps 2005, attempting to find the shortest route for us. I got frustrated when it started telling me to go through Canada, so I'm giving that a bit of a break.
Beyond that, there is little of consequence to tell. Today's run made me eager to begin our quest, which is about 50 days away.
T-shirts should be forthcoming. I contacted a local t-shirt manufacturer/distributor, just waiting for his reply.
Still hunting for the perfect lightweight tent and sleeping bag, within the next couple weeks I will have to take a day trip to Escanaba or Green Bay to browse, compare, and begin purchasing. If you happen to have either a lightweight bag or tent that you'd be willing to sell/give/loan to us, please send us an e-mail.
I am getting tired, and my legs are cold from the ice bath I just took. So I close with some reminders: brush and floss, eat your vegetables, say your prayers, check our website every day and buy at least 3 t-shirts when we get them in.
Yep folks, I'm home. I just got back from Easter with my family. There is nothing quite like traveling all day, getting home after midnight, having friends show up, not going to sleep until 4, waking at 6 and running 16 miles. I developed a pretty nice wheeze from the drastic temperature change on my lungs, but it felt awesome. I think I ran that 16 faster than I've ever run that far.
Anyways, so now I'm here. Tomorrow I plan on checking in on my new job, in a perfect world I'd start tomorrow, but I didn't get a chance to check on it today. Probably good to have at least one day to chill out before I start working anyways.
I received many good ideas for publicity from my good friend and cousin, Dan Vaillancourt. He has tremendous experience with self-publicity, having toured solo and released multiple CD's as an independent artist. Check him and his music out at http://www.danvaillancourt.com .
So, I'm tired and I'm home, so my lovely couch and big TV are calling to watch one of the DVD's I bought on eBay.
Oh, I ran 60 miles last week, this week is 65. The dream is coming closer and closer to reality...
As those who have me on their MSN Messenger list could tell you, I'm a mere 4 days from being back in the good ol' U. S. of A. However, this week very hectic, and I doubt that will change until I hop on my plane Friday.
This weekend I went and helped some friends move in and get set up, as well as help them with some computer issues. I ran 16 miles that morning, in some pretty intense heat. It's been much warmer here in the past 2 weeks, I'm glad I won't be here for summer!
Anyways, I got home late and slept in Sunday morning until about 8. Another person had asked me to do some computer work for them, so I had to run in the morning, which basically meant I was finishing about noon. I knew this would be a rought 16 miles, especially with the distance I had run the day before. So I took a gallon jug, and filled it with Kool-Aid and salt to keep me hydrated. That definitely made a huge difference, I honestly think I would've dropped without it. But I managed to finish, and a nice cold shower was more than enough of a reward for me.
One nasty side effect of spending about 6 hours running in blazing sun over 2 days is that I've got some moderate sunburn, a condition I absolutely hate. I've been burnt much worse that this before, but it still hurts, and the irritation drives me nuts. I'm hoping it will turn into tan by tomorrow, but we'll see.
Today was my final day of "normal" school, with tomorrow being our Sports Day. I had a wonderful day, as I was asked to be a chaperone with the honor roll students on their trip to the Palace Multiplex theater to see two movies: "Are We There Yet" and "The Incredibles." I haven't been in a theater since December, so it was awesome to just sit in a nice air conditioned building and relax. These were all honor roll kids, so there weren't really any problems. I was able to relax and enjoy the experience.
"Are We There Yet" played first, it is the latest Ice Cube movie. It wasn't that good, but then again it wasn't really my type of movie. "The Incredibles" was an excellent movie, a movie I am now searching for on eBay. I thought the animation was incredibly good, it has improved tremendously since I watched Toy Story as a kid. The action sequences were wonderfully done, and it was a good mix of humor and action. Fun for the whole family, two thumbs up, five stars, whatever glowing review you desire.
Well, I am going to bed. We have to leave early tomorrow to set up, so I need all the sleep I can get. Tomorrow will be a very, very busy day. Setup starting around 7, then watch kids all day, ceremonies etc., then tear down...makes me tired just to think of it. I'll have to make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen.
Oh, thumbs up to Brandon for posting more often. You don't suck at all, not even a little bit.
Wow, the space between updates has become longer and longer. I have been super busy lately, so that's my excuse. I think it's to make up for all the easy, lazy days I've had for the past 19 years, that now every day is nonstop. Thankfully it's making the time fly by, and in two weeks at this time I'll be with my family, enjoying a wonderful Easter. Well, actually at this time of day I'll probably be out logging a 18 miler, but you get the idea.
Running has been awesome lately. I switched to a new program that only runs 5 days a week. I feel very strong, and I've been knocking down 15 milers with no problem and no soreness. I am very slow though, thankfully I'm not training for a race, as I don't think I could break 5:40 in a mile right now. But I could probably run for 5 or 6 hours nonstop, so I guess it's worth the trade off.
I've been looking into mp3 players over the past week, deciding which one to buy. I've been desiring an iPod for about 4 years now, with an emotion I can only describe as technolust. But after some research I decided to go with a Creative player instead. I was looking for a flash-based mp3 player with 1GB of storage and in comparison the iPod Shuffle is overpriced and featureless. For a cheaper price, the Creative MuVo Micro n200 has all the features of the Shuffle, plus FM Radio, voice recording, LCD display, and in-line recording, which basically means I can hook a CD player in and record the songs directly to my player, and it even automatically inserts the track breaks. I can also record radio, at qualities up to 160khz! It also comes with a sports armband included, an item Apple feels the need to charge you $30 for!
Oh, and it runs off a single AAA battery, with play times hours longer than the Shuffle. The nice thing about AAA is that in a year or two when the iPod Shuffle internal battery dies and the owners have to spend $50+ to send it back to Apple for a replacement, I'll just be recharging my AAA's with a grin, thanking my lucky stars that I didn't buy one.
Plus, it looks so sexy in red!
Anyways, that should keep me company on my long runs where my good friend Curt Van isn't accompanying me. Curt and I go way back to my first days in cross country, he's an great guy and an excellent runner, with more talent in his little toe than I have in my whole body. He's training for a marathon, which is nice because it gives me some good company, and an excuse to hang out with my buddy.
I've been messing around with some laptops lately, trying to fix a student's laptop for him. I just realized that I could upgrade my laptop to two sticks of 1 gig RAM, meaning I'd be running a 3.2 gig pentium 4 with 2 gigs of RAM. While most people that read this won't really think much of it, I think true nerds could only describe that as sick. Too bad the sticks are about $240 each. Yet it's still a lot cheaper than buying 2 sticks of 512, a fact I find puzzling. Well, that's computers for you. So it's something to put on my wishlist, which is synonymous with "wait until I get a job that pays more than $5 a week."
As far as the T-shirts, I could lie to you and say I've been working on them, but I won't do that. I've been busy, and it's going to be a big headache. I think I'll probably just end up going through a local supplier, maybe the one that Mrs. Grille used for our Moon Monster shirts. But they will be coming...I hope.
I've got nothing else new to post. I haven't talked to Brandon in weeks, but he's still alive. I see him on my MSN Messenger list right now. So don't fret, I'll try to get him to post soon. Next time I'm on I'll probably post my training schedule as well. And with that, I say farewell.
Wow, it's been too long since I've posted. I've been incredibly busy lately. My parents came down to Jamaica last weekend, which was pretty awesome. I got to play the part of the tourist, which was pretty enjoyable. Plus, it was great to see the folks, but I'll spare you the mushy stuff. They brought me a few new DVD's as well, including The Shawshank Redemption!
Beyond that, I'll be fairly busy for the next few weeks as I finish up. Some people are coming from the U.S. this weekend to do some renovation, so I'll probably be booked all weekend. I've been trying to run as much as I can, I've got a steady program worked out now, it's a modified version of a beginner's ultramarathon program I found in Runner's World.
As far as The Run is concerned, there really isn't that much new. Thanks everyone that has offered their support! I am going to be looking into shirts ASAP, I would really like to get them by the beginning of April, so stay tuned!
So, the only other reason for this article is to embarass Brandon. I meant to write this up for Valentine's Day, but like I said I've been busy. Still, better late than never.
Any girl that knows Brandon knows that he is fairly...how should I put this...frigid when it comes to romantic encounters. Many have tried to break through that cynical exterior, but none have been able to reach the gooey sweet inner-Brandon. Well...almost none.
As you can read in our "About Us" page, I've known Brandon for about as long as I've know how to tie my shoelaces. In all this time, I have only see one girl who was able to begin to melt his frosty heart. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you:
They met upon the golf courses and 5k trails of Upper Michigan. He proposed with a folded dollar bill ring. It was beautiful, it was magic. Sadly, it was not meant to last. She left for Colorado, he left for Grand Rapids. Their romance was gone, but the memories will last a lifetime.
The only advice I can give to women interested in Brandon is to run a sub -18 5k, be an All-American, and be class Valedictorian. If you meet these requirements, make sure to contact him as firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well, I'm bored today. I am planning on going to bed at 8 tonight (really tired, and have to get up extra early tomorrow to run and get ready for our school field trip.)
So, I got the bright idea to do a few lists of my favorites. So, here are a couple lists of my favorite things:
This list is pretty stable. My favorite movies don't change that often, because it takes something really spectacular to knock one off.
1. The Shawshank Redemption
2. It's A Wonderful Life
3. The Star Wars series
4. The Mexican
5. The Lord of the Rings series
6. The Royal Tenenbaums
7. America Beauty
8. Kill Bill series
10. The Matrix series
This list fluctuates a bit more often. Still, most of the names stay the same, even if their order changes.
1. Barenaked Ladies
2. Harvey Danger
3. Johnny Cash
5. Relient K
6. Alison Krauss
9. John Denver
10. Matchbox Twenty
This list changes the most out of any of them! While a few songs stand the test of time, this one would probably have at least one new entry every month.
1. Johnny Cash - Hurt
2. Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge over Troubled Water
3. Alison Krauss - Down in the River to Pray
4. Ludwig van Beethoven - For Elise
5. Guns 'n Roses - Knocking on Heaven's Door
6. Newsboys - He Reigns
7. Gap Band - You Dropped a Bomb on Me
8. Elton John - Something About the Way You Look Tonight
9. tie - Nickelback - Someday and Sheryl Crow - The First Cut is the Deepest
10. OutKast - The Way You Move
Favorite TV Shows
As Brandon would tell you, I remind people often that I don't watch much TV. But when I do, these are my favorite shows to watch.
1. The Simpsons
2. Whose Line is it Anyway?
3. The Twilight Zone
4. The Wonder Years
6. ESPN Presents the World Series of Poker
7. Family Guy
8. Law & Order
9. Pro Football games
10. Mystery Science Theater 3000 (the only reason this is low is because I don't think it is still on the air)
This list stays pretty much the same. It very rarely changes, in fact it probably changes the least of all.
1. The Bible
2. George Orwell - 1984
3. CS Lewis - Mere Christianity
4. Douglas Adams - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series
5. James Q. Wilson - Thinking About Crime
6. J.R.R. Tolkien - Lord of the Rings book series
7. John Steinbeck - Grapes of Wrath
8. CS Lewis - Narnia series
9. Jerry Jenkins - The Left Behind series
10. Julius Fast (I think this is the author??) - Body Language
Quite a variety there. I really don't have any other lists to produce, so I think I'll be done for now. I'm tired as I said, and I don't feel so well. I've had a cold for a few days. So, keep reading and checking out the site, and make sure to post your own favorites list when you comment on this post!
Well, I think it's time for me to post once again. I've been neglecting my offline journal, so I figure I'll just count this as both a news entry and a journal entry! I'm lazy, even in my hobbies.
Well, I have had some people ask me why I'm in Jamaica, and what exactly I'm doing here. I figure this is a pretty good outlook to explain it, so here goes.
Last summer (summer of 2004) I was in a bit of a bind. I had planned on taking a year off and traveling with this youth ministry program in the U.S. I went to a weekend retreat with them, and just didn't feel like it was right for me. Looking back, I really wasn't (and I'm not sure I am now) spiritually mature enough to be involved in such an endeavor. Maybe it would've worked out fine, I'll never know, but I felt pulled in a different direction.
Well, I was leading/coaching a summer running program at the time, and I went to a running camp our school puts on every year with a few alumni and some high school students. My coach/second mother Mrs. Peggy Grille, the head coach for cross country, was leading the trip. While riding in her van to our destination, I began talking about my dilemna. She mentioned that her brother and sister-in-law, Jerry and Rene Winkler, were founders and leaders of a school in Jamaica, Montego Bay Christian Academy.
She inquired on my behalf, and less than a month later, on August 28th, I found myself on a plane to a country of which almost all my knowledge came from the movie Cool Runnings (by the way, a fellow teacher of mine had a small part in that movie.)
Anyways, they needed help in the high school, a job I readily accepted. The high school itself very small. MBCA is well known for it's preparatory school, but most kids transfer after grade 6. You see, in grade 6 the children of Jamaica take a test called a GSAT to see where they will go to high school. If they place well, they go to a good school. If not, they stay at MBCA or transfer to another school. This isn't always the case, as we do have some very bright children in 7-12, but it's the general result.
Anyways, I came down here with little knowledge, 0 teaching experience, no radio, no computer, no tv, no form of entertainment. This was a mixed blessing. I was extremely bored, but I also read more than I had in years, and filled up multiple notebooks with journal writing and the beginning 30-40 pages of a fantasy novel. I also ran quite a bit on a 1/10 mile stretch of road, the same stretch I'm using now to train for The Run.
So, my time came and went, I went home in December for three weeks, got a laptop and a fairly large collection of DVD's, and came back down. I got wireless DSL, and life is pretty good.
People ask me how I like it down here, what is it like, etcetera. First off, I'll be honest: I don't really enjoy it down here. It's not terrible, it can be fun, the people are generally nice, but I just don't really like it that much. So why did I come down here, and why did I choose to come back down here after December? Well, I honestly feel this is where God wants me right now. I feel this is an incredible growth experience for me, whether I like it or not. That being said, I am looking forward to going home. But in the mean time, I try my very best to do a good job, to be pleasant, to work hard, and to not complain. While I don't think I'm a very good teacher, I do try to do my very best and do have a positive attitude towards everything I do.
So, that's life at the moment. I'm a pretty busy guy for the next couple months - my duties have definitely expanded since last term! =) I don't mind though, as I really don't have anything else important to do! Oh yeah, I live in a 2 room studio apartment. It has large cockroaches, but no rats. I am proud to say that I believe that I've completely rat-proofed it, a skill I've gained since having to deal with a couple of those delightful critters in my previous room. They leave a lovely odor when they die in your broken air conditioner, where you can't get to them and can only wait until they decompose to the point where they no longer smell. =) Isn't that a lovely thought?
Well, this last week was fairly uneventful. My evening student was out of the country, which meant I had quite a bit more free time in the evenings, which is why this site was able to get "finished" so quickly. We had a staff baseball game on Friday. I was captain of my time, and I led us to victory with two towering home runs. Nevermind that 3/4 of the players were women who had never played baseball in their lives, I still rule. I also was able to try netball, which is basically basketball without any moving or fun.
One thing that I do absolutely love about Jamaica is the cooking. The games were followed by a feast of roast chicken and pork, with "rice and peas." Rice and peas is really brown rice with red kidney beans, it's a Jamaican dietary staple, and really good once you get used to it. I also had some bread pudding, an awesome Jamaican desert. They make great chicken, pork, rice, and pudding. The only thing I don't like is "stewed peas", which pretty much looks like white rice covered with throw-up and white worms. I have had it a couple times, but I really find the taste disgusting. I also eat some American food down here as well. I usually buy a box of cereal once a week to eat at breakfast occasionally. At school, we eat Pizza Hut every Monday and KFC every Tuesday. Pizza Hut tastes a bit crappy (plus it's lukewarm when we get it), but KFC is awesome. KFC is like McDonalds down here, they're everywhere and doing big business. Mainly because Jamaicans adore chicken. KFC is cheaper down here, and instead of extra crispy they have spicy, which is my personal favorite. The only thing I really don't like about the food down here is the lack of cow's milk. The prices for it are very high, and it's substitute, powdered milk, tastes terrible. And those that know me know that I have a love affair with cereal.
So, beyond that I really don't know what else to say about Jamaica. Next subject.
Well, I've been still thinking about starting a blog, still don't think I have enough time for it. Trying to think about what else to write about for this post. Like how on January 1st of this year I held a water drinking competition with some friends. I won, drinking 4.39 liters (1.16 gallons) of water in under a half hour. I think it would've been possible for me to drink quite a bit more, next time I plan on going for 1.5 gallons. However, at the time that was quite enough. While I did manage to keep it all down, it did strange and terrible things to my body, things that no man should ever have to face.
That's all for now folks. As my writing style (or lack thereof) may suggest, I am listening to comedy radio via iTunes and also preparing to sleep. Have to get up early for my morning run tomorrow! Until next time.
Well, I was looking into a route today, and I made something up. This is what I've made up so far:
It passes starts in Rhode Island, goes through Ohio, Minnesota, Idaho, and ends in Washingon. If you'd like to view it in closer detail, try these partial maps:
From Rhode Island, to Ohio
From Ohio to Minnesota
From Minnesota to Montana
From Montana to Idaho
From Idaho to Washington
Well, I'm just relaxing today, watching some Simpsons and preparing for my run. I haven't had a chance to run very much this week, which has really been a problem. Next week I plan on running 50 though. I am a little dissappointed with my running, but I'll be working on it in the next couple weeks.
Well, I think I'm going to start running soon, maybe I'll post more later.
Well, I came home yesterday and worked pretty on the site until I I went to bed. So, it's basically done. All that's left is to make image gallery and get a new logo. But we'll get to that in a minute
First I want to send a special "thank you" to James Smith, for guiding me through the treacherous maze of phpBB coding, and basically setting up the main page for me. Thank you James! He's currently working on a web system that will allow athletes to track and monitor their performances online. Groundbreaking stuff, we hope to use it during The Run.
Ok, now to the business at hand: a new logo. We need a new one, but they're tough to make due to the way this page is set up. So, I'm asking for submissions. What do you get if you win? Why, a free RunAcrossTheUSA.com t-shirt, that's what! That's right, if you produce a logo that we decide to use on the website, we'll send you a free t-shirt for your support! (If for some reason the t-shirts aren't made, you'll receive $15 instead.)
The logo should include the Run Across the USA logo, and I would prefer it to include our motto as well (See Matt. See Brandon. See Matt and Brandon run. Run, Matt and Brandon, run.) Beyond that is up to you - but remember that page loading time is a factor!
So, send in your logos. I would recommend that you download the site locally first, so that you can see how it looks when inserted into the site. It's a bit tricky, so make sure you set it up correctly or it won't work.
Beyond that, I hope you all enjoy the new site. It's still got a couple bugs and areas that need work, but it's a huge improvement over the last version. So enjoy, and stay tuned for bigger and better and improvements in the next few weeks!
New site, new news system, new template, new everything.
So now Brandon can update the site, which will be nice.
Well I'm really tired, the site isn't done but I'll update it later. Peace for now!
I'm just relaxing on a nice Saturday..not many updates at the moment. I had a new template to set the site up with, but it failed to work. So I'm back to the drawing board with that one. On the good side, I've been able to collect a few decent pictures of Brandon and myself. A Mrs. Peggy Grille was nice enough to help us out with that.
I am feeling pretty lazy today, so I don't think you'll see the images uploaded for a few more days at least. I would prefer to re-do the site first, and get this darn phpBB thing done with. Plus I need to go for a run. Oh yeah, Brandon ran a 5000m in 16:21 yesterday!!! That's 48 seconds faster than my best, which means my new goal is to do sub 16 before the end of school next year. He has a 3000m race today, I'm expecting a 9:20 or better out of him!
I think I'm going to start a blog soon. It sounds like such a cliché thing to do for a nerd of my age, but oh well. If I do, I'll probably just publish it on some large blog site, but I might just tack it on to one of these pages, or a subdomain. I need to start writing more, and my journal has been getting stale lately, maybe having an "audience" would help increase my productivity, even if they are imaginary. I've always liked a tried to draw attention to myself. I guess a blog would be a fairly good way to achieve both of these emotional needs at once. Well, we'll see.
Oh yeah, battling through pages and pages of .css files for hours to try to figure out what I've done wrong really sucks. Just thought I'd throw that in. Well, I'm out.
It's me again! I've been trying to work on the site most of the day, but I find that I've accomplished almost nothing. I spent hours trying to get the php news working today, until I was about ready to scream...and I think most people know I'm a very patient guy by nature, so it really took quite a bit to drive me nuts.
I didn't do the running I wanted to today, just got busy on the laptop. I wanted to do 10, 5 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon. Only did the 5 in the morning. So tomorrow morning I'm going for 5 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon, which means getting up at about 5:20. Oh well, that's what I get for slacking today. I think maybe an extra week at 30 miles was good though, I definitely felt better. This coming week I'm going for 37-40 mi range.
Well, I changed the background on these cells, I think it looks a lot better now. Not that quasi-teal color that every bathroom in the 1970's had. The logo looks beautiful, I wish I had better close-up pictures though. Those pictures were the only ones I could find of Brandon and myself online. Still looking for any pictures people have of us, send them in if you have them!
Brandon got me his biography today, it's online and ripe for the reading. I am still working on the news setup, and I'll start on the image gallery once I get a few more decent images. In the mean time, enjoy what I've done so far. Perhaps I'll even get Brandon to do a news post...eventually. Sometime before the end of the journey.
The other thing I have to discuss today is what to do concerning The Run. I come up with a lot of crazy (and a few rational) ideas, most of which I know are not going to happen. A reality TV show for example, or the movie that Brandon talks about in his biography. We are hoping to make a book however, but we'll see if our experiences play into that.
One last thing I wanted to talk about is my late fascination with awesome things that I want to do in my life. Here are a couple (in random order):
* Run Across the USA (duh!)
* Spend a week in O'Hare airport (Christmas 2006)
* Spend 2 weeks in Europe for under $1000 (summer 2007)
* Bike through the 48 contiguous states (maybe Alaska too? and take a plane to visit Hawaii sometime)
* Visit every continent (possible exception of Anarctica)
* Go skydiving (solo)
* Graduate from college
* Learn to ride a motorcycle AND become much, much better at manual transmission
* Get married to someone cool, and have my 2.5 kids
* Complete an Ironman triathlon
* Win any triathlon
* Never, ever, ever teach again after I leave Jamaica (just kidding, I hope)
* Never play a Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game again (Everquest nearly destroyed me!)
I'm fairly confident I could pull all of those off, though the bike one may be tough. These could be tougher:
* Own an island
* Get an A++ in Dance Dance Revolution
* Have a major magazine article about The Run, and/or a talk show appearance
* Write a book (I want this one badly!)
* Run a sub 16 5000m, a sub 4:30 mile, and a sub 1:59 800m
* Live to 100+
I think most people that know me, know that I set goals for myself with the ideal of accomplishing them, or give it my very best shot (800m school record, anyone?) So, give me five years and see what I've accomplished. I'd wager I'll have at least half of them down.
Wow, this thing is turning into a regular...blog. I've even forsaken my offline journal the past few days in favor of this. I guess I'm turning into a regular Tony Cappaert. Well, I have a morning run to do, so I better be off.
Until next time, remember - PHP sucks.
It's just me again! Just been fooling with Adobe Photoshop trial for the past few hours, just uploading this logo that I made, it's the best I could come up with so far. Too bad the full program is $695. Somehow I think I'll stop using it after the 30 day trial. I can't find a use for it yet, but the "Liquify" option is just too cool.
I should put the logo on every page, but I'll do that tomorrow since I have to rewrite a little code on each page to make that work, and I'm fried as it is.
Image uploading should start this week, and beyond that I haven't got much else to tell you at the moment. I'll be working on the phpBB news updating this week if I get some time, but I really have to figure it out before I try anything too fancy. Well, I'm off to collapse until tomorrow morning!
Yes! I have wireless DSL Internet! The day I made the last update from school, I came home and found the router just sitting there. The power cord didn't work, but I found another and voila! in about a half hour I had the whole thing set up!
Anyways, I've been enjoying it the past few days, but I've also been very busy. I now teach a 1-on-1 class from 6-8 Monday/Tuesday/Thursday. The only reason I'm not teaching it right now is because my student never showed! But that appears to be to your benefit, because it gives me plenty of time to update this.
First order of business is to tell you all to GO HERE and answer our poll question. We were thinking of making t-shirts, right now we're just seeing if we have enough interest to make it worthwhile to get them. Well, make sure to voice your opinion either way, and any ideas for it would be awesome.
First of all, the new news system *should* be up soon. James assures me that it won't take too long to set up, but I'll only believe that when it's in place. We're a little bit farther away on setting up an image directory, but that will be forthcoming. It isn't really that important, though...we shouldn't have that many pictures to show until The Run starts. Still, it would be nice to get a little more up. My mom said she'd scan a few pictures of Brandon and myself, so I'll put those up as soon as she e-mails them to me.
Brandon hasn't sent me his things for the site yet, what a lazy bum. But he's been running quite well, and that's what really matters. He ran a 3000m in 9:32 last week, that's pretty darn fast. But I've never run that distance, so I guess we can't compare. For all I know he would've broken down in the last 200m and taken 2 minutes to cross the finish line.
Well, I'm sure people have been wondering how we plan on transporting things that we take on our trip. I just updated the "About The Run" section to answer that question, but I also have a new answer for here. We plan on using a stroller, and we've already tested a few brands. We definitely want one that has a zip cover on the front to protect our things from the elements. We haven't bought one yet, but this is what we're looking at:
Trek Transit Deluxe
Super-compact folding, durable fabric body. All-weather cover.
Fully padded and reinforced seat bottom, padded and reinforced seat back, mesh helmet shelf, tinted side and front windows, side quarter vent windows, dual storage pockets, padded shoulder harness
Alloy rims and hubs with stainless steel spokes, full wrap around wheel guard, Slime sealant filled inner tubes, rear mesh and fabric cargo flap
Universal rear axle quick release mount with available disc brake mounting
Comes standard with full jogger kit, available stroller kit with dual 8" pivoting caster wheels. Jogger and stroller kit feature an adjustable handle and install without tools
Navy, Red and Grey
Assembled exterior dimensions:
56 (l) x 33 (w) x 36 (h)
23 (l) x 23 (w) x 25 (h) Height measured vertically from seat index point to inside top of trailer
Total unit weight:
Carrying capacity (kids + stuff):
That's mostly from the Trek site. Anyways, this model suits us very well. It is actually cheaper than the regular Transit model for us, because this one comes with a jogger kit standard. This is what it looks like with jogger kit installed.
Normally they would run us about $450-$500, but I've found them new online for closer to $300-$350 range. We'll also plan on buying tire repair stuff and a distance monitor (the kind they use on bikes.) Hope to spend under $400 for the whole thing. Thankfully, this should be our greatest expense besides food, and it's probably our most important item. Whatever we end up with, we have to push a few thousand miles. I've been researching the different models, and I really do think this is a great one for us. A big thank you to the nice people at the Escanaba Mr. Bike & Ski for letting us test out all their joggers, even letting us run around the block with them! That means a special thank you to Hans Whitmer. Your dad (the "Crazy Guy" Gladstone cross country coach) would be proud.
Well, that's all I think I have for right now. Until next time, make sure to stay tuned!
It looks like my post was a bit premature. Still don't have DSL in my apartment. I guess there is a hold up getting a DSL modem. It's enough to drive a nerd insane. So I'm uploading the new version of the website from the school where I work. Getting on the Internet here is generally pretty rare, I had to come in on Saturday (my day off!) to get the new site set up. I'm actually writing this the night before I set this up online (it's Friday night as I write this), because I know my time on the Net will be very limited.
Life here has been good besides the lack of DSL. Teaching has been pretty good, it looks like I'm picking up an evening student from 6 to 8 a few days a week. This is more than just tutoring, it's actually teaching him three subjects that he needs to meet NCAA regulations to go to the USA on a tennis scholarship next year. That means I have to really budget my time to keep up my training, but I know I'll manage. Plus it means a little extra money down here, it should probably be about enough for me to cover my grocery bills.
As far as training goes, I did about 30 miles running this week, and about 10-15 walking. I feel good, but I know this is just the beginning. I still haven't talked to Brandon since New Years to see how his training has been going. This morning is the first real Internet use I've had in two weeks, which is a really long time for me. I've discovered a good trick is for me to write a bunch of e-mails ahead of time, and just send them when I get Net access, that allows me to spend more of my online time researching things and checking up on my friends.
By the way, to all my friends and family that are reading this: HELLO! I don't want to name names, because I know I'd leave a few people out. But you know who you are, and I'm glad you came to visit our little site. Make sure you post in our forum, especially if you see any mistakes with the site, even something as simple as a typo. I know it's a long time before The Run, but I'd still like to get a little forum activity!
Well, I think that's all I have for you today. I am working on the Image Gallery, but I need either Tony or James to set it up first. I'm also hoping I can get my mom to e-mail some scanned pictures to me for the site. I think I've managed to do pretty much everything I can do to get the site up, now the ball is in other people's courts: Tony, James, and Brandon...get going! Seriously though folks, look for Brandon's biography up within a week or two, and look for our Image Gallery and our Route to follow shortly.
Oh yeah, if anyone has any digital pictures of Brandon and myself, please post them in our Forum so that we can use them on the site! Have a great week everyone, I'll be posting as soon as I can!
Hello once again! Finally I've got Net access from Jamaica, so I should be updating more regularly now. It's ironic, I've always had a 56k connection, growing up in a rural home. It took moving to a 3rd world country for me to get broadband. In any event, hooray for DSL.
I'll be prodding Brandon to get going on writing here as well, and we're still working on a phpBB version to update the front page with. I'll be on James for that one.
I began my training for The Run, I'm starting off real slow. In the mid-20's miles per week right now. I feel very motivated though, and I don't think it'll be a problem being around 70 miles per week when I return to the U.S. at the end of March. I train on a 1/10th mile stretch of road outside the apartment where I live. It can get a little boring, but if I let my mind just drift I find it goes by fairly quickly. I think I may have to locate a small radio player to run with for those 20 mile long runs though, or I may just go out of my mind. Someone could send me down those new $500 Oakley sunglasses that have an MP3 player built in, *hint hint*. Just kidding folks.
I don't know for sure what Brandon has been up to, haven't been able to talk to him since New Years Eve when I was home. He is supposed to be researching our exact route, I'll make sure to get that uploaded as soon as he has it done. He has a bit of a habit of procrastinating, but I'll try to crack the whip the best I can. Oh well, I'm sure he's busier than I am, with plenty of Halo to play. =)
I should have quite a bit of free time down here, so really expect to see some huge changes and updates in the pages in the coming weeks. My goal is to have the more-or-less final product out by the end of January, depending on how much free time my teaching schedule allows.
Well, a website has been born. This may not look anything like the final copy will, but it's still going to be good practice for myself. This site will chronicle Brandon Newlin and Matt Wyble's trek across the United States of America, from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
The journey starts May 23rd.