Monday, March 31, 2008

Hair on

Hair on.

Atlanta bound

All right, I'm not actually bound for Atlanta yet. Instead, I'm sitting on a guardrail beside the on-ramp from US 280 to I-16 West. I'm wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt to protect myself from the sun; I'd prefer to be wearing less. I want to get to Atlanta because there are a few REI stores there and I need some stuff. If I don't go to Atlanta, I probably won't be near another REI until Houston (supposing I go west, which seems to be the plan). --> Since I'm headed toward Atlanta, I think I might swing on into east Tennessee to watch the Final Four with my great uncle Fred, like I did two years ago, after I went to the Memphis Film Festival. (I think Fred may read this blog regularly, but I'm not sure. If so, how's that sound, Fred? Gimme a call if it sounds good. I'll gladly help you thin out the numbers of your crappie surplus!) ... [Later that day] Hey, I got a ride. Now I'm in
Statesboro. Not too far down the road, but better than it was. Now I have to walk back to I-16.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Closer to Atlanta

Yesterday I went ahead and waited by the I-95 on-ramp, rather than just setting up camp early. Half an hour later I was riding back to Savannah with a guy named Lee (from Sunbury?). He dropped me off near I-16 & I-95, where he pointed out a very nice place to camp. I had my tent set up by about 7:15 and fell asleep at 8 or 9. Woke up a couple times during the night, then woke up again at 5:30. This time I thought I would actually get up and start preparing to begin another day, but I went back to sleep for several more hours. (This shit is incredibly tiring.) I finally got all my stuff packed and resumed walking at 1:00. Right now I'm on a US route that parallels I-16, in Pooler, GA. Not trying to get a ride or anything; just gonna keep walking the rest of the day. I might shoot for 15 miles. The temperature is in the 50s today, which makes for pretty good walking weather. --> Now four
days into the new trek, I still have not used the camcorder. Also haven't seen b-ball this weekend.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Doing a 180

My plan as of this morning was to continue walking south on US 17, but that plan has changed at least twice already. Upon reaching Midway, GA, with no water, I stopped at Angie's Diner to ask if they would refill my water bottles, then I ended up buying lunch there. Soon after leaving the diner, I came upon the intersection of US 17 and US 84. Planning to stay on 17, I instead took a right (west) on 84. I took a break after a mile, then decided to turn around and go either east or south. When I returned to the intersection, I kept going east toward I-95. Now that I'm almost at I-95, I think I'll just set up camp before night falls, so I can try to get a ride early tomorrow, probably toward Atlanta, even though ATL is the opposite direction from where I've been heading. I don't care right now, though, because I have literally hundreds of bug bites on my arms and legs, from mosquitoes and
sand gnats. Also, the sun is killing me; I certainly don't want to go any farther south right now.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Day 2

I'm learning quickly that the second day of a new trek is always the toughest. Treadmill conditioning with 40 lbs on my back is not the same as walking in the hot Georgia sun with 60 lbs. Yesterday's pain has become today's megapain. I'm already getting sunburned, too, so that's no fun. With two Big Ten teams playing in the Sweet 16, I'm hoping to catch some basketball tonight, but I have no idea if I'll be anywhere near a town with a bar or restaurant. Not too worried about it, though. If I can't make it somewhere to see the games, I'll just try to find a good spot to camp before 10:00. --> When walking the American roads, you see a lot of different things on the side of the road--cigarette boxes, roadkill, tools, etc.--but there is one item I notice more than anything else: dental floss on a stick. I see those things everywhere, in every state. Apparently America's collective oral
hygiene habits are better than I thought, but does everyone really need to throw them out the window?

Heading somewhere

Well, I'm outta Savannah. Yesterday at 11:00, after Jay went to work at the Olive Garden, I did a small load of laundry, took a shower, and prepared to leave. I was ready to go at 2:00, but I didn't leave until 2:50. Walked 2.5 miles to Applebee's and waited for Jay to show up for his night shift there. With Jay as my server, I ordered a couple half-price happy-hour apps and chatted with him whenever he was not busy. At 7:00 it was time for me to begin wandering the lonely road once again, so I said goodbye to Jay and walked away from town on Abercorn, which becomes Georgia Rte 204. A little way down 204, a Savannah Police officer stopped and told me I can't walk on 204 because it's a freeway. He then gave me a ride about 5 miles, to US 17, which parallels I-95. From there I walked south 6 miles (through swamp?) and found a spot to sleep. Beautiful walking weather yesterday, during both
daylight and darkness. I walked about 12.5 miles total. The hair almost certainly will be gone soon.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Leaving Savannah

Having visited with Jay for just over a week now, I'll be heading out of Savannah tomorrow (Thursday) to begin Aimless 2008. I've had some fun with Jay and I've met some cool people, but mostly I've felt like a hostage because Jay is out of control. His driving scares the shit out of me sometimes and he pretty much lives for alcohol. (It's way beyond that, but I can't elaborate much from my phone.) If he doesn't make some serious changes in his behavior patterns, the shit is going to hit the fan from about five different angles at the same time. I don't think there's anything I can do, other than write this blog post, to help him. It may be a few weeks before he gets a chance to read this, but I know he will eventually read it. So Jay: It's time to get your shit together, OK. You need to stop drinking. Alcohol is not the solution to your problems; it's the CAUSE of your problems. I
wanted to leave days ago, but I stayed in hopes that my presence would help you. It hasn't helped.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Almost gone

Jay and I will be leaving for Savannah in a couple hours. I imagine I'll be on the road for real in about a week.

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Aimless
Aimless Video Evidence

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Did it!

I did it! I just walked 12 miles in less than 4 hours (3:57), slightly uphill the entire way, carrying 4 lbs more than I had been carrying on previous days (probably about 50 lbs).

Don't ever be stupid enough to do this. Now that I've done it, I'm never going to do it again.

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Aimless
Aimless Video Evidence

March Madness

Fuck basketball. I'm going crazy this month with the anticipation of riding freight trains.

In the 8 months since my first and only ride on a freight train, I really haven't had much of an urge to go out and hop another one. But lately that's all I want to do.

I want to ride the Tehachapi Loop. I want to tunnel through mountains. I want to travel on wheels without having to be someone's companion. I want to see how I react next time I get caught by a bull or a cop. I want to figure out how the hell to climb into a boxcar without having someone around to give me a boost. (Those things are 4 or 5 feet off the ground, with no ladders.) I want to meet more hobos. I want to accept a ride to a truly random destination. I want to learn, on my own, how to get around efficiently and illegally via freight trains.

I also want to approach Amtrak conductors at train stations and ask them to let me ride for free.

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Aimless
Aimless Video Evidence

Friday, March 14, 2008

The bubble

As an Ohio State fan, if I was on the NCAA tournament selection committee, I would leave out the Buckeyes.

Badger, I've been meaning to say for months that you are by far the coolest poster on "those boards." (By the way, if my home team doesn't make the tourney, go Badgers. Shit, dude, I rooted for Wiscy vs. UNLV last year even though I went to UNLV. I bet Jeff did, too. So did you, Jeff?)

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Aimless
Aimless Video Evidence

Maneless Aimless?

I've been seriously considering shaving my head before I leave Jay's place in Savannah. That would be a good time to do it because my face and scalp will still be the same color. (If I wait a month, my scalp will still be 100 percent honkey white, but my face will be brown or purple.) Having no hair would make it much easier to stay clean, too, and I also would not have to constantly lug a pound of sweat in my ponytail.

But I love my hair! Especially since I pulled it back the other night and asked my mom to snip about three inches off the end of the ponytail. I've been wanting to try that for years. It turned out to be a quick, easy, good haircut, which slopes downward toward the front when not pulled back. It's not quite as easy as Hollywood would have you believe, though, like in New Jack City, when Nino's thug quickly snips the mafia guy's ponytail. In reality, it takes at least a dozen small cuts to get through the whole pipe.

I've had long hair for about 12 of the last 15 years.



I was pretty impressed with my feat of having walked 11 miles in 4 hours and 20 minutes last week, but that turned out to be just a qualifying time once Monday came around. On Monday I walked 12 miles in 4 hours and 18 minutes. I began by walking 4.5 miles, then taking a 20-minute break. After the break, I walked another 4.5 miles and took another 20-minute break before finishing with an additional 3-mile "block."

That's a huge improvement. By consistently walking faster than my target pace of 3 mph, I ended up walking an additional mile. (Oh yeah, I also set the tread mill at a slight upward incline, which I hadn't done previously.)

But yesterday, after running around all over Columbus from 9:30 to 2:30, I tried to one-up Monday's distance and time. At 3:00, I started by walking 7 straight miles--still at an upward incline--before taking a 30-minute break. Walking at least 3.3 mph the entire time, it took about 2 hours and 5 minutes (compared to 2 hours and 20 minutes at my usual pace).

My objective after the break was to walk at least another 5 miles at 3.3 mph or faster. Feeling surprisingly good as I resumed my trek to nowhere, I walked even faster than I'd walked before the break, often keeping the track moving at 3.5 to 3.7 mph. After hitting the 10-mile mark three minutes ahead of the pace I'd set for the first 5 miles, my goal became clear: I wanted to hit 12 miles by 7:00 (4 total hours, including my break). If I could manage to reach the 12-mile mark by 7:00, it would be like I never even took the 30-minute break.

Approaching the end of the 11th mile, my ridiculously fast pace started catching up with me. I was hurting; mostly in the ball of my right foot. In 1990 or 1991, after my second stress fracture of a sesamoid bone in the right foot, I chose to have the small bone surgically excised. Despite having no bone to fracture in 2008, all this walking creates the same sensation I experienced before the excision. If I only had a custom orthotic, I think it would increase my daily mileage capacity by at least a couple miles.

Anyway, I decided to stop at 6:43, having walked 11 miles. I could have made it another mile, but there was no good reason to keep it up. I'm not trying to break any records; I'm just trying to condition myself right now, and I've realized I'm in much better condition than I could have imagined.

So even though I didn't reach my goal of 12 miles in 4 hours, I still walked 11 miles in 3 hours and 43 minutes. In comparison, just a week earlier I was happy with 11 miles in 4 hours and 20 minutes. That's a difference of 37 minutes.

Just a week ago, the bad ligament in my left ankle was giving me a lot of trouble, causing my foot to come down flat after only a couple miles. (For those who don't already know, I badly dislocated my left ankle on December 17, 2006 in Quartzsite, Arizona. I never saw a doctor about it, but I'm pretty sure I suffered a seriously torn ligament and probably some broken bones. This seems to be an injury I'll feel for the remainder of my life.) Anyway, my ankle has seen a dramatic improvement in the last week, probably resulting from strengthened muscles near the tear. That's good.



Inspired largely by the day I walked out of Springfield, Oregon with an imaginary Smashing Pumpkins' Gish CD playing in my head, I've been listening to various CDs while walking lately. It should come as no surprise that Gish is the first CD I played. I've also listened to other SP CDs--Adore, Mellon Collie disc 1 and disc 2, and part of Siamese Dream--as well as the Rentals, Weezer (blue album), and Radiohead (OK Computer).

It's interesting how music affects me while I walk. Certain songs and albums give me intense energy boosts, and for different reasons. I plan to write more about this phenomenon in more detail soon, but not right now.

I'm curious to see how some other CDs affect me while I walk. If I get a chance, I still want to "test" a few other CDs, including Tool (Undertow and/or ├ćnema), Iron Maiden's Powerslave, Jane's Addiction (Nothing Shocking and/or Ritual de lo Habitual), the Elevator Drops, and maybe some others (Ben Folds Five?).

Wish I had some Megadeth!!! Oh my god, Megadeth would probably push me to 15 miles in 4 hours. I don't know a lot of Megadeth's stuff, but I know their guitar composition is brilliant. They rock in at least two ways: 1) They just FUCKIN' RAWK!!!; and 2) They rock in the same way Tchaikovsky or Stravinsky or Ludwig van rocks.

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Aimless
Aimless Video Evidence

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Working the road

Anyone remember the passage I quoted from On the Road a couple months ago, about how much work is involved in hitchhiking? In an interview, Wes Modes had a similar response:

1. How long have you been hopping trains? What motivated you to try it for the first time?

Like a lot of kids, I started hopping freight trains because I needed to get around and had no money. In my case, I had hitchhiked around, but it is exhausting. You have to stand by the side of the road for hours vibing people, saying with your smile, "I am not a serial killer, I am not a serial killer."

Then when you get a ride, people expect to entertain or be entertained. You have to stay awake to either talk to the driver or listen to him or her talking. I fall asleep easily in a car as a passenger, so it was always torture. I've met great people hitchhiking, but it was exhausting. Discovering trainhopping was a huge relief. That was in 1992
.
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Aimless
Aimless Video Evidence

Hopping

From Wes Modes:
Freight-hopping. "It's a kick in the ass. It's a lot of fun," Duffy Littlejohn says. "It is one of the last red-blooded American adventures left." He should know--he wrote the book on it. Hopping Freight Trains in America (Sand River Press, 1993) is the definitive freight-hopper's how-to manual.
I need to get a copy of this book.

Man, I have a bunch of stuff to say, but I'm busy doing other things right now. I'm getting really excited about the prospect of hitting the road again soon. Think I'll probably ride some more freight trains, so I just started looking for information that'll help me become a better hobo.

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Aimless
Aimless Video Evidence

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Aimless 2008

Unless something really weird happens, Aimless 2008 will begin in two or three weeks. On March 18th I'll be leaving central Ohio to help my buddy Jay move some stuff from Columbus to Savannah, then I'll probably visit Jay for about a week (or possibly a little longer). Finally, whenever Jay gets sick of me and kicks me out, Aimless 2008 will kick off from Savannah, Georgia.

So where will I go from Savannah?

I don't know. How bout Florida?

Nah, really. I don't care where I go from there. I might go west from Savannah or I might go south (to Florida), then west. All I know is I won't be going north and I can't go east. I figure I'll probably end up going toward Arizona and California, via New Orleans and Texas. Since only Lew had anything to say about my fund-raising idea, I'm just gonna forget about that for now. ("Here ya go, New Orleans: I've managed to raise 23 cents for your rebuilding efforts! Use it wisely.")



I walked 11 miles in 4 hours and 20 minutes yesterday, hitting the 8.5-mile mark in just over three hours. 8.5 miles is a relevant figure because that's the same distance I walked on each of the first two days of Aimless last April. On Day 1 I managed to walk 8.5 miles in five or six hours, but Day 2 was a different story.

Because I didn't physically condition myself before leaving last April, the evening of Day 1 marked the beginning of several days of intense pain. I felt fine for maybe the first five miles on Day 1, but the next 3.5 miles sucked. Then, that night, I slept on uneven railroad ballast. (That wouldn't be so bad now, but I didn't have a sleeping pad then.) My body was not happy with me that night. I was in such pain that I couldn't even roll over.

On Day 2 I got up early and began walking. I walked all day (with a lot of breaks), but I only managed 8.5 miles. More railroad ballast for a mattress that night.

Here's the point: While it took over 12 hours for me to walk 8.5 miles last April 23rd, I did it in only 3 hours yesterday.

Even though I have been very inactive the last five months, having gained at least ten pounds, I'm surprisingly still in pretty good condition. I would have expected all the muscle in my legs to disappear by now, but it's mostly still there.

Getting back to the 11 miles in 4 hours and 20 minutes: That's an insane pace, even for someone in awesome shape. In comparison, on the day I walked 28 miles, I didn't hit the 10-mile mark until 7 hours into the day. That's largely because I didn't think about shooting for 30 miles until several hours into the day. But if I can kick off a long walking day with an 11-mile start in just 4:20, I'll get my 30-mile day. Georgia in April might be a good time to try it.

Having said all that, the first ten miles doesn't mean much. I don't know why, but ten miles is the point where things start getting interesting. Regardless of whether I'm in good shape or bad shape, the feet start hurting about ten miles into a long walk. There's only one way to fight the pain of sore feet--take a long break--but there is no time for long breaks when you're shooting for a 30-mile day.

Which is why I'm so impressed with 11 miles in 4 hours and 20 minutes. If I start walking at 6:00 AM and make it 11 miles by 10:20, I can take a rejuvenating two-hour break and still be on pace to hit 30 miles well before midnight. Then, if I'm able to repeat the feat after the break, I'll be 22 miles down the road at about 4:40 PM, leaving over 7 hours to walk another 8 miles.

I don't care how boring this stuff may be; I'm going to get a 30-mile day before May.

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Aimless
Aimless Video Evidence

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

We can't be this stupid

Is it really possible for a candidate to run on the platforms of change and experience at the same time? Isn't that like saying, "I promise you I'll change"?

I mean, if you're running on a platform of experience, you're saying, "I've put this country where it is today." But if you're running on a platform of change, you're clearly implying that you think the country has been going in the wrong direction. If you add it all together, it's just like saying, "My experience has put this country in the wrong direction."

So which is it, lady? YOU CAN'T BE BOTH!!!

"...but I'll change."

Oh, I hear you. And I'm supposed to believe you?

(Of course, you don't actually have any more experience than the other guy, anyway. But that's a whole different lie.)

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Aimless
Aimless Video Evidence