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Friday, April 30, 2010

SAM Loves Hills

Yep, GREEN battery pack had 2 terminals come off. Slipped them back together & taped them down. GREEN powered SAM for 5 hours. Meanwhile, RED was being charged by the solar panels as we walked by Valley General Hospital upon leaving Bonnie's home.

Walking through the Kent Valley was a bittersweet trip. It was at the DeMoines/Kent hill that my two Brothers, Jr. & Jim and I worked for 4 summers in the fields. Jr. was 9. I was 6. Jim was 4 years old when we began in 1941. We walked 5 miles each way from our home on the Stump Ranch. First we worked for Japanese Truck Farms. By 1942, the Japanese disappeared (our phobia is still with us). For the next 3 years we worked for bigger Caucasian (cannot say "American" because the Japanese were American too) farms. All three of us brothers never missed a day of work thereafter. Jr. died 25 years ago from Leukemia. Jim died 2 years ago from a stroke.

Walking the road where we worked was for me, a very difficult moment. I miss them both. We were very close. I often wonder if Jr's death had something to do with us all being "down-winders". Down-winders were created from 1945 through about 1951 when the U.S. Government intentionally released radioactive gas into the atmosphere from Hanford (remember Nagasaki & Big Boy...manufactured at Hanford) just to see what effect the gas had on the environment and residents "down-wind". All three of us worked at Hanford all those years swamping the trucks Dad & Mother owned as part of our family business, Tri City Freightlines. I remember vividly handtrucking very heavy round concrete containers with funny triangles stamped on them...unloading them from ACME freight cars onto our trucks before we went off to school in the mornings.

But, I digress...apologize.

Walking in the North Valley, all the fields are gone; replaced by rambling warehouses and mini business parks. At our hill (DesMoines/Kent), the fields returned. Flower stands dotted the roadside. Milk cows peered at SAM as we slowly passed the feeding & milking barns. The aroma off the fields from freshly spread manure was pleasant to my nose. I wanted to do a report on Smith Dairy, but they said NO. They were afraid of being sued because of the liability. OMG...where have we travelled !! ??

Turning onto 277th, SAM & ME were confronted with one of the most severe tests of hill clilmbing so far. GREEN reached her 5 hours about 1/4 mile up. RED, having received electrons all morning from the panels, took over and pulled SAM up with a vengeance. I, on the other hand, had to stop to rest three times. WOW, what a monster hill.

Reaching Old 99, Pacific Highway South, we took a left turn and walked along newly laid sidewalks into Federal Way. Tried at 4 different business to go pee, but was turned away each time...no restrooms for non-customers. At #4, I was also turned away, so purchased a $1.50 icecream bar. Paid for it. Again asked to use the restroom and was told by a recent immigrant manning the counter that I was not a regular customer and NO, I still could not use the toilet.
I asked for my money back. She argued that I already bought it...Just give me my money back and shut up...You threaten me and I'm calling the Police...Good idea; now give me my money.

At #1, after receiving "NO", the white bearded turbaned attendant commented that life is no more what it used to be...Neither are the people, I replied as I walked away squeezing my thighs together.

Arrived at Son, Ronalds home at 5 PM. 7 hours after leaving Sister Bonnie's in Renton. RED died 50 feet from the top of the hill in front of Ron's house. Must again tend to SAM tomorrow before continuing our walk.

SAM received her 120 V electrons for the night. I received a more than warm welcome, a hot bath and yummy BBQ.

Tonight, I WILL sleep well in Grandson Braden's bed.

Nite All

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What A Bike Trail

Arrived at Sister Bonnie's home at 7:45 pm after 7.50 hours and 25.50 miles trek from Kirkland. SAM performed with 5 gold stars, but lost her GREEN 8 amphour battery pack. Probably a wire came loose when I took SAM apart yesterday to repair her 90 watt solar panel. Without Dale's help, I doubt I could have put the panel back onto SAM. Retrofitting is not such a good idea.

Solar Panel technology: Telephoned the engineer I purchased the 90 watt panel from (near Denver). He informed me that our panel has 32 individual cells (it does), each wired in series one to the next. Actually, it has eight rows of four cells = 32...yep, thats right. So, Raphael (engineer) says if any single ROW of cells is obstructed from sunlight, the ENTIRE solar panel becomes inoperative, incapable of producing any electricity. And whaddyaknow...I been storing jackets, water bottles, half eaten apples, and sundry other things in easy reach, covering the top TWO rows of cells. No wonder I got zero output. Today, all cells were fully exposed to nearly all-day bright sunlight & received constant 16 - 17 volts all day.

Did not charge the batteries from Dale's AC power source, & had only 12.20 volts per battery starting todays 25.5 mile walk. Kept the solar panels plugged in all day to the RED battery pack, which I simultaneously used to power SAMs motor. Was very surprised to find that we could draw power at 36 volts for SAMs motor and at the same time, pump 12 volts into each of the 3 batteries in RED pack. The two solar panels kept up with motor consumption. Only at the top of the very last hill rounding the corner behind the Valley General Hospital, did the RED pack die. At the moment SAM is safely garaged in Bonnie's home, sucking greedily on her 120 volt AC charging unit.

Tomorrow she must climb the steep hills out of the Kent Valley onto old 99 and on to Federal Way, where we plan to invade Son, Ron's home for the night. While at Ron's, will check GREEN battery pack & fix what ails her...believe it is a wire came loose while working on the 9o watt solar panel....we shall see. Gotta work out all the kinks before we arrive at the serious hills around Mt. Hood and the Rockies in a few weeks.

And, true to form, local Bellevue (what a beautiful city) City Police pulled SAM & ME over. We expected the worse. Surprise Surprise.. he was one of the most pleasant folks we have met so far. He chatted about & closely inspected SAM...marvelling at her construction & performance. His plea...and it was a plea...Please, Mr. Maynard, do NOT get injured in my city...that would just not do.

Now, that is my kinda guy. He sent us on our way down the street (without a bicycle lane), cautioning about the mid-town construction. In downtown Bellevue - actually, at the construction site, Dale met us & we sat for a while in Wendys...I bought a chocolate shake to go with the lunch Dale thoughtfully brought for me...Love, ya, Nephew.

Bicycle Path: Just South of Bellevue is a park. In the parking lot begins a bicycle/jogging path. It is about 10 feet wide, macadam paved and mostly fenced. It takes a route through the Lake Washington Slough leading to I-90. That was of real interest to me because my Grandfather (Mother's dad) worked for President FDR's WPA during the big depression in the '30s building that raised roadway above the slough which today is part of I-90. Good job, Pop (we called him Pop). Did not see one blemish in the concrete structure as the path led beneath and beyond I-90. After a short distance on 118th Avenue, the path continued for many miles paralleling I-405 into Renton, terminating at the new training facility of the SEAHAWKS football team.

If anyone wants to see how a bicycle path should be, take a ride to Bellevue or Renton and do that path...it is incredible.

Leaving Renton on Lind Street, we walked on a nearly deserted street lined both sides with hugh industrial buildings. As we passed one, an older fellow (turned out to be much younger than me) rushed out...Hey Hey, STOP. We stopped. Roger, marveling at SAM, confessed he was a solar panel nut, having, together with his son in Poland, designed and built numerous solar panel powered inventions....You have a web site...OH, a blog...Thankyou for the blog address...OK if I send it to my Son in Poland...He's crazy about solar panels and will Love to follow SAM (no mention of following me...oh, well).

The Sun slid behind the Olympic Mountains in the West & was extinguished (you suppose the Pacific Waters did that???) as we drove into Bonnie's driveway. All in All, a very satisfactory day.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rebuilding SAM

SAM & ME made a supurb walk two days ago from Everett to Kirkland. After that 6 mile long hill out of Everett, was mostly down hill. SAM loved that. She climbed only one hill going up from the Bothell highway on 100th ...but, it was a doozie. SAM has a very strong motor and she literally pulled me up. Was down hill the rest of the way into Kirkland. I was VERY pleased until we got into town...then the stuff hit the fan.

But, before we get to the messy stuff, I want to make a few words about Peter. As s
SAM & ME walked down Highway 157 nearing I-405. a young man wearing a backpack walked towards us and asked..."Are you Bruce?" Yes...My name is Peter Hogg. I rode my bicycle from Mukilteo (that is about 15 miles away) and brought you lunch...handing me a plastic bag with pasta salad and an apple.

We talked. May I walk with you?...Sure....I have been following your blog & rode out to find you. I'm flattered and thankyou for lunch. I graduated from Western Washington University (in Bellingham) last year and have walked ever since all over Western Washington...That's great but why?...Looking for work...Any luck?...Not yet...Wow,that's tough; where do you sleep, how do you eat...I pack a sleeping bag and...How many of your classmates you figure are not finding a job yet...Oh, about - of my friends and acquaintances - about 35 to 40 percent cannot find jobs.

OMG, and you bring ME lunch !!!...I wanted to help your walk to Florida and...

We talked for a while more. Peter is a handsome young 22 year old desperately looking for work - and he takes his precious time & money to buy ME lunch. With Peter's permissioin, I gi ve here, his telephone number 425-879-1335. He is trained in Science and Web Development, but will be receptive to any position.

I enjoyed Peter and his lunch.

Upon arriving in Kirkland, I discovered I was on the wrong road, still miles from Dale's home. Walking through town, a city police car sneaked up behind me and blew his siren at SAM & ME and yelled to GET ON THE SIDEWALK. We stopped as two gun toting angry policemen walked one to each side of me. Sorry, I said, but SAM cannot go on sidewalks as she is a motor vehicle. Policeman #1 did not like my response and I TOLD YOU TO GET ON THE SIDEWAlk. sORRY, sir, but I cannot. As a motor vehicle, SAM is required to be on the road...you are the third policeman - one State Patrolman and one Everett City policeman - have also ASKED us to get on the sidewalk, but when they saw SAM's motor, allowed us to continue on the highway...WE HAVE OUR OWN LAWS IN KIRKLAND - AND HAVE RECEIVED COMPLAINTS ABOUT YOU HOLDING UP TRAFFIC (we discussed an incident a few minutes back). Look, I have no desire to create any problem and have not interfered with any traffic, buy if you ask, we will move onto the sidewalk. GIVE ME YOU ID. OK, THANK YOU. As SAM & ME move onto the sidewalk...THANKYOU, BRUCE; WE HAD A CALLED IN COMPLAINT & MUST DO SOMETHING...IF YOU WERE A BICYCLE, I WOULD NOT SAY A WORD TO YOU. Bye.

The remaining 2 miles to Dale's house was up a 2 mile 6 % curvy hill. SAM again pulled me up at about 5 mph. Dale met us at the top and escorted two wornout travelers into his home with a cold beer for me and a 120 V plugin for SAM.

All in all, we had a very nice 20 mile stroll.

Today was spent finding a solution for SAM's non functioning 90 Watt solar panel - we DID - and meeting with Jon, Juan & Diane, our movie producers. More on this later...Is now 11 pm & off to listen to my pillow in a real bed.

Tomorrow SAM & ME walk through Bellevue, Renton and on to the Valley General Hospital, where my Sister, Bonnie works. She lives one street away, and I we make it that far, will stay the night. The route is quite complicated, but anyone want details, please phone us.

G'nite.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

DAY 7

DAY 7 BEGINS IN EVERETT, WASHIN GTON.

DAY 6 BEGAN AT THE HOME OF PAUL & MARY, ON THE STILLAGUAMISH VALLEY HILLS11IDE. TYHE EVENING BEFORE, PAUL STOPPED ON PIONEER HIGHWAY NEXT TO SAM & ME, ADMIRING SAM. PAUL DESIGNS AND BUILDS 3-WHEELER BIKES AND WAS TAKEN BY SAM. "SURE, YOU CAN STAY WITH US TONIGHT" PAUL OFFERS. AFTER A CLIMB OF PAUKL'S STEEP DRIVEWAY (SAM COULD NOT PULL IT...I PUSHED HER UP, WE ENJOYED MARY'S BAKED SALMON SUNDAY DINNER. CHATTED TILL NEAR 11 PM. PAUL OFFERED HIS ONE-MAN SURVIVAL HOME FOR ME TO INITIATE. IT HAS ALL THE CONVENIENCES & CAN BE PUSHED. SLEPT LIKE A BABY WHILE SAM GOT HER BATTERIES RE CHARGED. WE LEFT WHEN MARY WENT TO HER TEACHER'S JOB IN EVERETT AT 7:00 AM.

BY 8:30 AM, ARRIVED AT I-5 FREEWAY. CHEATED BY HAVING ONE PANCAKE & ONE CUP COFFEE AT DENNYS. AFTER A FILLING EVENIG MEAL, I AM ALWAYS STARVING IN THE MORNING.

LEFT PIO NEER HIGHWAY TURNING SOUTH ON THE HIGHWAY TO EVERETT. WAS AN EASY CLIMB FOR SAM OUT OF STILLAGUAMISH VALLEY. WE PARALLELED I-5 THROUGH THE SMALL BUT SPOTLESS CLEAN SMOKEY POINT. EXCITEMENT: STATE PATROL SNEAKED UP BEHIND US, BLASTIG HIS LOUDSPEAKER ..."GET OFF THE ROAD". I THEN SAW HIM IN SAM'S REAR VIEW MIRROR, TURNED WHEN HE AGAIN BLASTED OUT..."I SAAID GET OFF THE ROAD AND ONTO THE SIDEWALK". I SET SAM'S FRONT WHEEL PARKING BRAKE, TURNED & WALKED BACK TO THE WSP CAR. gOOD MORNING, OFFICER, I SAYS; HE SAYS ...I TOLD YOU TO MOVE THAT THING OFF THE ROAD; I REPLY...SORRY SIR, BUT I CANNOT. HE GLARED AT ME. I CONTINUED...YOU SEE SIR, SAM, MY CART IS A MOTOR DRIVEN VEHICLE AND NOT DESIGNED OR BUILT FOR SIDEWALKS. HE CONTINUES...YOU HAVE BEEN HOLDING UP TRAFFIC (GUESS SOMEONE COMPLAINED!!!) I REPLIED THAT I ALWAYS HUG THE SIDE OF THE ROAD & THERE IS MORE THAN ENOUGH ROOM FOR TWO VEHICLES TO PASS...BUT, FOR YOU I WILL MOVE ONTO THE SIDEWALK.

MR. WSP THEN SMILED AND SAID...I APPRECIATE THAT & WHEN THE SIDEWALK RUNS OUT (IT DID RUN OUT ABOUT 4 BLOCKS FURTHER ON) GO AHEAD & USE THE HIGHWAY. THANKS...I SAYS & OFFER HIM MY BLOG ADDRESS. "GOOD MORNIN G MR. WSP...JUST IN CASE YOU READ THIS...TRUST I GOT IT RIGHT."

FURTHER ON A YOUNG MAN SITTING ON SOME STEPS SHOUTED OUT...YOU ON A LONG TRIP? YES, TO FLORIDA, WOW, HAVE A GOOD TRIP. TWO BLOCKS FURTHER ON I HEAR RUNNING FOOTSTEPS & "SIR, SIR". IT IS THE SAME YOUNG MAN, ABOUT 20 YEARS OLD, VERY GOOD LOOKING, HOLDS OUT HIS HAND AND SAYS..."MY MOM SAYS SHE SAW YOU WALKING NEAR STANWOOD YESSTERDAY, AND WANTS YOU TO HAVE THIS" AS HE LAYS 2 DOLLAR BILLS IN MY HAND. I REALLY TAKEN ABACK...BUT I CANNOT ACCEPT YOUR MOEY...MOM & I DO NOT HAVE VERY MUCH, BUT SHE ALREADY KNEW ABOUT YOUR WALK TO FLORIDA AND SHE WANTS TO BE A PART OF YOUR WALK...CAN I WALK ALONG WITH YOU...MOM ASKED ME TO PICK UP SOMETHING DOWN THE ROAD.

AND SO, BRAD HAS BECOME A FRIEND. HE ACCEPTED MY BLOG. BRAD IS 20 AND LOOKING FOR WORK...BUT NO LUCK YET.

BY NOW IT IS NOON AS I WALK INTO MARYSVILLE. I PARK SAM IN FRONT OF A SMALL MARKET. INSIDE IS KINDA DARK, BUT I FIND THE FRUIT SECTION AND CHOOSE ONE BANANA @ $0.29 PER POUND. I PAY FOR IT, AND EAT IT ON THE SPOT. ONE PANCAKE WENT QUICKLY. A MAN SITTING IN A DARK CORNER GOT UP AND OFFERED TO TAKE MY BANANA PEEL ASKING...THAT YOUR CART OUT THERE...YES, THAT IS SAM...SHE AND I HAVE COME FROM CANADA & ARE WALKING TO FLORIDA. HE SAYS "UMMMPH" AND TURNS AWAY. I LEAVE BUT COME BACK TO FILL MY WATER BOTTLE. AS I START TO PUSH SAM, THE SAME MAN WALKS UP TO US, HANDS ME A BAG AND SAYS...FOR YOUR WALK TO FLORIDA. INSIDE IS A SMALL BAG OF ICE AND A PASSION FRUIT. TEARS PUDDLE MY EYES; I SHAKE HIS HAND...THANKYOU, AND SAM & ME WALK ON.

IN EVERETT COMES MY SECOND ENCOUNTER OF THE DAY WITH THE AUTHORITIES. CITY POLICEMAN PULLS IN FRONT OF ME, STOPS, GETS OUT AND WALKS BACK TO ME...YOU MUST USE THE SIDEWALK...YOU ARE HOLDING UP TRAFFIC (MORE 911 CALLS ABOUTY SAM & ME???)... A MOTOR VEHICLE...YOU DON'T SAY...IS THAT A SOLAR PANEL? NICE RIG YOU HAVE...BUT PLEASE BE CAREFUL, WE WANT YOU TO BE SAFE. YES SIR...WOI,D YOU LIKE MY BLOG TO SEE HOW SAM & ME ARE DOING...YOU BET! GUESS WE MADE ANOTHER FRIEND.

RECEIVED MANY HONKS & WISECRACKS WALKING UP BROADWAY IN EVERETT. BUT MOSTLY, FOLKS WERE REALLY NICE. BROADWAY IS VERY VERY STEEP FOR ABOUT 6 MILES TO THE BOEING FACTORY FREEWAY. SAM CLIMBED SO WELL, I WAS ACTUALLY PULLED ALONG. THREE TIMES THE CITY POLICEMAN DROVE BY...PROBABLY NOTHING TO DO WITH ME...YEAH, SURE.

AT 4:30PM, SAM & ME ARRIVED AT THE TRAVELODGE AT HIGHWAY 527 AND CHECKED IN. NEPHEW DALE & FAMILY DROVE UP FROM KIRKLAND & WE ALL ENJOYED STEAK DINNER AT "BUZZIN" NEXT DOOR (WAS EXCELLENT). TOMORROW (ACTULLY TODAY, AS IT IS NOW 7 AM TUESDAY, APRIL 27) SAM & ME TAKE HIGHWAY 527 ALL THE WAY TO DALE'S HOME ON JUANITA DRIVE.

PLEASE EXCUSE ALL "CAPS". I'M HAVING A DIFFICULT TIME MANAGING THIS MINI-LAPTOP. STAYING IN CAPS HELPS.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 4

Day 4 has started wet again. SAM & ME enjoyed a dry nite under Jeff's patio roof. Only the freight trains 1 block away seemed to be running straight thru the tent. Last night' hot shower was fantastic and all my soaked clothes were hung & dried...now to wash them - yuck. Thank you, Jeff, for your kindness. Who would ever take in a complete stranger & hand them the keys to their home for the night. I'm in awe.

Day 2 was a very pleasant walk from B'ham to Alger. Melissa & hubby tracked US down along lake Samish where we shared their beer and Carol's cookies. Arrived Alger at 5pm where I met Tracy who offered his farmyard a mile or so away for our tent. After sharing a beer, WE took off walking BACK towards Bellingham's Lake Whatcom. After 1 hour & no farm, we turned around & headed back toward Alger.

Out of Heaven dropped a shiny black sedan; it passed US & stopped half in the road; out stepped an apparition who walked purposefully back to US; ..."Are you Mr. Maynard who...etc...Julie says to me. Short story: "..."I live too far away for you to walk to my place for the night..." (a statement ! not an offer !) Shortly, Julie left US, never waiting to find out if WE agreed it was too far.

SAM & ME watched Julie's black car disappear; WE continued walking back towards Alger.

It started to rain. It got dark VERY dark. At Alger WE contined South on Old 99. Rained harder. WE walked and walked until about 10pm when Skagit Speedway appeared. WE pulled in, found a seculed dark corner in the parking lot, and could go no further. Trying for 1/2 hour in the freezing pouring rain to set up our tent, everything taken out of SAM got thoroughly soaked...including me. SAM finally got into her tent & I soon followed after recovering our treasures from the puddled grass. Actually, I slept very well.

Day 3: E brought me some rain things I left home...I'll not need these, I had said at the time...thankyou E. WE walked from 11am until 4pm. Met a number of folks who stopped along the road to chat. Brad even walked along for a few miles...take care, Brad. At Verizon in Burlington, bought a second cell battery. All batteries ran out of juice during the day. Could not recharge as no Sun appeared & light was terrible with all the rain that past 24 hours, so no solar panel electricity...i.e.; all batteries died.

A second "Julie" (gosh, are all Julie's so gorgeous?)stopped to give US directions,.."I live too far away back the way you came to take you home for the night..." now where did WE hear that before. What is wong letting US decide what is too far for the potential rewards. Life is sometimes cruel.

Julie said "bye" and walked on with a somewhat sensual smile. Starting to enjoy this walk.

WE continued thru Mt. Vernon. At the end of town, I approached a couple moving things out of a house with a "for sale" sign. Got up my courage, and asked if WE might set up our tent in their yard for the night. Jeff said NO, but he had a second house 2 blocks away where we could. Jeff walked US to his second house he was moving out of. He cleared away a spot on his patio under the roof, introduced Ben & Helga, his dogs, handed me the key..."just in case you would like a shower", Jeff says and after pointing out where the electrical outlet was, left US for the night.
WOW !!! Can never thank you enough, Jeff.

It is now Day 5 morning. Somewhat recovered from the rain ordeal & Julie/s encounters. We will be on our way shortly, continuing down Old 99 towards Stanwood. Already received two communicatios from newfoundfriends that we will be targeted during the day as ..."find Mr. Maynard" gaming continues.

later...Bruce

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Day After The Nite B4

Today has been a splendid day. I am comfortably tucked into the portico of a private home, having received a toasty hot shower and a warm toilet seat upon to sit while writing to this, our blog.

Yesterday was a duzzie. But right now, I totally wiped. Will tell you all about it in the morning.

Nite Nite

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Time Out

OK, OK, OK, I took the day off. SAM needed some attention and to tell the truth, this ole' bod was totally wasted upon arriving in Bellingham at 7 pm last evening.

So, I spent the entire day recovering (the bod) and repairing (SAM), and processing orders which came on the cell phone during our trek from Blaine.

Some friends dropped in at the office and presented me some tablets which can be written on under water. It was raining part of the time yesterday from Blaine, & had a chore keeping my notebook dry. Thanks Lar & Barb. Very kind gesture. & Guess what, Lar...I too, will miss the shake-down cruise this year.

For Vincent & Charlotte: I tried...really tried to reach you yesterday. Will try again in the am & perhaps stop by on my way out of town. (I lost your card...so very sorry). Was thinking of you, Charlotte, during my 7 hour walk from Blaine to B'ham. Hope you are following me along.

Will have another night in my very comfy bed at home. Have a few last minute things to put right at the office, then SAM & ME, we are on our way. Learning from yesterday, we plan to make SHORT WALKS - an hour or so - rest for a while and continue on. Yesterday, we did 4 hours nonstop; not a good idea to do that again until we get into a rhythm. If we make 15 - 20 miles tomorrow, we will be pleased.

Truthfully, my greatest angst is where & how to set up our tent for the night. Do we simply find a secluded spot and plop down, or do we boldly ring someone's doorbell and ask permission; i.e., "Good evening, dear Sir/Mam. SAM and Me, we are walking to Florida and would like to ask if we may set up our tent for the night in your yard. We will be gone by early morning. Oh, by the way, if we may plug SAMs batteries into your electrical outlet, that would be just peachy."...or some equally outrageous approach. Suggestions are welcome.

Gee, this is starting to be some kinda fun.

OK, off to take a shower & get some sleep. A special thankyou for your wonderful cookies, Carol.

Day 1 - Champagne Under The Arch

Day 1 was a real "cruncher". Nearly crawled the final 5 miles.

Some close sailing friends joined me at the Peace Arch in Blaine, Washington, along with Phil, photographer from the Bellingham Herald. At precisely 10 am, the bubbly was cracked and all sipped...watching over our shoulders for "trouble". Toasts were given, photos were taken, and some nice words were exchanged. The rain let up for our little celebration, and the rest of the day was typical Northwest...changing to sunshine interspersed with overcast. Temperature around 60 F.

Lots of road construction is going on in Blaine. The entire Border Crossing is being rebuilt and at the moment is a mess for drivers. Had to walk an extra mile or so to get around it all; but, finally moved down Portal Way & out of town along the serene water-filled bay...my last contact with the salty Pacific Ocean. Next salty is KW (Key West).

Staying on Portal Way, also known as Old 99, I pushed SAM all the way to Ferndale. Old 99, I used to ride with Mother & Dad back in the '40s when they took us to Canada, was like trodding on an old friend. Old 99 has NO paved berm (a berm is the prepared edge of the road of current road design to incorporate a bicycle lane).

So, SAM & ME stayed on the concrete pavement. Not too frequently used anymore, Old 99 traffic was very considerate, giving us - generally - a wide birth. Only got yelled at (& the "finger") by one car. An improvement from my previous three (3) walks from Bellingham-Blaine-Bellingham in the days when this old guy was testing his mettle & old bones to find out where the collapse point was.

Drank only 1 quart of water during the 14 miles to Ferndale. Bad move. Drank three more quarts the final 12 miles to my Belligham office, where I left SAM for the night. It is essential that I have at least 1 gallon of water on board for a days walk.

Leaving Ferndale, I turned on SAMs electric motor. WOW, what a difference not to have to PUSH. But even steering SAM is not easy. She has no steerable front wheel & must be tilted off the pavement to turn, even slightly. At 160 # or so, SAM is a chore to "tilt". Would be nice to extend the handlebars to give more tilt leverage. In addition, SAMs front/drive wheel has a slight camber to the left. To keep her straight, must apply pressure all the time. That misalignment, I will correct tomorrow before leaving the office.

While waiting for my ride home, cranked up the office computers and completed processing the two (2) orders I received by cell phone during today's walk. Tomorrow, will load down ALL work phone numbers into my cell. Next order coming in, I can then not only receive/take the order; but, can phone my various factories/suppliers on the spot and have product moving to clients within 10 minutes or so.

Actually, the system works very well and my clients/factories are very cooperative by sticking with me instead of finding other suppliers, etc. Helps immensely to know your colleagues...and after 30 years of business, it is difficult to shut it down. So, Spectrum Ascona, Inc. walks with me. Thanks all for sticking by me (now, didn't a famous car maker say something like that recently???).

Ahhhh, my own bed for one more night. Nite all.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mini HP for the 1st Time

Good Evening;

What a beautiful past 3 days in Bellingham. Tonite supposed to get us wet...but that is why I live in the Pacific Northwest...love the weather.,,clean...brisk...temprete...

For the first time, we are using our Mini HP to create our blog. Not so easy for an old secretary like me (yes, I began all of it as a stenographer...shorthand the old Greg Simplified way and typing on a fully mechanical Underwood). Fat fingers do not walk so easily on itsybitsy keys on this marvel of communication wonders. But, as it will be my link to the world for next several months, here we go...

SAM is on a strict diet. She has shed over 25 pounds in the past 24 hours and is destined to lose a few more before our quickly approaching departure for the Peace Arch. Our friend, Tom E. is carrying SAM & ME in his trailer to the arch at 8:30 am Wednesday, April 21 (I know...been saying Wednesday is April 20. chalk it up to...well, you decide).

We plan to straddle the Canada/USA boundary under the arch at 10:00 am to take a few pictures and video then...the first step of 4,082 miles to Key West.


My neighbor, Jim, has programmed this computer to be photo/video literate. That means, after much practice, I will include photos & video in this blog as well as on Facebook (look for us under Bruce Maynard). We will also have SKYPE for all to video/conference with SAM & ME. Plan to be on line early each morning (say about 6:00am PST) and evening (time TBD). So, please, if you have SKYPE, stop by. If you do not have SKYPE, it is a supurb way to video communicate FREE with anyone/everyone in the entire world. SKYPE download/setup is quite easy.

Man, this is tuff. I'm a touch typist. Not used to this hunt n'peck stuff.

Tomorrow, my sailing friend, Raleigh, will report in to the Office for indoctrination. Raleigh, being already retired, is apparently eager to sit in for me during our walk. He will handle all office routine and keep me posted as to activities. Without Raleigh, our walk would simply not be possible.

Friday, April 16, 2010

T-96 Hours & Counting

Today, a chapter was finally closed. 30 Years after starting my Company, I fully EMPTIED my warehouse. My Office is a mess, but the warehouse is spic and span, ready for new tenants on Monday morning.

I wonder how many folks start over from scratch in their lives at least once. You might be shocked to learn that this is my 4th FULL STOP. Three previous times, I have lost - or have had taken from me - EVERYTHING of tangible value. To walk into your future with the clothes on your back is a sobering moment. To do it four times is almost criminal.

And, in 96 hours from now, I will again experience criminality renewed.

When, living a good part of your life with someone(s) you feel you simply cannot live without is irrevocably taken away...somehow...someway....I have learned that if I can just make it to that corner up ahead...that illusive corner...something or someone is there for me.

Melodramatic? Yes. But that is the way my life has been. A series of many years of bliss ending in a finality so total as to want to jump off the nearest bridge. But for me, that corner is just up ahead and by golly, I'm gonna get there if I must hump along on my tummy.

So, coming Wednesday, April 20, 2010, I begin phase five (5) of my fascinating life. Like turning a page to begin a new chapter, our (SAM & ME) walk into the unknown has already borne so much fruit as to feel like the corner is..."somewhere back thar..."

I have tried very diligently to keep my blog directed. I am, however, an unbelievable romantic demanding words such as those above to blast forth. I promise, however, that I will make a very determined effort to keep to the subject of SAM and ME and and our walk.

I have asked several to Please, Please, Please, critique me. I am not a writer and I need help. Everyone who has responded has denied any critique. Bewildered? You bet.!!!

SAM is a jewel. She is beautiful to look at. She is perfectly balanced. She has power to burn. She has room for much more than I want to take with us. She is also overweight.

Now don''t get me wrong. I love her dearly. She just must lose a few pounds. So, I have spent the past two days packing...repacking...packing again...and repacking again. It has paid off. I have not only coerced her to shed a few pounds, but have changed her center of gravity. That allows me to steer her with much more agility.

We, SAM and ME have walked some 50 miles in the past 36 hours. We have climbed steep hills and descended equally steep grades...and I have pushed her sweet tush over flat ground for more miles than I want to keep track of. We are, in a word, becoming familiar.

Tomorrow, Saturday, April 17, I will load SAM in her final configuration and take US out for a stroll.

I have been changing my sleeping schedule drastically. Going to bed about 9:00 pm & waking about 3:30 am. Lying awake for a couple hours going mentally through "what ifs" for SAM & ME and then off to work by 7:00 am. It's now 7:18 pm and I'm pooped. Much, I am certain, because of the trauma of shutting down 30 years of my life.

Next blog, I will talk with you about my desire for future walk-films..specifically, subject and methodology to bring folks into our walk by way of video and hopefully share their/my realities with others. I do not have a thundering desire to pull in untold $$$ for some cause...many of which I am personally afflicted by...but, rather, to tell the story of Americans SAM and ME meet along the way.

G'nite...luv U

Sunday, April 11, 2010

First Nite Out

Have spent a number of nites inside our tent with SAM during the past two months. Today/tonite, however, is our first nite outside.

Worked my tush off the past two days beautifying our garden/yard. At the moment, there isn't a blade of grass out of place; all trees are trimmed; all shrubs are manicured; all lawn edges are trimmed...and the lawn is a lush deep green with very few broadleaf intruders. There is a lot of satisfaction in working on your own home...may be my last effort for quite a very long while...but then again, I do plan to return to Bellingham every month or so to do my Company paperwork, etc.; maybe I'll take a couple more days out to take a stab at keeping things at home looking sharp.

Since SAM is housed at my Office; drove there after today's yard work. Took my first post-surgery long walk with SAM...up and down some steep hills, lots of vehicle traffic on busy streets, finally reaching home after 1-1/2 hours. Knee, legs & feet are all OK. Stopped 3 or 4 times to chat with passersby and introduce SAM. Upon arrival home, set up our tent, put SAM inside together with my sleeping bag, and stood back to admire. All went according or our Warehouse practices. Bet the neighbors were taken a bit back...ours is a somewhat upscale neighborhood with strict rules, such as "no tents", "no trailers", "no boats", etc, etc. I'm certain to receive a letter before the next 24 hours go by, admonishing me for numerous rule violations.

Will sleep tonite in our tent with SAM.

Upon checking battery consumption, found that SAM consumed from 12.65 volts down to 12.35 volts during the 1-1/2 hour walk. That seems excessive, until I realized (stupid stupid stupid) that I had the front wheel caliper brake engaged for at least an hour. When I noticed the brake on and released it, SAM's motor relaxed noticeably. Probably used some heavy electrons during that very stupid stunt.

Also charged two of the three green bank batteries. Strange as it seems, the 20 watt solar panel charged it's battery up to 13.05 volts, whereas the 90 watt panel charged it's battery only to 12.75 volts. Must pay close attention to charging rates. The 90 watt panel should have put in at least 4.5 amps/hour, whereas the smaller panel only provides 1.5 amps/hour. I don't have a proper amp/hour meter to check the batteries...must use the volt meter. Perhaps I must after all invest in that $500.00 amp/hour meter. Having sponsorships is beginning to sound better all the time...but as I have already said, I'm not used to "receiving". Is a change in principals about to take place???

SAM is becoming VERY heavy. Weighs out at about 150# at the moment and must add clothes, and food. Structurally, SAM is good. Her front wheel is fixed; i.e., not steerable. To turn SAM, I must lift (say, TILT) her front drive wheel off the ground. Not a big problem on flat surfaces, but extremely difficult to do on up or down grades. Nearly lost control of her in heavy traffic on the way home. Then, too, this is my first serious walk in over two months and with the surgery and all, I am a bit weak in the feet, legs and arms. Then, too, I'm not 39 anymore !!! I will, however, ramp up our walks to be ready for Wednesday Week...April 20 departure date.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Seniors Walking

So, this is Saturday evening...no work today, but went anyway & forwarded all Company phone lines to my cell phone to test the "system" of receiving business phone calls on the"road" as I walk. Seems to work ok. Thanks, Qwest.

Also activated Garmin DVD on my hp mini computer. Finally figured out how to use the basics and send the "routes" to my Garmin60csx. Now gotta figgure how to make the csx work. I'm just not one of these techies ...like my piano, gotta work for every correct note I hit.

Jon came to Bellingham today. He brought along his "Seniors Walking" documentary he entered into the Toronto Film Festival. Jon played his film for me. I sat mesmerized. After 3 minutes or so, I turned to Jon and said, "Is that really me? Did I really say those things?" "Yep!", he says. I was nearly moved to tears. I look forward to the moment Jon can put his "Seniors Walking" on the web. I believe lotsa folks are gonna like it.

Nothing much else occurred today...took SAM for a stroll for Jon & his staff to see & then for a longer hike. SAM seemed pleased. Charged up her batteries when we returned to the office/warehouse.

I am mentally ready to begin our walk. Another week & half to April 20 departure date. Am looking forward to it. Three or four folks have invited me & SAM to stop & spend the nite and have a nice bath/dinner/soft bed. My, how this is all snowballing...I just hope I am worthy of the attention and interest in this ole' man walking to Key West.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Significant Other Is Home...

Good Even'n, all.

My Significant Other arrived back in Bellingham Monday, right on schedule, flying British Air from London to Seattle; then bus to Bellingham. Apprehensive, I have been; but we had a kind and comforting reunion. She seems truly pleased with our home - inside and out - but hoped for Tulips instead of the high-tech bouquet resting on the table for her return...as I have presented upon her return these many years of our relationship. She is accepting my imminent departure for the long walk...just about the same length as Mao's walk across China in 1945...you might know that I visited Mao's home in Wuhan, China...but that is another story for a quiet future evening.

SAM is now complete. She is going through repeated packing, repacking and repacking again. All possible items to join our journey are laid out on the long shelving of my warehouse, awaiting decision...I can feel them thinking..."am I going"..."am I being left behind"..."is there room for me in SAM"..."or am I to be packed away in a dark place for some future day when Bruce may again take me out and into his life." Even inantimate objects have feelings and know very well what is going on. Each item must have dual or multiple function to be considered for our journey and I feel sad for those left behind.

I know, I'm a romantic and probably a bit off center; but, then again, being a Cancer has it's obligations...to look for the pleasure in all things and try to be fair and honest in decisions. Wish all items could join SAM and me...but, disappointment will come to some.

My very good friend, Les, was all set to look after my Company office...take in the mail, make bank deposits, keep paper in the FAX machine & generally look after things. Shockingly, Les suffered a heart "failure" a few days ago. ER brought him through and he has now entered lengthy heart rehabilitation. So, Les says he cannot be counted on to stand in for me.

I have many boating items to dispose of after purging the warehouse for the new tenents. Another friend, Raleigh, has agreed to take these items to the May 01 Boating Opening Day Swap Meet. Just what would the world be without friends !!! Mentioned that Les was doubtful to stand in for me, and Raleigh jumped at the opportunity to take his place...WOW...just what did I do to deserve these guys.

Have been using Google, Bing, MSN, and Garmin to lay out detailed routes for SAM and me. I want to use the new HP mini-computer and my Garmin 60CSX GPS to detail the journey. Have kinda settled on Garmin's "City" software. Tried all day to get it downloaded. After numerous starts/failures, phoned Garmin Tech Staff, who advised me that I needed this and I needed that, which I did not have. Pointed out that their web site made no mention of that stuff and got into a pi__ing contest with some strong willed (stronger willed than me) Techie about the shortcomings of their website instructions. Finally got transferred to "management", who, after listening to the adventure of SAM & me, started jumping through hoops. End result: Garmin is giving me what I need and asked for permission to use SAM & me for advertising...the world is full of surprises.

On Saturday, Jon is bringing "our" documentary to Bellingham for me to view. Since it is still in the "finals" competition in Toronto, it cannot be shown to "outsiders", but he wants me to see it. I think he is a bit taken by his own work and I am eager to see it. As I mentioned before, final selections will be made on or shortly after May 10.

I really don't know if anyone is reading any of this, but if you are, a word of critique is very welcome. I'm not really a writer, and welcome any/all input(s).

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Closing A Chapter

Been a very emotional week; closing down tenancy of my Company warehouse. Every item I touch...give away...throw out...or pack away for some later date...is fraught with memories. A simple label on shelving brings tears remembering Christiane's careful penmanship..."09-6", the ID of a popular Instant Bow Ribbon. The ribbons are all gone now, as are all candy boxes, all decorator bags, twist-ties, candy cups, and yes, also Christiane, who died January 12, 2001, after fighting breast cancer for over 10 years. It's tough to lose ... tougher still to put away all the tangibles, leaving only memories, many of which are yours alone.

Some consolation???Christiane's loss was so much more traumatic, desperate, and final. I simply turn the page of life to begin my new chapter...my walk into my future.

But, that is the way it is on this stormy Saturday morning in Bellingham. Up at 4:11am, battling Alisha and Sarah in Tennis on Wii...try to do battle every morning as it gets the snaps' firing upstairs; mixing up some blueberry pancakes (Christiane called them "Saddleblankets") with diced banana, and thinking thru the day's activities to set priorities. Esther returns on Monday after 3 months celebrating Fastnacht in Switzerland. MUST have our home spic n' span for her return; not really much to do as I'm kinda always ready for visitors.

Good news! Jon advises me that his ("our") documentary film has been chosen as a finalist in the Toronto Film Festival. Seniors Walking is scheduled to be reviewed by a much larger audience (judges) on May 02. Final selections are to be made by May 10 or so. Jon is elated and confident his film will do well. He...me too...is eager to start receiving my HD video cards of my walk so he can continue the saga of this ole' man walking into his - and other's - future. April 20 departure still looks good.

A unique and wonderful thing happened yesterday. SAM has an empty space between the solar panels (above) and the "passenger" compartment (below). I wanted to use this space to carry along a pillow and quickly accessible spare/dry clothing, etc. After nearly 2 months searching, finally found "Marc", owner of Signs by Tomorrow on Iowa Street. He took one look at SAM, marveled and began immediate construction of a custom-molded plastic tray to fit SAM's empty space. He offered that if he could hang his advertising on SAM, he would charge only 50% for his tray. "You bet," But Marc lied to me. His beautifully crafted tray fit perfectly. He handed me his sign and flatly refused my money. I'm not used to "receiving". I am and have always been the "giver". Now I'm struggling with becoming a "receiver". Thanks, Marc.

I have a new consideration. During the past few months, my hands have become increasingly sore. Dr. Ross, my Primary Physician, said not to worry, but the soreness has now become complete with all fingers on both hands and moving into my wrists. Seems like arthritis to me. As with all things to do with my body, I put mind over matter and the pain goes away. But in the quiet peaceful moments alone, my hands remind me - constantly - that change is underway. Now, I am facing a new realization that just possibly I really am getting on in age.

Well, it just goes to show how much I must take special care of this body. I trust I am up to the challenge.