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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

POST 555: 02/29/12; OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA

Today, on February 29, 2012, Leap Year, I have made a decision which will put me back on the road.

Tomorrow morning, I will depart - with SPIA - the Outer Banks.

We will drive to Columbia, North Carolina to stay the night in the home of Craig and Karen.

Friday morning, I will re-convene my walk to circumnavigate America.

Initial destination is De Kalb, Illinois - 990 miles from Rodanthe, Outer Banks, where I will spend some time with my Sister, Carol, who is under 100% care in a nursing home.

From De Kalb, I will walk North to US Highway 2 which follows the United States / Canada border, arriving in the town of Mt. Vernon, Washington, thence the final 40 miles through Bellingham (my home) to the Peace Arch.

The Peace Arch was my starting point on January 12, 2011, from which I will have walked to the outskirts of Los Angeles, California, crossing the southern deserts and bayous of America and on to Key West...thence North to the Outer Banks.

It is with considerable consternation and bit of guilt that I have decided to leave the Outer Banks at this particular moment.

I am involved with a number of projects - all designed to help others recover from the losses to Hurricane Irene (September 2011). I will be leaving these efforts unfinished...to the possible detriment of my new friends.

To complete my mission, I must walk at this moment. My entire saga has been financed entirely from my Social Security - with three major donations totaling $900.00 -. To delay further will result in declining $$ availability to complete my circumnavigation at a later date.

My ETA at the Peace Arch is still August 15, 2012.

At that time, options are open. I will discuss those options at the appropriate time.

Leaving the Outer Banks...if even for a while...is difficult. For me, parting from friends is not easy. I take with me a bit of a number of friends and leave behind a major chunk of myself.

This will be the first of again-daily-blogs.

I will try to be up to the task of creating show 'n tell of some interest.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

POST 554: 02/22/12: OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA


Since November, 2011, SPIA and I have been guests in three villages - Rodanthe - Waves - Salvo - on the Outer Banks, North Carolina. Dominating the skyline is the water tower of the historic site - CHICAMACOMICO - seen above with the setting sun on this date, February 22, 2012.

I took this photograph as I drove from the new home of Tim and Barbara back to HAPPY CLAM.



Tim and Barbara's new home has been six years in the making.

Please say HELLO to Todd, a long-time family friend down from his home in Virginia to complete installing the trim.


Please say HELLO to (Mr.) Tim, proud father / grandfather of their local brood, most of whom show up for 5:00 pm dinner always prepared from scratch by Barbara.

Tim is following Todd's work, filling nail holes with putty, in preparation of my finish painting.

Yes, I helped Tim lay the hardwood floor in the foreground - as well as doing much of the prime and finish painting of their home - except for the ceiling.


The back entrance and hallway leading to the kitchen / dining room in the distance.

Elegant "decorator" stairs now replace the steps shown above.

Kitchen area...the last room to be completed.


Dining / Living Room opposite the open-area kitchen.


72 hours ago, Pastor Steve and wife, Betty, decided to salvage their home shown above destroyed by the September 2011 Hurricane Irene.

Water level was about 4.5 feet above the ground, effectively destroying everything below that level.

I joined the work party today. In the past 72 hours, all walls have been torn out, together with insulation, flooring, fixtures, cabinets, etc. etc.

Insulation is REQUIRED to be removed after being flooded due to rampant growth of BLACK MOLD, which can be quite harmful if inhaled (breathed in).

The entry porch of P. Steve's home in process of being totally rebuilt.


Kitchen area, devoid of all items up to flood level. Already, cleanup has been nearly complete, with new insulation already installed.


Master Bedroom has also been stripped, with new insulation installed, ready for closing in the walls and installing the new floor.

The second bedroom ready for putting back together.


Living / Dining Rooms, already receiving new walls and sub-flooring for laying tile.

My initial job today was to clean the above floor of all nails and staples prior to installing the sub-flooring for the tile. Approximately 2,000 screws are being used to install the sub-flooring...many of which I have this afternoon screwed into the sheets shown above.

All four families of Pastor Steve lost their homes to Hurricane Irene...and all without insurance.

Help has come from all directions of the Outer Banks. P. Steve & Betty are recovering their severely damaged home. The families of their three daughters, Melinda, Mandy, and Melanie, have found temporary housing, with more long term residences in the works.

It has been my pleasure to volunteer in numerous ways to do my part to help.

FEMA was initially a major player on the Outer Banks after Hurricane Irene. I was not here at that time. I do not feel qualified to comment and am reluctant to repeat here say floating on the steady onshore winds.

Since the Outer Banks are 20 or so miles off shore, ALL winds, regardless of direction are ON SHORE winds out here.

Today, I have made decisions regarding timing for my walk back to the Peach Arch. Being a bit premature, will share my decisions when various options have been worked out.

Needless to say, I am...and expect to continue to be...quite busy on a number of projects while out here on the Outer Banks.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

POST 553: 02/19/12: OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA

The "Southeaster" has set in with emphasis this afternoon...although, the front moved in as a "Northeaster". Blustering winds are sending clouds of fine particles of beach sand drifting across Highway 12.

Attended a wrestling symposium in Kitty Hawk "First Flight" High School this afternoon, necessitating driving from Rodanthe to the Northern-most island, a distance of about 40 miles -.

The youngsters (5 - 11 years old) competed in an "open" wrestling seminar. For the first time, I broke out my near-professional video camera (purchased when negotiating a movie contract for my walk - which fell through). After short lessons from young-uns, succeeded in taping a number of wrestling matches, which I gave to the "Moms" for TV viewing.

- will look into a video software program which I can use to include up-coming walk/video on my blog.

As a passenger on the return trip in Tim's Nissan SUV, was impressive to watch high on-shore winds blow sand across Hwy 12, causing treacherous driving and quickly covering the roadway.

In the morning, DOT will most probably be out with heavy equipment to remove the sand from the macadam (asphalt), as it becomes quite slippery as it builds up...not unlike snow.

Speaking of snow, some weather reports predict snow by tomorrow morning for this same Highway 12. Winter, only a few weeks to go, is still very much with us.

Early this morning, was on duty alone at the Food Pantry; unpacking, sorting and stocking shelves from many boxes of pastry, deserts, and veggies which were picked up yesterday (Saturday) from Nags Head by Pastor Steve. Took a while, but I enjoy working alone...gives a feeling of creativity sensa "constructive" criticism. Was not on hand for customer reaction to my effort(s), as Tim and Barbara whisked me away to Kitty Hawk before the opening bell.

There is a growing lobby on this quick-sand island to intimidate / say entice / me to remain on the Outer Banks. My reception and subsequent acceptance by the locals has been beyond real. Under any other circumstances, I know of no one who would not rush to accept such treatment.

Two years ago March 20, 2010, I started walking...knowing not, really, where my meandering might take me. I have come to accept the real possibility that I can not only complete my USA (mainland) circumnavigation - plus the (already completed) diagonal from the Peace Arch to Key West, but also take on Lisbon, Portugal to Beijing, China...and potentially even Beijing to the Bearing Sea via Siberia...thence across to Alaska and down the ALCAN Highway back to my starting point, the Peach Arch at Vancouver, B.C., Canada / USA border.

That would be a true walk around the world's land mass...a worthy goal for any man/woman.

Then, I am faced with offers such as I am receiving from these marvelous folks of the Outer Banks.

I truly like the Outer Banks. I truly enjoy those living on the Outer Banks. Every day I get prodded to start writing book(s) of my experiences - I have been blessed with an extraordinary life culminating in unbelievable stamina and health at my advanced age -.

I am nearing a decision to begin writing. I am strongly tempted to do so now...here and now on the Outer Banks.

Yet, I have a mission. I WILL complete my circumnavigation of the USA. Lisbon and beyond is not so certain as it requires support and $$ I do not presently command.

My decision must, however, come within the next couple weeks...to sit tight...or, to head for the Peace Arch. It is, for me, a win / win decision.

I have always been a critique of lobbyists ; and now, I find lobbyists directly influencing my life.

I have embarked - and completed - many sagas...none more perplexing than this one.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

POST 552: 02/18/12; OUTER B ANKS, NORTH CAROLINAQ

Good news from my Eye Doctor..."Beautiful", says he on my second and final post-op checkup...see you in one year.

He did give me a prescription for new eye glasses, saying most of his patients never wear glasses again after cataract replacements.

Each day my vision gets more clear - has been a bit fuzzy at times -. Night vision is nearly perfect without glasses.

Been working every day doing finish painting on Tim's new home. His friend, Tod, has come on board installing trim around windows, doors, and base boards. Only 5 rooms to go to complete the "new" portion of Tim's home...then will assist in remodeling the original 4 rooms.

In the interim, two more folks have asked me to help them with their homes.

Considering restarting my walk soon. Tonight, however, snow is forecast for Southeastern Virginia - about 120 miles from the Outer Banks -, so the weather is still unsettled. Outer Banks are forecast to receive high winds and heavy rains from a "Southeaster" moving in tonight and tomorrow.

In the interim, I have plenty of work to do...Food Pantry in the morning and painting following.

During a heavy downpour two nights ago SPIA's roof started leaking again. Yesterday, it was cold but dry, so I climbed up on top and sealed ALL seams and fasteners with thick adhesive aluminum tape. For good measure, resealed some previous areas which showed torsion tears in the aluminum tape.

Poor SPIA is taking a beating. I'm trying to take good care of her, but she is simply old, worn out, and falling apart. Still, she is "home", and I am grateful to have her.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

POST 551: 02/12/12: OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA

Mother Nature gave us a good ride last night.

0600 (am) woke up to 19 F outside.


Inside SPIA, with no heat on all night, 0600 temperature was 41 F.

That means my make-shift insulation is working...22 F higher inside.

Of course, the wind chill factor outside was well below 19 F, as the wind blew +/- 40 mph with higher gusts all night, giving SPIA a ride on the wild side.


As I stepped out of SPIA, I was greeted by stinging snow flurries.


...partially covering the frozen ground.


With a bit of ice forming.

Not exactly what I anticipated to find on the Outer Banks...then again, I have been told that last year - 2010 / 2011 - snow accumulated many inches deep around the first of the year.



SPIA is rather well protected by surrounding evergreen (pine) trees with over 1/2 of her parked under the deck of HAPPY CLAM.

Most homes in the Outer Banks are built quite high above the ground as it is often flooding. The sand spit making up the Outer Banks is only a couple feet above the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Pamlico Sound on the other side.


Sharing my regular morning routine, hot oatmeal prepared and eaten from the blue pan. I have a complete complement of dishes, pots and pans, but only ole' blue gets any use.

It has stayed quite cold all day. Now 6:40 pm with outside temperature at 30 F.

Looks to be another cold night.

Kept busy with the Food Pantry this morning and helping Tim all afternoon.

Tomorrow will be helping Tim all day.

Lots of activity on the Banks preparing for Valentine Day. I am keeping a low profile, but wish to send each of you a dozen red roses. I am, of course, a hopeless romantic...even when I have no actual hand to hold, my thoughts and feelings are running deep.

Happy Valentine Day.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

POST 550: 02/11/12: OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA

As another storm slams into the Outer Banks tonight, bringing high winds and heavy rain, I have some good news.

Early this morning, I drove to Nags Head to attend a "post-op" with my surgeon. With a room nearly full of elderly eye patients, I was ushered into the inner sanctum within 5 minutes. The nurse checked documentation for a few moments and left. Mr. Surgeon came in, invited me to rest my chin on his opt-0-meter as he peered into my left eye from which he removed a cataract yesterday...

"Beautiful", says he...see you in a week.

Whereupon he got up and walked out. He was with me all of two entire minutes.

The waiting room was now standing-room only.

I must say the surgical unit was a wonder of professionalism and comforting during yesterday's surgery. I endured NO pain or discomfort. I walked out with a nurse to Tim's car. We again stopped for din din and drove the 50 miles back to Rodanthe.

Upon release after the surgery, I was given a wee pep talk and told to check with the Surgeon in the morning. I was shocked that I could have easily driven my own vehicle home in the dark. For the first time in over 30 years, I could see clearly all road signs, traffic, and the road itself...all without wearing glasses...all in the dark.

After this morning's consultation - to which I drove my self there and back (without eye glasses), I worked all day helping Tim building his new home.

All in all, a most satisfactory day - topped off by Barbara's yesterday left-overs (as I was not allowed to eat or drink all day yesterday).

A bit of sidelight news:

The two sons of Melinda are wrestlers...as are the two grandsons of Tim and Barbara (sons of daughter, Sharon). All four boys compete in various cities in North Carolina and Virginia. Today, they competed in a meet in - I believe - Greenville, North Carolina. Between the four boys, they brought home three First Place, one Second Place, and one Third Place medal...Melinda's oldest son competed in two classes, taking Gold in both.

Encouraging, reassuring, and admittedly emotionally satisfying to see these close families bonded in a way I never did. Something powerful to be learned here.

Friday, February 10, 2012

POST 549: 02/10/12: OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA

Friday evening with a light rain and thankfully no wind. Looks to be a pleasant night in Rodanthe.

After helping with the Food Pantry (Friday), was driven by Tim to Kitty Hawk for my cataract eye surgery. All went well - even though my blood pressure was 189 / 155...they nearly refused to proceed, but since I did not take my heart medication this morning, they pumped me up via intravenous and proceeded with the procedure.

All seems to have ended successfully...at least I woke up still alive and kicking...so, alls well that ends well.

Tim, Barbara and I stopped - again - at Applebees Restaurant for din din on the way home.

In the morning, must drive once again to Nags Head - using SPIA - to have a look-see by the Surgeon and receive my new eyeglasses prescription.,,which I plan to order from Wall*Mart.

Tim took the opportunity - while waiting for me - to visit Home Depot where he purchased carpet for three rooms, a couple more door/frames, and miscellaneous. We will have plenty of stuff to work on the next couple weeks.

Thank you all, for the good wishes...kept your images looking on as I went under the knife.

A special Hello to Peggy in Astoria, Oregon...miss you ! Would love to chat if your furry friends permit a free moment or two...HI, to your Mom.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

POST 548: 02/09/12: OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA

Finished painting the hand railings for Melinda and A.J. A particularly unpleasant job because of the height and bending (became a contortionist to reach many places). May still have to return to do some touch up.

Food Pantry is progressing well on Sunday, Wednesday, and Fridays.

Each day has been filled working with Tim on his new home. Painting, except for final trim, is complete. This week helped Tim install hardwood floors, install doorway jambs and actual hanging of doors.

Am learning much from Tim, who is a perfectionist...who spends 10 percent of his time trying to find where he left this tool or that rule. Have organized all his tools, putting all like items in one spot, and keeping the floors clear of litter and construction debris.

Am putting on weight again. Barbara is an excellent chef, insisting I try this...have more of that...here, take this home for a late night snack.

After Food Pantry tomorrow morning, Pastor Steve is driving me to the Kitty Hawk Eye Outpatient Clinic, where my left eye cataract will be operated on. Will be nice to see clearly again.

Outer Bank constant 20 - 24 mph winds keep the wind chill near freezing day and night. SPIA is toasty with the propane furnace heating up the inside to 70 F. in less than five minutes. Use the furnace only to take the chill off so I keep nice and warm...if it gets too cold, climbing into the feathers is a great solution.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

POST 547: 02/05/12: OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA

10:20 pm and just returned "home" from enjoying big screen Super Bowl, endless food treats, and the families of Melinda and sister Melanie. Way to go New York Giants...victorious in a rather good game.

Past two days have been spreading lots of paint on the railing - should be finished with the second coat by tomorrow - and this afternoon finished the second coat of next to last room in Barbara and Tim's new home.

Must share an interesting development regarding my eyes:

Returning from Columbia (Karen and Craig's home), stopped in at the Eye Clinic in Nags Head (village), where prep work was done for my next Friday Cataract operation. In the process, the Doctor discovered my 15 year old right eye lens replacement had deteriorated to the point that laser treatment was recommended.

For the last 12 years or so, I have been losing my night vision to the degree that I could not safely drive at night - difficult to see the road without the white line -, and could not see the dashboard well enough to read how fast I was going.

Turns out that the new lens is "smaller" than the original lens - replaced 15 years ago. After a while, the "excess" iris material apparently becomes sagging - kinda like getting baggy jowls - which cuts down on light entering the eye. The laser treatment, which takes all of five minutes, punches holes through the iris, letting in more light.

Tonight driving home in the dark from Melinda and A.J., I could see the highway perfectly...first time in many years.

Down side from the upcoming left eye cataract surgery is significant $$ cost, expected to be somewhat in excess of $1,000.00 after insurance - heck, the eye drop medication preceding the surgery cost over $200.00 for two itsy bitsy lousy bottles of a few drops each.

Seriously considered cancelling the entire process.

Then again, I might get lucky to live a few more years...and why not...being able to see would be a plus.

So, we are proceeding.

It will be necessary, however, to extend my "winter-over" on the Outer Banks until the end of March to refill the $$ kitty before continuing my walk.

Instead of walking through Vermont to the St. Lawrence River, will most likely choose a shorter route; i.e., North Carolina diagonally North West to De Kalb, Illinois where my sister Carol is in full assisted living - suffering from a number of ailments.

In the mean time, will continue to volunteer - sans $$ receipt -, helping folks recover from the September hurricane damages.

I know, I know...have been told I'm a bit unrealistic to reject payment. I have determined, however, to complete my walk solely on my Social Security $$. In any event, I enjoy helping as many folks as possible while I have the physical ability...what better way to show my appreciation for all that has been received from so many along the way.

Friday, February 3, 2012

POST 546: 02/03/12: OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA

Another weather front moved onto the Outer Banks last night bringing rain and cold.

Assisted at the Food Pantry until early afternoon. A large contingent of canned goods arrived while I was away in Columbia last week, filling the shelves. Already, nearly all of it is gone because of an unusually large number of hungry folks stopping in.

This morning, many boxes of fresh meats arrived for Friday patrons. A new addition is the delivery by the bread distributor truck, leaving ten trays of bread items.

Pastor Steve tells me that business is slow at the moment because it is "off-season". During high season, the truck apparently picks up food every day - now pickup is Friday, Sunday and Wednesday.

After closing (Food Pantry), drove to the home of Melinda and A.J., where I painted until too dark to see. I was invited to share dinner before driving back to HAPPY CLAM for the night.

It was bitter cold (wind chill out of the North). I kept adding more warm sweaters and thermal gloves (under my rubber painting gloves), and still became quite chilled. SPIA's propane furnace has warmed to 70 F., but I am still shivering. Going to climb into the feathers to warm up.

Tomorrow, a final gallon of paint is to be delivered (ran out of paint today) at 9:00 am. Should be able to complete the second coat (Melinda applied a second coat on more than 50% of the railings while I was in Columbia last week).

Melinda and A.J. have invited me to watch the Super Bowl on their big screen Sunday evening.. Look forward to that.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

POST 545: 02/01/12: COLUMBIA, NORTH CAROLINA

One Week.

Simply unbelievable.

My third visit to the home of Karen and Craig has come and gone in a flash. I am rested. I am contented. I am overwhelmed by kindness.

I, a complete stranger, invited into the home and hearts of Karen, Craig, Noah and Carson. Beyond reason...simply beyond reason.



Please, once again, say HELLO to Craig (on the left), his simpatica wife, Karen, and precious Auggie.


My Room.

Many tranquil hours I have spent in that bed, sleeping like a baby. Nearly as many hours, I have read from my Kindle nestled into that rocking chair.

Memories...so many times in recent months I gazed into en-ending emptiness striving to comprehend that which might wait around the next bend...over the next hill.

Blow my mind...there is always something...someone(s)...waiting for me - no room for doubt...no room for depression. Only the wonder of walking into another's life, sharing, leaving a bit of oneself behind...taking a bit of someone into the future.


Two times I have visited C.L.

Top notch haircut for $6.00. C.L. has been barbering since 1957.

I plan to sit in his barber chair one more time before walking away from Columbia, North Carolina.

Cypress Tree beside the Columbia, North Carolina "River walk" one block from Karen's home.


Pigeon nesting only 4 feet away from the Scuppernong River Board Walk.

Yes, we had a chat.

To the consternation of this fellow standing guard next to her !

I tried to chat with him, but he just stared at me, turned, and walked slowly crouching under concrete (Scuppernong River) bridge beams to disappear into the blackness.


Scuppernong River Bridge, looking West across the shallow waters.


SPIA parked in front of Karen & Craig's home.

My room is behind the upper-left window.


Karen & Craig's graveyard.

Pic is taken next to Karen's SUV sitting in their driveway.


Click click to read the headstone of SARAH SUTTON...died 1830.

This morning, I exchanged emotional "goodbyes" after Noah and Carson went off to school.

I drove back to the Outer Banks, filled my spare propane tank - which was bungied into the new basket -, and drove to the local Nags Head (town) Eye Clinic. Introducing myself as friend of Karen and Craig, I was immediately escorted into an examining room, where I received a through going over for the next two hours...all with no appointment.

Was informed that I needed laser treatments on my previously treated right eye (lens implant 15 years ago), which was done on the spot in less than five minutes;

Also informed that I suffered from Maculate Degeneration, requiring immediate attention. Oh My !

Also informed that on February 10, 2012 (next Friday), surgery would be performed on my second (left) eye to implant a new lens.

Returning to Rodanthe and Avon, checked in with Barbara and Tim. Tim suggested since tomorrow is going to be a gorgeous day, I should help Melinda and A.J. finish painting their railings.

Tracked down Melinda at the Food Pantry...no, says she, we should go help Linda - Linda has considerable Hurricane (September 2011) damage to her home and has been bouncing from friend to friend as her home is not safe to move into -. So, in the morning, will take on yet another homeowner damage repair.

This is the way of folks out here on the Outer Banks...those in need receive help from caring neighbors and friends...sometimes it takes a bit of waiting as there is still so very much damage.

Next week, the Food Pantry / Church second-floor addition will begin...which will be the new home of Melinda and A.J. and their four young-uns. Melinda and A.J. - as well as sister Mandy - lost their homes entirely during Hurricane Irene in September.

I will volunteer myself to assist Pastor Steve in the remodel project.

Yes, I am busy. Yes, this is why I am out here.

It is going to take a humungous effort to coax SPIA to leave.

More corners to round...

More hills to cross.