Jackson Road Trailhead

This is a re-post from April of 2018. Reality is the weather around here just isn’t that good for hiking, for me anyway. I have been getting my miles around town, and at some local parks. Nothing really new to talk about, so I am opting for re-runs instead. I did get one leg on The Knobstone back in January, and I expect to be back at it next month.

This was my second leg on the Knobstone Trail. My plan was to walk out to Mile 6, then back to Mile 4, then back to the Jackson Road Trail head. On April 21st I set off  to do just that. From the parking area I walked down a steep hill to reach the actual trail. Going straight down right off the bat is never a good sign. When I reached the bottom, I decided to skip going out to Mile 6 or beyond, and headed for Mile 4. This meant now turning and starting up the other side of the original Pit of Misery. Really steep, and poorly constructed. I eventually reached the top. 1.25 miles, 1 hour, and I can still see my truck.

Jackson Truck

 

But hey, I’m on my way now. Down a little hill, across a road, and and there it is. The Second Pit of Hell. Down I went. At the bottom was one of the few places where I have ever seen water on this trail so far. Then up I went again. From Mile 5 to 4 was easy and really a nice view. Along the trail there was what appeared to be a Sasquatch shelter. I know you are laughing right now, but remember, I seldom see other people on this trail, and I was already near exhaustion. I started getting that creepy someone is watching me feeling. After I reached my goal at Mile 4, I headed back.

Just past Mile 5 the trail used to go out to a road. I was able to find that relatively easily, and I took the old route back to the truck. When I got to the truck I started to have the brilliant idea of dropping back into the Pit of Misery and getting another two miles in. Then I got in my truck and went home. Not my best day on the trail.

Again, this is not an easy trail. I have hiked in the mountains at elevation, so I have some idea of level of difficulty. Of course the age and IQ factor come into play as well. Save this section for a day you are feeling really strong.

Jackson ElJackson Map

Knobstone Trail Beginning

This is my post from last year when I first set out to hike The Knobstone Escarpment Trail. Through this  January I have covered the trail from Mile 0 out to Mile 20.5, both ways. This first section turns out to be the easiest section I have done so far, by far. If you are interested, scroll back and you can read about other sections too.  Here is what I posted after my first leg this past April:

During the past winter I determined that I should walk the Knobstone Escarpment Trail in southern Indiana. This trail is pretty serious business, so in the early spring I started training, extending my usual walks out to from 5 to 8 miles, or even 10.

Since I did not want to rely on others, or have to keep someone else’s pace, I decided to do this by myself which means out and back on every leg. Which also means making it halfway to the next trail head every time.

On April 7th I drove the two hours south to the Deam Lake Trailhead. It snowed a little overnight in southern Indiana, which was kind of rare for the time of year. When I got to the trail head, there was about an inch of snow on the ground. My goal that day was mile marker 4, so about an 8 mile day. I have been told that a lot of people only make 1 mile per hour on this trail, so I was planning on up to an 8 hour day. I carried a full pack with water, overnight survival needs, and a firearm.

Deam lake Pic

I parked at the Deam Lake Trailhead, and off I went. The woods were still in winter condition. Lots of leaves on the ground, and the snow made it a little slick. I am not young, and I am not thin, but I am not stupid. So I set out a reasonable pace on a beautiful day.

Mile 4  I saw 2 deer right away, and later a pair of Rufous Sided Towhee. That was about it for any remarkable wildlife.  I made way better time than I had planned on, and reached my goal in  a couple of hours. I only saw two people, both on my way back and near the end of my hike. The day went well, and was very enjoyable. I did slip and fall once near the end in some mud.

This trail is rugged and not real well maintained. It’s dirt and rocks and it’s uphill both ways, no matter where you are. The trailhead has been moved, so out and back to mile 4 proved to be 9 miles, and the last 1/4 mile up the hill to my truck was the last 1/4 mile I had in me that day. Cold beer in the truck!

Check out the elevation chart. That is nothing compared to what I would see on subsequent legs.

Deam Screen1Deam Screen 2

Stories from a Boy in Iowa

I am excited to share with you that a collection of some of the stories seen here are now available in a Kindle E Book titled Stories from a Boy in Iowa: Short Stories from Walking Dude.

If you are an E Book reader, and you like my stories, here is a chance to own a small collection of some of those stories published this year!

The picture below is a screen shot. You will have to log into your Kindle to get the book. Just type in my name, or the title, and there it is.

Thank you for reading me! This is fun.Screenshot_20181207-063123_Messages

Loose Ends

It is early February. It is 52 degrees Fahrenheit outside. I really want to be on a woodsy trail. But it is much to muddy and squishy for the woods right now. We had a nice snow storm this week, and it was well below zero just a few days ago. All of that makes a lot of  slippery mud.

So I got my miles yesterday and today on the streets in my little town. That is not a bad thing either. There is a lot to see. We have a lot of fowl on the lake right now, including ducks, Canada Goose, and some other geese that I do not know for sure what they are. We used to call them Blue Geese or Cackling Geese. I also saw some Sandhill Cranes today, and a Golden Eagle.

I was out of town this week for a funeral, so I worked Monday and Friday only. All of the unusual things  in my schedule, traveling out of state, a blizzard on the way home at midnight, and now April weather  have kind of put me at loose ends today.

The Watermelon Man

When I was much younger, about 15, I knew a tall, lanky Dutchman. The Watermelon Man. He owned a small fleet of trucks that hauled produce from Florida and Texas. He was a man of few words. He busted truck tires and rebuilt diesel engines. In the summer his trucks hauled watermelons.

He gave me a job working with these watermelons. He would pick me up at 2:00 A.M., and we would go to the City Market to sell watermelons to hucksters, purveyors, and the wholesale houses at the City Market.

I had long, curly, silly looking  hair, and I wore a gold earring. None of that was unusual for the time, but I certainly didn’t look like any of The Watermelon Mans other friends. I listened to Uriah Heep and Black Sabbath, and fancied myself some kind of Grand Wizard with unique knowledge regarding the mysteries of life. I was often up until very late, doing what Grand Wizards did in 1973. 2:00 A.M. very often came very quickly.

A watermelon truck in those days was loaded by hand in the field. The melons would weigh anywhere from ten pounds to thirty five pounds each. The truck would have from around twelve hundred melons on it, up to three thousand or more. People would come by and purchase them from us, to sell to their customers, such as grocery stores and farm markets. You bent over at the waist and pitched these melons to the next person, who pitched them to another person, until they were stacked in the receiving vehicle. And you counted them while you did it. For years after that, I would find myself counting things with out even realizing it. Phone poles, steps, you name it. Later in the morning we would load up our own smaller trucks and go to deliver melons. Sometimes we would unload the rest of a truck into another truck to consolidate them. This was a lot of hard work.

The Watermelon Man had an equally tall, willowy daughter ( men are lanky, women are willowy). She would one day throw a flower pot at me from a second story balcony, but when I first saw her she really seemed like my kind of girl. I used all of the Grand Wizardry powers at my disposal to make her my girlfriend.

One early morning, late in the summer, I sat on the steps of my parents front porch waiting. This night I could not sleep, and the pucker factor was at least ten. The tall, lanky, scary, quiet man who threw truck tires around for fun was coming to pick me up for work. And I did not know for sure if he knew or did not know that his tall, willowy daughter was going to have a baby, and that my scrawny, long haired, play wizard ass might have had something to do with it. I was pretty sure I would simply disappear on this night, never to be heard from again. But he didn’t mention  it for hours. He didn’t say anything for hours.

As we sat on the back of a trailer, waiting for a customer, in the near dawn,  I informed him that I had found a full time day job, and that I would have to give up the wonderful world of watermelons. He said : “That is probably the best thing to do, given your situation.”

Life went on from there, and it was many years later before I realized that I did not really know this man’s heart, only his image. The Watermelon Man gave me other opportunities later on, and I count him as one of the people who taught me some things about living this life. Thanks, Watermelon Man.

January Wrap Up

January was a bittersweet month. I was able to get in one leg on the Knobstone Trail on a beautiful, sunny day. But snow and ice also kept me from getting as many miles as I would like to have during other parts of the month.

I finished up the month with a couple of miles at John Burge Park in Conroe, TX. Sweet was the opportunity to be outside, on 45 degree mornings, in Texas, in January.

Not so sweet was that I was brought to Conroe by the passing of my Aunt. Although even that sad occurrence held a generous serving of the sweetness of life. It was an honor to be able to be close to my Uncle and my Cousins in their time of grief. And it was sweet to watch them honor their wife and mother, and to learn things about her from family and friends that I did not previously know.

Please see the months totals below, and participate if you would care to. Only 23 miles total this month.

Thank you.

First published September 5th, 2018:

My dear friend is battling Parkinson’s Disease. He has been for awhile. My Grandfather  ( not the one you already know, but my paternal Grandfather) also had this disease. Please take a few minutes to read and understand a little about Parkinson’s.

Ok, Brad, that’s a sad story, but what can I do about it? Well, I am glad you asked, because here is what we are going to do about it.

For every mile I log, through 2019, starting on September 1st 2018, I am going to make a donation to Parkinson’s research. And I am asking that you do the same thing too. I am pledging $1.00 for every mile that I log, but you could do whatever is comfortable for you.

I have logged about 120 miles this year so far, but I am going to be more diligent about logging all of my miles, so that number will go up. I will post my total miles here at the end of each month, and we can all go directly to http://www.michaeljfox.org to make our donation. Just click on the green tab in the upper corner. While you are there, read a little about their research.

I will also, for the same period of time, donate 30% of the proceeds from the sale of any of my paintings to this organization.

Thank you for your support!

 

 

Janauary

Forgiveness II

I am assuming that you read the first chapter of Forgiveness.

Let me describe my feelings when I learned that, after I had toiled for weeks over my decision to go see my father, and forgive him, he had died.

I was angry. He actually died and screwed me out of the the unburdening of my feelings toward him? The final dagger, the last arrow, the coup de gras. See how selfish forgiveness is? And now I am picking on a dead guy, to make myself feel better.

It was decided that I would attend his funeral the following weekend. I hoped that I could still forgive him, and close the book on his part of my life. My oldest daughter and I made plans to meet in Iowa, at a hotel casino, after work ( we were both traveling that week anyway), and go to the funeral together in Des Moines. This we did.

Upon our arrival at the church, we spent some awkward time greeting the family he replaced us with, and my uncle, who is my father’s brother. I wandered around the room, looking for a casket or an urn. Not one to be found. But wait, here is a picture of an urn, and some information. He was buried earlier in the week in a private family ceremony. Oh forgiveness, thou are so elusive.

Next we adjourned into the sanctuary. My daughter and I were seated behind the real family. We were then treated to several  accounts of what a wonderful, kind, loving man this guy was. He was always the first to lend a hand around the retirement home if you needed help, or someone to talk to. Take you to the grocery. He had once studied to be a Methodist Minister. Lots of great deeds.

As I listened, I wrote my own eulogy for him, all the while fighting the urge to raise my hand to be next to speak.

“Hello, I am Brad, his oldest son. I’ll bet you didn’t know about me did you? Did my dad ever tell you about the time he took me camping. No? Well he didn’t take me camping.  But I sat on the front porch for 50 years and waited, just in case.”