Faith Greater Than Pain

July 30, 2009

Thursday Aug 6, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — woodenunderpants @ 11:21 pm

Lisco, NE

I am presently stuck in Lisco because of the chigger infection(s) and bites that I got a few days ago.  Two days after I was infested, hundreds of these bites manifested themselves and had the beginnings of looking out of control.  The next morning my leg was a little swollen and the bites had spread over the lower half of my body and especially the right leg.  Chiggers will continue to burrow, lay larve’ and then do this over and over.  By the end of walking 14 miles to Oskosh for the day, I was in need of medical attention.  I went to the hospital and saw the doctor and got a cream that is supposed to kill the larve’.  The leg was oozing through my pants all day and it was not a pretty site.  It looked like I had blisters all up and down my leg.  So being hopeful that this would get a hold of the problem, I applied the cream as instructed and the next morning my entire leg was red, swollen and was starting to turn black and blue, but I assumed that this was maybe part of the healing process and walked 16 miles to my next location, but my pants were soaked from these hundreds of blisters bleeding.  I got to my destination and went back to the hospital (16 miles back), and the doctor wasn’t there but the very senior PA looked at it and said that she has never seen anything this bad in her entire career, and she had to be almost 70.  She said that I had an allergic reaction to the medication and now I have a staff infection that is spreading and they are concerned about being able to stop it.  They gave me a steriod shot and some anti-biotics and said not to go anywhere for at least the next 48 hours and if it gets worse to come back immediately.  Well from the time that I got the medication and when I got to the motel to take a shower to put my leg up (because it was so swollen), put some ice on it and baking soda packs on it, the oozing and black and blue was spreading rapidly.  Well I am writing this the next day and it was just a mess all night long last night but the leg looks like it hasn’t spread, but hasn’t gotten any better either and so I think that I am making some progress.

So…. If you are a praying person, I would ask that you include me in those prayers.  I want to be able to finish this trek, but at the moment, I want to make sure that I remain on this earth to do so.  Staff can be, and is a very serious infection and can become fatal, so I am focusing for the moment on my health and taking it day by day to see if I can finish the trek.  I am having my brother put on one of the earlier photos of the infection but when I get the opportunity, I will put on the advanced photo so you can get an understanding of what you are praying to help heal.  I know that prayer works.  I know that my Father in Heaven is very aware of my situation and I will hope that all will be well.

Stay turned…

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July 29, 2009

Monday Aug 3, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — woodenunderpants @ 3:41 pm
Lewellen NE, 19 Miles
I didn’t leave until noon today because of trying to get my computer sent into HP and so it became a very hot trek today.  It was in the 90’s and the heat, my hernia’s and my chigger bites, I am about ready to lose my mind.  I finally arrived 8 hours later at my destination but because it is on the far eastern edge of the Mountain time zone, it was dark by the time that I arrived.  My double hernia’s literally stopped me in my tracks, no less than a dozen times today and I am in pain.  That usually subsides as I rest for the evening and so I hope that I will feel better in the morning.
I am in the middle of rattlesnake country and saw 3 dead rattlers on the road today.  It was right here that Brigham Young said that he saw the largest rattlesnake that he had ever seen, and a journal entry from my gggg grandmothers company talks about an older woman who got bit by a rattler right here and her leg swelled up to 4 times it regular size.  I ran a relay race in 1978 through this area that was commerating the Mormon Trail as an historic landmark and I remember even back then how many rattlers that there were on the road.
Remember me talking about Robert Blessin?  I met him and his family in Gothenburg at the camp and they were the most wonderful people.  One of the guys that you feel comfortable with immediately, well I saw him again in Southerland, where he lives, and he took my escorts to his home so they could stay with him.  He also brought me a dish of his homemade ice cream that evening.  Well I am a long way from where he lives but low and behold, Robert shows up out in the middle of nowhere again… this time with four ears of corn, some cherries and four plums.  He made some excuse on how I could have found these all along the road and handed me this awesome gift.  I think that his last name is his for a reason, but it is missing the G.  It will be good to have him as a new friend.
Also, today I met “Fat Jeff Todd”.  I know, I know, it’s not nice to call people fat, but that is what he is called and he said that a couple of times.  First impression of Fat Jeff is that he would make a great actor in a biker movie.  He is over 300# (I think), his beard is braided and he has what he calls a “no-hawk”, not a mohawk, but a nohawk because he has the cut for the mohawk but his hair is so thin that there isn’t much there for the hawk part, but what a great guy!  We took photo’s and talked and I found out that he is a wealth of historical info on the area and that he used to work at Ash Hollow, a state historical site on the Oregon Trail.  He then invited me (us) to dinner at his home with his parents in Lewellen and said that he would fix things that were of the time and indigenous, so when I got on the edge of town, I heard this bell ringing, it was Jeff ringing the bell in his backyard because it was dark out when I got here.  We came into his parents wonderful home which was built by Jeff’s great grandfather and he and his mom served buffalo burgers (and they were enormous), baked potato, sweet corn and cherry and mulberry pie from their trees.  It was a treat beyond belief.  My body really needed the calories.  PS.  I also discovered that Jeff played for Univ of WY football.  It’s wonderful just meeting all of these great people along the trail.
Well I am using Jeff’s computer to write this blog tonight and it’s already 10PM and I have to go put up my tent.  We are supposed to have severe thunderstorms tonight and so I’m not looking forward to the excitement… and I have to go find a way to deal with this pain that isn’t going away.

July 28, 2009

August 1, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — woodenunderpants @ 3:38 pm
Lemoyne NE, 16 Miles
I am writing this from a computer at the library because my laptop crashed yesterday and I am scrambling to try and find a way to get it repaired and not lose the valuable info that is on there.  I will be calling and talking with my brother as often as I can get a cell signal and he will be keeping everyone updated as to my progress and the great and trying experiences that I am having.
First of all, I appreciate with all of my heart, those that have had the ability to make a donation to help get me into the valley.  It is a tough thing to do to have to accept charity from people, but I appreciate all that you have done for me.  The chase vehicles use a lot more gas that we thought, even though they are traveling at 3 miles per hour, they are idling for 12 hours a day and so we end up filling up the tank about every 100 miles or less.  Now I also have the added expense of repairing or replacing my laptop.  At the moment, my whole world is on that computer.  I have tons of notes that tell me where and when to do history narrations, distance I need to travel,etc., that is all in limbo at the moment.  HP says that it is a mother board problem but it will take almost 3 weeks before I can get it back into my hands, so the Lord would have me get a taste of the “pioneer method” of taking notes… long hand..
Also, the problem is not being able to download or share photos with everyone, but be patient and I will do my best to continue to make you a part of my (our) historic trek.  It may sound clieche’, but I couldn’t do this without you.  It is reading your comments and knowing that you pray for my success that truly helps me get down the road.
Let me quickly give you an overview of the last couple of days that have added to my adventure.  When I was picking the choke cherries for a couple of hours the other day, I discovered that I got infested with chiggers.  If you are not from the Midwest and don’t have a clue as to chiggers, go Google it and you can find out the situation that I am in.  I have been scratching my legs until they bleed.  Next… was my computer… we have already discussed that, but I will be in WY by the time that I get this thing back, if at all.  Next… upon arriving last Saturday in Lemoyne NE (pop. real small), I couldn’t get anyone to open up their lawn or a piece of grass for me to put my tent on, so I ended up sleeping sitting up in the front of my truck.  That was painful.  Then last night, I knew that I had to get my computer sent out asap, so I went to the nearest town of any size (Ogallala) and camped there.  I found a field on the edge of town that had a couple of broken down sheds on it, pitched my tent behind some trees, and for the first time in weeks slept comfortably until… 2:30 AM when the police decided to tell me that I needed to move along.  I suppose that they may think that I might steal some of the corn that was in the field, so I got up and torn down my tent  and slept in the front seat of my truck (again) for the next couple of hours and got up with the sun.  So much for having a night of rest.  So now I have mailed off my computer, finished my blog email, and I now will drive 20 miles back to my handcart and walk 19 miles today in temperatures in the mid 90s.
Once again, I sometimes couldn’t get my legs to move down the road without knowing that I have the encouragement and support of all of you.
I will stay in touch… one way or the other.

Friday July 31, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — woodenunderpants @ 3:18 pm

Keystone NE, 19.2 Miles

I have walked over 87 miles in the last 5 days and my body is showing signs of wear.  The weather today was in the mid 90’s until the late afternoon when multiple rain storms blew through but I survived unscathed…thankfully, but being on a high plateau above the North Platte River Valley where you can probably see for 40 miles in any direction and having these storms all around you made for an impressive backdrop for some photo’s.  Some of these scenes have the ability to take your thoughts back 153 years ago when Sarah Goode Marshall was watching the same horizon that I was seeing and had the same thoughts in her mind of… if the storm(s) hits, where will I be, where will my children be… I pray that it passes by… and it did.

Watching the storms approach

Watching the storms approach

Because I have just entered mountain-time zone yesterday afternoon, I kept waiting for my cell phone to adjust to the new time, and then I forgot about it.  Well my cell phone alarm is set for 5:30 AM and the phone never did switch over, so technically, I got up at 4:30 this morning without thinking about the whole transition thing.  That stinks, since I was very cold last night (in the mid 40’s), I got little sleep.  It feels more like the beginning of May instead of the beginning of August, but I was fortunate to have the extra time because I had a flat tire, my second, and Shirley has had two also because we drive on the shoulder all of the time and that’s where the nails are.  Well, I got another flat tonight, so I have to fix that first thing in the morning.

I had a number of wonderful surprising experiences today.  First of all, I walked with my oldest companion walker to date.  Faye Christenson is a Luthern and are you ready for this… she is 93 years old!  What an awesome lady!  She has been teaching aerobics to the local ladies in Paxton for the last 30 years and so she had no problem in pulling the cart.  That’s right, she said “here, let me pull this for you for awhile so you can have a rest”, and we had a great talk.  This lovely lady also brought me some turkey burger and some blueberries… how could I resist such kindness, so they will be consumed with enjoyment.

Faye Christenson walks with Doc

Faye Christenson walks with Doc

Then Matt, a great guy in met in Paxton, told me about some choke cherries on my way down the road, so when I got to the spot, sure enough, there was this huge (multiple) bush full of dark blue choke cherries and so I ate, and I picked, and I ate… well you get the idea.  I picked for 2 hours and got almost a gallon of cherries, so tomorrow I am going to cook them down, add some sugar (which I have been allotted) and make some choke cherry syrup so I can have something to dip my plain dry bread into.  My taste buds are looking forward to the moment.  It’s better on pancakes, but do I have pancake batter?  Well?  That’s right… no pancake batter, no butter, no nothing.

Doc taking advantage of natures bounty!

Doc taking advantage of natures bounty!

Then to top off my great experiences today, I am pulling in the hot sun and there really wasn’t anyone on the road and so this pickup pulls up next to me and drives at my walking pace and we have a conversation while I am walking, but out of the corner of my eye, coming towards me is a Schwan’s truck and he is pulling over.  I think that he may want a photo or wants to talk, so I make a comment to the guy in the pickup (as a joke) that I am having the Schwan’s guy delivering to me, and low and behold, the Schwan’s guy gets out of his truck, runs to the side door, pulls out something and runs across the highway and hands me a…………… are you ready for this……. A Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich!  Oh my Lord… my prayers have been answered.  He said that he lives next door to Matt (remember him, the great guy I met in Paxton), and Matt overheard a conversation that I was having with Matt’s little daughter about Dairy Queen ice cream and told his neighbor that if he saw me on the road to help me out with an ice cream donation.  People…. You have no idea what a wonderful taste and moment that was for me and my stomach.  If you have never had the Schwan’s “Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich”, you are missing one of the most pleasing tastes to the palate.  By the way, it is really… really… tough to eat just one and then watch him drive away.  I could have eaten the entire container that they came in.

Heaven in a bag

Heaven in a bag

Well… as usual, it’s past my bedtime and I am beat.

July 27, 2009

Thursday July 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — woodenunderpants @ 2:54 pm

Paxton NE, 12 Miles

Once again, I got drenched last night… not by the rain, but by the sprinkler system.  This time I just dealt with it and laid in a wet tent.

For some reason, I just have had an extra difficult time getting my feet to walk down the road.  It just seems like the further west that I get, the slower I walk.  It couldn’t be because of the lack of food or sleep or having walked 650 miles… could it?  Hmmmm….

I would usually give an update as to my physical condition, but everything still is the same and everything still hurts, so instead of beating a dead horse… I hurt.

I was just given a surprise gift(s) from two wonderful people here in Paxton.  Phyllis Peak gave me some wonderful jerky that I will be consuming in the days ahead and also Matt Bergen gave me a package of dry cured bacon, the kind that I lost a number of weeks ago because of the multiple rain storms that have plagued me.  Both will be consumed with pleasure, but I still have a craving for more ice cream… DQ…  Also, Shirley made me a 10 oz loaf of sour dough that I will get to eat tomorrow.

I also went through a grasshopper infestation this afternoon.  There were thousands upon thousands of them.  I’ll post the photo asap.

July 26, 2009

Wednesday July 29, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — woodenunderpants @ 2:32 pm

Southerland NE, 23 Miles

I have once again doubled up on my walking and put two days into one.  I am willing to accept some additional pain and suffering so I can have that extra day off, so today is just tough.  It started in North Platte at 2AM when the park that I was staying in had the sprinklers go off.  Now these aren’t just any sprinklers, these things could be used to water crops with and when the two that were aimed at my tent went off, I didn’t stand a chance.  I dealt with it until 3:15 with water pooling up at my feet and every seam was leaking so I escaped to my truck and slept the remaining 2 hours, sitting up.  All I want is one… just one, good nights rest.

So then at 7AM I had KNOP, the local TV station come out and do a story on me.  Go to: http://www.knopnews2.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5846.  I then had to walk in a driving rain storm today and with the temperature only in the low 60s, it was cold, but I haven’t any option, so I keep walking and eventually in a few hours I am dry again.  Also, if you go to:  http://www.nptelegraph.com/articles/2009/07/29/news/50002539.txt , I was the front page news for the newspaper.  Fun stuff.

Also, I had a chance to catch up on the comments section of the blog today, and it was the lift that I needed to get through today.  I really appreciate all of the great comments that I receive and like today when everything hurts so bad that you don’t know how to keep going, that little burst of enthusiasm from the comments is all that it took to get me 23 miles down the road.  It’s amazing what a little support will do.

Well it’s 10PM and I am beat and I am sleeping next to the trains A G A I N, which means that it will be a sleepless night.  I am excited about being half way home this coming Sunday! Good night folks…

July 25, 2009

Tuesday July 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — woodenunderpants @ 1:04 am

North Platte NE, 23 Miles

Had 4 oz of Dutch oven bread for breakfast (cooked two days ago) and about an ounce of buffalo jerky. Since this is the area where there were a number of buffalo shot for the company, I thought it appropriate to finally crack open my cherished 16 oz of home grown buffalo jerky.  It was good stuff, so I am only eating a little at a time to be able to savor the taste.

I then folded up my soaking wet tent, which will be wet when I open it and try and sleep in it this evening and walked two days into one.  I was originally supposed to only walk to Maxwell, 9 miles, but decided to add 14 more and go all the way to North Platte so I could have a day off this week, which I wasn’t scheduled for one.  I left at 7:25AM and arrived at about 4:30PM.  I got rained on twice today but no lightning so I just dealt with it and kept walking.  I was also interviewed on the road by the local newspaper and the television is coming tomorrow morning at 7AM to do their piece.  I’ll let you know what the link is when I find out.

Body-wise, everything is the same.  Feet are doing as well as can be expected.  I have 3 blisters now, but they are small ones and are not debilitating.  I’m walking flat pavement at the moment, so I back spasms have subsided, and I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but I am just mentioning these things so that you may get just a touch of what the pioneers may have had to deal with in some small way, and my hernia’s are what stops me multiple times a day.  As for the carpal tunnel, both hands are still the same and I just seem to be getting used to the condition.  What other options do I have?

You know, I ask everyone that I meet and I also have the media mention it, but it seems like I haven’t had a companion walker from another faith in a long time, over a week or more.  That’s too bad, because I really would like to start some kind of a movement that would help build more tolerance and unity amongst all religions, but it is slow going at best.

Well I’m going to eat one of my cold deer steaks and have a roll from a couple of days ago and compliment it with a cold bottle of water, and I’m thankful for each bite…  Bon Appetite

July 24, 2009

Sunday, July 26

Filed under: Uncategorized — woodenunderpants @ 12:59 am

Brady NE , 13.2 Miles

I enjoyed the hospitality and donated deer steaks from Jim and Karen Smith from Gothenburg, and so after the walk today, I cooked all of the steaks to keep them from spoiling.  Now everyone from NE says that they deer meat here is exceptional because the deer feed on corn, well I’m here to testify to you that the steak that I just ate was a culinary delight.  I swear that you would never know that it was deer meat, so I gave a bite to Shirley, who wouldn’t touch wild deer meat with a 10’ Barbeque and she liked it so much that she had to have her husband taste it.  Point is, that it was a wonderful addition to my meals.  It was given as charity and it was found wild in the area.

Evening came and I was sleeping 1 block away from the 190 trains (truly) that pass Brady each day and because the town is less than 300 people, there is no escaping the 190db horn that literally blows all night long.  Then at 2AM, I was treated to another NE lightning and rain storm.  My tent always gathers a pool of water at the door and so I have to sleep on the opposite end of the door so I can stay reasonably dry, but when lying next to the upper wall of the tent, you get wet by osmosis.

July 23, 2009

Friday, July 24 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — woodenunderpants @ 12:55 am

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Gothenburg NE 24.7 Miles

Pioneer Day!  This is the day that Brigham Young entered the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1847.  My day was marked by combining two walking days into one and skipping Cozad so I could have an extra day off, so I have Saturday and Sunday off for my body to recover.  It was 97 degrees today and 87% humidity and with the asphalt melting under my cross-trainers, I was looking forward to finally getting into Gothenburg.  I was going to stay in the city park but there is a lake and campground at the edge of town that the managers let me stay for free, and the best part is that I get to take my weekly shower.

I am camping next to the Robert Blessin family reunion and have met some great down to earth people.  They have been very interested in this guy that they saw pulling the handcart down the highway.  After explaining my food situation to them, I have been able to barter my last two pieces of sweet corn for two dishes of homemade ice cream, made with all local items.  I know it’s a stretch, but can you blame me when you next door neighbor is whipping up some ice cream?  Also from the bread department, I have been having a tough time getting the 12oz of self-rising flour to bake into something that I could eat, well Shirley made a sour dough starter and she made a loaf of sour dough today that was just right, so it looks like I am back to baking my bread in camp instead buying 12oz of rolls at the store.  And remember my new rule about shooting wild game for the camp, well I shot 6 Canadian Geese and 4 ducks today (with my camera) and so I substituted by having one small piece of chicken (honestly it was one small piece) and then I took the carcass after Shirley and Galin consumed the rest of the chicken, and boiled it with two of my potatoes and part of an onion.  It looked and smelled wonderful but it needed a little salt and so upon adding some salt from one of those small cardboard shakers, it was having a tough time coming out because it had been rained on so many times that it was just in lumps.  So upon giving it the needed force to get some salt out of this thing….. that’s right…. the top came off and the entire contents went into my two quarts of chicken soup!  Man… I can never win, so I tried to hurriedly scoop it out but to no avail, so I tasted it and thought… I can deal with that.  There is no way that I am going to give up my pot of soup for a container of salt, I’ll just have to keep on putting more water with it to thin it down.  Believe me, if you were in my shoes, you would have to think about it also.  Maybe it’s the Lord telling me that I r e a l l y shouldn’t have been eating that chicken.

Friday night had another one of those IA/NE storms with lightning, driving rain and wind.  We had a lightning strike just across the road from the park where I am at.  It is really tough on Bessie (my pup).  She has been spooked about the lightning ever since the straight line tornado in IA.

As for the body, 3 blisters, feet are painful from the 24 miles today and hernia’s will need medical attention as soon as I get back to SLC.  The Carpal Tunnel never has corrected itself and I’m just learning to live with it.  Do I have any other choice?  My foot rot seems to be better just because I haven’t been walking in the rain as much lately.  My back continues to cramp up all during the walk, but I don’t have any option there either.

As for history, I am in the area where William Clayton with Brigham Young’s wagon train came up with the idea for a road odometer.  He voiced his frustration at having to count the wheel rotations on the wagon to compute the daily distance and came up with the first odometer which was accurate within 1/10 of a mile.  Also, this is where buffalo were first spotted for the first time on the trail.

Thursday, July 23

Filed under: Uncategorized — woodenunderpants @ 12:44 am

Lexington NE, 11.6 Miles

I had another shorter day today and so it was good to get to my destination by noon, as if pulling that handcart almost 12 miles is an easy thing.  When I arrived, I was taking a break on some grass and had a couple of people come over to me to find out what I was doing.  We had a great conversation and the 20 year old young man has accepted my invitation to walk with me tomorrow.  His name is TJ Kappes and said that he has walked between Lexington and Gothenburg many times before and said that he wanted to walk the entire distance, so instead of just walking a couple of short days, I am, once again, putting two days into one and walking a little over 20 miles tomorrow because TJ is up for the trek.  Spending the entire day with someone that you don’t know has it’s mystery about it, but having talked to him already, he seems like a great young man.  It will be a good walk.

I was interviewed by the Lexington Clipper Herald this afternoon and the article should be in the newspaper on Friday.

As for the condition of my body, the feet seem to be holding their own, the hernia’s have moments of intensity and calmness, and I’m learning to live with my back spasms for most of the time.  Mentally, I have a more difficult time staying motivated to keep my feet moving down the road.  For most of the time, the trek is just drudgery and without anyone to converse with, my focus ends up being centered around my pain(s), but I find enthusiasm from thinking about completing my journey.  I have to always tell myself to keep up my pace because my body wants to rest and without having the necessary calories to provide the energy, it becomes a struggle sometimes.

All in all, this section of the trek is going well.  I can’t complain, because Nebraska is flat (at the moment) and that makes all of the difference in the world.

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