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Post  ChasingSanity on Sun Apr 11, 2010 8:00 pm

Friday, October 4th
I stopped trying to remember what day things happened on. I will just tell as much as I can remember. My laptop does not run on water and dreams like I do. Smile I stayed in Dove Creek where Myra lives for the weekend. I asked the police there where to sleep, they said if you are going to be up that early, camp at the school grounds. I talked with many of the people I met. Imagine, me talkative! Smile Myra adopted me as an unofficial nephew and told me so several times.

On Monday Myra drove me to the Dove Creek TV station. We got there early and I went to Adobe Milling in town to answer the FAQ “How much does that weigh?!” - 127 pounds. I weighed 205, 15 pounds less than when I started my jouney on September 1st.

The interview was charming, the 11 – 14 year old children from the Dove Creek school performed much of the work at the television station. The station was in the process of switching over to newer hardware and had some technical difficulties: “Wait, we can not hear you. What button is microphone 3?” The boy being the weather announcer slapped the map and list of high and low temperatures predicted for the week – “rain in the northwest”; slap, “highs on Wednesday will be...”, slap. I was asked “What gear did you bring with?” I recited from a list I made then added a few things I remembered and then forgot what I was going to say and admitted it – “I forgot what I was going to say.”

Myra dropped me off in Cortez, CO at the City Market after the interview. We cried bittersweet tears and hugged.

I rode to Osprey just north of Cortez, CO and camped out waiting for them to open in the morning. They were very accommodating and gave me a lot of information regarding how I could become sponsored by them and therefore sponsored by anyone. I rode through Cortez, out of town to the west to take highway 550 to Albuquerque – recommended for bicyclists by several people. As per my habits, I rode for a while to get out of town then hitchhiked the rest of the way.

A man in a pickup truck picked me up. He owns a custom spray painting and powder coating shop nearby. He has been a vegetarian for may years (20?) so I asked him how he does it. He does not have any method of success but thinks his blood type, A, helps. I am A negative, this is a confirmation of my suspicions/hopes. Anyways, after his experiences in Viet Nam (or was it Korea?) he abhorred killing of any kind but vegan was too extreme. That is quite a lot of interesting topics and information in one person. Smile He dropped me off in Durango, CO.

The varied autumn colors if the leaves on the foliage coming into Durango were amazingly beautiful. The coffee in the Well's Fargo bank was gourmet class, at least for a bank. Smile I had a great conversation with a young banker, we talked about the environmental damages excessive consumerism and humanity overall have caused, the consequences of the damage and possible solutions to this mess we made for ourselves. He said cultivation of crops and changing water courses which we humans have been doing for several thousand years is the first traceable human damage to the environment. I forget what how that negatively affects the environment. On many topics, both personally and globally what I thought was the beginning is only a step along the way.

Before any of you get started defending your way of life, we are all in this together, nobody really knows what is, was or will be going on, we are no where near experts in anything despite what our egos tell us. I am not pointing fingers and I do not have answers. I am looking for answers, understanding the problems first and responsible management overall. I do not believe in simple answers. “Kill them all” would be laughably ridiculous if so many people did not believe in extermination as a way to solve any problem.

Durango has a great place called Manna's Soup Kitchen. It is up a steep hill, scary steep to this bicyclist. Sad I got there shortly after they were done serving lunch but they still gave me more food from their stores than I could take with me.

I met a woman at Durango Joe's Coffee Shop that knew someone working on an organic farm and that someone was leaving! She asked me if I could stay in town until she could talk with her friend. I replied did she have a backyard I could sleep in? We had a deal. Smile I ran errands on the way to her house. I passed by an open door with two people fencing inside... wait, FENCING?! Rewind, did I really see that? I quietly parked my bicycle and watched. The people inside asked me if I wanted to learn how to fence. Well, yeah! It was more work than it looked. I was soon out of breath from waving this practice foil around and jumping forward/backward while keeping my leading foot pointed straight forward and the trailing foot perpendicular. The organic worker never answered back and the woman's roommate was uncomfortable having me there. I agreed to go as soon as I got back from running for supplies before the store closed. I got back to find my stuff on the backdoor step with a note. Sad My horde of minced garlic was trapped inside, kidnapped. Sad( She did not shut my laptop down completely before putting it in the case. Sad(( FYI, a laptop overheats easily, putting it in an poorly ventilated place like a laptop bag while it is not on, even in standby, risks destroying the laptop by cooking the CPU. Anyways, I rode out of town towards Albuquerque.

I rode south out of town quite a ways until a crosswind put an end to my riding. I got a ride to Aztec, we discussed good science fiction books. He dropped me off at the police station, I asked the police where I could camp – in the park next to them. In the morning I rode out of town enough to define my intentions and tried to hitch a ride. That was tough for some reason. Someone even insulted me – gave me the finger – why? I eventually gave up and rode further out of town. Eventually I got a series of rides in quick succession to Albuquerque.

I arrived in Albuquerque on a Thursday afternoon. I was wandering around in circles looking for a store to buy Bar-S Turkey franks (they taste a lot better then the beef/pork/chicken ones) when a woman in a minivan pulled up. We talked about my options and she directed me to an excellent campsite. Excellent that is except for the ubiquitous Goathead vines. Their Latin name is Tribulus terrestris, means caltrop – earth. Human made caltrops are weapons of war and it seems these seeds are where we got the idea! The seeds have 4 spikes that are positioned like a tetraheadron; no matter what, one spike is pointing up. The spikes average 1 cm long so they are indeed terrors.

I accomplished several short term goals here in Albuquerque. I bought more kelp for electrolyte replacement and flavor enhancer. I bought two 4 ounce spray bottles from Sally's Beauty Supply, one for vinegar and the other for bleach. I got some balsamic vinegar for free from an Italian restaurant. Now for the bleach that I will use to remove the I went to the Veteran's Administration Hospital shifting my records here in the event I stay here. I looked online and by word of mouth for organic farms/ranches in the area. I found two men working together to create a permaculture farm, one of them, Mike, was at the Saturday morning Farmers Market. Mike and I interacted well while he sold a little. I think he was there that day more to be seen and known than to make money. Patrick is the other man, I found him through the internet. Patrick is associated with UNM, University of New Mexico and he has over 300 kinds of fruit trees he is keeping alive in 5 gallon buckets. Mike has 3 acres of land that they are planning to make the new home for those fruit trees. I want to get on the job training, food, housing and a little money. There in is my recipe of my immediate future.

Mike and his wife have a tenant on their land that is not working out as well as he hoped. I suggested he buy the tent I want, a Eureka Assault Outfitter 4, I live in the tent and pay him for the tent while he gets another tenant that does fit in. I spoke with Patrick who is unsure how I could fit in, I told him my ideas. Patrick and Mike both need to improve their houses. I have some experience with that. I admit I am more of a jack of all trades and creative improvisor than a skilled expert, like them. Now I wait.

Short version - I waited in Albuquerque at the homeless shelters. They were in no position to house, feed, pay or put me to work. "Maybe in a few months." But I think they have too many active projects to get much done on a new project.

While I was waiting in Albuquerque I met this interesting character, Doug Ederhard. He is riding a semi-recumbent looking bicycle with a stretched frame and a whole lot more stuff on his bike than I got on mine. And he has a gasoline powered engine that pushes him along at 35 MPH! I got all kinds of envy. He gave me a bunch of things he seems to save just so he can give them away. I did not remember all the things I have stashed away just for that; opportunities missed.

Time for me to go, more later.

Updated on Thursday, October 15th, 2009
Doug told we about a Church of the Nazarene 17 miles south of Albuquerque on highway 47 that was giving away all kinds of things, a huge amount and variety. I looked for that specific church but did not find it.

I rode on south with Las Cruces, New Mexico as my eventual goal. Someone in Belen told me Socorro might have food bank (where I could replenish my free food supplies). I rode 40 miles to Socorro (except for about 3 miles). They did have a food bank and a clothing bank too. They gave me stuff that I could eat without cooking or refrigeration but it was mostly snack/candy like chewy granola bars, not real food. BUT they had a tent! My newly acquired tent is an REI TAJ that is missing the tent poles. The price was right – free - and I have a lot of patience. They also had a pair of keen sandals I took. It is rare for me to find clothing that fits me, especially shoes. I have (American) size 14 or (European) size 49 feet.

Along the way to Las Cruces I pulled up to what looked like a car repair garage and asked if I could use their wire cutters a minute to cut something on my bicycle. They were actually the Rio Grande Estates Fire Department. I said “Oh, cool, you guys are firemen. I was a volunteer fireman back in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin.” As I was using their wire cutters on my bicycle They brought out their sew-on fireman's badge and a fireman's tee shirt! The badge is awesome! It is a black phoenix rising out of a fire with a lot of red, orange and yellow colors. The lettering is either black in the center and green on the outside. I sewed a cellphone case from a canvas bag I got at a thrift store in Belen and used the fireman's patch as part of the latching mechanism. The tee shirt is two sizes too big, I look like I am wearing a large sack. Smile

While I was at the thrift store in Belen I was told by a woman not to mess with these thrift stores, to “go to Albuquerque where they got all kinds of stuff for veterans, they said not to bring them anymore stuff for verterans.” I wish “they” told me about this before I left Albuquerque. I rode back to Albuquerque hoping for a better, more ergonomic backpack that will still accommodate my Camelbak water bags and tent poles or another tent. I am praying for a four season tent that is big enough to house all my things, including myself in a sleeping bag, out of the rain and snow. A smaller, lighter, more durable laptop, better equipment, better food, more money, medical coverage, none of these things come to mind as I pray, not once... Amazingly enough, despite all my praying, none of this stuff I pray for has fallen out of the sky and landed gently into my outstretched hands. I know, I am stunned too! Smile

Albuquerque has something called The Stand Down on October 24th, I am told I stand a great chance of getting a better backpack there and then. I will keep on praying. Doug and I talk about where we each want to go from here. We have some goals in common and are considering traveling together. He has cooking equipment, I have spices, olive oil, balsamic vinegar... It would be great to eat something that tastes good while biking cross-country.

I gave away lots of stuff this time through Albuquerque. Smile

Updated on Monday, October 19th, 2009
I worked with Doug doing a little metal salvaging. I was done updating my journal and went outside to get sewing gear from my bicycle to augment my new homemade cellphone holder. My bicycle and most of my gear were gone. I called the police emergency number then turned around and saw two police officers in the cafe. I handed them the phone to talk to the emergency dispatch people. (The time was 10:52 at night.) I was in such a rush to get to the toilet in the Flying Star Cafe at 8th and Silver in Albuquerque that I forgot to lock the bicycle. When I was done with the toilet my mind was full of Facebook, my future itinerary and expectations, what I might find on the internet but not locking my bicycle. My priorities were skewed, someone taking my bicycle was the consequence. That is an example of what I meant by “Priorities and Consequences” in my poetry. I am sad, crushed and remorseful but my bicycle and most of my gear are still gone.

When I went into the Flying Star Cafe I brought my Camelbak backpack and my laptop backpack. My Camelbak had my cellphone and wallet with identification, bank cards and the clothing I had been exchanging according to the changing weather. My laptop backpack had my power cords and a USB to mini-USB cord I have been using since I lost another cellphone wall plug charger. My epilepsy medication (Lamotrigine) was in one of the pockets of my shorts. I was better off than I thought. Every item that, if lost, could hurt me was safe with me. I got happier and happier while I was assessing my damages and talking with the police. The policemen, bicycle policemen no less, took my statement and gave me an “incident number”.

I called around looking for an emergency place to sleep but all the homeless shelters were full. The homeless people had run out of their social security check money and were migrating from the hotels and motels they paid for to the shelters ahead of me. Someone who answered the phone at one of the homeless shelters suggested I go to the local hospital's emergency room to survive the night. I walked to the emergency room with my two heavy, awkward backpacks to pretend I was a patient in the emergency room waiting like the others.

In the emergency room waiting room so many of the people waiting were scared. Why, I thought? I figured it out while I was hiding out – swine flu was held responsible for killing healthy children in two days – healthy, happy children to dead bodies in two days. These people had plenty of reason to be terrified. It was hard to be with them in their helpless misery but it was cold outside and I was stripped of my preparedness. I became afraid that I might become a carrier and spread sickness and perhaps death. I justified and rationalized and weighed risk factors. Cold, tired, ennui and inertia won. At four in the morning I left the emergency room to get to the first free meal of the day at one of the homeless shelters. I went to the downtown police station to add pictures of my bicycle and equipment to my case file. I saw they did not open their doors to the public for a few hours and went to the next free meal and possible assistance with my crisis.

There were several possibilities regarding assistance but no realities, 'maybe they can help' did not become 'they will do this'. But the emotional support I did receive was equally as useful, valuable and appreciated as the physical/item replacement/recovery I did not receive. I went to the police station now that it was open.

The Records Department at the police headquarters did not have a case file of my 'incident'. The police officer had not filed the paperwork. Why? I do not care. I filed my victimization over the phone. They told me it would take a day or more to get things processed then I could add my pictures and additional information to the case file. That “day or more” does not include the weekend.

Whenever I need something now, I keep realizing that thing was with the gear that was taken. I am working to say taken instead of stolen. I left my precious essentials unprotected on a downtown street at night, I am responsible.

All this walking was something I was not used to and the two heavy backpacks made it worse, my feet were so sore. I checked my feet and found 'sore' was not an adequate description; they smelled foul and had both blood blisters and water blisters. I decided not to go looking at the Rio Grande State Park for the guy that took my gear (for vengeance and gear both) where a lot of homeless people camp but instead to go to the Veteran's Hospital Emergency Room. The V.A. E.R. gave me ordinary triple antibiotic ointment and bandaids. I had those in my gear, damn, no gear. Maps, nail clippers, clean clothes, half finished projects, tools, resources... I do not have those resources anymore, I have to get over that.

Friday night, on the way to the Veteran's Hospital Emergency Room, I was fantasizing that I would win some kind of lottery at the Veteran's Stand Down and get much of my equipment replaced. The thought of it made me cry. Saturday, someone that was leaving town gave Doug a bicycle for free. (His bicycle and personality make him quite a celebrity.) Doug told people he was going to give it to me. Too many people in the know makes for no secret. I kept an open mind but did not believe until Doug told me himself. Someone else gave me a brand new school backpack. It has many compartments and places to attach things to. While I was very happy and grateful for the generosity of those who have so little to give, ironically, I had cried in gratitude already. I gave Doug my laptop bag to put into his secure storage at an enviably high quality homeless shelter that shall go unnamed so it remains enviably high quality - do your own sleuthing. Saturday and Sunday I worked to make money by salvaging metals from abandoned appliances and put my laptop bag work sites on vacant lots. Sunday night I gave my cellphone to Doug, asking him to charge it by plugging it into the laptop and plugging the laptop into the wall.

Monday morning I investigated a potential salvage spot but it was not suitably legal. The rest of Monday until 5PM, I wasted away waiting for access to my laptop. Those were the rules at this (grumble) oh so nice and secure place Doug was at. Monday afternoon, while wasting time I compulsively sifted though the free clothing offered by one of the homeless shelters offering free food. All they had that fit me and my needs were two pair of nylon socks I will wear under cotton or wool socks to keep my feet cleaner.

While waiting for the free evening meal, I saw many of the homeless people acting strangely. Some of them were boisterously ecstatic, some were being very public and active about their new choice in sex partners. I noticed this guy I met, Craig, who I considered a naive dummy to be protected, Craig was selling his prescription medicine for a little money, very little money. I looked around, seeing things in a different way than I usually looked at this crowd. I reevaluated and saw many of these homeless people were feeding like leeches off each other. They were victimizing each other. An attractive, young mother with three very young children walked into the center of the courtyard we all waited in. I looked at who was paying more attention to the oldest of the children, a scantily dressed girl about five years old, rather than her mother. I spotted three potential child molesters. People were trading $1 items for cigarettes, cigarettes in their bartering system cost $0.25 cents each. Almost everybody was taking advantage of someone else. I felt sadder and sadder. I am scared that I could become as they are, clutching at every crumb and fighting to keep my crumbs sacrosanct then spending them all on a $20 moment of joyous hell called crack cocaine or methamphetamine. I am terrified, there is so little difference between these human beings, myself and you. Our differences are tiny compared to the vastness of all humanity and the rest of the universe.

I rode away before it was time to eat. That was Monday, October 19th, 2009 at about 6PM.

Friday, October 30th, 2009
I volunteered at the Albuquerque Standdown on the 24th with Doug, Lee and Lee's friend Dennis. Lee is 'one of the good guys' a homeless guy on a bicycle that we did some metal salvaging with. Dennis took the bus to the Standdown site which was at the far eastern edge of town on Central street and the Tramway. Doug, Lee and I rode our bicycles there. I struggled about ten miles uphill with my Camelbak Rimrunner and the daypack that was given to me, both fully loaded. Doug and Lee kept stopping for me to catch up... the burden of my sins weighing me down. Smile I was lagging behind as usual when I noticed we had passed the Standdown address. I turned around, found it, talked with people, dropped off my stuff and chased after Doug and Lee to bring them in. Smile

Working the Standdown as volunteers was fun but frustrating to find out people were going through the line several times so they could stockpile items to resell. I got angry at that – stealing from each other. Everything I tried to prevent people from taking more than their fair share did no good. I got the only tent at the Standdown but the military socks were all gone before I got to them. I got more than I needed and less than I hoped for.

I took the bus downtown. I was not going to try riding my bicycle with a full duffel bag in addition to the two full daypacks I had the day before. Doug said meet him in the concrete park on Fourth street. No Doug when I got there but I started my reorganizing anyways.

Doug showed up later and so did a strange woman wearing mystical looking clothing. She asked if I wanted some clothing, I could give away what I did not want. She had a gorgeous cream colored cable knitted wool sweater but it was tiny, way to small for me. She put me on a quest, this mystical woman, to give the wool sweater to someone, an individual not an institution. I decided I had to sweater to someone who would use the sweater, cherish and keep it. I was on a mystical quest.

Doug went to the shelter he was at to sleep through the night through before we took the Roadrunner train to Santa Fe. I rode around town looking for something to keep me occupied. Doug was less than thrilled when I woke him up at 1AM. I bribed him with $4 breakfast that was not uphill... not much uphill. But the restaurant was closed so we went to the truck stop which was far away. They had a Subway fast food restaurant there and the breakfast omelets were surprisingly good.

Hours seemed to go by but when we got to the train station it was 3AM and the train left at 6:30AM. Doug informed me several times about his lack of enthusiasm regarding not being asleep in a warm bed. My sympathies were not for him; I did not have a warm sleeping bag, let alone a warm bed in a dry, secure shelter. Smile The train ride was uneventful, perhaps because we were both so tired, perhaps because I slept through everything.

Doug and I arrived in Santa Fe on Saturday 24th at 7:30AM. Stores that open on Saturdays in Santa Fe open after 9AM. I went looking for hot water or even a complimentary breakfast at a hotel. The Hilton was open. As I approached the door music started playing like a fanfare. Wen I got to the door it opened. I was impressed. I was directed “that way” in my search for hot water to the Pinon Cafe. The woman running the cafe asked me what else I was getting with my hot water. I replied it was all my budget would allow and used that opening in the conversation to describe my plans – to ride around the world on next to no money. An older man came in with a younger woman to get coffee and I included them in my storytelling event. Both coffee imbibers offered their housing options – the man had a cottage 60 miles away... thank you but no... and the woman had a room (at her house 5 minutes walk away) we could sleep the night there. “Would it be alright for you two men to sleep in the same room? I heard “are you gay?” being insinuated but chose to ignore it, she had to work harder to find out.

We eventually found a homeless shelter and many organizations with free hot meals. We also found a community bike shop called ChainBreakers. Chainbreakers is a clearing house of donated bicycles, parts and accessories. They have the tools to build and repair bicycles and experienced people dedicated to putting more people on bicycles. I traded the small mountain bike that a homeless guy gave to Doug and he, in turn, gave to me. In trade I got a touring bike that fit me, a Miyata Pathfinder. We outfitted my new bike with everything useful; bags, skinny tires, better brakes and better shifters. I was near to tears. For hours I was enthralled with a bike that fit me, Doug was worried I lost my mind. Smile

I traded the Miyata for a Bridgestone that was orphaned at the homeless shelter. I donated an absolutely tiny mountain bike to ChainBreakers. It was another abandoned bike at the homeless shelter. I worked on it to make it something someone else could ride but found the front forks were slightly bent, making it unusable for now. While I was working on the tiny mountain bike Doug advised I get trade for the touring bike frame that was hanging up on the wall. That is my current ChainBreakers project and I am tired of bike swapping. I am strictly a parts man until the frame fails or a Catrike Expedition manifests itself.

Before I brought the tiny mountain bike in I separated my acromioclavicular joint. Can you tell I copied that off the internet? acromioclavicular joint acromioclavicular joint Razz I was riding my bicycle along a bicycle path hunting for salvageable metals to sell. I looked to the right at an unsuspecting telephone pole, the path went left and the gravel grabbed my tire. It felt like the most painful 'got the breath knocked out of me' I ever had. I hitchhiked to the hospital that was less than a mile away. That was Sunday, October 25th. I was there from 17:00 (5PM) to 22:00 (10PM). When I brought in the tiny mountain bike that I claimed at Saint Elizabeth's, the homeless shelter, I carried the bike in one hand like a suitcase and prayed for a bus to appear.

I was given a prescription for Vicadin that I did not fill. Painkiller medication has to be really powerful for it to effect me, I have a high pain threshhold and when I do take painkillers they do very little except give me constipation. Ice packs are immediate, there is no such thing as 'overdose' and they are reusable. Some of the guys at the homeless shelter want to buy my Vicadin. One wants to buy them at the rate of 2 for a dollar, the consensus is 2 – 3 dollars for one. Another guy will steal whatever I want from a store and trade me for it. My morals are wrestling with my practicality, both are strong but my morals with be with me for the rest of my life, I hope. I applied for food stamps on Thurday.

I had an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon on Friday, November 6th. His office staff made threatening noises about 'who will pay for this?' Thankfully, his nurse called me in while they were still muttering. He said I was very lucky to have so much range of motion and that I would have full use of my arm after it healed completely. What a relief.

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