In the first week of launching the Austin to Boston walk in 2008, the whole weight of universal forces bore down on us like the wrath; a swift and unforgiving maelstrom that tested our mettle absolutely.
First there was the crippling weight of my pack because I didn’t want to be caught on the road without some essential tool, doo-dad, device or sundry to assuage the uncertain world I had just thrown myself into.
Though I made a pact with God to get me and my boys to Boston safely didn’t mean I didn’t have a backup plan. Or two.
Hudson and Murphy’s safety was of paramount concern to me and I packed for it. Shit, I carried enough medical supplies to run triage in a war zone. I had a secondary leash that could counter as a tourniquet, micro flasks of iodine and isopropyl alcohol, and gauze pads of all sizes and shapes.
A NOAA radio, batteries of all flavors, my clunky Dell laptop, and a seven iron to ground against lightening strikes and guard us from gophers, golfers, or god knows what.
I barely made it five miles the first two days and even though I was in supreme physical condition, the weight of my pack almost became walk ending. My lower back was already badly damaged from a work injury and later a car wreck and the sheer act of lifting my overloaded 5500 cc Osprey tweaked it even further.
And then the skies unleashed their fury.
Scientists say that of all of the senses, smell has the longest memory. For example, you’ll never forget the acrid, stinging stench of a skunk. That’s true, but I’ll never forget two sounds.
One of which is the shrilling of my NOAA radio warning followed by the voice of the Atari Man, the nom de plume I assigned to that analog version of a linesman casting weather forecasts like a Pong match.
Tornado warning. Wind speeds up to 50 mph. Freezing hail. Flash flooding. Seek shelter.
And indeed, Atari Man called it right. Lightening storms and unrelenting rain opened up all around us and it got so bad that we abandoned our $ 20 Walmart tent off the northbound side of 973 for the underbelly of a nearby bridge.
Clearly, this wasn’t the way I planned it.
And that was just for starters.
Fire ants, crazy sponsors, a lost bag, forgotten antibiotics, bad burritos, and a mad cow man followed in that first week.
YBD’s Notes 1: I have a good friend going through a tough patch and in her words, she’s in ‘Protection Mode’.
There are some things in life for which there is no shelter and if it wasn’t for the proverbial kitchen sink being thrown at us the first week of our walk, we would have never made it.
I remember with perfect clarity in the tent with my boys what made the difference.
YBD’s Notes 2: Early on, I had to understand which weight to shoulder and which to shrug. That wisdom carries forth to our second walk.
YBD’s Notes 3: Very few things are worse than being in a bad bad storm when your dogs gotta poop.
2 Dogs 2,000 Miles