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Monday, January 30, 2012

POST 544: 01/30/12: COMUMBIA, NORTH CAROLINA

I got chewed out today.

Uncle Babe (Frank) and "Auntie" Elenore made one of the very few phone calls I have received in the last year, demanding to know why I don't write more often (on this blog). Had not talked to them in years before my walk started, but if I miss a couple blog days, they get all bent out of shape...

No, really, these two have been special friends nearly all our lives; heck, Uncle Babe is only a couple years older than me (his Sister, Patricia was only 10 months older than me and Uncle Fred is two your younger than me)...all these relatives have been more like brothers and sisters than Aunts and Uncles.

I treasure our weekly phone calls...and they can chew me out anytime.

Arrived at Karen and Craig's Columbia North Carolina home last Friday. Both are in good spirits, as are Noah and Carson. I have had to beg for something to do around the house and finally I have been assigned some tasks. Am nearly complete with the garden work and under Craig's close supervision, helped install sliding doors in the entry closet. Well, it is a start.

The past three days, I have - after a six week layoff - again hit the road; 10 miles Saturday, 8 miles Sunday, and another 8 miles today, rediscovering long unused leg muscles and finally getting some sinus relief (intense exercise is the ONLY relief I have ever found for my life-long sinus problem).



Took a new route, walking South on SR 94 out of Columbia. Interesting topography in this neck of the woods. Waterways crisscross the low lying land, lying only a foot or two below the roadways.


SR 94 bridge crossing one of the many swamps lining the vast shallow waterways between the mainland and the Outer Banks.


The inevitable dogs try to intimidate me. I usually chat with them as they take a run at me. Taking out my camera usually causes them to put on the brakes. Believe they are confused that I am not afraid of them.


The roadways surrounding Columbia are usually lined with swamps or waterways.


This area happens to be wildlife sanctuary.


Residences are few and far between.


The harsh weather - constant wind with salt-borne moisture laden air takes a toll on all buildings.


Most folks appear to be in constant motion repairing their homes.


On the way to Columbia Friday morning, stopped in Wanchese to install SPIA's new basket. It will carry spare propane and gasoline on my upcoming walk back to the Peace Arch near Vancouver, B.C. (Canada). Have delayed departure from the Outer Banks for another four weeks or so.


My assigned gardening task of installing a rubberized flowerbed liner is nearly complete. Only 20 more feet to prepare a trench and bury the liner.


View through my room's window screen overlooking the Scuppernong River.


A bit clearer view of the Scuppernong River.


US 64 has received a new bridge over the Scuppernong River.


Click click to enlarge the flight of Canadian Geese coming in for a landing on the river.


A small swamp covered over with rust-colored algae.


Ever present waterway lines a field lying fallow during this sunny winter day.


The same waterway trickling under a foot bridge.


Tree farms abound all over the South East. Unusual to see such row alignment.


Turkey Buzzards devouring a road kill rabbit.

Turkey Buzzards are common in every part of the West and South that I have walked.

They have often check me out quite close while walking the deserts of the West.

In a couple days, will return to my painting jobs on the Outer Banks. May take the next couple days off here at Karen's and simply rest, relax, and read. Current read is The Fall Of The Roman Empire. Just completed a detailed book on Tienanmen Square 1989 Massacre ... cannot help but make comparisons to the growing "Occupy" movement sweeping the USA.

Friday, January 27, 2012

POST 543: 01/27/12: WANCHESE - COLUMBIA, NORTH CAROLINA

Yesterday was an exhausting day at Melinda's home...painting from 8:30 am til 5:00 pm with 30 minutes out for lunch with hubby, A.J.

A.J. and I enjoyed a pizza dinner together (his treat) while Melinda took her group of 13 girls to Cheer Leader practice.

Exhausting in that the outside face of the deck railing stretches a full six feet down, requiring me to reach over the top of the railing to try to paint. I did not succeed. The final 14 inches were beyond my reach, leaving a challenging task to figure how to get paint onto the vertical 1.5 inch slats without getting the deck itself splattered.

My fist barely fits between the slats. Painting will require sight-unseen paint application while lying on my stomach. I may have to remove every 4th slat to stick my head out to see what I am doing.

To keep paint away from the deck face, I have designed and had constructed a thin steel plate which I plan to drive under the edges of the two opposing slats, effectively covering the deck face.

It will be a time consuming uncomfortable effort, but feel I have come up with a reasonable system. We shall see.

and, the wood is rough-cut acting like a sponge soaking up the initial coat. A second coat of paint will definitely be needed.

Oh, such fun.

Today, I am sore and stiff from yesterday's contortions...I did, however, complete the entire third story railing with a first-coat, which consumed 1.5 gallon.

For today, I have driven SPIA to Wanchese (village) on Roanoake Island, where the new fully aluminum welded basket has been installed. It can be removed by loosening four bolts. It looks excellent. It will hold two spare propane tanks plus a small gasoline can. This basket will make it possible to trek across the wide expanses of Montana and North Dakota.

I have determined that it is best to delay departure from the Outer Banks for another four to five weeks, making a new departure date of approximately March 01, 2012. This will still allow for a August 15, 2012 arrival at the Peace Arch South of Vancouver, B.C.

Installation of the basket took about 2 hours. I arrived at Karen & Craig's home about 2:30 pm this afternoon in Columbia, North Carolina. I stopped in at the Food Lion Supermarket in Columbia, picking up some chips and sweets (Craig has a thing for sweets). Today being Friday makes this evening "Chile Nite". Look forward to Karen's chile. Karen is a certified Chef, making her cuisine something special.

My room was ready and waiting for me. A large soft queen four-poster bed; a mirrored desk (on which this update is being written), a dresser and closet. One window looks to the West, offering a panorama of the Scupppernong River with the Sun setting over the distant Appalachian mountains.

SPIA gave me a scare yesterday as the motor temperature pegged out HOT. Turning on the heater full Hot, the temperature came back down. Believe the thermostat spring - probably the original from 1987 - lost it's tension, refusing to open to allow cold radiator water to circulate.
On my drive today, the temperature stayed in the "normal" zone. To be on the safe side, I stopped in at NAPA Auto Parts where I purchased a new thermostat and radiator cap.

The cost of my custom-designed basket - including installation - was $351.00; $50.00 UNDER the estimate...now how often does that happen !

Taking the day off tomorrow. Karen and Connor are travelling to a science project. Craig, Noah and I will be staying close to home.

Will give me time to take some photos and test the new basket.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

POST 542:: 01/25/12: OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA

Since our last blog on January 19, 2012, I have been fully employed - painting and helping out at the Food Pantry.

Yesterday, Pastor Steve and wife Betty returned from their short trip to Florida. The new truck - which I helped paint - performed with perfection, Betty says. Both expressed pleasure at my effort to paint the church Dining/Meeting Room...was a pleasure and for me, fun.

The home of Barbara and Tim is nearly 100% painted inside. Only two rooms remain, both needing a second coat of paint. Tim is tickled pink with my presence. He has been 6 years - mostly working alone - building their new home, all the while living inside the original two rooms.

I must say, Tim is a perfectionist at his work. Look anywhere inside his new home and see only Quality. Tim is, I think, also pleased to have someone to help him...mostly to chat and accompany him on his morning and afternoon 15-minute breaks (which usually extend to 30-45 minutes), which he insists: "...as a life-long Union Man, I am accustomed to my breaks".

Both Paul and Les know my feelings about taking breaks (Hi guys).

One great omission in my prior blogs is that Barbara has created delicious lunches and dinners on the days I painted. I have been welcomed into their family of sons and daughters and grandchildren...most of whom drop in during evening mealtime. Am putting on weight to the point I must put some miles in, or visit the clothing store.

and, today, have started Melinda's painting project...painting the railing of -seems like miles - deck railing and unending outside stairways on their 3-story beachfront home. Put in four hours this afternoon - after assisting the Wednesday Food Pantry -. Upon seeing my progress on the top floor railing, received rave review from Melinda.

Just for the record, I mention that ALL my local work-efforts are "volunteer", taking NO $$ from my bosses.

I am just grateful I have been offered places for SPIA and I to park during our Winter-Over.

Have been on the Outer Banks for nearly three months. Original plans were to rest until the first week of February...that plan is now modified because of unpredictable and intensity of nationwide winter storms. I will stay on the Outer Banks for at least one more month.

Two more offers have been received for SPIA to park - complete with electricity and water - whenever we take the fancy.

Tomorrow, will once again tackle the deck railings. On Friday, its off to pick up SPIAs new front-end basket (for spare propane and gasoline tanks)...then continuing to Karen & Craig in Columbia for a few days.

The word is getting around that this old man knows something about painting...would not be surprised to receive another project or two...still much repair to Outer Banks "rental" homes before the arrival of the high season which begins sometime in April or so.

As an aside, the homes - all within a block or two of either the Atlantic Ocean or Pamlico Sound - rent for $5,000 to $12,000 per WEEK ! A nice piece of change for lucky owners.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

POST 541 - 01/19/12: OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA

Many years ago - seems like a couple life-times ago - riding a Taxi from La Guardia Airport...La Garbage to some...I was reminded by the driver, who, in response to my comment about the nasty recent weather, said, "folks who start a conversation with 'how's the weather' instantly divulge that they really have nothing to say."

Unexpectedly finding the Outer Banks to be cold, wet, and somewhat miserable in winter, I have hesitated - in remembrance of that taxi driver - to say too much about the weather; i.e., the dirth of daily blogs.

For hundreds of days taking hundreds of thousands of steps, I made it my primary mission to post each and every day of my walk.

Arriving in the Outer Banks of North Carolina in late Fall, I found a devastated nearly empty community. Quite frankly, I have been somewhat at a loss for words describing my daily activities...pretty much the same activity each day...Wintering-Over on the way from Florida to the St. Lawrence River...: i.e., have failed to fulfill my daily blog commitment.

Perhaps a big mistake.

If so, I apologize...and will try to do better.

In fact, two new events have entered my daily routine:

1. I have driven - as passenger - to the Northern Outer Banks community of Nags Head to help pick up food items from two local FOOD LION supermarkets supplying Pastor Steve's Salvo (town) Food Bank. I found it fascinating: Both Food Lion stores, upon our arrival (Terry and Me) were met by Department Employees with hotel-like luggage carriers loaded down with boxes of meats, veggies, and pastry items.

Today, I have been asked by Melinda (Pastor Steve's daughter) to once again accompany - this time, Dick - the truck to Food Lion in the morning...normal Friday pickup schedule.

2. Last Monday, Barbara and hubby, Tim, have returned from their recent trip. Barbara phoned me...are you available to help Tim with finishing our new home...? Every day this week, I have donned old grubbers and rubber gloves. Under Tim's expert guidance, I have painted the better part of three rooms, with another three rooms to go.

Except for recently painting the Food Bank/Church Dining/Meeting room, I have not yielded a brush and roller for many a year. Forgot how much I enjoy painting.

When not actually holding a brush or roller, I keep busy scraping the new floor tiles clean or sweeping up. Barbara and I are alike in that when completing a task, our work areas are squeaky clean. Brings back memories of my happy days in the kitchen...when completing meal preparation, not a dirty pan or spoon remained...always have been a "cleaner-upper" as meal preparation progressed.

In spite of my telephone calls to the folks manufacturing SPIA's new front-end carrier, I have received no answer. I am eager to drive to Wachese (town) on Roanoke Island to have the carrier installed. My real concern is that I am eager to once again visit Karen and Craig (and Sons Carson & Noah) in Columbia, North Carolina, which is another 50 miles beyond Wachese.

Karen and Craig have asked me to accept their invitation to consider myself "one of the family", reminding me that the light is always on. Having walked thousands of lonely miles crossing mountains and deserts of America, these two bring tears to my eyes.

I have been sometimes asked...what is the most important moment during my walk...after much thought, I always have come to the same reply...this one!...this moment we two are spending together...there is no moment more precious than the one we are sharing right now.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

POST 540 : 01/15/12: OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA

It has turned quite cold on the Outer Banks, North Carolina.

and, wouldn't you know...SPIA ran out of Propane this evening...moments AFTER the only two Propane Service Stations on Hatteras Island closed for the day...an opportunity to truly test the interior insulation on a below-freezing night.

Been much too cold to muck in SR 12 ditches, and Food Bank attendance has dwindled somewhat since 2012 has rolled around. Friday and today, however, were bonanza days in terms of goodies offered up from the local Food Lion Supermarket(s).

A number of folks today toted off full boxes of miscellaneous meat products...Cornish game hens, steaks, roasts, chickens & turkey specialties, ground round, and of course unlimited wieners. No one went home without a week worth of goodies...all at no cost - except to Pastor Steve, who is still in Florida with wife Betty for another couple weeks. Daughters, Melinda and Mandy are doing a creditable job in their absence.

I have used my spare time continuing to winterize SPIA. The cab-over area has been sealed all around inside and lined with blankets and bubble wrap. It is totally isolated from the main living area...and none too soon as it will be somewhat below freezing tonight...and SPIA with no heat.

I will be toasty snuggled between my three duvets and two body pillows - not to mention my three head pillows. In the morning, we can replenish the Propane. Then, if Barbara & hubby are true to promised schedule, I will begin their painting project. That will keep me occupied for a week or two - with time out to run (drive) to Columbia - with a stop in Wachese to install SPIAs new front-end basket for the ever-important spare Propane bottles -.

One positive element has emerged from running out of Propane...I finally started up the refrigerator using AC electricity - instead of burning up Propane. I have hesitated to use AC as it means more cost to my hosts (HAPPY CLAM). Am looking for an appropriate "thank you" for allowing me to use their carport, drinking water, and hot showers during my winter-over in Rodanthe.

Having time to enjoy reading from my Kindle.....(Edit): Original blog included reference to the story I am now reading...felt it might be a bit too racy, so deleted it. Now 75% finished and, yes, it is racy - in an adolescent funny way, so back in it goes: A fascinating novel of a 13-year old living on the mud flats of Southern Puget Sound - near Olympia, the capital city of Washington State -: "The Highest Tide" by Jim Lynch. Very well written. I am, of course, biased, as the locale is only a few miles from the Stump Ranch where I spent the first nine years of my life. There is nothing more interesting than to read an other's take on a time / place of my own life.

Am looking forward to tomorrow morning. Melinda and her Son - who recently won the State of Virginia - 84 pound class Wrestling Title - will return from the USA Wrestling Championships. We may have a National Champ on our hands.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

POST 539: OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA

SPIA and I have been resident in the Outer Banks, North Carolin a for about two months. Arriving in mid November, many hundreds of readers followed along daily. We are now down to less than 100 "followers".

This is not surprising. Dozens of vehicles each day pass by as I muck about in SR 12 ditches, helping recovery from Hurricane IRENE - back in September 2011 -. Not much of interest in that endeavor...passing by a smelly filthy old man displaying elbows and ass h...e...how many ways can one find interesting words about THAT !

...and boring boring must be adventures in the Food Bank...seen one - seen 'em all...not in this case, tho; P. Steve and family are something special.

There MUST be something of on-going interest out here on the Outer Banks in the dead of winter. I keep trying !

Today completed a full year since setting out from the Peace Arch in Blaine, Washington on the 10th anniversary of Cri's death - January 12, 2001 - to circumnavigate the United States on foot. So far as I can discover, we have already walked farther than anyone in history - nearly 12,000 miles - crisscrossing the USA...leaving a "show and tell" trail for all to follow.

Truthfully, I am becoming comfy. Among the misery of those who have lost so much in 2011...here in the Outer Banks and all across America...I have discovered a new and satisfying avocation...helping those with a heck of a lot less than me.

Nonetheless, we - SPIA and I - are only 5 - 6 weeks from heading North to the St. Lawrence river via Burlington, Vermont...then points West back to 360 / 0 degrees; i.e., the Peace Arch.

There is so very much I have not shared as to how come I find myself out here. So many times, I have actually written it into this blog...only to put it on "hold" and then, punch "DELETE".

For now, please allow me to share some more details:

Yesterday, I commandeered some stray Trash Cans along SR 12, into which I stuffed a number of piles of my prior policing trash. Great satisfaction to observe that a number of others have joined me in gathering up many of my "piles" of trash. Since yesterday was a bright sunny day, I attacked another 1/4 mile or so of SR 12, clearing the side of the highway to the border between the villages of Rodanthe and Waves. Only about 2 more miles to go.

I received a "reward" in late afternoon...Jeanette, of Hatteras RV Park in Waves, allowed me to use their washer and dryer...the only ones available for many miles...to do my laundry...Thank you...

A current pic of the Food Bank with "clients" picking up food.

Locals passing through the Food Pantry, selecting items on display and from the freezers - at the far end of the room.

I try not to include recognizable folks in my posting...not that they would object...just a kindness making me feel more comfy.

Someone dropped off a couple large boxes of new and slightly used clothing. At the end of the day, most items had been selected and removed. The remainder went into the trash.

There were some very nice clothing items on display...all at no cost.

Leaving the Peace Arch on March 20, 2010 - nearly two years ago, I have walked nearly 12,000 miles in my five pair of Brooks shoes. I have contacted the factory more than once...speaking at length with a representative...asking if I may have directions where to purchase additional new shoes...

Brooks has not given me the courtesy of a reply !

I must say, however, that each of my five pair of Brooks have at least 2,000 miles of tough walking on them. The only wear is at the toe...where the sharp macadam cuts through the sole as I push off. Two times I have re-surfaced the toes of my five pair of Brooks. Thought it might be interesting to share how I have managed with the repair.

The above photograph shows shoes I purchased - gifted by my Nephew, Danny - in Phoenix, Arizona. The toe is nearly worn thru...the rest of the shoe is virtually like new.

This is the "mate" to the previous photograph. It shows the remnant of the previous patch I applied somewhere in Florida a few months ago.

In Phoenix, Dan actually gifted me two pair. This shoe is from the second pair.

Three heavy duty clamps hold a piece of leather firmly in place on the toe of the shoe.

This is the "mate" to the previous photograph...I applied the "patch" two days ago, taking the clamps off only this morning.


The "patch" is glued in place using J-B Weld two-part epoxy. I mix a small batch in the plastic cap of a water bottle, mix with a mini-screwdriver, and apply to the worn toe.

The clamps hold the glued patch firmly in place for 48 hours.

I have to repair all five pair before continuing our walk. Each repaired shoe is good for about 1,000 miles before the sharp macadam stones wear away the patch...then I must repair it all over again.

I keep wondering why Brooks Shoes refuse to respond to me. I imagine getting 2,000 + miles on a single pair of shoes is a bit uncommon.

Would be nice to have a new pair, but I cannot yet afford them...even if I could find a store which carried them. I have stopped in dozens of shoe stores...they are NOT all that popular...a pity !

In addition to receiving Christmas gifts from my new found friends, Pastor Steve and Karen, here on the Outer Banks, I received a gift box of Biscotti from one of my "old" customers, Martine Berliere. Martine, of Greenport, Long Island, New York (near the Hamptons), manufactures one of the finest Biscotti I have ever tasted.

Many years ago...seems like two lifetimes ago, Cri and I sailed our Beneteau racing / cruising yacht from our Stamford, Connecticut marina East to and through the "Race" of Long Island Sound...hanging a right around Plum Island, thence into Gardiner Bay, East around Shelter Island and thence into the the marina at Greenport.

We backed our yacht, TICINO into the long slip, and were invited by Martine and her (then) husband to visit their business.

Martine had, for over 25 years, been my client...and friend.

Referring to the photograph:

The hard-bottom bag is manufactured in a suburb of Lyon, France...one of my most favorite cities, which I have visited many dozens of times...often, riding the TGV Bullet Train from Paris or Geneva to Lyon.

The ribbon is an "instant bow" ribbon, originally developed and patented by a Swiss company in in the 1920s in the small village of Breitenbach, a few kilometers South of Basel, Switzerland.

Kurt Hagenbuch, owner of the factory, was for many years considered a personal friend...Cri and I trading visits to Breitenbach with Kurt and his wife visiting our home in White Plains, New York.

Martine may be contacted at 631-477-6145 or on the net: biscotteria@optonline.net

It is 9:00 pm at the moment...raining and blowing stink. In the morning, I have opted to clean the outside of all windows of the Food Bank / Church. At 11:00 am, Malinda has scheduled a work party to clean up the "back" of the property...still a bit of a mess from Hurricane IRENE.

Friday is another Food Pantry day.

Looking forward to receiving a call from Wachese (town of) where our new "basket" for the front of SPIA is being manufactured. Plan to drive to Wachese to have it installed...then another 50 miles West to visit Karen and Craig - and the boys - in Columbia.

In a few days, I am volunteered to begin painting the inside of the new home of Barbara and her hubby. Will also help lay fired floor tile throughout the entire home.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to "winter-over" here on the Outer Banks. It will be difficult - emotional - to move on !

Sunday, January 8, 2012

POST 538 - -01/08/12: OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA

Luckily, right foot injury is NOT Shin Splint...only a severely sprained ankle. Much better already today. Have walked on it all day with no pain killer. Quite sore to be certain, but not life threatening.

Today was a day at the Food Bank. Sunday is intended to be an opportunity for folks who attend church services to receive food...locals have, however, discovered the Pantry is open. The food pickup truck usually returns to the Pantry about 10:00 am. Today, it did not arrive until 12:30 pm...in the middle of services.

Disappointing was that only a meager offering was delivered. Two small boxes of frozen meat; two small boxes of bread & pastry; not a single veggie, no fruit, no dry food, no canned food.

I and the driver unloaded and stocked the freezer and shelve. It took only about five minutes to complete the entire job.

The first few folks into the Pantry left with two or three shopping bags full of food...those coming moments later left with next to nothing, as there was not much remaining.

Being a volunteer, I keep my thoughts mainly to myself. It is, however, a bit emotional to see those in need having so little from which to choose.

A number thanked me for my painting effort...a couple asked if I had time to help them with their painting project(s) at home....thank you; and yes !

A few days ago, my Bellingham friend, Sandra, suggested I try Bubble Wrap to add insulation for warmth inside SPIA. Stopped in at a national chain hardware store, where I picked up 12 " x 30 feet at $12.00 . A bit later, stopped in at a much smaller local chain store where I picked up another 30 feet x 12" (identical wrap) for $5.00. Guess it pays to shop around.

While in the shopping center, popped into the local Mexican Restaurant where I enjoyed a lunch plate...which I very much needed. Except for my morning porridge, had been 2.5 days without eating...simply hate to stop working when on a roll; then, am too bushed to be hungry.

Watched the first quarter of the BRONCO - STEELER playoff NFL game. First time seeing Tebow and was duly impressed. Shut off HAPPY CLAM's TV and at 7:30 pm, slipped into SPIA's bed.

...only to snap awake an hour later with a developing left leg cramp from ankle through the back side of my knee, ending at my buttock...a serious ham string cramp.

I have learned while walking that my leg cramp nearly always develops soon after retiring. With careful observation, have connected cramping with too little water drunk during the day. The past three days have been with nearly NO drinking water.

In the past, I would shoot out of bed - or off my chair / couch - stiffen the cramping leg to combat the straining muscle. This only made the pain far worse and often left lingering soreness for two or three days.

So, thought I would share this evening's discovery:

I lay perfectly still. The cramp was developing into a doozie. I did NOT move. I silently spoke to my tightening muscle...OK, I screwed up big time and you are about to punish me. I deserve punishment for not giving you enough water...I am very sorry and will strive to do so in the future.

But, for now, I refuse to fight you....

For the next 10 minutes, I concentrated mentally on my tightening muscle, willing my body to relax...to simply let go. I finally settled on starting with the top of my head and slowly shut down all reflex...moving down to my neck, along my spine, into my leg and finally the offending muscle. The pain INSTANTLY went away.

I lay unmoving for a minute or two; then, tried to apply a bit of movement; WHAM...the muscle stiffened again.

I ALWAYS have a bottle of drinking water at my bedside...have done so for years.

Concentrated another few minutes of mental / physical relaxation; I reached for my water bottle, took a sip...and when I got away with that, drained 1/2 of the bottle.

The spasm did not return.

Most folks probably are way ahead of me in this realm...nearly 80 years old and just learning how to treat my body.

We have much yet to do together, my body and me. Some satisfaction comes from my body's willingness to tolerate my errors and give me another chance.

Thank you.

No employment for me Monday or Tuesday. I want very much to return to Columbia to see Roy and Elva before they return to Madrid on Tuesday. Alas, I cannot make it. Wish them a safe trip home and look forward to our meeting again down the road.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

POST 537 - 01/07/12: FOOD BANK

What an exciting time the last 24 hours have been.

After posting last night's blog, read a bit from Kindle and went to sleep...not long after - about midnight, a LARGE animal jumped from the roof of the Food Pantry onto the top of SPIA with a big "thunk". I flew out of bed...well, I tried to fly out of bed.

My right foot became entangled with my Duvets - have three of them since it has been cold - and twisted my right ankle, damaging the tendons running from the top of my instep to my shin bone...resulting in a classic shin splint...or perhaps a severe sprain.

The critter dug at the metal roof for about 15 minutes, finally giving up by jumping off.

Believe it was just as well I did not confront it !

Finally rolling out of bed at 4:00 am, my right foot would not support me. The outside ankle bone was swollen. It is now 6:00 pm, and the swelling is much more pronounced...cannot even see the ankle bone ! Ouch !

Of course, I spent the entire day completing the painting of the Dining / Meeting Room. For good measure, I also painted the front entry door and door jamb and scrubbed all the remaining doors - there are four all told - and scrubbed and polished the seven windows (glass and framework) and front & back entry door windows.

Looks rather nice if I do say so.

Malinda also asked me to scrub out the freezers - there are two large uprights - that she defrosted yesterday. So, the Food Pantry now has sparkling freezers.

Can you believe...causing so much damage while in bed. It appears that tonight is going to be a challenge to get some rest. Will take some IBUPROFEN...

Also, did not stop to eat again today...must cut that out !

Tomorrow is Sunday...another food delivery for the Food Bank.

Friday, January 6, 2012

POST 536 - 01/06/12: OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA

Has been quite cold that past 48 hours...down to 19 F. Much too cold to grub out ditches, so did not leave SPIA at all yesterday. Instead, snooped into all boxes, bags, and cupboards to see what was hiding from me. Just like opening presents. Found my long lost telephone book.

Telephoned a few "old" friends. Nice to re establish contact.

Today, Friday, was Food Bank day. Reported in at 8:30 am to do my bit. Was then asked if I would paint the large Dining / Meeting Room. Of course I said yes. It is now 9:00 pm and have worked all day without a break. Have nearly completed the entire room, including taping all woodwork. Have only a bit of "rolling" yet to do.

I am a bit hungry as I did not stop to eat. After 12.5 hours, am not in the mood to cook up something.

Will make up my bed - SPIA is staying overnight at the Food Bank so I can complete the painting before anyone arrives in the morning - and take a trip through dreamland. Always look forward to falling asleep...have much more interesting / exciting time dreaming than ever I do awake.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

POST 535 - 01/03/12; OUTER BANK, NORTH CAROLINA

42 degrees inside SPIA at 6:00 am this morning. Now 5:00 pm with 29 degrees F. outside - before wind chill...with a strong 20 - 30 mph North wind -... with possible snow in the nearby North Carolina hills.

Have added additional insulation around the bathroom door to SPIA living quarters. Discovered a strong cold draft coming from the overhead skylight cover...someone installed a small exhaust fan which is not allowing the cover to close properly. Will fix it in the morning. For now, have insulated the inside door with adhesive foam.

Have run the propane furnace most of the day, easily maintaining 62 degrees inside SPIA. If the winter continues cold...or colder, propane could become a $$ consideration.

Planned departure for the St. Lawrence River is only 4 weeks away. If it remains cold, I may be forced to stay put in Rodanthe for a bit longer.

Tried to do some SR 12 policing, but was simply too cold to continue. This cold snap is projected to be with us for a couple more days.



Bedding folded ready for the road. The tote bag, gifted from friend Les Blackwell, is my "getaway" bag...kinda like an "abandon ship" bag, filled with toiletries, spare clothes, medications, and a bit of water and a bite. So far, it has not been needed.

My two air mattresses can be seen tucked between the hanging blanket and the back of the couch / bed. They remain filled with air all the time, minimizing the "cold" normally associated with air mattresses.

SPIA is furnished with complete service for three (3), including a good assortment of pans and utensils. In actual fact, the two items being washed in the above photograph are my mainstay. Since I am alone, I cook and eat from the medium size camping pan, using the white spoon as stirrer and for eating.

I ration 1/2 gallon of water a day for "domestic" uses - washing, flushing, cleaning, etc. Am practicing conserving water as I intend NOT to use SPIA's 17 gallon fresh water tank through the winter walk across the top of America. This, because of expected freezing temperatures which could damage plastic water pipes and SPIA's new hot water heater.

Temperatures are predicted to reach 18 degrees tonight - before wind chill -, so I am draining the hot water heater within the next few minutes.


SPIA's kitchen with basic implements: Teakettle, pan, and spoon.

The propane stove has four (4) burners plus oven. Have so far not used the oven. Within the last couple weeks, a mouse has pulled insulation onto the oven floor. No sign of a critter, so perhaps he/she has gone someplace else.

Storage for my pan above the sink. Once in a great while, I use a larger pot to cook up some pasta.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

POST 534 - 01/01/12: OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA

First day of 2012 has been sunny warm on the Outer Banks, North Carolina.

The Food Bank / Church crew held an all-night New Years party in the Dining Hall for local teenagers...morning schedules were a bit discombobulated, but must hand it to the sisters Melinda and Mandy for carrying on, including having the Food Bank ready for customers by noon.

I showed up at 8:30 am, as normal, but not hair nor hide of anyone, so I packed it in, drove back to southern Rodanthe, parked SPIA, put on my grubbers, and spent the next 4 hours mucking out trash from alongside Highway SR 12. Must say...it looks real nice !

Spent some time relaxing in HAPPY CLAM watching a series of TV...something I have not done for many a moon.

Temperatures the next couple nights are supposed to dip into the 20's. Just in time, I have completed winterizing SPIA, so should be toasty warm inside...possibly even without the propane furnace running.

The floor now has a quadruple barrier of: linoleum, carpet padding, rubber, & carpet.

The walls have double thickness of fine-woven blankets hanging ceiling to seat cushions.

Entrance door has a beach towel hanging freely - that over wall/floor seams that have been sealed with epoxy & adhesive backed foam.

Another blanket hangs doubled between the drivers cab and the living quarters.

Thought pics of my bedroom might be interesting...



The couch/seat back folds out to form a double bed. The doubled hanging blanket cuts off radiant heat/cold from the outside wall - hanging blankets gifted from Karen Estey, DEJA VU)

Two air mattresses cover the seat cushions - to level them out.

A Duvet serves as bottom sheet over the air mattresses.

Three pillows complete the basic "layout".


Karen's gifted long pillow wraps against the outside and toilet/shower wall - this to keep my feet warm, as I do not like wearing socks while sleeping.

A 6 inch walking space next to the dinette table leads from the "kitchen" to the toilet behind the distant door...which door is kept closed as the toilet area is not winterized.


Months ago I purchased the red / blue long pillow. It now completes the wrap around my "mattress" cutting off all radiant heat/cold from the outside wall. It also keeps my body from leaning against the outside wall, which is the one which came apart a few months ago.

Under the bed is storage area for fresh water tank, electrical cord for AC hookup, and two storage spaces...the entire floor under there is carpeted (original construction carpeting).


My Queen Size Duvet is added as a "Summer" cover. It can be doubled for extra warmth.


Karen also gifted me a "down" Duvet (the tan Comforter), which is King Size, light as a feather, and toasty warm.

It is shown above doubled over for extra warmth.

All my covers fit "loose". I simply cannot sleep with tucked-in blankets which crush my toes.

I often times use one of my three pillows between my knees...don't laugh...it is VERY comfy and keeps my knee bones from poking my leg.


Beach towel hanging over the entrance door.

The blue rubber gloves are extra thick working gloves which I use to grub around in the filthy ditches of Highway SR 12.


A look at SPIA's cabin looking from the kitchen into the rear toilet room.

Mini computer rests on the dinette table to the left.

Wear-ready clothes fill the ice chest to the left.

Reflective walking jacket hangs in the distance.

The toilet skylight is opened a bit for ventilation at night. The toilet room door is also left open a inch or two for the same reason. Otherwise, SPIA is closed up tight as a drum at night.

All things considered, it beats setting up the tent every night on the cold ground.

Yes, I have the tent and complete camping equipment in addition to SPIA...only SAM is no longer with us...I miss her !