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On Angels and Messengers

Thursday, October 15, 2020


 As I approached Gig Harbor, pulling a trailer on a windy day, I got an eerie feeling. Do you remember the infamous Tacoma Narrows Bridge from Physics 101

Nov 7 will be the 80th anniversary of the collapse.  If you've never seen the video or heard the explanation, go to YouTube. Lots of stories on there.


 DAY2 -- 5 minutes later. ... Motivational Music....but the price went up by $1700... because I need a knee attachment to help keep my twisted leg  from turning  my toes in like they have been doing for the last 50+ years.



DAY 2 at Hanger Clinic.

Moments ago...I cried Debbi did in December 1969, 6 months after my previous First Step

Monday, October 12, 2020


First day of appointments at Hanger Clinic in Gig Harbor, Washington.

I expected a busy place. It's big and quite impressive. There was one other patient there. They are spacing people out in response to Covid.

Ryan Blanck ("the inventor of this marvelous orthosis)" took a plaster mold of my  leg, told me  I may need a knee component, and warned me that I'll have to unlearn all the compensations that I have been using for more than 50 years. I was pleased to hear him say that he thinks he can unload the pressure points thay now feel like I'm stepping on a nail with every step. My GoFundMe friend, Teresa Ruckman, took these photos. She is a candidate for an Exosym, too, and is having a fundraiser if her own. Ryan gave us a tour of  the clinic.  On the Facebook Exosym page, they are calling him a god, but he's a modest do

wn-to-earth guy  who invented something marvelous. Tonight Ryan will personally build a mock-up of my Exosym. Tomorrow, I will try it out.

Ryan showed us a world map with a hundreds and hundreds of pins representing previous candidates.  Apparently, injuries like mine are not as rare as I thought. However, I am the first one to show up riding a kid's Razor Scooter from K-mart, or anywhere else. 

Saturday, October 10, 2020


 I have a new friend and follower on my journey. Allow me to introduce him with a ditty.

Out-of-state boaters invade the Northwest,

often transporting some unwanted pests.

But just few miles east of Spokane,

they will encounter a good-natured man.

Every last motorboat, kayak and dory

has to pass muster with Iinspector Cory.

So none of Montana's mussel mistakes

will ever be launched in Washington's lakes.


With a 13-year-old 6-cylinder Jeep, I have just pulled one cat in a two-ton trailer 2800 miles I will reach Gig Harbor quite soon -- to get a high-tech kinetic orthotic for my leg. 

My life may suddenly change as it did 50 years ago on this day when I took a waif for a wife. 

On that day, I walked down the aisle with a cane in my left hand and my bride on my right.  The cane is no longer sufficient.

I surrendered my independence that day.  I got it back when I lost her damn near 43 years later.  

I miss her dearly, though I never feel lonely.  I have discovered how to feel complete without a partner. 

I have also learned to be comfortable with uncertainty.  I made this journey on faith that I'll somehow be able to pay for it.  She never learned how to live like that.  

More recently, I learned this paradoxical truth:  Independence is not something you can achieve all by yourself.  

In her honor, I hope to burn that old cane in the woodstove I put in the cabin where I intend to live free til I die like they do in New Hampshire. Please help me if haven't already. It you don't know how, just ask. Then come to the cane-burning party sometime in May.







Friday, October 9, 2020


Bismarck, North Dakota
is a straight shot down the road.
It's where I gotta go ta
though I've got a heavy load.

I feel like I've been sailin'
against the wind all day
Eight miles to the gallon --
Please tell the EPA.

My Jeep and travel trailer
are like a jib and main.
Though I'm a real good sailer
I can"t stay in my lane.

If I had a prairie schooner,
a conestoga wagon,
I would get to Bismarck sooner
even with an anchor draggin'.

Monday, October 5, 2020


I did in fact make it to Fargo Sunday night -- but on the seemingly endless drive on Interstate 94 through Minnesota, I composed this silly little ditty in the style of Ogden Nash, Dr Seuss or Shel Silverstein.


by Dr Speedbump

I want to go to Fargo

But how was I to know

It was too far to go to Fargo?

Far to far to go.

If go to Fargo

I cannot go today.

And I can't go tomorrow

Unless it's on the way.

I  had the time to go to Fargo

If I went yesterday

But now I don't know how to go

on a day that's gone away.

I could watch the movie, though

It wouldn't be the same.

So I may never go to Fargo

unless they change the name.


Sunday, October 4, 2020

DAYS 5 and 6

Mama never said there'd be days like this, one after another.

After spending the night at a highway rest area, I had breakfast at Denny's in Black River Falls, WI. When leaving, I dropped sonething amid the clutter on the floor of the right side of my car. Fishing blindly, I got my thumb impaled on a fishhook enbedded in the floor mat. A kind, bewildered lady stopped her car and removed the clutter. I googled "Urgent Care near me" and somehow drove across town to a clinic. The pain was excruciating, but likely saved me from a messy wound. The staff was wonderful. To keep my mind off the pain, I launched into a routine of silly poems and other stories. A real MD injected my thumb with anesthetic and I managed to get myself  unhooked without resorting to the technique of pushing the hook in further and out again to snip off the barb. That was fortunate. Problems can always be worse, you know. I camped m at a Walmart in Minneapolis.

On Friday, I spent a very pleasant day with Shelly Degolyer and the various bipeds and quadrapeds who have found shelter under her roof. After a much needed nap, I visited the informal George Floyd Memorial on Chicago Ave, just 3 blocks away.

Then my day got a bit scary.

A grey minivan, with one headlamp out, started following me as I drove up Chicago Ave.  He got in front of me and tried unsuccessfully to block the road.  I took some unpredictable turns, but he kept finding me. I got on the highway and he tailed me for 42 miles , at various speeds, 40 to 65 mph, until I called 911 and the dispatcher stayed on the phone with me for about 20 minutes. He acted as if this has happened before. He directed me to a Quickfill, where I waited and waited for the patrol car to arrive, while my stalker slowiy circled the building.  The police detained him for lack of a valid driver's license. They instructed me to leave and find gas at another interchange.

I have been stalked by a black bear on the Appalachian trail, and by a pack of feral dogs while snowshoeing in upstate NY, This experience was no less disconcerting, but the dispatcher at 911 was quite comforting.
I am now at a rest area, en route to Fargo, ND, to find out if it's anything like the movie or TV series.
My car engine is increasingly noisy and the check engine light is on. I really wish this trip was less of an adventure.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

DAY 3 -- Long and Bumpy

Mama said there'd be days like's a long story.

The day started well. You may recall from last year that I often go out of my way to visit places that have interesting names. Well, I did that this morning. I went to Lake Nettle (sic) in northern Ohio near the Michigan line. The general store there is called "Nettie's Stop & Shop.

 I bought a $5 jar of peanut butter
and a bunch of old wooden fishing lures for $1.50 each. They'll likely sell on eBay for $10 to $20 each. I learned that Nettie was the legendary lake monster, based in fact on an extraordinarily  large snapping turtle that reportedly was big enough for one entire family to stand on his back for a photograph. (I did not see the photograph.) Incidentally, I recently hooked the big snapping turtle of my own Autumn Lake. Fortunately, he got away.)

I drove across the Michigan line, because I could, and (back in Ohio) I stumbled upon some 2000-year-old mounds, built by Native Americans, Hopewell Indians, because (like now) there's not much else to do in what would become Ohio.  I had now driven across virtually the entire state, east to west. Contrary to popular belief, it is not high in the middle. The mounds were round, but not more than 3-feet high. Perhaps they wer trying to spell out" OHIO" for the landing craft, but (being illiterate) could only manage "OOOO".

I tried to avoid the Ohio Turnpike because of the tolls and the fact that the big trucks drive faster than I do in my trailer which is blowing around in the wind. The GPS on my phone had other ideas and kept trying to put me back on the highway to save me 22 minutes. Somewhere along the way, computers took control, when we were dozing. It got me on the highway, where I have to drive under the speed limit, anyway, with the hope of staying in my own lane, when being passed by tandem trailer trucks.  So it didn't save me 22  minutes -- and it cost me $13.70. OOOO!

But wait.. there's more...

When it started to rain, my windshield got real streaky and I misjudged the entrance ramp to the highway. The GPS bitch "turn left" but failed to mention that the entrance ramp was also an exit ramp with no dividing median.  So I turned directly into the path of a state police car getting off the highway. Needless to say, the trooper pulled me over, looked at me with a puzzled expression, asked a few be questions, and decided I was mostly harmless. So he did not ask to see my license. I was driving very much like an old lady, really pokey. He just kind of laughed it off and wished me a safe cross-country journey. If I had said "Did I do something wrong, officer?" , it might have been different.  Then my troubles began.

I stopped at a rest area and took a nap so I would not have to drive through Chicago during rush hour. It was 9:00pm when I went through the Hog Butcher of the World. I feel like I got mugged without ever getting out of my car -- toll after toll  -- one of which cost  $19.60, because I had three axles. Two axles would have cost only $5.70. New Math -- go figure. I think the toll collector was Mayor Lori Lightfoot, herself. 

 Traversing the
 city was a thrilling ride on a deteriorating roadbed. I get about 10 mpg and was nearly out of gas. 

Do you remember the scene in National Lampoon's Vacation when Chevy Chase exited this same Chicago highway in an RV to ask directions in the ghetto? I do, too, so I stayed on the highway, running on fumes.  Eventually, I stopped safely in the breakdown lane and dumped a gallon of my generator gas into the tank of the Jeep. When I emerged on the west side of the city, I found a safe gas station, but my two phones were dead so I had no idea where I was going. I discovered that I had lost the front wheel of my bicycle on the bumpy highway. Imagine the reaction of drivers of the cars behind me-- OOOO! The latch on the screen door of my RV got broken. I got locked inside the trailer at the gas station.

I had hoped to make it to Vinnie Ha Ha, Wisconsin (truly) but, ha ha, the joke was on me. So I am now camped at a Walmart in Crystal Lake, Illinois.

Yes... there'd be days like this, my mama said.