ON JULY 7, 2006 I WILL SPLASH INTO THE ATLANTIC OCEAN IN PORTLAND, MAINE. I ESTIMATE I WILL HAVE WALKED 7373 MILES AT THAT POINT. THIS IS A SIGNIFICANT MILESTONE ALONG THE WAY TO COMPLETING THE MR. DIABETES® WAKE UP AND WALK® TOUR – A 10,000+ MILES WALK THROUGH ALL THE PERIMETER STATES IN THE “LOWER 48” TO PROMOTE DIABETES AWARENESS AND LET PEOPLE KNOW THAT DIABETES (TYPE 2) IS 75% - 90% PREVENTABLE!!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT AS THE WALK™ CONTINUES TO ACCOMPLISH ITS GOALS.
This past month has been another VERY busy period of time. I’ve been doing my walking, of course, but there have also been a few more Honors given me by means of Proclamations and meetings with people on the streets I walk. Each time I receive a Proclamation I am totally humbled. And, each person with whom I meet and talk, I am energized and re-enegized to continue on THE WALK™. It is here I can actually see in peoples faces that we, - me, Shirley and Russ (my Tour Managers) – are having a VERY positive impact on this insidious disease called diabetes.
Russ, Shirley and I had already moved to another campground in Hinsdale, NH (next to Brattleboro, VT). But, because of the distance and time it takes to drive those wicked mountain roads to the walking “start points”, we decided to take a week and live in motels while we closed the 100+/- miles to Brattleboro from Glenville (Scotia), NY.
May 30 was a short walking day. I only walked 2.6 miles due to lightning. The nasty rain that accompanied it was tolerable, but not the lightning. Normally, I will walk in all kinds of weather. My feeling is that if I waited for perfect days to walk, I’d probably still be in the South heading for San Diego. I have all kinds of foul weather gear for rain, freezing cold, desert sun and heat, etc. But, there are two conditions I just won’t mess with – lightning and snow/ice on the exact surface(s) I am walking. At the first sign of lightning within 30 (or more) miles, I stop and pack it in. Lightning is nothing to fool around with – it kills!!! And, as careful as I am, I have still come very close to lightning strikes.
HINT: Here’s how to measure the distance of lighting from where you are: the moment you see a lighting strike in the distance, begin counting seconds – one one-thousand, two one-thousand, and so on – until you hear the inevitable thunder that follows. Each five seconds represents one mile distance between you and the lightning (sound travels at approximately 1100 feet per second). 50 miles away is considered safe; less than that you are taking chances and I DO NOT recommend being out and within 50 miles of lightning!!!!! Of course, you won’t hear the thunder from that distance. So, to be safe, if you hear thunder then you are too close to the lightning to be safe – find indoor shelter!!!
The next day was a bit different. It was a very challenging 13.3 miles of steep uphill walking through Troy, NY to Brunswick, which begins at the top of this seemingly endless hill. I had received a Proclamation from Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian a few days earlier – a very historic city. Interestingly, Troy is the city famous for being the birthplace of Uncle Sam. So, think of Troy, NY whenever you see that bearded man in top hat and tails colored in the Red, White and Blue and pointing his finger at YOU!!!!!!!
June 1 was a 12.7 miles walk from Brunswick to Pittstown. Shirley joined me for a bunch of miles as she frequently does, but the roads were extremely narrow and a bit risky for two of us to walk comfortably. So Shirley went back to the support vehicle to join Russ and more Tour Manager responsibilities. They never end…………
June 2 found me at Rotary Club function in Bennington, VT. They put out a great buffet salad spread and I later addressed the sixty club members. I thank Dave Cass for receiving us and making it a fun visit. This is a great club with lots of enthusiasm. By the time the meeting was over, the rain was coming down heavily, so we decided not to walk.
Bennington is a fantastic city established in 1749 and still enjoys its historic flavor with a number of museums and well preserved homes, churches and buildings dating back that far, and further.
June 3 proved to be a VERY interesting day, if mis-happenings can be considered “interesting.”
It started out in Pittstown, NY about 11 miles to the Vermont State Line. The only real challenge seemed to be the neverending rain. But, soon to find out, that was the least of the day’s woes. I’ll explain………………
Exactly one mile into the day’s walk, while Russ and Shirley were driving behind with all lights a-blinkin’, I heard Russ over the walkie-talkie (which we use to communicate) that we had a problem. Indeed we did!! I should say at this point that flat tires are infrequent, but expected because of the rough ground of the shoulders of the roads on which the support vehicle rides. Nails and glass are the biggest dangers both to me and the vehicle. Well, this time – and for the first time – there were TWO flat tires at the same time!!
That meant a flat bed had to come out and take the SUV to some destination. Normally, an easy decision – a tire store or garage, repair the tires and back to walking. Except, this was a Saturday afternoon and there wasn’t any place open between Albany, NY and Bennington, VT. And no places would be open the next day, either (Sunday). So, with no other choices, the SUV had to be taken back to the Knotty Pines Motel in Bennington, where we were staying.
[AN ASIDE: we lucked out by getting rooms there because it’s a family run motel, reasonable rates, extremely clean, great folks. Also, due to a college graduation the entire town’s guest places were practically full.]
Meanwhile, back at THE WALK™, because of the rain I put on old walking shoes. As the SUV was “arranged for”, I continued walking. About 2 miles further down the road, the bottom came off my left shoe!!! I was too far down the road to walk back to where the car was waiting for the flatbed truck. So, I called on the phone (out of range for the walkie-talkies) for them to stop on the way by w/ another pair of shoes. Meanwhile, I would keep walking – er, uh, “hobbling” is a better word.
Next, while “hobbling” along I had attracted a rather nasty dog that really wanted a piece of me. It was reminiscent of that time in August (see UPDATE for August, 2005). As I pivoted to confront him/her (I do want to be politically correct) I lost from my vest one of the flashers I was wearing for safety (visibility). Naturally, it smashed into pieces. Fortunately, again, the dog was on a leash, but I couldn’t know that until it stopped him/her suddenly. So, now I’m alone on the road with only one good shoe, a broken flasher, a support vehicle incapable of giving me support and in a heavy rain with no shelter in sight.
But, as luck would have it, about another mile or two up the road was an antique store. As I approached it, an unfamiliar car pulled up and there was a familiar face in the passenger seat – Shirley. She had recruited the owner of the house where we were in front of with the two flat tires to bring me replacement shoes while Russ waited for the flatbed truck to show up. So, a very special thanks to Rose and Andy Sheffer of Johnsonville, NY for your kindness. And, it was also fun to learn that Rose had seen me on The Benita Zahn Show a week earlier.
It was a long, hard and wet day, but I finished with 14.4 miles and reached Bennington, VT. Goodbye, New York, FOR NOW!!!!!!!!
June 4 presented a different challenge. So, what else is new? The more things change the more they stay the same. Shirley and Russ decided to go to the Church where I finished walking the night before.
It began with a one mile steep downhill into the center of town. Steep downhills can be more difficult to walk than a steep uphill. This was one of those. Then a fun walk for one mile through the town. It was interesting to see their Art Pallet Festival. I took a lot of pictures. But, one mile of level ground was all I got. Next came 9 miles of uphill climb – SOLID!! It’s called Woodford Mountain. Again, no support vehicle. When it was time to go back to the Knotty Pines Motel, I had pre-arranged with Russ optional choices. One was a taxi – the most obvious. But, Dawn had arranged for an interview with the Bennington Banner newspaper. And, then, Russ arranged with the reporter, Neal Goswami, to pick me up and do the interview that way. Worked out great! Russ and Shirley had a day off, I got in another 11.3 very difficult miles and finished the day with a newspaper interview. Neal did a fine job on it, too.
June 5 – Russ fixed the tire problem and we were back on track. I walked from Woodford to Wilmington. I was lucky with the weather – 60’s, overcast (no rain) and a slight breeze. The reason I say “lucky” is because it was 10.8 miles of extremely dangerous roadway(s). If it was raining I would not have even attempted this stretch of road – I would have waited for nice weather. From there we went back to the campground in Hinsdale, NH.
The next day was a laundry day and catch up day. That night I addressed the Brattleboro Select Board and received a Proclamation.
June 7 it was pouring rain, again. The mountain roads of Vermont are definitely not made for walking. They are narrow, winding and have no walking area. Motor traffic is very heavy, and although people are considerate, it’s hard for them to be that way if they don’t see me walking until they come around a bend. And then, there’s no place for them to go as they, too are facing oncoming traffic, which also has nowhere to go. So, it’s up to me to watch for all possible situations and work slowly around them as they occur.
Well, in this downpour I decided it was not safe to walk. So, I didn’t. That said, even on nice days it’s no picnic because the support vehicle has no room to be behind me, either. But, Russ came up with a very practical idea that works pretty well for warning oncoming traffic when I’m walking along and facing traffic. In a similar regard, Shirley suggested I carry a hairdryer and point it at oncoming traffic. They’ll think I’m a cop holding a radar gun – traffic will then slow down. I’m thinking about it…………
Anyway, this was not an idle day. They never are. This day (June 7) began with an in-studio radio interview with Host Steve West and Producer Gorty Baldwin. The station is in Brattleboro – WKVT – AM (1490). This is a new show for the area and I predict it will be around for as long as they want to do the show. I’ve done a lot of radio interviews and these guys are on top of their game. Good luck Steve and Gordy.
After the radio interview came an interview with Cate Lecuyer , reporter for the Brattleboro Reformer.
June 8 was a mixed bag – partly sunny and partly rain. Got in 10.0 miles and did an interview with The Deerfield Valley Press. Photojournalist, Mike Eldred
June 9 started out with an in-studio radio interview with Dan Mitchell at WKBK –AM (1220). And this was followed by a meeting with Keene, NH Mayor Michael E.J. Blastos. This was a fun visit with the Mayor and his staff: Executive Assistant – Helen Mattson; City Manager John A. MacLean; Asst.City Manager/FinanceDirector Martha Matson Landry; Asst.City Manager/Health Director M.K.Kopczynski – C.B.O. Also, of note, Mayor Blastos owns and operates The Pub Restaurant. He was a gracious Host. And thank you for the Proclamation.
Also, this was another heavy rain day. I had 7 miles to go to walk into Brattleboro from Marlboro. But, because of the dangerous conditions created by the rain, I opted to postpone this section for a nicer day. Instead I walked from Brattleboro into New Hampshire – a route much safer. When crossing into New Hampshire we were greeted by a very friendly State Trooper Duane M. Chickering. We took pictures with him at the State Line and got to watch him pull over speeders.
I walked 11.1 miles this day.
Saturday, June 10 was another heavy rain day. A good day to catch up on a few phone calls, office work, domestic chores, etc.
Sunday, June 11 was a nice day. So, this was the day I did that dangerous 7 miles stretch from Marlboro to West Brattleboro. And, because the battery died and needed a boost, it took enough time to get one that we ended the day’s walk at 7.0 miles – the exact distance to close out Vermont. Brattleboro Police Officer Peter A. Ottinger even stopped to warn me about the dangers of this particular stretch of road – many fatalities. I thanked him for his concern, but I’m too far into THE WALK™ to not complete it, and there has not been, nor will there be, ANY skipped distance.
June 12 was a very hot day. 11.7 miles walked. Also, I felt a bit faint and was sporting a stomach ache. All this was happening during an interview with Photojournalist Steve Hooper of the Keene Sentinel. Steve had been diagnosed as “pre-diabetic” the week before. He was showing a deep concern for the diabetic population and was very enthusiastic about the story.
I’m happy to say that the AP wire service picked up his story and my photo with caption appeared in The Monterey Herald in Monterey, CA.
June 13 – I walked 11.2 miles from Marlborough to Dublin. The temperature was in the mid 80’s, mostly up hill and the walking conditions were pretty poor – lousy walking room. Oh, well……………………
June 14 was moving day. The new campground was in New Boston, NH. This campground is truly in the boondocks. No phone signal. VT and NH were generally poor to non-existent cell phone connection, unless in a larger metropolitan area: Nashua; Manchester; Concord……
On the way there, I was invited to visit with my friends at Pep Direct/Brickmill in Wilton, NH. Thank you Paula, Anne, Douglas, David, Howard, Robert and Terry for the warm reception and tour of your fantastic facilities.
June 15 we were back at it. I met with Nashua Mayor Bernard Streeter. He couldn’t have been nicer. I received a Proclamation and I gave him our White Paper, as I routinely do when meeting with government officials. The White Paper is a 33 page document Defeat Diabetes Foundation prepared to point out issues in the community(ies) and offer solutions that will improve conditions for diabetics and all citizens in their community(ies).
Later in the day, while walking, I was interviewed by a very good young reporter for the Monadnock Ledger, Andy Mullen. During the year he attends school in Virginia. But, this day, he joined me for a couple of miles, asking questions and taking notes – and he didn’t miss a step!!!! And later reading his article, he did a great job!! He paid attention. Only rarely has a reporter walked with me.
June 15 finished with 11.7 miles walked.
The 16th I walked 9.0 miles and reached the day’s goal of Nashua, NH.
It began with an interview by reporter Gillian Graham of The Peterborough Transcript. Another good job by a young reporter.
June 17 was an 11.2 miles walking day.
June 18 was a day off.. We’ve been working very hard and this was a welcome day off. We knew the next day was a full one…………….
June 19 began with an 11:30am meeting with Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta. We spent some quality time together discussing both his personal situation with diabetes and that of the community. WMUR-TV CH 9 was there to cover the presenting to me a Proclamation. Afterwards, reporter Paige Kornblue continued the interview outside City Hall.
Later in the day, while walking I was interviewed by reporter John “JaQ” Andrews of Hippo, a regional weekly paper.
The temperature was in the upper 90’s and it had already been a long day. I only logged 4.8 miles.
June 20 was a new day – aren’t they all?? It began with a 10:30am appearance at the VA Hospital in Manchester. We were received graciously by Mary Gavrilles and Maureen Foltz. This was a spirited group and we all enjoyed some “opinion sharing”. It got a bit vocal at times, but we all had fun.
Later that day I had an interview with The Nashua Telegraph. Photographer Don Hiemes came out and took pictures, followed shortly thereafter by reporter Eric Parry. They did a great job, and I thank them, as I do all media, for coming out, getting the story and then, getting the life saving message out to their readers: Awareness + Action = Prevention®.
Then, surprise of surprises, old friend Jill Pelunis of Derry, NH had seen me on the news the day before. Her husband, Bob Messier, himself training for a VERY long bicycle ride for charity accidentally saw me walking up the street. He stopped, we talked for some time, he called Jill who came out and walked with me for 3+ miles while we talked and caught up. That was fun.
Shirley walked with me earlier in the day.
I finished the 20th with 10.8 miles.
June 21 was a walking day, only. No media and no appearances. Walked 16.1 miles from Bedford through Manchester and finished up in Pembroke.
The 22nd was another fun day for me. It began with an 8am radio interview with radio host Reverend Robert “Woody” Woodland on WSMN-AM. Because phone service in the area was so poor, Russ made arrangements to use the phone in Woody’s office in his Church in New Boston.
Later in the day (2:30pm) I did another radio interview – taped to be aired June 23 – with Dean from WKXL in Concord.
Then, another surprise!! While walking through Concord Heights, I noticed a sign – Tokyo Joe’s Studio of Self Defense. There could be only one Tokyo Joe – Bobby LaMattina. During my training toward Black Belt in the Martial Arts, one of the higher ranked Black Belt instructors was Tokyo Joe. He would perform his talents at tournaments and was unequalled with the Bo Staff. I was fortunate to have him referee one of my bouts in a tournament.
Anyway, I stopped into his Dojo and asked for him. It was my great fortune he was there teaching a class of youngsters both the physical and mental aspects of martial arts. He has 13 studios in the area – I was lucky once again.
Grand Master LaMattina greeted me with all the grace and humility of a man who is truly at peace with himself and those around him. When meeting him, one would never know the amazing talents and capabilities he possesses. You only see the quiet and peaceful that can only come with decades of dedicated adherence to the lessons passed on from Master to student for thousands of years.
I finished at the Chichester line having walked 11.1 miles.
June 23 was a short day. Only covered 9.0 miles and reached Northwood.
Saturday, June 24 was a day off. I needed a break.
But Sunday, June 25 – WOW!!!!!!!!
I have met and talked with over 42,000 individuals, one-on-one, during THE WALK™. Most recognized would include the incomparable Actor/Funny Man (and equally compassionate) - Robin Williams. Next on the celebrity “hit” list was my longtime hero Jack LaLaine, who I talked with on the phone for about 30 minutes. And there have been other notables I have met – equally accomplished and well known in their own spheres. But the most significant and fun person I have met, so far in the 7285.5 miles I’ve walked, is a true icon to all Americans, as a political activist. Actually, take away the incredible commitment to improving, if not truly saving the essential fiber of our American culture (campaign finance reform and other political and humanistic philosophies), this person can well be held up to all human kind as a true example of courage, fortitude, commitment and resilience because of the physical fitness accomplishment, alone.
At the age of 89 this woman left the safety and comfort of her home in New Hampshire and began a cross-country trek that began in California and ended 3200 miles and 14 months later (2000) in Washington, DC to a reception of Congressional leaders and thousands of people. Although small in stature, there is none bigger in life; she stands now (96 years young) at under 5’ tall and couldn’t weigh more than 80 lbs. (this is my rough guesstimate from standing next to her and by lifting her into her famous support vehicle in which we sat and talked for part of our 3 hour visit).
I am referring to the wonderful, amiable, courageous and, above all, loving Doris “GRANNY D” Haddock!!!!!!!!!!!
Granny D. has been an inspiration to me throughout THE WALK™. From the beginning, as the days, weeks and months went by and as I logged mile after mile through all kinds of conditions, both natural and man-made, I soon gained respect for what she had done. And now that I have met her I am TOTALLY in awe.
Granny D still walks two miles every day over dangerous winding mountain roads. So if Granny D can do it you can too!
So, Granny D, on behalf of me, Tour Managers Shirley and Russ Barriger, and the entire Defeat Diabetes Foundation team, thank you for receiving us in your home and being such a gracious Host. (And I enjoyed meeting your biggest fan(s) – son Jim and daughter-in-law Libby.)
Monday, June 26 was moving day. We are now positioned in Scarborough, Maine. This is the last campground I will be in before splashing into the Atlantic Ocean on July 7 in Portland. Then, I will be walking south along the eastern seaboard toward my starting point in Madeira Beach, Florida. I expect to reach it toward the end of 2007.