UPDATE: OCTOBER, 2006
LOCATION: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
TOTAL MILES: 7837.6
SEPTEMBER 30: This was moving day. Russ really had his hands full locating our next campground. Practically all campgrounds in the North close for the winter soon after Labor Day, for obvious reasons. Plus, the additional concern of trying to keep close to the walking route. Well, the result was Pine Cone Resorts 340 Georgia Road Freehold, NJ 07728 (732.462.2230). This campground is over 150 miles from the previous campground in Clinton, CT. (Plus, a couple of wrong turns getting through New York City added 25 miles to the trip!! Usually, we try to stay within 100 miles distance between campgrounds.) Also, Pine Cone Resorts is open year round. Our hosts: Arnie & Roxane D’Ambrosa, gave us a typically gracious New Jersey welcome. We signed up for one month, as I still had to walk out of Connecticut, through southeastern New York and then, through New Jersey and into Pennsylvania and beyond. It was a VERY long day!!!
OCTOBER 1: Russ and Shirley found a local Church to attend. And for me it was a day to get settled and acclimated to the new environment. A tough month is coming………..
OCTOBER 2: To deal with the heavy ‘rush hour’ New York City traffic that we knew we would be facing in order to get to the walk-start point at the Greenwich, CT/Port Chester, NY State Line we were up at 4:15AM and on the road before 5:30AM.
Well, the getting there took over 3 hours!! However, about ½ hour was due to getting lost going through The Bronx. Still, I can’t imagine how long it would have taken if we tried to drive through the regular morning drive-time traffic. Plus, the roads were a bit less crowded because of the Yom Kippur Holiday.
I walked to New Rochelle, NY on sidewalks all the way (that’s a good thing) in 70°F temperatures and sunny skies. The walking doesn’t get any better than that!! And there was a never-ending number of people to stop and talk with the entire day. And, of special mention – I met and talked with Chris, Shelly and Maggie O’Malley of Mamaroneck, NY. They had read about MR. DIABETES® and THE WALK™ in a newspaper article and made a generous donation. Thanks guys.
We stopped at 2:15PM in order to make the 3 hour trip back to the campground. And, coincidentally, just at that time I got a call from Angela who was doing her walk through Spain. She must have had us on a video screen to pick such a perfect time to call. More on her walk later.
OCTOBER 3: I made an ‘executive decision’ to walk alternate days during the time(s) it would be taking several hours to drive to the walk-start point(s) and back. I figured I would inject a level of sanity into THE WALK™ and allow some time to get other necessary things done. Plus, so much time in the cramped support vehicle is extremely taxing. So……………………..
The day began with a telephone interview with The Greenwich Post (Greenwich, CT) – Reporter: Kenneth Partridge.
From there I went shopping at Best Buy. I needed to get an External Drive for my laptop. The 40GB External Drive I got from Kevin a month earlier was already maxed out. So, I picked up a 750GB. Actually, I ended up with a second one (to serve for use as a back-up). I learned that lesson quite well from when my other laptop got fried back in August.
OCTOBER 4: Another walking day. We were on the road at 5:45AM and arrived at the walk-start point in New Rochelle, NY at 8:45AM. A full 3 hours of driving!!!!! Again, sidewalks all the way and sunny skies with temperatures in the 80°s. This walk ended up in northwestern Manhattan. I enjoyed meeting a huge number of people as I walked through the various ‘Hoods’.
Later I picked up a second ‘chip’ for the Sony camera I carry while walking. My other ‘chip’, which holds 200 pics had been full for several days. (This new ‘chip’ holds 793 pics – 2 GB.) I hadn’t been able to download the pics because I needed assistance from a more knowledgeable person than myself. Remember, at 61 years old I’m, clearly, a dinosaur in this high tech world. I’m still trying to get my new laptop up and running, (programs acquired and installed/re-installed), along with trying to get my satellite dish for my computer’s internet connection launched. (Operating from an RV necessarily has its own added considerations – I can’t just plug in the computer.) Several calls for help to my regular source for computer assistance went unanswered. I guess I’m considered a lost cause by some, but I need to get on-line and I need help to do it!!!
Anyway, to my rescue came Mike Kleven. He’s a 6 year veteran from AOL and now is a computer consultant with the Department of Defense. Mike has been very helpful. Mike offered his assistance for as long as I’m camped in Pine Cone Resorts. Thank you, Mike.
OCTOBER 5: Again, I needed to recoup from a VERY exhausting yesterday. Russ and Shirley seem to be adjusting quite well.
I was up at 6AM because I had a radio interview scheduled for 6:20AM. It was a 10 minute interview on WVOX-AM (1460) on the “AM WESTCHESTER” show with HOST: Larry Goldstein.
The rest of the day was spent doing domestic chores (laundry, grocery shopping, etc.) and office work.
OCTOBER 6: This would have been a walking day, as it is an ‘alternate’ day. But, I had a scheduled 12 Noon appearance in New York City at The Department of Health.to meet with department heads (employees) who have diabetes. Dawn Swidorski, our DDF Public Outreach Director had arranged for this with Diana Berger, MD, MSc who is the Medical Director of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Program for The Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention. This was an informative and beneficial visit for all of us. I learn so much from these situations and always debrief with Dawn afterwards. This helps Dawn target future interviews and appearances. It also helps me to deliver a more meaningful message(s) in subsequent interviews and appearances.
Amongst those present were: Rachel Klein, MPH – Clinical Liason; Nicholas Monello – Director, Reproduction Unit; Marianne Warren, MS – Housing Specialist, Office of Housing Services; Thomas Andrews – Director, Distribution Center, Materials Management & Distribution, Records Management.
A 3 hour ride back to the campground in Freehold, NJ followed. When I got there Mike tried, successfully, to launch my satellite dish. But, apparently, an overhanging tree branch made the connection impossible. So, tomorrow I will have to relocate my RV to a space, which would give me open sky for Mike to be able to get a satellite signal – if possible.
OCTOBER 7: Back to walking. Shirley walked with me part of today. Today’s walk took me across the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey, then through Fort Lee, Edgewater and finishing up in West New York City, NJ. (Confused? Don’t be – that’s the name of the city.)
When I got back to the campground, I moved to an open lot so that I could get a satellite signal, if possible. Well, it didn’t work. GGGRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have since ordered new hardware equipment from Ground Control, which will, I hope, solve this problem!!
And a very special “thank you” to Sgt. Hannah of The Edgewater, NJ Police Dept.. He worked extensively with Russ to map possible walking routes along the Jersey side of The Hudson River.
OCTOBER 8: Mike came over to install my new external drive and do other operations on my laptop.
Later, that night, I had an insulin reaction. They do happen. And when they do they’re unexpected and NEVER fun or convenient.
OCTOBER 9: This was a mixed bag of walking. It was sunny, clear and temperatures went into the high 70°s. But, the walking conditions were quite a different story!!
It started in West New York City, NJ, on 5 miles on sidewalks through the depressed neighborhoods of WNYC, Hoboken (where Frank Sinatra grew up) and Jersey City. I should have known what was coming, as I was almost run down while crossing at in intersection before the Lincoln Tunnel by a guy who jumped a red light. He came right at me – I jumped out of the way - followed by a mouthful of “expletive deleted(s)”. At that he slowed up and looked back at me saying he was sorry, but didn’t see me. Didn’t see me!!???!!! I’m 6’4” 250+ lbs. walking with a walking pole and wearing a bright international orange colored vest!! I’m not prone to using that kind of language, but I simply lost it!!!
I’ve had innumerable close calls, and even been nicked a couple of times. It’s part of the risk(s) I willingly take because the message IS THAT IMPORTANT!! But, moments like the one described above, when they happen, I react badly.
[AN ASIDE: Usually, when I get “almost” hit/bumped is when I’m walking and facing traffic and crossing a street where a vehicle has stopped while waiting to enter the flow of traffic. Invariably, the driver is looking in the direction of the oncoming traffic (looking away from me) anticipating the next opening for him/her to enter the traffic stream. I’ve learned to be careful and be sure the driver(s) know I’m there before I cross in front (or behind) them. But, still, that isn’t always enough. There is a lesson here for everyone walking!!!]
What followed was 2 ½ miles on The New Jersey Turnpike. This NJ TPK, I think, was/is misnamed, as it seems to be independent of the toll road with the same name. Also, here, walking is allowed – although, it shouldn’t be!!!!! This stretch of road is in the top 5 most dangerous walking experiences I have faced in over 7700 miles of walking the perimeter of the U.S. It was so bad that it was impossible for Russ to even stop long enough for me to be rescued by hopping into the support vehicle. I had no choice but to inch my way along and deal with it!!!
After that, the rest of the day went smoothly. I finished in Harrison, NJ, just before the bridge that crosses into Newark.
OCTOBER 10: This day began with an interview with The Star-Ledger. Reporter: Rudolph (Rudy) Larini and Photographer: Noah. This took place at Dunkin Donuts where I finished the day before. It was an extremely comprehensive interview that lasted 2 hours. The Star-Ledger enjoys a circulation of over 400,000 and covers Northern and Central New Jersey.
After the interview I walked through Newark and finished at the Newark/Elizabeth city line. Because Route 1 was far too dangerous to walk, I followed the East Coast Greenway Alliance Trail (ECGA) with the intent of following the trail for the 45-50 miles to Trenton, NJ. Russ is continually in touch with Eric Weiss at ECGA Headquarters in Providence, RI. Russ & Shirley are making notations of any irregularities which may exist on The Trail and passing them on.
And, for those of you who have been following Angela Aitken’s adventure (you may remember Angela did a few training walks with me when walking in Maine last July – see July, 2006 UPDATE): I got a call from Angela (in Santiago, Spain), again as I’m doing my stretches at the end of my day’s walk. Perfect timing!!! She was calling to let me know she finished her journey/adventure of walking 800 kilometers (about 500 miles) through Spain. Her finish consisted of walking 40K (about 25 miles) with a 16KG (35 pounds) pack on her back and in the rain!!! Angela is 5’5 ½ ” tall and weighs 120 lbs. And, like our mutual friend, Doris “Granny D” Haddock, she has an indomitable spirit.
(See June, 2006 UPDATE)
Rather than me describing her fantastic adventure, here is an excerpt in her own words:
“The pilgrimage trail is called "El Camino de Santiago" (the road to
Santiago) and the exact trail I walked on was called the Camino
Frances. There are quite a number of trails in France and Spain and
Portugal and other parts of Europe. We (I traveled with my friend Eija)
started in St. Jean de Pied de Port (in France) and finished in Santiago
de Compostela, near the west coast of Spain. Some people then walk
further, to the coast, to Finisterre (we took a bus there) In some cases,
pilgrims will go there and burn their clothing or other articles to mark
the completion of their pilgrimage.
“We walked about 800km -every guidebook, street signs, etc, seem to
tell you different numbers, but I know we walked at least 800 km, esp
if I include any backtracking due to taking the wrong path, missing an
arrow or other sign posts, or non-existent sign posts. Following these
arrows and sign posts was like being on some great treasure hunt!
“My pack weighed about 16 kg when I started in St. Jean and about 14
when I finished in Santiago (I sent 1.9 kg of stuff home after five
days of walking, in the town of Estella.
“I started walking on September 8th and got to Santiago on October 10th,
taking one day off , Sept. 21 which we spent in Burgos.
”Some towns/cities we walked through were Pamplona (it was so cool, the
city was hidden behind a walled fortress built on a hill, so you walk
through this old entrance where there used to be a drawbridge and
suddenly you are in a different world...a busy, ancient city with
steep, narrow streets....), Estella, Viana (where some people saw 'the
running of the bulls', which in actuality, were 'cows'!), Logrono
(with a funny thing on the 'n' (pronounced: enye), Burgos (has a
magnificently, opulent Cathedral), Leon (another huge Cathedral with
beautiful stained glass),
The bridge over the Orbigo at Puente de Orbigo...a long, medieval
bridge, one of the most famous on the pilgrim's route (I could feel the
history there), Astorga (my favourite,...has a museum, Bishop's
Palace, designed by Antonio Gaudi....famous Spanish architect) , and
many more towns and villages in between, until Santiago de Compostela
(another HUGE Cathedral).”
The trip we took to the coast of Spain, Finisterre, was called "land's
end" in days gone by...because, in the days before Columbus sailed the
ocean blue, people thought it was the end of the world, the most
western point. Pilgrims of old went there to burn their boots!
OCTOBER 11: The day began with a follow-up from The Star-Ledger. Photographer: John O’Boyle came out to get ‘better’ pictures. He came back a second time with recording equipment for additional website coverage (www.nj.com).
At 12 Noon Dawn had scheduled a radio interview for me with WICC-AM 600 HOST: Jim Buchanan. His very popular show originates in Bridgewater, CT and covers NY. I interviewed with Jim last year when I was in New York to do The New York City Marathon. It is quite a compliment to be on his show, and an even bigger compliment to be invited back, which he did, again!
Today’s bad news is that just before the interview I had an insulin reaction. I took care of it in time w/assistance from Shirley.
Today’s walk brought me into Kenilworth, NJ. The rains came about 3:30PM. It was already a full day, so we just packed it in.
OCTOBER 12: Today’s walk was mostly on the East Coast Greenway Alliance Trail. Very scenic and through parks and neighborhoods. But, after a while, I wanted to speed up the progress and switched over to walk Central Ave. to Linden, NJ.
OCTOBER 13: On my way to the walk-start point in Linden, I was scheduled for a radio interview on WSAS-FM (103.9) HOSTS: Jay and Joan. That was a pleasure.
Today’s walk went all the way to Edison, NJ. Shirley walked about 6 miles with me. But, the other half of the walk was bad and extremely dangerous. I’m beginning to think New Jersey roadways are not designed for walking!! But I am now walking on Route 27, the very same route taken by George Washington during The Revolution. Very historic!!
OCTOBER 14: More time with Mike Kleven on the computer.
OCTOBER 15: This was a very fun day for me. One of our Defeat Diabetes Foundation’s (DDF) volunteers is Zohar Loar. Zohar is a computer programmer providing his expertise, which we desperately need.
Anyway, instead of walking I had made plans to meet with Zohar, his beautiful wife, Sherry, and their cute-as-a-button 2 year old daughter, Isabella. We all went out to eat, so I can add from first hand knowledge that Bella is also the best behaved 2 year old I know!!.
Interestingly, I am a comic book collector, so you can imagine my excitement when I found out that Zohar is an avid collector of comic art and collectibles. He specializes in Superman, Batman & Robin and others. But, find out for yourself:
Zohar, thank you for what you are doing for DDF.
OCTOBER 16: Before this day’s walk began, News 12 – New Jersey News station came out to interview me in Edison. Reporter: Gabrielle Shoshan and Cameraman: Ed Haunen.
After that the day’s walk began. It ended in Franklin, NJ. Shirley walked 5-6 miles with me. On the way, in East Brunswick, NJ, I was interviewed by Central New Jersey’s premier newspaper: Home News Tribune. Reporter: Carmen Cusido Photographer: Alex.
East Brunswick is the home of Rutgers University, and Carmen is a proud graduate. And Alex is a new Mom of 2 months – today was her first day back after maternity leave. It was a fun interview, and Carmen put Russ & Shirley through their paces, too. This was a complete interview of the crew.
OCTOBER 17: This was a raw and rainy day, so I didn’t walk. BUT, this was the day both The Star-Ledger and Home News Tribune hit the newsstands. The Channel 12 interview aired last night.
I have to hand it to Russ. He is solely responsible for arranging both newspaper interviews! (Russ routinely lines up TV, radio and newspaper interviews. But, these are major media papers and VERY tough to get ink.) It is estimated that each printed/sold newspaper is read by 7 people. That being the case means that these 2 newspapers reached somewhere between 3-4 million people with our message of prevention!!! High five to Russ!!!!
OCTOBER 18: This was a GREAT DAY all around!! The weather was fantastic and the walking conditions were good to great!!! Shirley walked with me for about 6 of the 12.0 miles. We ended in a bastion of higher education – Princeton, NJ – the home of Ivy League Princeton University. There is so much history and cultural presence in this city you can literally feel it!!
Plus, lots of recognition from the media releases of yesterday!!!!
Yep, A GREAT DAY!!!!
OCTOBER 19: This was another pretty good day. It began with an interview in Princeton with the premiere Hispanic newspaper in the area: Reporte Hispano. Reporter: Alejandro Monjon and Photographer: Kleibeel Marcano. Another interview set up by Russ.
After that I walked. The weather was, once again, fantastic, but the walking conditions were a bit skittish a few of the 11.3 miles I walked. Along the way the battery died while Russ/Shirley were parked on the side of the road offering safety for me. And us without cables. The road service we subscribe to couldn’t make it out for about an hour. But, as luck would have it I walked up the road a short distance and met a couple of utlity company workers working at an incredible mansion. They didn’t have cables either.
Well, we talked for a while, and it turned out one of the men is diabetic. I explained what I/we were doing and we became fast friends. They offered to drive around the neighborhood to see if anyone out and about might have jumper cables. Their first attempts didn’t work out well. But, they did persist and shortly had the support vehicle back on the road. A VERY special thanks to Randy Wittmann (he’s the diabetic) and Andy Castaldo !!!!
[AN ASIDE: The last time this happened we were just west of Brattleboro, VT. The exact same scenario. We got lucky there, too. The car’s battery died at the bottom of a driveway. Shirley, at that time, walked up to the house and asked the owner if he would/could help us. Yes and Yes.]
Now, we were back in action. Hardly lost any time at all. Russ was back at it, too. Somewhere in and around all the day’s activity (and there’s always plenty of that) he arranged for a telephone interview with The Times, Trenton, NJ’s main daily paper. Somehow, he also made arrangements for The Times’ photographer to come out at the same time. The Reporter: Andrew Kitchenman Photographer: Frank Jacobs III.
Soon after, as I was walking through Lawrence, NJ I heard, then saw, Frank calling me from the other side of the street I was walking. He asked me to come into his office (an internet café) to check out the pictures he had just taken. He did a super job, got some good pics. He wrote the caption while I was there. And, even though he offered to treat me to a beverage of my choice, I declined. My day was far from over.
As I reached the Lawrence/ Trenton line I had to stop for the day. Dawn had arranged for a 30 minute radio interview on The Bill Dukes and Jim ?????Show on WRTN-FM (93.5)
“Medicine For The Millenium”.
A fabulous way to finish a wonderful day!!
From there we headed back to the Pine Cone Resort in Freehold. But, one stop before that – Wal-Mart. So that we won’t get caught short, again, got a portable battery booster.
OCTOBER 20: This was a rain day. Actually, it was a pretty severe weather day. So, an opportunity to get some of those domestic chores out of the way.
OCTOBER 21: A sunny, cool, crisp great walking day through Trenton, NJ and then into Morrisville, PA.
Interesting statistic: Trenton, New Jersey – the Capitol of New Jersey – marks, exactly, 7800 miles walked!! As you have heard me say many times and read my comments many times “I am dedicating one step for each diabetic in America.” Well, there are 21 million diabetics in the United States, but only 16 million have been diagnosed.
As of reaching Trenton, I have taken 16,473, 600 steps – one step for every diagnosed diabetic in America. With the estimated 2200 miles yet to go to complete my walk through all the perimeter states of the contiguous 48 states, I will walk another 4,646,400 steps. The remaining steps represent one step each for those “undiagnosed” diabetics. The total number of steps estimated for The MR. DIABETES® WAKE UP AND WALK™ TOUR is 21,120,000.
Anyone curious about how I accurately calculated the number of steps taken already and those steps yet to be taken, please write: MrDiabetes@ DefeatDiabetes.org.
OCTOBER 22: All day doing this UPDATE (to this point)!!!
OCTOBER 23: Today’s walk brought me to Bensalem, PA. Where we stopped for the day, a chemical company – Water Treatment Devices, we got lucky again. We met William (Bill) Heiland (home: Oakford, PA) who worked with Russ mapping out a safe walking route through Philadelphia. Two miles from this spot will find me walking into North Philly. And, because Philly is so big – I have about 20 miles to walk just to reach City Center. Then, another 10 miles, or so, to walk out of Philadelphia. Well, because Bill has both walked and bicycled the route he was recommending, we listened. And, as it turns out, Bill has diabetes in his immediate family. We exchanged information, but Bill is already quite knowledgeable about diabetes and is following the medical, nutritional and fitness regimen necessary to both treat diabetes and, as in his case, prevent it. Thanks Bill!!
OCTOBER 24: It’s starting to get cold!! The temperatures for the day were in the 40°s, especially considering the ‘wind-chill’ factor. (Although, temps did drift into the low 50°s late in the day). That said, very strong winds made that rise in temperature insignificant. It was COLD!! BBBBRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Next time I’ll wear winter clothing – then, I’ll be comfortably warm. It’s always advisable to dress for the weather. HHMMMMmmm………….. But, clearly, winter is coming and I’m under a bit of pressure to beat the early winter snows, so that I won’t have to break for winter.
Well, today’s walk brought me well into North Philly. Met lots of people who continue to make me feel very welcome. One shining example was a chance meeting with very generous Dave Jacobs, President of Engel Air Conditioning & Heating. The showroom is located: 7610 Castor Avenue in Philadelphia, PA 19152 (215)722.1555. And the way things are looking I’d say dependable heat for the winter is a good idea. Also there was Chris Humma and other staff.
OCTOBER 25: Well, much more Philly. Again, meeting more great people. And, today’s shining example was Dell Evans from Roosevelt Medical Center.
Of great interest was walking through Temple University country. This campus seems to be never-ending. It goes on for miles!!!!
OCTOBER 26: A catch up day in the rig. It seems the work “at home” is piling up faster than it used to. Oh, well……………………….
OCTOBER 27: Today found me traveling back to Newark, NJ to give a talk at Beth Israel Hospital at 201 Lyons Ave. Diabetes Educator Julie Jaskiewicz, RD, CDE hosted our visit. Lots of fun – these folks were GREAT!!!!
On the way out of the hospital, by chance, I was stopped by a man who recognized the WWII Good Conduct Medal on my cap. (This medal was given me “for luck” by Shannon Hums of Brooksville, FL. It had belonged to her Dad who died from diabetes complications in 1994.) It turned out that this man is the Execeutive Director of the Beth Israel Hospital and today they were celebrating the hospitals 105th birthday. Also, today the hospital was performing their first pancreas transplant!!! Well, Executive Director Paul A. Mertz invited us (Tour Managers Russ/Shirley Barriger and me) back to his office(s) where he gave me a pin for my cap. The pin commemorates the hospital’s 105th birthday.
OCTOBER 28: Moving Day. We’ve been at Pine Cone Resorts for one month. Arnie & Roxane have been wonderful hosts, making our stay very comfortable and easy. For all you RVers, if you’re coming into New Jersey give them a call: 732.462.2230.
SPECIAL NOTE of praise and gratitude to Tour Managers Shirley & Russ Barriger: Mapping and negotiating the streets of this Northeast Corridor (Portland Maine through New Jersey) to provide safe passage has been no easy chore. Remember, I’m walking. Watching Russ work a map to keep me off the dangerous high-traffic highways and byways is the same as watching a puzzle-maker work a route through a complex maze.
Add Shirley to this and you have teamwork at its absolute best.
Every major city has its own peculiar traffic situation that needs to be addressed separately. Walking into New York City from Connecticut then, walking past that into and through New Jersey was a true nightmare!! Kudo’s to you both!!