UPDATE FEBRUARY, 2007
MR. DIABETES® WAKE UP AND WALK® TOUR
LOCATION: Sandston, VA TOTAL MILES: 8114.6 Miles
Progress has been slow this past month. There are a number of reasons for this. But, the main reasons are because of the freezing cold & rainy & snowy weather, an unfamiliar support vehicle (due to me having hit a deer on January 6) which affects the routine, and the dangerous walking conditions along the 55 miles of Route 1 (South) between Fredericksburg and Richmond.
A word about these dangerous walking conditions along Route 1 (South): This is primarily because of the heavy auto and semi-truck traffic flow at speeds of 55mph-70mph with no breakdown lane in which for me to walk. The areas along the sides of the roadway are mostly narrow grassy areas having trenches for the purpose to control water flow run-off. Also, these grassy areas hide lots of trash and debris. Such conditions can (and have) cause serious injury if I’m not alert and cautious. So this, along with the fact that my feet and legs are affected by diabetes related peripheral neuropathy, I have to slow the walking to a very deliberate one step at a time.
When such conditions exist, as described above, I walk facing traffic. I am very visible, as I wear a bright international orange-colored vest. Also, I carry a walkie-talkie to maintain constant contact with Tour Managers Shirley & Russ Barriger, a cell phone, gluco-tabs for those times I have insulin reactions, and more…..
Shirley & Russ are also vigilant about my safety. During these dangerous situations when there isn’t road space for them to follow behind me in the highly visible support vehicle, they are scouting the roadway ahead to let me know what to expect. They also live-park at areas that are particularly risky (ahead of where I’m walking) and slow down/wave over traffic to win me extra safety space. And they are always nearby to help when I am ‘approached’ by mean dogs (and other dangers). I have lost count of the number of times they have come to my rescue.
I have enjoyed limited radio and newspaper coverage during this stay – another of Russ’ well-managed tasks.
When walking through Richmond I had the pleasure of a ‘repeat’ reporter. I’ll explain: Last summer when walking through Peterborough, NH the Monadnock Ledger sent out an intern reporter, Andy Mullen. Andy walked several miles with me then while conducting the interview. The resulting story was one of the best-written pieces (and a rarely accurate piece) that I have interviewed. At the time he said he is a student at the University of Virginia at Charlottsville (west of Richmond) and to give him a call when I got to Richmond. I got there and called; he came to Richmond and he interviewed me again.
I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of reporters who have walked with me during an interview. Andy is the first one to have walked with me twice. And, each time, he walked for about 3 miles while taking notes as he asked his probing questions. In school he’s an Art History major with printers ink in his blood. If he decides to make journalism a career he will be well received there and deservedly so.
I have been in the same campground in Milford for over 2 months. Life in this part of Virginia is great, but it is very quiet. And, because I am city born and raised (Boston, MA), I prefer the cement jungle for any prolonged stays. That said, however, Virginia is a veritable treasure trove of Revolutionary War and Civil War history. And this I have enjoyed immensely. I am constantly taking pictures of the many interesting things I see as I walk.
While exploring Fredericksburg one fine and very cold day I had the great good fortune of meeting Mayo Carter, who was out walking with her friend, Larry. Mayo, who is a resident of Fredericksburg had been a Tour Guide for Fredericksburg at one point in her life. Well, Mayo and Larry proceeded to give me a tour of this city so rich in historic charm. It was brief, but lots of fun. And, as in most of life’s events, one thing leads to another – this was no exception.
It turned out that Mayo is a History teacher at the Chancellor Middle School in Spotsylvania (next city south of Fredericksburg). After learning a bit about THE WALK™, she invited me to come to her school and share my experience(s) with the 7th graders – give a talk. That took place February 20th and it was FANTASTIC!!!
Mayo greeted us (Shirley, Russ and me) in front of the school. The first stop was to the school cafeteria where there were a couple of hundred kids having lunch. I got to see a school lunch program, which was making a concerted and effective effort to provide healthy and balanced meals. There was fresh salad and bowls of fruit being offered along with sandwiches, pizza and, on the negative side, french fries. The several vending machines offered bottled water, fresh juices (although, I don’t fully agree with all the offered choices), health and energy bars and, although there were choices of small bags of potato chips, there were NO candy bars. Of course, there is always room for improvement, but these students are lucky to have school administrators who are making strong inroads in the right direction. Kudos to Principal Eye and all others responsible for this!! And of particular note, there is an obvious LACK of obesity of the children. There were only a very few who had a weight problem and I spoke personally with a couple of them. And those who I spoke with are quite aware of their situation(s) and are taking the necessary steps to change their lives. Gotta love ‘em……………..
From there we went to the Library – that’s where I was to give my talk. A corner had been designated for this. Soon there were 80 7th graders facing me and the talk began. Long story short, they were tremendously well behaved and attentive. The Q & A session at the end was evidence of their being attentive. They asked great questions and time ran out before I could get to them all. Most had to leave to get to the buses that would take them home at the end of the school day, but a number of students remained to ask their questions. HUGE!!!!!!!!!!!
Afterwards, Mayo Carter took us to her classroom. And what an eye-opener that was. Miss Carter has the most interesting classroom I can ever remember seeing. It is a museum of American History with a particular emphasis in 1940’s and up. And, of course, a smattering of earlier treasures. Her classroom is clean, bright and fascinating!! There she kept us ‘entertained’ for a couple of hours. She has been teaching History for 28 years and plans to retire in 2 years. Her style of teaching should be a model for teachers and classrooms everywhere. It will be a serious loss to education the day she retires……
And finally, February 21, I got the support vehicle back from Downtown Garage and Auto Body on Massapoax Church Road in Fredericksburg. They did a super job restoring the SUV to its pre-accident condition. In particular, I want to thank Lois for putting up with me for the time they had the SUV and Jennifer from Crawford and Compa who coordinated the estimate and repairs with my insurance company. The only one I don’t thank is the deer that jumped in front of me on the highway and created all this inconvenient noise. (By the way, I want to believe the deer survived the accident, too, as when I drove by the scene some time after and in daylight, there was no evidence of a deer ever being there.)
The next move is to historic Williamsburg…………………….