Monday, March 30, 2009

march 30th

Today I walked my wife to work. I like when we walk to work together, it gives us something to do with one another besides trying to run a business and maintain a household. I also feel funny when I drive her to work because whenever I do, I have to drive to work twice in a day (to get her there and to bring her home), which basically means we're using the same amount of gas as if we both had a car and drove ourselves to work each day.

After I walked her to work, I walked to Oregon Mountain Community, which I found online this week. I have been researching jackets for a little while now, and I noticed that they carry all the lines I like, and that most of their stuff is on sale for a lot less than anywhere else in town, and less than most everything I could find online. Being able to try stuff on before I buy it, not having to wait for the thing to get shipped, and being able to support a local business all at once felt really good. Saving about $40 on the jacket felt great.

I got a Marmot minimalist jacket, for $160. Sweet deal. Now I have no excuse for not walking in the rain. The jacket is 100% waterproof, and really breathable and light weight, so I can wear it even when it's pretty warm out.

From OMC, I walked to the grocery store, did some shopping for dinner tonight, and then walked home with everything.

After I prepared everything (crock pot!) I walked to work again to get my wife, and then we walked home.

It was nice to get the extra walk in today, I wasn't feeling like I was getting enough with all these 3-7 mile days I've been putting in. Including the detour to OMC today, I got in 15.2 miles.

march 28th

15.2 miles
159.52 miles cumulative
6.3808 total gallons saved

Sunday, March 29, 2009

last night

last night I went to a birthday party for a friend at her house. It was getting late, and the party was winding down, so I decided to come home on foot. For fun, I made a bet about how fast I could make the trip. I ran the whole distance in about 2/3's the time my wife and friend thought I'd be able to do it in. I haven't run more than a mile since high school gym class, and never thought I could get into running, but it was actually really fun.

Last night, I was trying to remember how long it's been since I put gas in my car. I looked through some bank statements to find the last time I filled up, and it's been over a month. The other day, when I had to use it to get inventory to the store, I noticed the tank is still about half full. I guess cars aren't so bad if you're careful about how you use them. Still, if I use it that much now, it wouldn't be a stretch to just get rid of it altogether.

march 28th

1.33 miles
144.32 miles cumulative
5.7728 total gallons saved

1.33 miles

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I left my car at the store yesterday morning and walked home. This morning, I was glad that I had. It was raining pretty steadily, and I may have caved in and used my car to commute if it had been available.

Rain is a good motivator. I got to work as fast as I ever have.

I almost bought a nice rain jacket earlier this week. I held off to wait for a better deal, but having it today would have been worth the difference.

March 28th

3.6 miles
142.99 miles cumulative
5.7196 total gallons saved

Friday, March 27, 2009


Today I drove into work because we had too much inventory to carry on foot. I decided to leave my car at the store and walk home so I would at least get a little walking done today, and so I could save an unnecessary trip in a car.

I brought my camera with me again. This time I just took pictures of chickens. On the particular route I took today, I only passed one coop that I could see. I also spotted a sign for a missing hen in another part of town. It seems like everywhere I walk in the city, I pass at least a couple chickens. I love Portland.

March 26th

3.6 miles
139.39 miles cumulative
5.5756 total gallons saved

Thursday, March 26, 2009


If you google "anywhere is walking distance if you have the time" this blog is the second and third link provided.

I should put a hit counter on this thing.


Today I walked to work and back. I brought my camera along. I had intended to shoot all sorts of things on my way in, but I only ended up taking two pictures. There was a lot more I thought of shooting, and I regret not having shot most of them already. Maybe next time.

Spring is starting to pop up all over, even in the city. These daffodils squeezed up in the crack between a sidewalk and a cinder block wall.

Yeah, it's TWELVE ounces of compromise.

March 26th

7.2 miles
135.79 miles cumulative
5.4316 total gallons saved

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

vegas baby

I'll start with a disclaimer: las vegas is the antithesis of pretty much everything I currently believe in.

Having said that; I still went, and enjoyed my time there.

My wife and I flew to LA on the 20th, where we met her father, who picked us up at the airport.

On the flight down, I began reading a book called pacific crest trail that was written in the 1970's by a guy that hiked the majority of the established trail at that time. It was a really good read, although I think the amount of time the author spent writing about Oregon was a bit lacking. Still, it inspired me to get out there and tackle a greater section than I currently have. I have lofty goals set for this summer.

I did a little walking on this leg of the trip, but nothing significant enough to report here.

From LA, we drove to Las Vegas early in the morning on the 21st. No significant walking that day; although I did enjoy the day.

On the 22nd, we did a little bit of walking. We went from Planet Hollywood to the Encore. It was a 1.5 mile walk, but given the circumstances, it felt a bit longer.

The next day, we did the most walking of the whole trip. We walked from where we stayed, at one end of the strip at the Encore, to the other end of the strip at the Mandalay, and back. This walk totaled 5.82 miles. There was a lot more walking contained within casinos, but I wont count that here.

It's amazing to me that most casinos in Vegas have gyms in them. But, with the amount of walking a person could easily get in on a short trip there, a hotel gym seems about par for the course with the rest of the city itself: an utter waste of space and resources.

I regret not having more time on this trip to see (what's left of) lake mead and the Hoover Dam.

March 20th - 24th

7.32 miles
128.59 miles cumulative
5.1436 total gallons saved

Thursday, March 19, 2009

march 18th - 19th

Yesterday I walked to work and back. I had wanted to bring my camera along, take my time walking , and take a few pictures along the way; but I got caught up working on the house all morning, and I was in a hurry by the time I left.

The weather was great; spring like. I wore shorts for the first time this year. On the way home, I could smell a lot of food being cooked on outdoor grills; it even smelled like spring! I think I had forgotten just how nice it is here when the sun comes out. I'm looking forward to the changing of the seasons even more now that I've had a taste.

But for today, the gloom is back.

This morning I walked to work again. On my way I stopped and got a haircut. I had to change my route a bit to include the diversion. It was a nice to follow a different path. It reminded me of how much you miss when you get set in your ways. I think that applies to a lot more than just walking.

I think I'll try another new route tonight after work.

I'll be out of town for the next few days. I'll write about those when I get back.

March 18th - 19th

14.4 miles
121.18 miles cumulative
4.8472 total gallons saved

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

summer wilderness immersion program

I found this site through the portland mercury blogs this afternoon. The summer course looks pretty incredible.

I used to go to summer camp when I was a kid. I always wanted to go back, I thought about being a counselor for a few years, but life got in the way. This is WAY cooler. It would take walking, independence from modern tech, and self reliance to a whole new level for me.

Now if I could just find 6 free weeks and $2900.

march 16th + 17th

on the 16th, I walked to work in the rain. I've been trying to limit my excuses not to go places on foot, and a little rain is no longer one of them. If it were pouring, it might have to be different because I don't have any proper rain gear; but a windbreaker was enough to keep the drizzle off.

On my way home, I took a different route, which was a bit longer than the way I normally go. I wanted to walk by a house that was for sale and check it out. It was disappointing, which was for the better I guess, because it turned out to have some serious issues that would need to be addressed by the next owner. The walkability would have been nice though, a little closer to the store, a little closer to the grocery store, and dangerously close to the beer store.

the 17th was st. patrick's day. I was off, so I didn't get to commute, but I did decide to walk to the bars and back to celebrate. I didn't go far, but the walk was nice for all the usual reasons, plus I didn't have to worry so much about how many beers I had to drink!

March 16th - 17th

10.42 miles
106.78 miles cumulative
4.2712 total gallons saved

Saturday, March 14, 2009

better off

To kill the time on the bus this week, I read a great book titled: Better Off by Eric Brende.

Eric graduated from M.I.T. with a hunch that man had become a slave to technology and that, like the title implies, we might be better off without most of it. To research the point, he and his wife packed up their things and decided to live with a community in the midwest, that he had heard of by chance, that shunned electricity and motors of any type. They lived there for over 18 months, and the book documents their experiences there, as well as how he applied them to their lives after they left. It was a great read, and very inspirational.

I still have a fresh high from reading the book. We'll see how I feel about most of it once I've had a chance to digest it all a bit more, but I suspect my feelings wont change much, since I went into the book wanting justification for some of the similar feelings I've been having recently.

I've read books that I've taken similar messages from in the past, but they were mostly anthropological studies of so-called "primitive" societies; The Forest People by Colin Turnbull immediately comes to mind. But it was interesting to read a book that set out to prove the same point without worrying about seperating the authors ethnocentric views from the narrative.


to ashland and back

Over the last 3 days I went to Ashland and back.

Wednesday morning was interesting. I loaded up my pack, and decided to walk to the greyhound station downtown. It was my first time out with my pack, and I wasn't sure how it was going to effect my walk, so I gave myself some extra time. My bus left at 6:30 am, and the e-ticket instructed I get there no later than 1 hour before that. I left at 3:30, to give myself 2 hours to go 5 miles. I knew that would be more than enough time, but I thought it would be nice to have the extra time to spare.

I ended up walking 5 miles an hour, and the train station didn't open until 6, so I ended up with an hour and a half to kill in nw portland, on foot, at 4:30 in the morning.

I would have left and found something to do for a bit, but a little old man came a few minutes later, followed by a loud, and very drunk (and racist!) middle-aged guy in a black trench coat and cowboy hat, who repeated told us he was "100% legally psychotic". It would have been the perfect time to leave, but I didn't feel like I should leave the old guy there unprotected with "trench coat" or anyone else that might come by at that hour.

The old guy was on his way from Montana to Reno, and was absolutely horrified by his experience in our fare city. We told trench coat that we wanted to find a place to get some coffee, not because we actually wanted coffee, but because we wanted to go somewhere away from him. He didn't get the message, and said "I'm going to go find a place to get coffee, SOMEONE has to do it. Watch my bags!" He disappeared, which was nice, but we were left with his bags; and after he had been away for a bit too long, with the problem of what to do with them. In the mean time, a younger guy emerged from the darkness, and began to chat us up. He was shady, but not threatening, and after a short time, he was blunt about his intentions. "You guys need anything for the trip? I've got Klonopin's."

Who tries to sell drugs to a conservative little old grandpa from Montana at 4:30 in the morning?

I answered for the two of us, "no thanks", and he lost interest in us and moved on. The next visitor was a strung-out young girl. You could tell she had a serious, and probably long term habit... she was the kind of young girl that could wonder the streets of the seedier side of a city, without too much worry. I would imagine in her condition, she wouldn't appear as an attractive target for almost any misguided intention.

She tried to say something to us, but we couldn't make it out. She could see the confusion on our faces, and got frustrated and walked off. At this point, I was pretty disappointed by the impression Portland had made on my new elderly friend.

Finally, things started to happen inside the station, and we felt a little more comforted about our situation. The only question was what we should do with trench coat's bags in his absence, and although any fate would have been OK with me; what had become of him.

In a moment, our questions were answered. In the distance, we could see him, and then hear him, coming our way. In his hands were two large cups of coffee, and next to him was a homeless person (who we had seen earlier, picking up cigarette butts to try smoking), carrying two more. When they approached, the homeless man handed me one, and trench coat handed the old man the other. He then said "pay up boys!". Neither of us had asked for a coffee. The old man was unfamiliar with starbuck's prices, and tried to give trench coat a dollar. I did not have any cash on me, which put me in a particularly uncomfortable position. Fortunately, I had brought a bag of quarters in case I needed a bus anywhere along the line, so I paid him with those to avoid having to deal with him any further. I did not drink the coffee, I was disgusted by the whole thing.

I soon discovered the three of us were scheduled to share the same 7.5 hour bus ride to medford. I was horrified for a moment, but security quickly informed the guy that he would not be able to ride the bus this morning because they could detect alcohol on his breath. Finally, I had caught a break.

The ride down to Medford was long, but I had a row of seats to myself, and a good book, so the time passed rather quickly.

Once in Medford, I put on my pack and walked to my parents house in ashland, nearly 15 miles to the south. It was a decent walk, and the longest I had ever taken with my pack. I was surprised at how little it impacted my stride. I could have easily loaded it much heavier, and the thought was comforting given some of the trips I've planned for the future.

In Ashland, my father and I drove a lot, and did some short walks and hikes. The only one of real interest was a short hike to see lake of the woods. The lake was frozen over and we saw a lot of fresh bear tracks in the snow. Everything was closed up there for the season, including the road we hiked in on, but now that I've seen it, I'm even more interested in going back when everything's open.

The way back was a mirror of the way down, except it was at a more decent hour, the ride was a little shorter, and the company was WORSE. I walked to Medford along the same route I had come from there, I had extra time after checking in, so I walked all over town to see what there was to see. When I returned to the station, I boarded a very full bus, and didn't have the luxury of a row to myself for the ride home. My seat mates were interesting to say the least. I couldn't pin-point the worst part of the trip, but since this is my walking blog, I'll focus on that: After walking close to 20 miles with my pack on, being forced to sit still for 6 hours in a seat no bigger than those given in a plane, my knees seized up, and after not very long, were on fire. Combined with everything else, I imagined that this was what hell was like.

I was glad to arrive in Portland. I hopped off the bus, collected my things, and slowly started walking to loosen up my knees a bit. After a short time, they were as good as new, and I returned to the house at about the same pace I had left it.

I feel good about all the long walks back to back over the last few days, especially with the pack, since I was unsure how it would effect me. It was a good test run to see how I'd do on some of the longer walking/camping trips I have planned for the summer.

March 11th - 13th

45 miles
96.36 miles cumulative
3.8544 total gallons saved

Saturday, March 7, 2009

surviving the converging catastrophes of the 21st century.

Another lazy day. We've been entertaining and I've had too much to do to get in as much walking as I would have liked. Still, I got in a 3.52 mile walk yesterday afternoon. I walked from lunch on hawthorne, over the burnside bridge, and to both the deschutes and rogue breweries. I had hoped to continue the trip on foot, but we got our brewery tour off to a late start, it got cold, and not everyone else is as into walking as I am.

I've spent a good portion of the past few days in a particularly more "doomer" mood than usual, which is to say I'm not very optimistic about my/our future in the least.

I guess that's not entirely true.

I'm firmly convinced that the future I always grew up expecting will never materialize. I'm frustrated that everything I've prepared myself for up to this point may be completely irrelevant in the new future. I'm frustrated because I don't know what the future will hold, and because that doesn't give me much to comfortably plan for. I'm frustrated because I was always told that I could be anything that I wanted, and do whatever I wanted, and that it was completely within my own power to be and do those things; and as it turns out, there are greater forces working against those kinds of dreams and aspirations. What you have and what you do are not just products of what you put in, but products of the opportunities you're given and choose to take.

I was raised to expect a world ripe with such opportunities, but it's hard not to feel that the kind of opportunities I've been groomed to exploit are much like many other resources we've come to rely on these days... dwindling.

Still, after I get past the frustrations of my failed expectations, I'm comforted by the idea of a future with more tangible, honest, and meaningful opportunities than any I've previously come to expect. Life without the things I was always promised can also be a life without the stresses that I'd later realize come with them.

What does walking have to do with any of this?


It's about self reliance, and realizing that life wouldn't be so bad for me if we were forced to do without the crutches on which we've all been leaning. It's about freeing myself from the shackles we've created with our ignorant and unrealistically optimistic speculations and expectations.

It's a start. It might not be much, but at least I feel like I've started to do something about it.

March 6th

3.52 miles today
51.36 miles cumulative
2.054 total gallons saved

Friday, March 6, 2009

march 4th

On wednesday, I walked to work in the morning, and then walked to a friends house where I had left my car the night before, so I could bring it home. (not so?)Interestingly, their house was the exact same distance from the shop as ours was.

March 4th

7.2 miles today
47.84 miles cumulative
1.9136 total gallons saved

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

march 3rd

nothing too exciting yesterday. Walked to work and back, walked to the printer cartridge place and back, and then late last night, I walked home from the bars after going out to celebrate a friends birthday.

March 3rd

9.72 miles today
40.64 miles cumulative
1.6256 total gallons saved

Monday, March 2, 2009

the prostitute, the corpse, and my first gallon saved.

Today I walked quite a bit. This morning, I convinced my wife that we should walk to work, so that I wouldn't have to use my car to take her there. We went the same route I usually take, and everything was relatively ordinary about the walk, except I noticed that the house I usually like to pass with the chickens and ducks in the front yard, has big rabbits too. It's a small urban farm I guess.

When I got home, I looked up a couple shoe stores that might carry a specific walking shoe that I've been wanting, and decided to walk to each of them to see if I could find a pair in my size. I already talked to an employee at new balance, who informed me it was a discontinued style, but I figured it was a good excuse to walk, and that I might get lucky.

That's when things got interesting.

SE 82nd ave is always unsavory when viewed from the inside of a car, but even more so when you're on foot. It goes back to what I said about really being able to take in the sights (and smells) around you when you're on foot, and how you just don't get the same experience with any other kind of getting around. I could list any number of interesting things I saw on my hike, but to be brief, I'll just list the two stand-outs. First, on my my way south on 82nd, I watched a guy in a white cargo van pick up a prostitute. I'm pretty sure I've witnessed similar situations before, but again, on foot, close enough not to make out the words in the exchange, but still the sounds of the two voices, the situation was more real (live?) than I've ever experienced. I think there's something about viewing anything through glass that separates you from the moment. He pulled up; there was a brief moment when their eyes locked, and then the woman looked over her shoulder, maybe to assure herself that he was indeed looking at her, or maybe to assure herself that it was a safe moment to approach the van. She did, and leaned on the drivers side door. Their voices were low, and the exchange was brief. She acted more familiar with him than he did with her. She was probably more used to the scenario than he was. After a few seconds passed, she ran around the front of the van to the passenger side door, as he leaned across the bench seat and unlocked the door. At this point I had walked past them, and not wanting to stare, kept looking straight ahead. I heard the van pull out, and after a few seconds, I looked over my shoulder to see where they had gone, but the van was no longer on 82nd.

I walked out of Portland, and into Clackamas on my walk. I did find one store that carried the shoe, but not in my size. Another branch had it, and they're going to have it sent over to the one I visited today in about a week. After succeeding at finding a lead on the shoes, I decided I didn't have to walk any further south on 82nd, so I began to return the way I had come. Staying on 82nd, because I believed being on such a visible corridor through this area was probably my safest option.

Not long after I began my walk back, I think I saw a dead person. Up close. I had been walking along the sidewalk, when I heard a siren in the distance. In a few seconds, I realized it was headed not much further up the street than where I was. A car was pulled over, but it didn't appear to have hit anything. There were no people in the front, but in the back, two small children were turned in their seats, looking through the back window at something directly behind them. As I approached the car, I saw two people crouched in the street; their bodies partially blocking the view of a man on his side. As I arrived at the scene, the ambulance had pulled up and the EMT's hopped out and ran past me. Along side the man now, I could see that he was not moving. His eyes were open, but I got the impression that he wasn't "looking" at anything. If he was breathing, I could not detect it. The side of his head that was laying against the ground was swollen, and there was a lot of blood under it. I couldn't see any scrapes, and his body was resting in a mostly natural position. There was no sign of what had happened in the minute or two before I arrived in that spot, and I did not ask. Again, I've seen things like this before, but in person, without the glass in the way, it was different. It will be a while before I forget the blank eyes.

I didn't walk straight home, but after seeing the bloody body in the street, the rest of my walk doesn't seem interesting enough to write about.

March 2nd
21.5 miles today
30.92 miles cumulative
1.2368 total gallons saved

Sunday, March 1, 2009

going the distance.

I've been thinking about some more epic walks to take in the future. Walks that are more for the challenge, the glory, and the story than they are for just getting around. I would like to go for as long of a walk as I can in town one day soon, and then figure out what kind of distance I'm comfortable covering in a day so that I can better plan some of these trips. I did about 20 miles in a day a week or two ago. Other than some suffering my feet endured from improper shoes, it was a breeze. I think I could do 30, no problem.

One idea was that I could walk to the walking man brewery. If there's one thing I like more than walking, it's beer, and the name of the brewery just makes it that much more appropriate. It's 43 miles each way. Sounds like a pretty awesome 3 day round trip. I could take my hiking pack, and carry a one man tent, a sleeping bag, and some basic supplies, and camp in the gorge between days.

I just have to wait for the weather to warm and dry up a bit.

feb 27th + 28th

I walked to work and back on friday. On the way into work I started thinking about the various things that keep me from walking everywhere. Mostly, I just have to drive when I have more to carry than I can fit in a backpack. It got me thinking about fabricating a cart I can take with me on walks for when I have a lot to carry; like a full load of groceries, or a large batch of inventory for the store. I hope to be able to put something together in the next few weeks. I just have to collect the materials. I plan to make the whole thing out of reclaimed parts. It was a little chilly coming back at night, but I walked fast, and warmed up quickly.

I decided to use the average MPG of all cars on the road in the US to plot how much gas I'm saving by walking. I could compare it to the gas mileage on my honda, but it's arguable that I'm saving a lot of gas even when I AM driving it, since it gets 45 mpg. According to the EPA, the US average this year is around 25 mpg, so I'll stick with that. It will give me stats on how much gas I'm saving over the average person by walking instead of driving.


Feb 27th
7.2 miles
.288 total gallons saved

Last night I walked home from a friends house after seeing her home from a bar. I really enjoyed the walk because it was late, and very quiet out. It's a whole different city when it's asleep.

I used to plot the walk and figure out the mileage. It was 2.22 miles.

Feb 28th
2.2 miles today
9.42 miles cumulative
.3768 total gallons saved