WhiteCrow Walking

My solo walk across America began in Maine. I walked for nearly 3 years carrying a backpack and facing countless dangers, as well as met wonderful people I could have never made it without. From bullets to bears I moved through mountains of snow and across burning desert country. The end result will be a book, and the fruition of a childhood dream. This is a blog from the field with rough stories about my steps along the way.

28 September 2006

When A Cowgirl Says Tough Trail Ahead...

Lindale TX

Hard miles lead to shaking awake a homeless man and his pitbull in the few surrounding trees past the loop around Tyler. I try to break through trees with teeth before the red sunset is vapored away. My legs are beads of blood, colorless in the failing light like sticky sweat. My mouth has resorted to words that I haven't heard myself say in years. It is not what I want to come up out of my mouth. All other words are spent, or are too tired to form. As much as I want it to, my mouth won't stay shut until I have said too much, then silence.
Road signs have been followed. The sad truth is that I am not even lost. Sometimes the road fights the walker. Houses never end. The sprawl of tar and concrete is eating away the natural places. Just as the horse has passed its day, some roads are not meant for walking anymore.
In the cover of a few trees, out past yet another parking lot, down behind a dumpster, past the condom wrappers, whiskey bottles and a disguarded syringe I pull the velcro tab on my hawk. It falls into my hand like a prop from a film, practiced and silent.
I slept by a landfill in desperation during a rainstorm in Vermont. Rats crawled over my feet until I kicked them into the night. This feels worse. It was raining then. Rain cover sins. Rain keeps a majority of predators home. A majority. Rain is white noise that eventually eases the deepest anger, and fear.
After two tries the tepee tent is up. Inside, with red headlamp giving the illusion of fire to my journal, I try to write. By the time I come down and darkness itself convinces me that I am well hidden, and safe, I am too tired to put even these words together. Stamped postcards sprawl around my head as my eyes turn down. Tomorrow, I think, I will stop walking before darkness has me walk through thorns and glass. Tomorrow I will remember why I am walking without my face being hard.
Renee, you were right. There is no rest till Lindale.

27 September 2006

Up-A -Creek Coffee Co., Whitehouse TX

Although I am stared at more than I am used to by eyes that don't bother to conceal distain over my looks or the dream I'm living, the few locals that step forward to know me hold their arms wide open begging to help, to be part of the walk. In a town called Troup that I walked away from yesterday, I stayed two nights with Jimmy and Penny. Jimmy met me at a car crash turn that goes in front of their house with a cold lemonade and a lawn chair. The three of us talked until we were more friends than strangers. This is what the walk is about.
In a couple of hours I am leading Jimmy through installing a new door in their living room and leveling the floor because a car hit their house. Success. After the drill, sandpaper, and saw are quiet I melt away layers in the shower. I am still amazed that I can turn good water so flithy. We drive to Red Lobster in Tyler for all-you-can-eat shrimp and a cold beer we had to show papers to buy(dry county). When we get home we find a drunk has crashed into one of the trees in their yard, bounced off and plowed the yard up with his truck. Bad corner to walk. Worse corner to be a house or a tree.
In the morning we tear apart a 1972 chevy truck bed to get the clean floor for Jimmy's baby that he is breathing life--and money into. I share Airstream tricks of deconstruction and sweat in exchange for homemade spagetti and another night on their leather couch with a kitten asleep behind my knees. Jimmy smiles through all the help. A month older than Jimmy, we are kids in the same sandbox, and loving life. Although I am thanked a hundred times before I leave, it was a perfect exchange. For two days I was needed. There is no better feeling.
Last night I set my tent in Lake Tyler. Most of the water is in a cloud somewhere else. Even non-farmers talk of the need for rain.
At Up-A-Creek Coffee Co. I am taken in by Renee and family. I stopped to talk rather than have a brew of magic beans because it is afternoon. Six hours later I was still in the same chair talking, turning strangers into voices that I could carry with me. We talk about routes, miles, and things not to do in Whitehouse......like walk into the evening with the intent of putting my shelter up in somebody's field. Police were constantly driving by as I walked north into Whitehouse. I am told that if I make one bad choice I would be given a room for the night. After a few phone calls by Renee who runs her brother's coffee shop because he is off in the war, I am camping in a dry lake bed. Everyone talks about the military here. In Texas I am proud to be a veteran of theU.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division. Up north it was never a matter. In Texas I am thanked for my service. Thanked. A few towns back a kind man asks if I need anything. I smile and say that I just want to walk safely through Texas without a ride in a black and white.
"Those patches on your shoulders, here in Texas we put alot of stock in that. Just about every one that you talk to has somebody that is in harms way or has served. Down here, that means something. The police don't take to strangers. Being where you've been, your not(stranger)."

21 September 2006

TX Time

Mount Enterprise, TX

Last night I slept in Steven Jones' field so that I could be at the town library in the morning. I gave thanks silently for flat earth to sleep on, minus walls of briars and the roar of insects seeking blood. When I met Steve he was leaning on a sweet Texas pick-up talking to a friend under a sun that was feeling every bit as tired as I was. We were both setting fast.
"You can set down any where you'd like out in that flat, that's all my land there,"said Steve with a generous smile. I put away my map showing my walk across America so far.
"How would that shadow be over by the road?" I pointed to a piece that was flat and away from house and barn, a place out of thought or concern.
"Now I said Mount Enterprise is like Mayberry, not Mount Enterprise is Mayberry. You best set that tent back toward the far side of the field so some driver doesn't toss a bottle your way just for fun,"cautioned Steve with a grin. "It probably would never happen...but you never know."
I told Steve and his friend about a man that did throw a twenty-four ounce beer right at my head from a truck doing about fifty miles per hour. He thankfully missed. It was so hot that my real concern was all that ice cold beer exploded all over the tar on inpact and I didn't even get a sip. We laughed although the memory still carrys mixed emotions.
We shook hands still talking about the hot miles of nothing ahead. Those were tomorrow's worries, tomorrows pains, winks in the dark. I smiled. For now I had a flat of grass waiting on fresh dew, sticky buns and coffee a block away to tickle my mind in the morning, and letters to write under a headlamp I didn't have to hide from farmer, police, or the good intentions of too many cell phones.
The few people that I have met in Mount Enterprise have been generous as much as they have been kind. Just as I stepped into town Scott met me outside of the post office. I could see his pile of questions from eighty feet away. I slowed my pace. I was too hot, and couldn't remember my last full sit down meal. My focus was somewhere around my feet. I was just spent. Trying to smile from under a brow full of hot sun, I answered the first few questions and then earnestly inquired about food and the closing hours of stores in town. Scott fanned out eight dollars so that I would sit down at Jaimes Rancho Mexican Restaurant as his guest.
As I sat and inhaled iced lemon water and fresh salsa and chips, Scott came in the restaurant to cover my tip. I would have rather have had his company now that my legs had stopped shaking, and my mind had cleared. Trading stories has become my passage. Sitting alone with a full belly pushing words up into my throat...well, that's just waste. I wandered over to the market to gather supplies to see me through the next stretch of land called The Bottom, dried swamp and insects mostly, and a whole lot of nothing until Rusk. Once in the store my map is out again, and the counter is covered with stories that are fresh, stories that are old, stories that I forgot I knew.

I step out of the rest room with clean wet socks in my hand, a trait of the walk--wash em' while you can. The kind ladies of the Mt. Enterprise library have gathered up a bag of snacks for my journey through The Bottom. As my socks drip from my hand we all smile. Slowly I place my hand behind my hip and grin. The room smells like popcorn. I can feel the warmth radiating through the bag against my leg. Tea, soda, crackers, mentioned popcorn, and a couple more odds and ends. It seems every journeyman or woman comes through Enterprise, through this library, even the man that dragged his cross across America leaned his cross here. Even alone I am with friends. For a few minutes we talk about flight, about how the bumble bee stays in the air---money, food, sleep, the threat of .....threat. As I begin to explain I stop. In the end there are no answers, no clean ones. I have walked here to meet America. You opened your lives. Thank you.

15 September 2006

Finders Keepers

In the beginning of this walk I believed that I was always finding just what I needed on the side of the road. When I lost my titanum mug I found a plastic cup the same day which carried me over until my cup was found and flown to me a month later. In New England's winter, when I needed cover from snow and sleeting rain on my hands that held my walking sticks, I found disguarded rain pants I quickly cut the legs from to hood my frozen fingers. This is still the truth of the walk: what I need will come. The difference now is that I am unsure if I am passing a diamond or a stone. I want to save everything. Of course this is ridiculas when everything that I glean has to be attached to my shoulders. Something inside has readjusted. Now when I see homeless people I understand the shopping cart of seemingly useless trash piled high. They too are afraid--or is it concern, that the twine we pass today may very well be the belt we wear tomorrow? Knowing this tendency is stooped over in me to gather the next treasure, I talk myself on past articles that beg to wander these miles with me. They know that once I get home...wherever home will one day be, I will be less inclined to adopt all that I see by the roadside. Everything that I have gathered is just about impossible for me to part with once we have miles of history together. We become related, friends, parts of each other, still hoping to make sense, to fit in, to be needed.
My ex-wife had the same feelings for stuffed animals and dolls. I used to laugh in gentle cruelity as she struggled past a doll at the bottom of a box left over from someone's tag sale. I knew the soiled painted face would find it's way home to our china cabinet at the bottom of the stairs where it would sit with the other foster dolls and animals that seemed to smile out over empty wine glasses with foggy eyes full of hope.
Life gives us practice when we are not surrounded by the ones we love, or will love, we are given just enough to care for so the heart stays familiar with the feeling of being wanted....and showing others we want them.

06 September 2006

Buried Arrows

The only sin greater than returning to my old homestead before the journey is through is in again readying the saddle for leaving with now every grave disturbed, and the shovel bearing my prints is left on the lawn. I am for now, broken. That is the right word I am sure. With four separate families I have stowed my belongings. My brother has taped boxes of my leather books, stashed my painted buffalo skull in plastic, and stored above his room too many memories in packing paper. Over my brother Bobbie's bed hangs my hunting bow. The attic of my brother and mother is now heavy in waiting. My truck sits confused in their driveway to rust and worry away months into over a year--until the walk is alive on paper and reflection. Saviors have stepped out of shadows until I feel that I owe the world. I do. My one room log cabin sits on land I do not own with my prayer that the land is not sold until the walk is over so I can move each log onto land that for now is only a dream. Life is a gamble. If the land of my ex-inlaws sells before my feet stop, I lose. Game over.
The joy of my rolling wanderlust is my 1948 honey-moon edition Airstream Liner complete with rear half-moon bed. It is simple perfection. It now squats in the weather behind the Bryt's family barn praying for both of us if silver vintage campers can bow their heads. I see floods, mice, falling trees, robbers, crazed farmers on runaway tractors cutting grass in a field of boulders. Sometimes my mind is against me. Thankful for Bunny Bryt's generous offer to allow my airstream to wait out my return, I talk myself down knowing that I have done all I could do. For now it is done.
I see myself once again addicted to the gleanings of this life that I have toiled away so many labors for. All control is gone. Again I am a backpacker owning nothing I can not carry except for the glint of hope in my eyes that begs for mercy in a future of perpetual uncertainity. To walk again is to prove that I am worth more than all I own. Doubt holds my hand like children. To walk again after another round of good-byes is to ache deep from a disturbed heart. Now I notice my back hunches under ever so slightly having recieved the severe scolding of my own inner voice. "What have you done with your life. You have traded a beautiful cow, and the farm for a bag of beans." I plant seeds as I walk. And Pray.

"Where are you from, or....where do you live," asks a voice that seems to sound like my own?
"I am homeless. I am a leaf falling and I am tired" The walk begins again.