Daves first use of the phrase "common or garden."

Added: 30-6-2006

I finally managed to regain my independence today as my own 2 feet took me to the metro station and into town for my physio appointment. I don’t know if it is partly psycholgical, knowing that I am on the mend, but the old legs feel pretty good and I will certainly be good to go for next week. I even got a good 4 or 5 miles in today to test myself. Not intentionally, simply through a series of unfavorable happenings, but who am I to argue with what shambles has in store for me. Any way they stood up pretty well.

I must thank my physio, Kira, for giving me the full tour of the anatomy of the lower leg. I learned a lot and have picked up a few good tips for future treatment. It turns out that I actually have 2 different types of tendinitis, one in each leg. This drew a collective gasp from the assembled ranks of the physiologically learned and curious. The tendinitis in my right leg, which cleared pretty quickly, is your common or garden achilles tendinitis, the sort that most people get. The more bothersome complaint in my left leg, however, is a much higher class of tendinitis affecting the (checks bit of paper) anterior tibial something. This is specially reserved for those blessed with flat feet. Its an overuse injury. My case is particularly special as I combined overuse with carrying ridiculously excessive amounts of weight and dogged continuation through huge pain and obvious injury. I was very proud. On top of the ultrasound and massage, I was even given laser treatment for which I had to wear special anti-litigation goggles, just incase.

So after a largely successful day of advanced physiotherapy, getting lost and running out of money I returned to David’s to return to my previous routine of sitting on the sofa with my legs wrapped in ice and/or heat playing my guitar and watching the tv. In the absence of football, I have been, ahem, researching American daytime tv. I have discovered, in particular, a show called The Maury Show. This is a remarkable piece of television which takes the Jerry Springer form of the live confessional but appears to be admirably unconcerned with the emotional well-being of its guests and does not make the pretence of existing for any other reason than as a freak show and as an opportunity for the deeply disturbed people who want to prove how screwed up their lives are on national tv to prove how screwed up their lives are on national tv.

Maury’s format centres around the live paternity test, a set-piece of true genius which couples the usual arguments about who slept with who’s boyfriend’s mothers with the tension and quantitive result of the paternity test to determine which of the various protagonists sired the unfortunate offspring.

One girl on the show this week, and this is no word of a lie, had appeared on the show 3 times already in regard of the same child. Having so far failed to successfully secure a source of child support, said girl, on her fourth appearance, was accusing the father of her current boyfriend. Sadly for her, and to the rabid glee of the audience, the father was not the father.

Dave                                  Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

Doing it in the park, doing it after dark...

Added: 30-6-2006

Well, to quote that well-known long distance hiker Ice Cube, today was a good day. Any day that starts with a purposeful stride out of one’s front door cannot be bad, and with the sun out and the birds singing (animals dancing, general Disney theme) it wasn’t long before I was walking like Walking Stewart.

It also wasn’t long before a friendly fellow on a bike stopped besides me and asked me if I had lunch yet. To cut a long story short, this encounter led to me having a rather pleasant lunch with the Brothers of Saint Anselm’s Abbey – not something I really thought about doing when I got up this morning. The friendly bloke’s name was Sean, an avid long distance biker, and he was working at the Abbey’s associated school over the summer. Top notch hospitality from these fellows – I was introduced to Brother Dunstan (Brother Dunstan, give Belloc’s Walk to Rome another go, it’s worth it) and various other Fathers and Brothers, shown a little bit of the Abbey and had a good buffet lunch. It was also explained to me, by Father Philip I think, that the Ghana – Czech Republic game in the World Cup was rigged in order for the USA to stay in the tournament. Intriguing.

As you can imagine, a great and unexpected lunchtime experience. Following this (and a phone call from Dave who had managed to get himself stranded in town without any money, after blowing it all on a session of physiotherapy) I got on my way and headed about 16 blocks across town to Rock Creek Park. This was quite a treat – due to the flooding earlier in the week the park was closed to traffic, meaning I had the run of the place to myself for about five miles with only a handful of joggers and cyclists sighted along the way. The path followed the creek south and with the sun out, the shady trees in full effect and the fact that I was on an ohmygodisitreallya trail at a few points during the afternoon I was having a right old time.

So basically, the day has just been pleasant pleasant pleasant. No strip malls, not much traffic, loads of nice houses to look at, even people in a rush stopping to say ‘Yo!’, no dogs attacking, no blisters or foot problems (my new hi-tech Japanese taping/anti-blister roll on combo is working a treat). I ended up in Georgetown for some more food about 3pm (At Mr Smith’s Bar – “We sell a ton of beef a month, it can’t be bad!”) and then met Steph for a drink after work at 5.30. Did I mention today was pleasant?

Miles: about 12, plenty of flat, nice bit of trail at times
Going: Good to Firm
Weather: good tanning weather. Steph says I now nearly have a ‘Farmer’s Tan’
Stars of the day: Without a doubt, Sean and Brother Dunstan at the Abbey – many many thanks for your hospitality!
Tunes in my head: Despite some slight competition from the Rocky Theme tune, Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Happening Brother?’ and Donnie Hathaway’s ‘Sugar Lee’, there could of course be only one winner today – ‘Rock Creek Park’ by the Blackbyrds. Oh how I had the chorus to that in my head all day long…

Stuart                         Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

Bowie - Hyattsville

Added: 29-6-2006

Back in the saddle. So to speak. Today I got back on the road and knocked off some miles around Washington. For those of you who can remember when we were last on the road, we finished our walk at Bowie Library on the outskirts of Washington. It’s a about 14 or so miles away from where we are staying now (Hyattsville) so I figured it was a good distance to get back into the swing of things.

Before I recount today’s road exploits however, I should note that yesterday was a good day for the walk. The news from Dave’s doctor’s appointment put smiles on all our faces, had the neighbours coming round to congratulate us and generally increased the life satisfaction quotient of the Hyattsville area by 50%. It was very good news. After a week of worrying that something very serious was going on, the discovery that the emergency room opinion was off the mark was great. As we are in America I encouraged Dave to sue the hospital but my litigious approach was rejected.

Anyway, today’s walk was about 14 miles, all of it on roads. To even get to the start point I had to get a bus to New Carrolton, change, and then get another to Bowie. At New Carrolton bus station I waited 30 minutes next to a fella in a ‘Jesus is my Homeboy‘ t-shirt. This guy, who was obviously very tired for some reason or another, proceeded to sit in front of me on the bus and enter into one of those tiredness-on-buses/trains things we all do whereby he falls asleep and then his head starts lolling all over the place. You should note at this point that his headphones are up to maximum volume, but the dude is so tired this makes little difference. He actually managed to get a circular lolling motion going on – he would dip at the front of his run and then circulate round to the back where he would kinda rise up and head towards me a bit before getting back into orbit. It was good – you could almost set your watch by him.

But I digress, a lot. I got dropped off at the start point and headed to Subway for some disinterested customer service and some breakfast. Then I was off. I only needed two roads for about 12 of my miles today – Annapolis Road and Riverdale Road (nb. note to any strict ADT followers – we are slightly behind schedule and have opted for a cross-city approach that eschews a few of the longer detours that the ADT has to offer). To be honest I wasn’t looking forward to today’s walk – I figured it would be huge traffic and a pain in the ass. In the end I was pleasantly surprised as there was little traffic in the first few hours, and I quickly got back into the rhythm of walking. It wasn’t particularly amazing to look about – we’re talking about three lane highways, McMansions and Stripmalls – but it was fast walking on pavements (sidewalks) which always means you get to look about.

For this walk I opted for a shorts, t-shirt, sunglasses and sunhat look, with a small pack containing only essentials. Even with such small baggage, I found that I still stood out, getting proper stares from motorists and curiosity from everyone going slower than a car. I was still rocking the Greetings Walk, which means that a tip of the hat or a nod of the head accompanies every person you pass. To my surprise for a very urban area, every single nod and tip was returned, often with pretty cheery salutations. It made me wonder (and not for the first time – when walking down the street in Brighton or Copenhagen I never say hello to strangers. God knows I’d look weird) – how is it that I feel able to say hello to everyone I see over here, as long as I’m wearing a pack?

Again, a slight digression. Today’s walking was swift, and efficient. No point in walking slowly by the side of main roads. I walked for about two and half hours and then had lunch in a Jerry’s, a new vendor of fast food that I hadn’t patronised before. I like these chains with names – Jerry’s, Denny’s, Wendy’s, (even) Arbie’s – it’s all nice and personal. I wonder if the original owners are out there somewhere, and if they all meet up sometimes and reminisce about their first restaurant. I suspect not (nb. this all stems from wondering if M. Bricolage and M. Meuble knew each other in France, a reference undoubtedly lost on 90% of people reading this. Sorry.).

After lunch I headed on in a more reflective mood. It was so simple to know where I was going (especially now that I have the GPS device loaded with US maps) that I could reflect a bit more on what I was seeing. For a start, the scenery kept repeating itself. We’re talking about a 12-14 mile strip of land here, and it kinda goes: recently built housing estate (houses extremely big, and bland) –strip mall (made up of a combination of 2-3 chain fast food outlets, a chain supermarket, a chain home improvement store, a chain office supplies store and a chain pharmacy) – older housing (apartment buildings, the odd run of what the English would call terraced houses). I counted 5 McDonalds directly on my route, and another couple I could see from where I walked. Today was the first day that I have seen really BIG people.

The other thing I noticed was that all the new housing, and sometimes the old, had absolutely no services within walking distance. Now I know I should not be surprised about this – we are constantly reading about such a situation in our very common European critiques of America – but it was interesting to see the new housing estates, all of which are billed as ‘Communities’, going up without any sort of community added value being built into them i.e. local grocery stores, or playgrounds, or communal areas. Instead, many of the ‘Communities’ are in fact entered by one road which does its best to say ‘Keep out unless you live here’ by having kinda faux gates at their entrance. Many times I was reminded of Neal Stephenson’s vision of the near future as portrayed in Snow Crash. Of course, it’s impossible for me to tell if these new neighbourhoods (‘Communities’!) are as ethnically isolated as Stephenson envisages them, but with the rest of the landscape of malls fitting into his blueprint I found myself constantly asking, who lives here, who lives there…

Anyway, I eventually left the main roads and spent a very pleasant last 45 minutes taking the back streets to David’s place in Hyattsville. Sun out, leafy suburbs. In a cutting edge experiment I decided to see what mood my iPod thought I was in and got my headphones on with the music set to shuffle. The results are as follows:

Queens of the Stone Age – Everybody Knows That You’re Insane (taken literally, this was a rather inauspicious start. I prayed that Carly Simon would not come up next)
Quantic Soul Orchestra – Follow Me (ok, good choice. Dave, of course, will have to follow this route soon)
Seu Jorge – Don’t (extremely interesting, as I couldn’t remember listening to this before. He sings in English, which totally threw me. Very nice)
Wilco – Candy Floss (off Summerteeth, very Wilsonian pop from great band. Got me smiling)
Archie Shepp – Invocation (one of the best things about iPod shuffle – this is some 30 seconds of poetry off ‘Attica Blues’ where Archie raps about being a tree or something. Groovy)
Common – The Corner (utilising the break from the Temptations’ ‘Superstar’. Very nice to hear a bit of hip-hop following Archie. iPod doing a nice job at this point)
Matthew Herbert – Sugar (ah, Herbert in his educational phase. Difficult to listen to as it was made from the sounds of a billion bottles of Pepsi being opened (probably), I resolved not to bow to multinational drinks corporations and their perfidious ways and avoid fizzy pop for the rest of the day)
Kings of Convenience – The Girl from Back Then (very Norwegian pleasantness after the Herbert madness)
DJ Shadow – Diss Me (in which the Shadow unearths some truly appalling rapping and mucks around with that tune from Reservoir Dogs I can’t remember. Hip-hop representing again, came on at exactly the same time as two blokes walked past in some hip-hop bling finery)
Brian Wilson – On a holiday (a sublime segue from the iPod, total American pop)
Doves – Black and White Town (this was the perfect end to my experiment – a pop tune about changing (and homogenizing) city landscapes from an album concerned with the same. iPod shuffle eh? Marvellous.)

Er, yeah. That was how my day ended, walking with music. The sun was out, my tan is back up to acceptable levels and I feel up for more walking. Tomorrow I walk from Hyattsville to Georgetown and I’m ready for it. Might try and keep the journal entry shorter though. More thoughts from today will find their way to the Project section, and hopefully soon. In the meantime, we might be off to the supermarket. Two meals of fast food must be remedied with something healthier…

Stuart                                   Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

Balham - Coulsdon

Added: 11-5-2006

After Balham I continued the long walk out of London on the A23. Highlights included Streatham High Road, which was a very long walk filled with nail salons, greasy spoons and Internet cafes (the last Internet cafes for a long time). At the end of the high road I moved into advanced hiking mode – the wearing of shorts, facilitated by some hidden zips on my new hiking trousers and some unseemly fumbling with my boots. The weather was fantastic, even if the fumes from the traffic were an unwelcome counterpoint.

After Streatham  the next town I noted was Croydon, a place I hope I never have to walk around again. Wonderful scenery – industrial estates, car showrooms, giant supermarkets and chav-infested bus stops. My appearance in this area (sweating bloke in shades, carrying large rucksack) caused the same degree of consternation to the locals as Martian fighting machines erupting out of the ground, and I swiftly moved on, although not before a car of lads had pulled up besides me and asked me if I was looking for work. Quite what work they had in mind for an obvious hiker I did not know, although I fantasised from their shiftiness that they wanted me for a getaway driver or something, an inkling backed up five minutes later when I saw their car squeal away at top speed out of a Sainsburys car park.

At this point my feet started to tire of the pavements. Luckily for me, just past the industrial-sized TGI Fridays and the equally impresive Airport House (20th May, Blues Brothers Night!) on the edge of Croydon there was a large swathe of green playing fields,  (short-lived) relief for my feet after miles of concrete.

I kept on, past newsagents keen to advertise the first sighting of Theo Walcott’s bird, and eventually I descended a long hill into Purley, a place which looked nicer than I imagined. I wanted to stop for a pub lunch, but not yet, so I kept going, pausing only to apply plasters to a blister on my right little toe. I went past Stoats Nest Road and asked a bloke whether there was a pub ahead in the next village. He practically collapsed into laughter, although not before he had revealed the existence of a wine bar in Coulsdon.

And indeed it was in Pistols Wine Bar that I had my lunch – a ham roll from the extensive bar menu of ham, cheese or salad rolls. I asked the barman how long it was to Redhill, the next town along, and he said it was way too far to walk. I pressed him, and he eventually revealed it was 5 miles. The papers yesterday revealed that we walk far less than we used to – since the mid-1970s the average number of miles per person travelled on foot each year has dropped by around a quarter. No wonder five miles seems far too far to walk for some people.

Stuart                                 Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

The All Clear

Added: 28-6-2006

Yesterday I went to see an orthopedic doctor about my ankle (big thanks to the Malouin who sacrificed the 2nd half of the France game to get me there when my taxi failed to show.)

In short the news was good. Without going into too many details, the problem arises from the fact that I have hyper-pronation in my ankles (more in the left than the right) all tied up with the old flat feet. I was already aware of this as it had caused me a problem with my left knee in the past and it seems that the orthotics that I acquired to fix that problem have caused this problem. Also some of the advice that I got from the guys at the hospital I visited when we first arrived in DC was slightly erroneous so I have not really been aiding my rehabilitation as I might have been which is annoying.

So I am now equipped with a new pair of orthotics, some hard-core anti-inflamatories and a date with a physio after the Argentina-Germany match on Friday. I also have the all-clear to resume walking this weekend. I am going to be very careful from here on in. I know the warning signs and what to do if it flares up again.

I am a very happy man. I have been on pause for the last couple of weeks without really wanting to risk looking forward to the next stages, just incase. People have been really into the idea of what we are doing and it has been slightly embarrassing to talk about it while not knowing 100% whether or not I can carry on.

It has been quite nice being confined to a sofa while the World Cup has been on and the weather has been so wet but today is sunny and there are no games on so I am itching to get back on the road.

Dave                               Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

Rain fall down

Added: 26-6-2006

Weather. Lots of it. Seems that starting the walk again today is a far less attractive option than I originally thought. Last night there was the most tremendous thunderstorm, one that that led us to take an extremely convoluted way home and saw David and I act as good samaritans by pushing people’s cars out of flooded areas. This felt good, although arriving home and finding David’s basement flooding felt less good. It was some storm, the rain being as heavy as any I’ve ever seen and the lightning quite spectacular. They do things bigger over there, probably fitting the south-east of England’s total rainfall this year into one evening of high-intensity rain action. Check out this weather report, or this one. This news piece gives a little more information…

So there we are. Walking not on my agenda just yet. think we will have to do something about the basement, it’s only right. we also got some nice images from the storm last night, we’ll try and post them today. it was extremely pleasant to listen to to Dave and David play guitar on the porch as the rain came down and the poor dogs cowered inside…

Stuart                            Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

Poorly legs and poor football.

Added: 25-6-2006

Right it is a bit of a challenge to log a journal entry with any degree of excitement given the torpidity of our current situation . Recent adventures have involved sitting on the sofa and a slow shuffle to the kitchen to make a cup of tea.

Fortunately I don’t get bored too easily; give me a guitar and a book and I am happy. Give me a house with 3 guitars, somebody elses bookcase and a World Cup and I am more than happy (except when England are playing.) Given that, though, it is still extremely frustrating to be laid up. Despite my lifelong commitment to flippancy and my “It’ll be fine” mantra,  I am also starting to get pessimistic about my left leg. My right is now fine but the left has a sharp and fairly constant pain in a very specific place – not a good sign I fear.

I have an appointment with a specialist on Tuesday so I am trying to resist the temptation to self-diagnose. I will find out soon enough but I can see myself being off my leg for a while yet. so we will have to look at the options open to us once we have a more expert prognosis. In the meanwhile Stuart is going to stretch his legs tomorrow and Tuesday by slackpacking some of the miles in the Washington area which I can easily do at a later date.

What else has been happening? Well, we have had a good weekend. Steph hosted a dinner party on the roofdeck of her building on Friday which was good fun and we met some more great people. We followed that up with dinner last night at an El Salvadorian restaurant. Stu and I attempted the ‘Platos Machos’ , a vegetarians worst nightmare, a vast sizzling skillet piled to the point of collapse with every flavour of meat. Mmmmmm, carnivorlicious.

We watched the England match over breakfast this morning at the Union Jacks bar. Everyone else seemed to be quite happy with the win while Stuart and I sat grimacing and griping, moaning, bemoaning and swearing like the practised malcontents that we are. The whole match was thoroughly depressing, another 90 minutes of my life that I will never get back. Cheers boys.

I must say though, the Holland, Portugal match has just started as I write and there has been some quality fouling. In particular someone has just absolutely savaged Ronaldo which makes me feel slightly better. I want to see some horrific achilles injuries. Already both teams look much better than England so I will log off to enjoy the game. Wish me luck for Tuesday.

Dave                              Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

And still we are still.

Added: 22-6-2006

While I feel a need to keep our mission journal ticking over I am worried that our current motionless state of affairs lends itself to some rather bland blogging. we’re still at our friend David’s, you see, and really we haven’t moved off the couch all week. Dave’s recovery schedule demands that he remain stationary and I must confess to having little energy to leave the house. this adds up to boring blog entries about how we have now seen far more of the World Cup than we ever thought we would (England are getting there) and how Dave’s musical theme for the trip is coming along nicely.

I guess I could tell you how I make a daily trip to the local shop and the far larger local supermarket, how my feet now feel totally at one with my boots and how my daily exercise regime is being rigourously adhered to. on top of this I can add that I played football on Sunday in a more organised fashion than the last park game, or that last night I went to Home Depot with David to look for air conditioners. For English readers, Home Depot is like B&Q on steroids with everything you could wish for in the realm of home improvement. I bought some denatured alcohol for our stove and got a leaflet on hurricane preparedness for Dave. It was the highlight of Wednesday.

So now back to the couch. Dave is going to attempt to walk to the corner store later, and the local media are out in force. Anything could happen.

Books read: Bill Bryson ‘A Walk in the Woods’; The Thru-hikers’ Handbook
Football games watched: pretty much all, I think
TV: Battlestar Galactica, Series 2 (oh yes); Spanish language soaps (which I think are my favourite yet. I would not want to be glared at by a Mexican actress); US Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsey (I really need to be walking again)

Stuart                         Have a comment? Please sign the  guestbook

The Round of 16

Added: 24-6-2006

Yep, we’re into the ‘Round of 16’ as the US TV commentators are putting it, and all is still World Cup football watching in the land of the Walking the States crew, AKA Team Shambles. We’re still at David’s but we’re hatching plans to resolve the immediate future of the walk. Looks like I’ll get back on the road on Monday and Tuesday with some slackpacking while Dave continues to recover and gets a doctor’s appointment in. It will be very weird to walk alone but after nearly two weeks of sitting around I feel I have to do something in the realm of exercise and I want to get some miles under my belt. By Tuesday night we should know a little bit more about how we are going to proceed (but I’ll let Dave fill you in on that).

So in preparation for walking I went to Steph’s apartment yesterday and packed up all our stuff into subject-specific boxes, exercising a little bit of my librarian’s brain and trying to work out what’ll be needed in the near future and what can be put into storage. David, our host, has kindly agreed to let us store some things in his basement (it’s a good deal – he gets to babysit my Mac while we’re away) so later this weekend we’ll get to looking at exactly what comes with and what stays here.

I’m also continuing to think about the route and look at some relevant books (it’s all good advice Marcia!) and generally trying to get back to focusing on the walk. As I say, all things will become a bit clearer in the coming days but because I’ve now been off the trail nearly two weeks I have to try and get back into the right frame of mind. I realise this all might sound unfeeling towards Dave and his injury but we have talked it over. Of all the places to get injured DC is probably the best for us because it is here we have a support crew – somewhere to stay and people to help. Dave can come back and pick up these miles again in the autumn.

Anyway, all for now. Argentina vs. Mexico beckons…

Stuart                               Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

Kicking Our Heels

Added: 22-6-2006

OK we were due back on the road today but unfortunately that its not going to happen. I appear to have developed tendonitis in my achilles tendon. Below is a useful overview for the uninitiated:

Achilles tendonitis is a painful and often debilitating inflammation of the Achilles tendon, also called the heel cord. The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. It is located in the back of the lower leg, attaches to the heel bone (calcaneus), and connects the leg muscles to the foot. The Achilles tendon gives us the ability to rise up on our toes, facilitating the act of walking, and Achilles tendonitis can make walking almost impossible.

Much of the above is really just a bit of background but the last statement holds a degree of significance.

The root of the problem appears to be that when Stuart dipped me in the Atlantic at the beginning of the trip to make me immortal and impervious to all harm he forgot that my heels, by which he held me, did not get wet. Thus they are my only vunerable point.

After a few days on the road my right ankle was beginning to bother me, something I put down to the rubbing of my boots (which is partly responsible.) By Annapolis they were, on a scale of right to wrong, wrong. I carried on for a couple more days. When we reached DC a bit of internet research suggested that, in retrospect, was a little foolish. Essentially what my tendons need is rest in order to recover.

So, like Shackleton’s men stuck in the Ice on the Endurance, we are kicking our heels for a while. We have assured David that we will not eat his dogs unless the situation because really serious. David has extended a very generous welcome to us and we have the run of his house on the outskirt’s of DC.

Essentially I am trying to stay off my feet as much as possible to rest up and give my tendons the chance to heal before we set off again. It is very frustrating but fortunately we are not under any time pressures this year so it is better to be safe than sorry. I doubt that we will find anywhere quite so accommodating later on in the trip so I want to make sure that everything is right before we set out again. I have been combing the internet for advice – it is a common condition for runners and hikers – and unfortunately rest and ice seem to be the common themes. So here we still are.

The lay off has given us the opportunity to catch up with all the World Cup games on the Latino channel – goooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaalllll.

Dave                               Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

Back to the trail. Not.

Added: 19-6-2006

Mission Walk the States is a bit stranded. Trapped in DC to be precise. Dave has achilles tendonitis and is off his feet under doctor’s orders. I’ll leave him to tell you about it.

The sun is out here and we’re back staying at our friend David’s house. Frankly, I’m going a little stir crazy even if circumstances cannot be helped. We have all sorts of questions facing us and many different ways of tackling the situation. Obviously the best thing that can happen is that Dave recovers as soon as possible but until then I’m going to need something to fill in my time (apart from pacing and doing press ups, situps and stretches – perhaps I should be in a small cell?). I’m not very good at this sitting around stuff, especially sitting around in temperatures of 90 degrees (although why I think I’d be better off walking in it, I don’t know). I just want to get out of the city, despite the fact that it’s been fun and the people we know here are great. All in all it feels like we started something very exciting, and then stopped.

Of course, the World Cup is on. Of course, I can tinker with the website, write the essay I’ve been planning and carry on my exercise regime. I can even pop up the shops now and again to see if there are any new blister plasters in at the pharmacy (although I have now ordered majorserious foot supplies from but mostly I’m feeling a bit stranded. Hope it will pass. Whatever happens it appears essential that overall pack weight is reduced and how we do this remains an open question. It is rapidly becoming apparent that our never-ending acquisition of technology has not been for the best, and I wonder if we will have to lose most of it in order for the walk to continue. There is simply no point in risking further injury for the sake of a few more quality pictures.

So stay tuned. Sorry to be so downbeat (and so self-concerned, no doubt), but that’s how I’m feeling.

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Daves Big Catsup

Added: 17-6-2006

OK. Here we are in DC and, as promised, here I am with a supersize catch-up.  The question: where to start?

I am going to start way back when, in April or May as I have a few people , a lot of people, to thank. Towards the end of my time in the UK I maintain that I was possibly the busiest man on the planet. I agreed to work an extra couple of weeks for work which, in retrospect, was perhaps a mistake but it has also bought me a few non-minute-based luxuries. Regardless, a hearty, tardy goodbye to the retail cleaning crew. Good luck to Liza who has taken on my old job. Don’t worry, in 3 or 4 years if it all gets too much you can go on some random 18mth-long mission to go a huge distance very slowly. That should purge you of some of the stresss and introduce you to a whole world of different ones. Thanks also to the mysterious tall Northerner going by the name of Potts who is looking after my house for me, a finer fellow you will rarely meet.

I wanted to thank a few people who were involved in the benefit/goodbye gig that we put on in Brighton before we left. Infact, I wanted to thank everyone who was involved, in anyway whatsoever. Musically the night peaked with the fantastic Dials (you can check them out on Radio 2 this weekend) and ended with the Crucks. Big thanks to Ed, Thom, Rich and Spencer who laughed in the face of rehearsal convention to deliver performances that matched the, er, fluidity of the Crucks approach.  Many thanks to everyone that came, it was a great big room of friends (the kind to make you miss Brighton) and we raised a lot of money for a good cause.

And most importantly in that regard I salute, once again, my heroes Jim and Kelvin for their fine work in the face of great flapping towards the betterdom of Cruck music. I owe you lots.

I also want to thank everyone involved with the ADTwho have been great. Please don’t think that we have been ignoring anyone, its just been so hard to find time to reply. We have now met Butch, who is an absolute star, and look forward to meeting Dick Bratton later on the trail. We also look forward to finally meeting ADT legends Ken and Marcia in California next year. As we hobbled into Annapolis stricken with severe blistering and incredible tendon pain to meet Siri, who knows K&M from California, it was a comfort to hear that even Marcia at that point, having covered the distance in roughly half the time, had suffered from ‘slight chaffing.’

Anyway, enough of the thanking. I have finally updated the gallery so that you can now see some of the sights that have led us to Washington. I promise that the updates will be a lot more frequent from now on.

Also, now we have started, as promised I am going to start hassling you for donations. It’s all for a good, we’re not doing this just for the benefit of US achilles tendon specialists you know. Go now to this page and indulge in a feeling of enourmous well-being for the BHF. If you don’t I will have to target all non-givers individually (via the website) and you don’t want that. And that means you, anyone I’ve ever met.

Dave                               Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

More DC gubbins

Added: 16-6-2006

well, another day without walking and I figure this is now turning into some sort of ‘regular’ blog where I simply fill you all in on what time I got up this morning, what I ate for breakfast, who I argued with at work and what colour my favourite shirt is. it’s a bit weird to be honest, feel like that these rest days are sending me off-topic a bit…I have to get over it I guess…

I did do some walk related stuff today. like all busy people in offices the world over I made a list. the list, a Very Important Thing, was prepared over breakfast in The Diner, an establishment on 18th Street that has a big screen showing World Cup games (it’s where we got our tipping wrong in the first week). Dave and I sat there and intensely brainstormed, a process that involved a lot of umming and aahing and contributed to a rather long list of things that we have to do in the coming days. Dave is laptop guy, a homage to Brains in Thunderbirds, and I am Foot Soldier, on account of the fact that my feet still work and I can therefore be trusted to walk down roads. my first mission as Foot Soldier was to head to the shops where I bought a cheap CD-Drive for the laptop (sorry Malc, they are so cheap and we will get a bit of use out of it), checked out the price of cardboard boxes in The Container Store (you have no idea how daunting the task of getting together our postal supplies is, it’s quite laughable how we are going to attempt to do it in two days) and bought new camp towels in Hudson’s outfitters (I took an executive decision here – Dave had lost his and was drying himself with his fleece while mine was the size of a flannel thus making me look a little bit…weird in campsite showers. it’s no fun drying oneself with what looks to be a bright yellow hankerchief, it’s just not right). I also attempted, for what feels like the tenth time, to explain to a pharmacist how I want to harden my feet up by applying something called Tincture of Benzoin (or Benzon Co). this time the guy knew what I was on about and suggested I ring a number on a shady looking card he handed me. must be underground stuff, this foot hardening thing…

but the most important thing that happened to me today (apart from the England game – I was looking forward to it and we were kinda woeful. Katja, you should pray that Germany meet us, it will work in your favour) was that I made my debut in Major League American Soccer. well, ok, maybe not, but I noticed from Steph’s balcony that guys are playing football in the park opposite in the evenings and tonight I got kitted up in my finest Craft shirt and headed over to bag a game. it was great, felt like I was 12 again, asking the big boys in the park if I could play. bascially it was me and about 30 latino guys, all of whom were wearing boots. I was in skate shoes. add a muddy pitch to this picture and you have quite a scene. still, no offence to the really very nice guys, but any group of players that lets me score three and generally look like I may have Brazilian ancestry is probably not operating at the highest levels of skill. as my Danish teamates will testify, I scored twice in four and half years when playing over there…(although that volley was a corker)

so that’s about my day. tomorrow I lunch at the World Bank, which I am looking forward to as I am informed that the canteen has little sections that serve food from all over the world. before that I write seven million emails (if you have contacted me, I will try to reply tomorrow. I promise I will try to be witty and leave you feeling like I have contributed positively to your day, even if it could be tough), try to work out more of our route and continue my rigourous morning exercise program. after lunch there will be more of the same, followed by drinks on our rooftop terrace. it’s all shaping up to be good.

so there you go. now I am a regular blogger, telling you all really interesting things. Syndicate me!

Tunes: now this is a problem. since I am back at Steph’s I have access to iTunes…anything that goes through my head I can buy. therefore today has seen me purchase:
U2 – The Joshua Tree (I know, I know, the shame, the shame. But I’ve been singing Red Hill Mining Town all week)
The Specials – A Message to You Rudy; Friday Night, Saturday Morning (love this so much)
Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Geno
Carly Simon – You’re So Vain (so many good lines….”You walked into the party, like you were walking onto a yacht” or ” Well, you’re where you should be all the time, and when you’re not, you’re with…some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend, wife of a close friend…”)
Those Guys – An American Poem (with thanks to Amelia for reminding me! I’m just annoying Dave with it)

Stuart                           Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

Its all new...

Added: 15-6-2006

These are exciting times. this entry comes to you live from our new little laptop, the Lenovo Thinkpad X60. so small, so funky and so good there’s no CD-R drive for us to install our brand new Garmin GPS maps. of course, we knew this but we purposefully chose to ignore the lack of drive and concentrate on the lovely size and weight. bit of a mistake that. now we have to go out and buy a drive we’re gonna use about, oh, once or twice in order to give our new maps somewhere to live. oh well, that’ll teach us…

another down day in DC today. although we originally planned to walk today it was for the best that we kept Dave off his feet again – more rest is needed to reduce swelling. we chilled at David’s last night, cooked a little bit of food and began working on the photo update for the website. we obviously have far too many photos from the first ten days to fit on the site and we had to pare down a bit. not sure if the roadkill gallery will fit. still, we’ve got some nice ones and we’ll notify you tomorrow when they’re up.

I think Dave’s tendons are getting better but I imagine a journal entry from him tomorrow will let you know. we were using the old hot/cold techinique to reduce swelling yesterday and I think it helped. he’s gone to the Cat Power gig tonight to test his legs out and I hope he’s ok. we were gonna send him on crutches to see if he could use his Dickensian cripple look to get him into the VIP area but I gather he bottled this option at the death. standing it is…

for me today it’s been a bit frustrating. I feel I should be doing a few more things walk-related but it’s been hard to start. now the computer is here things should be better (hey, at least I get to go shopping for a CD-R drive tomorrow) and we can have two computers on the go in Steph’s flat, but in the time earlier today I was a bit…well, non-productive. I left David’s at lunchtime and headed back into DC and dropped my stuff off at Steph’s. after that I simply headed down to 18th Street to catch the Germany-Poland game. can’t say I regretted the choice – a great game I thought, both sides up for it and the Polish goalkeeper on fire in the second half (not literally, for non-football types, that would have been dangerous for everyone). I thought the Poles a little unlucky not to hold out actually, even if the result is better for England (I figure) if we manage a result against the mighty Trinidad and Tobago tomorrow…

what else? well, I’m missing my music so I downloaded the new Ammon Contact album which I currently have on in the background. any album with a Temptations sample (Is it ‘Psychedelic Shack’ or ‘Can’t Get Next to you?’) on it makes my day…

all for now. more reports on our planning tomorrow. promise I’ll try to make them exciting…

Stuart                            Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

Down time

Added: 13-6-2006

Welcome to our first zero day on the trail. Foot conditions being what they are, we decided that it would be best to get Dave off his feet for a day and complete our walk into DC tomorrow. the upshot of this is that we’re just hanging around our friend David’s really nice place in Hyattsville kicking back on the sofa watching the football while Dave plays guitar (he’s working on our walking ‘theme’).

All the while this is happening I’m attempting to play doctor, trying to alternate a pattern of hot and cold compresses on Dave’s swollen tendons. ideally we would have done this sooner but what could we do? I figure if he can keep off his feet today it’s all for the best and we might get to complete the walk tomorrow. we’ll see…

we’re also housesitting two dogs, Ellie and Alice. they’re kinda into the sitting around thing too, basically just lazing at our feet and trying to get into the football. I haven’t discerned a preference on their part for a particular team yet, but with Brazil coming up I suspect they’ll get a bit more into it later. after that I think I’ll take them for a walk to the grocery store – I need to keep my feet in my boots and moving.

anyway, I’m near a computer all day so I’ll check back in later. time to order some pizza to complete a lazy morning…

Stuart                             Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

A GuestbookEntry

Added: 13-6-2006

I have been instructed by Stu that I have to do a guestbook entry so here I am; apparantly I have been ignoring my public. Stuart has been keeping our end up in that regard while I have been variously answering emails, not answering emails, buying lenses, paying debts, chasing debts, lying by the side of roads and losing entire journal entries with the push of a button. I do intend to fully update you all when we reach Washington later this week for a few days of recuperation and chores.

In the meantime what do you need to know? Well, probably number one thing is that I am a complete physical wreck. The area around my achilles tendons is hugley swollen. You know like Popeye’s arms which are thin at the top and huge at the ends? Thats my legs. Walking is a struggle which, given the nature of our days, is somewhat of a problem.

For the last couple of days I have been shuffling along like an expectant mother. I have acquired a odd gait whereby I aid my propulsion by swinging my arms and upper body, somewhat akin to a race-walker on mogadon.

Fortunately for me, just as my numb legs have become strangers to me, Stuart’s feet have become enemies to him in the last week. (It should be noted that Stuart’s feet are, infact, enemies to anyone within a 50-yard radius) Staurt has actually developed blisters on the soles of his feet which means that he is walking like someone has tied his shoelaces together, while trying not to put any weight on his feet – quite a challenge.

We are, no doubt, quite an amusing sight for the residents of Maryland (‘Murilun’) particularly when we set up our roadside infirmeries and set about our extensive and frequent foot reconstructions. We are now equipped with every flavour of footcare product and a frightening array of bandages, gauze, plasters, scissors, and tape. We sit there like crazed Blue Peter clinicians without any that they made earlier, feet suspended on rucksacks, desperately testing new techniques in a bid to push the boundaries of pain relief technology.  

What else? Well there have been 6-lane traffic dashes, DIY butcheries, huge electrical storms, incredibly kind people, a terrible football match, great pizzas, and the world’s worst chicken restaurant, all of which I will fill you in on shortly. At the moment everything is mostly just painful.

Dave                             Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

From Boowie

Added: 12-6-2006

Today’s journal entry comes from…Bowie Library. Not Bowie as in David, but as pronounced ‘Boowie’. odd. anyway, we’re here (a little outside of DC) now after a kinda leisurely day, to put it mildy, a day that finally saw us on the road about 12pm.

The reason for this was rain, and the fact that we were indoors able to watch it instead of in a tent with an absolute neccessity to start walking in it. we stayed at Siri’s in Annapolis again last night after we had finished up in the college library. All was good, our meal was a success and a good evening was had with Siri and her friends discussing all things America. One thing which has been good has been the way that all the people we have met have been only too happy to discuss the topics I thought might be more difficult to tackle – religion, politics, the war etc. everybody we have got a chance to chat to for more than five minutes has been really into discussing these issues and I’ve got plenty floating around my head which I hope to consolidate into a Project entry this weekend.

but anyway, with the rain lashing down this morning our walking today was delayed. we were dropped at the point where we finished yesterday around midday and from then on we walked as best we could along roads heavy with traffic. I was in full on rain gear, as it was raining when we started, and Dave was rocking his shorts and t-shirts look with the umbrella accessory should things get too wet. thankfully, the rain stopped pretty much after we started and the waterproofs were stashed.

progress was slow today because of the late start but also because we were trying to find a quicker route to Bowie to save Dave’s tendons. what we eventually ended up doing was coming to the end of our short cut at an immensely busy road and trying to find a parallel route to avoid the traffic. this was a major mistake in retrospect due to a further spasm in Dave’s tendons coming down a hill, even if we did get to meet a very nice family who were having a water fight in a small cul-de-sac (hello guys!). eventually we backtracked and took on the big road, facing down lanes of traffic as we walked down the central reservation. we hadn’t made this short cut up incidentally – the possiblity of it was implied in the trail notes. still, I’d rather not do that road again.

so now we’re in Bowie and we’re heading to the place of a friend of ours, David, for the evening. this is A Good Thing, as it will enable us to slackpack again tomorrow and most likely complete our miles into Washington. methinks this is good as it keeps the weight out the packs and the pep in the step. it also brings on the break and the possibility of finally watching some football…

Miles: hardly any added today, guess we’ve done about 9 all told. guess that makes about 110.5 altogether
Weather: rubbish at first, but all is now good
Siri: you’re a star, many thanks indeed for your hospitality (and the good conversation!). good luck with the move!
Nationalities people think we are: Australian (nearly everybody, although some people have particularly singled me out for my ‘Australian look); Welsh, Scottish and South African. English is normally last on anyone’s list
Amount of roadkill seen: lots. and lots.
Tunesinthehead: Ryan Adams ‘Come pick me up’, Jeff Buckley “Lover, you should have come over’, Marlena Shaw ‘California Soul’, Lynn Collins ‘Think’

Stuart                              Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

Cars. And Cars.

Added: 12-6-2006

If it’s Sunday it must be Chesapeake Bay to Annapolis. Do you like the threatening roar of traffic? the smell of exhaust fumes? the fun that comes with trying to walk in single file by the side of the road while oncoming traffic roars past? you do? then you should definitely try this leg of the ADT some time…

with yesterday all about taking it to the Bridge (the Bay Bridge) today was about getting past Annapolis. in the end we did it in style, mostly due to some fantastic luck and major assitance yesterday. while in the library yesterday writing my journal I got an email from Siri Harding, a friend of the world’s best walkers (Ken and Marcia Powers). Siri offered to pick us up and take us over the bridge (the only place in the US that cannot be walked, apparently) and then put us up. sweet. it was all good, and around about 6pm we were back in Annapolis, safely seated in a brewpub drinking wheat beer and eating fine food (again). Siri has been so helpful it’s untrue. first she gave us a tour of the town – a really nice little place, almost as old as it gets in the US I guess) and then she let us use all the facilities in the dorms at the college where she works meaning we could get clean and clothes washed etc. then, when our gratitude was fit to burst, she suggested that we leave our packs at the dorm today, do our 15 miles and then she’d come and pick us up and bring us back. man…

anyway, that’s how it happened. we were on the road this morning on a perfect day, step by step facing the traffic down and Dave (and I) got to rest tired feet by walking with only water and food. this made such a difference as you can imagine. the whole day has been pretty smooth, we got some video camera action in, we ate incredibly well from a bakery in the middle of nowhere (although we were moved to ask – why no savoury section in a bakery? bread and all, but only the most amazing selection of things which are going to lead me early to that wooden set of teeth I always dreamed of. why no sausage rolls, or somethings with cheese?) and made good time eating up the 15 miles we fancied doing today. walking without a pack – the way to go.

so then Siri picked us up and we hit Safeway. A giant Safeway mind, not like the one in Herne Bay. loads of stuff (no booze though – seems that in some states you just won’t be able to buy wine for your meal in the supermarket). I was most taken by the way that they freshened up the salad section – there was all this thunder and lightning in the section and the sound of rain played through speakers, and then loads of cooling gases (?) came down through vents making the whole thing seem like a rainforest in the morning. do we have this in England?! have I been missing out?

anyway, tonight Dave and I are cooking risotto and the ingrediants list is looking good. cod wrapped in proscutio, asparagus, wild mushrooms and lemon and lime zest should do the drink. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on the side and, all in all, things will be a vast improvement on the packet pasta we’ve been doing on the camp stove. it’s all good.

tomorrow we’re getting dropped back off on the trail and it’s back to camping. hopefully Dave’s tendons will have healed a bit and my newly signed star player of a blister will calm down a bit…

oh, speaking of star players, last night I had a dream that I was playing football in a team managed by Jose Mourinho and that his coaching methods were bringing out the best in me. weird.

ll for now. we’re only a couple of days away from Washington, total cleanage of all clothes and kit, World Cup games on TV (yep Coln, you were right about it being a rubbish idea to be here while the tournament was on, I’m seeing jack at the moment…) and loads of website stuff and preparations to do. once we leave DC next time, it’s for good…

Miles: altogether we’ve now done about 101.5 miles we reckon. slow going, but good going
Suntan: yep, it’s looking good, although I might have to go singlet – got some ridiculous tan lines round about the t-shirt sleeve line
Traffic: sucks. why have I travelled across the Atlantic to walk on roads?!! ok, I know it will change, but for now…
GPS-assisted route page: is a real possibility once we get back into DC and pick up the Garmin maps for our handheld GPS thingie. we’ll see…
Brewpubs: are good
Everyone: who offered us a lift across the Bay Bridge is a star
Tunes in my head: Sia ‘Breathe Me’, The Kingsmen ‘Louis Louis’, Led Zepp ‘Immigrant Song’, The Beatles off the White Album, the one with ‘When you told me, that you didn’t need me anymore’ etc. MC Breeze ‘Pull a fast one’, some John Klemmer tune which was off an old Charly comp that I lost. I wish I still had that…

Stuart                               Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

After the England performance...

Added: 10-6-2006

good afternoon from the rather fine Queen Anne’s State Free Library near Stevensville. I’ve just stopped off the trail to write an entry and have left Dave nursing some very sore heels back on the trail. he’s developed a walking style to compensate that takes a huge amount of concentration and as a result has not been very communicative for fear of losing his balance. I saw him take a second attempt at a slight grass verge yesterday so there’s obviously some recovery he needs to do. hopefully he can sit down a lot tonight. meanwhile, I’m trying to find somewhere near here to buy him some vegetables to cheer him up.

I’m doing much better, feet are getting harder and I’m feeling the walking style come into place. this was before I got the Internet here however; they’ve run out of chairs for the library Internet machines and I’m writing this standing up. not good.

so, where are we? well, since we left Denton we had to get to a motel for the England game. this we have done, after two 17 mile days. hard walking on these roads because we are basically slow walkers. the scenery has been

aah, a chair…

pretty good through Maryland, lots of fields and small farmhouses. the weather has been pretty amazing, although yesterday was extremely hot and suntan lotion was copiously applied. we got to the middle of nowhere on thursday night, which was where we were aiming for, and were lucky enough to meet Victor Wood, an extremely cool local farmer (his opening line ‘Now I know I’m just a dumb old southern boy, but what are you fellas up to?) who let us sleep in one of his fields. this was good, although we got caught in probably the biggest thunder and lightning display I have ever been involved in and it was quite a scene. I think Dave has it on the video. the next day we were up at 6am and on the road to Graysonville. this was a hard day as the sun was really burning and we had to go ten miles without food. luckily in Queenstown we hit the really nice Ivy Market Cafe owned by the really friendly Carolyn Kolb and Dave finally got his vegetables. after this it got extremely hot indeed (we’re getting through loads of water, but this is a good thing) but we eventually made it to the very cheap Chesapeake Motel, where the decor and showers were a long way the wrong side of fine. still, it had cable.

last night we hit The Jetty, a restaurant/bar with live music, for our first Friday night out. the beer is surprisingly good here, one of my major preconceptions dashed. we ate well, and then got scared for our flip-flopped feet around the main bar area, while Hot Buttered Elvis belted out rock classics in the corner. Dave and I were convinced that they were doing bits from Spinal Tap’s ‘Stonehenge’ in between songs which made them a winner with us.

anyway, it was good to sleep in a bed last night, and get some socks washed. the football this morning was on ABC where the commentary was frightening (sample: “A great ball in from Michael Beckham) and England’s performance matched. we weren’t very impressed but were happy with the 3 points. what’s with Owen?! and why could nobody pull off defensive headers? still, it’s started, and we weren’t as bad as Poland looked at times yesterday..

so yeah, now we have to get across the Bay Bridge. I am positive we are the slowest ADTers yet but we don’t care. tonight we’ll rest up on the other side of the bay, and then we have three days back to DC where Dave will go to see Cat Power (and me, if I can get a ticket) and we’ll rest up, sort out which kit we need and what we don’t, and also completely sort out the website and update photos (Emma, no short shorts pics have been taken yet. we’re waiting for the right moment…). oh, and I’ll also reply to all of you very good people who have emailed me – there’s a lot of support out there and we’re really grateful for it. ok, time to get Dave some food. oh, and another thing – he IS writing journal entries…but he just keeps deleting them accidentally.

Miles: haven’t got maps here in the library. Think we’ve done nearly 90
Feet: getting better all the time. better, better, better…
Racoons: none sighted. all the food advice greatfully received. I guess we though Arlin’s garden was safe…
Chesapeake Chicken: Don’t. Carolyn, you were so right…
Tunes: Amerie ‘One Thing’ (for the whoa-whoa’s); Jesus Christ Superstar (part of Dave’s annoying Christmas songs selection); lots of others but the computer says I have no time left…

More soon come.

Stuart                            Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook


Added: 8-6-2006 1

So endeth Delaware. Now we’re in Maryland. In Denton, Caroline County to be precise, it’s nearly lunchtime and again we’re in the local library. We left Delaware about 8am yesterday morning after spending a fantastic evening at the house of Arlin Mast and his wife Brenda, who kindly let us put our tents up in their front garden for the night. The whole night was a laugh, as Arlin’s children and grandchildren were around at first and then we just sat around and compared countries over a few beers. We even got a tour of Arlin’s extensive deer butchery, which was a first such thing for us Englishmen.

during the night we had the incident with the racoons, cunning little beggars who are now in Arlin’s woods totally fired up on caffeine and sugar and who are therefore likely to be quite a handful. all the powdered milk was gone too, so no morning porridge for us. it was a tough next few miles surviving only on Chocolate (Dave ain’t that into chocolate, he’s more of a fruit type – he was quite pleased to see Farmer Bill’s market outside of Adamsville later that morning). we eventually crossed the state line about lunchtime and then headed on for Denton, which we reached in the middle of the afternoon.

So it seems there are truly friendly people in Delaware, and now we’re finding the same in Maryland. We wandered into Camp Mardela thinking it was available for hikers like us (I say wandered – there was 0.7 mile trail leading into it, took forever after a day of walking) but found it deserted and a bit Blair Witch. this was not good, but eventually we found the camp manager, Gieta, and she kindly offered to let us stay for the night (even though it is a private camp). furthermore, she let us use a hot shower and tumble drier for our washing and then, along with her husband Ken, let us use their kids’ bikes to head into town. bikes! yeah, Dave and I looking like something out of ET, both us way too big for the frames pedalling frantically into town. it felt good, and we got to see a lot more of Denton than we would have done with our immensely knackered feet (yesterday was a long day – when you’re on foot you’re not only doing the trail, you’re also doing extra bits heading out of town to campsites, off to shops etc.). Denton is a small, very quiet place with a single cafe that we ate an obscene amount of food in. all was good (although whether the arrival of a new Super Wal-Mart in town will change this is open to question. Denton, like other places in the area, is experiencing a large amount of new home building, and it appears that with new homes come supermarket giants…)

so now we have to get a little military. gonna be tough with these feet (we’ve just spend a shedload of cash on footcare products in the local pharmacy) but we have to get to Graysonville or Stevensville by tomorrow night in order to get a motel. this is all so we can catch the England-Paraguay game on Saturday morning (Rooney fit – is it really true?). I think we have 34 miles to do in two days. our problem is that we’re not really into going that fast – it was never our plan. we’re more (sh)amblers than anything. the others who are doing this trail this year are making way more progress than us – they’d have no trouble doing the distance. And we’re not going to start today for another hour at least. should be interesting…

Miles so far: about 57
Feet: terrifying
Some towns we will be visiting before DC: Ridgely; Graysonville; Stevensville,; Annapolis; Bowie
Needing: more batteries, another small stove, some sponges, a roll of plaster (why do no pharmacies here seem to do this? everything’s in individual plasters), a proper washing machine and some better smelling washing powder
Tunes: We Three Kings of Orient Are…(Dave kept humming this, a real pain); Lollipop Lollipop (my attempt to come back at him); that Smashing Pumpkins song about the world being a vampire; terrible renditions of James Blunt’s ‘Beautiful’, which we hate; the Rocky theme tune; The Hollies ‘He ain’t Heavy’; Herbie Hancock ‘Wiggle Waggle’, which goes quite nicely into King Bee’s ‘Back by Dope Demand’
Chaffing: Elf needs lube, badly

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Racoons ate our condiments

Added: 8-6-2006 0

Yes they did. we woke up this morning and some racoons (we think) had been at our condiments bag which was nestled nicely in Dave’s tent porch. no decent porridge for us. still, we’re out of Delaware. at the moment we’re on dial-up very kindly provided by Gieta at Camp Mardela in Denton so journal entries must be short this evening. More to come tomorrow, once we’re back in town at the library. Just checking in. so many thanks for all the people who have emailed, we’ll definitely be in touch soon…

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From Bridgeville

Added: 6-6-2006 2

OK, so another entry from another library– this time in Bridgeville, Delaware. Fantastic library, and v.friendly staff too (including you Jonnell!), really helping us out. only thing the library really needs is a shower, because then we’d be a lot cleaner and have less change of being asked to leave because of the funky smell…

anyway, all is quite well in the Land of the Free. we’re about 38 miles in now, up nice and early today at 6.30am to hit the road. yesterday was hot and we were a bit lethargic at times, and Dave’s insides were feeling the strain of him not being able to eat salad every 45 minutes. today it’s my turn to be the millstone – I’m cultivating an extensive blister farm on my left foot and have some bruising from the tongue of my boots on my right. my walking action resembles something between an old man and someone who has been at sea for a while and is now retesting dry land.

most of the reason for this is that, in Delaware at least, the American Disvoery Trail is a misnomer. It’s all roads, all of it. mile after mile of concrete, no friend to any long distance walker. the route is flat though, and we’re going through a region which is experiencing some of the largest amount of new home building in the States (according to a nice fella I met this morning, who let me use his tap to fill up our water bottles). Delaware seems pretty quiet but the people have been extremely friendly and helpful, like the two old ladies we met yesterday when slightly lost (Ladies, your accents were amazing, somewhere between New Zealand the West Country!). We’re just trucking on as best we can, Dave normally at the front while I hold it down at the back making sure we’re not snuck up on by any other walkers. It’s a good system.

so yeah, last night we kipped at a ‘primitive campsite’ in the woods and gorged on a meal of packet pasta with added veg. we actually crashed out at 9.30pm – I can’t remember going to bed that early in years. still, meant we could get up early today and do a good 4 miles before breakfast. by about 1pm we were dying for food so we have detoured to Bridgeville (where we knew there was a library – darnit but we’re gonna get use out of this library card). lunch was at Jeff’s Tap Room, a fine bar in the classic American style where big screen TV gave me a first taste of the genius of American TV. how can any country which has given us The Young and the Restless and As the World Turns  be bad? how can so many young actors and actresses have such perfect complexions? quality stuff. we would have played pool in the bar if we could have stood, so instead we just sat there and ate big portions. I had the Best Burger in the Delamar Area (TM) and boy was it big. Way big. Dave had big shrimps. We will not need to eat for three days and in fact we should probably be sleeping the food off right now.

anyway, that’s about it for now. I have to send many thank yous to everyone who has contacted me since Loida (the best PR in the business) sent out the message to the library list-servs – I will be in touch with all of you when I return to DC in a week. keep any messages coming though! we will have time to get a lot of stuff done then as there are still many things we need to do to get the website fully functional. we need to get the route pages sorted, as well as trying to sort out an RSS feed as someone rightly suggested we do. in the meantime, check the Guestbook for Mikkel’s suggestion about staying up to date with another service (glad you’re enjoying the vinyl son, how’s Salonen going? oh, and tell Casper to embrace 30, it will be sure to love him back). we will also chuck loads of photos on, they’re all fantastic (obviously) but you’ll have to wait.

so yes, once again, thanks to all of sending best wishes and what not. they all help, although new feet might help more. more from us whenever we get on line next…

Miles Done: About 38 we think
I am getting to know: the GPS equipment. It’s awesome, many thanks Michael at Garmim
Amusing: Dave in the morning when he emerges from his tent in all his clothes. Roll on the sleeping bag
Tunes in head: the first track off the Elbow album ‘Cast of Thousands’; Redhill Mining Town (?) by U2, A Tribe Called Quest (the one with ‘I got the rhythm, you got the rhythm’ in it); Wichita Linesman (Dave and both started whistling it at a telephone repair man this morning); plenty of other stuff
I want: trails not roads
I also want: Rooney to be fit, and for us to definitely be in front of a TV on Saturday morning (how disappointing is it to have to watch a football match at 9am? even I am not desperate for a beer at 9am)
Delaware is: almost finished

Stuart                             Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

We finally made it

Added: 5-6-2006 1

to the start.

I need to keep this one brief as I am a renegade internet user in this library. I may be quetly but firmly shushed towards the exit at any moment.

It feels great to have finally got off. The hectic nature of our preperations continued right to the last as we packed into the early hours in DC. It is now extremely relaxing to only have to worry about making the miles. The organisational legwork work has been done and the legwork legwork has begun.

The walking has been good so far. We have seen eagles, a cardinal – a beautiful red bird , another beautiful blue bird yet to be identified and I actually met a groundhog yesterday. I gave him my card. He seemed impressed.

We also saw a snake which was a bit of a wake-up call. I had forgotten about those.

A feature of the walk so far has been the kindness of everyone we have come across. We have had 3 lifts  (to get to campsites and off-licenses – no cheating!) and everyone has been incredibly helpful. More about this later when we have a bit more time.

So we are off. We are heading for Bridgeville today but only after some serious breakfasting. We will keep you posted.

Oh and I found my wallet. It was under the seat in Kim’s car. I thought it was

Dave                                Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

Day three

Added: 5-6-2006 1

Ok, where to start? well, I’m writing this in a library in Milton, Delaware just after I have had to pay $15 to become a library member. Somehow I think this is one library card I will not get much use out of…apparently Dave and I could not just be signed in to use the net as people passing through, we actually had to join. also it was made quite clear to us that if only one of us joined, the other person could not use the Internet! cracking stuff, talk about barriers to Internet access. if there are any ALA folks who are reading this who can save us a fortune on our trek across the ALA by helping out in any way, please email me. otherwise it’s gonna be cheaper to use Internet cafes and give the libraries a miss – which is a shame.

enough moans about that. next week we will have our laptop anyway. right now we’re at the beginning of day three of the walk, and so far we’ve only come about 15 miles or so from the start, not far. last night we camped at Eagles Nest Campground on the outside of Milton and made good with a barbque after a good day’s walking. We had actually set off from Cape Henloppen the previous evening after we discovered the local campsite was full with Nascar racing fans (there were big races here in Delaware this weekend). we did a few miles and then camped in a field, but only after a very kind fella called Tom had given us a lift to the liquor store in the back of his pickup along with his two enthusistic golden retrievers Molly and Abby. very kind he was, and our first evening passed quite nicely in the company of a local beer called Yuingling or something or another.

that the walk is on at all is mostly due to the finding of Dave’s wallet by Kim on Saturday morning. we were up until four am packing and worrying, and then resolved to go anyway. the sense of relief when Kim called about the wallet was quite something. now all Dave needs is a sleeping bag and a waterproof, but I guess he’ll get them at some point…

so yeah, things are going good so far. the weather today sucks though, and we were lucky to get a lift back into Milton from the campsite by a bloke called John who was a good man and off fishing. it’s a kind of persistant rain outside, the kind that makes walking a drag and with Dave only having an umberella I’m not sure how far we’ll get today. still, walk we will and we’ll see what happens. apparently tonight we will be ‘primitive camping’, according to our map, so I’m intrigued to see what that means…

so, all for now. I have to smuggle Dave onto this computer in a flagrant breach of the library Internet use policy. I can’t believe I am doing this, it goes against all my library instincts. shocking.

anyway, a roundup:

Miles so far: about 15 or so
Feet: looking good, boots holding up
Suntan: very nice
Tunes in head: California Dreaming, Ice Hockey Hair by the Super Furries, Steady as She Goes by the Raconteurs, anything with clapping in it cos it goes well on the road, some D.O.C. hip hop thing I can’t remember, loads of other things
Eating: well, portions are big, although I will never darken the doors of Arby’s again – it was rubbish
Drinking: local beer is good, surprisingly so (but I keep getting asked for ID. flattering for the ego but a real pain…)
Wanting: it to stop raining
Today: on towards Bridgeville
Thanking: Butch from the ADT for getting us to Henloppen, Tom for the Liquor Store Run, Lorraine for taking us to the campsite at Milton, John for taking us back from the campsite this morning – a real bonus considering the weather
Pictures: when we get back to DC – at the moment we are without the laptop cos it’s on order – hence the library effort…

Stuart                             Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

The Off

Added: 3-6-2006 1

So last night’s drama has turned into this morning’s rush. Let’s see, three and a half hours later I am up, there is bread in the oven, a Dave in the shower and 53 minutes until we get picked up. We have to finalise the packing and clean Steph’s place up. The tension is mounting. Let me propose a timeline:

7.09am: Check bread in oven
7.10am: Check weather. It’s wet.
7.11am: Begin note to Steph explaining situation
7.21am: Dave leaves shower
7.22am: I realise this timeline is extremely exciting
7.47am: We are now pretty much tidied, the bread is done, it’s raining outside and we get picked up in 13 minutes. Wish we could have left the place in a better state
7.50am: Give you lot our new telephone numbers. Please contact us!! Outside of the US I think you will need 00 1 in front of them:
Stu: 202 213 8528
Dave: 202 213 4946

7.58am: We shut down. Not sure when we’ll check in next. Wish us luck. We need it….

Stuart                              Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook


Added: 3-6-2006 1

Last night, over a cumulative walking distance of about 45 yards, I somehow managed to lose my passport, credit cards and a whole wallet full of dollars.

This does not bode well for the 5000 miles ahead.

Neither of us can quite understand how such a loss was possible through zipped pockets.

On the up-side I managed to find some very reasonably-priced flip-flops for evening relaxing.

It is raining.

Dave                                  Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook


Added: 3-6-2006 0

It’s 3.25am. We’re now 30% packed. It’s all on, despite disasters…

Stuart                            Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

Not good

Added: 3-6-2006 0

Well this is live sodding blogging. Things are not good. Dave has mislaid his passport and visa, credit cards and cash. He’s in the middle of cancelling all of the above, and the start of the trip. It’s all great. I don’t know where we go from here, but at 1.30am on Saturday 3rd, when we are supposed to leave at 8am, I belive the outlook is not good.

Chin up.

Stuart                             Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

Internet issues, and dinner in DC

Added: 2-6-2006 1

Yesterday was an ‘in’ day – trying to sort out a lot of things we have outstanding on the website and arrange a bit of PR for the walk in the coming days. It was still immensely hot, probably up around 30 degrees and therefore not really a problem to stay indoors with the AC and do a bit of writing. Dave and I have now completely taken over Steph’s apartment, with camping equipment everywhere along with cameras, computers and leads taking up any other available space. In light of this, I figured Steph was quite happy to leave for her four day meditation course…

Obviously we still have quite a lot of things still to cover. We have practically all of our trekking stuff, although Dave doesn’t actually have a sleeping bag yet because the company he ordered it from hasn’t sent it out for delivery. He says he’ll sleep under his clothes which I think could be quite amusing – I’m quite looking forward to seeing how this tactic will work. We spent a lot of time yesterday doing boring stuff – trying to order camcorder batteries, laptops, microphones etc. only to find that we need a US billing address to sort things out. Nothing like wasting hours in front of a computer screen…

Still, we eventually got out and headed downtown to meet a good friend of mine from my Brighton days, Kim. Kim is living and working in DC and she took us to the rather fine Eighteenth Street Lounge (I think it’s the bar owned by the Thievery Corporation) where we enjoyed beers on the roof terrace while it thundered and lighteninged around us. Kim’s workmates turned up and we did our best to sound prepared, confident and heroic about the walk. Not quite sure it worked but we had a go (it’s the water burying in the desert – our journey description goes really well until that point, and then people’s jaws start dropping).

The day ended in a good Thai restaurant, Dave going Sushi and me going Thai Green Curry. Sadly, for all of you who asked about it before, the portions were not gargantuan, but all the meals we’ve had so far have indeed been, er, fuller than what you might find in Europe. And good – very good. I can see why no one here apparently cooks – it’s so cheap to go out and eat good food that I figure most people don’t see the point in cooking.

So that’s all for now. Perhaps a boring entry. I’m writing this sitting inside my sleeping bag and it’s time to get up and get military. Today we have to sort mobile phones, hit the supermarkets and get everything packed. We get picked up at 8am tomorrow by the ADT Executive Director Susan ‘Butch’ Henley and given a very generous lift to the start of the walk to Cape Henlopppen. The start is very close now…

Stuart                            Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

Checking DC

Added: 1-6-2006 1

Since our arrival in DC on Tuesday night we have been busy, when not yawning, kickstarting the local DC economy by pumping loads of money into its diners, electrical goods stores, chemists and camping outfitters. Yesterday was a day of shopping, trying to tick things off the ever-increasing list of equipment we need to get.

First up though, was breakfast. Bizarrely we ended up in the same diner where I watched the England-Brazil game in 2002, although this time there were unfortunately a lot fewer cute Brazilian girls waving flags. I decided to go full out for the Breakfast Royale and it was a good choice even if I am not yet sold on the idea of pancakes with syrup as part of a good healthy fried breakfast. It’s like you have all the savoury stuff (fried eggs, fried sausage, fried bacon, fried bread, chicken sausage (!)) down one end of the plate, and then on the other you can pick at the sweet pancakes. I’m not sure about this but I’m game for a fatty laugh and I’ll keep you all informed when I like the setup so much my weight starts ballooning…

Anyway, after some sort of Reservoir Dogs-type discussion on tipping (apologies to our waitress – we won’t go 8.5% again) we went off in search of  Great American Customer Service. Unfortunately it was hard to find as  shop assistants either interpreted our accents as too weird to bother with (guy in Books a Million who adopted a Talk to the Hand approach) or they found that our repeated questions were interferring with their loafing (yes, that’s all of you lot at Best Buy). We did however get a middling response from the guy in the camping store who sold me the most amazing pair of walking boots I have EVER seen – like wearing two tractors with rockets in the soles, truly the Jordan IV’s of walking. This guy looked at us with a strange expression all the time we asked questions but Dave thought perhaps we were being too English and he was probably right. I figure we don’t look that much like professional walkers (what with Dave’s limp and all) and the guy thought we were jokers. Still, he brightened up when I showed him the route and he pointed out were he came from.

Still, there was one champion of customer serivce yesterday. Step forward, Duwayne from Radio Shack, you are our winner. Within seconds of entering the shop Duwayne had clocked us and was swift to identify our MP3 player speaker needs. He also jogged our memory on a few other things that we absolutely had to buy and was most helpful. America’s reputation was singlehandedly salvaged…

OK, maybe it’s a bit harsh to be ragging on American shop assistants and American food – after all, the UK is nothing to shout about. But one thing that was interesting about my first day is the differences in the way customer-shop assistant interation works, along with the shops themselves. I know we’re in the city, but there’s fastfood everywhere. Dave looked in vain for a greengrocers for a salad, but we saw none (ok, I guess we were in the wrong area, but we walked all over the place). Today we’re gonna hit the supermarkets, and I figure this will be another insight into how healthy we’re actually gonna get to eat over here…

Stuart                                  Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

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