Sunday, July 30, 2017

Lewes, Delaware -- on the Atlantic Coast!

It hardly seems real, that this walk could be at an end, and that I would be done (for now) with the rituals around packing up the cart and heading down the road, or the trail, with or without predetermined destination for the day, and hoping for weather-mercy.  But so it is.

A ride through some rather hazardous road construction cut a day off my walk across the peninsula between the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays.  There were several thunder/rain storms I avoided overnight by sleeping in motels, and even a tornado on Kent Island overnight on the day I left Annapolis.  It did considerable damage in an area where my friend Breck and I had walked less than 24 hours before.  The day prior to my arrival day in Lewes (on the coast) I was soaked to the skin as it rained all morning, and then got a sunburn in the afternoon.  I spent that final night on the edge of a cornfield, a peaceful and fitting last night on the road.

My welcome in Lewes made me feel like royalty.  Am being hosted by more of D.C. Andrea's friends(!) in a beautiful home on the edge of the wetlands of Cape Henlopen State Park. I've been honored to meet many of the town's literati, activists and other interesting folks.  Tomorrow I will have a visit with a journalist with the local paper, who took some photos of the 'closing ceremony' we had at the ocean-side beach  on Friday.  After a 'risky' forecast for that day, the weather turned out to be ideal.  And to my great joy, along with some new friends from here in Lewes, a couple of Zen friends (Arlene Lueck and Andrea Way) were present for the event, to help me chant a verse called the Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo.

This was the final dedication:

This chant is an invocation of Kannon, the Bodhisattve of Compassion.  I'd like to dedicate any merit arising from our recitation and actually, the effort of this entire pilgrimage to Gaia, Planet Earth, and all of its inhabitants, especially those that ae endangered or facing extinction now.  May we humans come together and evolve toward peace, toward a more skillful stewardship of this fragile place we can still call home -- for now!  And may we evolve toward the end of suffering for all beings.

My gratitude is inexpressible, for the innumerable kindnesses I have been offered on this journey.  And for all I have seen, learned and shared.  May I find ways of putting it to use in the service of those beings who have no voices of their own, or whose voices we cannot hear.

On the coastal plain. No more hills!

A view from my tent.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Ink? (Or what?)

'Ink' -- as in 'press coverage'.  And here is another surprise!  Again with thanks to my DC friend Andrea, this journey has now been celebrated in a style beyond my imagining, in the Washington Post, of all places!

The whole issue of media interest continues to be an evolving story.  Given my reticence around all forms of social media, I had felt a little squeamish, at the outset, about the prospect of publicity.  Pretty early on, though, it became clear that the mission was more important than my personal sensibilities, and somewhere along the way I began welcoming opportunities to speak to the press.  There were not too many.  Some few articles that came out in small town papers were embarrassing, with many inaccuracies and little to do with the spirit of pilgrimage (at least as I saw it).  A few others were well done and seemed encouraging - environment may not be a regular topic of discussion in some of the places I visited!  In any case, this year I've been 'on my own' for the most part.  Until Washington D.C.!  This article is also a little embarrassing, but I did think the journalist captured the spirit of the walk.  Her name is Mary Hui. Here is the link:

Been having a 'weather break' in Annapolis, many thanks to another long-time friend and 'road angel', Breck.  Tomorrow I'll be crossing the Chesapeake Bay and embarking on what most likely will be my last week of walking to the Atlantic coast!

At the Hirshhhorn Museum

Ai Wei Wei exhibit

This part of the exhibit was part of the installation on Alcatraz a few years ago.

Smithsonian Castle

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Holy milestones, Batman -- Washington D.C.!!

Well!  This was something -- arriving in our nation's Capitol, sweating and bug-bitten, to be welcomed by my good friend Andrea.  Who, among other things, instigated a very interesting meeting for me, with my elected representative, Congress-person Jackie Speier!  Without Andrea's encouragement I probably would have been satisfied with parading around the Capitol, my Climate Flag flying (avoiding the White House, in the end, due to the appalling nature - to me - of its current resident!)  Why I hadn't thought of this already (calling on our elected officials), I don't know.  But it may be because there has been so little media interest in this pilgrimage (at least in relation to the distances covered!) that I had begun to feel it was more a mission I'd been carrying out just for my own integrity's sake, out of reverence for the earth, and for the many amazing contacts I have made with an equally amazing and diverse group of people, so many of whom DO care about the environment...  If not for the same reasons, or in the same ways as I do...

BTW, I did end up staying for a night in one of the lock houses I mentioned last post.  It was fascinatingly rustic and so hot overnight that it was hard to sleep.  But then, my last several days on the C&O Canal were extra hot (90's) and humid.  I keep having to re-remember that in an eastern North American summer, it is so green and leafy that you can't see the terrain unless you come to a field or wide body of water, or are climbing/descending a hill yourself.  The Potomac was often visible, but not always.  Much interesting flora and river/canal fauna.

It looks as if there will be about seven more walk days to go until I reach the Atlantic coast - at Lewes area, Rehoboth Beach, Deleware.  There is so much of interest to see and do here in D.C., that I could get immersed very easily.  But 'duty calls', as they say - so in a couple of days I will head to Annapolis and another generous host there!  I hear that there will be a post on Jackie Speier's FB site, about this trip(!)  It should be view-able soon at FACEBOOK.COM/JACKIESPEIER.

A memorial at Antietum National Civil War Battleground site

The pedestrian bridge to Harper's Ferry
At Lockhouse #22

Thursday, July 6, 2017

C&O Canal trail mile 100 -- Williamsport

...And if there are particular themes to this stretch for me, they are mostly very green and rainy ones --  grabbing walk days in between thunder storms, sharing the trail with hundreds of cyclists and (again) scaling back my daily mileage expectations while sweating profusely in the amazing humidity! Camping areas (as well as the trail itself) along the Potomac tend to be beautiful and fairly buggy, including gazillions of fireflies after dark - dazzling!  And of course, the area abounds with early U.S. historical battlefields and other significant places.  For example, Williamsport was one of the sites considered by President Washington for the future Capitol city.

A interesting feature along the trail, the 3000' long Paw Paw Tunnel was closed for safety reasons, and there was a steep and rocky detour trail by-pass.  Luckily for me, the awesome folks I stayed with in the town of Paw Paw shuttled me around the by-pass.  I got to explore the tunnel entrance and enough of the by-pass route to know it would have been an act of penance, indeed, to drag my cart over that hill!  There was also a 20-mile stretch of parallel Western Maryland Rail Trail (paved with asphalt!) running alongside the Canal trail.  Needless to say, I switched to the converted rail path for some easier 'rolling' along that stretch.  Ft. Frederick State Park has a very well restored 18th century fort to explore as well as an impressive nature center it would have been great to revisit for all of my flora and fauna questions!   There are scores of building ruins along the Canal route, some of them restored to use as overnight bunkhouses furnished in period styles.  The one bunkhouse I have experienced myself (so far) is attached to a bike shop in Hancock, sometimes affectionately called The Chicken Coop!

So.  I am a possible 7 days from Washington D.C.(at my current reduced speed!).  After which, it may be that a week or 10 walk-days could get me to the Atlantic!  Will that be a 'wrap'?  I can't imagine what that would feel like...

Former mill site

Lock #50

View from the Paw Paw Tunnel by-pass trail

Paw Paw Tunnel

Taken by my walking companion of an afternoon.  

Paw paw tree.  It has edible fruit later in the season.

8-spot butterfly

'The Chicken Coop' (C&O Bicycle Bunkhouse)

In Fort Frederick barracks room; the barracks buildings were rebuilt in the 1970's, although the original fort was pre-Revolutionary War.