Day 1

Filed under: @ 12:37 pm

Understand that I started writing this, a computer being unavailable and impractical at the time, in a notebook while sitting in the dining tent after dinner last Saturday. It’s not exactly in chronological order, but the flavor of the narrative is so good that I couldn’t stand to discard it.

That having been said…..

So here we are 40 miles into it and there’s loud dance music with better than half the dining tent, the kitchen crew, and free safety and medical personnel of all ages dancing like there’s no tomorrow.
And my shrink wonders why I’m so high after I finish doing one of these.

Thursday night… God I must have dreamed 6 or 8 times that I’d missed the first day. Traditional “sleeping in a strange bed” light and wispy sleep hearing my parents’ clock chime the 15s what seemed like, but couldn’t have been, all freakin’ night.
And over and over and over again dreaming that it was noon Friday and I was only just starting, dreaming that I woke up Saturday morning and had missed Friday entirely. Normal stress/anticipation stuff. I was walking through Kirkland this afternoon and I met someone who had actually missed Friday. Somehow this woman had gotten it in her head that the walk was Saturday/Sunday/Monday and, despite walking with a team and exchanging e-mail from them, to say nothing of having gotten all the official e-mails, she was never corrected. One of her team called her at 0430 on Friday and told her to get packed and get her butt in gear, but she had to work on Friday so she caught up with us this morning.

Now there’s a conga line. No, two.
Sweet Jesus, where did the Glo Stick Hula Hoop come from?
The conga line leader, or one of them, is wearing a giant pair of styrofoam boobs on her chest with giant tassels on the nipples. I may have to join this, they’re playing Abba.
(time passes)
I may dance to Abba, but I DON’T line dance!

Anyway, where was I? Oh right, Friday.
Too early, too chilly, too little sleep, and too excited to have anything other than flash impressions of the early morning.
Two seep van crew in spotted jammies and dog ears helped me haul my bag what turned out to be a shocking distance and even volunteered to take it to the gear van for me. Told me that if I needed a lift at any time during the weekend I was to call on the Paws Van. Weirdly, despite desperately needing, and even once catching, a ride to the nearest porta-potty a few times over the weekend, I didn’t see them again until closing ceremonies.

Hold on – gotta dance again.
A. I was wrong. The boobs aren’t styrofoam, they’re stuffed and covered in synthetic fur.
B. You ain’t seen weird until you’ve sat through almost an hour of slipper and (mostly) flannel jammie clad (mostly) women wearing beads and Glo Stick jewelry dancing to everything from The Village People to a techno remix of Michael Jackson to Garth Brooks while reeking of Ben Gay. Along the lines of Dogbert’s “You haven’t seen ugly until you’ve seen dinosaurs dance.” This isn’t, unless you’re a lousy mean person, in any way ugly but it sure is more surreal than normal.

Okay, back to Friday. The music is ending and I’ve got to get into bed before I freeze my butt straight off.
Another flash, and, in fact, a photo, of the channel 5 news helicopter alone in a patch of wonderfully soft blue sky just as the sun is starting to rise.

And probably almost an hour of standing waiting to get through the gates to the walk out after they officially opened the 2008 Seattle 3 Day. At the time I wasn’t sure how many of us there were, but it seemed like there were a lot more walkers this year than last. (Brief editor’s note: I was right, too. Last year there were only about 2700 of us, this year it’s more like 3300).
Finally walking, finally warming up and the first casualty of the day less than five minutes from the starting gate. Some poor woman sitting in the road crying almost as much as she is bleeding, having tripped, slipped on a manhole cover, and ended up doing a face plant into a curb. The sweep van drivers, fortunately about 50 feet away in a parking lot waving down the Tri Med ambulance that was sitting in the same parking lot. A huge knot, I’ve never seen such a thing, half the size of a tennis ball I swear, on this woman’s forehead and her nose bleeding down her shirt and into her lap. I found out later that she’d broken her nose. We were through the BCC campus and on to 148th when the ambulance came blasting through with her. Since she was sidelined for the whole weekend, and, honestly, is probably only just now getting over the headache, I surely hope that The 3 Day allowed her to transfer her registration and her fundraising to next year.
Walking for a short period of time with William the Utilikilt guy. Pink hair, Utilikilt, knee high pole climbing boots and all. This year William was carrying, in addition to the backpack full of his gear that he usually carries, a pair of wrist and hand weights. BIG wrist and hand weights. Claimed that they kept his hands from swelling and they probably did. I think he’s more than a little crazy though.

Walking off of the BCC campus we were supposed to cross an intersection northbound then funnel on to a pedestrian overpass over 148th and continue northbound on the east side of the street. There were city of Bellevue traffic officers directing traffic at the intersection because there were so damn many of us and it was the middle of the morning rush. It would have worked well, but the approach to the pedestrian overpass would only allow people to walk three abreast. A major traffic jam appeared and we were starting to line the road all the way back through the BCC campus. One traffic cop looks at the other, one standing in the middle of the intersection brings traffic in both directions to a stop. Then they motion us, a hundred or more of us, kitty cornered across the intersection to relieve the congestion. They kept sending us across in batches that way, keeping people moving across the pedestrian bridge at the same time, thus keeping us all in motion as much as possible. Not for the first time were we thankful for the local constabulary.
Through Lake Hills, down Main Street (the suburban one, not the downtown Bellevue one for those who are familiar with Bellevue) and down past Samammish high school. A quick shot past a bus stop where the striking Samammish school teachers were waving signs and shouting for us instead of against the Bellevue school district (one with a sign that read “We’d be here anyway, good luck!”) and down the Lake Hills Connector. LHC is a surface arterial that connects suburban Bellevue with downtown Bellevue running through a beautiful piece of green belt and wetland. I am most intimately familiar with the route since Dad used to drive me to school every morning down that route. I’d never walked it of course, and it is more lovely on foot than it is at 40 miles an hour.
It’s a big inside joke, probably not even most of my family will get it, but Pop, this one’s for you….



Through downtown Bellevue, or at least the southeast skirts thereof. Across 405 for the first of several times that weekend and down and around through the business parks at the south end of Bellevue. A nice place to walk, shady and all but kind of boring until we intersected with 108th and started to head north again. North right past the precincts of Bellevue High School where I spent much stomping time as a teenager. I’d hoped never to walk along there again…. yeesh. Past the bus stop where David Hagen broke both of his shins running from a bully, past the KFC which ain’t one anymore and a swift jaunt west along the downtown Bellevue section of Main. For those who keep track of these things, the Triple Alliance is now (sadly) a pool bar. Another crazy inside joke that very few people will get.
Main Street in downtown Bellevue is at least an interesting place to walk. I’d like to think we offended at least half of the people we walked past, but it may only have been as many as 2/3. We were very noisy, very flamboyant, and NOT very proper upper crust Bellevue.
Lunch at Bellevue’s downtown park, a very respectable piece of green within what has become a rather large small city’s downtown core. Nice place for lunch, but too dang hot, not nearly enough shady bits.

Too I discovered at lunch that massaging hot feet with peppermint foot lotion might feel good, but is likely to cause a wicked itchy rash.
A brief interlude while I sit at medical with an ice bag and 1% hydrocortisone cream on my left foot. Aaaahhhh! Ice bag!
I re-socked and re-shoed but still had the ice bag. Don’t want to carry it, medical won’t take it back. Aha! I tucked the ice bag under my hat and, with a somewhat prolonged break to act as photographer (I got asked to take photos for everyone that weekend. Don’t know why a solo walker is everyone’s automatic choice, but I did get some interesting conversation out of it.) I walked off. North through Bellevue, east again, north again, east again. They had us zig zagging all over freaking creation and while Bellevue is clean and doubtless a safer place to walk than, say, Federal Way, the back and forth got a little dull.
Back over 405, past Overlake hospital and then…. and then…..

Really up.
Not steeply up, just up for a LONG time. Up and hot and cement and lots of strip malls and HOT. GAK!
A pit stop at the little park that’s behind the YMCA where I took swimming lessons as a kid. Nice park, full of bees. Yellow jacket sting for a small fry playing on the playground equipment who had the lung capacity of the entire Mormon Tabernacle Choir. No one, I mean NO ONE can holler like this kid can. Medical forwarded him a cup full of ice and that, combined with several cookies that were donated by those of us in passing, seemed to soothe things.
Oh yeah, the cookies! One of the more organized groups that showed up at the cheering stations all weekend had a table full of home baked cookies. Fantastic cookies, best gingersnaps I’ve had in a long time. The people at the cheering stations were so great.

Finally ended up at the northeastern end of Bellevue just before it turns into Redmond and then we entered THE MICROSOFT ZONE.
I found walking through the Microsoft campus a little creepy.
Clean, sure. Well marked and plenty of controlled intersections, sure.
But everything with that overtone of “You are on corporate property, never forget it!”. Even to the point where, when we started walking past the apartment complexes that are associated with the campus I was forced to wonder whether the complexes are Microsoft property as well, owned by for the express use of employees of Microsoft. No one around could answer that question and plenty of us were asking it. Jaunthie, any comments?
Oh, and I’d forgotten about Ranjit.
I walked with Ranjit for a bit in the morning as we were headed down out of Lake Hills. Ranjit is a Microsofty, an Indian (No! Really?!) import from Bangalore. Ranjit was walking because his wife who had been doing all the fundraising and training, was suddenly unable to walk. The 3 Day allowed them to transfer her registration to him and so Ranjit was walking for his mother, a breast cancer survivor who was visiting from India. As we walked through the Microsoft campus Ranjit’s family, Mom included, was standing outside their apartment all waving signs and cheering. Mom had tears in her eyes when I passed her. It’s cool that The 3 Day let them do that.

Into the depths of Redmond, across 520 for the first of several times, and finally we run across Polly The Dinosaur Lady! I hadn’t seen her all day, was worried that she wouldn’t be crewing this year. I’d seen The Duck Man….

I’d seen Bubba

(and just for the record, this photo of Bubba is from the 3rd day when all of the male safety crew were wearing pink lacy bras. Bubba had stuffed his with a pair of pink fluffy teddy bears and was heard to say that his was the only 3 dollar boob job from Target on the face of the planet.)
But until that point there’d been no Polly.
Polly is special, she’s got more energy, more capacity for improvisation, and a better capability to inspire than just about anyone. Squeaking dinosaur kisses as you pass, “C’mon sugar britches” or something of the sort if you’re lagging or sore… Polly is a character and I was very happy to see her.

One final pit stop at a park in Redmond and I HAD to stop at medical. My right little toe had been sending up gradually more insistent cries for attention and, while I hadn’t planned to take my shoes off until I hit camp (it’s a real pain, literally and figuratively, to have to stuff swollen feet back into your walking shoes), I had to find out what was going on with the toe. It felt like someone had inserted a balloon under the nail and was gradually peeling it off of my toe. There was no blister, the toe was red but nothing obvious. A passing RN in kneepads (there’s a lot of kneeling to look at feet on this event) took a gander and she couldn’t see anything either. The RN went to grab one of the sports medicine people who looked, trans-illuminated my toe with a penlight and told me that the nail was going to fall off. My shoes were a wee bit too tight in the toe box, she said, and that toe had been rubbing. I could cut a hole in my shoe she said, (NOT AT $139 A PAIR I COULDN’T!) or I could take the bus back into camp. It was only three miles and that way I’d be saving my feet for the next day.
Unh huh.
Now understand that I have the greatest respect for the people, especially the medical people, who volunteer for these events. I normally would pay attention to their instructions knowing how irritating it is when I run across people in my professional capacity who think they know better about their pets than I do. I trust implicitly the instructions that these folks give about blisters and foot care, they know far more about people feet than I ever will.
So I lay down in the grass with a bag of ice, my Gatorade bottle and my snack. I elevated my feet, with ice bag in place, against the nearest tree and ate pretzels and my peanut butter and jelly sandwich (Oh those PB&J sandwiches! Nothing you’d catch me dead purchasing or eating in my normal life, but these packaged, refrigerated to partially frozen, crustless, white bread with PB&J smished in between sandwiches are absolute freakin’ AMBROSIA when you’ve been walking hard. Don’t go so well with green Gatorade though, I’d recommend the blue.).
By the time I’d finished with my sammich and pretzels, stretched and re-laced my shoes so they were pretty danged loose… The pinky toe actually felt pretty good. So I walked on. It was, as Sports Medicine Lady said, ONLY 3 miles.
3 miles straight down though. Yeesh!

Down through the tail end of Redmond into the Samammish river valley is a nice walk. Beautiful view, entertaining walking (that is, there’s plenty of traffic to keep you occupied and entertained), but it’s DOWN. And DOWN HURTS! Especially if you’ve got a mashed toe and can either lace your shoes tight so that your toe remains mashed or you can lace them loose and allow your toe to mash with distressing regularity against the end of your shoe.
Finally got down to the Samammish river trail, one final potty stop before we hit the trail and head south towards camp. No access for the sweep vans, once you’re on the trail you’re on the trail until you hit camp, you fall into the river, or you climb up out of the valley in which the trail runs (up the river bank basically) and hitch a ride from a passing car.
Did I mention that it was stinkin’ hot on Friday? The morning was fine, but come about 11 a.m. and it was hot. And we were drinking volumes and volumes of water and Gatorade. The last mile or so of Friday’s route was along the river trail, I had a really sore toe, one empty bottle and a second half full of tepid khaki Gatorade (never mix the orange and the green by the way), a full bladder, and the strap of my waist pack cinching me in two right across my hips.
The last mile or so of the route SUCKED BALLS.
Finally, finally, FINALLY through the west gate at Marymoor park. About a quarter of the way up the driveway there’s a series of baseball fields. Each two fields is equipped with a double porta potty. And they were all full. A line stretched from all of them, but since they were considerably closer than those at camp (about another half mile down the road), I joined the line.

After that it was smooth sailing. I called Andrew, far to early as it turns out, and told him I’d hit camp. We’d arranged that he’d come out to visit me after I got in and so I figured on calling him and getting him on his way while I got my stuff into my tent and got a shower.
Except that his traffic was better than either of us would have predicted and mine was much worse. I checked in at camp, found my tent section and gear then had to drag my bag all the way from tent E 100 (where the sign marking the E section was planted) to my tent site at E 1. Only to find…. no tent.
Damn damn and double damn. I poked my head into the tent across the aisle and found that I was supposed to pick up my tent where I’d picked up my gear. Went back to the gear trucks, I had a shorter route this time since I didn’t have to detour 99 tents to find the gear trucks, only to find that there were no tents.
Pallets with empty tent boxes, but no tents.
Gear monkeys with radios and chairs too, damn them, at the pallets trying to figure out where all the tents had gone, but no tents.
I started to have visions of sleeping in the grass.
3300 walkers plus 400 plus crew and volunteers equals about 2000 pink dome tents. The camp was massive and some of our tents had been mis-routed to the P-Z tent sections. It would take about 20 minutes for them (yes, the camp was that big) to send a tractor over with the tents.
So grouchy, sweaty, sticky, and still fiercely hot, I stood around waiting for my tent.
When the tent finally arrived it was brand new. It was also small and easy enough for one person to pitch. I needed a little help with the rain fly, but managed well, all the time wondering whether or not I’d have a tent mate. I started to have visions of having an entire tent to myself. Not a lot of room, granted, but considerably more than one has sharing a tent.
Anne showed up with the rest of her teammates as I was unpacking my shower gear though so I ended up with a roommate for the weekend.
Anne was a gracious roomie, an older (mid to late 60’s) breast cancer survivor who, when she learned that I was walking solo, made me an official honorary member of her team. I’m now an official member of the Moody Boobs. She and I got along well together especially since both of us were much more interested in showering, eating, and SLEEPING when we were in camp rather than hanging out drinking beer as the “Miller Lite” team in the E 30’s were. How they managed to smuggle in, let alone get away with drinking, Miller Lite in camp (alcohol is strictly verboten) I don’t know but I was glad not to be sleeping next to them. Anne and I were also about four rows away from the porta potties. Far enough not to be bothered by noise or smell, but close enough that stumbling to go and pee in the middle of the night was not a chore. Altogether a decent, if damp, camp experience.

Andrew called to let me know that he was en-route just as I was lining up for my shower. Since a shower in those circumstances can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour I went to go meet him. Still dressed in my filthy gritty clothes, dying of hunger and sticky in a number of remarkable places, it was wonderful to see him.
Andrew carried my junk and stood in line for dinner with me. Laughed at me because, and I quote, “I don’t often get to see you eat like this. You’re eating like a lumberjack!” Which was true. Friday is spaghetti dinner night and even though I didn’t think I would eat all of what the dinner lady gave me…. I vacuumed it up. I always forget what that sort of exercise does to your metabolism.
The spaghetti beast tamed, we dropped some things off at my tent, Andrew (wonderful man, I’m not sure what I did to deserve him) took my dirty laundry and I went off for a shower. The shower line took me half an hour, I brushed my teeth then collapsed and died.
Day 2 and Day 3 to follow, but since it’s taken me almost three hours to write this, y’all are going to have to put up with this saga in serial.
Andrew took these two photos on Friday night.

The Spaghetti Monster Tamed

The Spaghetti Monster Tamed

Rising moon from my tent

Rising moon from my tent

2 Responses to “Day 1”

  1. Val Says:

    I may dance to Abba, but I DON’T line dance!

    This? Cracked my shit up.

    Eagerly awaiting the reports of Days 2&3….

  2. Dalek Says:

    “Even to the point where, when we started walking past the apartment complexes that are associated with the campus I was forced to wonder whether the complexes are Microsoft property as well, owned by for the express use of employees of Microsoft.”

    They’re a mix of condos and apartments, and while lots of Microsofties and other techies live there, they are not owned by Microsoft to the best of my knowledge. (It’s entirely possible some early wealthy Microsoftie bought the land and built them to his/her greater profit, but that’s a different story.)

    Your account of the first day is wonderful. Tell us about Days 2 and 3 soon, please?

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