Day 1

Filed under: @ 7:16 pm

My deepest apologies for those who have been tuning in, especially to those VINners who have been popping in from all over the continent, expecting to see some actual commentatry about this last weekend instead of a series of random and sometimes mystifying photographs. However, due to my occasional predisposition for being an exuberant idiot, I managed to hyperextend my left knee and bruise the lateral meniscus (a chunk of cartilage within your knee joint) on the first day which has meant that I’ve spent the last two evenings with a pillow under and an ice bag on my left knee to avoid being red carded (only allowed to continue walking with medical approval).
That having been said, my knee is actually not particularly uncomfortable. My muscles are sore, my feet are sore, but what actually is the most notable at this immediate moment is the blister on my right little toe which is A. the only blister I have, and B. a doozy. Do you know how many nerve endings are in the sole of your little toe? A LOT, that’s how many.

I would also like to add my sincerest thanks to my chief of support, the love of my life, and mixer of a mean bottle of Praying Mantis Juice. Sweetie I could not have done this without you. A big shout out also goes to my folks who were willing to get up at Dark:O’clock on Friday morning to drive me to BCC and who sat in the sun (granted in what Dad would term a “target rich environment” which means that the people watching was beyond all measure) for a couple of hours on Saturday at the cheering station in Des Moines. Thank you also to Shawn and Anastasia who were also cheering. Matt, brah, I missed seeing you on Saturday, but I hooted and hollared at all the guys in the ambulances who were scouring the route in your honor.

Friday morning started at 0445 with my cell phone alarm going off like the trump of damn doom which is guaranteed to make me surly and hard to start. Having the shower pound me with scalding hot water did help, as well as the pre-walk jitters which got me dressed and through a plate of eggs and toast. How anyone can eat that much breakfast at 0515 is and forever will be beyond me. My metabolism just does not work at that hour of the morning.
I was assigned to tent section “I” which meant that they wanted me at Bellevue Community College between 0545 and 0600. Opening ceremonies were scheduled for 0630.
LOOOONNNNGGG line of traffic outside Landerholm Circle on the BCC campus. Much better (tons better, VOLUMES better) access than what we had at Lake Sammamish State Park in 2005, but when you have 2500 people all converging in one spot between 0500 and 0615 it does take its toll. They were letting cars stop in the curb lane to let people off so long as you could do it “quick and safe”. There was only one of me and I only had a small backpack so I managed to leap fairly quickly and wander off towards the gear trucks. There’s a gas station just outside the main entrance to BCC which was playing host to a huge number of drop offs including a stretch limo out of which leapt five people in bright blue t-shirts and neon pink tights. That got me grinning as did the costumes on the gear monkeys on the “I” gear truck who were wearing some variation of hospital gowns and/or scrubs with large fake boobs strapped to the outside (men and women).

It is a rare and wonderful thing to be a full grown adult and spend the weekend being encouraged and celebrated in making booby jokes.

Dropped off my backpack and went wandering into the crowd. Still dark, but gorgeous and clear. Stars, waning gibbous moon, and a forest of chilly people in neon fluff covered deeley boppers parked along the fence in the walker holding pen just in front of the stage.
I asked one of the women in the outlandish headgear what purpose or symbolisim it represented. She grinned and said “Oh nothing really, it just makes our team mates easier to find!”. They were members of the Warming Hut Hotties team and they all wore their deeley boppers, so far as I could tell, at all times except in the shower all weekend. Even their tents had deeley boppers on them.

Standing, waiting, stretching, bouncing. Talking with anyone and everyone. Then it was finally light and the stretching guru got up on stage to lead us in some official stretches. During any of these ceremonies the best fun is to be had watching the ASL translators. During the stretching the ASL translator was a chilly looking blond woman whom I managed to photograph while she was translating the stretch guru explaining about the stretch we were doing. He called that particular stretch “the porta-potty squat” and the photo of the translator taking that from spoken English to pictographic ASL is stunning.

More stretching, and music, and intense longing for a cup of something hot or at least for all of us to be there and the dang ceremony to be over so we could start to walk and get our blood moving. Two local news stations with crews on the ground and a third sent their traffic chopper.
There was a new twist this year. Inside the walker’s holding area there is always a fenced off center aisle with a small stage in the middle. Eight breast cancer survivors are invited to take part in the opening ceremonies and they’re always trotted up on to this center stage to look inspiring while the people on the main stage pontificate. Only this year they were preceeded by an honor guard of twelve walkers, I think all people who have lost family members to breast cancer, each carrying a flag printed with reasons for walking on it. “JOY” and “ANNIVERSARIES” and “BEST FRIENDS” and so forth. The honor guard walked up on to the main stage, the survivors with their eight flags “BELIEF” and “STRENGTH” etc. came up on to their stage and planted the flags. Each of the 20 flags was reproduced in semi-minature (i.e. the traveling flags were only about 3 feet long) and we were told that the flags would walk with us all weekend, ideally to have each walker carry a flag at least once over the next 3 days.
The honor guard took their place lining the opening of the route, the survivors started their walk, the gates opened and we were walking.

And now I’m really tired. Sorry, but I got up at 0500 this morning, walked 16 miles before 1430, and me and my chubby feet have got to be at work ato 0700 tomorrow.
Y’all are just going to have to be patient. I’ll get through the whole weekend eventually.

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