Day 2 Part 2

Filed under: @ 2:15 pm

I napped on a nice grassy bank with an ice bag on my knee, a bag of Sun Chips on my chest, and my hat over my face for about half an hour. Slugged down 400mg ibuprofen, took slurks off of my water bottle and listened to some quite remarkable conversations.
One woman bemoaning the fact that her shoes had gotten wet and she was wondering what would happen if she walked the rest of the day in wet socks. Fortunately someone found her a pair of dry socks and convinced her that trying to dry her own was a bad idea as she’d end up with most of the skin peeled off of her feet. Someone talking about how he couldn’t get out of his shoes because the laces had broken and he’d had to tie square knots in the laces which had now cinched down so tight he couldn’t untie them. People complaining about how horrid the walk down the driveway had been. People opining that they’d never leave the beach because they’d taken their shoes off in the sand and their feet were too happy. And over it all wafting slack key guitar music…… It was an surreal little nap.

Changed my socks, stripped off my shirt and shook the grass out of the back of my neck. Reapplied my sunscreen, cranked down on my own shoelaces, returned, much to the amusement of the people handing them out, my ice bag and started the hike back up to the road. Uphill is much, MUCH, better than downhill.
Before I left the park proper I talked to Pink Beard Guy. Relayed to him the comment about it taking a real man to wear a pink beard which amused him greatly. He did, however, refuse to have his photo taken in the position in which we’d first started our conversation which was flat on his back with his heels up over his head stretching his back.

The ridge above Puget Sound in Des Moines is a very fine place to walk. Broad sidewalks, polite traffic, lovely homes, a GORGEOUS view….. If it weren’t for the overwhelming constant airplane noise one would almost want to live there, but directly in the south flight approach of a major airport is not my idea of an appealing place to live.
I walked for a while with Miriam (more on her later), but when she and her group of little old Amazon women out paced me I just kinda walked. The ambulance guys must have passed us about six times back and forth. All the while playing, I believe, Barry Manilow over their PA system. What IS it with ambulance guys and soft-n-easy listening?! Matt, care to comment?
Lots and lots of pink balloons on the fence outside what used to be the Masonic retirement home which is a lovely old pile of a building that otherwise appeared to be entirely deserted.
Down the hill (damn, damn, DAMN the thrice cursed down hills!) to the intersection with Marine View drive then down to the Des Moines Marina where we walked past the Des Moines Saturday Farmer’s Market. The Des Moines Saturday Farmer’s Market had very kindly posted signs that we were to stay the hell away from their porta-potty thank you very much and that they did NOT represent a free snack stop. Lovely welcome we got from them, although there was an oompah band playing very tuba intensive polka music on their main stage as I was walking past. I found that in addition to disco, polka music makes very decent walking music indeed. I think they were a little disconcerted (heh, dis-CONCERTed) when after the polka had stopped playing I hollered out “MORE POLKA!!” Didn’t seem to endear me to them very much.

Along the Des Moines Marina where I got the first, and only, question of the weekend about the veterinary caduceus that is on the back of my shirt. I was gimping along with nothing really on my mind but my hat when a voice behind me asked: “WHO is your sponsor?!”
I laughed and admitted that I didn’t really have a major sponsor except for myself and that the shirt honored the fact that I’m a veterinarian.
Tallish, skinny woman pulls up beside me and it turns out that she’s a veterinarian too. Works somewhat north of Everett and I noted that she had been the only one all day to recognize the caduceus. We chatted for a while about my shirt, she was, I think, the only person who was reading the list who didn’t ask me what a tenrec is but since she was able to walk at a fair clip faster than I we soon parted company.

There’s a lovely little park at the very north end of the marina that I’d never have known was there otherwise. The next pit stop was there and I began to realize that it was not in any way a normal pit stop, no, this was THE SUPER PIT STOP. I can’t think that they hadn’t been present on Friday, but I know that Saturday afternoon was the first time I’d noticed the SUPER PORTA-POTTIES and the fact that we were being served SUPER WATER and SUPER SNACKS. Fantastically, awfully, 1970’s Batman-like “WHAM” and “POW” exclamations on the potty doors. The guy that was running around in a black SUPER cape and SUPER mask protecting his secret identity was the real hit of that show. Nut jobs, every single one of them.

Just up a ways and right around the corner and here we are at the second cheering station of the day. Candy and drinks and businesses along the way who had set out cheerful signs and one that was offering a flush toilet stop to anyone who was wearing a walker credential. Andrew, Shawn, Anastasia, and my folks (and the dog) were there which gave me the opportunity to hand off my flamingo deeley boppers which were somewhat less than convenient to walk around with. Make you about six inches taller and thus subject to catching on low hanging branches. Besides Anastasia looks a lot cuter in them than I did anyway. Much cheer from the family, a lot of pointing out of people I’d been walking and chatting with. I couldn’t really stop for long though. It’s true that once you’ve gotten going you just hit a momentum and if you stop you’re done for.
On the other hand, I knew the direction they were taking us and even though uphill is way better than downhill I sure as hell didn’t want to walk UP the hill out of Des Moines and into the south end of Normandy Park. It was very convenient then that the 18 Hour Lift and Support van was in a parking lot at the base of the hill. I was the last they could fit for that run so I swung in and we were off up the hill. It was a mile, maybe a mile and a half to the next pit stop, a small park in Normandy Park, but it really doesn’t seem like a long way until you drive it. I was REALLY glad for the rest especially since I was in the beginning stages of what I was to describe to the amusement of the MD at the next medical tent as “Acute Brace Rash” and there was a patch on the outside of my calf that was threatening revolt without some additional help. We trailed through Normandy Park towards the pit stop with the navigator hanging out the windows chatting with everyone we drove past and the driver flipping in increasing frustration through the CD in the stereo looking for at least one song that they hadn’t listened to 36 times in the last 24 hours. An idea began to percolate through my brain.

They dropped us all off at Mara Vista Park which I’d never seen before. It’s in a section of the neighborhood where I don’t usually walk, but now that I’ve got that section of the area sort of plugged into my mental map, I’ll sure go back.
I got the bemused MD to pad up my leg to protect my calf from the pressure of the brace, hit the potties, grabbed my snack, stretched in various obscure ways and was off again. Except for the small part of that section that involved Mara Vista Park and elementary school where I’d never been before, we were then walking right along my regular training route. I was thrilled, and probably a little obnoxious truth be told, to be walking through my own neighborhood. We were pretty strung out at that point and I wasn’t really walking with, let alone talking with, anyone. However every chance I got to bring up in casual conversation that this was where I lived and had trained, I did. There’s something really giddy about doing something this unusual in front of people who might casually recognize you. I must have been a real pain in the butt.

It was down along Marine View Drive, just outside one of my favorite-est walking spots in the neighborhood, that we ran across the Parrotheads of Puget Sound booth for the first time. This is a local group of, I believe, Jimmy Buffet fans who had set up a tropical themed stand and were handing out Gatorade slushies. What was most notable about them, outside of the fact that they’re all completely nuts and utterly wonderful for hanging out handing out yummies to us lunatics, was that the blenders they were using to create said slushies……. SOUNDED LIKE A FREAKING CHAINSAW! I powered right through them, collecting my yummy frozen treat along the way, and didn’t actually consider that the chainsaw that I was hearing was the blender they were using. I thought one of the neighbors was taking out a tree. It wasn’t until I ran across them on a dusty downtown street on Sunday that I realized it was their blender that was making those frightening noises. Apparently if one is a significant enough margarita fan one can actively seek out one of these hideous monstrosities that are, in fact, run by the motor for a gas powered leaf blower. It takes a serious blender fanatic to have a blender that has to be started with a pull cord.

I was REALLY jazzed to be walking through my own neighborhood. So jazzed, in fact, that when we got to the last pit stop of the day (the Wizard of Oz stop) I was inspired to take a multitude of photos detailing the fact that the pit stop was *In My Very Own Neighborhood*. At the Normandy Park City Hall, to be exact. Normandy Park is a tiny entirely suburban city and city hall is deeply ensconced in the middle of a neighborhood exactly where you wouldn’t expect a city hall to be. Normandy Park City Hall, in fact, is exactly where one would expect to find an elementary school (which I suspect it once was) with a lovely little grassy park and some play equipment. I had a lot of fun taking photos of the porta potties because it amused me greatly to find porta potties at my *very own* City Hall. Hey, gimme a break, I’d walked 37 miles at that point and I was pooped. A lot of things seemed amusing or reasonable.
There was much wailing and sounds of disappointment when, after having been presented with several sets of beads each, the Normandy Park firefighters who were in attendance there didn’t show us their chests. It must be a Mardi Gras thing, but apparently when one is presented with a set of beads one is supposed to flash one’s chest. These were some seriously good looking guys too.

Anyway I struck out from City Hall for the last 3 miles before camp. Up some hills that I didn’t know existed. I am very familiar with the route, but since I come from southeast and head north before turning west, and in this case we were coming from southwest and heading northeast….. Well, just accept the fact that the route was backwards for me and what had seemed like a nice gradual down slope when I was in training was a pretty significant up slope when I was walking. Even though uphill is WAY better than downhill, it was a bit of a betrayal. Through some truly lovely sections of Normandy Park then a sharp left and we were walking right along 1st Ave. South.
Busy road. Lots of traffic, lots of honking, lots of extremely confused looks. Nice old folks outside the retirement home and another pox ridden LONG downhill just south of 160th (we were camped on 156th). Since the route was taking us straight past Five Corners I really desperately wanted to walk that last stretch since I wanted to make an obnoxious spectacle of myself outside the building where I’d worked for the last 9 years. Unfortunately my knee had other things to say about it and when it gave out, I mean literally I just about collapsed in a heap at about 163rd, I gave in in bad grace and flagged down YIPPEE! MY PRINCESS GIRLS!
The sweep van crews are really something special. I was truly bummed at not being able to walk the last bit of the day, but the Princess Van girls really managed to cheer me up. We zoomed back to the last pit stop, picking people up along the way playing bouncy and up tempo walking music. The Princess Van girls were also suffering from severe music repetition and another idea started to percolate through my head. There were only four of us in the van (the two of them, another walker and I) when we started to head back to camp. We started talking about why we were walking and they seemed truly touched when I told them about Grams. When I asked if they’d like some additional music and how I’d be able to find them before the route opened Sunday morning they were enthusiastic and thrilled. They were also nice enough to stop in the parking lot at an apartment complex just before we got to camp so they could let us out and we could walk in to camp. A great group of folks.

I signed in at camp, officially signed out for the evening and called Andrew for a pick up.

Postscript for Day 2 includes me going home, slugging down a huge volume of Praying Mantis Juice (ask Andrew for the recipe. If you’re prone to leg cramps this stuff is the shit.), eating a very proteinaceous dinner off of my chest while collapsed in bed with an ice bag on my knee, and slipping into unconsciousness by 1930. I don’t think I’ve been out for the night that early since I was about five. I did stop, though, to burn a pair of CDs for my two sweep van drivers. I’d made Andrew a CD of cheering station music, listening to it right now in fact, that mixed some of my best walking music with some of the best walking music from the mix disc that Robbie made for me. Titled “TOTALLY ROCKIN’ WALKING”, I was very eager to hand them off the next morning.

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