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  • peacelovehaiti

This is what you should do: love the earth & sun, and the animals; stand up for the stupid and crazy

Sept. 25th (Indiana Dunes State Park) to Oct. 5th (Gibson City, IL)



Lake Michigan! The last time we will experience the Great Lakes this year…

It’s sad to leave the Lakes, and in a way, our connection with our home on Lake Superior in Grand Portage.

Now we launch off onto the prairie, into a sea of grass and corn.


We still have a few miles until we cross into Illinois and sniff around for the rails-to-trails that are rumored to cross that state.


I got a call yesterday, from friends in Duluth, who told me that an old friend, Rick Jackson, had been killed while biking at night in Ironwood MI.

Rick, aka Action Jackson, Rancid Ricky, was what some people call “crazy.”

He was always inappropriate. He did and said things that made everyone shake their heads, sometimes humored, but usually they were offended and sometimes downright disgusted.

He smelled bad, and could clear a football stadium with his flatulence.

You might remember him as one of the Iron Four who ran every Grandma's Marathon for maybe 40 years.

I could tell Jackson stories all night, but I’m not going to.


Despite being running pals--training, racing, and partying together for several years, we drifted apart. I settled down some, but he never did. Little by little he lost contact with his closest friends and it got to the point where I literally slammed the door in his face a couple of times when he came a-knockin’.

I don’t feel good about this.

I justified it by saying that my two little kids didn’t need to be exposed to Rick’s obscene and unpredictable behavior. He never called; he would just show up and be staring in a window at us.

Anyway, he’s dead. Not surprising really. The last time I saw Rick was this past Spring, at a music venue in Duluth where Julie’s son, Andrew, was drumming with his metal band, Torment.

And there was Jackson, at 71, in the mosh pit, slamming into kids 1/3 his age, falling on the floor, laughing, in his patented outfit—ripped jean shorts (no underwear) and an old race t-shirt.

I avoided him, but he saw my Haiti sweatshirt in the crowd, came up to me and said, “I got kicked out of Haiti once!” Miraculously, he didn’t look at my face, and I was spared spending the rest of the evening with him.


It’s the age-old conundrum… he needed help. He was probably off his meds. And I wouldn’t be able to help him in any lasting way. But I still felt like an asshole for not acknowledging him. He’d always been good to me. But I couldn’t just say, “Hey Jackson, how you doing?”


***


I was listening to a Rich Roll podcast (shock!) today while walk/trotting along, and Robbie Balenger—who’d run across the US as a “plant-powered athlete,” was explaining how he’d come to be vegan in the first place. As a long-time vegetarian, he was close, but didn’t take that last leap until he heard about seven-time Western States champ and Proctor MN native Scott Jurek’s diet, and then he made the shift.


It made me think about how, back around the turn of the century, we had Scott out to our shack in Clover Valley where we had a weekly group long run on Sundays.

Scott was eating dairy and fish, and I had been a born-again vegan for a couple of years and launched in to my spiel about why he should go fully vegan, and loaned him a book about a beef rancher in MT who had a massive health crisis and became a vegan—“The Mad Cowboy.”

So, Jurek became a vegan, wrote a best-selling book about his running and his diet, crediting me with influencing him, and….

shortly after that I was eating the devil cheese again.


This has been a cycle I’ve been going through for decades.

But it was cool to think that this guy, Balenger, was influenced by Scott Jurek, who was influenced by me. So, in a WAY… I had influenced Robby Balenger, and now he was motivating me! What goes around...

Really, it’s just a reminder that everything we do sets off a ripple, or even an “ultra-tsunami,” in the world around us.


We are walking through NW Indiana right now, almost in to Illinois. We are camped at Indiana Dunes State Park for a couple of days. An early running influence, Hal Higdon, trained in those dunes in the 60’s and 70’s and I’ve always wanted to see them.

So, maybe tomorrow.

(postscript—I sent the legendary Hal Higdon a message and got a short response back from him! Good to know someone is out there, still answering his mail.)


Autumn is settling down around us now. The corn and soybean fields are yellow and brown, if not already harvested. I can often run down the flat dirt rows, saving my legs from the unforgiving asphalt roads.


***

On October 1st Julie and I ate our last delicious, savory, melt-in-your-mouth-or-over-your-burrito shred of cheddar.

Of my life.

I think.


I know, as I have for decades, that it is the right thing to do.

· A vegan diet reduces greenhouse gas emissions by @ 70-75%

· A vegan can expect to live @ 10 years longer, and enjoy more vigorous health

· A vegan contributes 0% to the 92.2 BILLION animals slaughtered each year for food.

We called ourselves “93% vegan” even though I understand that’s not really a thing.


As we walk along through the heartland, we see the trucks hauling cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, and turkeys to slaughterhouses. We also see the vast fields of corn and soybeans being grown for animals.

I want to eat that corn and those soybeans!


Every kind of hot pepper you can imagine (they keep the Ghost peppers locked up)


Thank you, farmers, for your hard work. You are up way before us, getting food to our supermarkets, our fast food joints, the roadside stands. You don’t get much of the money. Almost all of it goes to Cargill et al.

But, if I was a praying man, I would pray that you can hold on to your land, your “Century Farms,” and that your kids will stick with it.


And, to you, Scott Jurek, did you ever get my copy of “The Mad Cowboy” back to me? If not I might have to send Dusty after you.


***



…a bit later, in a different state.

Yup, we’re deep in the heart of Illinois, having abandoned our plan to follow the rails-to-trails across northern Illinois. The cities were too contiguous. The lure of a more diagonal route toward the epic Katy Trail across Missouri. The advancing Autumn weather.

All of it conspired to nudge us south.

Tonight, we are in a $10 camping park in the surprising “Big Little City” Gibson City, Illinois.

It’s just another silo town, but they have this park with showers, water, electricity, a first aid kit. And there is a new dog park, walking trails….

It’s a town that has learned how to grow community by spending a few bucks on the things that make life just a bit more pleasant.

As we often do, we checked what the overdose death rate in the county is.

Around us, especially a bit north, the rates are sky-high. But, here, it is very low…“only” four deaths in 2020-2021.




Finally, today, we had our first “Wind Day.”

I’d planned a long (15-20 miles) pull. Julie kicked off with a 5 mile leg out of town. She texted me and said, “Wow this quite a headwind!” and I replied, “Cooling?”

Ummm… wrong thing to say.

Then I headed out. Running seemed to get me someplace, but walking made me feel like I was doing the Michael Jackson moonwalk.

I sent Julie a message “Maybe pick me up in 5 miles. This really sucks.”

I don’t mind cold, rain, snow, heat…. But wind has always put me on edge and worn down my resolve.


As for books, my Indiana selection was of course, Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five.” Then I had some fillers (Matt Fitzgerald’s “The Comeback Quotient,” A rerun of David Clark’s “Eat Sh*t and Die, Michiel Panhuysen’s “In the Spell of Barkley,” Neal Bascomb’s “The Perfect Mile.” And a shit-ton of Rich Roll podcasts.

In Illinois, I am enjoying one of my favorite old Socialists, Studs Terkel. His “Coming of Age” is a book filled with the life stories of movers and shakers who are all 70 to 100 years old.

Inspiring, considering I'll be 69 when we finish this little walk….


Speaking of old, inspiring, elusive, guys....no word from Bernd Heinrich yet.


Keep moving, friends, and countrypeople!



You gonna get out of that car and walk, or what?!


A pair and a half of pears (free from the tree!)

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katupnorth
Oct 19, 2023

You are going to put together a book of your musings and adventures when you complete this mission, right?! Thanks for continuing to bring us along.

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artbyhaight
Oct 05, 2023

Another interesting post - thanks, Jess! I can just see those flat dirt rows of corn and I'm happy that you include much more than that in your posts.


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