Thursday, November 28, 2013

Walking in Another Man's Shoes

My 2013 Walk was made much easier by a simple change of footware. In 2002 and 2012, I relied on frequent stops to douse my feet in streams, lakes, ponds, ditches or puddles. To rest and cool them, and my whole being.

Each trip, I was wearing boots - most of the time. I thought they carried me quite well. Nonetheless, my feet got tired, hot, and sweaty. Cool water or any water helped. And, I made many stops to water my feet

One of the reasons, I decided to push a Buggy on the 2013 trip was that I could carry extra water to drink in case of dry spots heading toward Arizona. I also imagined carrying enough water to rinse my feet in case the ditches and puddles disappeared, as they did a number of times on the road.

But, that scenario never materialized because new footware came to the rescue. Actually, my then next-door neighbor Lorenzo Haarr came to rescue.


A few days before my journey was to begin, Mr. Haarr invited me to his house for a Walking Party to send me off on the next excursion. The Elwoods and the Kolmans and the Haarrs convened for cookies and lemonade and a good visit. People asked about my intended route (which changed almost before I got out of town) and I queried everyone about their plans for the summer.

Somewhere during the party, Lorenzo asked about footware for the trip. Not waiting for the whole answer, he divested himself of his Tevas and said, "Give these a try. If they fit and you like them, wear them on your journey."

I wasn't sure about wearing "sandals" on such a trip, but I did give them a try. They fit perfectly and felt great. I tested them out several times in the next few days. And, I wore them all the way to the Black Hills. When they began to wear through at the heels and balls of my feet, I traded off with my boots especially in the morning.

The Tevas worked wonderfully. They were comfortable, airy, and easy. And to top the whole deal off, I managed sometimes whole days without needing to put my feet in water. That was good because there were a number of days in eastern Montana and western Nebraska when no streams or ditches in walking range appeared during the day's travel.

So, how did it feel to Walk in Another Man's Shoes? It felt terrific. I am hooked on those walking sandals. The Tevas lasted until my first stop along the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota. I decided that Mystic, SD (just a spot on the trail - once the location of a mine) was an appropriately named place to deposit the worn-out Tevas and put on the new Keens which my brother had bought for me in Deadwood.

I can't say enough for the Tevas and the Keens. I am keen on both of them. I recommend them highly, at least the kind I got. (See photo below).

And, I can't recommend my friend Lorenzo enough. He is a wonderful neighbor in Harlowton, a community and family man, a former Peace Corps volunteer, rafter and traveler, and - I dare not forget - an avid and accomplished golfer.

I don't remember any psychic or sympathetic revelations from walking 450 miles in another man's shoes. But, I did learn the value of modern walking sandals thanks to another man named Lorenzo. I also call him on occasion, Mr. Sympatico.

These are Keens, I wore socks.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Living on the Edge

View from the edge of Melstone, MT - July 2013

"If you're not living on the Edge, 
you're taking up too much Space."

I think walking less-traveled highways off and on over two months fits the idea of Living on the Edge. (You can catch up on the end of my recent journey by reading previous blog called Back from the Edge.)

But, I have taken the Edge adage for my own and expressed it for many years regardless of walking expeditions. I believe more people should make it their own motto, or at least spend some time pondering on its possible meanings. It may be useful and important because more and more of us surely will be living on the edge in the coming months and years.

Like the Edge of

* Credit Limits
* Financial Stability
* Social Comfort
* Physical and Emotional Safety
* Western Superiority

Some are there already. But overall, thanks to a plethora of government generosity, most of us don't appear to have suffered too much. Still, it seems clear that government handouts - bailouts, stimulus programs, quantitative easing, welfare, grants - and many other gifts are about to run out or be reduced.

The recent government shutdown and impasse on raising the debt ceiling should be clear warnings of things to come. The whole scenario will be revisited in just a few weeks and remind us again that the days of living "high off the hog" are coming to an end. The "chickens are coming home to roost," as my old Mother used to say.

Many of us will have to learn to live much more frugally than we have since the Depression Days of the 30s. Anybody remember the 30s?

We also may have to learn to

* Cooperate and really work together - the era of rugged independence may be over, time for group effort may be upon us. The Age of Aquarius which is slowly evolving will be one of Group Consciousness.
* Share more freely - we are used to buying all we want and more than we need. When we run out of credit or the store shelves are depleted, we will be forced to share with friends and neighbors.
* Care for each other - mercenary days of paying for all kinds of so-called expert services will be replaced by DoItYourself options which will ultimately be for our betterment.

I find it interesting that the Richest Country in the World and All Known History worries so much about lack, poverty, and "not enough." How much is enough? Those who live in 21st century America have MORE than 99 percent of humans living on the planet past and present.

We are standing at the Edge of the unsustainable Past, worrying about living with less. But, the real abundance lies within waiting to be drawn forth. Within our world and nations, communities and families and our very selves.

We all can prepare a bit for the Trying Future ahead. Let's give a little more, share of our talents, and make the coming change not just more palatable, but also a real Adventure.

Get ready to Live on the Edge.

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Amity and Unity to you, Robert

Monday, October 7, 2013

Back from the Edge

"What Edge?" you might be wondering.

Well, there are a number to recount, like -

* The Highway Shoulder might be thought of as the Edge. The Buggy, Flag and I covered nearly 700 miles of it. That was a lot of miles, though just a bit more than last year. Still, only half way to Arizona.

* The Borrow Pit might fit Edge as well. We spent several nights - not worth counting - resting in the highway borrow pits. The Buggy couldn't jump fences, so we generally just looked for a flat, maybe grassy place along the highway to rest at night as well as during the day.

Resting under a tree was a preference. But, highway planners have decided in many western places that trees in the right-of-way are too much trouble.

Miles and miles of western highways have no trees for miles. The sight of a tree along the highway was sometimes a real thrill.

* How about the Edge of Civilization? I have to say much of eastern Montana and western Nebraska are still pioneer country. Miles and miles of space - real big sky country. Lots of territory, sagebrush or grass, occasionally wheat or hay country.

Fortunately, we didn't meet the desert this time. Detouring to South Dakota kept us out of the worst of the heat. But, there was still plenty.

I might also make mention passing through a few ghost towns. Ardmore, SD, and Angora, NE, come to mind. Ardmore - on the extreme southwestern edge of SD - was once a busy spot on the railroad. Now, there are still many - dozens - houses and buildings standing - or leaning. Although there was traffic passing through the town, I didn't spy any residents. I was told later that there may be one of two occupied houses in the town. It was a bit scary.

* The Edge of Wellbeing. I gave up the Walk on my 65th birthday when I arrived in Bridgeport, NE. I thought I might keep going. My legs were fine, especially with my Keen walking sandals - which Brother T bought for me to replace the Tevas which Neighbor Loren gave me before starting the journey. Even now, I just put the Keens on my feet and my legs want to get moving and cover ground.

But while my muscles were still in running order, my bowels were running as well. And, I was getting tired of stopping often to hide behind a tree, bush, or hillock to "take care of business."

My intestines and solar plexus are still not quite settled. But, bleeding always stops and "it all comes out in the wash," as my good mother used to say.

I now trade one Edge for another which I will explain in the next blog. That will be based on a saying passed to me by an old friend - one that resonates:

"If you're not living on the Edge, 
you're taking up too much Space."

Dave and I shared a room at the Rainbow Motel in Alliance, NE.
Dave's been living on the Edge for most of his life.
If you want to know more about his story, ask me directly.

Thanks for reading. Post a comment below, or send a note via email to if you like.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Natural Healing

I walked into Crawford, NE, after some tough and very hot days on leaving the Mickelson Trail and the Black Hills of SD.

I remember hearing a dog bark near some new structures next to Highway 71 a mile north of Crawford as I passed by. There must have been a human presence around the dog's bark, but not words. So I just waved as I walked on to town.

I had been low on water, dry in the mouth and ready for a meal. A driver who stopped earlier on the road recommended the Frontier Bar. So I went there for breakfast.

I downed three icy tumblers of wonderful cold water before I even ordered a meal. I visited just a bit with the waitress Sarah who is getting married in October. I walked out the door a bit refreshed and returned to my rig. A man pulled up in his green pickup, moved across the street, and said, "You walked by my house just an hour ago. What are up to?"

John Dinsley and I were soon comparing notes about our interests in walking and healing. John had walked and hitchhiked many parts of the world in his early years. In recent times, John and wife Kimberly have developed a substantial business on the edge of Crawford NE based on a simple remedy which has many, many uses. The remedy is (activated) charcoal and their business is detailed at The commercial enterprise developed and rapidly expanded after John published his book called The Complete Handbook of Medicinal Charcoal and Its Applications in 2005.

John and I had crossed paths 35 years ago but not met in 1978-79. We had both spent a year in western Georgia - eastern Alabama and gotten to know Drs. Agatha and Calvin Thrash at the Uchee Pines Institute, Seale AL. John studied their natural healing methods intensively at the Institute. I visited Uchee Pines a number of times and several more at the associated health foods store and restaurant in Phenix Ciy, AL.

John Dinsley

So, we had lots to talk about. Walking and healing being recurring themes. Saturday brought an invitation to spend a morning studying at the Dinsleys home followed by vegetarian lunch plus peaches and ice cream. Then, I got a tour of the Charcoal Remedies facility next door to the Dinsley home.

Soon after, we drove several miles into the Nebraska Hills to the Ministry of Health center run by Jim and Cindy Hornung. The Ministry of Health uses herbs, juices, vitamins, hydrotherapy, massage, steam baths, organic vegetarian diet along with Biblical lifestyle to promote natural healing. In the beautiful, restful, yet simple setting, the Hornungs have helped many people at modest cost to recover their health and even heal "incurable and terminal illnesses."

John and Kim and I stayed for three hours or so. The men debated Evolution and Creationism. I'm not sure what the women spent their time on. Before the evening was over, the Hornungs shared a tasty repast of fruit smoothies, whole grain bread, and popcorn after a heartfelt blessing.

To me, the best part of the whole day was seeing a Community developing and maturing. Not just a forced one or one composed of people who share the space out of necessity. But people working, sharing, cooperating together out of choice.

I am reminded of the quote (approximate) of psychiatrist Scott Peck: "The pathway to real healing in the modern era is through community."

It seems to me Community put Amity and Unity together. May we all find ways promote all of the above.

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The Best to you from the Sandhills of Western Nebraska,


I've Been Walking on the Railroad

My brother Tom lives in Deadwood, SD, for the last six years. He has been telling for a long time about the Mickelson Trail which starts just a couple blocks from his house and ends in Edgemont - 109 miles to the south. Tom and wife Janet and daughter Megan are among many who take to walking or cycling on the trail from their homes in one of several towns along its route.

Well, the trail sounded like a fine thing. But, Seeing is Believing and Experience is the Best Teacher.

When I stayed at my brother's house for two weeks plus, I got to put my feet on that path once or twice daily. I joined my brother's family several times. On practically every excursion, Molly the Dachshund came along. We became good buddies.

Molly can be mouthy and excitable when first encountered. And her different-colored eyes can also be somewhat intimidating. But, she is a lover at heart. I wished I could have brought her on the trip. My brother said that I am in line to inherit Molly if anything should happen to her present masters.

When the time came to depart Deadwood for southern lands, it was a relatively easy choice to take the Mickelson Trail which was built between 1991 to 1998 on the old Chicago, Burlington and Quincy RR bed from Edgemont to Deadwood. These are some of the high points of the Trail and of my 3 1/2 trip on all but the last 16 miles:

A bit of a miracle in 19th century construction - The trail is spotted with dozens of signs with stories from the old railroad's history. It is both fascinating and impressive to learn that the 109-mile line was built to include 100 trestles and 4 tunnels in 255 days in 1890-1891. That was a time when manual labor, primitive machinery, and dynamite were the only forces available to get the job done. (The Burlington Northern Railroad ceased running the line in 1983 and eventually donated the land to what eventually was called the Mickelson Trail.)

Chipmunks and chokecherries - The little critters were the most frequent animal company on the trail. And chokecherry bushes line the trail by the thousands. My mother would have gotten her fill of chokecherry picking if ever she had visited the area.

Grand and constantly changing scenery - I'm sure that bicyclers enjoy their tours on the Trail. But like my other travels, walking the Trail gave the slow and steady opportunity to appreciate the terrain, the trees, and the rolling trail itself.

Fifteen trailheads are interspersed along the route - Some spots are plain and with modest facilities. Others are more developed. I stopped for the night at two trailheads. I didn't camp. I just unrolled my pad and laid out my sleeping bag at Mystic and Lien Quarry. The latter night seemed almost magical as I looked out across the Black Hills forest under the starry sky. Mystic had its own moments as its name might suggest. Both were isolated and away from traffic.

On the second night, I just rolled my buggy off the Trail and parked myself under some pine trees a mile south of the Crazy Horse Memorial intersection and a bit short of the next trailhead. That kept me some distance away from the highway.

Between trailheads, benches appear every few miles - That came in handy for a walker like me. I find that I can sit for just a few minutes and be rejuvenated. If I lay down, it is harder to get going again.

The Mickelson Trail is extraordinarily well maintained. The paths are gravelled and graded and almost spotless of litter. Users appear to really "pack it in and pack it out."

My only quibbles include too much barbed wire. But, that is practically the case on every stretch of road I travel. My other strange complaint is "too many trees." I am a flatlander and like to see the prairie stand out before my eyes. So, I was relieved when the forests broke for the plains after Crazy Horse and later on. Picky, picky, picky.

I also think that the Trail should open up ways to accommodate Walkers like myself who might wish take the whole shebang on and sleep out under the stars along the way.

I had the good fortune to meet the Manager of the Mickelson Trail just after I finished my trek to Minnekahta Junction - instead of Edgeont. I took a rest in the early afternoon and walked on to Hot Springs later.

Dana Garry, the Manager, was making her weekly check on the trailheads and picking up registration packets. We visited for some time. Comparing notes, we found that Mitchell, SD, had been important in both our lives.

I shared a copy of my Montana book with her and she left me with a cold peach for my lunch.

I recommend others to Take a Walk on the Railroad - the old Chicago, Burlington and Qunicy which is now the Mickelson Trail. Great scenery, lots of history, good exercise, plenty of greenery, fresh, fresh air, etc.

For more info, go to or just do a google.

Comment below, if you like or contact me at Website

Article in the Forsyth Independent Press - August 8 - by Chaun Scott

"Dr. Bob" walks to spread the word of Amity:  
Vietnam Veteran takes his third journey cross country 
with a message of love and community

Forsyth - With the rest of the world racing for the finish line in a blur that runs from one day to the next, one Harlowtown man has decided to take an 1,800 mile walk to Arizona in order to share friendship with those he meets along the way. Physician and Vietnam Veteran, Dr. Robert McNary (Dr. Bob) has set out on a summer journey to talk about "Amity," a word, according to Dr. Bob, not many understand in today's culture. So, on June 30, with his companion Fannie, a red, white and blue flag fashioned with a heart and one star, and a push cart, he began an 1,800 mile trek south to Arizona to spread the word.

"How long should we wait for things to change?" Dr. Bob asked. "Who do we think will make things right, better, wonderful? Must we wait for government or God to act? I'm walking to bring awareness that we need to care for each other, our family, neighbors and fellow citizens. We all belong to the human race."

When we caught up to Dr. Bob in Forsyth, he had already traveled from his hometown of Harlowtown, walked along Montana Highway 12 passing through Melstone, Ingomar and 
miles of country until he arrived in Forsyth where he decided to a nap under a shade tree. After spending a few hours in Forsyth, Dr. Bob packed up his bed-roll and head south towards Colstrip to continue his walk. His plan is to walk to South Dakota to visit his brother and then journey to Arizona where he plans to arrive in the fall.

The journey is nothing new for Dr. Bob; 11 years ago, he set out on a trip that took him from Lavina to New York City. The 2,100 mile trip took five months and four pairs of boots. He wore out the soles of his shoes but not his determination to complete the journey to the feet of Lady Liberty. 

The focus of his first adventure was to share his inspired version of the American Flag and encourage love and good will to those he met. And then last year, he set out on a 900-mile walk from Harlowtown to Reno, Nevada. The trip took him approximately 40 days to complete.

Dr. Bob hopes the symbol that Fannie represents will bring the message of love and goodwill as it waves. He believes that in order to heal, the nation must overcome divisions and love our neighbors and our adversaries, and extend America's goodness and wealth to everyone. "It's time we take care of our neighbors and quit relying so much on the government," said Dr. Bob. "Let's all pitch in again and again. We are never too old or weak to do a good deed and make a difference. Let our little lights shine."

If you see Dr. Bob while you are driving down the highway, stop and say hello. A friendly smile and good conversation is the first step to making a change. "A bottle of cold water is good, too." 

Dr. Bob is the author of Montana Made Me Do It and People Medicine.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Rescues and Rescuers

Oooops! I just lost a page or more of blog immediately after changing the title of the post. I was working on the idea that problems typically have remedies waiting for us when we are open to them. And, those remedies often come in the form of other human beings.

Two of my recent dilemmas resolved themselves very quickly with help from strangers who became friends - or were they friends I just hadn't met yet? 

The first happened outside of Colstrip when the front wheel bracket suddenly felt off my buggy when we were about to take a break in front of the Rosebud Power Plant. I put my right thumb out and held the wheel in my other hand for all to see. The second vehicle passing towards town stopped.

80 year-old Annie Purdon didn't pull over. She just put on the brakes, stepped out of her van and invited me to ride to town with her. We quickly got the rig settled in the back of hers. I was a bit worried about her parking in the middle of the highway. Annie thought nothing of it.

She drove me to her favorite tire shop looking for assistance, but the only regular mechanic there and in town was getting ready to make a towing run to Spearfish. We considered options in the middle of which Annie took me to the local supermarket.

I needed some cold liquid refreshment. While in line, I asked around, "Does anyone know a welder in this town?"

Immediately, JoAnn Kofford spoke up from another checkout line. "I do. What do you need?"

Annie Purdon & JoAnn Kofford

Within minutes, the buggy was transferred to JoAnn's SUV. She then drove us to Josh Clark's CTA Performance in Colstrip's industrial park. Josh was out, but his helpers assured me that they could fix the problem.

We left the Buggy and JoAnn drove us to her home. There I met her husband, Dale Kison, and two granddaughters, Chalon and Deja. I was made entirely at home, like family, and joined the four for chicken fried steak dinner.

Life in Colstrip revolves around coal mining and coal-fired power generation. Dale works for power company. JoAnn used to.

Around dinner JoAnn and Dale and I talked about Colstrip and coal and power. Later on, JoAnn and I discussed life and philosophy as well as her Mormon heritage. Eventually, I got a tour of the Kofford-Kison property and several gardens. 

Before the evening was out, Mr. Clark appeared to repair the fuel pump on Dale's truck. He had welded the Buggy back into working order dropped it off. "No charge." I have been wondering about that ever since. (JoAnn told me weeks later that Josh is also a Mormon.)

In any case, my Colstrip benefactors took kind and generous care of me. I slept comfortably in the house's storeroom - no spare bedroom. JoAnn supplied me with goodies and a map to find my way out of town and Dale got me started in the morning as he went off to his shift as operator at one of Colstrip's power plants.

Thanks to a mishap, breakdown, and problem on the road, I got to know some Colstrippers, spend an evening with family, and make a friendship. JoAnn and I have traded a number of emails over recent days. Thanks once again.

From Colstrip, I was off to Lame Deer. That stretch was relatively uneventful. I met many friendly people there, especially at Dull Knife College.

During the middle of the day, a former US Marine stopped to visit as I was approaching Ashland. He was supportive of my "mission" and offered to lift me into town where he was to meet an old friend. If he had twisted my arm, I might have taken him up on his offer. Before long, I thought, "Maybe I should have accepted. Look what I got myself into."

Around six o'clock, I approached Ashland with rainclouds building on the north. I thought nonchalantly to myself, "When it starts to rain, I will have time to get my poncho on."

Well, I was overly optimistic. As soon as the first drops began to fall, hail followed immediately. A lot of hail and even more wind. I barely got the poncho unfolded from its pouch. (I hadn't used before.) 

The wind was BIG. It very nearly tore the poncho out of my hands. With supreme effort, I got it over my body. I couldn't manage to get my head into its covering. But, maybe that was for the best. 

The hail was pounding down. I decided to sit myself on top of the Buggy. The welding job held, thanks to Mr. Clark.

I sat there with the wind and rain and hail having their way - mostly - with me for what seemed like a long time. It would have been totally unnerving had I not remembered, "Hailstorms pass quickly."

And, that one did. The whole episode was only ten or twenty minutes with the hard part lasting half that long.

I was soaked to the bone. But, the sun slowly returned to assist the wind in drying me out.

I marched the last few miles into Ashland. I hadn't a clue what to do with my wet and bedraggled self.

A convenience mart appeared and I headed toward it. I parked my rig and moved to the front door. A young woman, filling her SUV with gas station, addressed me saying, "Were you in that storm?"

"Yes, I sure I was."

Koyatu Jorden took charge and decided she would make room for me and my rig in the back of her vehicle. She was heading for Riddle on the other side of Broadus to her second job of the week working as a flagger on a road construction project.

We traded stories as she barreled down the road, making calls and texting much of the while. She was a multi-tasker, to be sure. Koya cranked up the heater to help me dry out.

By the time we reached Broadus, we had become friends. Koya insisted on taking me to the local motel office. But, all three plus campgrounds were full up. Against resistance, she eventually dropped me at the local park. She did insist in leaving me with a blanket which has already come in handy. 

Interestingly, Koya - also called Tutu - filled me in during our excursion on some of the details of her Mormon background. I told her about my reading of the Book of Mormon the previous winter spurred by my several interactions with LDS people on my 2012 Walk to Nevada. 

I kept my critique of the Book of Mormon to myself. I will merely say, "There are kind, generous people everywhere. How interesting that I was 'rescued' by two Mormon women in the early days of my latest expedition."

I had for a time planned to walk through Utah on this trek. I may now have already had my Utah experience thanks to new friends, JoAnn Kofford and Koyatu Jorden - KJ and JK.

Koyatu Jorden

I failed to get a photo of Koyatu on that rainy night, so I borrow one from her Facebook page.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Seams Right

I have known Janet Ecord for almost 15 years. We crossed paths a few times beginning over a decade ago when I lived in Lavina and she in Melstone.

I helped her get started in Medical Transcription and Janet did the hard part of finishing my one and only quilt. Janet and I also traded services on another occasion. She sewed some curtains for (Ginger Arnold and) me. I painted the inside of her sewing shoppe which sits next to her house on Highway 12.

Those seemed like the right things to do some years ago. And, another course of action seemed right when I presented myself at her door several days into my current Walking Venture. 

It was late morning when I appeared at her house on the east edge of little Melstone. It had been several years since I had last visited Janet while passing through on a trip to South Dakota. Janet was away from town and I missed her when Walking through in 2002.

This time when I knocked at her door, she appeared immediately with her two dogs behind her. We talked for a few moments while I filled her in about my latest adventure. When she invited me into her home, it was clear that Janet was working on a new venture of her own: remodeling the interior of her house.

Much of the floor was bare as Janet had pulled up the old shag rug. She had been busy scraping the old popcorn ceilings clear of their period texture. Janet was also planning to tear down a number of kitchen cabinets which jutted out into her present work area. She was in definite need of help on the latter operation.

I thought, "Wow! This is a big project. Maybe I should lend a hand."
I made those thoughts audible within a few minutes and I joined in Janet's remodeling effort.

I stayed with Janet and her dogs J.D. and Sam for 9 days. During that time, I got to know the grocery and cafe, senior center and church. As well as a number of Melstone's citizens.

But, the main object was to help Janet get her house in order. We got much of her ceilings scraped and cleaned and painted. A couple living room walls got covered with paint as well. The kitchen cabinets were removed from their posts of the last 20 years.

When those tasks were done, Janet put her sewing machine to use and repaired my tattered flag. (She has just now finished a replacement flag as the original Fannie got mauled in a hailstorm outside of Ashland and needs to be retired.)

Janet Ecord spends up to 12 hours a day at her computer keyboard transcribing dictated medical records. In years past, she taught at the Melstone High School.

But, it is clear that her favorite work and talent is with a sewing machine. Janet told me that her mother explained sewing to her when she was a little girl. But, Janet really taught herself and became a seamstress from an early age. She could and did sew practically anything during much of her life.

Alas, Janet has hardly touched any one of her several sewing machines for the last five years. My little projects gave her an excuse to sit again at her Bernina. 

It also gave us a chance to visit the building next door to her house. Once upon a time, it was a grocery store. For a short period, it was her sewing shoppe called Seams Right. While the shoppe has been quiet for some years, it still holds many of Janet's creations some of which I induced her to let me photograph.

Along with her children and sewing, Janet is most fond of her two dogs J.D. (Janet's Dog) and Sam who go with her most everywhere.

Recently, she purchased a Scamp trailer to take her home and pups with her. She can visit her two daughters (Carol and Jamie) and son (Will) most anytime, carry space for her and dogs, and set up her transcription equipment for work while on the road.

Some day, more opportunities will arise for Janet to get back to her first talent. If you ever need help with a sewing project, I'm sure Janet Ecord would be happy to help make your Seams Right. Contact her at

Contact me, if you wish at

Amity and Unity to you.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

This Bud's For You

Following the early miles of my travel route allowed me to visit friends from recent years. I also passed over the same miles Lavina to Forsyth, Montana, as I did on my 2002 trek to New York City. And, that gave me the opportunity to revisit memorable spots on the previous journey.

Even before I made it to Melstone, I was planning to look up Bud Hjelvik. We had met unexpectedly in 2002 a few miles east of town.

My dog friend Leo accompanied me in the early days of that trek. To provide breaks, relieve the pace, and cool Leo off, we stopped every few miles at ponds and streams, ditches and rivulets of the Musselshell River. At most, I took my boots off and dipped my feet. Leo played and laved himself at the same time in the cooling waters.

But I made an exception when we came across an extraordinary expanse of irrigation ditch near Melstone. It was wide and clear and bounded by concrete. It was like a shallow swimming pool. Furthermore, the pool was hidden from the nearby highway by a high grassy berm.

Well, it was a fine place for Leo to refresh himself. And, why not his master?

I stripped naked, tip-toed in, and started throwing the cool element all over my tired and sweaty body. The moment was wonderful but short-lived.

Of a sudden, a pickup appeared atop the berm and its driver stared at the naked bather as he passed by.

I quickly dried my body, dressed myself and regrouped. Shortly thereafter, the unexpected intruder returned. He introduced himself as Bud Hjelvik, nearby rancher and sometime ditch rider. I returned the favor and explained our presence in his ditch.

Bud and Leo and I had a great visit. We found that we had common "family" in Lavina. Lois Boe, Bud's sister-in-law lived there and owned the FastGo Gas Station with her husband Sid, the Mayor of Lavina.

Bud Hjelvik

I took a favorite trip photo of Bud and Leo. Whenever I saw Lois in later days, I had to ask about Bud. 

On passing through Lavina just a few days back in 2013, I had to get on the phone to Lois and ask how to find Bud when I made it to Melstone.

After a couple days in that micropolis, I - along with new dog friend Sam - hiked the 3 1/2 miles to Bud Hjelvik's ranch home. 

We caught up on intervening times. Bud thought out loud, "It was only 4-5 years since you passed through here."

I had to tell him that 11 years had gone by. Much had happened in my life. Bud's wife had died and he had dealt with a number of health problems. And, he had had a recent injury to his shoulder - another story. Still, at 82 years old, he is very busy and active on the Hjelvik Ranch with his son Brent and grandson Dylan.

Bud and I got together once more a few days later. And again unexpectedly, in Ingomar after I resumed my 2013 Walk.

It was Saturday night at the Jersey Lilly. Charlotte McDevitt and I had made a birding excursion near the Yellowstone River. Birds were scarce, but we had made a day of it and returned to Ingomar for beans and burgers.

The Lilly was not quite busy for a Saturday night, but people slowly began to collect and move tables into a line. Then, of a sudden, I thought I descried Bud H. near the entrance to the bar. And, it was he - along with his favorite crony and fellow guitar picker, Joe Kanta. The two moved towards our table and introductions were made.

We talked for a while and the two older gents eventually settled in with family and friends. But not before I asked if "you are going to play tonight?"

Gnarly old Joe, who is slowly going blind, had to say, "You have to talk to my manager about that."

Well, one might have wondered who the real manager was. In any case, food was eventually eaten and guitars appeared.

Bud Hjelvik

The two entertainers pulled their chairs out from their tables and started to play a string of old country standards and favorites from their repertory. Bud and Joe have been jammin' and playing for small groups for years.

The watchers hardly gave them full attention, but they clearly enjoyed their gift of strumming and singing.

The two oldtimers played for most of two hours. Before the night was out, they had emulated Cash and Owens, Haggard and Robbins, and a host of other country greats and not-so-greats.

The highlight of the night was a long rendition of Kenny Rogers's The Gambler: "You gotta know when to hold 'em, you gotta know when to fold 'em, you gotta know when to walk away, know when to run."

Bud Hjelvik and Joe Kanta

That was a touching lyric which most surely had keen meaning for the musicians. They had both passed 80 years and were still energetic and generous enough to share their talents with neighbors and strangers alike.

The Gambler drew out some voices from the audience as did a few other closing tunes. Then, people slipped away into the night, but only after hugs and thankyous were shared. This blogger took several photos to give hints of the sweet moments at the Jersey Lilly Bar in the tiny town on the lonesome prairie spot called Ingomar, MT. 

Google it for more info.

Feel free to comment on this blog by writing to

Amity and Unity to you. 


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

You're A Good Man, Mr. Dylan

I have had the great good fortune to meet many fine, friendly people on my walking expeditions. I encountered several of them Sunday before last between Roundup and Musselshell, MT.

Part of the idea for Walking the Country is to get to know folks - usually older ones - here and there along the way. And, that is what generally happens. But that Sunday, I unexpectedly got to spend time with some "younger folks." And, it turned out to be a precious moment initiated by Mr. Dylan. 

I had been resting for a time under some trees several yards from Highway 12 near mile marker 182. I had noticed some ATV traffic coming and going, but had paid little attention. 

Of a sudden, there was a boy standing next to the Flag and Buggy, saying, "What is this thing?"

I unthinkingly yelled out, "That's mine," and returned to my nap.

When I wandered over to the Buggy en route to the nearby river some minutes later, the youngster had disappeared. But, it seemed that he was responsible for the bottle of water I found waiting there for me. "How kind," I said to myself.

I proceeded to a nearby bridge which crosses the Musselshell River. I stared down at the water looking for a place to rinse and rest my weary feet. There was no easy spot, but I thought I could manage to get to one on the other side. I passed over the bridge and picked my way down intending to find a log or rock to sit on near the water's edge. Instead, I slid down an embankment collecting mud on the length of the left leg of my blue jeans.

I sat for a moment reflecting on my predicament when a voice came from above. 

No, it wasn't God. Or, maybe it was. But, in the form of a young boy who inquired what I was about. He quickly told me that he had a "much better waterhole."

Dylan, whose name I soon learned, invited me to ride with him on his ATV to his special place. "It's only two minutes away."

I said, "Sure. Thank you very much. But, I need to leave a note at my rig. I'm expecting friends to stop by on their way home."

Dylan gave me a quick lift - after I stretched and stretched to get on the ATV behind him. When I dismounted, I walked a few yards to the Buggy to find more water - several bottles, a can of cream style corn, and the remains of a bag of Cheetos. "Someone is looking out for me, and I have a good idea who it may be."

I quickly scribbled a note for Duane and Audrey - who didn't appear until the next day in Melstone. I returned to the ATV with thanks to Dylan and stretched again to get over the wide saddle. 

And, WE'RE OFF. Dylan put his foot to the pedal and sped down the gravel road. It seemed like a long two minutes, but we eventually turned across a pasture and onto a landing area which made for a Musselshell River Beach. 

Lexis (sister) and Josh (friend) were paddling in the turbid waters with sandstone rims in the background. They were having a good old time. Dylan quickly jumped in, boots and all. I slowly followed suit sans shoes and just walked around in the water. 

I have never been much of a swimmer. I blame that- in part - on wearing thick glasses and seeing quite hazily without them.

Still, I waddled the wide Musselshell pool and laved water over my dirty jeans and sweaty body. It felt grand. A great moment with sky, sun and water.

It was even more grand to see the young people splashing and cavorting with merely an inner tube and water as equipment.  

I gathered bits and pieces of Dylan's story. His sister filled in a few blanks while Dylan and Josh made the best of their watery activity.

Dylan (10) and Lexis (11)  live with their mother on a ranch nearby. They go to school in Roundup. But, they obviously relish the country, the fields, and the river.

Dylan told me he had been driving an ATV since age 6. He helps with haying and other ranch work as well. He didn't have much to say about school. I imagined that was far from his mind in the middle of summer.

Our play moments went by quickly. After our 90-minute excursion, I asked Dylan to drive me back the Buggy at mile marker 182.

We returned to the ATV. Waving to Lexis and Josh, we retraced the trail back along the gravel road. 

I got Dylan's address and phone number, and promised to keep in touch. This is my first effort thereto, although I have shared this story several times over already.

I felt and continue to feel the TOUCH of a 10-year-old boy/man who was persistent and caring, fearless and friendly to a total stranger. Would that more of us could emulate him, looking for the best in others and sharing the best in ourselves.

Parting with my young new friend, the only fitting words I could share were these:

"You're a good man. Yes, you are a good man, Mr. Dylan." 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

First Week Out


The Flag, Buggy and I covered 100+ miles in the first 5 1/2 days.

We made full stops at Deadman's Basin, Ryegate, Lavina, Roundup and are resting in Melstone for a few days. Along the way, we have encountered friendly and helpful people, hot days and cool mornings, a few mosquitoes, and some minor adventures.

The first day was marked by my forgetting to bring Fannie the Flag for load-up. A Kolman standard American flag acted as substitute. The day - and the night in a tent at Deadman's Basin passed quickly. The morning brought a visit with the Hammond family, formerly of Lavina - Jenny, Asia, and Dakota. We did some catching up, took photos, and had some hugs.

Asia, Jenny, Dakota

Day 2 was half the miles than the first thanks to an invitation from Adrie Min. Charlotte McDevitt appeared late afternoon with Fanny, the official Walk Flag. We visited with Leslie Burroughs at the Ryegate Town Hall and joined Adrie and Maria Min for a light and tasty fish dinner. Then, conversation, chickenhouse tour and survey of Adrian's basement projects followed.

Maria and Adrie

Day 3, I was given an introduction to Maria's audio and video work with the Heart Community. Then, I set off for Lavina. I made a late stop at the former FastGo Gas Station where I visited with Cassidy Boe before passing into town. Few people were home that Friday. I did get to talk with Dick Colberg and Tani McKeever before connecting with Lee and Leslie Burroughs.

Cassidy Boe

Lee did the cooking and I tried a piece of elk. First ever. I was pleasantly surprised by the cooking and the cook. After dinner, I went with Lee - and Jack, his dog - to their country property while he got some irrigation started. Then, I shared photos from past Walks with Lee. Leslie has seen them before.

I can say that I spent that night in Utopia. The Burroughs home was the original Utopia School. They moved it once to their property west of Lavina and a second time to town two years ago.

It is a wonderful structure, homey, historical and livened with many of Leslie's touches.

Lee made breakfast in the morning and we traded photos before I headed for Roundup.

The Roundup experience should be a post of its own as should the Melstone one.

Many Wishes for Amity and Unity from Roads Less Traveled.


Next Post: "You're a Good Man, Mr. Dylan"

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Changing Plans


All plans are subject to change. My expedition fits that mold. "Life happens while we make plans."

After emptying my house and camping on its floor last Saturday, I ventured west the next morning with Buggy and Flag. Stopping to see Audrey, Duane and Charlotte, I was encouraged to throw my backpack into the Buggy.

After goodbyes, we trundled down Highway 12 at a good pace. Two miles out, the front wheel was wobbling, the flagpole holder was coming "unglued," and then one of the big tires went flat. 

I would have worked on the tire on the side of the road, but figured there were too many other problems about the Buggy that needed to be considered. Turning back toward Harlowton with flag in hand, Charlotte appeared with a breakfast sandwich. She drove me back to town where we waited for Audrey and Duane to return from church.

Then, Jimmy Fisk passed the house in his monster truck. I flagged him down and we went out to bring the rig back to town, but not until he drove me by his prosperous-looking garden.

Duane and Audrey came on the scene. Then, Jim Freeser appeared to help patch the tire.

For a time, with suggestions from the Swickards and Ward Beley, the intention was to build a totally new conveyance for the trip. One larger and more substantial to carry food, water and gear across the miles of prairie and desert again. Dave Waldner at the Duncan Hutterite Colony agreed to help with the project.

While resting and holidaying at Charlotte's in Gardiner, Duane called with the idea to modify and strengthen the original Buggy - new axle and wheels, pole holders, stabilized front wheel, etc. So, on the most recent Saturday, we drove up to see Audrey and Duane, then put the Buggy in Duane's truck and carried it out to the Duncan Colony. Duane had already made some improvements on the rig and purchased a 1/2 inch rod to be made into a new axle.

At the Duncan Colony, I eventually found Gary Waldner, the welder-blacksmith. Gary looked over the Buggy and said he could make the changes when new wheels with flat-free tires could be procured. (I like flat-free better than fat-free.)

Tires were ordered from Marathon Tires in Kent, WA. Gary will make the Buggy road-worthy in short order after they appear in Harlowton Thursday. 

The Amity-Unity Tour should re-commence next week with occasional blogs to follow.

Best Regards from the Montana Walking Man.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ready for the Road Again

Friends and Neighbors.

I took a preview trip with Fanny the Flag and the yet-to-be-named Buggy last Monday-Wednesday - 17 to 19 June. We covered the road from Harlowton to Ryegate stopping in both directions for the night at Deadman's Basin Reservoir. The Big Walk 2013 begins this weekend.
Inline image 1

The original plan was to do a round trip to the old home town of Lavina. But, I had walked Lavina to Ryegate many years ago. And, I mainly wanted to connect with Janie Brown and Leslie Burroughs to whom the Montana Made Me Do IT book was dedicated.

Inline image 3

So, the three of us met up at the Ryegate Cafe, compared notes and talked over the passage of time. Leslie is now Town Clerk for Ryegate at the same time she is filling a position as Town Councilperson in Lavina. The Burroughs recently moved into Lavina proper and Leslie has taken on more civic responsibilities. Janie keeps occupied between the Brown ranch property, substitute teaching, church youth work, and all-around-the-town volunteering. She was at the time putting together two large scrapbooks of photos and commentary on the Lavina Church's youth activities for the last 20 years which will be presented at the church's upcoming 100th anniversary.

I arrived in Ryegate around 3:00 Tuesday when the bank electronic waffled between 88 and 92 degrees. It had cooled down a bit by the time I left at 7:00 after our friendly time together and photo ops.
I also met the Raymonds, FWP caretakers at Deadman's Basin where I camped the two nights on the road. When Marlene found out her son-in-law was written up in my latest book, she had to have a copy. A fellow named Rick from Billings bent my ear for quite some time at the park, finally telling me that his wife is a mystic. I decided she needed a copy of my old book Baby Doctor.

I encountered a few other folks along the highway: Donna and Dennis from South Carolina, Jared from New Mexico, and a number of highway workers who were sealing the a recent road upgrade.

I arrived at the Harlowton rest stop on the east end of town at 5:00 pm exactly. After I rested my feet for a few minutes, I headed into town as rain began to come down.

Before I finished the last mile, Loren, Mike, and Duane and Audrey appeared looking for me. Wondering and worrying about me as a big thunderstorm approached.
Had I arrived back in Harlo two hours later, I would have be knocked around, blown over and deluged for an hour or so. Friends and neighbors and others were looking out for me, to be sure.
The Big Walk 2013 to Arizona begins this weekend and I will blog as opportunities allow.

Amity and Unity to all.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Lessons from Roads Less Traveled - #1

Nevada Highway Patrolman Scott

There is a Great Teaching which goes,
To Follow the Path, You Must Become the Path.

Maybe at this point in my life, I am beginning to understand the meaning of this teaching a bit better. Enough so to write a brief article about it.

The Portable School and I are a few months back from walking across parts of Montana, Idaho, and Nevada - and already planning another excursion for this summer. At the same time, we are reflecting on last summer's path which brought numerous experiences and learning opportunities.

I am reminded that several people were concerned for my health and safety along the way. I suspect numerous prayers were sent my way. Before I left, I was offered a gun to carry which idea got nowhere. I didn't carry one in Vietnam and figured I didn't need one in the USA.

My friend Audrey Snow was worried that I might "get knocked over the head" for some reason, especially by people of foreign extraction. My mother would have thought that, too. Audrey was also concerned about me picking up things out of the ditch and sometimes partaking thereof. I have the nickname of Still Edible in some parts of the country.

I did indulge a few times. I tried a few raw potatoes and a sugar beet which had fallen off trucks here and there during harvest season in the great state of Idaho. They were fairly tasty. Salt and pepper would have helped.

I also was lucky to quench my thirst with a half-full bottle of cool chocolate milk that was sitting next to an empty on the side of the road outside of Ashton, ID - just waiting for me. That was kind of like the lone apple on a tree on north side of Livingston, MT, that was lingering on its stem ready for me to pick it on the way to town.

I wasn't sick for a moment of 35 days on the road. Tired but not sick. No injuries. Not even a twisted ankle. No mayhem. No problems.

I met with the Law on four occasions. Those were the closest times I came to a gun and bullets. Three of the four officers were keen and kind and caring about my welfare. Boyle, Christensen, and Scott made me feel good about law enforcement officers. The latter stopped to visit me twice in my latter miles in Nevada, to offer help and a ride, if I would accept. I wasn't ready.

My fourth experience with a policeman didn't go quite so well. And, I do believe that it was largely my fault. Something to learn. The officer, whose name I conveniently have forgotten, visited me as I was taking a break next to a big evergreen tree on the edge of a farm in the middle of Idaho.

He made it quite clear that I should move on. I thought that I was just resting my feet in broad daylight with my flag in brilliant display. But, he didn't walk much as one could tell by his physique. But, that was part of my problem. I did judge him for his figure and rather slow manner.

He had to take my driver's license twice to verify my identity. He said, "You need to move along."

I said, as I was putting socks and boots back on after my brief respite, "I assure you I am continuing on down the road." He insisted on waiting for my departure.

Next time, I will do better with all policemen. Although 3 of 4 knew I was no threat, one didn't. I needed to understand where he was coming from. For my benefit as well as his.

You see -

• "We are always meeting self." This favorite Edgar Cayceism is "spot on." The universe, karma, fate, the path always lead us to meet ourselves, however far or near we move from home base. We cannot escape ourselves.

We meet ourselves in others, in events, in problems and illness, in triumph and tragedy. We also meet ourselves at home and on the road, in the news programs we turn to and the movies we watch, the songs we listen to. How could it be otherwise?

We even meet ourselves in the form of law officers on the highway. Small, medium and large ones. Quick and slow. Friendly and otherwise.

• We also have the potential of meeting Self. Wherever we go, there is the Divine, God, Goddess, Christ, Krishna, Buddha staring us in the face. If we see the enemy, the adversary, the infidel, the heathen, Satan, we are still only looking at our selves.

Shouldn't we, therefore, be looking for the best in the world and in others? Then, we are certainly more likely to find it in ourselves as well.

Surely, such a way of living will make the Path easier for everyone. Since everyone is part of our bigger Self, what we give out will indeed come back to us - and probably magnified when it does. We can expect to see the return somewhere down the long and winding Road.

Shalom, Peace, Namaste,


Comments appreciated.

PS Lessons will constitute a series which continue over several weeks. If you want to follow them, check in at every week or send a note to and ask to be put on the emailing list.  

PPS I have already posted comments from a number of readers on this first Lesson at the website.