|South Route: Canton, OK – 15 Miles – Northern Direction|
You can wake up at camp Longest Walk in a variety of ways. It depends on what kind of sleeper you are I suppose, or just how you would prefer to come out of sleep world
you can set you own alarm of course...
you can use the Jun-san alarm clock, which is right now set for about 4:45-5:00am (barring that unfortunate incident in Dumas of course) and use the sound of her prayer drum which signals morning prayers.
you can wait and be unslumbered unceremoniously by Nathan or Mike or another one of our bellicose early risers who simply shout, “WAKE UP!! TIME TO GET UP!! 5:00!!
or...the worse, for me...is the tin can or the spoon on metal pan or some other ungodly instrument...banging outside your tent. Personally, I prefer to set my alarm for about 30 minutes before we're supposed to wake up – just to give me a moment to collect my thoughts before packing up and moving on and getting into the general craziness of mornings.
however...that's an awfully long lead-in to telling you about a very sweet wake up call we had this morning in Canton, OK...and it was surprisingly witty reportoire for 6am. It mainly took place between Sacred Runner Kid Valence and Walker Kathleen Perillat. I'll write it in play form for you.
Scene: Dark. A dozen tents tightly packed outside of a meeting hall. The yelled call of “Breakfast!! Wake-Up!! had already been shouted out...to no real movement from the campers. The spoon on pan method was then used, with shouting accompanying the banging. Also, to not much use. (please note that this morning was a little unusual as it wasn't a rest day, but we were staying in the same camp..so the same rush to get tents down and packed wasn't an issue and bought folks some extra time)
Enter Kid Valance and his gentle Kentucky voice, full of good humor and general sweetness.
Kid: Breakfast is ready! We've got oatmeal, cereal and....hot coffee!!
Kathleen (from inside her tent): Can I have mine in my tent?
Kid: Sure, what'll you have!
Kathleen: Coffee...with cream!
Kid: And what kind of flower would you like in your vase?
Kathleen: A Gerber daisy...a light shade of pink please!
(general laughter and other requests from neighboring tents) Sausage!
Eggs over easy!
Kid: I gotta tell ya, the caviar is almost finished so you might want to get in here quick.
Kathleen: Can I have a croissant lightly toasted with butter and jam? French Toast!
Kid: Well, you know it seems I have a captive audience here. Think I'll go get my guitar!
Kathleen: It'll be better than someone banging a can!
In amazingly few seconds the sound of a strumming guitar can be heard
Kid (playing): You know I just learned this one, it's an old Rolling Stones tune called Memory Hotel....hope you like it.
Patrick from his tent: Coffee!
Kid starts singing one of two tunes he plays for us.
It was definitely the most fun I've had waking up in camp in a long time.
So...on with the day,.
I have to tell you guys that I hadn't walked in a couple of days due to a fun little bout of the stomach jumpies. I won't go into it; it wasn't fun and we'll leave it at that. We're here in Canton for a few days, and were set to do our first of a series of directional walks – to keep in shape and to get miles in, we were going to walk 15 miles to the north today, 15 mile to the south tomorrow...etc.
We started out and all was good...Oklahoma is gorgeous this time of year. Bright green rolling hills, red-winged blackbirds singing in the marshes...out in the pastures cows are grazing and egrets are standing alongside them. I kind of thought I would see an egret on a cow...but then I remembered that wasn't the combination...I think it's actually some kind of smaller bird on top of Hippopotamus..in Africa.. I thought it would've been cool to see anyway and I tried to will it to happen, but then our drums scared all the egrets away so that chance was gone.
And there were horses too...prancing around at our drums and flags...a warm gentle breeze in the air..it was all so...picturesque.
And then Kathleen drove up – the coffee requester from this morning.
Here's another thing – our Japanese contingent is down to 5 right now – from over 35 at the beginning of the Walk. Darned Visas have been running out and we've been losing them at a rapid rate over the last couple of weeks. Today we are losing Shun..whose been with us since San Francisco – Shun has either walked or ran every day of this trip and is one of those guys who always puts a smile on your face. I have never seen him angry or attitudinal in anyway, so we will miss him greatly. He says he will be coming back to join us in June...I look forward to seeing him again.
Anyway, Kathleen was coming to take him into Elk City to catch a bus out to L.A. where he's flying out of. She also came to tell us that the bus, the one that would be picking up the walkers at the end of the day, and which had our lunch on it...was in the middle of repairs and would not be joining us today. Flagrant violation of plans.
So I ended up hopping into the truck with her to go back and pick up the maroon van and our lunches and come back to do support for the walkers. We were figuring that between the RV and the van, we should have enough seats to get everyone back. For me, I wasn't planning to walk the whole day anyway having just gotten over a 3 day bout of intestinal nastiness that I won't describe any further.
So...I did that..packed up the lunches into the maroon van. Hugged Shun goodbye..and headed back to meet up with the walkers where I caught them at their third break, 2 miles from lunch. After the break, Jun-san suggested that I drive the van up to the lunch stop walk back to meet the walkers. She hates to see people just sitting around. So, I did that.
What an odd feeling to be walking alone! It was only for a mile, but it was still a weird feeling. The cool part was that it was so quiet out on that country road that I could hear the drums in the distance, but couldn't see the walkers...it was comforting really, and soon enough I saw lead flagger Ben pop over the hill, where I jogged up to greet him and walk that same mile back to lunch.
During lunch we were talking about the nice little wake up song we had. Kid was there and he was laughing about it. Jen said, “It sure beats being yelled at!”
Kid said, “hey that's great, I could be known as 'Kid Valence' – better than being yelled at.”
We were also visited by a couple on a motorcycle that stopped by to see what was up, and by three people in a truck. The truck's driver, a Cheyenne named Dave talked with Kid and I for quite awhile. He was curious about where our feathers came from on the AIM Staff, and he talked a lot about appreciating people taking time out of their lives to do something for the right reason. “It's good to see people taking a stand for what they believe in.” He promised us he's come by the community center later to talk more with the walkers. Love those kinds of visits.
We get a lot of folks stopping on the side of the road to ask us questions, what we're up to..who we are. I like it. One guy, a fuel truck driver stopped by just to see what we were doing. I could hear him telling his dispatcher, “Yeah, I'm just gonna check this out and I'll let you know what's going on.” Seems we were quite the scene here in Canton, OK.
He was really nice, his name was Donald – I told him what we were doing, “Well, alright, that's great,” he said.
Afterwards Jun-san said, “you should ask him to come back...bring gas.”
Jun-san – of course, why didn't I think of that? 'Cause I'm not a Buddhist nun, that's why.
Far from it.
So...that was pretty much our day. We did 15 northernly miles. We are going to do a sunrise walk tomorrow – leaving camp at 4:30am and walking just 12 miles to the south. Jun-san says she will make “continental breakfast” for everyone who gets up and finishes the miles.
I'll let you know how it goes.