Monday, November 5, 2007

A Canyon, a Racoon, Lavender & Coyote Ugly

From the rural city of Greybull in northern Wyoming, g'day! How was your week? I'm sore. Since posting the last blog 9days ago I've managed 3 unscheduled rest days & yet I'm still on schedule. This of crouse has been made possible through walking long distances every day that I was on the road (smallest day for the this past week was 51km!). I left Casper in the early morning under the watchful lens of a newspaper reporter keen to get a snap of me 'in action' but by around midday I was feeling the effects of the lingering chest infection & was looking for a rest spot every hour. An hour after sunset I arrived at the one house town I was supposed to stay at but with sickness & soreness taking a grip I decided to push on an extra 15km to a town that apparently had a motel. Halfway there, at 9pm, a couple pulled over to offer me a lift. They gave me the unpleasant news that the motel had closed down for the winter season, but after much delineration I still declined the lift & walked on knowing that I'd have to pitch my tent anyway. I arrived at Powder River late in the evening & sure enough, the Motel was closed. The town wasn't very large & the few dogs that also called it home took a disliking to me being there & began barking uncontrolably. A minute later a young man by the name of Theo emerged with his dog to see what the comotion was all about. By this stage I was beginning to unpack my tent but he soon put a stop to that by offering his help & he called the owner of the motel who came down, unlocked it for me & let me stay free of charge! It was such a sweet sleep. I woke the next day just in time to jump next door to the only church in town & had a great time meeting the beautiful folk of the Powder River Church. At the end of the service the Pastor & his wife invited me to stay with them for the night & despite me 'needing' to keep pushing on down the road, Pastor Chris pressed on me that I wasn't well & more importantly, it was the Sabbath - so rest. So I did. The next day I headed off at dawn for the 2day, 100km walk to Shoshoni, still not 100% but at least feeling a lot better. The following day I happened to catch sight of my very 1st Coyote & I had enough time to pull my camera out & film it while it slinked away through the sage brush. What really suprised me was how beautiful this animal is. It's a small version of a wolf - 'Wolf-Lite' looks the same, half the calories! It had a stunning silver a grey coat & looked nothing like the Wiley Coyote I'd grown up with. I'd naturally presumed (because of the cartoon) that coyotes were slobbering, gangly, long-eared mutts, but it couldn't be further from the truth. Mind you, I should've known better than to trust those cartoons for my environmental studies. I'm yet to see a rabbit that looks like Bugs nor Tasmanian Devil that looks like Taz. And if I ever had a yellow canary that looked like tweetie... I'd be taking it to the vet for an MRI to search for a tumour in that oversized head. Not long after this I was able to confirm the animals identity with a local who had pulled over to chat. To my amazement, the guy had a a pet racoon clambering all over his pick-up. Its name was Roxie & it she was only 1yr old. She was so inquisitive & playful that it reminded me of some of the monkeies I'd met in Venezuela. It was great! She lent out the window & grabbed the camera while I was filming her & so I have 60sec of footage where the only thing you can see is a mass of racoon fur while hearing my voice, "Let go! No. Get off... no, let it go. Don't touch that! Let... let go." I'm sure it'll win an oscar one day :-) As I entered the town of Shoshoni another car pulled over & it was the couple from the 1st night when I was walking out of Casper. The lady in the car jumped out & ran to the back of the car where she retrieved a paper bag. Thinking that she might see me again on the road she had prepared a 'Comfort Pack' for me. Now, I've always associated comfort packs with stuff like, moisturiser, a face washer & lavendar scented soap, so i wasn't exactly jumping for joy, in fact, I was a little bemused. I quickly learnt that my definition of 'comfort pack' was limited & I opened up to find a bottle of water, some fruit & oven baked pumpkin seeds! For that I was truely thankful! The lavendar scented soap would've been ok too actually. From Shoshoni I headed north up through the most spectaculr piece of land I've seen in a very long time. It was called the Wind River Canyon & it was simply breathe-taking. I had 50km of fast flowing Wind River to follow through a 900m rock-walled monster of a canyon. The peaks were covered in snow & the river disappeared behind mountain after mountain. It belonged in the 'Lord of the Rings' movies. It was amazing. I actually had trouble praying that day, not because I didn't feel like praying, but because I was so distracted the whole way through. I ended the day with a stiff neck from looking up the whole time but I was smiling the whole way - especially when I finally broke my silence to bounce a few U2 songs off the canyon walls. I arrived in Thermopolis after sunset & was able to visit the Baptist Church just before their Wednesday service. I then walked on & found the Catholic Church & their bible study group. Fr Hugo offered me the churches guest rooms & so I unpacked for night & settled in. Fr Hugo finished up with the class & walked in as I was sitting on the floor trying to remove my sock from my bleeding by toe. They had become one. In the end I gave up, left it dangling & we simply sat there & chatted for a couple of hours about life, faith & everything in between. I ended up not walking again the next day because of some problems I was having in organising my Russian visa so instead I spent a frustrating day at the computer. It was an unproductive day & in the end, at the advice of Fr Hugo, I stayed a 2nd day in Thermopolis to sort out the problems. I got there in the end & I was very happy to have spent 2days physically resting. Thermopolis has the world's largest mineral hot springs but I didn't get a chance to go for a dip. As I was leaving on the Saturday morning I walked past the enormous springs nestled between 2 mountains & couldn't help but notice the rather strong sulphur smell eminating from the ponds. It smelt bad. Very bad. And with the temperature hovering around 2degC I watched a few couples slip into the warm, stinking water. I'd rather run a warm bath in my own home thanks. I hope they had lavendar scented soap on hand for the aftermath. I walked on up to a place called Worland where I went to Mass the next morning & then proceeded further afield to a town called Basin. There as nothing in Basin when I arrived last night so I pushed on to todays destination, walking 2days worth in one, to arive at Greybull around 1am. The last 10km were incredibly painful last night & my feet were burning up. I thought the pain was because of simple overworking. Every step I took was accompanied by either a groan, a moan or something resembling an aggrivated Grizzly Bear. When I did finally arrive at a small motel at 1am last night I surgically removed my socks to a grusome sight. My left foot was covered in blood. "Oh, that's why it hurt so much." So, today, once more, I'm resting & allowing my body to recover. I think pretty soon I won't just be praying for the unity of the church but also for the unity of my body! I'm doing fine though & still enjoying everyday. The Wyoming folk are beautiful people & the land is extraordinary. Many here are joining in the prayer for Christian unity & this in itself is more than enough motivation to just buy another pack of band-aids & walk on. God bless & please pray4one! Sam
"One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple." Psalm 27:4
NEXT WEEK: Meet the Clear's. My younger brother, Christopher, will be joining me from Billings to Edmonton. I'll let him to the writing...


HankWashut said...

You should have stopped at those stinking hot springs and stuck you feet in for a while. They have very strong medicinal effects. Your feet would have felt much better for it. My wife Caro and daughter Teresa are part of the World Youth Day group you met at Our Lady of Fatima. We had been wondering were you were. Did you get to visit with our Nigerian friend Fr. Micheal in Greybull? He is a close family friend. Know that you, your health and mission are in our prayers. Peace and Unity <><

Margie & John said...

Hi Sam,
We look forward to your very interesting & amazing blogs weekly. Your photos are breathtaking! Words can't convey what an incredible event is taking place... God's call on your life Sam, His constant protection, & provision & your faithfulness in spite of enormous hardships & difficulties! It seems that God is certainly speaking very loudly about Christian Unity. We think of the incredible dangers, uncertainties, ill health…and now your poor feet for which we pray the Lords healing. I pray that we will all take more seriously John 17:21 so that we will be vessels fit for the Master’s work. We pray God’s grace & our faithful response to God’s command to love one another as He has loved us.

God's continued blessings Sam,