Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day 1 and Emergency Relocation

Day 1 of the walk was cold, rain came down ALL day, and miraculously 3,700 walkers turned out to slog through all that. It was awful. People had to slog through puddles, and rivers of cold water. Most people really wern't prepared for it because after all, we're in a DRAUGHT! My bus was dispatched to pit stop one. At pit stop one, there were already folks who were directed by the medical team to get on the bus and get warm and dry. We were giving out ponchos to those who could continue, and mylar blankets to those who were hypothermic or just plain cold. People were almost universally gracious. We invited them into the bus to warm up and change socks, and some even changed clothing! I have to tell you the best trained person should have no qualms about giving up on day one, because it was brutal out there as the first really cool day, and for it to be wet at the same time. People ate lunch sitting on the wet ground. By the way, the food was great! I ran out and invited people on the bus. Made sure everyone had something to eat and drink. I got it for them if they didn't and generally most people could not be cheered up on Friday. I put a movie on the DVD on the bus but most people just lay back and were miserable. Bus F might be the fun bus, but on Friday, there was a definite lack of spirit in the group. And I don't blame anyone for any lack of enthusiam!

These are NOT happy people. They trained in pretty weather. They are now wet. Their clothing is not adequate. The wet socks and shoes have made blisters. YOU try and cheer these people up!

It was clear at lunchtime that trying to go to camp was not a viable option. The staff knew that if the forced the issue the trucks would get stuck in the mud and that the tents would leak like sieves. So we were sent to an abandoned office park building to settle in for the night. I thought it was great. Lots of other folks didn't. I was dry. There was access to real toilets. And I had saved back some peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches for dinner. In order to have the spaghetti dinner that was planned you had to bus over to camp to the big tent. I was TIRED so I ate my sandwiches and hit the hay. I heard later it took over 3 hours to get people back from camp with the limited buses available. People got back to the office covered in mud up to their ankles.

This is the unloading area for our luggage. All the luggage sat outside in the rain for several hours. I was SO thankful that when I opened my stuff up, nothing was wet. What kind of miracle is that!

I found my bag and sleeping bag and I was so tired I really couldn't carry them. A man with one leg carried it for me (a walker with a prosthetic leg) into the building. I looked at him and went, "Man, I only lost my boobs. That's a LOT easier than losing a leg!" He never let on like he was having any discomfort or problem. He was just a guy. Not a guy with one leg. I was so grateful for the help.

More than a thousand people spent the night on the floor of this building. I was comfy and can highly recommend the Eddie Bauer self-inflatable camping mattress. Worked well.

There was some excitement that night. I'll write about it, but maybe not tomorrrow night. I have art class tomorrow night. Stay tuned for further installments.


Susan said...

Whoa, what a bad day! But you certainly did your part to try and cheer everyone up. I am glad they had a plan B for the wet camping, the building that was dry with real bathrooms was a great idea. I hope the rest of the weekend went better.

Calypso said...

Amazing story. I hope y'all come home without pneumonia. You deserve a medal for this Ann. Wow, way to go.
Can't wait to hear the rest of the story.