Friday, 26 May 2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cozad, Nebraska

Touch History

The jolly farmer got off his John Deere tractor from tilling his field and came over until the ditch to the road was a barrier. He had a load of questions including “Where to?” and Where do you stay at night?”
“I have a support vehicle. The two young men, also monks, come out once in awhile to check on me and see if I'm still alive.” (Laughter!)
I asked him about this Spring’s growing season.
“I've never seen such a crappy crop in all my life.”
“I know farmers depend so much on nature and the Creator. Can I take your picture?”
“Sure!” Click!
Kelly Ninas from the Tri-City Tribune came out to see me from Cozad. He and I were standing by the road, but had to remove ourselves to make way for the trucks coming to lay new asphalt
I, with the boys, spent quite the quality time with Ellen Mortensen, of the Gothenburg Times, in the impressive little downtown of Gothenburg. I told her, as I did Kelly, that I'm walking to encourage getting back to basics and to balancing life, the physical and the spiritual. With journalists, I must always confirm I'm a Hare Krishna Monk and not a Buddhist.
Interesting about this town and Cozad is that we touched history here. The first highway in the world for automobiles, the Old Lincoln Highway, is here, at its midway point. Also in town is the original Pony Express station, established over 150 years ago. Men would carry parcels on horseback over twelve-hour shifts. Wild “Buffalo Bill” did a remarkable 320 mile stretch on one single ride. This also was a fur trading post.

May the Source be with you!

20 miles

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Lexington, Nebraska

The Place Was Cool To Us

Bob Brogan of KRVN Radio found me at the east end of town just where the sidewalks begin, and asked a number of questions including how we funded our operation. I explained that through some initial seed capital, speaking engagements, and the kindness of people along the way, we manage. And I gave the example of the woman who pulled along the shoulder of Hwy 30 and offered a ride. I told her I am walking to San Francisco and she pulled out a twenty.
Bob also wanted to know if we are aiming to create a specific awareness by doing this walk.
“Yes, I'm looking to promote a Walking Culture, being mindful, taking care of ourselves, and of course, there’s the spiritual side….”
Kevin, from the Lexington Clipper, also had a list of questions, and that was good. At break time, in a  park, we met Ann who works at a senior’s home. She was intrigued, and in her own funny way, slipped out the word damn, and then covered her mouth. She's very animated in her conversation.
“We’re not offended. Our Guru (Srila Prabhupada) would use it sometimes in certain contexts.”
We also met Al on Road 759, way out in the country, where I prefer to walk to avoid the ‘Terrible Tilt’ of the highway’s shoulder. Al was all excited about the walk and talked also about the cattle business. I just walked past a massive number of beef cattle.
“How many do you have?” I asked.
“Here,” he said, pointing, “we have 35,000 and on another plot we have 21,000.”
Al was really friendly; kind to talk to me and the boys. Thus far, folks have been great to us, including the many Mexicans, and also Africans in traditional Islamic garb.

May the Source be with you!

20 miles

Editor’s note: Correction for May 23rd post. The Beacon Observer was misnamed as the Beacon Publisher. Our apologies for any confusion.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Elm Creek, Nebraska

Sharing A Good Thing

The fellow who pulled over with his bicycle was curious and wanted to know what I was all about. He introduced himself by name and then said he was a Sioux.
“You’re the first Native person I've met since starting from New York,” I said, happy about meeting him.
“Well, you're the first Monk I ever saw in my life,” he responded.
It was on this day, the same morning I was interviewed at Radio Station KGFW by Kyle. The talk went on for a good thirteen minutes. I took a break after pushing through a cold wind. Turkey vultures and I had shared the road, as well as rabbits, deer and possums.
The interview went extremely well and captured the attention of motorists—if not folks at home or in the workplace—through the radio waves. It caught Doug’s ears. He was on his way home from work and decided to walk a stretch with me, since part of the interview addressed the fictitious character of “Forrest Gump” who had people trek/run with him across the U.S. 
Doug, though, is more keen on the spiritual side of things, has read the Bhagavad-Gita, and has emailed me that he is enthused to go at it again. I also had a group of three high school grads walk with me for a short length of Hwy 30, the Old Lincoln Road, established in 1913. To spread the good word of pilgrimage, Michael interviewed me in Elm Creek for the “Beacon Publisher” paper. It's about sharing a good thing.
What I should not fail to mention was my jaw-dropping reaction to a train load of army tanks and jeeps heading west. Just what is to come down the pipeline? is my question.

May the Source be with you!

18 miles

Monday, May 22nd. 2017

Kearney, Nebraska

Frogs and Crickets Over Engines

I always prefer the sounds of frogs and crickets over the sounds of engines.  Those melodies of nature are what I usually hear when trekking in the early hours, around 5:00 a.m..  Today was different.  I walked on Central Avenue in Kearney (not like New York).  It was peaceful, broken up only by the rare motorist and two young, warrior-built types—zestful.

“How’s the walking doing today?  We read about you in the paper.”  That was gracious, considering people are a little reserved in this farm country.

Weather was great, about 58°F; perfect for sauntering.  It looked like we were going to see the sun for a change.  One more neat discovery—Hayagriva and I followed the main street in the town of Gibbon.  Bee-lining our way, the railroad service road was beckoning us.  This was favourable.  It’s soft with dirt, and relatively flat.  The terrible tilt of the Lincoln Highway’s shoulder was challenging, as is any highway with its engineered slant.

My body could feel the difference on the rail’s service road, which I couldn’t see from the other side of the tracks these last few days.  I took this route until I reached town.  At one factory, an employee saw me, as often happens.  “You’re not going to continue here?” he asked after I told him I'm on my way to San Francisco.  “There’s muddy corn fields ahead.”  Perhaps, he hadn't noticed the road of the railway men.

By the afternoon’s end, I was meeting more people.  Ride offers came; of course, I politely bow out.  There’s gifts of water coming my way, too.  I don’t meet too many yogis, except for one fellow.  “I do it for my lower back,” said the motorist.

Such was a day of sunshine in a temperate climate.  Thanks to the “Shelton Clipper” newspaper for taking our photos and info.

May the Source be with you!

23 mi

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Omaha, Nebraska

The Attempted Suicide

Today was a day off.  Our alternator needed replacing.  The mechanic (not the boss) took $30 off the price from his labour because he liked our project of walking across America.

I was resting my gout foot (the left one) at our host’s home, Vanamali and family.  We sat together along with my crew of two to discuss the episode of Chaitanya, the Great Walker, and his dear associate, Sanatana.  Sanatana had traversed the jungles of Jarikhanda (Bengal), had bathed in some bad water and for lack of good edibles, he felt sick and contracted an infection.  The symptoms were painful itching sores, rashes and who knows what else.

The disease was challenging enough to the point where Sanatana wanted to give up his life.  At the upcoming Rathayatra festival in the eastern town of Puri, Sanatana thought to throw his wretched body before the wheel of one of the chariots.  When news reached Chaitanya, he approached Sanatana with compassion but firmly denounced such a plan as suicide.

“Your body does not belong to you so you have no right to leave your body.  Your body is sold out to others, in benevolence.  Besides, I have plans for you—to excavate the places where Krishna had enacted His historical pastimes.”

Sanatana heard the words of his master, Chaitanya, and as he did so, Chaitanya offered an embrace which Sanatana felt bad about.  “I’m diseased!”

Chaitanya was not deterred and forced the hug, saying that Sanatana was a good soul.

An exchange with the Great walker.

May the Source be with you!

0 mi

Saturday, May 20th, 2017

Lincoln, Nebraska

Indoor Trekking

We had to backtrack some.  Marshall and I checked into an indoor walking track at the YMCA.  For practical reasons, the three of us, including Hayagriva, could not see ourselves driving to the Kearney area 2 hours away, then back three hours to Omaha for an evening program, and then back again for the next morning’s walk.  Secondly, I just wanted to stay dry and warm, so the indoor walking track did the job.  Too much rain and cold!

At twenty-two laps you cover a mile.  That brought Marshall and I to just under two-hundred laps.  We trekked clockwise and then counter clockwise.  We also chanted on our beads, but softly, in order not to disturb the basketball players in the same room but below us.  Our track was suspended.

I contemplated all the good folks I met on the road yesterday.  Good Samaritans.  One woman offered a ride to Kearney.

“I’m trekking it out to San Francisco.”

“Well,” she said, “yah have to have faith, otherwise you don’t have anything!”

“Agreed.”  I said, but I had faith in today.

The walking went well; so did the sanga in a beautiful South Indian temple.  Great attendance and different demographics of people.

Challenges came our way after the program.  Our van, the “Jaladuta Express” doesn’t operate.  On top of that I have a serious gout attack.  Very painful this time.  With some faith all will be resolved.

May the Source be with you!

9 mi

Monday, 22 May 2017

Friday, May 19th, 2017

Wood River, Nebraska 

The Couple

The couple were standing fairly close to each other, a bit unusual for the three of us monks to see at 4:00 a.m., as we stopped for the light en route to our starting destination for the day.  I rolled down my window to get some air and we could hear the pair actually having a serious and loud argument; not a kiss.  For myself, I was reminded because I have chosen a different lifestyle, I don't have to go through this type of entanglement.  A monk’s entanglements are of a more spiritual nature.

I met Jerry in the afternoon.  He was on his way back home to Pennsylvania.  He was pushing his bike, as the winds were too strong for peddling.  Packed onto and dangling from his bike were bags and boxes—in them his life’s possessions.  He reminded me of Johnny, whom I met by the Mississippi last summer and who was also drifting though the country, in wonder, or lost.  It’s easy to feel for such persons who are modestly displaced in society.  Johnny had slept in his vehicle during the rain storms and, after waking, noticed me.  I suggested to him a spiritual outlet.  “Try this mantra.”

Speaking of storms, does the rain and nature’s drain, the wind, ever stop?  My trekking through Grand Island, Alda and finally Wood River was met with much of this.  At the same time, response from people was most positive.  Austin, of the “Grand Island Independent” had done a great article featured today.  I received a lot of honks of approval.  Some motorists stopped.  At one point, I made a wrong turn, ended up lost, with no cell, at a truck stop, and a woman who read the article went out of her way to redirect me.  Bless her!

Our troup of three backtracked by way of the Jaladuta Express, our van, to Omaha for a sat sanga amidst torrential rains.  People were so responsive here, too.

May the Source be with you!

20 mi

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Grand Island, Nebraska

It’s All In A Day

When the Bhagavad-gita, Chapter 2, addresses duality as a reality in this world, it is no joke.  We, our troupe, saw so much of it in the last three days, weather wise.  Day one, we saw sun.  Day two, we saw rain.  Day three, we saw wind.  Physically, we went through a roller-coaster.  It was hot.  It was cold.  Hail came down the size of diamonds at one point.  Hayagriva, Marshall and I met the extreme side of nature.  And there was a tornado twisting around the area, near Omaha, which was behind us.

Fun?  Yes!  Exhausting?  Yes!  Out of it, we are developing the robustness needed to continue on.

What did help to add to the fun was people—motorists honking.  Motorists stopping.  “Would you like a ride?”

“No, thank you!  I'm walking!”  And I’ll tell them why.  “No cheating.  I’ve got to walk the whole thing.”

Three newspaper reps came, from Aurora, and two from Grand Island.  To be interviewed by a Spanish paper was a first.  Norma from “Buenos Dios, Nebraska,” filmed the interview.  I could quote from the Gita and spell out the entire maha-mantra on that one.

This is big cattle country.  Monsanto.  Corn culture.  Nice people.  Llamas.  Wild rabbits.  Raccoons and possums.  A baby possum’s head was the only whole thing left after an attempted crossing of Highway 34.

At the end of the day Hemant, our motel room accomodater, served great Gujarati food.  We got to know his teens, Kajal and Akash, better, and the three of us, Hayagriva, Marshall and myself, are getting to know each other better, too.  That can’t be helped.  Our life is in the van, that is, when I'm not walking.

May the source be with you!

15 mi