Archives for November 2013

Field Reports: Ironman Traverse (V4). Flash Challenge Accepted and Crushed.

Field Reports: Ironman Traverse (V4). Flash Challenge Accepted and Crushed.

By Rick Watkins

-Rick Watkins

Field Reports: The Flying M Diner. By Rick Watkins

Field Reports: The Flying M Diner and Dean Paxton.
By Rick Watkins
4-The Flying M Diner and Dean Paxton

The Flying M Coffee Shop Restaurant

After arriving in Panguitch, UT following the recommendation of a feller I met at the Mystic Hot Springs also in Utah, I stopped into what seemed the only open restaurant. The Flying M is a diner left untouched by the past.
After driving for long hours I always desire a warm meal made by someone else, and not to mention the fact that I had nothing to cook other than a pound of rice. I ordered a cheeseburger and a beer from Liz, the waitress characterized by a waist-length braided, graying pony tail. She was a plump woman with a kind round face adorned with circular rimmed glasses. Liz was kind and helpful without overly engaging; a skilled master of the duties of her job.
On the radio played classic oldies tunes like “Give me the beat boys” and “Spirit in the sky”. From the other room came the sound of a family of four children and their two parents. At the bar to my left an old man–an obvious local from the way he interacted with Liz. Though he only sat three seats away, I never could hear the sound of his voice. The man and I never spoke with each other or even made eye contact.
He must have been in his late 60s at the least. He had a balding white head with a resilient peak in the middle, and the typical enlarged nose and ears of the old. His skin had not been kind to him in the past couple decades as red lumps and warts had collected at the corners of his eyes.
Somewhere in the middle of my burger I asked Liz where I might camp the night in my van. Later after finishing my meal Liz asked me if I had room for desert. After inquiring as to the damage of my bill, $12.25, I declined. The man to my left finished his salad then proceeded to the register to pay. Then right as I left my seat to catch Liz at the register before she walked away, she walks to me and says
See that young man sitting there next to you, he took you off the hook.
-Excuse me?
He paid for your meal
-You’re kidding
Yessir a real nice fellow
-What’s his name
Dean Paxton. HE comes in here bout once a month. REal involved with the community. Always helps out with meals on wheels and such.
-Well could you tell him I said thanks next time he’s in here?
Sure can. See him next week.
What had I said to make this man, Dean Paxton, want to pay for my meal? Was it my grungy look? Dirty clothes? disheveled hair? My question of where to camp in the cold? My decline of desert? Other than the ingrained ‘yes mams’ and ‘thank you much’ of the South, that’s really all I said. Does Dean Paxton do this often? I will never know and really don’t need to know. Just take the generosity of a complete stranger and pay it forward. Thank you Dean Paxton very, very much.
P.S. Wow! After going back in for coffee and pie while I write this account Liz wouldn’t let me pay for that either.
-Really Liz? Is my money no good? Do I just look poor, destitute, invalid?

Would You Feed This Guy?

-Rick Watkins

Field Reports: Company Of Friends. By Rick Watkins

Field Reports: Company Of Friends.

By Rick Watkins

3-Company Of Friends


On The Road Seeing Friends

It had been less than a month since I hit the pavement. I already find myself in Utah. The van has done well this far and I don’t see any reason to think she won’t take me to California.

I spent the past week in Boulder, Colorado visiting my friends Zach, Laurel, Nina and Teresa–friends from college. I also made new friends in Jacob, Sylvie and all of Zach’s roommates.
Part of this trip was intended to see friends around the country. I went on runs with Zach, a hike with Teresa, and visited the hot springs in steamboat with Laurel, Jacob and Sylvie. It was a blast exploring the Flatirons of Boulder and other parts of the front range.

Classic one arm spot for Rick on “Lowtide”

The other side of the road trip though is aimed at seeing new places, meeting new people, and taking on adventures as they come. So after about a week spent in any place I start to get the itch to travel again. There’s a juxtaposition between these two goals. As soon as I leave the comfortable company of friends I am struck with the heavy feeling of loneliness, and must drive with it for hours. This cycle is inevitable though, and must be felt with as I learn some sort of lesson tucked away inside.
I was invited to dinner with Zach’s roommates my last night in Boulder. As I sat at the table eating a delicious Thai curry meal with a group of about fifteen of their friends, I felt a precursor to the lonesomeness I would incur in a couple days. I missed the days when my friends would do the same in Athens a couple years ago. While at the table a blunt realization hit me. You can’t join into such a group. You must build it from the ground up.
Old dinner party friends are now scattered across the country, and so I drive out to see them. In between I have experienced beautiful places that filled me with awe and mesmerization. I now come to a chapter in the story in which there aren’t anymore people to visit. The time has come to start breaking out of my shell and meet new people. Already I have come into a group of generous, friendly climbers in Joe’s Valley, Utah. Some come from Colorado, others from Oklahoma and even some southern neighbors from Alabama. The comfort of old friends may be gone but i will see them again. Now is the time to make new friends and build a community from the ground up, though I will never replace the old.
-Rick Watkins