I was terrified of being unprepared and somehow being a detriment to the cause, and really wanted (which I realized later wasn’t quite so necessary) a blow-by-blow of what the heck I’d be doing so….Ok…here’s the not so thumbnail sketch of a day in the life of the crew car.
PRE-DAY 1 of your first day of crewing:
Sometime the night before you start…you find out where Laz is staying and get the latest plan for the next day’s route, including what his stopping point was. That is the start point for the next day. He will give you an OTD (out the door) time that he is shooting for. If he is staying at an individual’s home, they may be the ride to the start point, but not always. Just make sure you or someone with a vehicle is at the door of his lodging 15 minutes before OTD time so you can move the chair, pack, box, and cooler.
MAKE SURE HE HAS HIS STICK!
OTD was rarely later than 5:30. IF you are awake enough (trust me, especially if you do consecutive days, you may not be) making a hard copy of the turn by turn the night before for the following day is ridiculously helpful.
Off to the start!
Once you’re at the start point, there’s a bit of greetings to newcomers, etc.… and then they’re off when he starts walking! Give a real brief summary of the first 1.5 miles or so if it is simple, but if it has multiple turns, just give him/them the first few. If you have a hardcopy of directions to give, do so. You can be the guidepost with the vehicle and just do really short hops in the car. If someone is with him, make sure they also know the immediate route. It seemed like he didn’t want to be burdened by being responsible for knowing the turn by turn, and it really worked well to have a walker be the guide.
THIS PRESUMES HE HAS PEOPLE WITH HIM!
If you are going to be THE only support for the day, a lot of this will apply still, but you’ll also be his personal, mobile landmark to identify turns, but the offering of liquids and food will still use the same timetable. During my 4 days, he was never walking alone. So as the following unfolds, about the only differences would be gauging your time between necessary directional instruction and the “duties” the schedule demands.
Since I had at least 1 walker always with him, I would drive 1.5 miles ahead, finding safest parking available with car. Once they group got “close”, I’d walk back to meet them carrying a few options for beverages. The day always started with Dr. Pepper being the optimal choice. Came out of the cooler ice cold, went back into the car after being opened until finished. He doesn’t like open sodas to go back in the cooler. Every other beverage can.
He walked VERY consistent early in the day (2.5 miles per hour) and only slowed to about 2.2 when hot/tired late. This was almost to the minute. So you would have 36 minutes from the time you drove off to when he would pass the parked vehicle. This is your planning time. Read the route, get familiar, figure out ice for the cooler, possible bathrooms, anything you think YOU might want and he might need.
This is pretty much the routine. 1.5 mile hops, 2.5 miles per hour, 5 miles every 2 hours (makes planning the few “scheduled” events easier).
Between 9:30 and 10, he’ll want breakfast. When Mike was around, it was always an omelet, but I have no idea how long that lasts. Basically, whoever is going to be cook or “go-getter” should find out if 9:30 or 10 is the time, determine a location close to where his pace will put him, and have food ready when he gets there, and his chair ready to sit and eat along with that old Dr. Pepper or a new one. Omelets were always welcome, but I’d think you could ask him what breakfast involving eggs/meat/cheese (most likely) is desirable. Again, I know he has routines…but he may want variety. Don’t be afraid to ask him! Could be a café breakfast stop if one is on, (LITERALLY ON) the route. No wasted steps.
He’ll want water to rinse his teeth after he eats.
The schedule then just lathers, rinses, repeats.
It is possible you will get a chocolate milkshake request early…but usually not before 2pm. Even in the middle of nowhere, small towns have cafes. He likes local shakes vs Baskin Robbins/Dairy Queen types…but if it’s all you can get, I’m sure he will gladly take it. (Again, if ON the route, may even stop in and order) Sometimes, it would be a sandwich request.
Here again, deli meat, sliced cheese, Miracle Whip on soft bread. (We always did ham/swiss but I think we made the same mistake many others have. A request is not a scheduled and repeated event. I think he’d appreciate any type of decent deli meat and sliced cheese on any SOFT bread).
THUS, the day’s cooler contents: IN ICE OBVIOUSLY
Water, Dr. Pepper, Gatorade (surprise him with flavors), BAI water (a recently found LOVE, NO cucumber flavors), meat/cheese/miracle whip (double bag these so they don’t get wet and ruined in cooler) and whole chocolate milk (it goes with dinner). We also kept powdered pink lemonade on hand to make another option. When it comes to drinks…really just 4 rules apply. 1. No open Dr Pepper shall ever go back in the cooler 2. Once opened, said Dr Pepper is almost always the choice of beverage at each hop until finished 3. Cold 4. Variety Smaller bottles 16-20 oz. were better for Gatorade (not the 32 oz ones) but you can always pour from the big one into empty smaller ones!
On and on we go until 7pm. He never walks past 7pm. So, as the day winds down, start estimating an endpoint that 1) maximizes distance 2) gets him as close to 7pm as he wants to and 3) is a good start point the next morning. Significant landmark, easy group site, safe, etc. In our 4 days, these were a Mobil station, an entrance to a cemetery, and 2 other places I honestly can’t remember right now.
Coordinate with Mike (for as long as he’s sticking around) or whoever is going to be taking him to his lodging. Let that person know where the endpoint is with enough time to meet him there if you are not the ride! Also, his dinner is usually Chinese/Mexican/Indian food if not homecooked. Again, ask. He likes spicy, he likes meat.
Coordinate with Mike/host/whoever and find out if Laz wants to shower before eating or will want to eat when he walks in the door of his night’s lodging (no wasted minutes). That way it can be ready when he gets there, or very, very close to it if he’s showering first. Whole chocolate milk shall accompany him to dinner! We kept it on ice in the cooler all day.
At the endpoint, the box and the pack go with Laz to his lodging. We kept the chair and cooler with us and passed off the chocolate milk as well. VERIFY THE STICK’S LOCATION. Hat, too, if he wears it.
It’s not that Laz is demanding. It is just that Laz NEEDS 7 hours sleep a night, and everything goes from there. The faster he gets to eat then shower, or vice versa, the faster he sleeps, the earlier the alarm is set 7 hours into the future, and you get your OTD time for the next day!
We never did laundry but check on the situation for him.
This was an effort, but such a pleasure to do. Even if you end up all by yourself, you could pull this off with a vehicle. You can follow this routine…and just walk back toward him much earlier than just “in sight” like I did. You could park, lock up, and walk back to meet him with the beverages, shake, food, whatever he’d be needing at the next point.
Some very general advice.
Park on left side of road if possible. He walks against traffic, so he can see it coming! If you can’t, just cross over to meet him with whatever you’re offering. He will not cross the road unless it’s for navigating.
BE SAFE! Park in safe spots, safe to drive into (hidden culverts, ditches, all kinds of things lurk on shoulders) and safe from traffic. Balance saved steps vs. a cushion from passing cars.
Don’t be afraid of the locals. Folks are really nice. If there was not a good parking place, I’d find a driveway and knock on the door of the property owner. A little song and dance about what Laz is attempting and a frown or confused/surprised look would turn into a smile and nod.
If it looks like rain, stay VERY CLOSE. His rain gear is in his pack or with the box and he will either want his gear to endure the rain BEFORE it starts, or he will want to get into a car ASAP to avoid getting his shoes wet.
Your day revolves around Dr. Pepper, then random beverage, breakfast, beverage, sandwich/shake, beverage
You are the navigator for everyone the entire way.
You just need his chair for breakfast and maybe late afternoon if he gets hot.
Keep his pack and rain gear very accessible, and keep his pack DRY, DRY, DRY.
Conveniently accessed bug spray and sunscreen were welcomed.
I’m sure I’ve over analyzed this. I’m sure there’s more. I’m sure your method will vary.
Basically, just help this man get across the country. Feed him and make him drink. And try to make the routine not so monotonous in his choices. He’s repeatedly been asked and answered “It’s not like Groundhog’s Day, the same day over and over.” “It’s like one very long day”. Just make that day enjoyable and as effortless (HA!) as possible.