Dec. 29, 2016

The Forest Bar

Hello friends.

 Good afternoon to all wherever you may be this last Thursday of 2016, I am still in Denver writing you from the downtown public library.  My apologies for the delayed update but as you have probably figured out by now it usually means I was busy working these past few days. And working my butt off well into the late night with just enough energy to roll in the Sapp’s truck stop and curl in my back seat for the night. The work is not an official gig since I’ve already did that on the twenty four, it is however a much needed supplemental job that I scored just in time to pay some upcoming bills.

 The work I also found on the CL near downtown to help restore a bar restaurant. The challenge with this job and there were a couple, made for a stress filled three days. The days were long consisting of 11, 10 and 11 hour days, mostly on my knees or on the saws installing a new natural wood floor on the hundred plus year old building. I was hired by Tomas the owner who had an array of other items on his remodeling list long with the flooring. He also hired a slew of other Craigslist fellas to help him with the project, pretty basic remodeling stuff but the issue here was the timeline.

The boss had a window he was shooting for and the pressure and stress of hitting that mark would be the major factor and cloud that hung over me and most of the guys on the site. He contracted the main installer Elijah and I was hired to assist him with the floor but I still helped do other minor detail items throughout the time. The job in short is very meticulous and time consuming on a normal schedule or a clean slate floor but when laying it over an existing surface and ancient structure, coupled with other tradesman trying to carry out their own assignments it just made for a trying situation for me. as a contractor myself I’m used to organized chaos and  bench marks to guide a project to completion regardless of the deadlines. But as a hired hand which I have now grown accustomed being these last eight months, I have to constantly take a step back, keep quiet (which in its self is a tremendous challenge for the Johnny Man) and let things just play out without adding another voice to the decision making process.

To add to the situation I wasn’t feeling all too well, suffering through another cold and probable sinus infection to sap my already depleted energy levels. As the time passes my physical reserves are starting to be the elephant in the room which stare me right in the face every morning I get up and look in the truck stop mirror. I tired not from this job, nor from the last one; I’m just exhausted period. I’m tired from the miles, the bad food, and the lack of quality rest which now is taking its toll on my half century old body. It takes every ounce of effort and self-pride to show up to work ready to earn my money, only to pay for it later that evening. I’ve never challenged myself physically at this work level before and not since my high school cross-country and track days have I felt so burned out before. A hot shower and a hot meal gives me a little relief and helps me recover some for the next day but the journey still will take another eight or nine weeks I predict.

The good news is that although the body may suffer the wear and tear of the road, elements and working conditions, my mind remains strong and determined to press forward to the end. Speaking of high school, my old coach Castro from Pueblo high, a state champion runner in his day, always tried to push us to our fullest potential as individuals. He recognized each of our abilities and urged us on to fulfill our talent and endurance to the limit. He would get frustrated with me when I would complain about pain and soreness throughout the season. I would never prove to be more than just an average runner but he always felt I could do better if I was mentally tougher, something he always pointed out to me for the four years he coached me. I didn’t get it then and it took years to figure it out and as he said: “The body can do more than the mind thinks it can, you have to push your body and ignore all the pain and desire to quit if you want to be the best you can be. That is what all the champion master, mind over body.” I never got it as a runner, but now i try to use that mentality with everything in life, especially when I experienced trying periods in my own personal life. Thanks coach, you were right; I just didn’t see or understand it at 17.

In the end Elijah and I got the floor in with some added help from Billy and Jorge and it looked great, a day later but Tomas understood. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be in Denver, I like it plenty and there is lots of work in the area but the real winter is at the door and I must move on. My next stop is Wyoming and then another try at South Dakota.

Thanks for checking in and I hope to post sooner than later next time. Thanks for your support and continued encouragement. #Yo-Ga-Fla!


Dec. 22, 2016


Dec. 22, 2016


Hello friends,

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted so I hope all are well and safe. The reason being is that I have been busy working in Nebraska the last few days and as you know that is the best news I can deliver. I write this afternoon from the rocky mountain state of Colorado in a local public library and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to sit down and write you. As you know the Midwest and Great Plains states have been the most difficult parts of this tour and Kansas proved to be equally challenging. The wonderful news is that although finding work and the weather conditions set me back physically and financially the people who hosted, hired and fed me those areas where my saving grace!  I thank God every day for good people everywhere along my journey that are willing to help a stranger in need. The Donavan, Fiechtner, Day, Kevin Engle families and now the Bollig’s from Lee’s Summit have all provided help and refuge when I needed it the most, a truly humbling experience for me.

Keith and Jennifer Bollig heard from Beth Day in Des Moines that I was in the Kansas City metro again, this time looking for a gig on the Kansas side of the river. The live south east in Lee’s Summit, Missouri so a gig there wouldn’t help since I already had that state on the completed list, but we had one thing in common and would later discover many more, but for starters they needed help with their new home and I needed work desperately; a match made in heaven for my tired soul and body.

After two days of looking with no results we finally made contact. Jennifer invited me over to see what they had in mind and to see if it would fit in their budget and my time frame knowing that I was day to day with my gig tour. We sat down with her list of items and I checked off things that I was willing and able to accomplish based on my situation. The list consisted of small items like furnisher repair and alarm installation to more involving jobs like drywall, light plumbing fixtures and some shower tile repair. I happily agreed with the understanding that I would be able to break away to work my gig when and if it ever popped up. Jennifer gave me the thumbs up and offered me a room in their lovely home for the duration of my stay, what a sweet deal I though! I gratefully accepted her hospitality and off I immediately went to the Home Depot to buy some needed items. She told me Keith her husband would be happy when he arrived from work to see the list finally getting started and she wasn’t kidding!

Keith walked in the master bedroom about 4:30 pm as I was finishing up most of the alarms. He introduced himself and thanked me for helping them out but I quickly made a point to inform him that they were doing me a far greater favor in return. He asked me some about my tour and skills and then quickly added a few more things to the list, much to my delight, as he walked me through the rest of the house. I worked for a few more minutes and then I showered in my quarters to sit down to some more of that famous Kansas City Bar-BQ. I slept like king as you can guess and awoke to the aroma of fresh brewed coffee. The light snow kept falling and the temperature only rose to the high teens that Saturday as I worked all day with the list. Keith and Jennifer had a X-mas date scheduled that evening with their son, daughter–in-law and small grandbaby so they asked me to come along and join them for dinner. I felt a bit embarrassed not being in the position to carry my weight financially but asked me with such warmth and sincerity that I respectfully agreed. It was a wonderful evening at the Summit Grill with this family that it made me even more homesick. The conversation, pasta and hors d’oeuvres was amazing and little Zoe stole the show!

Jennifer and Keith both Missouri natives recently moved back from Chicago to be closer to family and had those items on their must do list for a while now.  Jennifer recently started working from home on her computer and is still getting used to that routine. A gifted artisan in her own right she can pick up a paint brush or hammer and use her creative gifts as good as anyone. She has been slowed as of late as she has been on her own journey with cancer, a beautiful and smart women she loves her family and enjoys the kitchen from a distance, allowing me the opportunity cook a meal before I departed.

Keith a successful management consultant works hard at his craft but is fully committed to his God and family. We spent a few hours a day talking about our upbringing, work and spiritual beliefs. He explained that he had lost just about everything in life at one time with the collapse of the twin towers that fateful day on the 11th of September. Like many other people who have been down for a spell, he rebuilt his business up again and has prospered to the point of feeling compelled to share their means and goodwill with those they love and those who cross their path in life; I being a foremost recipient of their kindness. Their new home as he explained is way too much for two people but Jennifer and Keith never intended to keep all that surplus for themselves, he believes God has blessed them with plenty and plenty is not to hoard but to distribute to those in needed. What planet did this family come from!!

By Sunday I finally scored a small job across the river so Keith drove me to move a little snow and a couple other items via FB with none other than Jennifer’s parents in Olathe, Kansas. Afterwards I cooked one of my favorite Mexican dishes; Shrimp Veracruz and the three of us talked and enjoyed the store bought tortillas and can beans I conjured up on the side; It was a marvelous evening with my new friends. I went to bed thinking that my much planned working tour has really transformed into a people meeting adventure first and foremost. After I get old and forget half of the things I did and money I earned at every stop along the way, I hope to never forget all the goodness and kindness I was shown by people just like this.

By morning the last drywall sanding had to get done and a load of laundry needed to be washed as I collected my tools and bags for my next stop. Keith stayed to work from home and to see me off, together the three of us posed for a picture and chatted about maybe a return trip some summer day when the grass would be green not brown. The Bollig’s paid me the agreed wage with much more extra that I deserved or expected and an early X-mas present filled with a book and chocolate candy for the road. It was a tremendous joy and honor to not only be hired and hosted by such quality people but to know that their plan of paying it forward now sits squarely on my shoulders to do un to others when my time comes; You can bet I will!

I drove by Kevin Engel house on the way out to thank him for his help there as well in the K.C. area and the kindness he expressed to me with a bed and a few meals during my stay. And as I drove north to Nebraska that afternoon I noticed the snow on the ground and the thermometer at 24 degrees outside but I didn’t need the heater on at all; my heart was on fire with the love I just experienced the last few days by the hands of others.

Thanks go to the Bollig’s and Kevin Engle and to you great friends who take the time to check in with me and my adventure. #Yo-Ga-Fla


Dec. 17, 2016


Good morning friends,

Happy Saturday to all wherever you call home this frosty fall day. I write you from Lee’s Summit, a suburb just southeast of Kansas city. I’m fortunate to have been accepted into yet another couple of families in the area. I arrived from Iowa needing to score a job in the Kansas side of K.C. and through the Facebook connections of Beth Day in Des Moines, I landed with her friend Kevin E.  in Parkville for a couple of days. Now i'm in her other friends home working on a punch list for Keith and Jennifer B. while I continue to search for that elusive Jayhawk gig on the other side of the river.

It has been both tough and frustrating for me as the days go by and nothing has come about with my countless inquires and phone calls. There is a good amount of activity in the area for job seekers but somehow I haven’t been able to land not even the smallest gig available. As I see the weather forecast get worst and the winter approaches and my bank account shrink each day that goes by without work, the stress and anxiety build inside. I didn’t plan nor did I imagine back in May that I would still be in the Midwestern part of the country in early December. There are a lot of things I missed calculated about my journey in hindsight but I knew that the weather would affect my job search to some degree and it has. Most of the posting are for full or part time openings both which I don’t qualify for and the holiday rush seems to be the source of a lot of openings. The small, short gigs have mostly dried up for now as people in this part of the country hunker down for the winter month which leaves me out in the cold, literally. Thank God for the good people who continue to take interest in my adventure and open their hearts and homes to help out a traveling stranger.

I will go on pressing forward despite the current challenges and setbacks. I can see the end near and stopping now would be ashame. I hope to check back with you soon with some better news!

Have a great weekend, stay warm and safe and thanks for your support. #Yo-Ga-Fla


Dec. 12, 2016


Dinner at Jethro's in Urbandale.