Saturday, August 1, 2015

WEEK THREE–Arizona National Scenic Trail Hike Training–(July 26-Aug 1, 2015)

Goal: Hike The Arizona Trail.  It is an 800+ mile recreation trail from Mexico to Utah that connects mountain ranges, canyons, deserts, forests, wilderness areas, historic sites, trail systems, points of interest, communities, and people.   (From: I will be doing this as a solo hike.  I would also like to raise money for some worthy cause at the same time, but have not yet selected a cause.  I am open to suggestions.  Email your ideas to me at:


Storming in Raton, NM.

Previous post.

I have decided on writing a weekly post rather than a daily one.

Training Days Fourteen – Twenty (7/26-8/1, 2015,  Sun.- Sat):

What have I accomplished in the four main components of preparing for this challenge?

This week has been discouraging for me.   I was contacted by a local photographer/writer who wanted to interview me for a possible article for the news.  I thought “That should be interesting.”  Then got nervous about how I would look, how the van would look, etc.  But when I asked if I could preview the article and photo, he changed his mind. Said I had to trust him – a stranger?  I think I will decline future requests for interviews and just tell them, no more free-bees, as I will be SELLING my story in the future.

1) Get fit, food wise.  Found a gas station/convenience store that has a place called Alfredos, that makes good Mexican food.  They also have the Mexican popsicles in CafĂ©’ flavor.  Hard to find them.  Better for me than a pint of Hag Daz Coffee Ice Cream.  Also can get a large soda with lots of ice for $1.59.   One of the fast food places charged me over $3 for one half this size.  So I got the popsicle and the BIG Pepsi for less than it cost me for that coke alone yesterday.  Been sipping it all day long and still have 1/3 left.   And YES, I realize I need to give all that up.

Monday: drove out of town and parked (ha… at back entrance to Ted Turner’s property – there is a gate closed off on both these roads….,-104.4681863,93m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0?hl=en)… and cooked my lunch… a steak some greens, and a couple of zucchinis.   Lots of folks drive down this road and then have to turn around and go back to town.  But otherwise, it was a nice stop.



On the one gate was a sign… and a keypad for entrance.  On the other road was a gate with a chain and padlock.  I think Mr. Turner must own both of these canyons?  Following the canyon on Google Maps, I think I have found Mr. Turner’s home???,-104.5831128,221m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0?hl=en   Needless to say, I won’t be a guest there….

I took a ride later in the week out Highway 555, and the land on both sides of the highway, for the 20 miles I drove, belongs to Ted Turner.  Lovely drive.  More locked gated with his No Trespassing signs.  Never saw a public gate to the Vermejo Park Ranch.  Never saw a sign for the Ranch other than the No Trespassing signs.


This is one gate that goes up into that valley, and has the most used road I saw.  I’m thinking it must be nice to own such a grand piece of land and be able to allow it to return to a more pristine state.  Coal-mining operations have gone on there in the past (and maybe present?) and timbering operations were in progress as well.  There is a big lumber mill on the West edge of Raton, on Rt. 555.  I saw a big logging truck coming from the west toward town.

Tuesday: I bought no FAST food.  Fruit smoothie for breakfast, hamburger patty, fresh greens and pita bread for lunch, plus yam/apples mix.

Remainder of week:  More fruit smoothies for breakfast.  Ate more greens this week and NO Candy bars.  Still a battle with sodas and ice cream.  Is this hopeless?

Friday: Depressed.  Accidentally took two days worth of meds and by Sat. morning had the runs.  In spite of that, I lost no weight this week.


The pool is lovely and the climbing wall is neat.  I tried to pull myself up on it… talk about hard.  The entire pool has strong water jets all around it… and so water is always choppy, making just walking in it a workout.

2) Get fit, fitness wise.   Day 14, I pretty much just rested.  Day 15, no exercise.  Day 16,  I  swam 1/2 mile, didn’t note time.  Coughing.  Day 17, swam  3/4 mile in 60 minutes.  Coughing is still a problem.  Day 18, swam 3/4 mile in 55 minutes.   Days 19 & 20… no swimming.  Can’t swim on weekends.

My lungs were bothering me some over last weekend, without swimming.  But didn’t feel well Monday morning, so drove to get some gas, then visited a local gym to see what the cost was, then did online research about the Silver Sneakers program and learned my insurance does not cover the program, whereas many insurance companies do.  I can not afford that gym.  May see a doctor next week if cough hasn’t gone away.  I feel depressed and in need of a support group.

Sleep is important in good fitness.  Monday, July 27, I packed my DVD Player and DVDs away so that I am not tempted to stay up for hours and hours every night watching them.  I will take my health books, and my hiking books to bed with me.  Reading always puts me to sleep.  Then I will be refreshed and ready to work out in the morning.  Toward the end of the week I noticed I was more refreshed and feeling like I was getting too much sleep.  Still when I wake in the morning, I feel depressed and it’s a real effort to get up.  Last night, Friday, I got it out again and watched a bunch of House episodes.  I am now thinking DEPRESSION is my biggest problem and think I need to address that.  I have been on meds in the past for that and may go back on them.

Walking: Read up on how to begin walking/jogging at .   This guy’s wife is a personal trainer and has a set of videos geared for RVers on how to keep fit on the road.  I’ll be studying them and adapting them for my own program.  Have a look - .  The gal’s name is Stef.  I got an email back from her today.

Hi Charlene!

Wow, what adventures you have had! I love hearing from readers like you, it's so inspiring for me. Your hike next year sounds amazing. What a great way to spend your retirement, challenging your body and tapping into your potential. Very few of us attempt that. I hope to be like you when I officially retire. Thanks for role modeling and inspiring a fit lifestyle for retirees!

I lived in New Mexico for a good decade. I was a teacher in the Albuquerque public school system! I know of Raton, and I'm very fond of the state. Such a unique place. 

James and I are actually in the market for some kayaks right now. We are leaning towards Jackson kayaks, but if you have any tips and suggestions, let me know! There's a family that writes for Winnebago GoLife: the Holcombe's, have you read any of their blogs? They are full-time RVers, professional kayakers, amazing photographers, and they have an 11-year-old daughter who is also a talented kayaker. We went kayaking with them recently and realized how much we have to learn!

I will definitely go and check out your blog, I want to follow along as you take on this challenge next year. Perhaps we will cross paths and be RVing somewhere near you and we can meet up on your journey.

And just remember, fitness and exercise has got to be nonnegotiable to age well. So get those walks in, get that exercise in, and keep yourself well so you can kick butt on your hike next year!

Sending good vibes for a successful journey,


OK, I am going to buy a calendar I can carry with me… and write out what my fitness plan is for each week, on the calendar.  Then I will just get up in the morning and DO IT without thinking or having to decide each day.  I will alternate my swimming plan, and add in a  walking/running plan.  Soon I am going to add in an uphill walk.

3) Learn how to ward off biting bugs.   … this coming week and will begin experimenting with different things.  No progress yet, but a misquote fogging truck drove past my parking spot yesterday (Friday).


4) Get the equipment I need.  Exciting to get an email from someone who is offering to GIVE me a good backpack.  I looked it up online and wrote back with a few questions.  Also tried to research the pack I bought from Wal-Mart a couple years ago and could not find it online so it is difficult to compare the two.  However, I feel the one I have is inadequate for a long hike.  Will follow-up.  Now reading through a book on the Pacific Crest Trail (which was useless as it is ONLY a trail guide… nothing about prep, or food, or equipment).  Communicated more with the person willing to donate a good backpack to me. She was also willing to give me a tent, but it pretty much sounds like what I have now.  Tuesday, got more details on the backpack and am waiting photos of it.  Have since seen the photos and accepted this backpack.  I will be picking it up in person in Mesa, AZ when I head to Quartzsite, AZ.


It seems to rain a lot here.

Kink in my plans.  My van is acting up and it turns out the fuse for the cig. lighter is also a fuse for the computer.  Pulled the fuse, it was blow, replaced it, and walla… the computer works.  Got some codes on possible problems, swapped out a couple more fuses for the Oxygen Sensors… and darned if the van isn’t running better!  Another code might have been thrown due to cheap grade gas.  Going to fill up with GOOD gas and see how that effects things.  Guys at Auto Zone thought my Catalytic Converters were clogged… and guess what, my van has four of them.  Not accepting that diagnosis, and still hoping for a less expensive fix.  Here is what I don’t understand, the van seems to be running better now, and the fuses and better gas is all I changed.  Then the next day it seems sluggish again.  If anyone has thoughts please share them.  I just don’t have the funds for major mechanical work right now.  I don’t have any funds right now, for anything.  So very tired of being broke.

My Weight?   Last week: 235 pounds       This week:  235 pounds    Loss/Gain = 0   Keep in mind, loosing weight is only a by-product of getting fit, not the goal.

My apologies to my readers that this Update is not very inspiring or uplifting.  Hopefully that will change next week.

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Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.