Thursday, May 31, 2012

Arlo and the Garbage Trail

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

In May of this year I decided to join Arlo Guthrie’s Historic Garbage Trail to Massacree HD. This is a yearly charitable event where you have people sponsor you to walk the seven mile trail made famous by Arlo.

My wife and son joined me. On a beautiful sunny, Sunday morning we piled into the car at 5 AM for the three hour drive to the Berkshires of Massachusetts. On arrival, we did some picture taking.

We met Arlo just after he rolled out of bed while enjoying his first cup of coffee. Then we registered, were given free commemorative t-shirts, and loaded up into VW Micro-Busses for the ride into downtown Stockbridge and the sight of the former Alice’s Restaurant. The busses would also patrol the route during the walk for anyone requiring assistance.

There we were treated to a free breakfast. Assembling along Main Street afterwards, Arlo said a few words of thanks to us all, and with that we were off! 

Our first stop was the Police Officers Station where we were cordially greeted by Chief Wilcox (Obie passed away back in 1994).  He gave us souvenir pens that say “This Pen Was Stolen from the Stockbridge Police Department.” Thanks! I think.

From there we trudged on to the “Scene of the Crime” where a group of volunteers known as the Dump Divas awaited us with water and other goodies such as candy, ice cream and watermelon to keep us both hydrated and nourished. They were also stationed throughout the walk. 

The route was meandering and scenic, following the Housatonic River for a good period of time. A black bear was even seen watching the walkers from a safe distance into the woods; a really good thing because by then I was beginning to feel the strain of the walk and couldn’t have increased speed if my life had depended on it.

I have a “bad” knee, and knew it would slow me down but still felt confident that I could manage the walk at a slow pace. My wife and son were soon far ahead of me when a problem like a cramp in the calf of my good leg arose. 

This necessitated my slowing down to the point that a driver of one the VW micro busses asked if I needed to ride. I declined, determined to walk the entire route.

After a while I was really hurting but figured it wasn’t much further; I could make it. When I spotted Chief Wilcox watching traffic from an intersection I asked “So about another mile maybe?”  He replied “No, closer to two.” I berated him, saying “Couldn’t you have lied and made me feel better?”  The chilling reply: “I did, it’s closer to three”. My spirits dropped considerably, but I continued to plod along.

Finally, I came to the very last water station and the final mile, where I had water. They offered pickles: Now I know it’s been said before and far better than I could say, but “I didn’t want a pickle! I wanted to ride a motorcycle!”

Finally I managed the last few painful steps and there was my wife and son along with many other walkers. I’m happy to report I wasn’t the last to arrive back at the church! Arlo was there patiently having his picture taken with anyone that wanted; I took my turn. Inside the church Arlo’s son Abe’s band was entertaining the crowd and there was enough food to feed a small army.

We partook of the food and ice cold lemonade and the entertainment for a while before making our way outside where we bid our host a fond farewell and loaded back into the car for the long ride home. At least we were sitting.

The walk raised more than 10,000 dollars in the fight against Huntington’s disease and my muscles have finally forgiven me. It was a wonderful experience and I’m glad I was able to participate. In fact it was so satisfying, 

I plan to put my body through it again next year! Although, this time I plan to do some walking prior to, and be better prepared. 
See you next May, Arlo!


Tim Armstrong said...

Great story and a groovy cause. We would like to do this sometime, I found all the links to sign up. Thanks for sharing your wonderful and eventful day!

SK Waller said...

What a great day! And I love the pic of you and Arlo. He's always seemed so down to earth. Your story confirms it. Hope you're feeling better now.

P.S. Great conversation with Officer Wilcox! I was laughing out loud!