Week 4 of my US adventure!
Onto week four of my adventure and this week has been all about connecting with so many amazing people and meeting some incredible kids at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.
After packing the tent on day 21, Rene and Suzeanne invited me into their home for breakfast.
Rene was really intrigued. He said, “I’ve been thinking all night, you’re out in our garden, can I ask you personally, what have you learnt most about yourself after all your adventures?”
So I replied, “I discovered I had this never give up gene, or whatever that is, but I didn’t know I had it, until I cycled in China and it got really tough. Then I discovered it – when it really mattered and I had no choice but to discover it.”
It always makes me think, who else has this type of gene, but hasn’t discovered it yet?
Leaving their house, they asked if I needed anything, so I said, “an American hat would be nice.”
Running on, three miles later, Rene and Suzeanne turned up, with an American cap to replace the Canadian cap I love so much but thought I should pack away for this run. Boom. I’m practically an American now!
Another few miles, heading into the town of seaside, I was in search of The Freedom Shop, who was doing some extra prints on the Adventureman suit to help with fundraising.
A few days ago, a couple stopped me on the side of the road after seeing me in the news, but didn’t know what to type into Google to follow along and donate (and when it comes to fundraising, sometimes you gotta be a little savvy!).
So walking in, I quickly called Anna McNuff on what prints to get mainly on what colours to choose – she’s really good at this stuff. We chatted it out and agreed on a ‘Jamie McDonald’ crest where my heart is. My website on the cape: jamiemcdonald.org. All in the colour white, like the mountain top of the ‘A’. And Anna came up with the genius idea of putting ‘Adventureman’ along my sleeve in red.
It also turns out that Chandler, who was helping me with the print, has spent a fair bit of time in hospital as a kid and just couldn’t be more helpful.
After being branded up, I ran to the beach front and five minutes later, a lady stopped me. We chatted for a few minutes and a guy came up to join us and said, “hello, Jamie McDonald.” I was like, “oooo, hello, how do I know you?” The man simply said, “I just went to your website from seeing your cape.”
It was working already!
The three of us warmly chatted together and they were both going to make donations that evening. How cool is that?
Running for my afternoon stint was a breeze. I felt like I was floating. Me and Caesar on the open road with the beach on the right and the wind flowing through our hair. Well, ok, my hair.
Going back on the 101, a fairly busy highway, I had to climb a small mountain and within a few miles my legs just powered down into empty.
I went from hero to zero within a few miles.
Running through the lovely town of Cannon Beach, I just kept running for some reason, even on empty.
A kid pointed at me and said, “look mom, Superman”. I felt like saying, I wish I could fly right now.
Arriving at Wright’s campsite, unfortunately they were closed – and the man next door didn’t look impressed when I asked to camp on his lawn.
So, I carried on running until sunset, reaching over a half marathon. I eventually found a good bush I could crawl into.
Setting up my tent, the sunset was AMAZING. It created this orange colour on the tent and was worth the extra struggle to push on just to see it!
The next day, I was hauling Caesar up a mountain, pushing harder than I’ve had to at any other point so far, I ranted at him a LOT because it was him that was causing the burning in my legs. I was mad, until I saw the view at the top. Wow. I looked down on a little town. it looked like something I’ve seen before, on a post card somewhere perhaps!
At the top, a couple stopped by at a look out point. They were a British couple and introduced themselves.
Now, I’m going to let you into something a little weird that keeps happening in my brain. I felt like they were planted here – almost like I’m in the Truman Show.
Okay, okay, there’s a small chance I’m losing my mind but here I was in America, looking at the sea, with a British couple – it was just all a bit much.
When I meet people, because I spend so much of my days alone, I sometimes wonder if they’ve been planted just to chat to me. I know my life is a little abnormal at the minute, so I guess I’ll just keep going with it. Though, it’s kind of scary, and fun all at once. Please don’t think I’m too crazy will ya?
Landing into the tiny town of Manzanita, an older couple stopped me. The woman, Karen, asked, “what you doing?” (this time it didn’t feel like the Truman Show). I replied, “I’m running around America for kids’ hospitals.” In a moment that took me by surprise, she burst into tears.
She said, “my 6-year-old granddaughter is at Disney Land Florida right now on her very last holiday. She has a brain tumour. It’s terminal and doesn’t have long left to live.”
Karen and her husband Bob invited me for lunch, and I mentioned that my parents took me to Disney Land in Florida when I was 8 years old too, when they didn’t know the outcome of my life as a sick kid. I let them know it was the best holiday EVER, but there wasn’t any way of getting around the fact it was just all so very sad that they’re going to lose their granddaughter. Illness affects such a huge web of people.
After a lovely lunch with the loveliest grandparents alive, I had a couple of local interviews at Tillamook County Pioneer and Manzanita Radio station.
For the radio station, the studio was actually in Gary McIntosh’s bedroom. He walked me around the house and showed me a window showing the one and only road for Manzanita, and said, “so here’s where I do the traffic report.”
As one car drove the road, I said, “wow, there seems to be a big traffic jam out there today.” You have to love the small towns.
Running on, I knew I had to do some hardcore miles. I ran along rolling coastal hills and tackled each one with force.
After a big 21-mile run, I made it to Paradise Cove RV Resort and Marina (a campsite). It was the first one I’ve stayed in.
It cost $27. There were showers and toilets, but it was all too far away to even think about using any of it. I set up my tent, looked at the grass, and thought, that’s some seriously expensive grass for tonight!
I started the next day feeling like it was a slightly mundane run, but then, a realisation that this is it – I’m just running, and it often will be boring! It’s been a good few years since Canada, and it’s easy to forget.
Then though, I saw a sign for some kind of motel. “Sleep with us and get crabs”. A lovely little distraction to break up the run!
Seven miles in, I stopped at Offshore Grill for lunch and to do social media. A woman burst from the door, “my name is Liz, I kinda know your girlfriend Anna, and I was hoping to catch you near here. When I saw Caesar outside, I knew it was you!”
It turns out Liz Dodd is a travel journalist cycling around the world. A pretty brave and bright spark. She joined me for lunch. Two 19-year-old blokes – also on a very long cycle trip – that came in knew Liz and joined us for a chinwag.
It was fascinating to hear how Liz is leisurely cycling her way around, while the two 19-year-olds appeared to be all about speed and the challenge. One thing was for sure though, I was impressed with what the young lads were doing at 19-years-old, my mum was still doing my washing at that age!
I went to pay for mine and Liz’s lunch and it turns out that the restaurant had paid for mine! The waitress said, “the owner paid for it, his son is battling leukaemia at the minute and loves what you’re doing.”
Outside, checking out the bikes, the owner came out to say thank you. We had a heart to heart and I turned around and Liz was welling up because of it all.
I’m not surprised at another kid’s story. There are so many families like this and I have a feeling I’m going to meet many more. And I want to. It always makes me slightly sad but fires me up.
Getting back on the road, I ran strongly. I sucked up my belly, brought my shoulders are far back as possible, and shuffled like a peacock. It felt like a strong pose. As the miles went down though, getting to 19 miles, I felt my shoulders slump and just gritted until I arrived at Tillamook, reaching nearly 22 miles. One of my biggest days so far.
Arriving at Western Royal Inn, I was desperate for a bed for a proper night sleep. The ladies behind the counter gave me a ‘fisherman’s discount’, after they asked why I was all dressed up as a superhero.
A month ago, when crossing the border into the U.S, I told that serious man at customs that there were lovely people in the US, and that I’d get to meet them – and it’s coming true!
At 3am that night, there were noises that were incredibly loud. The wall where my head was sleeping was shaking, and… well, let’s just say whoever was making the noise appeared to be having a great time.
Outside the motel, I stared at a sign for the Blue Heron French Cheese Company that read, “we give free cheese tastings.” I wanted cheese so badly as I heard that in Tillamook this was the spot for world famous cheese. But the company was back tracking 20 metres and for my tired legs, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
I ran on, knowing I’d missed out on best-selling cheese (we’re fans of cheese back in Gloucester UK!), slightly gutted and regretting my decision.
Just before running out of town, a man in a car stopped me, “we’ve been trying to get a hold of you. I’m from the Tillamook Headlight Herald we’d love to share your story.” We both agreed that Tillamook is a pretty big town, and this was a pretty neat coincidence – so I stayed to do an interview there and then.
Four miles of running, my hunger grew, and I stopped at a garage that sold fried chicken. Two blokes were keen to hear more about what I was doing and at the end of my story, one guy said, “yeah, we’ve got challenges of our own. We’re both recovering addicts.”
Now, I don’t mind at this stage asking questions. It turns out it was crystal meth they were addicted to.
I grabbed my camera and started to film. Doug and Kyle were really open to chat.
I asked, “what does crystal meth feel like when you take it?” Doug said, “you feel like Superman, like you can do anything.”
My next question, “when did you get off it?” Doug said, “I’ve been clean 11 years now.” And Kyle had been clean for one year.
I asked, “when I’m running along out on my own in the wilderness, should I be worried about bumping into the likes of you, when you were on crystal meth?” He paused, “na, I still had a moral compass when I was high.”
It was a warm and open conversation. As it turns out, Doug is now an amazing foster parent and helps kids, and he thinks it’s all down to his life experiences now he’s out the other side of his struggle.
Continuing on running on the busy 101 highway, I ran on thinking ‘come on, you need to get the job done, you’ve done hardly any running today’.
I felt pretty awful and just shuffled along. It was really busy but I eventually found a road to head off the highway.
I’m not sure whether the chicken I ate was salty, but I had an incredible thirst on me, much more so than normal and no water.
I stopped at the nearest house. A young woman came out, holding her camera and the first thing she said was, “I’m Facebook Live streaming you right now.” I was like, “that’s okay! Cool.”
I wasn’t sure whether she was scared to her wits, or if I should start asking for donations on camera?
Loaded up on water, I ran on a quiet road but I just had nothing left in the tank. My legs were empty and, in all honesty, had been empty all day.
I kept shuffling along wondering how many miles I could shuffle like this for.
Eventually clocking up over a half marathon, I grabbed the camera and explained that I was completely spent and needed to look for a camp spot.
Then, a boy came out onto the road and asked, “would you like to have dinner with us tonight? We’re eating spaghetti and elk.”
I gave him one look, “WOULD I?”
Running with Jacob, we landed into his home and I met his sister and parents.
His mum explained they’d seen me on the side of the road running three times today and wondered if I’d run near their house.
Jonathon walked me around their patch of land. They had chickens and bees, and everything looked self-sustainable like they might never have to leave their house! When I asked about the sheep, “what’s he for, what does he provide?”
Jonathon said, “oh that’s ram. He cuts our grass.” I couldn’t help but say “huh!? You have a sheep to mow your grass?” He was just like “yup.”
I didn’t hold back, so I said, “well, that is the best thing I’ve ever heard of. I’m never going to mow a single patch of grass ever again, I’m going to just buy a sheep to cut it. Genius.”
Eating dinner, I ate two platefuls of elk, honey, ice cream and Tillamook’s bestselling cheese! Everything tasted out of this world and I was so happy I saved myself a 20-metre run backwards because it turned out this family had the world-famous cheese on tap. And I got to taste the cheese in the best possible way!
After leaving the Whittles family loaded up with cheese, honey and elk, Jonathan asked if I wanted to shoot some guns with his dad, Linton.
Two miles of running, there they were in the bush waiting. Linton has fought in Vietnam and had a collection of guns but gave me the Dan Wesson 1911, calibre 9mm to try out.
I nailed each target, even the tiny ones, I did warn them I was James Bond in secret. Linton seemed pretty impressed and I felt pretty alive after shooting.
Running on, after shooting guns in the bush (as you do), I ran on in my barefoot shoes and just pity pattered away.
Eventually passing through the beautiful town of Pacific City. There are so many spots to have a holiday out here, it’s a bit of a shame the way I’m blasting through so quickly.
After 13 miles, I stated to fade, as usual. That seems to be when it turns a bit rough.
Then, Sarah popped out of nowhere to give water and a banana! Sarah’s sister follows me on social media and gave her a nudge to come find me. Before Sarah left, she said, ‘I’ll be back tomorrow, me and my kids wanna run with you.”
The banana and the hug seemed to put a skip in my step, so I cracked on up a five-mile mountain.
At 6:30pm, seeing a tractor working at that time on a Saturday night brought me comfort. I felt like me and the tractor man bonded, we were both working overtime.
After 17 miles, I asked to camp on a lady’s lawn. She seemed a little taken back and unsure (totally understandable) but said yes. Whilst chatting, she let me know of a restaurant one mile up ahead. I told her that sounds amazing, I’m gonna go there for hot food.
Arriving at Neskowin Trading Company, I scoffed down ribs and salad. With a full tummy I began making my tent up in the car park. And Sussi who I asked to camp on her lawn a mile up the road came to see if I was okay and give advice on the route ahead which is pretty dangerous with no hard shoulder. It was really sweet of her.
Led in my tent, I tried to take notes ready to blog in the morning and I couldn’t recite the day. I couldn’t even remember where I woke up. I think I’ve ran every day for nearly two weeks straight now, so it’s all starting to get a little mushy. My body just sank into the ground as heavy as an elephant. I couldn’t move.
Just before sleeping, it was a nice thought, knowing there’d be coffee in the morning, kids coming to run, and I’ll also be seeing my girlfriend Anna as well, it’s been months since I’ve seen her.
Waking up in a car park out of a tent, I walked into the cafe for a coffee to write my blog, but I couldn’t do it. My vision was blurry, and I couldn’t see what I was writing.
Slightly worried, I necked two pints of water, nailed some strawberries and pancakes and my vision appeared again. No idea why that happened!
After brekkie, Sarah turned up with her husband Ernie and three kids.
Sarah said, “right, I’ve got our route planned, it’s an extra five miles to get off the busy 101, but it’s quiet and safe.”
The extra five miles made me wince slightly, but then Sarah said, “and my kids wanna run with ya.”
My wincing turned into a big fat smile so I said, “let’s do it.”
We all started to run and Ernie drove behind us. The kids are 7, 9 and 11 years old. We were laughing on the first 200 metres. Then again, what kid doesn’t smile and laugh when moving?
After a mile, 7-year-old Henry tapped out and got in the car with his dad. A mile at that age is phenomenal.
Next up, after 3 miles, 11-year-old Ruby got in the car. It was incredible to see them push themselves but it wasn’t over.
Little 9-year-old Harlyn just kept saying, “I thought I was only going to run one mile but I wanna go further!”
Sarah and me couldn’t believe it, Harlyn clocked up six miles (and about 20+ cartwheels) before getting in the car.
It was amazing to see Sarah and Ernie be so proud of all of their kids.
After high fiving all of the kids, Sarah said, “I promised my kids for every mile they ran, I’d donate $10. So that’s $90 to your foundation.”
All the kids seemed to be beaming.
It turns out too, Sarah is a paediatric medical manager, so she totally gets it. Ernie drove off with the kids and left me and Sarah to continue up the mountain.
We chatted away and went at a really nice pace, our legs seemed to be synchronised together. Even our chatting seemed to be rhythmic.
Time disappeared and before we knew it, we’d ran nearly 16 miles. At the end, we both looked at each other like, “what just happened?”
Sometimes that’s the best kind of run.
Driving to Portland to visit OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, it was one of the most open hearted places I’ve ever been.
So much so that I got to chat with kids and do some art work with them. There was a news cast from KATU News that filmed everything too.
From seeing lots of superheroes in the hospital, it was time to see my superhero and partner in crime, Anna McNuff.
It’s been two months since I’d seen her. I had some excited nerves in my belly.
When I first saw her, it was a little weird, but after a long hug, and a few kisses, the connection grew.