Friday, July 1, 2016

Day 1 -- Ilkley to Grassington, 16 miles

So here I am again – in a place I’ve never been, intending to walk to another place I’ve never been, by a route I’ve never followed. Add to that a world-wide audience expecting me to write something interesting and entertaining. Oh, the pressure. Fortunately, today’s walk was filled with interesting and entertaining experiences. Whether I can translate any of it in a way that will satisfy the expectations of my readers is quite another thing. But here goes.

In all my previous blogs, I've concentrated on the people I met on the trail – because, for me, the people make these walks special. Nonetheless, I vowed not to write about the people this time, because my inability to convey my excitement from meeting other walkers is a major deficiency. But, WOW! Did I meet some interesting people today!! I’m going to keep my vow, and not write about them, but I’m going to add their pictures to the end of this posting. That’s the least I can do for so many who made today so special for me.

Instead, I’m going to write about a few interesting things that occurred on the trail. The first is the Money Tree. Actually it’s now a log, but it was once a tree. It’s said that money doesn’t grow on trees, but folks here have hammered in thousands – maybe millions – of coins into this tree, so money might as well have grown on it. Admittedly, it was worth a lot more before the Brexit vote, but it still holds enough currency to retire the national debts of both the UK and the US. I thought about taking the tree with me, but I’m having Sherpa Van transfer my bag each day, and they won’t ship money.

Money Tree
What motivates people to hammer money into a tree? Perhaps low interest rates paid by banks makes trees more desirable. Perhaps trees are more solid than banks. Wood you place your money in a tree? I’ve always been a lukewarm environmentalist, but now I’m a tree-hugger.

At one location on the footpath, the way was blocked by cattle. I wasn’t sure what to do, because there was absolutely no way around.

Cattle Obstruction
I decided to approach the problem the same way the three smartest people in the world would. Without question, the smartest person in the world is Marie Pucel, the number one commenter to my blog. She would turn around and run – which didn’t seem like a bad idea – but then she would blame poor Andrew for having gotten her into that situation. That would be OK with me, but unfortunately, Andrew wasn’t with me, so I couldn’t use Marie’s solution.

Donald Trump would threaten to build another hotel with a super-sized steakhouse if the cattle wouldn’t let him pass That might get rid of the cattle long-term, but I thought the threat may anger them short-term. The last thing I wanted was angry cattle, so I rejected Donald’s solution.

Hillary Clinton would promise the cattle that she would disarm all the cowboys and provide free education and health care for all of the cattle’s descendants. But this is England, and there aren’t any cowboys to be disarmed. Furthermore, these were steer (I think the English term is bullocks), so there aren’t going to be any descendants. Even if Hillary were to sweeten the deal by allowing the steer to inter-marry, her solution would be unworkable.

Finally, I decided to slowly extend my hand and let one of the steer sniff it. While speaking in a gentle voice I quietly and slowly passed him. He stayed calm, apparently comforting the other cattle, so they didn’t stampede or kick or do any other nasty things that cattle frequently do. I may not be very smart (after all, a smart person would not have done what I did), but I know a thing or two that Donald and Hillary don’t. And that’s all I’m going to say about politics.

But just for good measure, I said a word of thanks as I passed Bolton Priory.

Bolton Priory

Here’s a gallery of the folks that made today special:
Ned, Sue and Brian

Liz and Claire

Phil, Mary, Koti, and Richard
Steve and Jacqui
John, Jet and Jenny