Posts Tagged ‘Harrison Walter’

Shoes for industry

October 23, 2022

The shoes say “Yes, yes, yes,” but the cold feet say “No.”

My old copy-desk comrade Hal Walter and I have a habit of carpet-bombing each other in the morning with news items hot off the digital press, guaranteed to elevate the heart rate.

This morning he hit me with a grim item about a cyclist bludgeoned to death by Florida Man, observing, “Cyclists piss people off for some reason.”

I fired back with some AAA advice for driving in winter weather, since Hal has to take his son Harrison up to Leadville today and snow is in the forecast.

Next, since the lads were doing a 14-mile run before leaving Weirdcliffe, I doubled down with a running mag’s top-10 tips for legging it in the cold — guidance that seemed heavy on the buying of various items.

And finally, for the coup de grâce, I tacked on a hastily freestyled top-10 list of my own, possibly because the wind was blowing about 666 mph here in The Duck! City and the going outside seemed contraindicated. Also, I may have been slightly overcaffeinated.

Dr. DogByte Sez: “Run Right Out and Buy Some Shit!”

Tip No. 1: Buy shit.

Tip No. 2: Buy more shit.

Tip No. 3: You know you can’t be happy without buying shit, so buy some more shit.

Tip No. 4: Buy some shit, then run around the corner to the coffee shop and buy some more shit there.

Tip No. 5: Buy some shit, then step outside, mumble, “Fuck me, it’s cold out here. I should really go back inside and buy some more shit.”

Tip No. 6: Buy some shit for your squeeze. Maybe your squeeze will then buy some shit for you, or even suggest taking your exercise indoors and under the covers, where it’s warm.

Tip No. 7: No, probably not. In fact, she’s out running. So while the cat’s away, you might as well just buy some shit for yourself.

Tip No. 8: Now that you’ve got the carpal tunnel from buying shit, you should probably schedule an appointment with a physical therapist. Which is kind of like buying shit, except you can’t brag about it while showing it to your friends.

Tip No. 9: So fuck that shit. You’d have to go outside, if only to get in the car. Better stay inside and buy some more shit, using your good hand.

Tip No. 10: That knock on the door? Not UPS. Collection agency. Looks like it’s time to run after all. If you don’t have a back door use a window. Think of it as parkour. We’ll have some tips for that if you make it back. With a viable credit card, of course.

Truckin’

October 5, 2022

The Road goes ever on and on. Photo: Hal Walter

• Editor’s note: It’s your lucky day, folks. We have a guest post by my old pal Hal Walter, who invested a portion of his increasingly rare downtime in telling us a tale of that long and winding road.

By Hal Walter

I do a lot of driving these days. Between coaching a rural 2A cross-country team at Custer County School, and overseeing my autistic son Harrison’s transition to college life this fall, I am becoming more intimate with the Central Colorado highways than I really care to be.

Our cross-country team is traveling to nine different meets this fall, from one to three hours away, by bus. Sometimes I am the bus driver too.

My son is attending Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, where he also runs on the cross-country team — which means even more mountain driving to see his competitions. Because of issues surrounding his being on the autism spectrum I spend some nights and partial days in Leadville and also bring him home for weekends.

Recently on a Sunday evening, I conned my wife into joining Harrison and me for dinner on our way to Leadville. After an excellent meal at the new Thai restaurant in Westcliffe, Mary headed back to the ranch while Harrison and I pressed on to the Timberline Campus as the sun sank behind the Sangre de Cristo range.

About 12 curvy miles north, nearing the small settlement of Hillside, I saw something cross the highway in the dim light ahead. It seemed fairly tall so I immediately thought it might be an elk and slowed down. I don’t want to hit anything after some road debris tore a hole in my gas tank on an earlier trip, but I especially do not wish to hit an elk in my 10-year-old Suzuki SX4.

I also encounter a fair number of Amish travelers in this area, on horses, in carriages and more recently, riding e-bikes, which I reckon to be their version of motorcycles.

I hit my brights but they were useless in the twilight. Slower, slower. I finally rolled up to the place where I was expecting to see elk, but instead spied an odd-shaped object on the left-hand side of the highway where there is basically no shoulder. I’m thinking, “What the heck is that?”

It was initially a tallish Thing, segmented and rectangular. Then I realized it was a hand truck stacked with white boxes. It seemed at once to be moving yet standing still. That’s when I saw the smallish guy behind it, head barely above the load, pushing it along.

I coasted forward and looked to my left as I passed but could not get a good read on what sort of person this was. As I drove on I saw in the rearview mirror the hand truck crossing the highway right after I passed. Was that a homeless dude or an Amish person? It almost seemed like an apparition, yet I knew it was real.

At the next curve I slowed down again for a big Amish carriage in the oncoming lane with clomping horse, headlights and flashing taillights. A mile or so later at a ranch driveway I made out the silhouette of an Amish man astride a horse. After I passed he spurred the horse out onto the highway and in the fading red glow of my taillights disappeared south into the darkness. I drove on, still puzzled by the guy with the hand truck.

It’s about 105 miles from Westcliffe to Leadville. After a short stop at the Salida Safeway to stock up on some necessities for Harrison’s week ahead, we arrived at the CMC residence hall after 9 p.m. We schlepped the clothes, electronics, groceries, running shoes, and other items into the room. We straightened up a little, got the coffee ready for the morning, and went to sleep.

The next morning Harrison wandered off for breakfast in the cafe. I did some more organizing of his things, then headed off to the nearby trail system for a hike-jog. I then accompanied Harrison to meet one of his instructors before his first class. I spoke with the assistant dean. I talked with Harrison’s counselor. I went back to the room and did some cleaning, got a shower, packed up, and left Leadville right after noon, bound for cross-country practice back in Westcliffe.

I stopped about halfway home, in Salida, and got lunch to go and the necessary coffee. I also went to the running shop, tried on, test-ran, and bought new shoes. I ate while driving, then stopped to change into my coaching/running gear just before Hillside. I drove on. Just as I arrived at Westcliffe I saw up ahead something curious on the road.

As I drew near in the bright daylight I realized it was indeed a homeless guy still pushing his hand truck of white boxes, like something right out of “The Road.” He was moving so slowly the motion was barely discernible. In the time I had driven more than 200 miles and done countless other tasks that I viewed as necessary, this man had pushed his hand cart of boxes about 12 miles.

The testament to human endurance notwithstanding, a flood of thought coursed through my road-weary brain about the pace of our lives and the pace of others, what we view as necessary and how little others have. The spectrum of my own First World problems as compared to someone living at a snail’s pace. The craziness of our lives, and of our times.

Hal Walter hangs his hat outside Weirdcliffe, Colo., whenever he’s home long enough to take it off.

School’s never really out

May 28, 2022

What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Right. Time for some good news from the school front.

Today, Harrison Jake Walter will graduate from the Custer County Schools. He’s bound for Colorado Mountain College, with a couple of scholarships in hand.

Some scoff at the proverb that “it takes a village” to raise a child, but I think it was provably true in this instance. Custer County had Harrison’s back for 18 years, and his parents, Hal and Mary, will be the first to tell you that this was not always easy.

So, gassho to Harrison, Hal, and Mary. And also to the school, its students, and their community.

College is the next journey. There will be bumps in the road. But this is the nature of roads. The Great Way for Harrison and the rest of us is one step after another.

Born to run

November 13, 2021

Harrison Walter (center) signs a letter of intent to run for Colorado Mountain College. His dad and coach, Hal, is third from the right.
Photo: Joy Parrish

My man Hal Walter recently arranged a small signing ceremony for his son, Harrison, who will be running cross country and track for Colorado Mountain College next year.

Harrison is on the autism spectrum, and so making the leap from high school to college may involve more gymnastics than it did for thee or me. Writes Hal in his Substack newsletter:

It’s been a long run for Harrison, who began his scholastic running career in middle school cross-country and track at Custer County, and then continued into high school. Seven years in all. In the first few years we didn’t know what direction he’d run when the gun went off — or if he’d actually run or melt down. We’re still working out the transition to college. He may be splitting his time in Leadville between online and in-person classes, and doing some workouts next fall with his old team — and coach — here in Westcliffe.

A tip of the Mad Dog mortarboard to Harrison and Hal for a job well done.

And speaking of jobs well done, Hal recently announced that he would be stepping down from MetaFaceButt to spend more time with his Substack newsletter. You can subscribe to that here.

The Apple of his eye

September 10, 2019

I generally don’t pay much attention to the various Apple announcements. I’ve never been an early adopter, and in any case my basket is always pretty well full up with the old, dried-up fruit of Cupertino’s loins (see G4 AGP Graphics Power Mac, circa 1999).

But I watched today’s hoopla from the Steve Jobs Theater, because my man Hal Walter and his boy Harrison got a little screen time in a short video made to pitch the Apple Watch Series 5.

Regulars here will recall that Harrison is on the autism spectrum and uses music to help him focus while running cross country and track for the Custer County Schools. Since Harrison is an Apple Fanboi First Class, it goes without saying that it’s an Apple Watch feeding the earworms to his headphones.

Hal will have something to say about it all directly over at Hardscrabble Times. But speaking for myself, it was pretty damn’ cool to see the kid’s image splashed all over the screen behind Tim Cook after the video ended. Have a peek.

Snow fun

February 24, 2019

Harrison and Hal. | Photo: Nancy Hobbs

My man Hal Walter and his boy Harrison suited up for a 10K on my old cyclocross course in Bibleburg on Saturday, but it wasn’t exactly a triumph, or even one of those father-son interactions that makes you go “Awwwwwwww. …”

Still, as Hal notes over at Hardscrabble Times: “Sometimes you ‘win.’ Sometimes you learn.”

Give it a read.

 

Fathers and sons: Going the distance

November 2, 2018

Harrison “The Blur” Walter hits the creek crossing at the 2018 Colorado cross-country championships. | Photo: Hal Walter

Kicking off his interview with John Cleese last week, Marc Maron talked briefly about being invited to play guitar alongside Slash and Jimmy Vivino while hosting a benefit show for The Blues Foundation and The Americana Music Association.

Maron plays, but not at that level, and noted afterward: “The thing I always seem to learn over and over when I am around real musicians is they have committed their lives to a magical art. I am always amazed and excited at how consistently they nail songs and take you on that journey.”

Hey, I can dig it. Now me, I’m a professional rumormonger, which is to say that I get money to mong rumors, mostly by writing, occasionally by cartooning. And after more than a few decades of practice, practice, practice, which has yet to get me to Carnegie Hall, I can mong a quick rumor with keyboard or pen at the drop of a hat full of cash.

And a very small hat it usually is, too. More of a cap, actually. The sort one might find on a pint of Jameson or a bottle of Advil.

But podcasting? It feels like typing with boxing gloves, or drawing with a banana.

So, yeah, I get it when Maron — who is a podcaster, among other things — says of his hobbyist guitar-playing: “I can show up, and I can play, but I’m gonna clunk up something … that is not my craft, that is not my art, that is not my form. …”

Which is the long way around to saying that yes, we have another episode of the distinctly unprofessional and gratuitously hobbyist Radio Free Dogpatch on tap. It is quite literally an amateur hour, and you might need the Jameson and Advil to get through it.

In this one I chat at some length (and some distance) with my old comrade Hal Walter about his son Harrison, who just wrapped his first year with the high school cross-country team.

It was an up-and-down season for the 14-year-old, and he didn’t qualify as a varsity athlete for the state championship meet, held last Saturday in Bibleburg. But as an autistic athlete it seems he was eligible to race an event for special-needs kids.

Now, Hal prefers to keep Harrison in the mainstream whenever it’s possible and practical. But Harrison had been talking all season about going to states, and while he hadn’t made the varsity cut, he did have a strong finish to the regular season.

This left his dad with a tough call to make. Give it a listen.

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with a Shure SM58 microphone and a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB audio interface plugged into a a late-2009 iMac, using Ecamm’s Call Recorder for FaceTime, which apparently will not survive Apple’s transition to macOS Mojave. I edited the audio using Apple’s GarageBand. The background music is “Matador’s Entry” from ZapSplat, and the race-day audio was stripped from a couple video clips forwarded by Hal Walter.

The long run

February 25, 2018

Harrison Walter (#575) competes on his school’s
cross-country and track teams. Photo | Hal Walter

The Walter family’s struggle with autism came in for a little attention in the press over the weekend.

My friends Hal and Mary and their son Harrison have been enduring the tender mercies of the Medical-Industrial Complex as mom and dad strive to get their teenager the expensive behavioral therapy that may help him with the impulse-control issues common among the neurodiverse.

Harrison focused on his schoolwork. Photo | Rebekah Cravens

Regan Foster of The Pueblo Chieftain — where Hal and I first met back in the Eighties — wrote about the Walters’ difficulties in a straight news piece and a more personal sidebar; both made the newspaper’s home page this morning.

The details of this particular tale of woe may be new to you, but the overarching theme is all too familiar: What happens when circumstances upend a hard-working American family that earns a bit too much to qualify for public assistance, but not enough to cover the out-of-pocket costs associated with private insurance?

“A $3,000 deductible plus a 30 percent co-pay is the same as not having insurance, except you have to pay for the insurance,” said Hal.

Harrison is designated as disabled, but does not qualify for a Children’s Extended Services waiver for Medicaid because his sleep habits, “while not great, are not entirely horrible,” according to Hal.

The amount of paperwork required in raising a neurodiverse kid (like appealing a Medicaid waiver denial) would be enough to put anyone to sleep.

That this is a stumbling block instead of a side note seems absurd; Harrison’s abilities as a student and athlete can be offset by his impulsive, occasionally violent behavior, which seems a greater concern for society than how many Z’s the family bags nightly. Someone is definitely on the nod here, and it’s not the Walters, who are appealing the decision to deny a CES waiver.

Hal and Mary are both long-distance runners, with all the stamina that requires and then some, but theirs is a race against time. Harrison is 13 going on 14, and as special-ed teacher Carrie Driver notes: “We have four and a half years to get him ready for life and to give him skills that are appropriate for him to be independent.”

• Editor’s note: You can read more at Hal’s blog, Hardscrabble Times (which is updated irregularly), and in his column at Colorado Central.

Recycled 5: The best of ‘Mad Dog Unleashed’ 2017

December 30, 2017

• Editor’s note: Since my Bicycle Retailer and Industry News column won’t survive into the New Year, I’ve decided to resurrect a six-pack’s worth of this year’s “Mad Dog Unleashed” screeds between now and then. This is No. 5, one of those rare columns that actually managed to elicit a comment (and a positive one, too) from one of my editors.

Harrison Walter expanding his horizons. Photo courtesy Hal Walter

The wheel goes round, whether pushing up or coasting down

“I wanta bicycle in hot afternoon heat, wear Pakistan leather sandals, shout in high voice at Zen monk buddies standing in thin hemp summer robes and stubble heads. …”—Japhy Ryder in “The Dharma Bums,” by Jack Kerouac

By Patrick O’Grady

“The Zen of Standing Around,” he called it.

Nobody would describe the Tour de France like that. But my friend Hal Walter wasn’t talking about the Tour, which isn’t even a blip on his sporting radar screen. He was talking about a stop-and-go mountain-bike ride with his son, Harrison.

“An hour and 45 minutes for four miles,” he noted. “About an hour slower than I usually run it.”

A short, slow ride with your kid, even on rugged, single-track horse trail, probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to you. And strictly speaking it wouldn’t be one to Hal, either.

His idea of a good time is the annual World Championship Pack-Burro Race out of Fairplay, Colo, a 29-mile run to the summit of 13,185-foot Mosquito Pass and back. He’s won it seven times.

Hal has some experience racing the bike, too, most of it from the Mount Taylor Winter Quadrathlon in Grants, N.M. The 43-mile Quad starts and ends on the bike, but in between competitors run, ski and snowshoe up and down 11,301-foot Mount Taylor.

So, yeah. Four-mile mountain-bike ride with your kid. No big deal.

Unless your kid is autistic—or as Hal prefers to say, “neurodiverse.”

Then every mile deserves its own milestone.

Saddling up. Hal came late to the bike. He was about 7 when he taught himself to ride his mom’s three-speed step-through, which was too big for him.

Hal recounted the experience a couple years ago in his column for Colorado Central magazine.

“I remember one day taking this hulking steel steed out to the sloped driveway behind the duplex where we lived, determined to learn to ride it. I started at the top with my feet to either side and shuffled along astride the bike while coasting down the short drive. Then I pushed it back up and tried again. Over and over.

“Each time I was able to coast a little farther between steps. It seemed like hours went by, and then suddenly I coasted the entire driveway.”

Rock and roll. Pushing it back up. Trying again. Over and over. Welcome to Team Sisyphus.

I learned how to ride early, with my dad’s help, in Canada. After the old man got transferred to Texas in 1962 we went for regular evening rides around officers’ country on Randolph AFB. It was a nice slice of family time, and remains a fond memory.

Here in Albuquerque a neighbor would like to get in on a little of that. After asking me for advice she and her husband have been bike-shopping, hoping to squeeze in some rides with their daughter before she goes back to college.

I can recommend it. And so can Hal.

Sport as medicine. I expect Hal wondered whether he’d ever be able to share his love of a good sweat with Harrison, who was late to a lot of things, not just cycling.

He’s had at least four speech therapists, but still has trouble with communication and comprehension. This frustrates him, and he lashes out, sometimes physically.

But with a little assistance, and a lot of patience, Harrison has been able to attend school like all the other kids—it helps that the Walters live in rural Custer County, Colo., near a very small town with an equally small school—and he’s inherited enough of his parents’ aptitude and appreciation for running to participate in the track and cross-country teams.

Spinning your wheels. The cycling is mostly recreational. Hal rides as a respite from the pounding of long-distance running, and he thought he might share this activity with Harrison, too.

But like his old man, Harrison took a while to master the technique, enduring failure after failure, until one day the nickel finally dropped and the music started playing.

He quickly progressed from a BMX bike to a Diamondback mountain bike, and got to where he was comfortable logging some serious gravel mileage alongside Hal as he ran one of his burros around and about.

Harrison raced the school triathlon, and started exploring the neighborhood single-track. And this summer dad gave him a nice attaboy, trading in the old Diamondback at Absolute Bikes in Salida for a used yellow Specialized Hardrock.

The truth(s) of the matter. None of this means Harrison will be chasing a famous jersey to match his new-used yellow bike.

He’s a skinny 13-year-old who’s been known to stop on training runs to call an imaginary friend on an imaginary phone. He can be loud, and occasionally unsettling. Your finish line may not be his.

The kid is doing his own race, at his own pace, and sometimes makes his own rules. Hal’s along for the ride, and if it takes nearly two hours to cover four miles, well, that’s how long it takes.

While Harrison fusses over the stickers in his socks, Hal practices the Zen of Standing Around, like Kerouac’s Ray Smith contemplating the first of the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths (all life is suffering) and the third (the suppression of suffering can be achieved).

“The funny thing is he seems to have no problem pushing that thing,” says Hal. “Like it’s just part of the deal. You push the steep stuff and ride the downhills.”

• Editor’s note v2.0: This column appeared in the Aug. 15, 2017, issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Endurance

June 17, 2016
Hal Walter and Spike in 2000, after winning what I believe was their second world pack-burro championship in Fairplay, Colo.

Hal Walter and Spike in 2000, after winning what I believe was their second world pack-burro championship in Fairplay, Colo.

My man Hal “Mr. Awesome” Walter, who races burros and raises an autistic son, is the subject of a profile over to Narrative.ly, just in time for Father’s Day.

You might think that managing what Hal prefers to call a “neurodiverse” child would be heavy lifting. But like burro racing, it has more to do with endurance, which just happens to be the title of a newish short book the man is hawking between his other chores.

Like father, like son: Young Harrison has his very own burro circa 2005.

Like father, like son: Young Harrison has his very own burro circa 2005.

Hal and I first met back in the Eighties on the copy desk of The Pueblo Chieftain, where we also dealt with varying degrees of neurodiversity and as a consequence enhanced our capacities to endure just about anything.

I went on to become an extraordinarily prosaic amateur cyclist while professionally lampooning leg-shavers, dope fiends, and leg-shaving dope fiends, while Hal became a world-champion pack-burro racer and author.

But we’ve remained friends despite our class differences, and thus I recommend that you read the profile and buy the book.