12/11/13. Just before Ocotillo Wells last Friday evening, a huge man stopped his car and reached out his window holding a new looking black coat. It was a black and quilted with a fur collar, the kind policemen wear. “Here” he said, “it’s going to get real cold in those mountains you’re headed for.” I explained that I was wearing two layers of Polypropylene under my Acrylic shirt and had a Micro-fleece jacket with me as well. He kept shoving the expensive coat toward me and insisted, “Man, you can never have too much warmth, please take it.” I took it. It was made by a law enforcement clothing supplier, Law Pro. I wear a medium, the coat is a 2X! It is so warm and just think of all the layers that will fit under it. I’ve still got cold mountains to cross after San Diego.
Monday morning in the very cold mountains and quite far away from anything, I look up and was totally astonished to see an old man in shorts and tee shirt running toward me! He said, “Where you heading?” I said, “Where you heading?” 90 year-old WW II veteran Ernie Andrus said he was running coast to coast to raise money for the LST 325 Memorial. Ernie was on an LST as a U.S. Navy Corpsman to the U.S. Marines. He proudly told during our interview for Dan Diego News Channel 5, “I never lost a patient!” That’s quite a feat and add to that, the enemy always tries to kill the medics when possible. He explained to me that they had to cancel the planned voyage of LST 325 to Normandy and Omaha Beach where it was 70 years ago on D-Day, because of a lack of funds. This didn’t sit well with Ernie and the 90 year-old dynamo is doing something about it and going to raise the money to take it there another D-Day celebration!
When I met Ernie on the road, I took several pictures of both him and his car. To my utter dismay that evening as I was going to try and post his pic to Facebook, I realized that every picture I’d taken as far back as Sedona had disappeared! I was so upset over it because I so wanted to share what this 90 year-old national treasure is doing. Well, yesterday, 6 miles out of Julian and starting the steep climb up the mountain, who should pull up, Ernie Andrus! I couldn’t believe I would get another chance to take his picture for my Facebook friends! He said that he got to thinking about how much I could help him work out his route and he would buy my lunch when I reached the top of the mountain and Julian. It was 11:15 then and so I put it in gear and pulled that 100 pound plus cart up the mountain in a cold wind to meet Ernie at Granny’s Kitchen at 2:10. Amazing what the offer of free food does to motivate me! The owner and staff of the wonderful little restaurant and friend, Irishman, Patrick, a most colorful gentleman, were waiting for me along with Ernie applauding me as I arrived. Talk about a treat waiting inside! Granny’s Kitchen is wonderful! The food is a great match for the atmosphere in this place! People just hang out in there because it’s just a great place to be! I loved it! Please do yourself a favor and stop there when you’re in Julian, CA. They called Fox News 5 in Sacramento and the news crew interviewed me and Ernie there in Granny’s kitchen.