Where do I even begin? Upon coming up with this whole idea, I was never very nervous about the walk because I was always more nervous about actually raising the money to make the walk worth it. By the time we left for the walk, we had raised about $3,000! So on the eve of the walk, I began to take the walk seriously. I was nervous and very excited, as were Claire and Ben.
Day 1: San Luis Obispo to Cambria - 35 miles
We awoke just before 5am. After quickly rechecking our things, we ate a small breakfast and were on our way. The morning was dark and beautiful. Our spirits were high. I clearly remember us running to and fro kicking cans and trying to make our can collide with one another in order to score a point. We were so young and naive. By the time we reached Morro Bay, we knew our feet were starting to feel it. It wasn't until we reached Cayucos when it began to rain. We stopped for lunch and our friend Bart came to visit. After which we carried on the last 13 miles to Cambria. The rain continued and we saw fantastic waves we could have been surfing but none-the-less we were happy. Soon though our walking pace got slower and our form started getting sloppier. Personally, I began to shuffle as it made less impact on my knees and my blisters weren't as effected. At one point, a car came by and asked us if we wanted some burritos from Taco Temple. They said "We just left taco Temple 10 minutes ago." We thought that was funny because we had left Taco Temple 3 hours ago. To say we were not hurting would be a lie. I was also becoming very overwhelmed thinking about the possibility of not making our deadlines day to day. Either way, we continued to laugh it all out. After passing, Harmony (Population 18), we started to see Cambria. We opted to split a room 3 ways so we could get into a hot tub to recover and dry our things later. Luckily, we got literally the last room in the whole place. We looked a like a mess limping around the place. Murdock picked us up some tape and painkillers and we tried to fix ourselves up. We went to bed in a good mood but knew we had quite the walk ahead of us. Let me say, I completely underestimated the walk, and the realization of that in Cambria was interesting to say the least.
Day 2 w/ Murdock: Cambria to Pacific Valley Fire Station - 37 miles
Waking up in the morning, we were happy to see that over the night, we had recovered...enough. That would be the running joke for the entire walk. We never really recovered but we recovered enough to get back and do it again the next day. Having Murdock with us, added some extra positive attitude to the start of the day as well. It was great to have all day to listen to Doc's stories for he has plenty of them, and all are entertaining. We stopped more often this day to stretch better and to eat more for calories. We began to get into Big Sur and you could see the faraway distances we knew we would have to meet, which once again we dealed with by laughing. Ragged Point was a spot that couldn't come fast enough. We told ourselves that when we got there we would all get milkshakes. They were delicious. We re-patched ourselves up and even though its was getting late in the afternoon, we still had 18 miles to go and like the day before, our pace and form was getting worse by the mile. One of our favorite memories from the walk was during a rare, quiet moment devoid of conversation, when Doc broke the silence by stating what we all tried to deny... "This is madness!" In deed it was, as we didn't reach Pacific Valley until 10pm that night. We went for 16 hours that day. Doc was a champ and we made spaghetti at his house and tried to sleep as fast as we could to be ready to go again the next morning. Doc joined us for our longest day of the whole walk.
Day 3: Pacific Valley to Big Sur Fire Station - 31 miles
We left Doc's late around 7am that day. Once again we had recovered enough. We made our first leg to Lucia (About 8 miles) in decent time. I got to see many friends I hadn't seen in awhile when we walked into the store. They loaded us up with their extremely tasty treats and drinks. It was a great boost of energy. From there, we turned the corner and were faced with a massive view of the walk we had left to do for the day. Big Sur is very beautiful and we enjoyed the scenery as you would imagine. I would like to point out though that the up hills were not the problem. The downhills massacred our knees and blisters. Around the half way point, Doc drove past us and set up shop like he was tailgating at one of his beloved San Francisco 49ers games. He was doing a little better, as we crumpled on the seats he provided us and enjoyed some tacos. Getting up and moving again is the worst part. We walk barely a mile an hour for 10 minutes trying to get everything working again. We got our pace back and carried on. It was a tedious second half of the day. The night came and it was gorgeous. A good friend of mine Sal found us and offered to take our packs to where we were staying that night. Great guy. We got to my old Captain's house around 8pm after 13 hours walking. His kids were up and about being adorable and sweet as always. Charlie made us a great meal as expected and I was able to watch the end of the Patriots football game before I went to bed hoping to recover well enough for the next day.
Day 4: Big Sur to Monterey - 30 miles
We left Charlie's that morning with his laughter trailing from our ears as he watched us try to get up to a respectable walking pace. Claire's feet had become quite swollen, and Ben and I both had shin splints on our left legs. We believe this was because many times the road was slanted for drainage purposes which would always put more work on the left leg. Every morning, we would talk a bit for the first 10 miles or so, and then after a short break we would put on some music and try to zone out again until lunch. Today, Charlie met us shortly after Bixby Bridge, and made us burritos. A few friends of ours visited as well. Though we were in rough shape, we also knew that we were nearing the end of Big Sur, and we were almost half way done mileage wise and days wise. Again we listened to Charlie laughing at us as we walked away, though he was extremely helpful to us. During this leg to Carmel, we ran into a man called the "Peace Artist." He was running/walking across the whole border of the U.S. for peace. He was nice enough to put us in his blog. The portion from Bixby Bridge to Carmel was kind to the mind because it often flattened out and allowed us to see better progress. When we got to Carmel and civilization again, we hobbled around CVS for more Advil and foot pads. We ate gas station hot dogs, and were asked to leave as we looked homeless. Good ole' Carmel! Then we did the last push up the long hill to Monterey. We again split a room so we could make use of a hot tub. We were dead tired and in pain, but we were still laughing and happy to have made it over half way.
Day 5: Monterey to Watsonville - 24 miles
We switched course this day because a good friend of our named Andrew Kenner told us to come to his place because he had donations and support for us. We began to make our way. We couldn't stay on highway 1 in Monterey but there was a bike path that paralleled it so it was o.k. We pushed hard and covered decent ground the first part of the day. We were able to find shortcuts at times by walking through farm fields which was also more friendly to our knees. We came upon Moss Landing for lunch and tried some deep fried artichokes which were really good actually. Our last push of the day got cut early because we were not aware that Watsonville had some dangerous parts to it. Our friend called us to ask where we were and when we told him, he told us to stop because were walking right into the middle of the ghetto. He came and picked us up and drove us around to his place in a safer neighborhood. Him and his mother spoiled the heck out of us and after eating, we sat up with out feet raised with ice on a comfy couch. Another fun activity occurred when Andrew pulled out a zap collar for dogs who bark too much. We decided to try it out. I'm not sure which was more funny; watching everyone get zapped or watching them with the collar on and trying to bark loud enough so that the collar would zap them. We made some great connections by going over there and got some hefty donations as well.
Day 6: Santa Cruz to Pescadero - 32 miles
We woke up early at the Kenner house. By walking to Watsonville in stead of Santa Cruz, we had gone inland away from our route. In order to keep to our deadlines, we had to get some help. Kenner drove us from Watsonville to Santa Cruz where we began to walk again. From Santa Cruz until Half Moon Bay, there is very little civilization. The closest thing we could go for was Pescadero where we might find a bed and breakfast. The road was relatively flat and the views were fantastic. Our spirits were up though are pace was ever slower. We had packed lunches that we ate in the afternoon and we carried on into the night. When we reached Pescadero, it was about 7pm. We had a few miles to walk inland for any sort of hope for dinner and rest. We decided to try to hitch hike as we walked towards the center. A very nice man named Rob picked us up. He told us that he wasn't afraid of us because we had headlamps but he was mostly curious why anyone would ever hitch hike into Pescadero! He brought us to the bed and breakfast and because he knew the man who ran it, he joined us to give us a local hand. The owner couldn't be found so Rob thought we would maybe find him at the town's only bar. Upon entering the bar, we realized the owner could not be found. But, everyone in the bar turned around and everyone recognized us as the people they saw walking all day on the highway. Everyone was very kind, the food was great, and the music was good ole' stuff. Rob bought us a round and even donated, as did the bartender who was a nice old man. We had a really nice time. After, Rob tried one more time for us at the bed and breakfast which didn't work. He drove us up the road to a nice spot where there was grass for us to sleep for the night. We were happy to spend a night under the stars. Pescadero was a great off beat experience for us.
Day 7: Pescadero to Montara - 20+ miles
We began this day with high spirits as we knew we had less miles to cover and it was our 2nd to last day of the walk. The road in which we found ourselves though was extremely windy and hilly leading to the highway. Once we were on the highway, it felt a like a long walk to Half Moon Bay. Though we were all hurting, we made actually pretty good time to the Bay and were able to spend over an hour at a Round Table Pizza eating and relaxing. Half of the time was spent laughing at our pitiful state, and the other half was spent falling asleep sitting up. The management had assumed that were going to try and buy one "all-you-can-eat-salad" special and then feed all three of us. This was just one of the many times people thought we were homeless. We then made our way to Montara. Michelle is wonderful volunteer in Rwanda and she got her family to house us for the night in Montara. When we arrived, it had begun to drizzle a little but not enough to soak us. We had a lovely night with the family. Ben and I were kept company with the family cat all night. Their two dogs were great companions as well. I would like to point out that a cop pulled us over earlier that day, and he warned us not to walk through a portion of road known as Devil's Slide. He told us there was no shoulder and we would be called on for sure if we tried to do it. We didn't think it could be any worse than Big Sur so we shrugged it off. Later that night, Michelle's family brought up the same concern as well. This time we decided to listen as it would be better to be safe than sorry.
Day 8: Pacifica to San Francisco - 12 miles
It was very humbling when Michelle's parents began to argue the night before about who was going to get to drive us through Devil's Slide in the morning. The father won the battle and began the drive for us in the morning. At first we were feeling guilty about the drive because it seemed no worse than Big Sur. Than the construction began and the narrow road was lined with barricades that left literally no shoulder at all as we had been warned. At that point, we relaxed a little, feeling that our decision was justified. Michelle's father dropped us off in Pacifica and we laughed at the amount of miles we had to walk to the finish line, though we were still a mess. Pacifica was pretty and after we crested a very long uphill in a neighborhood, we could see the Golden Gate Bridge piercing through the bulidings and we all let out a holler. We had many downhills leading the way after that but we didn't mind as much anymore. We wondered how we would react when we would finally cross the line to San Francisco. Truely, we didn't make too much of a fuss as were just plain tired and beat, but were also happier than we could imagine. We turned onto the Olympic Golf Country Club where within minutes we were told to leave, but we explained we were calling a cab and they left us alone. We got a cab as sort of a victory present for finishing the walk. We got to my sisters around noon and we crashed out until it was time to get ready for the party that night.
As I stated above, I truely underestimated this walk. It was the most enduring thing I have ever done. You don't lose your breath, and you don't break a sweat. Your legs fall apart though, and your feet take quite a beating so that each step is uncomfortable; each 70,000 + steps you take each day. But I remember those who have done such more trying things with worse conditions than we were facing and I am more humbled than ever, and my respect for such individuals has sky rocketed higher than I could imagine.
Ben likes to say "This is the stupidest/ most amazing thing I've ever done." All of the little things we experienced along the way and just the general mindset we had during the whole walk can never be expressed with words. I might not have been able to do this alone, truely. It speaks a lot for Claire and Ben because I think it was easier for me, knowing the kids as I do and feeling so close to them. Claire and Ben never complained and always pushed on. I hope they know how much they helped me along the way and made this walk such a great experience. If I didn't say it enough, it was probably because I was too busy laughing. Words can't express my gratitude.
And thank you to all of our friends, old and new, who helped us along the way. Give a hand to Murdock for joining for the longest day of the whole walk as well. Everyday I must have said to myself, "It's good to have friends." What a truely humbling feeling to see so many people go out of their way to support people here, there, and everywhere. Again, words cannot express.
To sum it up, the words may never express. That is why we walked, and you helped, and all together we will help the kids walk their walk too. When our taxi driver dropped us off at my sisters at the end of this whole ordeal he said, "Great, thanks guys, and keep on walkin'." Granted, he was a young, hungover, Brazilian surfer dude who didn't really know us, he was still right on the money.
...So yeah, keep on walkin' folks.