We began our walk across America for heart disease on October 1st in Oceanside, California, so I guess it is time for a comprehensive “walk” update. With almost one month in the books, and 270 or so miles behind us, we are well on our way.
There have been moments of sheer boredom, some really cool and exciting experiences, and to be totally honest. some moments of doubt. The moments of doubt have lessened as we have overcome some physical issues by learning how to manage the daily walking activites. We will touch on that below. Anyways, before we began this journey, we figured that we would experience a lot of different things and really get to see this country up close and personal. So far, that has certainly been the case.
First let’s start with our purpose. Sometimes I wonder what good all this walking is doing. I’m talking about the big picture. Are we making an impact? Are people following along? Is our message getting out to the masses? I’m not sure yet, but we have gained some momentum.
As a heart patient, with a collection of stents in my legs, we thought if I could pull this off, it would inspire others to get out and get moving, especially those who have been afflicted and have more or less given up on becoming active again. The goal is to inspire others. We have had some help along the way in getting our message out. Fox 2, and Charlie Langton back home, featured us three times on local TV and Charlie was able to get airtime once on WWJ radio. Argo at Elvis Radio gave us 4 minutes of airtime just prior to our walk, to tell our story to the world. Lastly, there have been newspaper articles in the Oakland Press and one upcoming in the Pala Verde Valley Times in Blythe, California. All of this is good press and helps spread the word, which is to get out and get moving. My ask is that all of you share our posts and blogs to your fiends, and truly make this a movement for everyone to lead a more heart healthy lifestyle.
As for the daily grind, 5:30 AM comes early everyday, especially when you are still exhausted and stiff from the day before. I woke up this morning and told Kate that I didn’t want to go to school today, being funny of course. Her reply was, “it makes you miss getting up and going to work, doesn’t it?” Yes and no.
It certainly is a grind, and the walking can be tough. My legs aren’t close to 100%, and I really feel it when walking uphill for a long stretch. There is plenty of that. Of course when you are starting from an ocean you are at sea level, and by the time we reach Flagstaff the elevation will be somewhere around 7,000 feet. That will be like climbing the stairs of a 700 story building, although over a much longer time frame.
All in all, we have held up pretty good. I have my usual calluses to contend with, which can be painful in their own right, and numb feet when we get to the 5 mile mark. At 10 miles, sharp pain in a couple of toes occurs. The good news is that most of this subsides rather quickly, when I stop and rest for a bit. This allows us to motor, or walk I mean, on for a few more miles. I have learned to stop and rest, even if it is for a few seconds, every mile or two, with a longer break somewhere between 3 and 5 miles.
The heat has really been a factor, and that could change for the better as early as next week. There have been days over 100 degrees, with nearly every day over 90. There also hasn’t been a cloud in the sky for weeks. This is the type of weather you dream about back home, well maybe not the 100 degree part, but I have to say, I’m starting to miss the variety of weather we get in Michigan. Maybe not experiencing all four seasons in one day, which can happen back home, but you get my drift. Walking 10 miles or more in 90 plus degree heat with the sun pounding on you isn’t all that pleasant.
I recently wrote about the logistics of the trip, and it is a daily task to make sure we have what we need while walking. This includes food, hydration, sun block, maps, and protection from predators and more. We have found a routine, and Kate is unbelivably organized, which helps when dealing with a knucklehead (me).
Finding accommodations hasn’t been overly simple either. There are RV parks and campgrounds along the way, however we have to be fiscally responsible while making sure they have reasonable accommodations like water, electricity, and sewer. There are some sketchy parks, and we have found a couple, but overall, so far so good.
One challenge is finding a park that is in the correct vicinity of where we will be walking. Our goal is to establish a “home base” for 3 to 7 days along our route. We then move our camp as we walk a certain distance away from our current home base, and towards the next potential “home base”. The main consideration is to be efficient. If we move too far ahead, like we did with the first move, we are back tracking with the car too far to get to the starting point of that day’s walk. If we don’t move camp far enough, we would be finding the challenge of moving too frequently, which takes time. It is simple a process and takes a bit more time out of our day than I would like from a planning perspective.
When we get to extreme rural areas, like where we are currently, getting supplies is an issue. Case in point, there is not a grocery store nearby. The Family Dollar is the closest thing to a grocery store, and you can forget about fresh meats and produce. It just means you have to be prepared for the areas ahead and plan in advance. Good thing I have Kate with me or I would probably either starve or have to live on a diet of Twinkees.
At the end of the day, we are making progress, both physically and mentally. Our focus is two-fold; stay healthy and make progress towards North Myrtle Beach, and secondly, to make sure that what we are doing is making a difference. As for the latter, some of that is up to you. Get out, get moving, spread the word, and be good to your heart!
One last update from a route perspective: We are currently in Salome, AZ. Our route took us from Oceanside, to Temecula, near Palm Springs, through Indio, and through Blythe. All cities in California. From there, we hugged Interstate 10 (nearby roads and trails) into Quartzsite, AZ, continuing near the 10 to Hwy 60 which will take us towards Prescott, AZ in the next week or so.
Here are some estimated dates and locations as we near some of the larger cities on our route east:
- Albuqueque, NM on or about 12/25
- Amarillo, TX – 1/20
- Oklahoma City, OK – 2/10
- Memphis, TN – 3/15
- Atlanta, GA – 4/5
- North Myrtle Beach, SC – 4/26
(This is based on getting up to 20 miles per day, with a few days off sprinkled in, and no unforseen surpirses, wish us luck).
Cheers from the road.