When the idea to walk across America first popped into my head, it was simple in its concept. Start at one ocean, walk for a while, and stop when you get to the other ocean. No problem.
The primary concern was my ability to walk extensive distances, day after day, and although that is still a concern, we have found so many other things that also need close consideration.
A lot has been learned in the three plus weeks since we started walking on October 1st. You need good shoes and socks. Check. You need a route and a map. Check. You need an ample food supply and emergency provisions. Check. You need sun protection (that’s an understatement). You need your health. Double check. All the planning and work we put into accounting for the expected, and somewhat unexpected has certainly paid off. However, we have found that some things are going to catch you by surprise.
First off, we expected the terrain and heat in the southwest to be a challenge, and it certainly has been just that. The steady incline has been difficult on my surgically repaired legs. Flat ground, not a problem, but inclines require a slower pace and frequent stops to get the blood flowing to the feet and calf muscles as needed.
The heat has been another obstacle, although not one that we can’t manage…at least so far. It has been near or over 100 degrees practically everyday since we left Oceanside. I swear I haven’t seen a cloud in weeks. The midday sun is relentless, and makes you feel like you are in an oven. So much for saying ” yes, but it’s a dry heat”. Anyways, we start early and finish 8-12 miles by noon, and then pick up later in the day, although there are days when even late afternoons offer no reprieve from the intense heat.
Then there are the disruptions, like finding friends along the way. Furry friends that is. On a sad note, on the morning of Friday the 13th, when driving to our beginning walking point for the day, our vehicle struck a dog on a desert road. There was no avoiding it. Anyone that knows me knows my love for dogs and this really was difficult. The car sustained a bit of damage, but that wasn’t even a minor consideration when thinking of the poor animal that lay motionless on the road. We called the police and in short order they handled the situation. Kate and I were extremely upset, so much so that walking that morning wasn’t an option.
We made a monetary donation to the humane society and vowed to be vigilant when driving, even though there are times, like this one, where an animal darts in front of your vehicle at the last possible moment. Still, I felt like there had to be a way to make it right. Enter the next canine encounter.
Kate has always had a heart of gold, and as I get older, I think she is rubbing off on me more and more. We have seen a countless number of homeless people and stray animals since we embarked on this journey, but that is a subject of another article. A few days ago, we ran across a stray Chihuahua. He was strolling down Hobson Way in Blythe, CA, at about 7:30 AM on a Sunday morning. We have been regularly handing out dog treats during our walk and actually have dog food and water in the car for such occurrences. I immediately pulled over and we called for the dog. Amazingly, the dog came right to us.
I’m sure Kate thought this was a bad idea, as I get attached rather quickly, and of course, we really cannot accommodate a dog on our trip. We are out walking all day and a hot RV is no place to keep an animal while we are gone. I could see in her eyes the old, here we go again look, and she immediately said, “don’t get any ideas”.
We fed the dog and gave it water. Kate petted him and he let me pick him up and snuggle a bit. He seemed extremely content and comfortable with us. Now what? Right or wrong, we decided that the streets are no place for a small dog. We were not in the nice part of town, the days were hot, extremely hot, and he was walking right along a busy road. There were no tags, he appeared to be itchy (fleas?), probably hadn’t eaten in a while, and wasn’t fixed (not good for the stray dog population, which apparently is an issue here).
We did what we thought was best and called the police, who took the dog to the shelter. It was difficult when I put the dog in the back of the squad car. The dog gave me a look like, “where is he taking me, and why is he taking me”? It broke my heart.
Feeling like I owe the dog world one after that awful occurrence on October 13th, there was only one thing to do. Go to the police station and find out where the dog is, and inquire about adopting him. Of course Kate wouldn’t allow me to keep him (sad face), so I had to find someone who would be willing to take him. My first thought was Ryan and Emily. They were talking about getting Roxy a friend. How perfect?
After about 100 texts back and forth, this seemed doable. We would just have to figure out how to ship him home. At the same time, I pinged my two sisters that live in California. They would be a few hour drive away from dropping off the pooch, and both have dogs. To my surprise, there was no hesitation from either of them in stating their willingness to take him. Yep, I have some pretty cool sisters.
So, we are now in a waiting game. We have to wait 5 days in order to make sure nobody claims him. I will be at the shelter when they open on Thursday to adopt “Hobson”. If all goes well, we pay the small fee, he gets the treatment, fleas, ticks, heart worm, and neutering, and in 14 days, we can pick him up and add him to the family.
These things are things we have to do, I guess it is just in our hearts. We have also met many homeless people along the way and when we can, we stop and either give them a water and some money, or buy a meal for them. We have done that from time to time back home, but in Blythe, it seems as though the opportunity arises on every street corner. Sad but true. Again, that story is coming. It has just been unexpected, and is throwing us a bit off our schedule. That’s ok, though, we will adapt.
To finish up on the logistics piece, we have had to combat ants, extreme cold (don’t want frozen pipes), extreme heat, dust storms, errors in mapping (walking paths that aren’t there or seem impassable), exhaustion, and some really sore feet. All in all, we were able to overcome these challenges thus far.
I’m sure there is more in store for us from an unexpected standpoint, but with Kate in charge, I sleep pretty good at night. Thanks for following our adventure, now make sure you are getting out and walking, staying active, and are treating your heart with the respect it deserves. After all, we aren’t doing this for our health (well, maybe we are, lol).
Best to all!