While I could have finished the walk earlier than July 10, I stopped about four miles away from the ocean and turned around so as to wait for a number of people who said they wanted to be there at the end. I killed the time on the San Francisco peninsula, at times wandering about with little purpose.
Eventually people started to arrive. My mother and sister along with our dog and my cat showed up on Tuesday afternoon. In three days they had driven from Pennsylvania out to California and we met up near the motel they had arranged for in Belmont which is near San Francisco. That evening to college friends - Alex Giovanelli from Richmond, Virginia and Tom Tornegard from Leeds, England - had also arrived. The following day I met up with them in downtown San Francisco and along with my sister we did some sightseeing and enjoyed a wonderful lunch of crab thanks to Alex and Tom.
The following day was Thursday and the last day of the trip. My mother and sister dropped me off here I had stopped in the morning and went off to see a few sights before meeting me at the chosen spot at the ocean. Unburdened by cart or pack for the last few miles, I headed towards the ocean and the end. It was a pleasant walk and I didn’t feel too depressed or upset that I was nearing the end. I wondered whether or not I should be feeling such.
Eventually I reached the spot where I said I would meet the others and walk to the water. However, I had walked a little faster than expected and reached the soot about an hour early so no one was there yet. I found a bench to sit upon and stared out at the ocean. I felt as though I could sit there and stare for hours. Not only was it the beauty of the scene that captivated me, but also the idea of being at the very end of the earth. I was at the end - an end I had fought so bitterly for for so many months.
But it wasn’t just my arrival at the destination which I thought about, it was the entire journey. I wondered what it all meant and why I had even done it. I had no answers. Probably the answers would come at some point.
Before long, two people arrived to meet me and see me finish. They were Tom and Annie Mullen who I worked for at the Philipsburg Mail in Montana. They had flown all the way down from Montana to see this and had rented a car. It was good to see them again and I was honored they made it. Next to the beach arrived Alex and Tom who had had car problems that morning and took a taxi in order to be at the beach on time. My mother and sister also arrived.
And so at noon, I walked on to the sand and towards the water. The others followed and snapped pictures of me as I walked. About 15 feet away from where the waves were breaking I stopped to take off my shoes. more pictures were snapped.
Then I took the last few steps and entered the water.
It is hard to describe the feeling of entering the water. As the waves swept over my feet they seemed to also sweep over my body, washing away all of the trip and yet making it so clear. It was a glorious moment.
Afterwards, Tom and Alex pulled out a bottle of champagne they brought along and all partook in a small drink of celebration there on the beach. We then headed back up the sad to the sidewalk and the road for lunch across the street. I was happy and so glad to be in the company of my family and friends.
I drove back with my mother and sister and went back via the path of old Route 66. Although we spent much of the trip on the Interstate, we stopped at number of spots along the old road to see attractions and experience driving along it. It took us four days to get back.
It’s been a strange experience being home and unpacking my gear. It’s been a little difficult as well, but I’m getting past the challenges. I’m still a long ways away from being back to any degree of normal life, but it will fall into place when the time is right. I am sure of that.
As for understanding the trip or knowing what it meant I am still without an answer. I’ve been asked if I did what I wanted and found what I was looking for. I really don’t know. I think so, but I also think it’s still a little too early know for sure.
In time I’ll figure it out. I’m not in a rush.