The Finish Line
Saturday, September 21, 2019 12:00 PM
So, just like that, my journey was complete.
The night before my finish was a lot of fun. I stayed at my friends Claudia and Gabe’s house in Huntington Beach. They had a bunch of friends over and we drank and ate and did some pre-celebration. I was full of nerves. I was anxious, had moments where my heart was racing and I was incredibly fearful of the end. I knew I wanted to take it slow, enjoy every moment of that final day and not rush to the pier.
Claudia walked the first mile or so with me from her house to Huntington Beach pier where we hugged and said, “See ya in a few hours!”. She was planning on being at the finish line at noon. I walked south along the boardwalk along the ocean towards Newport Beach. It was an absolutely beautiful day and I had been told that the water temperatures were in the low 70s! That’s pretty awesome, considering I was going to be soaking wet in just a few hours.
I met my son at a restaurant called Eat Chow a few miles later. It was so great to see him. We had breakfast, talked a bit about how I was feeling and he definitely helped calm my nerves. We were a little ahead of schedule so we decided to walk to Lido Island where I’d scoop up Wink before heading to the pier.
OH, I forgot to add that the night before I borrowed Claudia’s car and made a little surprise visit with my family. My mom and son had arrived the day before and they were staying on Lido so I went down to give a quick hug and hello. I hadn’t planned on seeing anybody till the finish line but decided this was a little bonus during that anxious final night.
So, Holden and I picked up Wink and slowly made our way off the island and over to the ocean boardwalk. We entered the boardwalk at 36th street and we were only 4 blocks away from the 32nd street location where some people were going to meet me and walk the final 1/2 mile. As we approached I could see my mom and a bunch of friends. My buddy Adam was holding up a boom box just like in Say Anything and it was blaring Wind Beneath My Wings. That was so awesome. If you watched the FB live you could hear the music perfectly in the background Thanks Adam!
The final 1/2 mile stretch, although it took nearly 10 minutes, seemed like it just zoomed right by. The whole memory seems to have only taken a few seconds. Strangers in their beach homes were cheering, strangers on the sand and on the boardwalk were cheering and it was really amazing and overwhelming. I had tears in my eyes most of the time but was also completely excited for that finish. As we approached the parking lot to the pier, I asked everyone except Holden and my friend Sean, who was filming everything, to go forward. I needed some time alone. I stood there for a few minutes and gathered my breath.
I had seen this moment at least 231 times in my head. At least once every single 231 days that I spent crossing America. I knew I was going to cry. I was going to break down. I can’t quite describe the feelings. All I really wanted was a drink.
I made my way towards the beach and pier through crazy crowds of Saturday beach goers all trying to figure out what the fuss was about. Finally, near the pier, I saw my crowd of friends and family. There were so many people!! I hugged them and made my way through the arm tunnel they made as the sand became closer and closer. When I reached the beach, I ditched Alexa near the area where everyone was set up and slowly walked towards the ocean. I handed Wink off to a friend and just started to run to the water. I flicked my hat off, ran fast and felt the cool water as I plunged into the waves. Then I stood up and my very first thought was, fuck, it’s over. My second thought was, dammit!, I forgot my little jar of Atlantic Ocean water back in my cart!
As I came out of the water the hugs and cheers went on for some time. Holden had made his way back to Alexa to retrieve my water jar and, with that in hand, I went back out into that ocean. This was my moment to join my first and my final steps on my journey. There was a moment where I sat down on my knees right at the water line, Wink at my side, staring at the ocean and I just cried. I’m not sure if they were tears of joy or fear or anxiety or a combo of all of the above. It was an insanely powerful moment.
That day was filled with pizza from Sgt. Pepperoni’s (my friends Noah and Jill, whom I married up in Crater Lake, arranged for that little surprise) and then we made our way to a bar near the pier.
The bar is now a blur, sort of. I drank and saw lots of friends and we celebrated but I was already starting to crash. It was so much to take in. And so much was now behind me. I was no longer the guy walking across America, an identity I had come to love and to need. The partying went well into the night at Leslie and Brett’s house where I would stay for the next 7 days until the tenant in my house had moved out and I could make my way home.
I had a good week visiting with my mom, Holden, Les and Brett but it seemed very anti-climactic. We did have fun, don’t get me wrong!! We had family dinners, we went to a Kings/Ducks pre season hockey game and just enjoyed family downtime. Friday the 27th was Holden’s 23rd birthday and I was so happy that he was home with us to celebrate. Damn I love that guy!! But I was in a strange, raw, kinda sad state the entire time. I was tired. So tired. Drained, really. All of my trans-con friends warned me of this feeling of loss and finality and exhaustion and questioning and worrying and fear.
It’s been two weeks now. I’m in my home, barely unpacked. I find myself not really wanting to do anything. I haven’t walked more than a one mile stretch in two weeks and I can already feel my body changing again and I don’t like it. My tan lines are subsiding, I think I’ve put on at least 5 pounds which, maybe I needed too, but, it’s a reminder that I’m not walking. Every road I drive I watch the shoulders. Every park I walk Wink through I judge whether I could stealth camp in it. Every time I look through photos I see the road and wish it to return to me. Or for me to return to it.
You know what the sad thing is about these feelings? The ONLY thing stopping me from leaving right now, heading east bound with no plan at all, is money. That’s it. My mind and body are aching to leave again. Stupid, fracking money. I don’t care right now about saving for retirement or a new car or any other material thing in the world. It’s only to get back out. On the road or on a trail, I don’t care. So, what am I going to do about it?
I’m finishing my book, for one. I’ve been writing a good amount but need to hunker down and get it done. I’ve shared it now with Tyler Coulson, the man who inspired my walk, and I’m anxiously awaiting his critique. He warned me that he would be brutally honest but in a nice way. There’s an entire chapter about him and how I was inspired to walk. I didn’t warn him about that. He may draw a great big X right through it but I hope not.
I’ve also started looking into ways of monetizing a life of adventure and met with someone yesterday who had some really great ideas. But, for now, I am back at work at The Hood, happy to see everyone there, and slowly acclimating back to reality. It’s going to take some time.
Time for a little rest, boys. You’ve still got a lot of miles in you, though.
Today is the final day of donations on my funding website. I hit my goal of $20k and currently sit just over $21k. I’m very, very happy about that!! Thanks to all of you who supported me financially, emotionally and those of you who took me in and fed me and those who called me, visited, etc. All of you. Every single person whose touched my life, my journey, since I started this thing well over a year ago. Thank you.
A lot of people ask me if there is anything they can do to help. Really, all I can ask is that you keep following me! I’m going to continue to post. I’m going to use my YouTube channel to upload all my videos from the road. Some you saw but many I never posted during my walk. I have some fun ideas for that and need to get as many subscribers as possible. So, if you wanna do a little something to help right now, head on over to my YouTube page and subscribe!! You should get notifications when I post new things. You do need an account but it’s free. Just sign up, search for Moving On West and subscribe. You can also follow this link
I guess that’s all for now! I’ll keep you posted on new ideas, new adventures, my book, Wink, etc. Love, love to all.