I am now in San Diego, California and have finished my walk across the USA. A bit more than five and a half months have passed since I started in Miami and I have walked 5,211 km. Not bad and faster than I had planed and anticipated when I started.
One reason is that I did not visit all the places that I thought I would along the way and took a more direct route, deciding instead that I will return at another time to enable me to spend more time in certain places. Boulder, Colorado for example. I will definitely be trying to return and explore more of the USA, maybe not exclusively on foot though.
The last few weeks have been hot, maybe the hottest part of my crossing. I had several days with temperatures above 40 degrees and it seldom fell below 38. It was first when I reached the mountains above San Diego that it started to get milder. But it is hot even here in San Diego, as I sit and write this the temperature is above 40, there is a heat advisory warning and some schools,the ones that do not have air-conditioning, are closed for the day.
But the walking has gone well since last time I posted, I guess I have started to acclimatise and have learned to drink plenty of water. One sad note though, I finally wore out my Merrall sandals. They have been with me since the start of the USA crossing and have come to be my favourite and most comfortable shoes. But just 3 days before I reached San Diego, I wore through the sole. They were starting to wear out all over the place and I had to accept the fact that they were bound for the trash can…
My Teva sandals are looking rather worse for wear as well, despite the fact that they are much newer than the Merralls and I have used them much less. Same with my Altra minimalist shoes, they are more or less worn out as well, despite costing four times as much and being used much less. Even though I like them a lot, with the amount of walking I am doing, they just work out to be too expensive.
I have been doing a fair bit of camping in the desert by the side off the road.
It’s easy to stealth camp, you just turn off the road, walk a short distance into the desert and set up camp behind a suitable bush or dune.
The biggest problem has been the heat, the tent gets very hot and it does not cool down until past midnight. Sleeping outside the tent does not feel like an option as there are rattle-snakes, scorpions and tarantulas in the dessert. Rather a bit hot than getting bitten by one of them!
Friday was the last day of serious walking and I walked from Santee, down through Mission gorge and finally onto the bike path that was going to lead me to Ocean Beach and the Pacific Ocean. Heading down the path, I was met by Liz who has been following my journey and wanted to say hello. We walked the last mile or so down to the beach and there I was. I had officially walked across the USA! Add that to my walk through Europe and I think I can say that I have done more than just a little bit of walking in the last 16 months. I am calling San Diego the half-way point of the-walk. I am not sure how exact that is but I think it will be close enough. I am now half-way between Stockholm and Sydney!
Once I start walking in Asia, I will, for the first time, have less distance remaining to walk than I have already covered. Feels good!
After sitting down and reflecting on this for a short while, I cooled down with a refreshing dip in the Pacific Ocean. It was almost worth the walk!
I am staying with Alena and Frederick and their kids here in San Diego and they came down to pick me up at the beach and took me to a San Diego institution.
Hodads. Yet another place that would like to claim the title for the worlds best burgers and , ok, they were probably the best I have had in the USA, but not Kiama class.
Great place though, with a real beach atmosphere. We were lucky to get there before the crowd, apparently the line outside can stretch across the block at times.
On saturday we went to the test opening of a Native Foods restaurant and enjoyed fresh, healthy vegan food and, after a short rest, we went to a birthday party.
Sunday was very much the same with a party at a neighbour and then some sightseeing around San Diego. People have been telling me that San Diego is a wonderful town for a long time and I could not agree more. It has wonderful feel to it and is very beautiful.
But I am sitting here at my computer trying to decide how and when I will be leaving. Chasing the best price on tickets to Bangkok and trying to decide how minimalistic I dare to be in Asia. I am playing with the idea of letting the Mule have a break and carrying a backpack through Asia but am very undecided as yet. Somehow I think I would like the challenge of having even less “stuff” with me and if I am going to do that, then Asia is the place. There is no way I am going to walk through the Australian outback without my trusty Mule!
I will have to make up my mind in the next day or two, but whatever happens, don’t worry. I will keep walking!
Previous post: Five Thoughts on Long Distance Walking