Sunday, August 5
Day 3: The End of the Journey
After the night of too much chaos and too little sleep, I woke up early on Day 3 to the sounds of the neighbor’s ringing alarm clock. And I woke up with another headache. I tried the “mind over matter” method and tried to talk myself out of feeling sick. It was working just fine until I took a drink from my water bottle - warm, left-over from the day before tri-berry nuun – not pleasant. (I used to like tri-berry nuun; but now, unfortunately, I’ll never look at it in the same way again.)
Becca and I packed all our stuff back into our lovely pink duffle bags. (Why is it that the stuff never fits back in the same way?) As we started to attempt to figure out how to take the tent down, some of the youth corps came by to help us, so we got that taken care of way faster than we would have on our own. We headed off to grab some breakfast (I opted for OJ and cereal to eat on the route). We dropped off our bags so they could go on the truck to be transported to the closing, and headed out onto the route. Unlike the day before, when we were some of the last people to leave camp, this time we were some of the first, heading out just after they opened it.
Woo hoo! We were off and ready to walk! I was feeling a bit tired and a little weak, but was determined that I was going to walk as much as I could. Becca’s foot was still a little sore, but she was also determined. It was kind of a cloudy morning, with skies threatening rain, which was ok – without the sun, it didn’t seem quite so hot. Not long after leaving camp, we found Jerry, still yelling out encouragement. It was great to see him; poor guy was starting to lose his voice, but he was still out there doing his best to put a spring in our steps and help us along.
As we walked, we noticed that some of our fellow walkers were out there with their feet bandaged almost completely, wearing flip flops and hobbling along. We decided if they could walk, we could walk. We got to talking about all the support and community involvement we were experiencing and how unexpected and overwhelming it could be. We had no idea just how overwhelming until we got to the Cheering Station…
We could hear them before we could see them – clapping, shouting, thanking the walkers for walking. And then we could see them. We paused in awe for a moment - ok so, we had to wait for the light before we could cross the street – but the sight of all those people was still awe-inspiring:
As we walked, we kept hearing rumors of a big storm heading our way. One guy said the rain was 10 minutes; the next guy said 30 minutes away. We didn’t know who to believe. We got to Pit Stop #2 and sat down to rest. I grabbed a couple of snacks because I knew I needed to eat something, but nothing tasted right. It wasn’t sunny, but it was humid and I was feeling really hot. So I suggested to Becca that we go sit in the air conditioned bus for a while so I could cool down. Not long after we got on the bus, it started to rain. And then they tell us that they were shutting down the course, making everybody get on the bus, and bussing us all to lunch (it was only about 10am). I did not want to ride the bus again. I wanted to walk, goshdarnit. But they kept saying how they were closing the course and we had to ride the bus. So we did.
We got to the high school where they were having lunch and before they let us off the bus, a 3-Day Staff member come on with an announcement. Because of the weather, they were closing the route and keeping us all at lunch for an hour and a half to two hours. I lost it. All the emotions and the frustration in myself that I had been trying to hold in just exploded. I wanted to be walking. No, I NEEDED to be walking. I needed the physical outlet to clear my head and deal with all the emotions and chaos in my head. I knew that being closed up in a building with all those people (again) was not going to be good. Poor Becca. Here I was bawling my eyes out; I was sure she didn’t have the faintest idea what to do with me.
But I was wrong. She called Keira. And Keira came to the rescue with a nice comfy couch for a nap and a pizza for lunch. I hadn’t eaten much of anything for almost 2 days, and the only thing I thought sounded good was pizza. And let me tell you, that was the best tasting pizza I’ve ever had. After eating, I curled up under a blanket on the couch and promptly fell asleep. I don’t know how long I was out, but it was long enough for the movie that we started watching on TV to be over and the next one to be well into the story. I woke up feeling refreshed, hungry again (I ate another piece of the yummy pizza), and ready to finish the walk. Becca had also napped a bit (but not as long as me) and had taken a shower, so she too was ready to walk.
We checked out the map and the route cards and tried to figure out the best place for Keira to drop us off. We followed the route markers (a little different experience in a car ;-) ) and rejoined the walkers a little way past Pit 3. The sun was out again, I was back in mental control, I was rested, I had food in my system; it was now a great afternoon and those last miles went by way too fast. We passed a couple houses that were handing out water and beer. Yep, they had beer. A little further on, they had wine. Yep, wine. Hey, it was the end of a long, hard weekend, it was time to celebrate.
Before we knew it, we were done – the finish line was in sight. Well, not really. What as in sight was the gauntlet of the Safety Crew, Youth Corp, Crew members, and staff (and I’m pretty sure Jerry was in there too).
We got through all of that part of the celebration and continued on to the finish line. All of a sudden, Becca lets out a gasp and an emotional “oh my gosh!” I wasn’t quite sure what she saw, but looked where she was pointed as she said, “My family…” Then I see them. Her Mom and Dad had driven up to see us finish the journey. What an awesome surprise! (Way to go, Mom & Dad Burton!!)
We were still reeling from the surprise of seeing them, when we realized we still hadn’t crossed the finish line! So we went on crossed the line – WE DID IT!
Maybe we didn’t walk every single step of the 60 miles, but it was still an incredible journey. Maybe we didn’t find a cure, but, if the “thank you’s” we received over the weekend in all their various forms are any indication, we made an impact.
I know it made an impact on me. It was an emotional, awe-inspiring, overwhelming, faith-in-humanity-restoring 3 days. And even after writing, all these blog posts about it, I'm still trying to process the experience. It’s kind of funny, because if you look back at the first post I wrote not long after the event, I said I didn’t think I’d do it again. But now, only 3 weeks later, I’m thinking that I might want to. Maybe not for a couple of years, but I think I just might want to do it again…. We shall see.