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May 28, 2009
160.18 miles later…

Celebrating the return home

“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it.”
– George Moore

When I first came up with the nutty idea to walk 160 miles for my 50th birthday, the question of “if” never came up. As far back as I can remember, I have always bypassed “if” and gone directly to “how.” So my thought process was not a matter of “if” I could walk 160 miles, but “how” I could walk 160 miles. And remarkably (especially in hindsight), somehow I succeeded.

My goal was to be somewhere far away on my birthday, having an adventure. I did not want to be thinking about turning 50. Once again, somehow I succeeded. My mind was too busy focusing on how to walk the next few miles (or where to get my next meal) to think about birthdays. The milestone passed without a light bulb going off or any noticeable change. Just as it should.

Nevertheless, I had a lot of time to reflect on life, the universe, and everything. It occurred to me that my walk is a lot like my life. They both have definite end-dates. I could dwell on counting the number of days I have left: “I’m halfway through my walk”… “Only five days left”… “Only three days left”… but that would only depress me.

Instead, I chose to dwell on where I was and what I was doing at any particular moment: “I’m walking across Gold Country!” “I’m crossing the San Joaquin River!” “I’m climbing the Altamont Pass!” This was a much better way to spend my time. The end would come soon enough, neither hastened nor delayed by thinking about it. There is a profound life lesson in that.

May 21, 2009: The San Joaquin River outside of Lathrop

I managed to get by for almost two weeks with what I could carry on my back: two sets of clothes and four pairs of socks. I brought shows and books that I never looked at. I didn’t need them; I was too busy enjoying everything in front of me.

Of my 160.18 mile route, I walked all of it with my two feet except for 3.9 miles. (Someday I will go back and walk the distance from Clements to Lockeford – hopefully in cooler weather – just to complete the route.) During the process, I wore out my trekking poles, which will no longer telescope open and closed. I wore a hole in my walking shoes. And I permanently stained my pants green.

After a few fits and starts, my body settled down and gave me no further problems. But it, too, had the end date in sight. After the first day, my heart never had another palpitation – remarkable, if you consider what I was putting it through. Yesterday afternoon, when I sat down after the party, my heart went into palpitations. Go figure.

May 23, 2009: The Altamont Pass

What else can I share from my 160 mile walk?

And that leads me to my last pearl of wisdom:

May 25, 2009: The Niles Brick Works outside of Fremont

This is my last entry in this particular blog for this particular adventure. But we still have a house to build in the mountains, and I invite you to share that adventure with us going forward. We usually write an update at least a couple times a month.

What’s next? I have no idea. While I am meticulous in my planning, the ideas themselves come rather serendipitously. Stay tuned…

“Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance.”
– Lee Ann Womack, “I Hope You Dance”

The Lee family

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