I woke up pretty early. My knees were tight and locked. Sometimes I will go to sleep with something under them to keep them slightly bent, but I was so tired the night before that I honestly didn't remember to. I woke up on my back and my knees were burning from being locked straight.
I unzipped my sleeping bag and stretched out right away while still laying on my back. Stretching my IT band really seems to make my knees feel better quickly. So I stretched them out for a good 15 minutes and just worked my knees back and forth a few minutes to loosen them up. They felt much better.
I stood up and stretched out still feeling refreshed with being out of the desert. I felt good mentally and was very recharged in that aspect. I put my headphones in and put some music on while I packed my things up and got ready. I was still hidden behind the container and out of sight. I was all ready to go and walked out from the driveway. I got a few blocks down when Jarret (guy who visited me twice the day before) wanted to meet me before I took off once more. He brought along his boss and his bosses wife to meet me. There was a man sitting down outside a closed down building next to a McDonald's. He had a medical boot on and looked to be homeless. I went up and gave him a few dollars. He was thrilled. He had such a big smile and was so thankful. I really felt like he was more thankful for the kindness that I sent him than he was for the actual money. That made an even better reward for helping the man. I relate to that feeling and how it can impact you.
I met Jarret and his friends right after that and we sat on a sidewalk outside of that closed down building just down a ways from where the man sat up against the wall of that building. Jarrets boss and his wife seemed to have joy in meeting me as I did with them. They seemed to be very kind hearted people and I admired the light and joking relationship between them and Jarret. I sensed that they enjoyed working together and it seemed they were good people from the way they talked. I sat and stretched as we talked about some of my journey. I was still tight and sitting down usually causes me to tighten up more. So I was staying lose the best I could. After about an hour of talking they were headed out and I was ready to get back on the move.
I was not feeling as good as I had hoped physically, but it still could have been a lot worse. But regardless, I was able to start moving. I said farewell and headed out. I jumped onto the 62 and started making my way to Joshua Tree.
I walked uphill toward the edge of town and it was warming up. I didn't plan on going too far for the day. In fact, I didn't really even plan on doing any long days for the rest of the trip. I was exhausted and couldn't afford any long days. I have no reason to push it at this point and want to play it safe from here.
Just as I exited 29 palms a car pulled over and a young lady walked toward me. She said she had seen something about me online and wanted to know how she could help. I told her prayers were what got me this far. She said she had some clothes at home and that she would track me down later that night in Joshua Tree. I really had no use for clothes at this point but figured I could give them away to someone who could use them. She took off on her way to nursing school. I sat down and took a break there. My feet were blistering a bit so I pulled off my shoe and popped a small section of fluid. The skin was so tender that it was almost falling off. So I just pulled it off and threw a bandaid over it. It wasn't too painful which was weird. Usually they hurt like hell after I pop them. I got up and continued.
I walked along the highway where there were just a few houses here and there. It was warm but not as bad as the desert had been in the days before. I passed a stretch where there was some road work going on. I moved to the middle lane that was coned off. It was fresh pavement but from areas I've walked through before they usually don't mind me strolling through there. And when I did, they didn't seem to care this time either.
I passed a truck with some road workers around it and they offered me cold drinks. I took a gatoraide and a water and told them thanks. About 5 minutes after that I stopped next to a large bush for a break. I plopped down on a rock there in the shade and relaxed while sipping on some cold goodness. I was very refreshed and just in a thankful mood. I really felt like I was getting to the home stretch and couldn't beleive I was so close to finishing the journey that started about 6 months ago. Did I really come this far ONLY walking. Never taking ONE ride. Starting with NO food NO money. Never pan handling. Sleeping outside (aside from about 4 indoor stays from complete strangers to me). Did I come this far giving away most of what I was given. Is this real. I don't know. But it's sinking in now that it is close to the finish and I can't fathom how far I have come. But more importantly, the way I was able to do it. That was the real challenge and the thousands of miracles on the way were what changed me. Miracles surrounded me every day. Like angels floating over me at all times. They were constantly there to watch over me and I learned to identify them more and more. Of course that's just the way I see this. You can take what you want from the stories. I think there's beauty in others interpretations of the events that happen to me along the way. In fact my views are constantly changing when others can tell me what they see from it. I have no question that my intuition is not as deep as others. But I often feed off of what others can tell me. It helps to open my mind up and connect the dots.
I got up and continued from my break spot. It was not much further until Joshua Tree now and I would stop there for the day after about 15 miles. I strolled into the town slowly and it was a pretty small place. There was just a small strip of places there and it was a little old and rugged. I stopped at a Mexican food place called Santana's. Some of the people I had met the day before wanted to meet there and hangout. I went inside and plugged my electronics in and ordered a drink. I relaxed for a while and then my new friends from 29 palms arrived. It was Jarret and his girlfriend, and also the couple who brought me the pizza from the night before.
We sat down and were just talking about random stuff. I made fun of myself like I usually do to keep the conversation in a light mood. And just because I'm so easy to make fun of. After a while we ordered food and just had a good time hanging out and laughing. It was really easy to get along with them as they all had good senses of humor.
Another family showed up a little while later to bring me supplies. It was actually the same guy who had come out and found me on the day of the search party, when so many others came looking for me as well. He brought his daughter and her boyfriend, and his wife. I went outside to visit with them a little and they said they were following me for a while and wanted to support me. They brought me a bag of snacks and drinks and some toilet paper. They were really nice and it meant a lot. It was another blessing to me. Just in a different form. Each person or group of people I have help from sends it in a totally different way. It's hard to describe but every care package or words of support seem so personalized. It's fascinating to me how unique and different they all feel. It just opens my eyes to how gifts can come in so many forms. And how good hearted people can come in different forms as well. It's been a spiritual experience in seeing this in mankind as well. Something that has and will open my mind up towards others forever.
After they left I went back in and visited with jarret and the crew until late. It was a good day and I looked forward to the final stretch of walking and hopefully meeting some other cool people along the last leg.
We said goodbye and we all parted. I left there a little later and was ready to find a place to crash. I walked a few hundred yards down the 62 and found an empty lot between two buildings. It was sort of a rough area and there were some tweakers walking around. But I felt like I snuck out and hid without anyone seeing me. Of course I can never be too sure or 100%. And I could be chopped to pieces and found in the morning to conclude a horrible story of how my long journey turns to crap. But I sensed I was safe. And I can only feel what I feel. was tucked away behind a bush and there were some bugs crawling there. It wasn't the best spot but it would do, just like many of the spots I've stayed at before. I laid down next to my cart and crawled into my sleeping bag. I laid there for maybe 30 minutes before I was ready to pass out. My last minutes awake I just thought about the finish. What will it be like. How is it going to feel? I'm pretty confident I will make it. But what if something crazy happens and I don't. I said a prayer just saying thanks for all the things that have happened to get me here. Thanks to whatever or whoever sent the blessings my way.