1,400 miles and the rest of our lives to go

Trip Start Nov 01, 2007
Trip End Apr 30, 2008

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Flag of Turks and Caicos Isl.  , California,
Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Our hearts are overflowing with the love that has been shared with us while on this trip. Our oversight committee and Friends in our Meeting have held us in their prayers, as have many other Friends. Our family members have cheered us on. The Meeting contact people along our route have taken such good care of us in finding safe walking routes, hospitality, and announcing our visit. Host families have opened their homes and hearts to us. We thank Quaker Earthcare Witness for providing the opportunity for this journey and for their loving support throughout. We also thank the many other people who have provided financial and other kinds of assistance during the last six months. THANKS TO ALL OF YOU!!!


We mailed back the video camera about a month ago, due to its weight and the long time it took each time to upload the videos. Even though so many of you told us that you appreciated these videos, we weighed that against the toils of the last month in Southern California and decided it was best to mail it home.

We'll be sending one last blog a week or so after we've returned to Vermont, in order to share some of our re-entry feelings and reflections. Thanks to all of you for reading and commenting.

From Santa Monica we took the bus and light rail through downtown Los Angeles to South Pasadena, since our contact folks again could not come up with suitable and safe walking routes. We were impressed with the public transportation and were pleased to get off at a small city park where a weekly farmers market was being held. As we waited there to meet our Orange Grove Friends Meeting contact (and good friend of ours, Ruanne Peters), we enjoyed listening to several street musicians and tasting exquisite locally grown strawberries.

After completing some shopping with Ruanne, we put some of our gear in her car and walked the mile and a half to her house in San Marino.We were looking forward to our evening with Ruanne and her husband, John, since we have known them for a number of years (Ruanne and Ruah were running partners back in 1981), and we always have a great time with them. The next morning Louis worked on the BeFriending Creation newsletter while Ruah visited with Ruanne. After lunch Percy Severn from the Conejo Valley Worship Group (you'll remember her from the previous blog entry) arrived so that she could walk with us to the Orange Grove Friends Meeting in Pasadena.

Shortly after starting our walk, a jogger saw our banner and asked us about our purpose. She became so enthused by what she heard that she jogged along and chatted with us for the next couple of miles. Her name was Nancy Meade, and like Percy, who is also a jogger, she had grown up in the South.We were quite taken with Nancy's bright spirit and her clear understanding of right-living issues. She offered to carry the Earth flag and did so with such zest that we attracted extra attention from passers-by. Percy and we were sad to see her jog off, but that wasn't the end of the story: She actually showed up at our presentation that evening, and she even brought her partner with her!

We had a great time continuing the walk with Percy and were very appreciative that she had made a special effort to join us. This reminds us of the many incredible people we've met, and we hope that we will have opportunities to strenghten these relationships.

There was a good turnout at the Orange Grove Meeting, starting with a delicious pot luck dinner. It was great to see Kate Carpenter, who had been helping with the walk logistics and was once on the QEW Steering Committee. Ruah also enjoyed reconnecting with several Friends she had known from her attendance there back in the early 1980s. After our presentation we got a ride to Kate's house along with another Friend, Graciela, who was spending the night there. We were too tired to stay up for late night talking, but we promised to be more chipper in the morning. For breakfast, Kate experimented with a new recipe she had found for baked oatcakes, which we found scrumptious. We did get some talking in then, and we  learned that Kate and Graciela had collaborated on animal cruelty issues and have promoted vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. After one more person from Friends Meeting, Madeline, arrived at Kate's house, we were ready to walk as a group. We again enjoyed the company of others for the first hour of walking, which made the time go by quickly.

The day was predicted to be very hot, and for the first time on our walk we were wearing shorts. We started consuming much larger amounts of water and after lunch we started using our umbrellas for relief from the scorching sun. Along the way, one of Ruah's relatives, Mary, who lived along our route in Monrovia, joined us. This allowed Ruah and Mary to catch up on family gossip. Later we took advantage of a bathroom break and refreshment stop that our walk coordinators had arranged at the home of an Orange Grove Friends Meeting member, which was a welcome relief from the heat and sun.

By mid-afternoon the 90-degree heat was almost unbearable, and we were beginning to get concerned about our remaining days of walking. We made many small stops and finally dragged ourselves through the door at Ron  Theders and Linda Bailey-Theders home. They gave us tall glasses of water, after which we napped and showered to be better guests by dinner time. We had a wonderful evening with them. They had come to the presentation in Pasadena and had walked away eager to learn from us new ways to green up their lives. We spent a lot of the evening looking at resource websites and sharing what we knew.

The next morning Ron and Linda's granddaughter arrived and showed off her new "Earth friend" tee-shirt and so we took a photo. Soon after that, Beverly Speak, our contact person from Claremont Friends Meeting, arrived to take us to worship. There's a wonderful, familiar feeling when we sit down to worship in any Meeting anywhere. At the rise of worship it was time once again for us to give our presentation. We were becoming more and more aware of the limited number of times we'd be still doing this and already were feeling nostalgic. A good crowd stayed to hear us, and we felt we had given one of our best skit presentations.

We then piled back into Beverly's car and headed to her home for the afternoon and night. Louis was glad to have a large chunck of time to continue working on BeFriending Creation, and Ruah relaxed and read. Beverly and her husband, David, have a lively home which they currently share with a daughter and son-in-law. Beverly's parents and two Friends from the Meeting came for dinner, and we were treated to a culinary tour de force prepared by David and his daughter Margaret. The conversation was lively, and we felt at home. Beverly had been involved with a conservation project where she helped save "Johnson's Pasture" from development, and using her excellent photographic skills, she had designed a Natural Resources Treasure Hunt booklet to use while exploring the land.

Beverly gave us a ride part way the next morning, which was on her way to work. It was going to be another hot day, though this time only in the 80s. We were hot and sweaty by the time we checked into the motel in Rialto. While we were on the way to Rialto, a man riding a bicycle stopped and asked some questions. He became quite enthused about our walk, and he kindly asked whether we had enough money, food, or a place to stay. We continuously feel so touched by the tender concern of people.

We had to shop for some dinner that night and went to Cardena's, a regional supermarket chain that caters to the area's large Latino population. It was really like walking into Mexico! The music was Latino, all the signage was in Spanish, and all the shoppers were speaking only Spanish. Most of the products also had a Spanish flair since this was in reality a large "supermercado."  Even the checker counted out our change as, "siete y dos" instead of seven dollars and two cents. It was fun to "travel" in this way. Our typical eat-in dinner at motels in Southern California has been cheese, avocado, tomato, and crackers, with oranges as dessert. We have been trying to eat all the local avocados and oranges we can before heading home to Vermont, where they won't be local anymore. We've also enjoyed citrus fruit picked straight from trees in host families' back yards. We've had grapefruits for breakfast and oranges, tangerines, and tangelos all day long.

The air was considerably cooler the next morning when we began our walk to Riverside. The ten miles we walked that morning seemed so easy compared to the same distance on a hot day. We met up with Michael and Linda Dunn, our Inland Valley Friends Meeting contacts and our next hosts. After a delicious Thai lunch at their favorite local restaurant, we spent the afternoon working on computer stuff at their home and resting up for our presentation that evening. Michael was once the recording clerk for the Quaker Earthcare Witness Steering Committee (it was then Friends Committee on Unity with Nature), and we had come to know both Michael and Linda through that work. It was great catching up with them on news about people and events. We enjoyed the group that arrived for our presentation at the Meetinghouse and were very appreciative of their interest and enthusiasm for our walk and our message.

The next morning, after being treated to Michael's famous omelets for breakfast, we walked with Michael through the UC- Riverside campus (where he had taught for many years) and then through the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area, a five-mile long tract of fascinating hilly, semi-arid landscape. (Linda was in que for knee replacement surgery and we were sad that she couldn't walk with us.) We saw several types of lizards, beautiful wild flowers, a king snake, and majestic views during our several hours' hike. At the far edge of the wilderness area we met up with Linda and then enjoyed lunch with her and Michael. After saying goodbye, we continued our walk towards San Jacinto, where Ruah's son Rich lives. When Rich was finished with work, he picked us up and we were whisked off to a three-day retreat with family.

We already knew that Rich and his wife Jenny were very concerned about their ecological footprint and had been making some thoughtful green-living choices for themselves and their three children. But we were even more impressed to see other things they had been doing since moving into their new home. Instead of aspiring to country living, which can be very energy-intensive, they chose to purchase a moderate-size suburban home on a fairly small lot that was within walking or biking distance from the two schools where they worked and where the children attended classes. They also were close to Jenny's family, who are very involved in the children's lives.

Wanting to minimize their use the built-in air conditioning,  Rich and Jenny recently had built a salt-water pool to help everyone get cool at the end of the day in this typically hot and dry area. (This type of pool doesn't require chlorine and other toxic chemicals and is supposed to be better for one's skin.) They were also planning to install a whole-house fan to draw in cool night air. They had planted a couple of citrus trees in the side yard and had turned about one-fourth of their backyard into a vegetable garden, using a very intensive system called "square foot" gardening, which can yield an amazing amount of produce in a small area. They were also in the process of xeri-scaping their front yard, using indigenous plants that don't require additional water. They purchased local, organic food when they could and used recycled paper products exclusively. Their kids all seemed very hip to this way of caring for the earth through simple everyday actions, even to the point of packing their school lunches in reusable containers. Instead of the typical American family routine of television, video games, and eat-on-the-run meals, they ate most meals together and spent lots of time outdoors together. We thought they were such a fine example of people who want to make a difference in the world and make us proud.

We accepted Jenny's invitation to be chaperones for her 4th grade field trip, so that we could see the famous Ramona Pageant in a picturesque  natural ampitheatre in the foot hills on the south side of Hemet. Every year all the 4th grade classes in the area are allowed to see the dress rehersal, and this year about a thousand children came. It has a cast of more than 300 people, mostly locals, including many children from the area.Jenny and her sister and one of her brothers, as well as her father, had participated as children in years past. This outdoor drama had been started 85 years ago to tell the story of southern California's development from the multiple perspectives of indigenous people, early Spanish settlers, and those who arrived in the 19th century from the United State and Europe seeking new lives and fortunes. It's based on a novel, Romona, written by Helen Hunt Jackson in the early 1900s, who wanted to awaken people to the terrible way local Indians were being treated.  There were many local Indians and Latinos in the cast, and lively music and dancing were part of the performance. We so enjoyed the performance, and our young wards were very attentive and well-behaved during the pageant despite having to sit for several hours on hard benches under a hot sun.

At the end of our fun visit, Rich and Jenny gave us a ride to a good spot to continue our walk to San Diego. That day our goal was Oceanside, about 13-1/2 miles away. Along the way we passed the San Luis Rey Mission, which meant that we had passed at least five of the original California Spanish missions on this trip. When we stopped at a Home Depot for a bathroom break, we were pleased to see an Earth Day display and Louis told the young woman staffing it about our Peace for Earth walk. She and a few other workers were excited to hear about our experiences, and we had fun talking with them. It was Sunday, April 20, and we learned that the New York Times Magazine that day was dedicated to teaching ways to reduce our carbon footprints. We hoped to pick up a copy along the walk, but were disappointed to find that the local stores didn't carry the NY Times. So we called a nearby Barnes & Noble and found that they had one. Retrieving it would mean adding another three miles to our walk, but it seemed worth it. We were very pleased with the job the paper had done. We will use the magazine in our work. Since we were so close to Earth Day, many people honked and gave peace signs, wishing us well as they passed us.

We stayed at an RV park that night that had four small tent sites right next to a newly-laid commuter train track. We are impressed with the number of new commuter trains in southern California, but had never thought we'd be sleeping next to one. Fortunately we were so tired and the trains were so quiet that we slept fairly well.

The next day we walked along the Coast Highway 101, soaking in the California sun, watching scores of surfers bobbing in the ocean waiting for the right wave. We enjoying the laid-back surfing culture atmosphere of Oceanside, Carlsbad, and Encinitas. We spent a long time in a coffee shop to allow Louis to finish an article he was working on. That night we camped at San Elijo Beach State Park, which gave us a wonderful view of the ocean and more surfers--many of whom didn't quit until after sundown and were at it again before dawn. The next morning our normally sunny moods were darkened somewhat by the realization that this was our last camping experience of the trip. We were very aware that we only had two more days of walking and that this chapter of our adventure was coming to an end.

We had a rather easy day of walking and by early afternoon we had arrived at the home of Mary Ann Percy, our La Jolla contact and our next host. We knew Mary Ann from her work with Quaker Earthcare Witness in its early days and had also known her daughters when they were quite young. It was fun to get reacquainted with Rebekkah, now 15, and Clare, now 12. Both girls were delightful and interested in our walk, and we appreciated their ability to talk easily with adults. With Mary Ann it felt like it hadn't been 10 years since we'd seen one another, and we jumped right into good conversations and catching up on people's lives.

We took a little time the next morning to work on our blog, and then we headed out for our historic last day. We walked along the Coast Highway and then through the beautiful Torrey Pines area past the UC-San Diego campus toward La Jolla. It was once again a clear and sunny, typically California day. We enjoyed the beach and ocean views and knew that it would be our last look at the Pacific Ocean before going home. We started counting down to our last hour, our last mile, and our last steps. At the La Jolla Friends Meeting House we were greeted by an enthusiastic, but small group of San Diego and La Jolla Friends, who had prepared a nice potluck. They were appreciative of our presentation, and we felt well cared for once again. We ended the evening at an airport hotel and prepared for our flight to Chicago to participate at the QEW Steering Committee meeting. It's hard to think about work and no walking for a while!
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