New Article!

NEW

Life after the walk has been interesting. So much to talk about but not sure how to go about saying it all. For now I will leave you with this article that was recently published by Virginia Tech, where I went to school, in their VT NetLetter. I will be trying to update very soon.

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The Final Steps

La Mesa, CA to Coronado, CA
Distance: 23.00 mi
Total Distance: 3,473.10 mi

I woke up fairly early and was very anxious to get on the road. I slept extremely well because I had hardly slept the night before. I made my way up to the kitchen where Kathy and Cody had put together a great breakfast. We talked a bit and said our goodbyes. I packed up the cart one last time and was ready to go.
My first mile was all downhill and I was moving fast. I was trying to keep my excitement under control so I wouldn’t burn out before the finish. Jennifer, who had interviewed me the day before, stopped by with her daughter to wish me luck and say congrats. We parted ways and off I went. It was a calm and quiet day with a cool but warm feel to it. It was slightly overcast and there were some gusts of wind but that was the worst of it. At the time the day seemed normal, but thinking back there was something odd about it. I was ahead of schedule and for a bit my phone was silent, but that was short lived. In waves there were texts and calls from family and friends congratulating me on my near completion of the walk. At one point a car pulled over and people started getting out. It was my dad, cousin Matt, cousin Jill, and fraternity brothers Vin and Moser. We all talked and hugged and expressed how excited we were. Vin and Moser joined me for the last 3 miles. We stopped at a Jack-in-the-box and got some food to relax and catch up. We were a little ahead of time and only had about a mile left. We got on the road again and with only 20 minutes till the scheduled finish the calls started pouring in. I was mostly in contact with Maia who was in charge of setting up the reception at the hotel. Maia was actually a friend from Boston who moved to San Diego, and without either of us knowing she was asked to run this event by the South Pacific Coast Chapter of the NMSS. She took it on and found out the walker was me…small world.
We crossed Imperial Beach and could sense that we were really close. I was now very excited. We walked over the “Silver Strand” which is the strip of land that connects Coronado to the main land. Oddly enough, Silver Strand is also the name of the beach that my Great Grandparents lived on in Ireland. I thought that had to be a good omen. Speaking of Ireland, I had received a congratulatory email from Enda Kenney, the Prime Minister of Ireland, that morning. Enda is a distnt cousin on my mom’s side of the family.
As we got close, maybe half a mile out, Rich Israel, the President of the South Pacific Coast Chapter of the NMSS, stopped by to congratulate me. He wanted to get a little time in with me before we reached the finish. As we got close, Vin and Moser ran up ahead of me to join all the others waiting for me at the finish. At the entrance of the Loews Coronado drive there were a couple of photographers and a representative from the hotel, who welcomed me to the Loews and led the way to the entrance. As I got closer I could see a couple family members out front and a few people running around. I had been told by Maia that I would need to leave my cart at Valet parking. I was expecting everyone to be waiting inside, but as I approached the entrance some of my friends were still out front. Now I had no idea what to expect when I entered the hotel.
I was overwhelmed as I rounded the corner into the lobby. There were people everywhere. The entire hotel staff was lined up in addition to some hotel guests, as well as my family and friends. I was blown away. It was something I had only seen in movies. With all the clapping and cheering it was hard to focus. I felt like I had tunnel vision and everything kind of got blurry. I started down the line shaking hands along the way; I didn’t quite know what to do. It was amazing. I even kissed a dog being held by its owner in the receiving line. I finally got to the end of the receiving line, and saw the finish line being held by my mother and my girlfriend Lindsey. Both of their faces were priceless. I ran through the finish line and the walk was over.
For 6 months and 8 days I had walked to get to that point. It was weird and hard to understand what just happened. Maia, the NMSS, and the Loews Coronado had worked hard and set up an amazing finish. There was a stage, a DJ playing music, food stations, a bar, a massage table, and a lot of people. Rich got up on stage and thanked everyone for all of their help and talked about the walk. He brought Maia up on stage to talk for a couple minutes. She presented me with a gift card to a restaurant, and a weekend of pampering at the Lowes. Then I went up and spoke about the walk and thanked everyone for all they had done. There were a lot of people to meet, interviews to give, and friends and family to say hello to.
Things started to die down and it was getting dark and chilly out. Lindsey, a couple of my friends, and I went to check out our room. The hotel had upgraded our room in addition to most everyone associated with the walk. Lindsey and I had an unbelievable Bay Side Suite. The place was huge. It had a living area, bed room, patio right on the water, his and her closets, and a giant bathroom. They had set up wine and snacks for our arrival.
The night culminated with a family gathering at an Irish Pub in Coronado not too far from the hotel. It was nice to be able to relax and hang out with friends and family. We made our way back to the hotel and called it a night as tomorrow would be very long and busy.

Here is the link to the iCNN video that covers the walk.

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REAL TIME TRACKING

Remember, there will be real time tracking for the final day of walking. Just follow this link.

Real time tracking HERE

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The final approach

Poway, CA to La Mesa, CA
Distance: 17.16 mi
Total Distance: 3,450.10 mi

Had a semi late start due to today being pretty short. It was a steep downhill for the first several miles through the mountains. It was a very nice day, sunny and warm. There were some rolling hills throughout the day but nothing that bad. I was on the phone making calls, texts, and emails trying to set up things for today and tomorrow. At one point a woman stopped and gave me a sandwich and lemonade and a different woman stopped immediately after the first and gave me some hand sanitizer and a bottle of green tea. On the day there were more honks and cheers than usual. ABC came out to interview me and she brought me a turkey sub. During the interview a man showed up and got out of his car. He had two walking sticks and braces on his legs. He walked over to us and Jennifer introduced him as Mark Fowler, he has MS. We talked for a bit about his experience and what I am doing. He had to take off. Thank you Jennifer. The story was supposed to be on tonight but got pulled due to a big court verdict. Also the Boston Globe and the Winchester Star published articles today. Things are getting exciting and hectic as people are starting to get into town and things are getting set up for tomorrow. As I got close to the end I came across some serious hills. The last 2 miles were all up hill on curvy roads with no shoulders. I made it to Cathy Smith’s house on top of the hill, I would be staying with her tonight. I took a nice shower and worked out a little bit more. I typically like to work out if it is under 25 miles. Cathy came home and we got to talking. Her sister cooked a Tuna Lasagna. Pretty excited for tomorrow. It is kind of similar to being on a plane. You are in the final approach awaiting the final 20 minutes than landing (tomorrow).

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Unwanted hills

Escondido, CA to Poway, CA
Distance: 18.77 mi
Total Distance: 3,432.94 mi

Yesterday was a rest day where I had nice calm day where I got work done, Mike arranged for a hair cut, and joined Mike, Pat and their friends Herb and Sherry for dinner. Mike made some delicious pizza in his new pizza oven. Thank you Mike and Pat for being such great hosts. Since it was going to be a short day I had a late start. It started with an interview with the San Diego NBC station. They interviewed Mike about what it was like to host me and his thoughts on the walk. And off we went. After a quick interview the walk was on. I was in a casual pace walk through a very suburban area. My directions were a little confusing as I was trying to sync up my email directions with the GPS. I stopped at one point and a man yelled across the street “Are you the cross country walker?” And he came over to help me out with directions. He walked for a little pointing me in the right direction. The day was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the 70s. The road was flat for the first 14 miles and enjoyable. I was soon greeted by some serious hills. The last 4 miles were all uphill, steep, and curvy roads. I had been hoping that the towards the end of the total walk would be flat, I was wrong. The sun went down early and quickly around 4:45. I finished off in the dark and met up with my contact for the night, John Linscheid. We made it to his house where I met his daughter and the dogs. Got a quick shower and we were off for a very good and filling BBQ dinner.

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Hula Pie

Fallbrook, CA to Escondido, CA
Distance: 21.22 mi
Total Distance: 3,414.17 mi
Woke up and had a good breakfast. Said my goodbyes to Ann and Jeff and was on my way by 8:30. It would be a semi short day with what I thought would be one good climb. I quickly found out it was going to be more than one. The climbs were steep and long. The weather was nice, slightly warmer than yesterday, making the climbs feel a little longer than they are. I went through my liquids earlier than I thought I would. I had some aches in one of my ankles from all of the down hills and angles in the road causing me to put on a brace. I hope it is nothing more than a stiff ankle. Light traffic today as I stayed on a side road running along interstate 15. Was pretty busy all day with phone calls and emails trying to set plans for San Diego. Everyone is getting excited and it is making me even more excited. Feels like the longest week ever. I got in contact with the Northern County Newspaper and had a photographer and reporter meet me in Escondido at the completion of my walk. All said and done today was an easy day with a lot to distract myself with. I met up with Pat Hayward who would be my host for the night. We got back to her house where her friends Linda, Judy, Vicky, Jeffery, and her husband Mike were. Hung out a bit, got a shower and we headed out for dinner. Dinner was great and the restaurant gave me a “Hula Pie” on the house. This was a massive dessert that probably will take 10 years off my life.

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A good day

Lake Elsinore, CA to Fallbrook, CA
Distance: 26.9 mi
Total Distance: 3,392.95 mi

There was only one call through the night and it was around midnight. I hardly remembered it and had to be reminded in the morning. I slept really well. Everyone was up and about by 7. Breakfast which was some delicious egg, tortilla, and sauce dish was on the table by 7:15. I packed the cart, we talked a bit, took some pictures with the truck, and I was off by 8. It was a nice sunny morning. It started out pretty flat running around a lake. I didn’t get to see the lake because of homes and hills. No sidewalk or shoulder but I was able to get on some dirt paths for a while. It remained mostly flat for the majority of the day. I was now back into suburbs. There were gas stations and stores the whole way. The temperature warmed up to high 60s low 70s and the sun shined all day. I got to a town called Temecula. They have a section of the town, Old Temecula, which has wood sidewalks and the buildings are all designed like an old western. A pretty cool spot, but no time to stop and enjoy. As I was leaving Temecula I was greeted by a long, steep, windy road. A pretty tough climb and dangerous corners made this a challenge. Found a couple golf balls as I passed some courses and country clubs. I made pretty good time and got to the end location by Fallbrook. I met up with my host for the night, Jeff Davis. We made it to his house and met his wife Ann. I grabbed a quick shower and they took me out to a wonderful dinner. We got back and watched some football and called it a night. All in all it was a really enjoyable day. The excitement level is at a new high for the finish.

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Rain, rain, go away

Moreno Valley, CA to Lake Elsinore, CA
Distance: 23.77 mi
Total Distance: 3,366.05 mi
Was ready to go around 9 am. Devon, my friend from high school, and I said our goodbyes. It was a cool day with some rain clouds. I knew the forecast had rain in store but I thought it might hold off a bit. Wrong. It rained pretty much from 10 minutes in for the remainder of the day. It was slightly hilly with some decent climbs and some down hills. I was pretty much on sidewalks the entire way. It is nice being back in civilization. Traffic is now a steady flow and I pass through a town pretty regularly. I was making my way to the Lake Elsinore fire dept., where Josh from the Beaumont fire dept. had arranged a place to stay. Thank you again Josh. I showed up and the guys were all welcoming. Got a warm shower and talked a bit with them. We all sat down to a nice filling dinner. Hung out for a bit and called it a night. Getting super excited for the San Diego finish line and the NMSS Charity Auction Dinner on Saturday.

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Beaumont

Beaumont, CA to Moreno Valley, CA
Distance: 20.99 mi
Total Distance: 3,342.28 mi

There was only one call throughout the night and that was around 5:30 am. Not too bad. Got up around 7 and all the guys were already up. The new shift was pretty much in and waiting. Grabbed a quick shower and we all headed over to the City Hall for some breakfast burritos that the Police were selling for charity. They hooked me up on my breakfast. I met the Chief of police, the Mayor, the town administrator, several police officers, and many more people. They all had pretty much received emails about what I was doing already so they were briefed on my story. The Chief of Police arranged for a two officer motorcycle escort for me out of town. Not for safety purpose but to be nice and make it a to do. It was a great send off and everyone was so nice that I felt like I had known them all longer than 30 minutes. As we were headed out of the city hall, the Fire Chief showed up. We talked a bit, shared stories, I thanked him and off again. I packed up at the fire house said our goodbyes and took some pictures in front of the truck and met my escorts, Matt and Brent. The two of them escorted me to the city limits. They would pull ahead and block traffic and lanes for me to walk in. There was plenty of time to chat it up and they kept me entertained. We reached the city limits and they took off. Back on my own for about 12 miles. A little bit of a curvy climb with no shoulder and some downhill. It was over before I knew it. I got to Moreno Valley and found some food. Thank you to the town of Beaumont for everything you have done for me.

Beaumont fire dept.

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Shortest day

Banning, CA to Beaumont, CA
Distance: 4.22 mi
Total Distance: 3,321.29 mi

I had trouble sleeping as the people in the room next to me decided to have a yelling battle in front of their room and mine. I finally got back to sleep. I woke up with hope that I would produce a full day. I realized that I was not going to be able to produce that. Having picked up the extra miles last night I could afford to take a very easy day. I got some work done and was taking my time to get on the road. I walked the 4.22 miles in decent time and got to the Beaumont fire dept. where I would be spending the night. I was greeted by Josh, Justin, and Eddie. I got some cleaning done on the cart, some laundry, and got to work on media. I went to a restaurant for lunch. There were two police officers eating there. When I was at the counter to pay they came over and one of them asked if I was Steve. Apparently her commander had emailed them all about me. Her name Krysti and her partner was Corrine. They bought my lunch. Thank you Kristy and Corrine. I headed back to the fire house and got more work done. Josh is cooking dinner and tomorrow is back to a semi normal day.

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