with Steve McCarthy
This month, I want to talk about another unusual Road Trip. Not that my Road Trip Heroes Louis Matter and Cannon Ball Baker and Brock Yates and Horatio Nelson Jackson and the intrepid teams of Guy Butcher and Eunice Kratky or Tod Styles and Buzz Murdoch are any lesser beings in the Pantheon of Road Trippers, but this guy has out done them all.
This guy has just completed 800 miles. OK, hardly a record breaker. But he didn’t use a car. Or a motorcycle. Or even a skate board. No, he walked. He took on the challenge to Walk the Missions. Yeah, like Fr. Serra more than 200 years ago. He walked. And walked. And walked.
This is going to be a bit awkward, perhaps, but this guy is also my second best friend (sorry, but my wife Marianne still out ranks him) and his name is Bill Morgan. And yes, he’s become a Hero, First Class. He has endured. Far more than you or I or anyone else I know has endured, except my Dad, who did a little hiking in his day under fairly adverse conditions. He of course “only” walked from about Paris to Pilsen, mostly in the winter and bad guys kept shooting at him. It was World War Two. And he had the benefit of being 20 years old. Bill is my age (OK, I can hear him now, he’s 6 months younger), overweight, out of shape, and only stopped smoking a few months ago. His “training” for this were several 2-5 mile walks without the 35 pound back pack he’d later heft. Most of us figured he’d be gasping for mercy somewhere between the mission in Sonoma and the 101. He proved us all wrong. Thankfully wrong.
He began in Sonoma on May 9 and as I’m writing this, is due in San Diego about June 26. He’s met the most amazing people along the way, had adventures none of us can even fathom. Almost all were positive, the only really negative encounter was with the cops on Ft. Hunter-Ligget who unceremoniously tossed him out, denying him the opportunity to visit Mission San Antonio.
He’s had blisters on blisters on his feet, and a few unlucky mishaps tweaked his back and hip all out of wack. To be honest, he needed help a few times and every time, an “Angel” turned up and gave him water, encouragement, and sometimes, when desperate, a lift. He’s camped, stayed in wonderful motels and crappy ones. He’s made more friends in the past two months than most people make in a life time. He didn’t do this with a support team and a van, or a camera crew, or any other aid, other than St. Serendipity and the Kindness of Strangers.
His chronicle is on Facebook under “Bill’s Camino Real” https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bills-Camino-Real/548421088530757?ref=tn_tnmn and is mandatory reading. Even if you are one of those who despises the entire concept of Facebook, it’s worth the effort to set up a fake email account, then a fake Facebook page and read what he’s done.
What Bill has done goes far beyond the mere pilgrimage (and by the way, Bill is not a religious man, but he is a Spiritual Man. There is a difference). It goes beyond what he personally endured. It is an affirmation of John Locke’s view that Mankind is essentially good. That people are at heart, decent. That when left to make their own decisions, Human Beings will almost always Do the Right Thing. His blog on Facebook is filled with such stories.
From the kid who looked like a gang banger or skate boarding looser who guided him to the right path and a bench in the shade to rest, then disappeared, to the car load of girls who circled around to buy him some water and fruit, to the woman in her 70s who stopped, thinking “That old man shouldn’t be out walking in this heat” and gave him a lift to her campsite as his hip was about to give up on him, to the hotel staffs who gave him “Mission Walker Discounts” that they invented on the spot, to the people who bought him drinks in bars, or otherwise gave him encouragement, and the truckers who waved and moved over, these people proved that Locke, not Hobbes was right.
Bill has earned his place in our Hall of Fame. Bill has endured. I’m PROUD to call him MY FRIEND.
Following are some photos that he's posted, in no particular order. And BTW, he doesn't know I've done this. Yet.