The day has just about finally arrived. I’m pretty much packed and ready to go. My backpack has worked out great (thanks again Stephen, it’s absolutely awesome). I had a big dinner with my family. And now I’m pretty much ready to hit the hey to get some rest before it all begins.
I have waited for this day for a while with a lot of excitement and a little bit of nervous anxiety. It’s been a long journey just to get to this point, and there were times when I wasn’t sure if this would work out out. But with some perseverance and a lot of help, everything has come together better than I could have ever hoped. I am very excited to get started and even more excited, and grateful to see everyone that is coming down to start walking with me. You have no idea how much your being there and walking with me means to me. I’m not what the exact number will be but I think about 15 to 20 people at Jubilee for the start of my walk. I can’t wait to see you all soon.
Thanks to everyone for all your support. I’m going to try my best to update my blog every night. I’m not sure if I’ll have access to the internet every where I’m stopping, but I’ll do my best to keep you guys posted so you can track my progress across the state
Let the adventure begin.
With my walk beginning directly on the other side of tomorrow things, for the most part have really come together. I’m only missing lodging for 3 nights; Nanty-Glo (I’ve decided to walk an extra 5-6 miles past Vintondale to Nanty-Glo because Vintondale is just too small and it has been really difficult to find a place to stay there), Williamsburg, and Tuscarora State Forest. The good news is I am pursuing some very good possibilities in all three places. I’m sure something will work out. If not, well…we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. If I have to be homeless for a night or two it wont be so bad, especially if the whether is nice and the stars are out. In fact that would be quite wonderful. Besides, there are people that go homeless for years and have to stay out in the cold during the winter, so I think I can handle a couple of summer nights. It will be a good experience.
I forgot to mention this yesterday (in my defense I forgot to mention to my dad when he got home from work too), but KDKA radio called and asked if I could do an interview this morning at 7:40am with Larry Richert and John Shumway. I think it went pretty well. They were really nice and let me speak a lot about what I’m doing and why. A number of people I know said they heard me this morning so that was good. They have a link to my blog on their website, which is awesome. I’ll post the link just because it’s cool but if you’re reading this it’s because you’ve already found my blog (http://firstname.lastname@example.org).
On a similar note, WPXI finally posted my story on their website. It has a video clip of my interview and a little article about the walk. It’s very cool, except for the part where they spell my last name wrong in the article, though they spelled it right in the video clip (it’s spelled Brok, not Brock), but no worries. They did refer to me as a “man” (“Penn Hills Man…”), which as a young person is really cool to hear. The link for that is: http://www.wpxi.com/news/24451492/detail.html
Perhaps the most exciting news was that my backpack arrived today. It made it all the way from L.A. to Pittsburgh in about 4 days via ground transportation. That’s pretty phenomenal if you ask me. So a big thank you to UPS and their truck drivers. But an even bigger thank you goes to Stephen Moyer for donating it to me for the walk. It’s perfect. I can’t wait to get it loaded up start walking. Now that’s here I can see how much stuff I will be able to bring and start figuring what I’m going to bring along with me.
The last thing I want to mention is that I’m really excited about the number of people that are going to be at Jubilee Sunday morning to start the walk with me. So far it seems like it’s going to be around 15-20 people, including Councilman Doug Shields, which I think is really cool.
Well now that I have the backpack I better start putting stuff in it. Thanks you for all your support. T minus one day and counting.
Little’s Shoes came through for me with a great pair of walking shoes but after walking in the rain Sunday I knew that I would need to get a pair of waterproof shoes too. Someone recommended that I check out a store called REI down in the South Side. Unfortunately they were not able to donate a pair of shoes for free, but the salesman who helped me out, an incredibly awesome and generous man named Joe, really took care of me and helped me out. He spent about an hour on two separate nights helping me find a pair of light weight, durable, waterproof shoes/boots that I could use for the walk and then take with me to use out in the field when I begin my year of service with Americorps in September. He gave me a lot of advice about what to expect and what I should do to prepare. And if that wasn’t enough, he also but me (with his own money) a pair of hiking socks, which are extremely comfortable, something to help prevent blisters, and something to treat blisters if I do get one.
This was my first experience with REI and I can’t say enough about the company and especially the people that work there. Joe helped me find a great boot but unfortunately they did not have it in my size (but they did have the same shoe but in a lower cut in my size). He said that I was right on the cusp of the next half shoe size down so I tried on the smaller size and they felt pretty comfortable but were a little snug. Joe told me talk home, try them out, and if they still feel too snug bring them back and grab the lower cut pair in the bigger more comfortable size (They have a 100% money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied).He said my feet are going to swell from all the walking so it’s important that my toes aren’t being cramped up against my shoes.
So I tried them out this morning and they were too tight. I brought them back, the people working there were awesome again and I walked out with the lower cut pair and $5 (because they were $5 cheaper). I thought that was really something. I don’t know of any other store that would let you take home shoes, try them out, and then allow you to bring them back for a full refund. I thought that was pretty remarkable. They, more than any other store I have ever shopped at, really and truly care about the customer. I am extremely impressed by them and would highly recommend them to anyone and everyone looking for any sort of outdoor gear (they have it all). They do business the right way. Thank you REI and Joe.
I went downtown yesterday to the City County Building to receive a proclamation from Councilman Doug Shields. It was pretty awesome. As I stated in an earlier post, I really didn’t know what a proclamation was, or did, or how any of it worked. It turns that a proclamation is basically a way for the city council to call out groups and individuals for doing good things in/for the city. Aside from me the Graffiti Task Force, the League of Woman Voters (in celebration of their 90th anniversary), Jim T. Kunz Jr. (the county’s “Labor Man of the Year”), and Quantum Theatre also received proclamations.
The way it works is that the city councilperson who is sponsoring the proclamation calls you up in front of the council chambers (a beautiful room where the council meets – it also has seating for the public) reads a written statement about what you’re doing and how great it is, you get a chance to say whatever you want to say, you take pictures with the city council members while holder the proclamation (which is presented and displayed much the same way as a college degree would be), everyone claps, you feel awesome about yourself, then you go back to your seat.
The whole thing was really cool. Councilman Shields was great and said some really nice things about me and what I’m doing. It was the first time that I met him and was impressed by how nice and how thoughtful his remarks about me were. I really appreciated how much he seemed to really care and be interested in my walk. And, even more impressive, he isn’t stopping at just saying good job, he isn’t just talking the talk, but will be joining me for the beginning of my walk this Sunday at 7:00am and actually walking the walk too. I think that is awesome and will be honored to have him walking alongside me.
Probably the coolest part of the whole this is that the city council declared Sunday August 1st 2010 “Adam Brok Day in the City of Pittsburgh”(I have the documentation to prove it too and as soon as I figure out how to download pictures to my blog I can post a picture of the proclamation). I wasn’t expecting anything like that to happen. I only famous people like Hines Ward or Sidney Crosby got entire days dedicated to them, I guess they have much lower standards then I thought. All in all it was a really cool experience and I was really glad that my parents and younger sister got to be there and watch me receive it. And like I said, I’ll post pictures as soon as I figure out how.
There’s a number of things that happened today that I’d like to fill you guys in, but right now I’m pretty tired so I’ll write about today tomorrow. Before I hit the sack though I wanted to let everyone know that WPXI (channel 11 news) is interviewing me outside of Little’s Shoes tomorrow morning in case anyone was interested in watching. I’m not sure but I think the interview will be aired during their afternoon and/or evening broadcasts. I’ll let you guys know more about that when I find out. That’s it for now (I can hear my bed calling my name) but I got more great, exciting news to share with you guys tomorrow.
I thought it would be a good idea to do a practice run of my first day of walking just to help give me an idea of what to expect and be better prepared for when I begin the real walk one week from today. Since I can’t start from the point my new starting point is probably going to be Jubilee Soup Kitchen right of 5th Avenue in Pittsburgh. I say probably only because the person in charge was on vacation last week and they couldn’t give me the official ok until she comes back Monday, but told me they can’t imagine it being a problem (I am also in the process of looking for a new end point after learning last week that I would need a permit to have an end of the walk gathering in Love Park, but that it was too late to apply for one).
So my dad drove me downtown this morning and dropped me off in front of Jubilee’s. I started walking at 7:15am. My plan was/is to really push it in the morning (without overdoing it) since it will be the coolest part of the day and I can use all the energy I get from sleeping the night before and breakfast before I begin to hit a wall. I was moving pretty good and was pleased with my progress. I had walked 8.2 miles in a little under 2.5 hours before stopping at Hebron Church in Penn Hills. I hadn’t even planned on stopping there but I still had some flyers about the walk in my backpack and seeing all the cars in the parking lot for services, I thought it be a good idea to stop and drop of some information. I did sit down for a couple minutes but only a couple because I didn’t want to get tight. I stopped at St. Bart’s Church too and gave the lady in the rectory my fyler. I wish I would have thought about speaking a churches earlier. I think people would have been pretty receptive to my mission.
I would have liked to have stopped at least one or two more churches but needed to return my attention back to walking. I was getting pretty tired and it started to rain but I kept going because even I had wanted to (which I did), there was no place for me to really stop and rest at. So I just kept going. It was until just before the 5 hour mark (~12:15) that I finally found a dry place I could stop (I stopped underneath the drive through overhand of a funeral home, it didn’t seem like anyone was around and I didn’t think they’d mind). By that time I had gone a little over 14 miles. I ate the PB&J and kiwi I packed and enjoyed taking a load off for a while.
After about 30 minutes I tool off again, into a pretty constant drizzle (it’s clear I’m going to need to get waterproof shoes). I saw some deer, two bucks, as I walked along a long windy road. When I got to the end of that road it was pretty much all highway walking the rest of the way along 22. 22 has a nice wide shoulder so it was pretty nice walking. I finally arrived in Murrysville a little before 2:15, ~7 hours after starting out at Jubliee, much sooner than I had anticipated. It was a little over 18 miles of walking. I think part of the reason I got there quicker than I expected was because I thought I would be resting more/longer than I did. I think I would have rested more had it not been so wet and rainy but still not as much as I initially thought I would. Obviously this will change after a couple days/weeks of walking day after day but nonetheless, I feel more confident now about be able to get from one town to the next fairly quickly.
I must admit my knees are a little sore. I iced them when I got home, but I think they held up pretty well. That’s my biggest concern, whether or not my knees will be able to take the constant pounding (I have week knees to begin with – I broke my left knee cap in 7th grade and have had 3 full leg casts). I’ll see how I feel tomorrow but my walk today has given me a lot of confidence as heading into my final week before the real deal.
T minus 1 week and counting.