The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Thursday, 31 May 2012

PCT: 2 Days to go

Distance: about 4 miles
Weather: wall-to-wall sunshine, but feeling cooler than the last few
days at home

What a hideous day! I always knew that today was going to be bad, and
so it was. It's a long time since I've felt this stressed.

It started at 3.48am, when the jetlag determined that despite being
sleep deprived, we should be awake. At 5am I thought I may as well go
and tackle the bagging up of 50 meals, made from dehydrated
ingredients bought from Harmony House Foods. Both the ordering and the
bagging involved guesswork. The decision as to how much to buy of
which ingredients, in order to make a selection of the meals we
usually cook and dehydrate at home, had been hugely unscientific, and
the division of the ingredients, in the absence of scales or any
notion as to how much in dry weight should go in each meal, was
likewise. It's the biggest risk I can see in this trip: that the meals
turn out to be unpalatable (but hey, it's only 4 weeks of eating, and
they're nutritious even if they don't taste good!).

6am saw us having a huge 3 course buffet breakfast. The way we've been
eating lately you'd think we were in training for an Olympic eating

By 10.30 the meal bagging was complete, so off to the shops we went.
It was a scenic route on the bus, apparently, and accordingly it took
a very long time to get a few miles. In fact, we could have walked it
quicker - or so I thought until we got some experience of walking in a
place that's designed for cars, not feet. At every intersection (i.e.
every few minutes) we had to wait for the 'walk' signal, which
required an entire cycle of the four way junction to pass, before
giving us about 6 seconds to cross 12 lanes of traffic. Minutes were
lost at every junction.

REI was the first stop. Aside from the gas and closed-cell foam pads
that we needed, Mick decided on the plane that his new shoes are too
small (depsite being the same size as his previous 2 pairs of the same
make and model). In REI he asked me not to disclose here that in
trying on new shoes, he discovered the reason for the tightness, so I
won't mention that he'd forgotten to remove the original footbeds
before putting his orthotics in...

The mobile phone shop, another whole lot of blocks, and whole lot of
pedestrian crossings, later, saw me spending lots of money (nearly as
much as I spend in a year on my mobile in the UK!) to get the
Blackberry working on a US network for the next month. I hope we get
some signal occasionally to make it anywhere near worthwhile, and
perhaps you could help me get my money's worth by leaving lots of
comments for me?

Then it was Home Depot for a 5 gallon bucket with lid (as requested by
one of the resupply points), before tackling the major food shop.

I knew the food shop was going to be the worst part of the day, but I
had underestimated how bad it was going to be. An unfamiliar
supermarket, with unfamiliar products and mainly significantly more
expensive than they would have been in Asda or Tesco. Then there was
the lack of choice (except for pasta, rice and noodle 'just add water
and simmer' packages - there was a whole aisle of choice there).
Chocolate was where lay the most distressing lack of range making me
wish we'd brought some from home (fear not JJ, I did significant
research on what foods we could import and we correctly declared it
all - not that customs even batted an eyelid, never mind checking that
we only had what we said).

So loaded up were we when we left the supermarket that after another
mile of walking back in the direction of the bus stop, we called a
taxi. Our shopping expedition had taken 6 hours, including the travel!

What was left of the day has been spent bagging and sorting that food,
and finding out that I got the quantities wrong on rice, pasta and
smash. Another supermarket trip will be required in the morning to
resolve that.

But first some sleep is desperately required. And some food. Somehow
in amongst all that we failed to stop for lunch.


  1. Hope you can pick up those rucksacks they sound mighty.
    6 hours for a shopping trip, wow.
    Have a de stressful time now y' hear.

    Its going to be a good en.

  2. It sounds like hell! But don't worry, in a couple of days you'll be on the walk, and hopefully todays grief will be forgotten!

  3. The USA is a funny old country, I visit once or twice a year and still can't quite get my head around the place.

    It's a place that brings out my Britishness: afternoon tea, my Union Jack running shorts, saying 'I say' etc.

    A tip, make sure you have a good few quarters in your pocket / purse or whatever - they're very useful.

    Glad you got your edibles in okay!

    If you need to eat half-decent food, try the restaurant chain 'Sweet Tomatoes', but do try for vouchers first (online) - two for one-type stuff. Not sure if they'll accept voucher codes from your Bat Phone - worth a try! ...or I can check here if you want.


  4. Bet you'll be glad to get on the trail. Have a great time.

  5. Wow. Really looking forward to the walking now then!

  6. Well done on getting the phone to work, Gayle. I hope you can continue to get a signal. This sounds like a Very Interesting Trip (and as AS would say - The Capitals are Very Important).
    Good luck, and stay calm.
    Martin (and very jealous Sue)