(Editor’s note: The above map should be used for orientation and route edification purposes only, not scientific or legal recordings. Basically, the pedometer app drains my phone battery, so I just turn it on here and there, and maybe there. Feel free to zoom-a-zooma-zoom in and out.)
Star Date: Dec. 18: A magical day at the end of the road, when a 14-mile walk seemed a mid-afternoon stroll, my last steps buffeted by the support and love of family and friends. Walked along Ocean Heights Avenue, where the road was still pine trees and rural homesteads. It wasn’t till we crossed the Garden State Parkway into Somers Point, then Longwood, that “the Shore” showed its face. Marshland and bridges, the Great Egg Harbor Bay. Salty air smacked of the finish line. On Ocean Drive a police escort greeted us, and led our way over the harbor inlet, into Ocean City and even onto the fabled boardwalk. There, the waves greeted us and the Music Pier emerged. The edge of the continent.
Tomorrow: Awaiting a sign, for the road ahead.
Looking for possible routes when planning my walk across America, the number 50 jumped off the page. Bam! Route 50 (the “backbone of America”) runs from San Francisco to the Atlantic shoreline. 50 states. 50 stars. 50 lives changed by a single organ donor. Done and done! (Besides, walking through Death Valley and the Mojave Desert in July seemed zany.)
At 3,500-plus miles, this walk might take a while, but don’t count me out for Christmas in Philadelphia (“Hi, Mom”) before heading for the Jersey Shore. (“A finish line Situation!”).
“Hey, Mikey”: An Exclusive Interview with my Better Half
“Living the dream … I guess,” says Mikey T of his final months before setting out to walk across the country. “Decent job. Writing when the mood struck. Bought a motorcycle. Have a beautiful wife. The L.A. sun. Wasn’t paying any rent (because I managed my apartment building). The beautiful people walking around … being beautiful.”
Then, um, what’s your problem, dude?
I was asking myself that over and over. I was a hamster on a wheel, stuck in a maLAise of a “fine” life. That’s fine. This is fine. Everything’s fine. I kept telling myself I had everything I need. Actually, I had everything but what I need – purpose.
Before you get all Rick Warren on us, what do I call you?
That’s actually a great question. Growing up in Philly, I was always “Mike”. Then writing in Santa Monica I got the nickname “Mikey T”. New friends in California got introduced to “Michael” as I set about reinventing myself after my wife’s death. I was having a full-blown identity crisis. I was about to adopt the guise of “Mikey Supernova” and wear a superhero outfit as I walked across the country.
Why didn’t you?
I didn’t want to get my ass kicked.
Couldn’t you have a utility belt with gadgets and can openers or something?
The point was to tell people they could be heroes and save lives by being an organ donor.
What convinced you this was a sane idea? Walking across the country, that is, not wearing tights and a cape in the desert.
When I explained the idea to my current wife, Brooke, that I wanted to walk back to Philadelphia (from our home in Los Angeles), she said my Philly accent suddenly came out of its hiding.
Yo, drink a lotta wudder out dare.
You mentioned you needed to give back, have purpose, yada, yada. Seeing that you’re going to be writing, blogging, shooting pictures and everything else, isn’t this really all about you?
Throughout this whole process, every time there’s been a decision to make, I ask myself, “Is this for the good of the (Onny and Oboe) scholarship or for me?” The fact of the matter is, the more attention I can pull to this walk, the better it is for the scholarship drive. I’m not going to come out of this with a profit. In fact, my wife and I have been financing most of it ourselves. Any sponsorships or proceeds beyond helping me complete the journey will go to the scholarship, to help heart patients and their families. The want to leave my ego behind is why I’m just going by Mikey T most of the time, and why I considered the Mikey Supernova get-up.
And you didn’t want to get your ass kicked.
Yeah, right. And a cape in the desert would be gauche.
Unless your costume was made of that moisture-wicking stuff, like hiker underwear.
Let’s move on.
You mentioned you ride a motorcycle. Why don’t you just ride around with a little plastic pennant on the back advertising your web site?
Walking is relatable. It’s timeless, universal. It’s something we can all do, but a walk like this is something we will never think to do. I hope that its simplicity inspires, and people will recognize it’s all about time and commitment.
A lot of people will shrug and say, “I could do that”.
That’s the whole point.
What do you think of this Q&A format, being that I’m you and you’re me?
That’s very Zen.
You know what I mean.
I figure I better get used to talking to myself. It’s liable to be pretty lonely out there. I’ve heard the walk is 90% mental.
Probably 100% mental with a cape and tights.
(signals an end to interview)