Thursday, May 24, 2012

Day 82: We made it!

Distance: 18.4 miles
Days to go: Zero!

Here's the picture we've been waiting to put in the blog:

Yeah, baby, that's right - we made it! It feels great. Really great! Maybe we'll post something more eloquent later, but for now, that's the best I got: it feels great!

Today's walk, taken on its own merits, was pretty unremarkable. Eighteen miles, most of it on a straight single track road through very gently undulating tiny hills, alternating between moorland, forest, and pasture. We cruised through it, as you might expect after 1200 miles, and given the significance of the day for us. We'd polished off twelve miles by noon, when we stopped for lunch, and we made it to the signpost before three.

We really wanted the signpost picture, and we knew to get it, we'd have to do business with the signpost man.

That's because the sign is not a run of the mill public sign - it's owned by a private company. The sign is surrounded by rope; part of the signpost man's job is to shoo off anyone who tries to sneak in and get a picture for free. The deal is that you pay ten pounds (eleven if you live outside the UK), then signpost man customizes the sign, takes your picture, and sends you a copy via snail mail. When signpost man goes home at night, he takes the sign with him. Fortunately for us, signpost man was there, and after we'd done the deal, he was happy to use our camera to take a few pictures as well.

We started the day with a cracking good breakfast! We ordered our usual: a full cooked breakfast for me, and poached eggs on toast for Dawn. First breakfast course was the normal yoghurt and cereal, which was good. But the second course, the cooked half, was just outstanding. I've learned now, after 82 cooked breakfasts, that they fall into three categories. At the bottom are the places that save a few bucks by buying cheap ingredients: fatty sausage, greasy tasting bacon, canned button mushrooms. I won't even describe what these sort of places consider "coffee". Sadly, many B&Bs fall into this category. The next level up makes things better by spending money: good sausages, and organic local eggs, and maybe even some reasonable coffee. But the best places, like the Loch Watten house, get to the highest level by spending less. They serve their own eggs (typically collected that morning). The sausage and bacon comes from the small farm next door. The marmalade is home made. That was our early breakfast this morning. It's probably my last full breakfast of the trip, so I'm very happy it was so good!

Breakfast, and a packed lunch, powered us through the walk and to the sign. But we had more traveling to do. Because we plan to catch the morning train to Inverness we're spending the night in Wick, at the end of the rail line, twenty miles south of John O'Groats. After our sign pictures, we checked the bus schedule. We'd missed the bus by five minutes, and the next was two hours out. So we sprung for a cab. It arrived twenty minutes after we called, and a half hour later we were checked in to the hotel.

The big downer of the day is that the eye problem Dawn had back on day 47 is back with a vengeance. This morning her eye was red and had some sensitivity to light, but nothing too bad. At least, not bad enough to stop her from walking eighteen miles to the end of the road! But during the cab ride to Wick, the sun shone in through the front window, and the pain started for real. She's sleeping now. Hopefully a night's rest will help and she'll be ok for two days of travel before seeing her doctor in Oregon.

Thanks to all of you for reading our blog these past three months, and especially for commenting! Thanks to Michael and Jan for walking alongside us for two weeks, to Larry for virtually walking alongside us, and to all of you who have put whisky in your oatmeal, or kayaked, or walked, or whatever! Your support and thoughts have meant the world to us. Really!

I'm still in shock. We made it!

Location:Cliff Rd,Wick,United Kingdom


  1. Andrew from Ladock, CornwallMay 24, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    Congratulations guys, it's been a pleasure reading about your journey! Safe journey home, it was great to meet you.

  2. That custom sign is awesome. Congrats to you both! Hard to imagine way back in lands end that you'd actually pick off 1200+ miles one by one, but you did it!

    All I can say about my 10 virtual days on the road with you is that I am very glad I didn't come up with that idea 82 days ago! It was tough, but it was fun to have a purpose and to think about what you were doing as I was doing the fast forward version each day. And of course, I may have to go to rehab to drop the nightly whiskey and scottish ale habits I have acquired, but it will have been worth it!

    So proud of you both! LEJoG ... check! What's next?

    1. PS: That sore eye photo of Dawn has a real pirate vibe. If you pretend her hair is a pirate hat? And with one squnity eye? And the dastardly smile? She is going to make someone walk the plank for sure...

  3. Congratulations kids, you did it. I am one proud mama.
    Safe trip home.
    Hope Dawn's eye will be alright.

  4. I'm not going to say what everyone else is. Just get back to the west coast and watch the kids so me and Mel can have a night away from the damn kids


  5. hey - congratulations! What a great way to start off the empty nesting.

    Can't wait to catch up with Dawn!


  6. Congratulations! Wondering why you did not have the sign man customize the sign with direction/distance marker pointing the way to Corvallis? What a great adventure you (and all of us vicariously) have had. I know I will miss my daily 'blog-fix'.


  7. YAHOO!!!
    You TWO are A+mazing!!
    Great job - step by step by step. Multiply by millions.
    So much to add to the C.V.'s:
    Mud experts
    Way finders
    Rescuers of wee children trapped behind stone walls
    Stile climbers
    Fashion Mavens (D's bag, and Alv's gaitors'n'shorts)
    Weather commentators
    Cultural Ambassadors (yikes!)
    Scotch Whiskey Touts (and censors - you know who you are)
    Bloggers Extraordinaire, AND
    Role Models for doing what you set out to do!

    Kudos, Kudos, Kudos. Hat's off to you, and hoping Al keeps his on :-)

    Dawn, as Larry said, the pirate look becomes you, but trust a night's rest and the end of the trail quickly help put your eye right.

    All the best,
    MAK (& Jan)

  8. Congatulations! Thank-you for sharing your amazing journey via this excellent blog, I'm going to miss my daily fix.

  9. Can't tell you how impressed I am with what you have accomplished on this adventure. I've come home from work looking forward to your blog and I'm not sure what I will do that has brought me as much entertainment and enjoyment. Anyway, Congratulations and thanks for keeping me so entertained and involved in your walk.

    Best to you both from Al in Atlanta

  10. a billion congratulations! you guys are amazing.

    i think one of your stellar successes to brag about is that you've become "sheep/cow attractants." not many people can say that. :-D

    well done. awesomely well done. can't wait to see you.

    hugs and an ice pack for your eye, dawn. julie

  11. Congratulations! What an awesome walk you've done! Get shades for that eye, Dawn to protect it. Thought of you both as I sat watching the TImbers play for hundreds of cheering students today. My solidarity effort was a healing run at the Saddle-all of 2.5 miles, but the first on a trail again! Can't wait to see you again in person. You guys are amazing and inspiring!

    take care,

    Take care of that eye, Dawn. Well done, Al.
    Keep the blog going after you get home to complete the journey!
    So proud of you both!!!
    Love, hugs and kisses!!

  13. Congratulations, Dawn and Al, on an incredible achievement. From your first steps that foggy day at Land’s End to your final steps at John O’Groats, you have entertained us with your charm, your wit, and your wonderful writing. Thanks so much for sharing your walk with us. Have a safe journey home.


  14. Total and complete congratulations, you guys!! This blog has been thoroughly enjoyable! An epic win for you both, to be sure. I am truly impressed.
    Your fan,


  15. I cannot tell you how pleased I am that I was in the shop when you popped in all those weeks ago. I've loved your planning, your enthusiasm and your blogging from day one and will really miss hearing about your daily adventures - from the hottest spring on record to snow and now back to raging heat again - you've just kept walking on through - amazing! Congratulations!! You are inspiring.

    Please keep writing for a couple more days so we can hear about your journey home and wonderful reunions with your family.

    On a slightly more serious note about Dawn's eye - my hubby has very sensitive eyes and, having once had arc eye from welding, we realised that the soreness he gets very bright light (especially from sun reflecting off the sea/sand etc) is, in fact, a form of arc eye. He now wears sunglasses and a hat all the time (hat is also to protect his bald patch from sunburn!!). Worth checking out with your doc.

  16. Congrats, you two! Great to see the last photo!! Hope the trip home is speedy, and you can get some TLC, Dawn. See you soon back in beautiful Oregon. Heather & Ken

  17. WTG! Congratulations! Your travels and blogging are inspirational and well done. Hope to see you when you get back.

  18. Congratulations guys! Your adventure has been very inspiring. (And photos of Al's crazy hat hair have been very entertaining! :))

    As much as we have missed Al here, I can't wait to hear all the stories of the road. Have a safe trip back home!

    See you soon, Al!

  19. Of all the traveling I have done,[ 22 countries] and they have not included the UK, You have given me the richest journey of all. Thank you. I'm waiting to find your book on the shelf.

    Arva, You Aunt Doreen's friend.

  20. Nothing to add to all the accolades, except that it's all true, and we've all benefitted from your journey. Thank you! Can't wait to see you in person!

  21. Fantastic! Well done Dawn and Al, I've loved following your blog, from the snow to the sunshine. Congratulations. :-)

  22. Congratulations! Your blog has been my getaway when things in Alf got boring ;) Now I will have to find a new one!

    See ya soon,

  23. You did it! A story of grit and determination & overcoming hardsihips. I wonder if you speak a slightly different language now - rather than American or Canadian, eh. Looking forward to seeing you.
    Anyway well done.
    We are all proud of you.

  24. Wow!
    Looks kind of like the two of you are closer in height now, going by the last picture.

  25. Yaaayyy congratulations! Now you can go home to Cooper.
    Compared to the day 1 signpost picture you both look much more tan. I hope you have been wearing sunscreen!!! Signpost man looks a little bit like Scotty.

  26. Hurray!! What a great success and amazing memories you'll have forever. Congratulations. I'm very happy for you and can't wait to have you home (you're probably here now ...). Hope your eye is okay Dawn. Hope to see you on Wednesday! Enjoy your own bed! And Ian and Cooper too! --Julie

  27. Congratulations from Holland. Such a long distance. We walk a lot, but never so many miles. We are proud of you.

    Gerard & Gonneke

  28. What a great adventure you two had: congrats for going the distance. You both look so healthy and happy in all the photos.


  29. Well done!! Buen camino!!

    Norrie fae Linlithgow

  30. Dawn, Al,

    I was looking forward to some final comments once you were home but I guess the two are you are joyous to be back in the USA and reunited with your family and friends.

    Well done to you both, an amazing achievement.

    Elspeth, Tiverton.