We are in Gualala today, having just crossed the Mendocino/Sonoma county line. The past week has involved a fair amount of walking on Hwy 1, quite a contrast to the wild coastlines of the Lost Coast.
We have completed more than 1/4 of the expedition, both in time and miles walked...as I expected the time is passing quickly.
To pass the time while walking on the road I try to wave to every passing driver. As in Baja, in rural areas I get more waves back than in tourist zones. Very few have "flipped us the bird" and a surprising number know about the expedition from recent press, giving us enthusiastic thumbs up and encouraging hoots.
Steve Jones has taken to wearing a sign on his back that reads "Coastal Trail to Mexico or BUST" which clears up the confusion about our group being a CalTrans crew cleaning up roadside litter, on loan from the local jailhouse. With our orange safety vests and hiking sticks, I can see why some may mistake us...
I admire the many individuals and their non profit groups and agencies working to keep our coast wild, to protect open space and to provide public access. Their stories are inspiring. This experience has emphasized for me the importance of our work with our partners in Mexico to create coastal and marine reserves and our efforts to bring back the most endangered species.
At the root of the effort in both California and Baja California is a network of committed scientists and activists. It's a privilege to find myself among them.
I'm looking forward to applying these lessons and new networks to my career mission when I get down to Baja and then back to Davenport at the end of the summer.
Grayce has become an avid camper, loves the beach, the ocean, the rivers and gives hugs and kisses every morning and evening to every member of the expedition. Dana has tapped into the local culture and spends time with Grayce with kids and in the libraries, parks and playgrounds of the communities we visits. This trek is a once in a lifetime experience, and I'm grateful to our colleagues, our families and friends for accommodating it.
We are looking forward to meeting up and hiking with many of our friends as we get further south.