A thought suddenly popped into my mind today, so suddenly that it stole the air from my lungs. I was walking along highway 1 towards Jupiter, FL and I realized that today would be my last day of walking alongside forests or any other kind of wild countryside for the remainder of my trip. To you, it may not seem that big of deal, or it may even sound like a good thing! But for me it tugged at my heart. The majority of my 93 days of walking have been alongside an old state highway with towering forests or vast fields on either side of me. I grew accustomed to swatting away insects, the smell of roadkill (not saying I like the smell anymore than I used to), and long days of not seeing any sort of business or building. I had watched the pines of the north turn into the palms of the south. And now I was trading it in for cheap motels, burger joints, and an occasional building taller than 4 stories.
After today, I start to walk along the part of the Atlantic’s coast where each city bleeds into a larger one until finally, Miami is born. I stood on the side of the road when that realization hit and looked ahead. About a mile ahead I saw cars glinting in the sunlight at a busy intersection and large colorful balloons floating in sky overhead… undoubtedly attached to gigantic American flags in a used car lot. I then turned around and looked at the Jonathan Dickinson State Park I was leaving behind. It definitely wasn’t the most beautiful forest I had ever walked through, but this being my last of the trip, it looked beautiful.
I almost produced a tear when I thought about how I wouldn’t ever again during my journey wake up early and start my walk in the foggy mist on a lonely highway, with only the morning birds as company. Granted, I knew many more forest walks awaited me in my life, and not along side of a road to boot… but all the same, it was an end to a chapter in this journey and I hated to say goodbye. A flock of pelicans flew east overhead as I took in my last truly fresh breath of forest air. I gave one final look, said goodbye to my old friend the forest and then turned south, stepping into the final miles of my walk.