Walkabout California

Hiking Inn to Inn

Transitioning to Retirement with a Walkabout


Hurd explained, “To get my head wrapped around retirement, I decided an Inn to Inn trek through the towns of my childhood would help.  The trip was inspired by a Sunset Magazine article from last fall which highlighted the books by Tom Courtney.  They are par t of a Walkabout California series he wrote.  I took the train from Grover Beach to LA then walked for 52 miles over 7 days with a small backpack and stayed in hotels and ate in restaurants.  It was decadent hiking.  Below is a recap.

Defining moment- “I stopped to rest on a bench between Marina Del Rey and Manhattan Beach.  A man asked where I was going.  I told him about the journey.  Over time, I realized he was a little crazy, so I excused myself and resumed walking.  He followed me on his bike and asked if he could have some of my almonds.  I thought to myself ‘I’m not going to get away from this guy!’ I gave him some almonds and continued walking.  He yelled this advice at my departing silhouette ‘Go find yourself!’

M ost surreal-“I was nervous about hiking between Manhattan Beach and Palos Verdes -- it was the first 13 mile day.  I went to check out and showed the hotel clerk the guide book and mentioned what I was doing.  He became excited and said he would give me a free cab ride all the way to Palos Verdes. He had all these vouchers from a cab company.  And because of his enthusiasm, I felt I couldn’t turn him down.  When the cab driver arrived, the clerk ran back into the hotel, came out with a $20 bill and said, ‘And here’s the tip!’.  I spent the next half hour riding to Palos Verdes discussing the Bhagavad Gita with the Indian cab driver. I was checked into my room at the Terrenea Resort (picktured above) by 8:30am”

TMI (too much information) Moment- “I decided to walk around Ports of Call in San Pedro.  It was 8am and raining so the place was empty.  I was always worried about hydration and so drank lots of water.  This mindfulness of hydration meant I was always on the lookout for rest rooms.  I saw two porta potties in front of a closed shop and went inside one.  I locked the door and then heard this clang, clang, clangiddy sound outside.  The next thing I knew, the forks of a forklift slid under my porta pottie and started to lift it.  I yelled, ‘I’M IN HERE!’ The man operating the hand trolley fork lift apologized profusely as I escaped.

Most Frightening experience- One day, it rained so much my jacket couldn’t keep up, and I was drenched.  I was walking remote hiking trails in Palos Verdes. These trails were high on cliffs and had railings with signs warning you not to cross them.  The day was dark and grey, heavy with thunderheads.  There was no one around.  Then, I spied a couple and asked them for the quickest way to a road—I was cold and decided to bus the remaining miles to San Pedro.  They told me where to go and left.  It didn’t take me long  to realize that this trail had a 100 foot drop to the cove below, only a four foot wide trail,  slippery, wet adobe soil, and no protective railing.  A chain link fence separated me from civilization and defined the other edge of the trail.  I clutched it the whole way feeling waves of vertigo, cursing any Bougainvillea which grew in it and hampered my grip, and fighting panic each time I slid in the clay soil toward the cliff’s edge. It felt like an eternity in Hades.

Lessons Learned- It takes a whole southern California region to keep this traveler from getting lost. The guide book was not always clear to this traveler, so I met a lot of helpful strangers. Traveling by car, one is insulated from strangers.  Traveling by foot, one encounters them all the time.  Only your skin and theirs separates the two of you.  You experience more of humanity in these brief encounters; their “stranger(ness) goes away. They are just fellow human beings whom you meet, if only for five minutes. And they are locals who know the area. One 15 year old boy, in a hoodie, and with ear buds, made sure I departed the San Pedro bus at Harbor Boulevard.

And lastly, be open to the transition to retirement—don’t resist change and know it is an organic process.

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