Thursday, August 26, 2010

Culture Shock in Seattle and my Final Journey Home

All Cleaned Up - And Feeling Awkward

Well it's been a few days since my finale in Manning Park and I'm all cleaned up and wearing cotton again....and noticeably 20 pounds lighter. 

Since finishing, I've been spending a few days traipsing around downtown Seattle with my mom.  I can honestly say that I love the city of Seattle, I really do...but I'm having a very hard time dealing with it.  I literally went from living in the woods for four months to bumping my way through throngs of people in the downtown Seattle marketplace.  I went from living freely, to living as an uber tourist.  In the two days that I've been here, I went up the space needle, ate at the rotating restaurant, went to the sci-fi and music museums, saw the aquarium, ate out for several meals, and rode multiple forms of public transportation.  I did have several good cups of coffee, but the stressful and people-filled city streets are just too much for my simplified mind and lifestyle to absorb right now.  I am very much looking forward to getting back to PA and my small hole in the wall apartment with the quiet cornfield out back.  With that all said however, I'm very glad that I was able to spend a really great few days with my mom and catch up.  We have tried to do a little duo trip each year together since my dad passed away, and with the exception of last year, have kept up with it.  Spending the past couple days city-ing it up with mom, has been fun, despite being a bit much for me to take in right now.  I'm eternally grateful that she came out to meet me at the end.  Here are some obligatory tourist-y pics from my Seattle romp:

Space Needle

Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame

Seattle Aquarium - Strange Fish

Seattle Aquarium - Sea Otters

With the busy city life of the past two days, I haven't had much time to process my hike yet.  There is so much I want to write about, so many reflections that I know are scratching at the surface trying to get out.  I can't wait to get my laptop and finally upload all of my videos and high-res pictures so that I can re-see in full screen what I saw over the past four months.  The iPhone photos just don't cut it.  I have a pretty lengthy list of to-dos already piling up at school which will undoubtedly keep me busy until my Antarctica deployment, but I will be posting at least one more PCT entry with all of my final thoughts on this actual epilogue.  For now, I will enjoy my last evening in Seattle, relaxing in the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in, and hop on my flight tomorrow morning.  I can't wait to see people back home. 

I've had a hard time divorcing my mind-set from the trail.  I find that every free minute I have, that I'm checking trailjournals on my iPhone to see where other hikers are...and if people that I've hiked with have finished yet.  I'm already hiking vicariously through others. 

SO....Sometime in the next week or so, I will be posting my cluttered thoughts on how hiking the PCT has truly affected me, and hopefully get some pics and vids up too.  I again want to say thank you to everyone who donated to my dad's memorial fund, and to all those that made my thru-hike a reality.  People back home, family, loved ones, friends, trail angels, hitchhike drivers, hostel owners, pcta volunteers, trail crews, etc.  I also want to say thank you for all of the wonderful comments and congratulatory sentiments left by everyone.  This was certainly one of the most challenging endeavors I have ever undertaken both mentally and physically.  To just have finished alone, is more than I could have ever asked for.  Everything else has just been sweet sweet sugar on top. 

I will try to get some good photos/vids up soon.

take care everyone and...hey....East I come.


1 comment:

Kurt said...

Hey John -- I was one of three guys who spoke with you at Trap Pass a few weeks back. Just want you to know how much weight your words carry after having completing what you just did. Was happy to know, too, that you were able to overcome the "lull" of Snoqualmie Pass and continue on. You should know that we did not see too many more thru-hikers after we spoke with you . . . Ishmael, Furnature, and Big Daddy D were the few we did encounter. Also, the FS opened the Lemah Creek trail portion a few days after you passed through it and this information was unbeknownst to us as we passed through it on the day it opened!

Congratulations on your trail accomplishment. Best wishes to you in your PhD pursuit. -- Kurt