The Battle of Midway…

As we prepare to enter Oregon and begin the next chapter in our adventure, Zac and I were given an opportunity to reflect, reevaluate, and ultimately re-solidify our reason and purpose for doing this run. I am not going to tell you that everything has been smooth sailing from the start, but we have been sheltered by grace in a way that neither Zac nor I could have ever anticipated we would. Injury, fatigue, uncertainty, getting lost, hills, wind, not having enough time to just be alone, restless nights, heat, cold and the list goes on and on. It’s with reluctance that I share these things, but I have begun to see things with a bit more clarity.

A few days ago, I was on the phone with my mother. She asked me something that I thought I would have had an answer for by now, “What is the most amazing thing that you have experienced thus far?” She must have thought for a moment that the phone went dead because I didn’t utter a word. I was speechless, and I couldn’t understand why! “I honestly don’t know mom,” I answered. Had I missed something? Was there something more that I was expecting to experience? Or shouldn’t I at least have the words to describe how I felt?

And then it hit me, “Why am I here?” It was like a load of bricks landing on my chest. Had I lost my purpose for doing this? My biggest fear was that Zac and I had become a product of routine. In spite of the experience, and in spite of the adventure, it was as though monotony had slowly crept in and was stealing our hearts.

Battling these thoughts, I remembered something that I had just read, “the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). This wasn’t senseless loss of direction, we are in spiritual warfare. Even more so than that, I felt as though I was missing out on the “life” that Jesus was talking about!

I know to some, this statement causes some unrest. But if I told you that the sole reason of posting on this blog was to tell a couple of stories about the things that we have seen and the people we have met, then I would be lying. Because I see clearer than ever that God has brought us to the place we are in to proclaim His glory. I realize that I don’t always have the words, but that’s why God asked us to run, because this speaks louder than I could.

I have said before that I didn’t know how we were blessing people, but yet I have been told time and time again that people felt honored for just being a part of this run. Most of the time, Zac and I both agree that we feel like we have been blessed more than the people we spend time with or those who read our blog. This wouldn’t make sense if we didn’t serve a God who’s love and graciousness knew no bounds.

I tell you all this because Zac and I have had a shadow vehicle (a car that carries all our stuff as well as gives us shelter each night) for the last week and a half. During this time, our days became a much better environment for running and reflecting upon all that we had experienced thus far, as well as getting ready for what Oregon and Washington will have in store. As much as we love sharing our stories, our lives, and our passions with all who we come in contact with, our time that we spent assessing all that we have encountered and affirming our purpose for running from Mexico to Canada has proved to be a much needed break.

As I sit here in our hosts house on their ranch in Crescent City, I am deeply grateful to all that God has been able to do through this journey in my life, as well as all our awesome friends both new and old. God bless you guys and thank you for coming on this adventure with Jesus with us.

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“Gnarcore”

“But dude, what you guys are doing is like, gnarcore. See, I had to make up a new word just to describe it. Gnarly and hardcore. This trip is Epic… I love you guys.” 

Our trip took us into the small and unique town of Gualala, Wa-La-La. After a brief hello to our hosts at the church, we were literally locked in the church that was decorated for an Australian Outback VBS theme, not knowing where the lights were or the layout of the building, but given an array of foods to try and eat. I think for dinner that night I devoured an appetizing sandwhich and 10 “kangaroo dropping” cookies that a member of the congregation so gracefully named. The freedom we felt in this town was unlike any we have felt so far. That night, jumping at the opportunity to explore Gualala, we headed down to the beach and listened to some live jazz at Bones Roadhouse Grill. It was an interesting stay there. We got the rest we needed, had a great place to sleep up in the loft, and had the glorious view of the ocean from where the church settled itself on the hill.

But words can’t describe the loneliness we felt there. Sure we talked to a couple people on Sunday and it was nice to share with them, but we didn’t connect. It seemed that what we are taking part in over this summer was misunderstood. An obligatory sense of fellowship was shared it seemed. “Glad you could make it, here is a place to stay, it’s amazing what you are doing. Now go to sleep.” 

Writing this, I am very hesitant, but so very grateful for what we were provided with. I guess there are those that want to give and provide for a cause, but don’t fully understand why. “My canned goods donated is good enough right? The $30 I support a child in Africa makes me feel good, doesn’t it? I’m making Jesus proud of me, I think. Isn’t this life about helping others?” Well yes, but it’s so much more! When asked a similar question Jesus answer that the two greatest things one can do are love your God with all your “heart” and your neighbors. But the greatest of these is to love your God. To mearly think that Jesus died on the cross for us to go to heaven, is like thinking that marriage provides us with health benifits and a good retirement. The relationship between these two ideas is obviously the most inportant entity. The journey we are all on and sometimes lose sight of is at the center.

We have lost heart it seems. I am slowly realizing this everyday on this trip. Seeing how many of our lives and relationships are just… well… “okay”. They are “fine”. Pretty “good”. Wouldn’t you rather search through a thesaurus and find some more compelling and lively words to describe our lives? And actually feel it’s true? Notice the next time you see a co-worker, friends, even relatives and close people you are in fellowship with, and listen to your interactions. “It’s great to see you.” “Yes it is, how are you doing this week.” “I’m fine, couldn’t be better, how ’bout you?” “Same, everything is great!” “Alright.” “It was good seeing you.” (Now this is our cue to end the conversation and run for the door. We wouldn’t want to be vulnerable or love on someone would we). “Good seeing you also, Bye.”

Half the time, I think we believers walk around like zombies. Wake up. Go to work. Come home. Go to bed. Don’t look at each other. We need to radically be waken up and live the life that God has given us.

There are some moments while we have been out here that I have felt like a prize pony. Yes a shiny, handsome, bulging flanks, blue ribbon winning, prize pony. Constantly, my heart is awakened to what I am actually doing out here. I feel like Paul and I don’t see it most of the time. We are just simply answering a call, running, doing the most amazing thing we will maybe every experience. We are taken around in our prize pony trailer, carted from person to person, and everyone is always so amazed at us.

“I’m just so glad we got to meet you!” Just to meet us?! Why don’t I just inject pride into my body with a hypodermic needle? However, because we fully know that none of this would be possible without God’s providence and guidance, pride has thankfully not been a very big issue for either of us. However, it’s hard for us to see how God is using us. What he really thinks and feels about us is hard to swallow. I’m just as broken and in need as the next person. We all want to be the hero, want to do something extra ordinary, but hardly take the chance and jump at what God puts at our feet. The disciples left everything to follow Jesus, Neo in the Matrix leaves his life to follow the truth, Woody in Toy Story ventures out of Sid’s room into the unknown to save the day. What others outwardly see, us running from Mexico to Canada, is an amazing feat. However, what about all the other amazing feats that happen behind closed doors. In our neighborhoods, in third world countries. The single mom who works nights and raises 3 kids, providing for and teaching them. The boy from Kenya who plays barefoot soccer, dreaming of one day being able to play on grass and for his country. The surfer who lives his life to glorify God through his ministry showing kids that extreme sports and Jesus can go hand in hand. There are millions of these heroes and stories that are just as amazing as ours. What God has provided for Paul and I, he has also given the same promises and life giving passions for you.

So we kept running, up the coast to another small community known as Point Arena. What once was a thriving and successful timber and fishing community, is losing it’s connection with the world. On a previous stretch of highway 1, we found it nearly impossible to run. Cars zipping down roads, into turns, cutting corners, and mostly driving rented RVs. Someone once said “A man feels most alive when he is inches to death.” Wow, how true. Can I get an amen, men? Just watch a boy play in the woods, in the backyard or playground and you will see how fitting this quote really is. And if this is true, then I have never felt more alive in my life. Literally inches from death every stride I take. So, to fix this situation, we came up with the ingenious plan of doing our run in Point Arena, “around the town, and I think they have a track at the high school”, I said. Then getting driven up the coast to the correct mileage that we ran. And stupidly, we settled on this plan. To run 30 miles, in the town of Point Arena. This day will infamously go down as, “The Day Zac Never Wanted To Run On A Track Again, Or In Any Type Of Circle, Till He Dies, And Quite Possibly Into the Afterlife, Amen”. I’m telling you, even if in heaven God has this sweet track, made of gold, and the rubber felt like running on springs, and thousands of people lined the fence and stands to cheer me on every lap, I probably still would have a problem with it. It’s so boring. So after getting to the school, we found one of the more unique high school tracks in the United States. It was only about 3 lanes wide, dirt (which it looks as if they just had horses circle the area till a path was made in the grass), and was on a slope. The most surprising thing was that it was actually very accurate in length. Each lap, dead on, a quarter mile. It was funny to think about how the school’s football team may have strategized in which direction they ran the football, so the visitors had to run up hill. The back straightaway of the track was downhill and the front straightaway is uphill. After running over 20 miles on the track, 80 laps, we needed to get out of there. The only eventful thing that happened was when a bird swooped down upon me. As I ducked I thought it had missed. We both stopped and laughed a little about what just happened, and then Paul realized it had attached itself to my back. Perched on me, it seemed at ease and comfortable. It didn’t want to leave as I tried shaking it off. Eventually it did, but I guess I have a certain mother bird aura to me. The rest of the 10 miles were spent running on the bluffs and cliffs of the ocean trails, around the lighthouse, over streams that poured out creating a waterfall into the ocean, and through no trespassing fences on an adventure to discover overgrown and unused roads.

Everyday I feel more awakened to my heart and the life that God gives me to live. We don’t all have to go out into the world to endure some quest or mission, or run 1,755 miles, we must simply awaken our hearts and listen to what God truly says about each one of us. We are not just “sinners, saved by grace”, but even more so, God rejoices with us that we are a “new creation… and that our heart is good”. Think of what we could all do, if we lived this way and truly believed the truths that God has spoken to us.

Z

Unconditional Love

Camping under the Redwoods is an experience unlike any other. God has woven a mystery about His grandeur somewhere in there. Our runs set out from this serene setting to approach the coast again. The hills that we labored over paled in comparison to our new adversary, the wind. Now, I guess I should have paid better attention to the weather forecasts when they showed the larger picture of the United States, the one that has the three long, blue arrows moving swiftly down the backside of our country. Well, Zac and I attest to them, there winds here along the coast that have gusted so strong, they have nearly stopped us mid-stride. With a sustained wind of almost 35 and gusts of up to 45 for the last three days, we felt ourselves pushed to our limit day in and day out. At some points, we decided to head inland and tackle some of the steep ridges and hills of the backroads in an effort to avoid the strong winds.

For those of you who have never had to run against winds like these, I’ll explain the three things that make it so tremendously difficult. First of all, the obvious factor of working extra hard to maintain a steady pace, but even this can prove futile as it feels like two steps forward, one step back. Secondly, the mental factor. It’s cold and can even cause your eyes to tear. Sort of like driving a motorcycle without any eye protection. Lastly, I don’t fully understand how this works, but running into the wind causes you to become dehydrated faster. Battling these factors, I could feel myself become just plain agitated. What we had done and enjoyed for so many days had suddenly become difficult, and frustratingly  hard.  But  God was still looking out for us, and He showed up in a rather  awesome way. About 25 miles into our run on the 18th, Zac and I had gone about 16 miles or so without water or fuel. We were hurting. The cold ocean air fighting us every step of the way only added to our frustration and exhaustion. Then, without warning, we saw something that caught us off guard. On the other side of the road, a woman walking with a couple wooden crosses in her hands. Remember, we were miles from any sort of civilization, and we had seen more deer on this stretch than people. Her disposition was cheerful, and she happily greeted us, asking if we were Christians. I guess Christians are the only ones crazy enough to walk/run across entire countries praying for them! Carol Cruise has been walking around the circumference of the United States for several years, putting crosses at every mile mark and praying for the nation.Carol’s story is even more incredible when you take into account that she has a prosthetic leg. We stopped to talk to her just as she was staking mile mark 7,023. Talk about a humbling experience! Her support vehicle even came up and gave us some water. As simple as the reminders like this may be, it never ceases to amaze me God’s understanding of not just our physical needs, but our spiritual needs as well. I was in need of an attitude adjustment more than water, and God provided both in a way that was both loving and humbling.

Our next days brought us farther north, each day proved to be a battle as the wind was unrelenting. Needless to say we slept extremely well each of these nights. Each night a new campsite, and each day a new adventure. Meyers Grade road was just that. Zac and I had pulled off the coast again, in an effort to avoid the whipping Northern California winds. Meyers Grade road starts just like all the other back roads of the area, beautiful rolling hills, lots of curious cattle, and tons of wildlife. Blue Jays and deer  populate  this  lush forest road which cuts across crystal clear streams and descends into valleys so green, you think you may need to have your eyes checked. Our passage through the forest was kind of like the forests in Star Wars, only without the Ewoks. And the best part, no cars! Anyday where we are running on a road and not fearful for our lives or the lives of the people in the cars is an awesome day. This stretch of running brought us all the way to the pleasant community of Gualala! (pronounced wolala)

The Dark Side of the Moon

So as we resurface on the grid, I think now would be an appropriate time to get you dear reader caught up on the current situation. Since we left Stanford, Zac and I have been able to run in some places that would even compare to the awesome landscapes of Big Sur. Our run to Pacifica from Pescadero was a thrill to remember! After Zac and I had crossed the rolling hills leading up to the southern tip of San Francisco, we were met with a harrowing stretch of hills, curves, and cliffs which lived up to its name, Devil’s Slide. Now those who are familiar with this stretch of road, the closest thing I could probably relate the experience to, is if you were trying to run on a roller coaster track with the roller coaster still running. Needless to say, our descent down the other side of this gnarly stretch of highway was in the 6:30 minute mile pace as though we thought we could outrun the cars. Once down the other side, much to our relief (and my mother’s as I’m sure she is just sitting on the edge of her chair by now) the road widened and we finished on a fairly flat stretch on the Pacifica coastline. 

Our stay in Pacifica was shortlived, for it wasn’t soon after the sun came up that we were back on the trail again. This day would be particularly interesting as we made our way across the city of San Francisco. By now, I would say that we have gotten used to the hills, or at least, we aren’t as surprised when we look up at the some of the roads we run on as they disappear into the clouds. Once inside downtown S.F., the looks on people’s faces said it all. Two guys, running shorts, and a baby jogger labeled “Mexico to Canada” running up market street…. and they thought they had seen it all! Zac and I took the ferry to the other side of the bay and kept on trekking for a few more miles before we hit our rendezvous point. After a lunch of what can best be described by Zac as a “sour cream and lettuce” burrito, we were full but far from satisfied. Our ride came and we were once again whisked away to our hosts house outside of Oakland. That night we were treated to ice cream at Fenton’s, the ice cream shop that is shown in the final scene of the newest Pixar movie “Up”! Yes, it really exists, and no, we did not count the red and blue cars, maybe next time though.

The leaving of the San Francisco area marked the end of civilization for us for quite some time. Even now as I am writing this, I am extremely surprised that we have internet. That morning, we left the sunny confines of Larkspur and made our way back onto the coast. One of the most awesome things to see is the change in climates from just 10-15 miles. When we started, we were in shorts and short-sleeve shirts, but by the time we had hit the beach, we had gone through some of the redwood forest and had seen the temperature drop over 10 degrees in just a span of 12 miles! One of the most incredible sights was the redwoods. It was like we had been transported back in time. The ground was a deep green, the kind of lushness that contrasted so beautifully with the tiny rays of direct light that would pierce to the forest floor like an arrow. Above us, the giant redwoods protected us from the sun, but also the incredibly strong winds that seem to have nothing better to do but blow directly against us whenever we are on the coastline. But for this stretch through Samuel P. Taylor park, there was something about running here that made me just feel, for lack of a better word, wild. The quiet and stillness of the forest was met only by the quiet steady breathing and the footsteps of Zac and I. It was one of those experiences which you treasure in your heart, in order to remember that it is in these precious moments when we are met face-to-face with the wonder of God’s majesty. Running is a love song that God has written on my heart, which is why it is such a blessing to be doing this run. We are doing the thing which God has called us to do, it seems as though God has just given us a microphone now to share it with a great many more people now! Keep praying, and I’ll post the stretch from Point Reyes to our current location tomorrow!

Stay Tuned…

As we camp north of San Francisco, keep us in your thoughts and prayers. We are more alive than ever and are continuing on north. Cell phone service and Internet access is rough, so stay tuned for more updates, pictures, crazy stories, and more from us.

P.S
It’s cold, I’ve seen more blue jays than seagulls, everyone says “far out”, redwoods grow like weeds, and yelling at runners (which happens to be us) from your car seems to be California’s pastime. Can’t complain though, it’s beautiful and we are blessed to be here. More to come.

Z

Lions, Tigers, and Bears

No, we have not seen any lions, tigers, or bears, yet. But we have been warned of their presence in the area. Mountain lions and bears may be among our next spectators from the side of the road, as we head into the dense forests and past the Bay area. Although tigers may be scarce in California, we have felt the presence of a certain Tiger, Tiger Woods that is, while having our rest day on the campus at Stanford University, where he started his golfing legacy. The past couple days have felt like a whirlwind of adventure and intensity. A sensory overload of sorts.

After our stay in Monterey, it brought me to a place of incredible fellowship with the people we have been staying with lately. All of our conversations have been centered around our purpose and mission for the summer. Powerfully encouraging me and Paul, while also challenging others to take a look at their own faith.

A 20 mile run last Wednesday brought us through Moss Landing and back along the coast through a variety of berry farms. While running, we again heard the call of the wild, literally, when we heard seals in Moss Landing’s small harbor. Hundreds and hundreds of sea lions lay on a dock that they had taken over. After a quick hello and photo shoot with the seals, we were back on the road heading north. At this point in the trip, we were fortunate enough to stay with a family in San Jose. Our first interaction with the family was what this trip in some ways truly embodies. The beauty of the not knowing what will happen next. That evening I enjoyed the fast pace, unknown, and new people we met. After a few quick decisions were made, Paul and I decided to take a great opportunity and head to San Francisco to see the sights and get an amazing tour by our host Bob. However, before we left and within 20 minutes of arriving at the host family’s grandparents house, we showered, met a woman over 100 years old, ate some freshly picked berries, and were able to get ready in time to leave for San Francisco.

I have been to San Francisco before, but Bob, you my friend know your stuff. I have never been more impressed by someone who knows a certain area well. I guess you ought to if your Grandpa, Dad, and yourself were born there. If the tour guides of San Francisco got together to elect a tour guide mayor, you would be that tour guide major. And a dang fine tour guide mayor you would be. The buffaloes of Golden Gate Park, Telegraph Hill, Coit Tower, the Cable Car Station, Union Square, the Presidio, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, Crissy Park, Fort Pointe, The Golden Gate Bridge, Greens, the cinema history, and the other amazing sites we saw. I knew we would enjoy ourselves when Bob took us to the top of the Westin, 32 stories up, in one of the fastest elevators I have ever experienced. 1, 2, 3… JUMP, was all it took to realize the fun would begin. Hanging in mid-air as the elevator dropped was quite an accomplishment, as my sore calf muscles hardly responded to any fast twitch movements, like jumping. The view was incredible and overlooked most of the Bay area and of San Francisco. What an amazing afternoon and dinner.

After another day with our host family, we got to spend some more time with their kids who were our age. But first it was on to Santa Cruz where we ran through the majority of this “weird” city. I wish we had more time there. Bumper stickers and store fronts all exclaimed the same opinion of Santa Cruz, as being “weird, different, and not normal”. To keep up with the abnormality of the area, we were picked up from our run in a quite different way. Like a bright twinkie racing downhill at us and into the nearest intersection was a bright yellow VW bus. The anticipation and excitement rose as 3 high school guys (one being Will who was part of our host family) honked and found us at our end point. This excitement came to end however, when the bus stalled in the intersection and all 3 guys jumped out and pushed it the rest of the way to us. It reminded me of the movie Little Miss Sunshine, when to start a similar looking VW bus, they must push the bus everytime to get the momentum and engine going.

The ride back was fun, through the turns and fast highway from Santa Cruz back up through the hills of San Jose. Back at the house, Paul and I went swimming with the guys and got to share so much more about our summer and experiences. This week was so encouraging for me. I’ve got so many opportunities to talk about the run, my faith, and whats going on in my heart throughout the journey. The people we have gotten to stay with have been so generous and supportive of us. The fellowship I experience on a day to day basis is never ending with Christ and others.

On friday, we had an intensely physically exhausting day. After running 31 miles, into the hard wind, and up and down the long slopes of the coastal highway 1, we finished at Pescadero State Beach. Our next host picked us up and we were off to Palo Alto on the curvy roads through dense forest. After a huge dinner, we were feeling a bit better, more conscious, and retired on the campus of Stanford.

We had another tour, this time of the University’s campus. This weekend was graduation for the students here, so we enjoyed some apples and crackers that were being handed out throughout the day on campus. Watching all the students jogging and running around the beautiful area made me somewhat envious. “Won’t it be nice to go on an easy enjoyable run when we get back?”, we both joked.

It’s something that I have been thinking about lately, running in general. Why do I run, why do you run, why do any of us run? To be out here, and then see countless people all at different levels running through San Francisco, Stanford, and other places along the coast, makes me really think about the parallels I see in our faith and relationship with Christ.

To be honest, usually I hate books that compare athleticism and sports to Christianity. When given them or recommended I write them off and don’t pay much attention to their validity or biblical relevance. That’s not to say that they are not insightful or inspiring at all. But I guess they really just don’t do it for me. However, for me I’ve really experienced a similar parallel with running that could only be experienced out here on this journey.

Along with my dependence on God’s provision throughout this trip, I am also very dependent on my ability to run, obviously also provided by God. It gets me from place to place, city to city, and shelter to shelter. If I could not run, I would not be able to make it. Fitness, training, and competition are not what I am running for. I am running to live. Running to put my self in a position where I have to rely on the run, rely on God. It is not simply a part of my day, it is my day. I look at others running and how they fit it into their schedules, squeezing it into the morning, at night after work, and how it is ultimately just to shape themselves into the type of person they strive to be. Thinner, faster, stronger, more athletic, whatever the reasons may be. This is comparable to how we can get in our faith and relationships. Structuring ourselves spiritually and striving to perform better. Scheduling in our prayers, Jesus time, and if we even have time to do any of it at all, except from 9-1 on Sunday mornings. If we give our lives to Christ, and truly have a relationship with him, then we need to transform Christ into our lives. Not trying to shape ourselves into the type of good christian we feel we should be. But living to transform ourselves into who Jesus calls us to be and into the relationship he so longingly wants us to be in with Him. Present in every moment of our weeks, days, and hours. Are we only limiting Him to the suggested hour of activity a day that everyone should get? Or have we stepped up to how we are called to live, scheduling our lives and days around what our true calling is.

I make this comparison, but still struggle to apply this into my own life. As I run to live this summer, I live to glorify Him who has let me run.

Z

From our family to yours!

So Zac and I finally made it back to the cusp of civilization. After having the last three of our run days out in the middle of some of the most hilly, forested and beautiful bit of terrain we could have ever asked for, Zac and I found ourselves in Monterey California. When we arrived at one of the first beaches on the southern part of the town, we were picked up by the jr. high/ college pastor named Andrew in his bright yellow Volkswagen beetle. He looked a bit concerned at the size of our baby jogger, but once we explained that it folded down thinner than a Jack in the Box taco, he concerns were laid to rest. After Zac and I got all cleaned up and looking presentable (as presentable as we can look at this stage), Andrew took us out for dinner and then over the his church. Andrew gave the lesson Sunday night at Shoreline community church, and Zac and I were thrilled to meet all the awesome young men and women who call Shoreline home.

The next day, Zac and I were thrilled when we realized that the catching up that we had done over the last few days across the wilderness had not only put us back on schedule, it had put us a little ahead of schedule. So, after Andrew dropped us off back at the beach where we had been picked up the day before, we set out for an easy 15 mile run to bring us to Marina. The run started out with a pretty fierce 3 mile uphill climb before descending toward the beach. Zac and I figured we would run toward the shoreline, then run the coast all the way over to Marina. We even found a nice bike path which was a most welcomed surprise. After running on a shoulder that all but disappeared next to cars traveling 45+ over the last three days, it was quite refreshing to have a day of running without being fearful for our lives.

Zac and I made good time and soon rendezvoused with our host for Monday night, the connections pastor at Shoreline community church, Dave. Dave had several previously arranged meetings so although he wasn’t able to hang out with us till later that night, he had his assistant Megan take us over to the aquarium! It was absolutely amazing! I even had a bit of an epiphany, we had been running next to all this beauty below the shimmering surface of the ocean, and I hadn’t even given it a thought, all the life that exists just below the water. It was truly incredible to have seen such magnificent beauty in the places we had run over the last month, then get to experience it on what seemed to be a separate plane of existence.

We have seen some pretty incredible things along this trip, and some even more incredible things in our own lives. We thank God that He has brought us so far, as we are about 1/3 done with the trip! Zac and I pray each day for you all, and have seen both through the testimonies that we have heard by email and letters of encouragement that Jesus is still using this run to bless so many! We love you guys!

P

Big Sur, You Are Big.

Not many people can say they have ran 90 miles through Big Sur in three days. And if you know Big Sur at all, you know Paul’s and my pain. There are endless miles of long hills that prelude fast, twisty slopes. Big Sur has tested our strength and endurance. I say with full confidence that the “Little Engine that Could”, has nothing on us. And if put on the same route, “Wouldn’t”. His gears would cease powering it forward, he would literally run out of steam, and I’m sure everyone aboard would jump off before that “Little Engine” would tumble backward off of Bixby Bridge. But hats off to him, he was a great read.

Big Sur is a town, but also could be thought of a large territory. Gorda, Lucia, and Big Sur are the only towns that lay along this huge stretch of coast on the Pacific Coast Highway. This area is hailed as some of the most beautiful coastline in all of the United States. One moment as you travel with pines on both sides of the road and overhead, you emerge onto the side of a cliff with a view that resembles a painting only Bob Ross could masterfully birth into painting existence. The water everywhere is a colorful mix of teal, dark blue, green, and a hazy yellow in some places. It is astoundingly beautiful. Pods of dolphins play in the water below, seals can be overheard below the cliffs, deer and cattle graze in fields, and colorful finches dart through the sky and tall grasses. Even a little field mouse was found on the road, no bigger than my thumb as I placed it back into the grass. It is truly where the pines meet the ocean.

Last Thursday we left San Simeon and headed into the wild. Before getting to Big Sur however and ascending into the pines, we made a brief visit to some large residents along the coast. I had heard some barking, and waved Paul over to the other side of the road. After ducking through some barbed wire fence, and stepping carefully through fox tail grasses (those suck to get caught in your socks, especially if you are going to be running 20 more miles after that), we discovered some elephant seals. My adventurous nature and animal loving spirit kicked in as I climbed down the bluff onto their beach. And I stress the “their” because they were not too happy we stumbled onto them. It was a relatively private beach and area, owned and operated by the seals you could say. I really wanted to at least touch one, but the name says it all, ELEPHANT seals. They are big, bold, and protective animals. Needless to say I was bitten and I am back in Phoenix at home. Alright, that last part was a lie, not bitten, but the seals graciously let me hang out with them for a bit before I climbed back up the bluff.

There was a 5 mile stretch of that Thursday run where I was blown away with the beauty and wild nature of the coast. A coyote lurked by the road watching us as we passed, deer were spotted grazing not far off further along, we had just seen hundreds of seals, and while crossing a bridge mud swallows swarmed above us in the air singing loudly. It was glorious. I have seen and witnessed things I would never have dreamed I would come across or be able to see from a car.

Our next run day was just as majestic and beautiful. As we continued in Big Sur, we were not fully alone out on the road. We shared this scenery with tourists and a few leather tramps. One specifically, didn’t catch his name, who was going to LA with his drum. That’s a long way! Well, I guess Canada is also. The constant scenery of ocean on our left and forest to our right has allowed a great deal of reflection on creation and how precious of environment is. It is this same environment that God created, which we must preserve and take care of. A lot is going on specifically in California at this time. The government is shutting down some of the states most beloved parks to help the budget deficit, and this saddens me. We must be better hosts to our world and God’s creation. As we take care of our selves and others, is it not our own responsibility to take care of our world? As tourist enjoy the beauty of Big Sur, they drive their Hummers and luxury vehicles through the forest, consuming gas and products that destroy the very wonder and beauty they come to see. No matter how “green” one can go, I think there is something seriously wrong, specifically in our country, with how we live. We all see it, we all want to change it, we all believe it can be changed, but we do not live that change out. There is something wrong with people driving 60 miles to a day spa (Tree Bones in Big Sur comes to mind, no matter how “green” they are) and the homeless man who emerges out of the pines in this area. Both people are there to enjoy God’s creation, no matter what they believe. However, enjoying it in two very different ways.

And as I step down from my soap box, I have felt extremely blessed these past couple days. Because not many people will ever seen such beauty in their lives, or realize that they are able to. Because me and Paul are enjoying this beauty, in our own way.

Z

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The Misty Mountains

After Patrick dropped us off back in Harmony, we headed into the mist, not knowing what to expect. Our troubles first started when we both realized that we didn’t even know if our host’s location was in San Simeon of Cambria, two very close but definitely different towns. This actually wouldn’t have been a problem at all if our phones had worked, but if then again, this post wouldn’t have been very interesting if they had. I decided that the best thing for us to do was to just ask a resident in Cambria if I could use their phone. The residents at the house I went to were extremely helpful. I’m pretty sure it was a babysitting house, simply based on the fact that there were 3 women, 6 infants and enough childrens toys to maintain a decent garage sale for at least a couple of weeks. The women were all extremely helpful, and I even got to use some of my Spanish speaking skills!

While I was at the house, a tour bus full of passengers was crossing the intersection where Zac was patiently awaiting my return. For some unexplained reason, the bus driver became distracted and stalled the bus in the middle of the intersection. As cars were timidly going around the bus and it’s baffled driver, the passengers were all staring at Zac. Recognizing this as an opportunity for approval, Zac gave them all a thumbs up, to which each of the 20 or so passengers responded in unison with a thumbs up as well.

Zac and I were soon back on the road and approaching the motel where we would be staying at for the night. Our host Mavis is the owner of the hotel and had reserved a room for us to stay in for the night. I have to say, the look on the face of the concierge as we rolled up a baby jogger and wearing running shorts was pretty amazing. After we got settled in and took a much needed nap, Mavis called to take us out to dinner. Mavis not only helped us out with our shelter and food for the night, our stay with her marked the first 400 mile mark of our run, so we got some new shoes as well! Mavis told us that she had forgotten that they were for us when she first recieved them, but upon measuring them against her own feet, quickly realized the shoe did not fit.

Zac and I have been blessed in that we have seen, felt and experienced a great deal this trip. We have seen the beauty of our Lord’s creation on a daily basis. We have felt His confort throughout the duration of this trip. And we have experienced a joy and jubilation in the face of adversity. Even when we have been in some pretty dangerous situations, I feel a great deal of peace about the outcome of each day. I am learning what it feels like to get up each day saying, “I have no idea what is going to happen today, but its going to be good.” Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Zac and I are learning to pursue the heart of Christ in this manner. Without being constantly in prayer, we can see no continuum in God’s plan. We may be able to see the good and the bad, how to praise God in the times of peace and how to weather the storm in the times of turbulence. But if we are not praying, how can we be guided? We thank God for the hope that He gives us, and we thank God for your prayers!

The Belly of the Beast

After our stay in SLO and many heartfelt goodbyes, Zac and I headed into our first experience of rainy weather. Although I definitely wouldn’t say we got “poured on”, the on/off tendency of the weather kept catching us off guard. It seemed almost as soon as we put away our rain gear, the rain started falling again!

We made our way back out onto the coast and caught our first glimpse of ocean in over a week, accented with the enourmous rock at Morro Bay. We also began to see some pretty substantial terrain changes, as we seemed to shift from highlands resembling Scotland to the wilderness. Our run was to take us approximately 10 miles or so past Cayucos. When Zac and I got there, we realized that there would be little to no identifying markers from which our host, who was on his way to pick us up, would be able to identify. We remembered that we had seen a sign for a little town called Harmony. Zac and I ran another 3 miles until we reached Harmony. Upon immediate evaluation, Zac and I quickly realized something, the word “town” does not do this place justice. Until we had seen Harmony, I did not know it was possible to have three buildings close to one another considered a town. The population sign said 18 for crying out loud! Zac and I tried to find just one of these 18 residents so we could use a phone. We found just what we were looking for at the Harmony Winery. We got there just before they closed, and they were happy to help us out. When Zac told them what we were doing, they even offered to let us have some free wine samples! I’m not sure what they were more amazed at, the reason why we were doing our run, or how tan Zac was, but either way, an amazing ending to a tough and somewhat unpredictable run.

When our host Patrick arrived, we quickly loaded up our belongings and drove back to his place. We were really excited to hear that we would be sleeping in Patrick’s boat that night. When we arrived at Patrick’s place, we were surprised to see how close he lived to the beach! We were even more surprised to see that the boat was in the carport! After a relaxing evening followed by an intense game of Scrabble (is tzar a playable word?) we headed off to bed in the sailboat.