For me, Day 39 was both tremendous and anti-climactic. I rose early, chucked on the green & gold “military santa” uniform, and headed for the steps up to the Harbour Bridge.
I was very excited, because I was going to meet some of the people from The Kids’ Cancer Project, especially Natasha, who was the point of contact for all my crazy ideas, and I’ve come to see as a respected personal friend. A completely lovely human.
It was a grim and drizzly morning, but I was slowly becoming immune to the rain.
Even now, I’m pretty sure I’d be much better at resisting the weather, even those incredible cyclone-driven storms of the early walk.
(But I’d also take a pair of waterproof gaiters, forget about ‘keeping the look’ .. hmm .. maybe I could find some green/gold ones)
But yeah, a grim and drizzly weekday morning, not ideal for creating a public spectacle 🙂
It was a special joy to see the icons of Sydney though, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.
I won’t go on and on about what a mistake it was to rush through places, but next go-round, I’ll hang about in Sydney a bit, even if sleeping rough in an alleyway, submerge myself in the city just as I did in the bush.
It’s really just a different type of jungle, isn’t it ?
I met the wonderful team from Kids’ Cancer Project and we commenced the crossing.
The video below shows the whole thing, including my righteous dance moves (for some reason all delivered in my mind-music to “Let’s Groove Tonight“)
Gotta love Earth, Wind & Fire. Rest in Peace, Maurice.
Sorry the sound is so garbage. That’s one thing I’ll do right, next time, if I get to do my BIG LAP, I will take a proper microphone with me, and if gear like the earbuds or phone gets damaged, switch it out.
Now this bloke holding the camera most of the time is my mate Patrick, a gentleman, scholar and all-round nice guy.
I’d just like to point out my deft use of rabbit ears when he started holding the phone, and remind you I’d been living alone, walking through road, beach and bush for 38 days.
Pretty funny and socially alert and mature, right?
The bridge crossing was soon done, and I had to bid a fond farewell to my companions, who left me some parting gifts – protein bars, a new torch, some branded socks.
It was Natasha who had bought me my new tarp, which lasted the rest of the walk. I’d ask her to pick it up for me and I’d pay her back. Lovely person that she is, she tried to refuse my money, but on matters of honour an old boofhead will always get his way.
As I walked through the CBD, I’m not even sure that people really ‘saw’ me. It was that eyes-down effect I mentioned earlier
I genuinely think some people walked right past this soggy old man dressed like a superhero and didn’t even notice, so intense was their focus on the daily grind and avoiding other humans.
Honestly, I find that a little sad. My droopy ears were probably a reflection of my mood as I plodded through Sydney that rainy day.
Around noon, I stopped for a late breakfast, which I really struggled to eat. A month of protein bars had reduced my capacity, I suppose.
It was a very solid and healthy meal though, and I was ever mindful of this lady Lynette, who had become the ‘unoffical mum’ of the BIG WALK, and pretty regularly gave me instructions on what to eat, when to rest and whatnot. (Which I quite often, and with respect and gratitude, wound up ignoring out of necessity or preference).
Over breakfast I learned I had a place to sleep.
There were a lot of comments and messages coming in at this point, and I often struggled to keep up with them, again missing some lovely opportunities sometimes.
Over breakfast I learned of a room at the Ritz Hotel in Hurstville, and of Hayley and Fiona, a family affected by paediatric cancer, who had asked for a shout out. I didn’t yet fully understand that some people saw me as ‘marching against cancer’ (I saw it as toward hope)
I always did my best with these, tried to make them honest and sincere, but also funny or of comfort – if I could.
This one though, my own cancer problems kicked in – I don’t make saliva after chemo-radiation, and I couldn’t swallow and started to choke a little on my food.
It was ghastly and embarrassing, but the old boofhead got through it.
I eventually made it to Hurstville, along the way finding this abandoned/empty building still with toilets and water.
If I hadn’t changed the ‘sleeping rough’ rule to allow me to accept hospitality (that never discourage kindness ethic), I probably would have slept there to shelter from the rain, despite the vandalism and broken windows.
Luckily (or sadly?) I didn’t have to, and I eventually made it to Hurstville. What a great suburb, I love asian food and culture, and you can see it everywhere.
From the seasonal decorations, to all the wonderful food, it was great. After I arrived at the hotel (thanking them for their lovely kindness), I switched out into my new “The Kids’ Cancer Project” tshirt that the team had given to me, and looking almost ‘normal’ (whatever that means) I went downstairs and had the absolute treat of meeting Michelle.
We’d become mates over the phone when she’d bought travel insurance from my company “Simply Travel Insurance“.
I have a corporate background in insurance…
But I’ll be honest, I’d worked for some profoundly ethically compromised people, so when I got ‘my own thing’, it was of crucial importance to run it right.
Take the time, give good advice (even if you end up referring them to another provider), be ethical, be friendly, be .. human.
I think Michelle responded to that, and we became phone-mates over the years.
It was a joy to meet her, put a face to the name, have a chat about life, death and the universe.
She bought me this lovely dinner, a massive soup that I had no chance in hell of being able to finish, but the chat and the hug were much more nourishing and satisfying anyway.
And she bought me a small pair of scissors so I could trim my moustache !
Haha, I almost forgot that .. for about a week, I’d been complaining on chewing on my moustache every time I ate anything.
It was adorable, confusing, wonderful, humbling and funny how people kept solving my problems for me before I had a chance to solve them myself.
Thank you, Michelle.
Slept really well, and escaped Sydney the following day.