This California Liberty March was on Saturday April 27th, from California State University Long Beach to Torrance Park in Torrance. Of all of the marches I had done to this point, this was the march during which I felt I actually made an impact on someone’s life.
That morning, I drove from Orange and parked on Bellflower, near one of the university entrances. I got ready, stretched, and headed off toward PCH.
It was a nice day, and I thought it was going to be a pretty boring one; considering the university was closed (and so, there wouldn’t be students around to engage me in conversation). Also, the route I had planned out passed through a very long stretch of industrial zones.
While I was making my way through the college residential areas, a thin blonde college girl came jogging toward me. She was listening to something on her headset. She had a very serious expression. She looked at me and said, “God bless you,” and ran by.
During every march, I have to continually look up and adjust the tilt and angle of my flag pole so that the flag won’t get caught on tree branches or stop signs, and so that it won’t flutter into other people’s faces as I passed them. This makes my neck and shoulders sore. But, it has strengthened my hands and forearms.
As I marched on this day, a number of cars honked and people waved. It’s always nice when someone does that. It gives me a lift to see someone smile, and it makes walking on sore feet much less arduous.
As I was leaving the apartment building-heavy college area, I reached a commerical area with fast food places, office buildings, and older homes. I was on a corner, about to cross the street, when a man rode up behind me and asked about my “cause.” I told him the abbreviated version. He told he was a Viet Nam vet. I took out a card and held out to him. Instead of taking it, he smiled and held out his arm, his hand balled up into a face-down fist. Awkwardly, I gave him a fist bump and he rode off. I put my card back in my pocket and crossed the street when the signal indicated it was safe to walk.
After awhile, I entered an area with thrift stores, and shabby shops, and even older houses. This led to a low-income business district.
I passed a car wash business where eight Hispanic men were leaning against the gate, talking. The first one I came to saw my flag and asked me something in Spanish that I didn’t understand. Interestingly, they were all smiling broadly at me and pointing at the flag. One thanked me for carrying the flag.
A block later, I heard someone across the street call out to me. “Excuse me, sir. Do you have a minute?”
I stopped and Ken, a thin, muscular thirty-something black guy with glasses, ran across the crosswalk. He wore a loose blue tank top and shorts. As he approached, he said, “I wanted to engage you and ask why you felt the need to do this…”
I was not sure what he meant by the question since his tone wasn’t aggressive. I handed him my card and told him my objective in Sacramento. Before I had a chance to ask him what his questions were, he saw that his bus was coming, and he ran off.
Dave K., a Tea Party activist who lives in Orange County, and who had called me the day before, called again. He was driving to where I was so he could march a bit with me. I gave him my general location and kept walking. The area I had been walking in was pretty blighted, and had started becoming industrial.
A young man, no older than eighteen, rode up on a bicycle and asked me what I was doing. He had a heavy Mexican accent and spoke in a lazy manner, so I had to ask him to repeat himself twice. He listened to my spiel and looked amazed. I asked him his name and he said it was, Omar. He pointed to a shop down the road and told me that it was his sister’s sewing shop.
I continued to tell him about what the Constitution was and about the concept of inalienable rights, and how no one, not a president, not a congressman, and not a bureaucrat has the constitutional power to take away our rights. He asked me who I was and I told him I was nobody, just a dad who has had enough of corruption and abuse of power by our politicians. He then told me that he had a son. For a moment, I was stunned. Omar was not much more than a boy. With a boy of his own.
Suddenly, I looked Omar in the eye and told him that he, as a father, had an obligation to teach his son about the Constitution and about his rights. Omar sat rapt, as if I were bestowing upon him a sacred obligation. Omar promised he would. I wished him luck and said good bye.
Thereafter, I walked along a heavily-traveled part of PCH where freight trucks passed and blared their horns for the flag I carried. There were refineries and train yards on either side of the road. As I was crossing I-103, Dave K. drove by, videotaping me as I limped along. By that time, my soles were burning and it felt like I had a large blister on the pad of my right foot.
Three motorcycle riders rode toward me. The one in the middle took his hands off the handlebars, sat up, put his left hand on his hip and extended his right hand straight out for a moment before bending it and extending it out again into a Hitler Salute. Then, he leaned forward and they rode past me. That was a surreal sight and I was mildly disturbed.
I walked down the side of the overpass and met up with Dave a half mile later. He called out my name and I turned to see him walking toward me with an armful of flags, banners and a sign. We introduced ourselves to each other, and then Dave started videotaping me for his own blog. When he was done asking me questions and adding his own comments, we started marching together.
Just then, a city bus pulled over and stopped on the corner, past the bus stop. The bus driver, a large black man with a big grin on his face leaned over and asked what we were doing. I rushed over, handed him my card, and loudly told him and his passengers that I was marching for the Constitution and for all of our civil rights. At this he said, “Right on, man!”
We waved good bye to each other and he drove off.
Then, Dave K. and I walked toward Torrance. As we did, a well-groomed Mexican barber walked out of a business establishment and gave us a look. He, too, asked what we were doing, and so we told him. I wasn’t sure what his reaction was, as he seemed perplexed and perhaps a little intimidated by our act of protest. Still, he nodded and walked to his car.
Dave K. walked about a mile with me, took some photos, then had to head back to his car in order to get to work.
After he left, an old Mexican man, who I shall henceforth call, El Borracho, walked toward me, gestured to the flag and said something in Spanish about “Residents…” and “…the flag…” before muttering in disgust and waving me away in a dismissive manner. That was the first time I actually felt angry about someone’s response to my march. Earlier, two people in cars had driven by and yelled, “Mexico!” as they did. Those were annoying. This man’s response was just plain confrontational and rude.
As I was about to walk over another canal bridge, someone on a bicycle came to an abrupt stop just behind me. I turned, startled and was about to apologize, when I saw that it was Omar from miles earlier. He beamed, as he breathlessly held out a cold bottle of water. I thanked him for his kindness and he smiled before riding back. I was amazed that he would ride all that way to do that.
He must have been following me for sometime, because I read on Facebook after the fact, that Omar had also given a bottle of water to Dave K. as he was walking back to his car.
Later on, as I was walking briskly despite foot pain, I was making good time. A garrulous fellow named Tim J. from Tampa Bay, saw me coming and he gave me the thumbs up. He was talking on his cellphone and when he finished, he ran up to me and said, “Mister Patriot man.”
“I’m making to demand that our politicians and all appointed officials uphold their oaths of office and protect our civil rights,” I told him. After hearing this, he walked along with me for several blocks, and told me about himself.
Apparently, Tim J. felt that his life would have taken a much different path had the Sheriff’s Deputies in Tampa not been #@*&!s. He told about his troubled youth and of persecution by local deputies who abused they authority. As a result of his rebellious behaviour, and, perhaps due to his crack addiction (and other foibles), Tim J. had ended up in prison. Twice. He hqad a boat in Tampa Bay, but is now a fisherman in Long Beach.
Despite his troubled past, Tim J. recited his life’s motto as a rap. I remember something about his future being his destination and that destination was going to be bright.
After Tim J. met up with a man on a bicycle who offered to sell me a cell phone for $10, I continued toward Torrance.
An hour later, a thin sinewy cyclist named, Jeff rode up and stopped next to me. Again, we repeated the cycle of Question and Answer. He told me that he was on mental disability, and he had lived in the area for decades. He told me that the majority of Hispanics in the area were very patriotic. As I told him that our rights are God-given and inalienable, he asked me if I was “Born-Again.”
I said, actually, yes. But I wasn’t sure what I had said to lead him to ask that particular question. He told me that he was no longer was religious, per se, but he felt that the problem with America started in the Sixties, when God was removed from schools.
We walked a long a bit until he finally hopped onto his bicycle. He was wearing cyclist garb, so, as he sped off, he looked as if he was trying to catch up with others in a race.
The Final Stretch
I headed north from PCH to Sepulveda. An hour or two later, after walking west again on Sepulveda, I finally reached the turn from Sepulveda toward Torrance Park. My feet were absolutely burning with pain.
I limped toward my friend Dan’s car, relieved. He had driven to the park to pick me up. He patted my back as I sat in his car, and then he drove me back to where my car was parked by CSULB. After that, we drove back to his house in Orange.
I took a shower and examined my feet. On my right foot, I saw that my foot pad had a large oval blister with a bubbled blister on to of it. My right heel and Achilles tendon were enflamed. On my left foot, there were small blisters on the toe pads. Both feet have Plantar Faceitis (which makes the tendons in the arches feel tender and painfully stretched out.
I knew I couldn’t continue walking on my feet and risk getting an infection. Because of the Diabetes, it now takes my body much longer to heal when I get cuts, insect bites, etc. If I get an ulcerated infection on my feet, I risk amputation. I knew this going into this endeavor. I just hoped it wouldn’t happen.
It was only 8:30 pm on Saturday night, and Dan, his wife and I were all tired. So, we retired for the evening. I updated FB and Twitter, then went to sleep in the trailer (this time, with the door closed).
Next Stop: Bummersville
The next morning, when I went to blog, I couldn’t. I was so discouraged that I couldn’t walk. I didn’t want to quit and had thought about marching on crutches. But, I realized that that was not really a solution. I would just end up injuring my arm pits and hands. Then, I decided that I would push myself along on a wheel chair. I was determined not to quit until I was absolutely unable to continue.
I spent the day at my friend’s home in Orange, and relaxed. Dan and his friend, Stew (sic) brewed beer in the backyard. I finally started blogging about the march from Newport to Orange. I had received a phone call from Robert P. the day before, telling me he was going to donate money for a Liberty March banner. So, I was online trying to find a company in the area that could do one for me. But, it was Sunday, and almost nothing was open that day in Orange.
Dan and his wife Deb kept telling me not to attempt a 20-mile march on a wheelchair. They pointed out that I would only injure my back and hands, and, I wouldn’t be able to go that distance in a day. After we thought it over, Deb offered me the use of her Townie cruiser bicycle.
After thinking about it, I thought that that was the only practical solution. But, I said I would ride 40-miles per march day, to make up for not walking them. That would also solve the problem I had of not having rides lined up on most of my routes back to my car.
I decided to cancel the Pasadena to Burbank march so I could rest. I was exhausted from the pace I had been keeping over the previous two weeks. I would just add another march day sometime during the next four weeks.
That night, I spent the night in the trailer again, and wondered if I was wimping out.
For the past two days since leaving Orange, I have been staying with a high school friend and her husband in Palos Verdes. They live in a magnificent home in an exclusive estate community in the hills of Palos Verdes. It is a beautiful place. There are white picket fences around homes that have horses grazing on grass. And, wild peacock roam freely.
Both Greg and Tracy are Conservative, and have, in the past, invited me to visit with them. I figured that since I was in the area, that I would take them up on it. I had decided to cancel the Pasadena to Burbank march in order to rest my feet another day. I spent the night here and this morning, I tried finding a place to get my banner done.
Today, my feet felt a lot better and I was able to walk on them a bit more. Greg is a spinal surgeon and Tracy is a Pharmacist. Greg examined my right foot, said, “Yup those are blisters,” and then gave me some over the counter medication for pain and inflamation. Tracy gave me moleskin, which is supposed to prevent blistering.
Greg cooked tonight and served up a delicious roasted chicken, asparagus, small potatoes, artichoke, and baked cauliflower. Cooking is one of his passions. It was absolutely delicious.
Tomorrow, when I do the march in Los Angeles from Venice Beach to Hollywood and Vine, I will do so on foot. If it becomes too excruciating to walk after that, then I will have to do eight marches on the bicycle until my blisters dry up and my feet heal.
Tracy works in Little Armenia by Hollywood, so after I am finished marching, she will drive me to my car in Venice Beach.