Amicalola Falls State Park is approximately 70 miles north of Atlanta Georgia. There are 604 stairs that were constructed alongside the falls. The park also has a steep paved road and plenty of single track. The Chattahoochee National Forest is all over the place up there.
I spent a lot of time, put in a lot of miles, spent hundreds of nights in my car or tent, and was,without knowing it, training for the Epic Journey.
In July of 2011 the park management allowed me to start around 4:00 am and I went up and down the 604 stairs 50 times. That’s 60,400 stairs and over 17,000 feet of climbing. It took a little over 17 hours. This turned out to be a good way to prepare for what was to come.
Georgia of course and then . . .
- New Mexico
The beginning and ending locations came from my thoughts and were unrelated to the journey.
The route between Savannah and Monterey was designed by where the Alzheimer’s Association offices were. Here is the list . . .
- Savannah Georgia
- Macon Georgia
- Atlanta Georgia
- Dalton Georgia
- Huntsville Alabama
- Memphis Tennessee
- Little Rock Arkansas
- Fort Smith Arkansas
- Tulsa Oklahoma
- Oklahoma City Oklahoma
- Amarillo Texas
- Albuquerque New Mexico
- Monterey California
The area with no pins in California marks the 458 miles I was in the passenger seat of a car.
There were many introductions to public figures all along the way. Go to the menu above and click on the word “Results” for a list of some of them.
To my left is J.D. Runnels. He played football for Oklahoma and was drafted by the Chicago Bears
That’s Mike Beebe, the Governor of Arkansas with me.
The lady in the picture is Susana Martinez, the Governor of New Mexico
This was all new to me and I was pleasantly surprised at the interest these folks had in what we were doing. As a matter of fact, many of the media folks had an Alzheimer’s connection.
On a personal note, the in studio, live television interviews were tough for me, but I persevered.
Here are some numbers.
- over 50 television interviews
- over 100 newspaper articles
- over 20 live radio interviews
Most of these folks gave out the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 helpline phone number.
The amount of folks that stopped and spoke with me beside the road surprised me. It seems like most of them had a connection, but some did not and were curious and others spoke of the running aspect.
Some had been caregivers, some were now and some thought they may be one soon. I heard a lot of stories about the stress that caregivers experience and I had no idea of rough it can be.
Several of these folks took a card or bracelet with the intentions of calling the Alzheimer’s Association helpline.
The journey took a little over seven months, that’s a lot of nights, and probably ten of those were spent in a bivy. Here is a partial list of other places I rested.
- with family
- with friends
- comped motel rooms
- paid for motel rooms
- senior care facilities
- campground cabins
- state park cabins
The nights in the bivy were a necessity and I would simply get permission to camp and get it done.
This Dairy Queen is located on a service road beside Interstate 40 in New Mexico and the management allowed me to sleep out back.
I paid for most of the motel rooms that needed paying for.
A lot of the motels that let me stay at no cost let their other patrons know I was there and we would talk.
Before the Journey began my thoughts were that most of my nights would be spent camping out.