Ambitious junior architect Walker Smith had a simple plan: to share the joy of living a walkable lifestyle, by documenting his own cross-country trek. But that was before he became jobless and homeless, fell for a runaway scam artist, and got chased by both her wealthy bible-thumping father and a gun crazed rogue DHS agent. Now Walker’s plan is simply to survive.
Walker ordered a veggie burger, refilled his water bottle at the soda machine, and used the restroom, which was overdue. The burger was ready as he got out, and he looked around for a seat with an electrical outlet nearby. He spotted one next to two old ladies, and he plugged in then dove in. The women proceeded with their conversation in Chinese and Walker thought again about how he needed a book. He turned on his phone, not sure if that would slow down the charging. He ordered a Nekteck 20W solar charger, three flexible panels sewn together he could attach to his bag to charge his phone as he walked. He went for the one with the most stars, although it was more than a pound in weight he wanted a phone that worked. Crossing his fingers, he shipped it to him care of general delivery at the main Walnut Creek post office.
An hour later, he ordered fries. His phone was only at fifty percent. Finishing typing a blog post filled most of the next hour. His experience on the bridge with the story he planned to tell and his frustration with having no battery made a funny, confessional story that he hoped would make up for the lost footage. With ten percent left to charge and his route through Oakland and up into the hills thoroughly mapped out, he ordered a milkshake. An indulgence, for a hot afternoon ahead on the road. He had to backtrack a little to get to MacArthur BART, but that was the price of a good blog post. His goal in California was to go over the pass at Highway 88, and the most direct route involved heading over the Oakland Hills and out through Walnut Creek to the Sacramento Delta.
The shake tasted good, thick and sweet as he sipped it on the way out of the parking lot. Despite their reliance on wood pulp and corn syrup, he had to hand it to the Burger King food scientists on the shake. As he sipped, he squeezed past a big white SUV with four people in it, all on their phones. They looked like maybe a church group. In the driver’s seat was a young guy in a coral colored polo shirt who looked like maybe he was a former football player. Next to him was a young woman dressed in California casual business attire, blouse and blazer. They could be a couple, but she needed to work on his wardrobe. One of the guys in back watched Walker go by through dark sunglasses. He looked like he could be the foster dad of the guy up front, same polo shirt look. Walker thought it was funny how he could feel the guys eyes on him, even through tinted lenses.