We woke up dark and early to load onto the shuttle bus from the hotel to the Willow Grove Mall. Things over there were a general state of organized chaos. We loaded our luggage onto bus B (the row of our tent assignment) and headed over to get a good spot near the stage before the Opening Ceremonies.
The sun slowly brightened the sky as we waited. There was a group stretching session led by some blond Surfer Dude type guy and then the actual event got rolling. There were upswelling strings behind a carefully scripted to make us all cry speaker. Breast cancer survivors came in carrying flags with life moments and inspirational words (Hope, Discoveries, Birthdays, Optimism, etc). These were planted in the center of a small circular stage, and everyone basically wept.
Then the peppy music started (U2's Beautiful Day, The Theme from Friends...) and we started creeping toward a cattle chute opening that led out to the walk. Our credentials were barcode scanned by crew members and more crew members and safety patrol people and friends and family whooped and hollered and sent us on our way.
I don't remember too many specifics about the walk. We mostly didn't stay with our team (we didn't all walk at the same pace, for one thing ... and some of them really seemed to have an agenda, which really wasn't my mindset for the event). Jen and I stuck together and we were sort of with five others of our team for most of the day. We first saw the Odd Couple and the Yellow Car Lady early this morning, and they became total highlights throughout the weekend.
Every 2-3 miles were Pit Stops (snacky food, water & Gatorade, port-a-potties and a medical tent) or Grab-n-Go's (same thing but no medical tent). There was a designated cheering station each morning and efternoon. Lunch was a bag lunch style in a park. First step after getting food -- take off your shoes and socks! Then eat, re-prep your feet, potty and head back out. Informal.
We passed through some gorgeous neighborhoods and some absolutely enormous homes. We trailed on along the Wissahickon Creek and meandered for 22 miles to Fairmount Park. Our first glimpse of camp was fabulously rewarding.
And, when Jen and I got to camp, they barcode scanned us again. We found our tent spot assignment (B68 for anyone keeping score at home) and LO AND BEHOLD! Our tent was already set up and decorated for us. Jen's mom was a crew volunteer at camp and she'd done it all for us. It was like Scarlett O'Hara coming home to Tara. Never was any home dearer to us than that pink dome tent at that moment. While others were struggling with their set-up, we strolled over and had our spaghetti dinner.
After that it was time to shower, ready our gear for the rest of the weekend, lay out our sleeping mats and sleeping bags, meet and greet a bit, and then collapse to sleep (around 8:30pm).
The day (like all 3-Day days) consisted of walking, eating, peeing, drinking, talking and sleeping. Very simple.