Harrison Milanian never got a chance to see the face of the railroad
engineer, who stopped a 200-car train somewhere between Amarillo, Tex., and New Mexico to briefly step off the engine and leave an unexpected gift for him below the track’s embankment.
“It blew my mind that he would risk his livelihood for a bottle of water,” said Milanian, who expects to conclude a coast-to-coast trek on foot in Laguna Beach at noon on Sunday, July 28, by walking into the ocean at Main Beach.
Along the way, the 22-year-old who set out May 6 from Tampa, Fla., with a mission to dispel negativity has spent little of his own money en route, lavished with kindnesses from strangers like the railroad engineer.
“I can’t even take it all,” said Milanian, who pushes a jogger’s baby stroller loaded with camping gear and four gallons of water. He covers 30 to 40 miles daily in 12 to 14 hours and consumes 8,000 calories a day. “It never fails to impress me,” he said of the daily offerings he receives of food and water.
Tuesday he spoke by phone from somewhere in the Mojave Desert after Laguna Beach resident David McVicker caught up with him.
McVicker invites the community to join him in welcoming Milanian at Main Beach and the nearby Cliff Restaurant.
McVicker, who performs weddings at the Cliff, got involved with the unusual expedition at the urging of his cousin, who spotted Milanian in Amarillo. The young man carries a sign with a Facebook address, which lists expected stops along his 2,800 mile itinerary. McVicker agreed to his cousin’s suggestion that Laguna would be a perfect end point.
Milanian, who owned his own catering company and worked as a sous chef, quit working to train for the trek by taking long walks with his dog, he said.