Perfectly good socks

Twenty more days. Twenty. Hell, maybe even nineteen. No distractions of motel televisions the last few days brought to me some realizations. There ARE definitely things about this I will miss. Many of them I’m not able to foresee right now but some of them… You know that feeling when you miss someone who is getting ready to leave but they haven’t even left yet and are standing right there in front of you? Yeah, you know it. Well here are just a few of mine.

A relative stranger will never introduce me to another stranger as “Here’s that guy who’s walking across the country” again.

A gas station will be… A gas station. Oh man I could go on and on about how much I love gas stations right now. They have soda! And people! Real live walking and talking people. I’m lucky to be able to tell if it’s a male or female driver behind the metal and glass that pass me constantly. They have power outlets to charge my phone! Bathrooms to wash my hands and well, you know! And where I’m from in the Midwest it’s not all that common but in the south and in Texas they have bench seats. A place to enjoy everything I’ve just mentioned (not the bathroom part obviously).

Socks. I’m not going to retire my “walking” socks. I mean they are perfectly good socks. But I know as I put them on going to a familiar place, isn’t the same at all as now, where I put them on and see something new every day. Now I know them as usually foul smelling, wouldn’t want anyone to come near them, nasty ol’ things, soon they will become constant reminders.

Although, I do have many things to look forward to. A bed every night is indeed more comfortable than the ground. Familiar faces, something that only exists in my mind now, will be welcomed. I wouldn’t consider myself a huge video game player but lately I have been daydreaming about playing Madden Football until 4 AM before my day off and complaining to my little brother about how “so and so” is injured for the year.

I am walking across the country and living a hundred lives while doing so.

Westward still

Okay look, if you keep up with this blog then you can see that lately I have not. Why? Well I can safely tell you that I have not grown sick of the walk. Really, the walk has just become much more of a natural thing. I do not appreciate the small things, the big things, the beautiful things, man made, or nature any less. They have simply become a part of me so much that I find it hard to verbally describe anything I feel would be worthwhile. At this point it would be like writing a blog on riding a bike. I am at the point now where I am riding that bike like a bat out of hell ( I heart meatloaf). And on top of that, I realize that although I am becoming used to it, you aren’t. I enjoy sharing my experiences with you, but I am not an aspiring writer. Sometimes I just get so caught up in the beauty around me that I couldn’t care about anything else, nonetheless a website. I hope my words and photos give you some hope. Here’s some thoughts..

As a teen, for no good reason, I always wanted to camp in the desert. No one ever wanted to. Sometimes you just have to do it yourself. I did so last night. The Sonoran Desert in central Arizona was the place. I found a spot around 50 yards or so from the road and set up my tent and a small fire. It was the first fire I’ve ever started on my own. It was also a fire that I started out of boredom and not to cook food or for warmth. Nevertheless it made for a good photo.

I am relieved that since Tucson my daytime temperatures are back to short and T shirt temperature. 70′s during the day, high 30′s to low 40′s at night. I can deal with that.

I have found that the sun and “nice” temperatures have quite an effect on me. I may indeed be solar powered. Lately I have been walking with a heightened determination and a hunger that only miles can fill. Sunglasses and headphones for my music are just a fraction more important than food and water to me. I daydream of such light things as flying and falling in love. And wondering if it would feel as good as this does. What I’m saying is that I can feel that I am almost done. I am less than 300 miles from the beach of San Diego, California. Maybe it will change, or maybe I will continue to blissfully strive vigorously and silently until land lets out and I’m only left with ocean. Whatever happens, I am happy, I am humble, and I shall move westward still.

Questions and Answers

Hello all :) I am currently just west of Deming, NM spending the day indoors away from the rain inside of a truckstop. I decided that I would take in some questions from my Facebook followers and post the answers on here.

Q: where do you expect to be on Christmas day?

A: it looks like I will be in or very close to Tucson, AZ. If anyone has and friends or family there that may be able to help me in any way, or anyone who needs help there, put us in touch please. :)

Q: About how big are your calves now?

A: I’ve been told “wow”.

Q: What has is been like staying with random people in various places?

A: it has felt very natural to me. I would much rather be around and talking with people than in a tent alone. The different accents, upbringings, and thoughts on what is important in life, make every stay a bit different. I am able to mingle with a very wide variety in such a short amount of time. Not only that, but I have been given an access to that variety that most wouldn’t due to usually being in the same social circles for great lengths of time.

Q: Do you ever worry about running out of money and not having anyone to take you in?

A: I actually did run out of money halfway through Louisiana. Fortunately a combination of my loving family and beautiful followers and friends were able to help me out. Talking with other walkers and travelers that spend many more nights outside in a tent that I do has helped me not worry as much about camping in a spot that isn’t completely ideal. I do have to be careful, but many people camp visibly off the road all the time and never have problems. I still try to find completely hidden spots if there’s nothing around. If I have permission from a business then I am often more out in the open on the side of the building usually.

Q: How many miles have you been since you left South Carolina? How much longer do you have until you are done?

A: I unfortunately don’t have precise numbers but I do have some pretty close estimates. From Charleston, SC I have been around 1,850 miles. That’s 17 weeks of walking (off days included). I have around 650 miles left to walk. Right around 6 weeks to go! Strangely though, putting it this way shows you that I still have quite a way to go: I have About the same distance to go as from Day 1 to Meridian, MS.

Q: Have you picked up anything from the side of the road and kept it because it caught your eye? Found any money:

A: I kept a screwdriver and pliers that I found. I also found a small top hat and wore it for a mile or so. I saw a sign for a mental institution coming ahead so I thought it best to lose the hat. (just kidding on the last part) ;) I have not found any money.

Q: Have any companies approached you about any sponsorships?

A: Nope. But if I had sponsorships for all of the things that people suggest I should try to get one for I would be more covered in logos than a NASCAR.

Q: Thus far, what has been your favorite part of this experience.

A: Cliche answer I know, but I can’t pick just a single part. Some of my favorites though…
I fell in love with the south. I love seeing the landscapes change so slowly. I have gotten to eat at some really awesome restaurants. I’ve met countless amazing people. Many people have told me that the kindness shown to me by perfect strangers has renewed their faith in humanity or our country. I am glad I am able to do this, however, for me it was just a confirmation that I wasn’t naive or out of touch for believing in the good the whole time.

Q: When you camp at night are you somewhat afraid of wild animals?

A: Not really. I’ve never really been in bear country and not many of the animals around me would have any interest of trying to get into my tent. Aggressive dogs would be my biggest wild threat but fortunately I have not crossed any.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you, truly shocked you, and made you reconsider something you thought/felt your entire life?

A: I’m pretty hard to shock. I am however surprised at the amount of people who have told me that they considered / dreamed about / or did something similar to what I am doing. I stayed with a man who bicycled across the country with his grandson of 16 in only 39 days when he was in his late 50′s. I walked along side a man in his 70′s who started walking across the U.S. In 2005. If you thirst for travel and adventure then quench your thirst. There is nothing worse than too late. Fortunately, it’s never too late. :)

Q: Anywhere that you want to revisit in the future?

A: For sure! Not that I haven’t found wonderful people and places across the entire country, but South Carolina and eastern Georgia hold a special part to me. I am planning a road trip to revisit my route through those areas and reconnect with as many people as I can in those areas next summer. :)

Q: Is it difficult being away from your family during the holidays? Have you been homesick?

A: I was so incredibly blessed to have a family to spend Thanksgiving with. It would have been pretty sad to be alone then. Christmas and New Years are coming up and who knows what will happen but I will make the best out of what I have. As far as homesickness, when my hometown St. Louis Cardinals won the world series I felt a pretty big mix of emotions. I was really exited but at the same time I was alone in a motel room in Texas. I wanted to hoot and holler and celebrate with friends and family and fellow fans. I am fortunate that I got to see it on TV though. :)

Q: Have you cried happy tears because something was so beautiful?

A: I’ve gotten teary a few times when writing of the kind and loving things that strangers have done for me. My second day of the trip I kind of had a joyful laugh with watery eyes of excitement when it kind of officially sunk in that I was really doing it!

Q: What are the best walking shoes? How many miles did you get out of one pair?

A: Well I don’t really know what the BEST ones are, I assume that could differ from person to person, but mine were Merrell brand and I got about 1,300 miles out of them. Good enough for me!

Q: What is the most beautiful place you have seen?

A: So much of South Carolina and Georgia were visually beautiful to me. The mountains in the Las Cruces area of New Mexico were very pretty as well.

Q: What is the longest you have gone without a shower? How often do you have to go “number 2″ outdoors.

A: I’m pretty sure 3 days is the longest I’ve consecutively had to go without a shower, not bad at all. I have NO idea how, but I have yet to have to go number 2 outdoors. That may be the most amazing thing about the whole trip. :) :) :)

Q: Have you had any “romantic” encounters on the trip?

A: haha no. I probably smell too much like feet most of the time and scare off the girls. ( just kidding.I really don’t stink too bad usually, I think. Okay, maybe a little like stinky feet every now and then.)

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Thank you once again to everyone who has talked with me, fed me, gave me a place to sleep, given me money, or honked and waved. I appreciate it more than you may know.

The actual walking part would have been fine but the camping roadside so close to the border and one of the worlds most dangerous cities (Juarez) is why I have chosen to skip over this area. Not one bit of this decision is due to any amount of laziness or wanting to get ahead.

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