Hello all! I've had a wonderful summer with many adventures during my road trip around the United States, and I'm excited to share them all with you. It turned out that updating the blog while I was on the trip wasn't as easy as I thought it would be, sometimes due to lack of a good internet connection, but most of the time because I was just too tired from my busy days of traveling to think about writing anything. I figured writing about the trip and blogging would be a little easier once I was living in the same place for a while, and my new home happens to be Union, Kentucky just south of Cincinnati. So, that's what I will try to do from here on out, and I'll post stories as I write them out. Thank you all again for helping to make my dreams of traveling a reality and for cheering me on. I learned so much and all in all I feel very fulfilled by the whole experience.
Check out my new car! It's a 2005 Hyundai Elantra GT, and it will be my companion for the rest of my trip. It's a manual transmission and I've had to learn how to drive stick the past few days, but I think I'm finally getting the hang of it. New departure date looks like right around the end of Memorial Day weekend. Just a couple more days and I'll be zooming towards the Heartland. More to come!
First of all, I'd like to apologize for failing to give you all written updates for the past two Wednesdays. I've been pretty busy and had alot on my mind lately, my bad!
That brings me to the main reason for this post: I've put alot of thought into it, days and days of going back and forth, and I've decided that from this point on, my cross-country journey will not be exclusively a walking trip.
So far I have walked almost 300 miles from Provincetown, MA to Wassaic, NY, in just over a month's time. This has been an amazing journey in itself and I feel very blessed and proud to have completed it without any major problems. I had overwhelming support from all my family and friends, and together we were able to raise almost $4,000 to fight hunger in America. The universe gave me an almost completely sunny four weeks during which I learned countless lessons about my body's limits, the kindness of strangers, and what it really takes to immerse yourself in this type of solitary lifestyle.
However, it has become more and more clear to me that I need to be honest with myself about what I am trying to get out of this trip, and the type of fulfillment I am truly searching for. From the outset, I never wanted this trip to be about the accomplishment of walking the United States or have it just act as a means to an end. It's more about the process of the journey itself, the people I meet along the way, and my ability to share kindess and love with strangers as well as everyone I am missing back home.
Even as early as mid-April, as I was coming off Cape Cod, I started to realize that one day I could be having these amazing travel experiences, meeting new people, and exploring the country, and I could do so in a way that didn't make it so difficult on my body and spirit. Recently I've felt an overwhelming urge to reevaluate this trip, and I wanted to take the time here to explain my decision to everyone, straight from my heart.
Basically what it came down to in the end was a case of the Cons overshadowing the Pros in this walking lifestyle. First, although my body was getting stronger from long periods of walking with the pack, the pain in my feet never really went away, and often I would end up feeling axious or worried throughout the day about the possibility of injuring my foot again. Second, food and water availability was another thing I would sometimes get stressed over. Walking 11 miles on a hot day, on asphault, up and down hills, dodging cars, and not being properly fed or hydrated: it can really take something away from the beautiful scenery around you. I recently faced this problem and it was the first time I had to consider the reality of living without proper nourishment. It's not fun! Third, the simple fact that unless I was staying at some kind stranger's place, I was completely alone. I felt like I was prepared for this aspect of the trip, but I believe I may have been wrong. Although it was nice camping out on quiet, calm nights, there is something about having no cell phone reception and no way to leave but your own two feet that can make the night about 100 times lonelier. Problems like these made me think: "If I'm feeling more lonely & stressed than I am fulfilled & happy, why should I continue this way?"
I know all of this sounds like I am totally knocking the walking experience, which is completely not the case. These were some of the only Cons of the trip, but they turned out to be big ones for me. For another person, with a different body, or a different life situation, or with a different background experience, these things could turn out to be trivial and easily overlooked. But for me personally, I just realized that I had to trust in my heart that I know what is best for me. I didn't want to continue to push my body and spirit past my limits just for some stubborn sense of accomplishment. That's not me!
The whole point of this trip was to throw myself into some adventurous and uncomfortable territory so that I could experience, learn, and move on from there. I feel like I have done that, and now it is time to move on to the next step. Although it was hard to feel like I wasn't 'giving up' when I first made this decision, I really don't feel that way at all going forward. I am still going to head West across the country: walking, hiking, eating, meeting new people, exploring, and reflecting. How, you ask? By car, of course!
Right now I'm looking to buy a used car, and once I find a good one I will be leaving as soon as possible from Danbury towards California. I have some destinations and stops in mind, but I will try to make the trip as open-ended as possible. Having a car in the equation will simply allow me to carry more supplies, zoom in and out of places quickly, have some type of shelter in bad weather, and will make food budgeting a bit easier too. I still want to walk in different places for at least a couple hours a day, and I will continue to update this blog as my travel journal.
I hope that you will all support me in this decision, and I want to thank everyone who has supported me, cheered me on, and donated to my fundraiser; you are all my inspirations and you make me feel proud to know and love such amazing people.
I also want to give a special thanks to Jason Griffing, Julianna Rathonyi, Jim & Kris Waldron, the Switaj family, Mom & Dad Armstrong, and Nature's Classroom Lakeside for taking me in and giving me somewhere to stay as I walked across Connecticut. You are all incredible!
That's all folks! I'll be posting updates as this next stage unfolds...