Well my friends, I'm less than a week away from stepping into the Pacific Ocean. I have walked just under 3,000 miles from Atlantic City to Reno, Nevada where I will be picked up and driven south east to Southern California by one of my best friends, Canadian Dave Romanyk. I will walk for a couple more days leading up to the BeTheMatch 5K Walk/Run where I will hop into the Pacific. I am a bit anxious and have mixed emotions about the walk coming to an end. I have seen so much of our beautiful country and met so many friends and great people along the way. I am so fortunate to have not had any major injuries or illnesses that would have prevented me from continuing my walk, so I am extremely grateful for my health. I find it truly incredible that I was not hit by a car, struck by lightning, bitten by a snake, mugged or anything negative at all. I am also very grateful for everyone who made this dream become reality, from my parents for supporting my every move, to my Kickstarter backers, Facebook and Instagram friends, hosts, and strangers pulling over on the highway to offer food, water and money. Thank you to everyone who let me sleep on your couches, spare beds, floors, and backyards...there is just no way I could thank everyone properly or even remember everyone who deserves a thank you. Thank you to the hospitals, universities and friends who helped organize bone marrow drives, thanks to you I have almost met my goal, swabbing about 500 cheeks!!!
If you do not believe in the law of attraction, the power of intention, synchronicity, focused energy, or the power of positive thinking, I can assure you that I have learned, seen and experienced first hand how true these laws of the universe are, and how they've led me to experience the best possible journey I could have had. There have been countless chance occurrences which led to opportunities to meet others who would play an incredible part on my expedition. Who knows what my journey would have been without teaming up with my walking partner and friend Shane Nelson. The fact that two guys happened to be at the halfway point, in Omaha, Nebraska at the same time is incredible. Shane could have been someone who I did not want around, but instead he was the perfect walking partner, encouraging me to walk further and faster. Even though all of his jokes aren't funny, I still pretended to like them. I hope we taught each other lessons and I'm grateful for our chance meeting and experience together. True bromance, thanks Shane.
On the note of synchronicity, let's take a minute to think about how this whole thing came to fruition. Walking across America had been on my bucket list for about 5 years before I decided to do it. I had always seen it scribbled down and thought it was something that would never be accomplished, it was just one of those things that made my list look fancy. I had been filming the story of Joselyn Miller's recovery from her bone marrow transplant when she took me and a group of friends curling, (yes the olympic sport on ice) because it was something none of us had done before. On my next visit, Joselyn suggested that we go skydiving together, and suddenly a friendly competition to knock things off our respective bucket lists had formed. A film about toothbrushes and Joselyn's battle with Shulman's syndrome somehow turned into a film about how precious life is, and the importance to do the things we want to do, because you never know when it may be too late. Her inspiration and second chance at life has changed my life in so many ways, and for that I thank you Joselyn!
This all happened a couple years ago when not only Joselyn's story showed me how quickly a life can be taken from us, but it was also when my father broke the news that he had prostate cancer. Luckily it was treated and he is doing well now, but you never want to hear the "C" word come from a family member's mouth. Near that time my uncle Lee, my dad's brother, had septuple bypass surgery, which was scary for the family as well. Uncle Lee is one of the wisest and kindest-hearted people I know, and I'm glad he's doing well now also. Their mother, my grandmother Marilyn had soon after passed away as our family gathered bedside when she took her final breath. Grandma Marilyn and I were extremely close and it was hard losing her. Lastly, my grandfather, who we called Zadie, my mother's father, passed away as well. I loved him dearly and will miss him very much. Just days after his funeral, my parents drove me to Atlantic City to begin my walk. All of these events had led to a personal need to explore myself, my thoughts and let's just say it gave me a lot to think about while walking. I can attribute my health and safety to my two trail angels who watched over me the last seven months on the road. I also better mention my Bubba, Rita, who would give me hell if I didn't give her some credit as an angel as well. If your grandparents are still alive, I hope you treasure the time you spend with them, this applies for parents too. (Call your mom and tell her you love her).
Us humans never know if, or when we will be struck with a fatal illness, or if we will be hit by a truck, or have a piano fall off a roof, smashing us into a pancake on the sidewalk, but what we can do is try to live our best lives, try to be our best selves, to experience this life in a way which we will be proud to tell our children and grandchildren and I believe that trying to knock off items on your bucket list is one of the best ways to live life to the fullest. Want some conversation material to tell at a party? Start doing things. #bucketlistlife
Wyoming to Western Nevada has been an incredible but very different experience than the first half of my adventure. I have been walking against traffic on the shoulder of the interstate across three states, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada. Interstate walking calls for a higher level of concentration, increased levels of danger and loud noises, not to mention several unsafe and vulnerable stealth camping spots alongside of I80. The mountains and valleys of Western North America are more incredible than I remember while driving through as a child. If you have not traveled out west recently, I highly suggest it! Everyday offered something new, from wildlife encounters, starry nights and storms that pop up out of nowhere, I appreciated everyday for what it was.
Walking Across America was very liberating for me. To not have to answer to a boss and disconnect from my normal lifestyle for seven months has changed my mindset and has taught me many things. I really enjoy being in the middle of nowhere by myself enjoying the outdoors, these are the moments in which I had never felt so alive.
I am not sure if the transition back to the real world will be difficult or not. There are many things that I miss, such as having food delivered, or going to a restaurant for a good meal anytime I desire. I miss having human to human friendships and relationships, house parties and of course, #mydogjethro. I haven't had the time to just lay in bed and watch a movie because once I reached a motel room, I was always too tired that I rarely even turned on the TV. I can't even think of the things I miss because I'm in a motel room writing this and need to go to sleep so I can wake up at 6am.
Many people ask me what I will do next, and my response is usually, "well, I've had seven months to think about it, and I still don't know." I know the next couple months will be spent putting together a couple versions of the documentary that I've been filming about my experience. A beach sounds nice too...Who's hiring?
Please stay tuned for a final blog post and photos from the last days on the road.