When deciding to walk across America, the main goal was to inspire people to get moving. It is so important to stay active in order to attempt to avoid heart disease. Sure there are a lot of factors that contribute to the disease, however staying active is a simple way to help maintain a healthy heart. That goal remains the top priority of the walk.
Other goals have become evident as we continue across the country. We are now over 700 miles into “the walk”, and I have realized that there is more to it from a personal level than just the original goal.
I have found that it is a battle of attrition. By that I mean walking 10 to 20 miles everyday can become tiring. Beyond that, it is a test of living a more difficult life. I realized that more today when reading about settlers that ventured into the Albuquerque region in 1598. I began to think about what life must have been like back then, compared to our lives today. Nothing was easy, from the physical demands, right down to procuring and preparing of food. Everything we take for granted today, like the ease of bathing and eating, was a chore.
Admittedly, we are not exactly “roughing it”, however, it is a long way from living in a house with all the conveniences that life in the 21st century provides. I want to prove to myself that I can persevere. This includes all the logistics that goes into planning routes on a daily basis, living with less stuff, the physical demands, and dealing with all the challenges that come our way during this journey. It hasn’t been overly easy, but then again, we have heat, running water (if it doesn’t freeze), and grocery stores (at least in most places we stay).
It is a test to some degree, and I know I have led a pretty easy life thus far. However, challenging yourself now and then is a good thing. Knowing that you can rise above the inconveniences can prove a lot, not to others, but to yourself. That is what is truly important.
As for the walk itself, it hasn’t gone completely as expected, however, we get up every morning and have been able to meet the physical demands that each day has laid in front of us, at least, thus far, fingers crossed. It has also brought a bevy of memories that we will never forget. This includes the beauty our country offers, stuff you don’t see from the freeway. The landscape, the wildlife, the sunsets, terrain, and all the different cultures we have experienced thus far.
America is truly an amazing place. We have seen folks living the California dream near the ocean, and those struggling to exist as we moved inland. We have walked through Hispanic, Asian, as well as Native American communities. One thing remains consistent, all the people we have met have been friendly and accommodating.
As we walked through Navajo country in eastern Arizona, I wasn’t sure exactly what to make of it. That included the laws of the area, there are signs telling you that you that you are no longer under US jurisdiction, as well as whether or not you are welcomed in the area. I’ll admit, this was all new to us. I am glad to say that we have been welcomed and treated extremely well. We have been offered water and given advice. it has truly warmed our hearts.
We have walked on busy roads, desolate trails, up mountains, through rough terrain, through busy city streets, and in off the beaten path residential areas. With virtually every step, we attempt to take in all that is around us including the beauty, the people, the wildlife (have to be careful there), and of course the hazards.
We have encountered some ares that we simply couldn’t walk. Our planned route took us up mountain roads that seems unsafe to drive let alone walk. Fortunately, there have only been a few of those. In cases like that, we find alternate paths, some of which have come in state and national parks. Those to me have been the most enjoyable to walk for various reasons. One thing I have enjoyed is the challenge of navigating a course through the park. It’s not always straight forward, and the trails are not always marked. Additionally, there have been areas that truly test your conditioning. This includes elevation changes, along with the ability to overcome various obstacles (cactus, rocks, snakes, and more). At the end of the day, it is these “parks” that have provided the most beauty from an aesthetic standpoint. Here are the parks that we have walked through:
- The Painted Desert and Petrified Forest – Arizona
- Bright Angel Trail – Grand Canyon, Arizona
- Coachella Valley Preserve – Thousand Palms, California
- Indian Canyon – Palm Springs, California
- Joshua Tree National Park – So Cal
- Prescott National Forest – Prescott, Arizona
- Willow Lake Trail – Prescott, Arizona
- Bell Rock Path – Sedona, Arizona
- Red Rock State Park, Gallup, New Mexico
- Cibola National Forest – Wingate, New Mexico
- Three Gun Spring Trail Head, Albuquerque, New Mexico
I can’t wait to see what is next and yet try not to look too far ahead in our journey. It’s tough enough to plan for the day ahead without having to look at what will be awaiting us as we move into Texas and beyond. In that regard, the old live everyday to the fullest philosophy applies, which is exactly what we are doing. That is a philosophy that is truly good for the heart!
700 miles down, and 1800 to go. To be honest, I am looking forward to North Myrtle beach.