1,500 miles down, 1,500 to go

On July 4, 2009, I found myself standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. with a 54-pound backpack and miles of open road ahead of me. I intended to walk 3,000 miles across the United States. I’ve since walked halfway across the United States, and I’m now raising funds through Kickstarter to complete the journey and self-publish my book.

As I’ve told friends and acquaintances about my journey I’ve heard over and over again: “I can’t wait to read your book.” Well, here is your chance to buy my book.

Funds raised through Kickstarter will cover some basic supplies and food and lodging while on the road, as well as editing, design and printing costs for my book, to be called Talk to Strangers. I plan to return to Wichita in late June and will walk through Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Gallup, Flagstaff, finally arriving in Los Angeles in late August. I anticipate my book to be completed by late November 2012.

When I began my journey, I had no idea what I would find. But, deep inside, I knew I was hoping to see what made America tick. I wanted to know what lied within her soul. And I wanted to know what was buried within mine—to know that I was more than a “skinny girl afraid of spiders” as I was called by a newspaper reporter who wrote a story about my travels.

What I found was far different than the stereotypical fat, loud and selfish America we hear so much about. I was humbled by the strength and generosity of the people I met, and inspired by their stories. I will never forget the woman in Kantner, Pa., who took me in for the night and paid for my dinner when she was only earning a meager $5 an hour pay and living in a trailer with no hot water and a leaky roof. Nor will not forget the man in Sturgis, Mich., who told me of his sister’s decline into homelessness and subsequent death on the streets of Kalamazoo as his friend quietly slipped a $50 bill into my hand.

Though a stress fracture prevented me from reaching California that first year, I’ve since walked halfway across the United States. In 2009 I walked 700 miles from Washington, D.C., to Chicago; the following year I walked another 600 miles to St. Louis and eventually Kansas City; and last fall I found myself back on the road walking 300 miles from Kansas City to Topeka to Wichita.

Along the way I’ve gotten arrested, survived a tornado, had a run-in with a polar bear (slight dramatization) walked for two weeks on a leg I didn’t know was broken and met so many amazing people. I’ve also been blessed to have an endlessly supportive network of family and friends. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Thank you, thank you, thank you, I couldn’t do this without your generous support.