I am finished. I have walked 2,007 miles, from Tucson to Grand Rapids. Walking from south to north and west to east, in desert wind, pine forests, over mountain passes, through clouds of smoke and dry heat, across prairies, open range, grasslands, rolling hills, above the flooded Missouri, past miles of idyllic farmland, row upon row of corn/milo/soybeans, in rain or wind, through the woods, along the shores of Lake Michigan, cruising over deep blue water, through big cities and small towns, and on my last day, crunching through frost-coated grass dappled with red, orange and yellow leaves.
But this beauty that is our country is only half the story.
Walking Home is about how connecting with community, online and in person, can create safety. How a lone woman can cross the country but never truly be alone.
I carefully planned this trip so that it was impossible to do on my own. I didn’t bring a tent and I only had a $2 per day budget. There is no practical way to walk across the country by yourself on $2 a day without a tent… I had to ask for help.
And it worked. For 156 days I asked for kindness and received it abundantly. From my friends and family, the road crew guys who offered me water, the people who stopped along the highway to make sure I was alright, the community organizations who made phone calls to their members to find me a night’s lodging, my online followers who watched over me daily, my fellow walkers who joined me for a stretch of road, my wonderful hosts who shared their homes and stories with me… never have I experienced anything more beautiful than surviving and thriving completely by the grace of the kindness of others.
In 156 days, I slept in 122 different beds on this journey, 96 were in homes and 26 in non-homes. The other 26 beds were in hotels, motels, resorts, unrented apartments, churches, the humane society, the maritime museum, an RV park, and a spiritual retreat. In 156 days, I paid for only 8 night’s lodging… the rest was free of charge.
I lost track of how many times people bought me dinner or handed me money. They would hear what I was doing and want to help me on my way. One guy gave me all the money in his wallet, six dollars, apologized and then came back with a bag full of snacks and handed me a $100 bill. This was not the first or last time someone gave me $100. Another time, a woman gave me $5 and said, “I’m so sorry I don’t have more money with me. Good luck! I’ll be praying for you.” Just about everyday, someone prayed with or for me.
I want to thank each and every person who prayed for me, watched over me, or helped me on my way. Whether you read this or not, my sincerest thanks. I quite literally couldn’t have done it without you. The beauty and kindness I found on this journey has blown away any lingering doubts I had about the breadth and depth of the human heart. Thank you all.