We are less than three months away from leaving and it is time to get to business. So many of the tangible things that we have put off as “we’ll get there when it’s time” have now come up. It is time.
We are adding weight to our training, assembling our gear, registering with CouchSurfing.org, deciding what to do with the cars, coordinating a ride to Delaware (thanks Dad!), and getting serious about packing up the house. (Good news side note, we’re pretty sure we have renters for the duration of our walk!) It is even time to open communications with facilities we hope to visit at the beginning of our trip.
We are faced with two big questions at the moment.
The first: Are we taking a support vehicle?
The second: Should we straighten our line, forget Oregon, and cut across Nevada?
So, about the support vehicle:
When we started planning this thing about a year ago, there was not a question in our minds that we would have a support car with us. For days when it was too hot for the dogs to walk, for rescue in case of weather emergency, and to help us carry enough food and water so we wouldn’t have to weigh ourselves down more than necessary. We decided to take one of our cars (pending a vehicle being donated through some sort of a sponsorship program, of course). However, as we got deeper into planning the details of the walk, a support vehicle quickly revealed itself to be a luxury that is outside our means, at least for most of the trip.
We have also followed the stories of two other unsupported cross-country trekkers, Nate Damm and Tyler Coulson, over the last year, and they have given us confidence by proving that it is possible. Nate set out alone and Tyler with his dog Mabel, both unsupported. Both walked and succeeded, and neither needed a support vehicle. Careful planning and the support of family and friends, new and old, was enough.
Particularly in the east where towns are close together, John and I are confident. It is all friendly, familiar territory to us both. I grew up in Ohio and John in Kentucky. John and I have friends and family no further than 4 hours drive away from anywhere on our route between Delaware and Chicago. We have decided we can walk without a support truck, at least as far as Chicago. From there, we’ll see.
And the matter of our route:
(Throughout this post, click any map for a more detailed, zoom-able version)
We want to see the northern part of our country – neither of us have – but we are thinking about letting go of Oregon. Rather, we’re trading for Yosemite, fewer miles, and the desert. While we were originally trying to work around the desert, Nate Damm blew our minds a bit and may have played a significant role in changing our course. We asked him what his favorite part of the walk was and without pause, he said “the desert. Utah and Nevada, hands down.”
If you simply type in Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware to Ocean Beach, San Francisco, California in Google Maps the suggested walking route is this:
It’s not bad, but we have a few adjustments to make. Some are based on the route of the American Discovery Trail and some changes are made to take us through areas we want to go through.
The beginning of our walk as of this moment looks something like this (disregarding the wild detour around Chesapeake Bay. We’ll be bridging or ferrying it.)
with a long term plan looking something like this:
With this plan, we get to hit most of the areas that are important to us while avoiding the worst of the mid-west summer heat.
As we move closer to our departure date, we are also moving closer to securing non-profit status through a fiscal sponsorship. Everyone think happy thoughts for us! This would change everything and open up doors that are only available to officially charitable projects. We hope to do more than raise money to complete our walk and spread awareness for our causes. We want to raise money to donate to pet therapy and animal rescue and make a difference in a very real, lasting way.
Eleven weeks and counting. Thank you all of our readers and loved ones for standing by us and being so tolerant of us speaking of nothing but this walk. Your support and patience means the world to us.