September 15, 2011
Nate Walks America
“I meet all sorts of folks from all over the world,” the road worker explained, replacing his burned-out cigarette with a horseshoe of Copenhagen. “Hell, two days ago, I met this kid that’s walking across America.”
“No shit?” I said leaning out of my rolled down window somewhere along US-50 in Nevada.
“Yup. He started out east in February, Delaware I think. Real nice kid, think he’s For-rest Gu-mp or something. He walked through here two days ago and I gave him a Gatorade… Things are going fast today, the road should be cleared up in ten minutes,” he said walking back towards the next car.
Thirty miles or so after the roadwork, Dan and I spotted Nate walking along US-50. Pulling onto the shoulder, we ran over to talk to him.
“Hey man, we hear that you’re walking across America!” I said, striking up a conversation that lasted an hour covering topics from leaving our jobs to our roots in Maine (Nate grew up 20 minutes from where Dan and I went to school).
Nate left a comfortable job, a girlfriend and a “big TV” in late February after a year of debate. “I just had to do it. It got in my head and it wouldn’t leave so I left…” from Delaware with a backpack, a one man tent, a few changes of clothes and enough food and water for two days trip. Sleeping in campgrounds in the east and in parks and BLM land in the west, Nate marches 25 miles a day across the country. Once in every state, Nate takes a day off, sleeps in a hotel and catches up on emails. To document his trip, Nate maintains a website appropriately named Natewalksamerica.com, a Facebook page and a Twitter feed. He has been at it for seven months.
“In Missouri, I ditched the backpack and ordered this stroller from Walmart. I had it delivered to a store 100 miles a head. Total life saver, Immediately, my daily mileage went up from 15 to 25.” He’s also gone through three pairs of shoes and now uses solid rubber innertubes on his Schwinn stroller to avoid flats. Street Knowledge.
“Are you ready to finish?” Dan asked.
“No, I love it out here. I don’t want to stop.”
“You could always walk around the world,” I suggested half joking.
“I have thought about that,” he said grinning and scratching his head as if in deep thought.
Offering Nate a cold beer from my cooler he responded, “No, I have made that mistake to many times. I am permanently dehydrated and have lost a shitload of weight, one beer would do me in.”
I took his word for it, imagining the dozens of yahoos, like myself, that have offered him a beer as a token of their support. Saying our goodbyes and exchanging contact info, Dan and I jumped in the Syncro and hit the road. In the rear view mirror, I watched Nate take a swig of water and started walking looking off into the rugged Nevada landscape. Some people have it figured out, I thought to myself, shifting from first to second.
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