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.

Here are some more links,

Nate Walks Across America (Picasa),

Nate Walks Across America (.com),

Whereisnate (Twitter),

Nate Walks Across America (Facebook).

14 Comments



  • D
    September 15 , 2011

    Last paragraph, goodbyes not good buys. Interesting story, your blog is both motivating and liberating to read.


  • September 15 , 2011

    Thats amazing. Kids got balls.


  • September 15 , 2011

    Foster,
    I’ve been following your post for awhile now, and I must say that no matter how busy or distracted I am they always give me a quick reprieve. It’s exchanges like one you described in this post that make life interesting. Best of luck on the trip.

    Rick


  • September 15 , 2011

    thanks D. the joys of being a dyslexic.

    Tim,
    Nate has some serious stones. lets not forget that hes 23.

    foster


  • September 15 , 2011

    RIck,
    flattered that you would say that. Meeting people like Nate is a major reason that i left new york to cruise around,
    foster


  • Michele Colonna
    September 15 , 2011

    Hey Foster, it’s the documenting of these chance encounters and the unexpected slices of humanity that makes a trip like yours memorable and worth pursuing.

    Suerte

    Michele


  • September 15 , 2011

    Great story about Nate, and a great journey you are on. Good luck and travel safely.

    PS Diggin the new site banner.


  • September 16 , 2011

    That is a good stroller. We’ve got one just like it – you can attach it to a bike or just push it like Nate does. Fits two toddlers comfortably. :)


  • September 18 , 2011

    Michele,
    life is more interesting and complex that any piece of fiction.

    N Bolton,
    glad you like the new background. i was over the shoe. times are changing.

    Bryce,
    Nate swears by it. he runs solid rubber inter tubes.

    foster


  • September 19 , 2011

    A good way to get a decent tan!

    Plenty of time to think on a walk like that. Don’t you ever wonder why we all like walking so much? Something innately enjoyed by so many of us. A roaming nomadic evolutionary hangover? All that time without ‘things’.

    Simplicity in life is a walk worth taking.


  • September 20 , 2011

    i am sure he has so much time to ponder. thats one of the reasons i like running.
    foster


  • Amy Rene
    September 28 , 2011

    Love it. Such a wonderful story to read about! It’s so refreshing to see people living life full on like that.


  • Lynne
    September 29 , 2011

    I’ve been following Nate since he walked by my house here in Francisco, Indiana. He is an amazing person. He always seems positive and looks for the good in things even when he is sitting in his tent with his stuff soaked waiting for a thunderstorm to pass with little to no sleep the night before. Through him I have been able to see that there is always an up side….and that there are people out there (like the hundreds) who have helped Nate by either a cold water, a place to camp behind their house or a soft bed and warm meal. The world isn’t a bad place… if you slow down a little…. you will be able to see SO much more! I hope he writes a book… I’ll be the first in line!


  • Nate's Mom
    September 29 , 2011

    Thank you so much for your story about Nate’s story! When I left him off in Delaware, I had no idea what a life changing experience this would be for him – he has matured, and gained a confidence that he did not have back here in Maine. As his mom, I couldn’t be prouder. And I am so very, very grateful to the wonderful people he has met along the way – trail angels, indeed. I am headed to San Francisco next week to watch him finish! As Nate likes to say, “America!!”