It Begins! (Part 1/8)
My Journey Across the Country.
A question that often arose before we even took off on our adventure… Why? I always gave the same answer—Because. The idea to walk across the country came a looong time ago. I was sitting in American History class in 10th grade. I opened my book and stared at a picture of the United States. I thought it would be pretty cool to walk across America. That’s it. That’s how the idea started. I told my idea to Cody (who was in the same class) and he thought it was a great idea. We vowed to one day walk across the country. We also told our other friends about it. Most thought it was a crazy idea, but our friend Tony mentioned his desire to join us on our trek. Skip ahead 10 years, and here we are… finally going through with it.
While the idea was always there, the actual planning came out of nowhere. Cody and I started talking and I mentioned how I would like to go over the 2013 summer. I would be finishing school soon and Cody would be finished with school come May. We told Tony and after some planning we decided we would leave May 8th, 2013. Technically our flight would leave the 7th, but we would start our trek on the 8th. We decided to start in Washington, at the farthest corner (Blaine) and walk all the way to Key West, the southernmost point. So we bought plane tickets and prepared ourselves.
Our plane departed at 6:30 A.M. on May 7th. My mom had driven Cody and I to the airport. Obviously, she was really sad and worried, but also supportive. She knew this was something I wanted to do for a long time. My dad, not so much. He was pretty angry that I was doing this, but I figured he would be. It was understandable. Regardless, I took off. We arrived in Bellingham at 2:30 P.M. The rest of the afternoon/night we did some last minute organizations of our packs and tried fixing up our donation page on our website.
The next morning we called a cab and drove all the way home. Just kidding! We called a cab and had them drive us to the Canadian border. We walked a little ways til we reached the Peace Arch. This is where we started our trek! The first day was interesting. I turned my backpack into a rolling backpack. This made it easier and was the sole reason I got a rolling backpack. I was still in school with two classes left so I was forced to take my laptop. When Fall classes start I would have to buy my textbooks. There was no way I was carrying all of my supplies and textbooks on my back. The rolling backpack definitely helped out too. Tony and Cody were feeling the impact of carrying the weight of their packs. We took many breaks throughout the day, even stopping by a small stream to take a nap.
At one point in the day, since we were walking so close to the border, Border Patrol actually stopped us to check our ID’s. We told them what we were doing and they sent us off on our way.
Around 7 P.M. Cody and Tony were feeling a lot of pain in their feet. So we decided to start looking for a place to camp. We knew this would be the hardest thing to do. The problem was that every square inch of land on the side of the road was private property. We finally came up to an empty lot of grass and woods and decided to camp there. We set up camp, ate raviolis, and went to sleep.
The next day we headed into Lynden. We stopped at a Starbucks because I still had some work to do on the website and we needed wifi. What I thought would only take an hour or two actually took nearly eight hours. We took some breaks to run to Safeway and grab supplies, and we also ate at a Jack in the Box across the street. Jack in the Box is awesome and I wish we had them over in Florida.
I worked on the website all day and by the time we finished we realized we did not have that much time left to walk. So we headed outside of Lynden and found a nice camping spot under a bridge. Yeah… we’re trolls. We camped there but were a bit worried since there was some graffiti on the sides of the bridge. Hopefully, we wouldn’t have any problems at night. Cody brought his gun with him on the trip so we did have protection at least. That night something scary did happen. Something hit our tent. We all awoke, startled. We sat up and Cody got his gun ready. We slowly exited the tent with flashlights in hand and surveyed the area… Nothing. Good. We soon realized that it was probably a bird or bat since there were a few flying around under the bridge.
The next day we south down 539. We stopped by a place called Bellewood Acres. The place welcomed guest to come and relax and eat. It was neat place that had games in the back, a lot of good food, and a distillery. We ended up talking to a guy named Jesse who worked in the distillery. We told him what we were doing so he decided to buy us a bottle of Vodka and he offered us a place to stay for the night. We took him up on his offer.
We walked into downtown Bellingham and met him outside his place. We went up to his apartment, took turns taking showers, and talked about life. We then went out with Jesse and his friends to a restaurant. Jesse and his friends bought us drinks, although we didn’t want to get too drunk so we monitored how much we drank. Overall, it was an eventful day/night.
The next couple of days were spent walking around Lake Whatcom. We met a nice couple who had a home by the lake. We sat and chatted with them a bit, and they offered us food and drinks while we rested. They were bird watchers and loved living by the lake. It was a fantastic view. This trip was turning out to be fantastic. Then something depressing happened. On May 13th Cody gave us some bad news. He would not be able to continue the journey with us. He had received news that his school loans would not be extended and therefore he would need to start paying them off as soon as possible, which meant he needed to head home to start looking for a job.
An hour later, Cody was in a cab heading to Bellingham. The mood had drastically changed and Tony and I continued our trek in silence as we headed to Sedro-Woolley. A storm started moving in so we thought we would grab a hotel room for the night. We stayed at Three Rivers Inn and relaxed as the rain came down. Tony watched basketball and worked on the website, uploading pictures and blogs, while I read A Clash of Kings.
The next day we set out for Highway 20. We had some rough road ahead as we would soon be walking through the North Cascades National Park. Traveling on 20 wasn’t so bad. We found a Cascades Trail that allowed us to get off the road for a bit. Tony liked this a lot more than I did, mainly because the trail was mostly pebbles and I was pulling my backpack. Roads were a lot easier for me. Nevertheless we walked on the trail for over 20 miles. I ended up using my phone to watch a movie as I walked. I watched Hitchcock which was about Alfred Hitchcock (obviously) and followed his troubles with filming his classic Psycho.
Eventually we had to get off the trail and back onto the highway. On May 16th we hit the last little town we would see for a while- Marblemount. The handle of my backpack was coming loose and I needed a screwdriver. I decided to stop into a small convenience store to see if they had one to sell or maybe even borrow. Tony waited outside while I searched the store. I ended up talking to the owner of the store, who also lived next door, and he offered us a place to camp behind his store. We took him up on his offer. Tony’s feet were killing him since he had tons of blisters. So, we set up camp behind the store and relaxed the rest of the day. The guy who owned the store (completely forgot his name) was really nice. In fact, Tony asked me if I wanted to take a rest day and I said sure. So we stayed one more day behind the man’s store.
The man and his wife worked there and they would often give us free food. Also, because they had wifi, we were able to get online and post pictures. On our rest day both Tony and I read. Tony read a Steve Martin biography and I read a Roger Moore biography (I’m a huge James Bond fan).
On the 18th we set out again. The road ahead was very up-and-down, obviously since it went through a mountain range. We thought we would be able to stock up on food once more when shockingly we found out that the next town was shut down, not to be reopened until Memorial Day. We expected to spend at least five days traversing the mountain road, but when we realized we would not be able to stock up on more food, we decided to cut that to a three day trip. We actually hit our first 20 mile day on this road.
The scenery through the mountains was fantastic and when we got higher up we started to see snow. Tony had been wanting to see snow and his wish was soon granted. In fact, one morning we woke up to snowfall… heavy snowfall, which ended up causing us some trouble. We were camping at a rest area that had restrooms and we found ourselves (after packing up our supplies) taking refuge in the women’s restroom (yes, I said women’s restroom) because it was warmer than the men’s restroom. Eventually, we built up the courage to keep going and we headed out into the snow. We didn’t walk for more than fifteen minutes when a car stopped and asked if we needed help. We told the gentleman what we were doing, but he suggested he give us a ride into town since he had been part of many mountain rescues and was worried for our safety. We felt defeated but we agreed. We would just try to find someone to drive us back to this spot when the snow stopped. The man’s name was Bruce. He drove us around town and eventually we found a hostel.
The owner of the hostel was named Audrey and she gave us a discount for staying at her place. She was really nice and we had a really awesome night there. We went out to grab a pizza at a local restaurant for dinner and ended up talking to two guys sitting in the booth behind us. Their names were Nick and Justin and they were astonished by what we were doing. We told them our snow troubles and they offered to give us a ride back to our spot the next morning. We instantly took them up on their offer. So the next day we found ourselves back at the same spot near the restrooms and snowy mounds. Luckily no snow was falling so we were able to walk comfortably. And two days later we were back at the same hostel, staying another night. Tony worked on the blog and I downloaded more podcasts. Podcasts definitely helped pass the time while walking so I tried to download as many as possible.
Tony got Nick’s number since Nick said he would offer us a place to stay when we reached the small town of Twisp. So we continued down 20 and late in the afternoon we hit the small town of Twisp. Tony and I ate dinner at a small diner and I got a steak! Afterwards, we waited outside for Nick to get off. It was a Friday night so we were gonna see what it was like to party in a small town. When Nick reached Twisp we stored our packs in his truck and hit up a local bar. We played pool and Tony drank. I decided not to drink. It was a really fun night and a bunch of us went back to Nick’s small place to party. A surprising thing happened though. When the party began to die down Nick went over to Justin’s place. His apartment was small and he decided to leave it to Tony and me. We thought this was very trusting of him and thanked him a bunch. The next morning we took off.
We continued our trek through Washington, through the Methow Valley, eventually hitting the Grand Coulee Dam. We stayed at a small RV Park near the dam and at night walked down to see the light show that they hold regularly on the side of the dam. It was neat laser light show that showed the history of how the dam was built. We eventually reached highway 2 which was a straight shot to Spokane.
During the trip Tony had made an account on couchsurfing.com to see if we could stay with any people along the way. Turns out there was a lady who lived in Spokane. Her name was Barabara and she offered us a place to stay so we headed into Spokane, but didn’t reach it until late so we decided to camp out before contacting her. We slept by the railroad tracks (creepy!) but had no problems. The next day Tony text her and we walked to her house. She was a really nice person. She bought us food and drink, and let us stay in her basement. Tony and I shared a bed. Twas nice and comfy.
We ended up staying for two days. She showed us around Spokane and we even hit up a Trader Joe’s and bought some food for a cook out. It was a really nice break from our routine.
Before we left to begin our trek again, Barbara drove us to the post office. My friend Amber was sending us free movie tickets (she works at a movie theater) and we wanted to see if they ever arrived. Sadly, they did not. So I redirected the mail to Coeur d’Alene, ID since we would be there in a few days. Hopefully that would give it ample time to reach the upcoming city.
Tony and I then hopped onto I90 and headed towards Idaho! We hit Washington/Idaho border on June 11th. Since it was already getting dark we decided to camp out right by the border. Our first night in a new state!