It Begins! (Part 1/8)

My Journey Across the Country.

April 4, 2018

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 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!

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