The bush near our tent had shaded us from the lights outside the motel, so we slept fairly sound. As we were packing up, we realized that because of the towns we’d be in, this would probably be our last morning in the tent. It was a bittersweet moment. As the trip has continued on, the tent has gotten to feel like our one true home, but the comfort level has reduced a lot as the spots where we’re uncomfortable in the tent get more sore every time.
Our first goal in the morning was to find a New Jersey sign, since there wasn’t one when we crossed into the state. As we walked we heard behind us “look what the cat dragged in” and we turned to see Tom (Wild Bill’s son) biking down the hill behind us. Apparently we just passed their house, he was coming back from a morning 13 mile ride and spotted us ahead. It was great to see someone so early in the morning because it reminded us to keep our heads up and walk for the day. We marveled about a high school kid waking up at 630 to go for a bike ride on a Sunday and wished him well. Just minutes later we found our sign.
While we were taking our pictures Wild Bill drove by and honked hello. They are a morning family! We made it into Washington to the Dunkin Donuts in time to get on their Wi-Fi and post our new state photos to Facebook. We jokingly have a competition going of who can get the most likes, Rebecca always wins.
Rebecca’s foot has been bothering her again and the heat was slowing us down, but we pressed on, knowing we’d have a long day ahead of us. The best motel we could find was 26 miles down the road, the longest day of the last week.
We passed a few yard sales, though not enough to count them, and realized it is a holiday weekend! As we passed one, the two people sitting in the shade asked us about our trip and we happily told them about the adventure. After offering us water, the woman said “I live about 40 minutes from New York, you’re close now!”. 40 minutes by car is dramatically different from 40 minutes by walking, and we were still about 60 miles out, but we were excited to think that it’s so close.
New Jersey is the one state we haven’t seen cows in, but there’s no shortage of corn and other vegetables.
Since Pennsylvania we’ve noticed a lot of dead worms on the road.
As the day wore on, Rebecca’s foot started hurting more, so we recalculated over bags of salad and found a Day’s Inn only 22 miles into the trip, but it would make tomorrow’s walk 23 miles instead of 18. We both decided that was worth it, and set our sights on the new plan.
With no grocery stores nearby we ate at the diner across the street from the hotel, wrote a blog post, and went to bed. We were ready to start the day early after a “free” breakfast at the hotel. As we crossed over a tricky interchange we saw something move out of the corner of our eyes. There was a bear in the side lot of a gas station! Luckily, we were far enough away to not feel like we were in any danger. Tim took a few pictures before the bear decided it wasn’t ready to brave crossing the highway. The bear ran back into the bushes and we (a little too excitedly) commented about that being our first (and probably only) wild bear sighting of the trip!
We walked along highway 46 a lot, it was loud and hot, but had a wide shoulder, so at least we felt safe.
A woman pulled over dangerously to say we were almost there and cheer us on. Because there were Jersey barriers (the cement half-walls) we’re not sure how she saw the sign, but we still got a little boost and continued walking.
After stopping in a Taco Bell for a cold drink and some air conditioning we planned to go to the grocery store for salad for the night. This week was one of the hottest on the trip and we’ve gone through more water than we have the whole trip. Rebecca sat outside with the bags while Tim walked across the huge parking lot to the grocery store. In suburban areas everything is so far away from the road.
But we pushed on, saw the sign for New York, and made it to our sketchy motel of the night. The next morning we ran across the highway to the McDonald’s for breakfast. It was only 7, but it was already hot and humid. We tried to mentally prepare ourselves for the heat, and for our last full day. We had 23 miles to the George Washington bridge, and then we’d only have 15 to Tim’s friend Ryann’s house in Brooklyn. After a couple of loud miles on highway 46 we headed into the neighborhood, which required us crossing a pedestrian bridge.
We mailed some post cards and were offered water by a stranger. New Jersey isn’t as mean as people say. We decided to reroute, which would add two miles to the trip, to avoid a 3 mile stretch of highway 46. It was so loud and hot on the highway that the extra miles were worth it.
We walked through some (maybe bad) neighborhoods. One man stopped to tell us we could get a free meal at a cafe down the road, solidifying our confidence in our homeless look. We stopped at a Subway for lunch, making this day one of our most typical of the trip. When we saw the skyline from the top of a hill we tried to take some pictures.
Every step we were getting closer to the city. As we crossed a bridge that was under construction we paused to appreciate the views of the nearby boat.
Where we passed the road work after the bridge, a worker asked us if we traveled the whole way. We told him we walked it and he didn’t believe us at first. We gave him our card so he could read about the trip after answering questions he had. We stopped in the shade for a break and waved goodbye to him and his coworker as they drove away.
It was getting late, so we climbed the hill ahead of us. A crossing guard helped us cross the street and asked a few questions about the trip, so we told him and handed him our card. Every time someone asks, we’re reminded that we’re so close to finishing this crazy adventure. Soon, no one will stop us in the road to talk about the walk. We’re both a little sad about that.
New Jersey is more hilly than we thought, but we pushed through the last few mountains to the motel. We planned to stop at the grocery store to get salad for the night. The meals in the day were so typical of the trip that we couldn’t stop now. McDonald’s for breakfast (way more important when we needed electricity and Wi-Fi), Subway for lunch (we should have gotten them to sponsor us), and a bag of salad from the grocery store for dinner (it’s hard to get vegetables, but we tried!).
Just before the motel we crossed over the New Jersey turnpike. The number of cars going below us was impressive.
We got to the last of our sketchy motels and settled in. It was ironic that the motel with the worst reviews was probably the cleanest of the week. It was sad to realize we were so close to finishing, but also exciting. We ate on the bed, blogged, and made sure to head out to take pictures of the city in the distance. Tomorrow, we’d make it to Brooklyn. On Friday, Rebecca’s family is flying into New York and we will walk the final mile with them on Saturday (we’re planning to live tweet it and live instagram it).
We heard cars all night and thinking back on the trip, so much of America is dedicated to cars, it’s amazing to think about.
Today(s) we walked through:
Tim: 52,557; 56,132; and 56,370 steps
Rebecca: 58,452; 59,707; and 62,452 steps
3274 miles finished