This Land is Your Land

On the first day, this trip felt like it would last a lifetime. We departed the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise, to start our journey. Walking the first 20 miles to the south side of San Francisco was an adventure in itself, and it was just the beginning.

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The first steps

We felt like celebrities a few times on the trip, from press conferences to newspaper, TV, and radio interviews. As we walked we realized that people were living vicariously through our journey to enjoy a bit of adventure themselves. And we learned to love talking about it as well.

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Walk to Work Day 2015 Press Conference at San Francisco City Hall

California provided us with amazing views and our first glimpse of how nice everyone in the country would be to us. Some of the areas we walked through are currently threatened by the Butte fire and it saddens us to think that the amazing people who helped us are in danger. If any of you are reading and need help, reach out to us, as Rebecca’s family lives nearby (but in safety) and could maybe help.

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On the road

Tim was most excited to see the Western states. He had never been west of the eastern edge of Iowa and the mountains and rivers were all new to him. California was also where we made our first soul-crushing (temporarily) decision to hitchhike out of a dangerous situation. The elation of completing our first state later that day made up for the sadness we had from not being able to walk the whole country by ourselves.

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The Avalanche

Nevada was one of the most memorable states. The strollers we had to buy to carry 5 gallons of water each are still the purchase we talk about the most from the trip. Pushing those 30 miles a day for weeks gave us an appreciation for parents everywhere (as well as shin splints). They also opened up conversations with many people on the road. Some would stop to ask what we were doing, others out of panic to make sure our “babies” were ok.

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The Long, not Winding Road

For us, Nevada was a final frontier. If we could complete that state, we could finish the country. But Rebecca came out with an injury, and we had to recalculate our abilities. Once we dropped off the strollers, walking became easier, and yet the pain didn’t quite go away. With sometimes more than 100 miles between towns, Nevada may have defeated Rebecca. But our determination wasn’t totally destroyed, as the sunsets, grand sights, and mostly the people who supported us along the way kept us going.

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I'm 124 Miles from Nowhere

Crossing the Salt Flats in Utah was our first taste of separation during the day. Rebecca rented a car in an attempt to heal her foot and Tim walked alone. She picked him up in the evenings and drove to a legal campsite for four days. The relief of knowing we’d find a safe place every evening made Tim’s walking easier (the lighter bag helped too).

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In the middle of the world

Utah provided sights of red rocks, trees, hills, rivers, and anything you could imagine in the United States. But it also provided difficulties. We knocked on our first door to camp in someone’s yard, were rained on every day for two weeks straight, and found our first tick (which led to us staying in the sketchiest motel we stayed in along the way).

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We've Got Everything

But we didn’t lose hope in the walk. Every day, at the end of the day, we appreciated what we were doing and kept pushing on. As we did we continued to be shocked by the beauty of the land (the wild horses and rolling hills) and the people, who continued to reach out to help us.

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A horse without a name

As we continued our rules were bent a little as we crossed a “no trespassing” sign, but only after a suggestion from a local, and shortened our days a little.

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The loneliest house in America

But Colorado posed new challenges. The Rockies were difficult to climb over, and the summer was finally picking up. But the most difficult challenge came from Rebecca getting sick. That night we camped on the continental divide and the next day we decided Rebecca would hitchhike and Tim would walk the 30 miles to the next town. We both survived, though Rebecca still felt a little weak, we pushed on. Denver was calling, our first planned long break. Rebecca’s foot wasn’t healed and we discussed the risks, settling on Rebecca buying a bike in Denver to get off of her foot.

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A tree grows in Colorado

With help, we sorted through our stuff and Rebecca started the middle section of the trek on a bike. This allowed Tim to push for longer days and carry a (slightly) lighter pack. The rest of the country until Illinois would be flat and easy, but hot and humid.

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Biking Across the USA

After our amazing rest in Denver, we joined the Lincoln Highway and continued our journey. Rest days always made us feel as if we were really on vacation, so it was a rough start back up again.

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America's Highway

We met up for lunch on some days and figured out how to settle into our own speed. Rebecca would bike ahead and set up camp and get food while Tim would struggle along behind, excited he never had to think about where we’d sleep that night.

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Lonely roads

As we entered Iowa, the differences between biking and walking became even more apparent. Rebecca quickly began praising the beauty and thrill of Iowa while Tim struggled with both the uphills and downhills along the way. The corn seemed to go on forever. But we kept meeting amazing people, and feeling more impressed with ourselves and our abilities every day. So many times we wanted to sit for a longer break, but we knew the longer we waited the later we’d be. We pushed on, only to feel elated at the end of each day as we discussed what we’d seen. The sights and sounds, as well as the smells, changed along the way in each state. Nebraska had the smelly feed lots, and Iowa had the gorgeous breezes.

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The unexpected hills of Iowa

We only ate sweet corn a few times on the trip, but we saw more corn than we could care to ever see. America produces too much corn. But we got used to it soon and appreciated the space in the country. Illinois provided some relief as we found a canal trail to walk on that wasn’t in view of as many corn fields. But the heat and humidity from the summer was at its prime, and the bugs were crawling. Even though we complained for part of the day, people reminded us to be happy. We got offers of cold water or soda and honks and waves as we walked or biked by roads.

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Corn everywhere

Our stop back home in Chicago was a turning point on the trip. We took a week off and it felt like we’d never left, yet that everything had changed. We navigated a city that used to be home to visit friends and participate in familiar activities.

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Downtown Chicago from Downtown Logan Square

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Back in a city!

After a week with friends we spent a couple of days with Tim’s family in Indiana and even had time to attend a wedding. But the trip couldn’t stop forever, so Rebecca grabbed her pack again and we both started walking.

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Welcome home

We visited familiar sites along the way, seeing Tim’s college friends and college campus, Valparaiso University.

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Tim's alma mater

Indiana was maybe one of the most uninteresting states in landscape, but we met many incredible people wanting to help and encourage us along the way, and was very nostalgic for Tim.

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A beautiful court house

Ohio provided us with new friends every day. People pulled over to talk, donate, or give us water. The buildings started to look more Eastern and the towns were older than any in the west. We enjoyed the rundown look of Old Highway 30 but also the vibrant life of the residents. An annual yard sale event was taking place as we walked and we were able to see more pedestrians than ever before on the trip before we headed north to meet with another one of Tim’s college friends for a rest day in Wadsworth. People question us often about the nicest state and we never hesitate to mention Ohio. While a few particular people stand out as especially nice, the state was filled with outwardly friendly people. We never had a day without a kind conversion, and we even made the front page of a newspaper!

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Forgotten homes

As we moved out of the public lands of the west we began to depend more on nice homeowners to allow us a yard to sleep in. These people that we met all excitedly shared their space with us. And we got more comfortable in our small tent as a home.

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R&R before dusk

By the time we crossed the Pennsylvania border (and met the most giving woman at a Wendy’s) we knew we were close to finishing the trip. We got into Pittsburgh and updated our resumes and began searching for jobs, but the freedom of the trip lingered and we only submitted a few applications.

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Cities

Pittsburgh was our must surprising city on the walk. With three days to explore, we were able to get a view of life in the city and both dreamed of moving there one day. But walking through Pennsylvania was one of the hardest states. We met some great people who housed us and fed us along the way, but the shoulder on the road and the traffic kept the difficulty up. We struggled through a few days, even opting to reroute a few times. But the beauty of the Appalachians made up for the challenges. We camped on the Laurel Highlands Trail and the Appalachian Trail, enjoying true wooded hiking for the first time.

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The morning rays

While we reminisced about the walk we discussed the Lincoln Highway. As one of the first coast to coast roads in the U.S. it gave our nation’s residents a chance to explore this land open to them in an easy way. And we were out to do the same thing. By seeing the whole country we both have grown to appreciate what America (and the world) has to offer.

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I've come, to look for America

So we climbed over the mountains and counted the days to our final destination: New York City. The days wore on and both of us remained perpetually sore. By eastern Pennsylvania Rebecca’s foot injury returned, but with only about 150 miles left she wasn’t going to give up now. Tim groaned in pain from his hips to his muscles. But every evening, when we stopped for the day and joked about the things we’d seen and people we’ve met we became more excited that we had almost completed the trip.

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Into the mountain

Crossing into New Jersey, we were ready for the end, but devastated that it would be over soon. We saw our first dangerous animal in the least likely of all states.

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Bears in New Jersey!?

We finally spotted the Manhattan skyline, but it wasn’t until we saw the George Washington Bridge that it had hit Tim that the walk was over, we’d made it! The next morning when we crossed the bridge and into New York City/state Rebecca became a little emotional. Giving up the freedom of the trip will be hard. But the freedom only begins to compare to the people. Soon, no one will stop us in the street to chat and we’ll have no excuse to talk to strangers or sneak into a store, hiding our backpacks so we don’t seem too homeless. The adventures that quickly became our regular life would disappear. We stayed in Brooklyn and bought some normal clothes to wear, leaving behind the faded and smelly clothes of the past 5 months. Soon we would seem like normal people again, and the trip will fade into our history.

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Cities, Part II

But we made it to the ocean anyway. Completing five months of hard work and daily endurance. Stepping into the Atlantic among cheers and smiles, we both realized our lives will be forever changed. This trip gave us an opportunity to see people in a way neither of us have seen them before. It also gave us the chance to see ourselves in ways we’d never imagined. We’re both stronger and weaker than we initially thought, and were forced to work together to make our plans work. We’ll never regret the decision to walk, even if we never do it again.

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March Into The Sea

Today we walk away, looking for our spot to fit into in the real world again. Jobs, a city to call home, a bed, a schedule, and endless memories that may end up in a book.

April 9th – September 9th 2015

We walked through:
12 States
365 Towns/Cities

154 days, including 18 rest days

Tim: 7,117,937 steps

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From California to New York Island

We touched the Atlantic Ocean today at Coney Island on September 12th, 2015 at 2:49 pm, Eastern Standard Time.

Thanks everyone for your support. We’ll write our last full post in a few days.

Time for the champagne!

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The Walkers Take Manhattan (and Brooklyn) – Sep 9, 10 & 11

Exactly five months after our starting day, we crossed the George Washington Bridge into New York City.

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The gateway to New York City

The views of the city were amazing and made us really feel like we were almost done.

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It almost looks like the Jurassic Park island in front of NYC

We took one peak over our shoulders to say goodbye to the life we’ve been living for five months and then powered on.

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Goodbye New Jersey

We stopped for brunch at an iconic restaurant. We watched enough Seinfeld on the few stays in motels we had to feel like we needed to stop at Tom’s Restaurant.

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Seinfeld inspired us

And of course we walked through Central Park.

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Are we still in a city?

And saw the many sights of the park.

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Even though we felt like we were back in the forest for a minute, the buildings around us reminded us we were almost there.

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The city above the park

Walking through Manhattan gave us the chance to see all of the important spots.

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Made it to the middle

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We made it!

And we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. We had to cross into Brooklyn to make it to Coney Island.

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Almost to Brooklyn

And we took many moments to enjoy the city from the bridge.

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Midtown from the Brooklyn Bridge. This city provides some great views

Making sure to look like absolute tourists, we took pictures across the whole bridge.

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The sun almost looks like it's setting

And we could see one of the attractions we hadn’t had a chance to see yet.

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There she is!

Walking across the bridge felt so surreal. We spent over a year discussing the trip, and almost six months to do the walk, and here we are, at the end.

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We've been talking about arriving for so long, it's weird we're already here

A few people stopped to ask us what the sign was about. Even New Yorkers are curious sometimes.

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Did you walk the whole way? Yes, yes we did (kinda)

And we made it to Park Slope, where we’d settle for a few days before some of Rebecca’s family flies into town to see us touch the ocean.

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We waited by the park for Tim's friend Ryann, it was our (hopefully) last homeless moment

Thursday morning we walked 6 of the last 7 miles to Coney Island. We want to give Rebecca’s mom, aunt Diane, and cousin Rose a few steps to feel like they participated in the walk.

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One mile from Coney Island

After our (short) walk, we went to a thrift store to buy some regular people clothes. We also did laundry. We’re starting to get back into the flow of real life.

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Finally back in jeans!

On Saturday we will walk to the Atlantic Ocean at Coney Island close to noon eastern time. We will be live tweeting and instagraming on that day so everyone can know when we’re officially finished in real time. You can find our Twitter and Instagram user names on our “contact us” page, but just in case:

Twitter.com/6million_steps

http://instagram.com/6million_steps/

Today(s) we walked through:
Fort Lee, New Jersey
New York City
(Washington Heights,
Hamilton Heights,
Morningside Heights,
Upper West Side,
Central Park,
Midtown,
Garment Center,
Flatiron,
Noho,
Little Italy,
Chinatown,
Downtown Brooklyn,
Boerum Hill,
Park Slope,
Greenwood Heights,
Windsor Terrace,
Kensington,
Borough Park,
Gravesend)

Tim: 44,432; 29,140; and N/A steps
Rebecca: 49,048; 32,395; and N/A steps

2995 miles finished

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America, We <3 Cars – Sep 6, 7 & 8

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.

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Crouching down like this after walking 3,000 miles is hard work

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.

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New Jersey has only full service stations

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.

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Sometimes signs are funny

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.

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It looks like fall

New Jersey is the one state we haven’t seen cows in, but there’s no shortage of corn and other vegetables.

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As fresh as fresh gets

Since Pennsylvania we’ve noticed a lot of dead worms on the road.

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So many worms! We started seeing this in Pennsylvania

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.

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What we hoped was our last mountain

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!

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Bad news bear

We walked along highway 46 a lot, it was loud and hot, but had a wide shoulder, so at least we felt safe.

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Both of these things might bring smiles to your face

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.

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Sometimes we find nice shade to rest in

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.

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When we saw this we both exclaimed excitedly

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.

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Sometimes there's pedestrian infrastructure

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"Why do I have to take the long way around, why can't the cars take the long way?"

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.

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The city! Our destination in sight!

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.

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The bridges are low and the boats are cool this close to NYC

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.

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These guys help everyone across, but only around school times

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!).

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Climbing our last mountain (really) while the sun starts to set

Just before the motel we crossed over the New Jersey turnpike. The number of cars going below us was impressive.

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There's so much pavement out there

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).

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You can see the city from our last motel

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That's the bridge we'll take to cross into our final state and city

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.

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America really does love cars

Today(s) we walked through:
Broadway
Washington
Hackettstown
Budd Lake
Netcong
Roxbury
Mine Hill
Wharton
Dover
Rockaway
Denville
Parsippany Troy-Hills
Fairfield
North Caldwell
Totowa
Paterson
Elmwood Park
Saddle Brook
Hackensack
Bogota
Leonia
Fort Lee

Tim: 52,557; 56,132; and 56,370 steps
Rebecca: 58,452; 59,707; and 62,452 steps

3274 miles finished

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Urban Camping – September 3, 4 & 5

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Corn Fields Forever

Rodney had taken us in and let us sleep in his spare room the night before. He drove us back to the laundromat where he’d picked us up Wednesday. On the drive, we reflected on the journey so far, and thought about what was still to come (thanks for hosting us Candice, and good luck on your trip, Rodney!).

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I hope they're saying something nice!

We passed through lots of small towns, and we saw lots of people this Thursday preparing for the Labor Day weekend. We were mostly on quiet roads, with wide enough shoulders.

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Going out for a Sunday... walk

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We saw more funny signs than usual. Donat Road was right outside of Krumsville! These two signs are literally right next to each other.

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Mmmmmm..... Donat Road

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Welcome to Krumsville

Our last week has been so hot, perhaps the hottest on the walk. We probably look very miserable in our giant sun hats and sunglasses, struggling for each step. A water delivery truck driver even pulled over on the side of the road and tossed us two cold bottles! We mostly used them as ice packs on our faces and necks.

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The Water Man!

It turned out the campground we’d hoped to stay at Thursday night did not allow tent camping (RVs only!), so we had to go with our backup plan: knocking on a stranger’s door and hope for the best. The first house pretended they weren’t home, so we walked a little bit more down the road. Our second try, a very kind older man quickly stated “of course” when we asked if we could camp in his backyard!

Waking up in a stranger’s backyard is strange. We have to get ready quickly and quietly. But it’s not the most unusual place we’ve woken up. This morning we even heard one of the family members start their car and drive away before we were out of bed (about 5:45am)! No time to sit and eat breakfast, so we ate our two remaining granola bars as we walked.

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What animal is this?

We were looking forward to Friday for days, as Rebecca’s aunt had surprised us by booking us a room at a bed and breakfast in Bethlehem!

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The Sayre Mansion

It was our first B’n’b so we had to make the most of it:

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Staying classy

It was supposedly haunted too (well, two of the rooms in the mansion, but luckily not ours). Tim kept jumping up and screaming/pointing into corners of the room and behind Rebecca to try to scare her.

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A ghost in the mirror!

Bethlehem is also home to Lehigh University, where one of our good friends in Chicago graduated from, so of course we asked her the best places to eat. Thanks for the tip, Sarah!

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Not sure what this building is...

Saturday we were looking forward to seeing the Crayola Experience, and grab some cool postcards while we were there. The cashiers were also very excited for our trip!

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Rebecca was never very good about coloring inside the lines

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The coloring's on the wall

After walking through the nice downtown of Easton, we were ready to cross into our penultimate state: New Jersey!

A car pulled over on the side of a semi-busy road during the pm rush hour. His name was Bill, Wild Bill, with his son Tom. They were both cyclists, and Wild Bill was very impressed with our young adventurous spirits. He told us his dream of a long bicycle trip, and was happy we were realizing ours.

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Flying high again

We planned on paying for a motel since there were no campgrounds or parks for us to stealth with our tent. When we got to the motel, we were told there were two rooms left, and we got to chose a carpeted room, or one with hardwood floors. We choose the latter. As we started to unpack, the front desk clerk came back and told us the rooms had been previously reserved!

We momentarily panicked. After giving us some time to repack, we thought we would ask her if we could set up our tent and camp behind the motel. This was a first for us (and probably them). After we explained we weren’t weirdos, and we were walking across the country for a cause, they happily agreed! It was a great relief, even if it was one of the strangest places we’ve camped all trip!

Today(s) we walked through:
Shartlesville
West Hamburg
Hamburg
Edenburg
Lenhartsville
Kleinsville
Krumsville
New Smithville
Fogelsville
Chapman
Kuhnsville
Allentown
Bethlehem
Middletown
Wilson
Easton
Phillipsburg
Stewartsville
New Village

Tim: 51,303; 51,757; and 50,086 steps
Rebecca: 56,295; 55,541; and 54,289 steps

3,193 miles finished

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A Walk in the Woods – Aug 31, Sept 1 & 2

We crawled out of bed early, well, at about 7am. Waking up in the woods is exciting, we could hear the birds chirping and the bugs chittering, but we couldn’t sleep in. Tim’s cousin had arranged for us to have a hotel room using her points, so we had a short, 18 mile, day ahead of us. We wanted to take full advantage of the room. We packed up, only a little worried about being discovered because we were camped in not an officially designated area. We grabbed some granola bars and crawled out of the bushes to the trail.

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Breakfast on the trail

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Pretending to be a hiker

We were told later that Pennsylvania is “famous” for having the worst part of the trail. It’s the rockiest section, but I thought it would be because it was through a lot of farm land, so it was hard to camp on. But the corn around us made it fun to walk out to the road.

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The trail led through some corn fields

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Slowly making it out to the road

We aren’t used to walking on trails, and it takes a different kind of concentration. But we made it to the road again and were greeted by a neighbor. A man walking his dogs out to the trail asked if we were a couple of the rare breed of north-to-south hikers. We told him we’re even rarer west-to-east hikers and traded some small talk about hiking and our card with him. He offered to fill up our water packs, but we were full and ready for the day. Talking to the man made Rebecca’s day. She was wondering how receptive people who live near the trail are to hikers. Tim had found an article about churches slowly closing their doors to hikers because too many people are turning the trail into “a frat party in the woods”. It’s sad to hear that something so great is being destroyed by overuse by disrespectful people. We wondered how much the movie “Wild” and the new movie “A Walk in the Woods” would impact the trail.

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Finally! Back onto paved ground that we're used to

We walked away from the trail excited about our progress and our night. As we started to hit towns we were reminded why we prefer roads (though we’ve been debating the whole trip if roads or trails are harder). We had fun joking about town names and having a few people honk and wave as they saw our sign.

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Tim was making the same joke about "where's Podiatristville?" since he saw the name if this place on a map

Right before crossing the river into Harrisburg, we decided to take our break by the post office so we could run in and but stamps to send our last postcards from the road. While in line, a man struck up conversation with Rebecca about the trip and we explained the story to him. The man behind him in line introduced himself as we were getting ready to leave and invited us over for a glass of wine with his girlfriend. We couldn’t refuse and we’re so happy we didn’t. Bernie and Linda had amazing stories of traveling all over the world and exploring so many things. But, they were in the process of moving to a new home, and we were headed to a nice hotel, so after about an hour of talking, we headed out. We both loved the afternoon and have continued to imagine how exciting their lives must be.

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Bernie and Linda shared a bottle of wine with us

Talking with interesting people always boosts our spirits (the wine may have helped too…). Harrisburg was a pretty town, but we barely saw it as we focused on a comfy room, the spa, and a quiet night indoors. It’s hard to imagine how much we’ve taken the easy things in life (like controlled temperature, a bed, etc) for granted.

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Harrisburg had many awesome bridges

After walking through Harrisburg, with no stops, we made it to the outskirts of downtown. The sidewalks disappeared, but we quickly realized that goat paths were plentiful. Sometimes our hardest waking is onto a city, but we’re so distracted by the end we don’t care.

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People obviously walk here

That night we settled into the hotel, ate dinner nearby, traded stories with the desk clerk, sat in the jacuzzi, and enjoyed complete relaxation. Looking forward to the hot breakfast in the morning we settled in to bed.

The next morning we struggled out of Harrisburg. Suburban streets are not designed for pedestrians and we were on a fairly major highway, so it was loud, hot, and hard to walk on. After first break under a tree, we started to pass a donut place. We paused and decided we couldn’t just walk by. Even though we’d eaten fewer donuts than the beginning of the walk lately, we kinda have a thing with donuts. Fred, the owner of Donut Depot, was so friendly. He was all out of fresh donuts but shared the last two pieces of his (amazing) corn bread with us and excitedly talked about our journey. His daughter just moved to Chicago to attend Loyola, so we were able to discuss the city with him. We left with two half pieces of corn bread and two bananas, and of course giant smiles from a great meeting.

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Should we stop at the donut place?

When we were finally off the main highway, we were able to wander the small side roads toward Fort Imdiantown Gap (which may be way too long for a town name). We stopped in the gas station for some slushies, it was hot, and met a woman excited about the trip. She hugged us both (only recommended if you can handle sweat) and headed out for the evening. The slushies revived us, and we trudged through the last 6 miles, partially along a running path for the navy base, to the KOA just north of Jonestown. We slept soundly by the creek, and looked forward to another day tomorrow.

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Tim's hometown has one just like one of these!

The day started quiet with a couple miles along a rails-to-trails route and then even more quiet back roads. We crossed into the state game lands on a road that turned into gravel really quickly.

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The road seemed fine

As we got deeper, we realized the gravel roads weren’t the path Google told us to take, so we stepped off into a small mountain path on the side.

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But then the gravel disappeared and there were cobwebs

The cobwebs spread between the trees and, after a couple too many gross times, Tim took the lead. We lost signal on our phones and were depending on the preloaded map and GPS. Rebecca got worried thinking of every story she’s ever heard about people lost in the woods for days and Tim tried to keep her calm. Luckily, we could see some clearings ahead, and we could retrace our steps because we crushed lots of plants. We found our way out and started looking for a bugless shady spot to take a lunch break.

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We survived!

As we walked along quiet back roads we were passed by some monster-sized farm equipment and only a couple of cars. As we turned a corner and remarked about the building with doors to nowhere a man came out in his yard to introduce himself. Rodney is an avid cyclist and a friend to all active travelers he sees. Recently he hosted a woman and her boyfriend who was running the Appalachian trail, and he was on the couch surfing website we sometimes use for housing. Rebecca had thought to contact him, but his house was awkwardly located for us. We filled up our water and after walking a bit Rodney drove out to offer us a ride from our end point (only about 8 miles down the road) and a ride back out the next morning.

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Pennsylvania has some pretty neat buildings

As we walked, we discussed the offer. We quickly realized we couldn’t refuse an offer of a pickup, maybe dinner, and most importantly, a bed. So we called Rodney when we got to the end and waited for him in the parking lot of the laundromat near the campground we were supposed to stay at. A man came out and offered us cold beers (we didn’t refuse). Rodney picked us up and we enjoyed stuffed bell peppers, chili, and great conversation. The room above his garage where we slept was so dark that we slept completely soundly through the night. Rodney biked across the country last year and was packing to do part of the Continental Divide this year. We loved swapping stories and look forward to reading his journal from his trip across the country. Candice, his wife, had to leave to work a night shift but she was so accommodating and great to talk with while she was there. Part of this trip that we’ve loved the most is meeting all of the people, and Rodney and Candice are exactly the kind of people that make the trip worth it.

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And we're homeless again...

Today(s) we walked through:
Mechanicsburg
Camp Hill
Lemoyne
Wormleysburg
Harrisburg
Penbrook
Progress
Colonial Park
Paxtonia
Hanover Heights
Skyline View
Fort Indiantown Gap
Bordnersville
Schubert
Strausstown

Tim: 43,121; 51,402; and 54,123 steps
Rebecca: 45,200; 55,482; and 59,093 steps

3,117 miles finished

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The Road – August 28, 29 & 30

We left our tiny motel room in Breezewood excited for the day ahead. We’d get to do some real “urban exploring” by walking on the abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike (legally, too!). This was a 10-mile stretch we’d never forget.

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Sunshines in the rusty morning

The first four miles were eerie. It was quiet, something we weren’t used to. We woke up early so the sunrays were shining through a light fog. The air was still cool, the breeze was flowing through the wood. We only saw two other souls for the first hour and a half. Then, we approached the first monolith…

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Overtaken by the scene

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Should we approach it?

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Mother nature has reclaimed her throne

We’d made it to the first of two tunnels. This was the shorter one, just under a mile in length. More importantly, you could see the light at the other end; you didn’t NEED a flashlight to reach the other side, but it is recommended. We entered:

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...into the mountain

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Where will it lead to?

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Go straight and don't look back!

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You're halfway now!

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The light at the end of the tunnel

We came out of the other side of the tunnel…unscathed. It was pretty spooky inside. The walls were covered in graffiti floor to ceiling (mostly about drugs and dirty words).

The road continued. For the first time we really felt like we were in a post-apocalyptic setting; the trees were overtaking the road, and nature was reclaiming what was rightfully hers. Man could no longer tame her.

This road was in fact used in the film ‘The Road’, the screen adaptation of the award winning novel The Road.

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The road from The Road

After a few miles we soon approached the second tunnel. This one was over a mile long. The path also bends slightly up in the middle, which means you cannot see the light at the end of this tunnel. It gets DARK in there! A flashlight is a must.

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Are You Afraid of the Dark?

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Now here's the sun, it's alright

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"I didn't do it"

After exiting the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike, we walked along an old country road for many miles. Only one car passed that first half hour, and we soon found our why:

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Pennsylvania has two seasons: winter, and construction

We were crossing the modern day Turnpike, and there was a construction crew at the underpass. It was closed, and we panicked briefly when we realized we may have to reroute. When we checked Google Maps we saw it may mean a few more miles, which could mean hours on foot. Luckily, we asked the foreman if we could pass through; he responded “Of course, but you have to pay the toll.”

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Birds of the Corn

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Rural Pennsylvania

When we reached our destination town for the Friday night, we reflected on the name. Apparently the town of Burnt Cabins was named after an order of the government to burn down the cabins of the early white settlers to maintain the peace with the Native Americans. And they did. But they do have a beautiful campground:

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Calming campsite

Saturday morning we set out about the mountains and intended on knocking on a friendly looking house and ask to camp, somewhere around 25 miles past Friday night’s campground.

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Pinch me, I'm dreaming!

The way up the mountain was tough. We walked up a very steep incline for almost 45 minutes straight, without a break. After a quick rest at the top, we proceeded down the mountain. After a rough mile or two down, and around very tight, dangerous shoulders, a truck pulled to the side of the road. We don’t normally accept rides, but the driver said the shoulders only get worse, and he offered to drive us to the bottom of the mountain, so we agreed.

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View from the top

The first town after the mountain was Roxbury, and something magical happened when we crossed the road to take our posed photos with the town sign. The home owner saw us posing, and came out to talk. We explained we were walking across the country, and planned on knocking on a door, 8-9 miles down the road. He offered to let us camp in his backyard, and said he was grilling some chickens he’d raised. It was hard to pass up (his neighbor even came by to give us some iced tea!).

We stayed up almost all night trading stories with Steve and his wife Joyce, and had a terrific night shooting pool in his basement. In the morning they fixed us breakfast, including a salsa omelette. We had a great Night at the Roxbury (Thanks, Steve & Joyce!).

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On the backstreets

Sunday was also exciting as we planned on ending and camping on the Appalachian Trail! The trail crossed the main highway we were taking to Harrisburg just east of Carlisle. We saw some great signs on the way.

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Gonna hitch a ride, head for the other side

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Our first one-lane bridge!

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Go Bears! (Chicago, not literal)

On our way into Carlisle, Dickinson College was having a ceremony to
begin the school year, so we saw students dressed to the 9’s, and professors in their professor garb.

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The Carlisle Castle

…we felt out of place, as we were looking for a public place to eat our grilled chicken:

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Tim's never looked better

We found the Appalachian Trail and hiked in a mile to find a place to set up our tent for the night.

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The Appalachian Corn Trail!

Today(s) we walked through:
Breezewood
Hustontown
Fort Littleton
Burnt Cabins
Fannettsburg
Willow Hill
Roxbury
Newville
Plainfield
Carlisle

Tim: 51,262; 34,675; and 39,341 steps
Rebecca: 54,068; 36,297; and 41,925 steps

2,948 miles finished

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