America’s (walkers) got talent

Tears, Raccoons, Adoption and… a car
Its been almost a week since we last posted a blog, and i’m sure you can guess that so much has happened in that time.

Saturday 1st June we began the walk from the YMCA on west 63rd street; my uncle Martin walking the first couple of blocks with us. Most people reading this will know either Jack or myself quite well; so you’ll also know that we talk a lot, don’t necessarily do all of the things we say we will, and of the things we actually do, we might not plan so well. We’ve talked a lot about walking across America, we are walking across America, and believe it or not we actually did a lot of planning. We couldn’t have planned the heat wave that hit NYC.

It was 30C and 90% humidity at 11.30am when we stepped out of the hostel, with each of us carrying 25kg on our backs. It didn’t take long for us to look at each other and wonder what we had let ourselves in for.

Walking up the west side highway we got a lot of support and cheers from the passing cyclist and joggers, which really lifted our spirits. People were really good at giving us a wide berth, until we came across two joggers just stood in the middle of the track, showing no signs of movement. I was ready to ask them angrily to get out of the way when they said, “We think what you’re doing is amazing! How do we follow you guys?” I felt guilty. The two joggers were Zack and Rachel, and they were our first real American supporters (apart from our amazingly generous corporate sponsors: USIS, Siemon, Corning and LMG).

The George Washington bridge is big, deceptively so (annoyingly so when its your halfway point for the day), and not only is it not getting any bigger, it’s actually seems to be getting smaller. But after a short-ish (distance, not time-wise) walk up through Harlem, we reached it and its twin peaks. This was where things started to go wrong. We stopped in between the two towers and for the second time that day we contemplated what exactly we had let ourselves in for. We had walked 7 and a half miles, Jack had already run out of water once, the supporting frame of my bag had buckled under the weight so it had to be strapped up and repositioned every time we stopped, and most importantly we were exhausted, the heat had done us in.

At this point I’d like to say that if your name is Rosemary, Trudy, Siobhan, Marie, Dora, Amy, Charlotte, Gerard, Dave or Joseph, then please do not worry. It gets a little bit worse from here, but then it gets so much better, trust me.

We’ll fast forward to our Motel, because the rest of the day was: walk, drink, walk, rest, readjust, repeat. The Days Inn Ridgefield is a shit hole, but it had a comfortable bed, WiFi and air conditioning so it was sanctuary for the evening. After checking in we got straight onto the laptop to try to find a local Wal-Mart or Home Depot that could supply us with a bicycle trailer that we desperately needed. Not only could they not provide us with the trailer, they couldn’t even understand our accents or the language that we were speaking, so they decided that hanging up on us was the best course of action. The laptop was about to die along with our spirits, but at least the former could be plugged in and recharged. Nope. The plug adapter we’d picked up in NY had decided to break, and in doing so it broke us too. We were completely lost, and I can tell you that one or both of us may have had a complete meltdown.

We needed to eat, drink, get rid of some of the unnecessary weight from our bags, and then sleep. If you’re expecting these tasks happened without failure then you’re wrong. We had bought pasta and soup with the intention of boiling the pasta in the rooms coffee machine, then doing the same with the soup. The coffee machine didn’t work. We flicked every switch, we shouted at it, bargained with it, pleaded with it but it just wouldn’t work. It WAS plugged in. So we had to take a walk down to the local ShopRite to buy some microwave meals and something sugary to lift our spirits. On the way back we came face to face with a raccoon and we were fascinated; we tried to approach it (something we would later be told we mustn’t do) but he just ran away. Back at the motel, the microwave didn’t work. It wasn’t plugged in. We ate microwaved steak and mashed potato, then watched How to train your dragon, in silence.

Next came the cull. We had so much weight in our bags and we knew we had to get rid of some, but what? Everything we had we thought we needed. We were ruthless. I think we probably got rid of 5kg each and at 11.30pm it felt like a major difference. We were happy. We went to sleep that night looking forward to the next 17 (11) miles.

After a solid nights sleep, only waking up once to tell Jack to stop hugging me in his sleep (we were sharing a double bed) we were fresh and ready to go; this would be short lived. The first 2 miles were without incident, but after that it was back to the previous days pattern: walk, drink, rest, readjust, walk, repeat. I was trying to trick Jack into walking 17miles instead of the 11 I told him we were attempting, but it quickly became apparent that 11 would be the best either of us could do.

Before we set off on this adventure we had done a lot of searching for places to stay on CouchSurfer; it was on here that we got in contact with a wonderful woman name Cindy who had agreed to let us stay at her home with her family. Little did we know the four of them would end up being our saviors.

Cindy came and picked us up off of route 80 and took us back to hers where the family were having a BBQ before the two sons did an online show for their (pretty successful (they got really far on America’s got talent)) band (ReverseOrder, check them out!). Cindy and Jon are our New Jersey adoptive parents; they’re feeding us, keeping us hydrated and making sure that we are rested before starting again.

I think I should mention at this point that we’ve clearly changed some of our own rules. Obviously we have traveled in a car now, but the day after we were picked up Cindy dropped us back to where she got us and we walked the 2 days to make up the miles. Apologies If any of you reading think that this is wrong, but despite the fact we are raising money for two great charities, we’re also trying to keep ourselves alive. New Jersey are suffering an unseasonal heat wave right now and we were walking through it for four days when most people were told not to exert themselves in any way.

Anyways, we’re on track miles-wise and time-wise, and we’ve still got our eyes on the Christmas prize. We are £2,500 away from our £10,000 goal, so thank you all so much for your continued support.

Until next time,
Kieran

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4 thoughts on “America’s (walkers) got talent

  1. Fantastic effort so far, both of you. I had to think of the book, ‘Wild’ , I lent you ,Kieran, when you spoke of culling the backpack weight. Yes, you are allowed to bend your own rules…you are allowed to enjoy the adventure….you are allowed to live! X

  2. Glad to see I got a mention in all this! I’m hoping at some point you will begin to build up a posse of fellow walkers, à la Forest Gump. Just don’t turn around when you get to Santa Monica Pier and do it all again!

    On the issue of raccoons and planning. Can you please make sure you’ve got an idea of the animals you may meet and know exactly what you should and should not do when you meet them?!

    Stay safe. Love you lots. Thanks to Jack for demonstrating that love by hugging you!

  3. I thought I’d left a reply already, but it didn’t work…

    Great post. Really enjoyed reading it, paints a fantastic picture of how tough the start has been!

    On the point about planning and animals… please tell me you do know what animals you may meet on your travels and how to behave around them?

  4. Boys, You are doing bloody well, don’t worry about any criticism of cars etc. You are taking on an epic challenge that most men would sack off after the first few miles! I promise when you get to the end of this you will look back and laugh at the difficulties you struggled through. Keep you head up and honestly to avoid the heat, walk in the early mornings leave at 5am/6am and your body will acclimatise with the heat! Have 2 t-shirts and wear them on rotation to reduce carrying weight… You are not looking to get a fashion award at the end of it! Also get some Under Armour heat vests (got me through the desert at 45 degree heat and I am ginger!!) Keep it going boys! You have to laugh… but honestly crying is the fastest way to release that emotion and get your head straight, so don’t be afraid of it, just get some massive sunglasses so no-one can see you! All the best, Beebs

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