Reflections from My Walk Across America

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REFLECTIONS FROM MY WALK ACROSS AMERICA
By Jim Ostdick, author of ‘Palomino Nation: My 2016 Crazyass Walk Across America’

 

On Big Blend Radio Jim Ostdick discusses his new book “Palomino Nation: My 2016 Crazyass Walk Across America”, that covers his 3,300 mile cross-country walk that loosely followed the American Discovery Trail, from Lewes, Delaware to Point Reyes National Seashore in California. 

More than a year has passed since I completed my coast to coast walking tour of the United States from Lewes, Delaware to Point Reyes, California. The memories are still sharp. What lessons did I learn? What can I share with other travelers?

First lesson? Self-reliance and self-care.
When I was younger, I played basketball, beach volleyball, and I ran nearly every day, but at 66, I can no longer do those things well enough to enjoy them. Hiking and bicycle touring have become my go-to sports in the latter part of my life. As long as I maintain a base level of fitness with walking, riding, stretching, and a little strength training, I can still ramp up enough to perform well in long-distance, “project-level” endeavors.  Age is a limiting factor, there is no doubt about it, but with careful pacing and a wily bit of mindfulness, I can still make my miles. Ironically, I have learned NOT to give 100%. I always save a little bit of fuel in the bottom of the tank for when I really need it and I never compare myself to others. As the saying goes, hike your own hike.

“You become mature when you become the authority for your own life.” – Joseph Campbell

Second lesson? No discussion of long distance walking is complete without addressing the twin concepts of trail magic and trail angels.
My walk across America took me past lots and lots of rural towns and through more than a few big cities. Unquestionably, the best part of the experience was meeting the people along the way. Everywhere I went, I ran into the nicest, kindest, most supportive and generous folks imaginable. This part was truly magical. How else can I explain the haphazard, chance meetings I stumbled into with perfect strangers who just happened to be willing and able to provide the exact thing I needed at that precise moment – a drink of water, an apple, a ride past a barrier, a meal, a hug, a place to pitch my tent, a simple word of encouragement?  These trail angels enriched my soul and made me appreciate and trust being human. In an election year, when argument and division filled the air waves and dominated the internet, I had daily face-to-face encounters with the kindest men and women all the way from the nation’s capital to the Golden Gate. I felt like somehow I was being led from place to place just to meet the next incredibly inspirational person. I may never see them again in my life, but there is something perfect about the bonds I made in those special, random, coincidental meetings. I loved it. For me, life doesn’t get any better than that.

Third lesson? History, history, history.
I saw, at three miles per hour, the close connection between Earth history and civilization. From the coal deposits in the Appalachians to the Midwest iron formations and glacial till to the gold and silver mines and fertile valleys of the West, I correlated the tectonic forces that forged the continent to the building of its cities of industry. I saw clearly the consequences, both good and bad, of the choices our people and their government have made over time. The battle fields at Antietam, the memorials to war heroes and freedom fighters, the sad, fatal reminders of the nearly total devastation of indigenous cultures – all this history is still being made.

Last lesson? Continuation.
I made it on foot from coast to coast by taking it one step, one breath, and one moment at a time. I know I cannot change the past and I cannot control the future. What I can do is to accept my responsibility to make things better – to treat every person I meet with honor and respect and to send out hope in every direction, from sea to shining sea. That is Palomino Nation.

San Juan Bautista, CA resident Jim Ostdick walked east-to-west across the United States in 2016 as a fundraiser to raise awareness for a regional parkway in San Benito County. His new book about the hike, “Palomino Nation: My 2016 Crazyass Walk Across America, was recently released in both paperback and e-book formats on Amazon.

A 66-year old retired high school science teacher, Ostdick walked more than 3,300 miles from Cape Henlopen, Delaware to Point Reyes, California before finishing his hike at Mission San Juan Bautista last October. His book describes the geologic history of the continent and pays respect to the indigenous tribes of the land, as well as detailing his encounters with many generous and helpful “trail angels” of modern America. Keep up with Jim at www.PalominoDream.Blogspot.com

San Benito County Chamber

 

 

 

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About the Author:

San Juan Bautista, CA resident Jim Ostdick walked east-to-west across the United States in 2016 as a fundraiser to raise awareness for a regional parkway in San Benito County. His new book about the hike, "Palomino Nation: My 2016 Crazyass Walk Across America," was recently released in both paperback and e-book formats on Amazon.

A 66-year old retired high school science teacher, Ostdick walked more than 3,300 miles from Cape Henlopen, Delaware to Point Reyes, California before finishing his hike at Mission San Juan Bautista last October. His book describes the geologic history of the continent and pays respect to the indigenous tribes of the land, as well as detailing his encounters with many generous and helpful “trail angels” of modern America.

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