How To Walk Across America (Without Leaving Home)

Several years ago, I walked across America.

Hiking sign

I started on the pier in Santa Monica, California and ended up at an oceanside bed-and-breakfast in Provincetown, Massachusetts  – a distance of 3,108 miles.  I took 7.5 million steps and burned 310,800 calories – the equivalent of 89 pounds.

And I did it within a few miles of my house.

It might sound impressive, since I worked a full-time job and didn’t take any time off work.  But it wasn’t as impossible as it might sound.

For years I’ve talked about making that journey in seminars, describing how the cumulative effect of taking little steps can give you huge results.  If I walked three miles a day, I knew I could cover 1000 miles in a year’s time.  Roughly, I could cross the country in three years.

After using that example so many times, I thought I should actually try it.  So on January 1, I began my journey.

I figured out how many miles I should have covered on each day of that first year to keep me on track.  Then I found a free online pedometer where I could click my beginning point, and add my mileage each day along a map of the country.

Hiking signI “started” at a bait shop on the Santa Monica pier and began following the route of the 10 freeway.  Most days I would go to the river trail near our house and cover three miles.  Some days I would break the walking up between morning, lunchtime and evening.  Sometimes I would go more, while I might skip entire days occasionally.

It took some commitment and creativity to fit that walking into my schedule (especially on the days I was traveling or teaching seminars), but I was amazed at the distance I began to cover.

I was motivated to take walks each day, because each mile moved me further toward my virtual destination.

It was only a few weeks before I had crossed metropolitan Los Angeles, and was walking through the desert towns of Boron and Barstow. 

I picked up my pace in Las Vegas, and strolled through southern Utah.

Most days I would check the weather in the city closest to where I was walking to get a sense of what conditions were on that day.  I used satellite view so see the actual landscape I was crossing, and checked online for local news events in the cities I “visited.”

I hiked over mountains, worked my way through corn fields, and watched the leaves change in the fall.  I went through big towns, little towns, and miles of open desert.  I tracked my progress daily.

Three years later, right after Christmas, I “checked in” to the hotel by the Atlantic ocean.

What did I learn?

The biggest goals, insurmountable obstacles and wildest dreams are much more achievable and realistic than we think.

How do we accomplish things that seem huge?

    1. Determine the precise destination.
    2. Take little steps.
    3. Keep track of where those little steps are taking you.
    4. Enjoy the journey.

What’s your big dream for 2013? (Comment below)

  • Robin

    LOVE this!!!!!! Can you tell me the site you used? I am going to print this out and put it on my mirror. I have some goals/dreams that I want to accomplish over the next couple of years……..I am stirred to WALK : )

    • That’s great, Robin – thanks for connecting!

      The website I used doesn’t exist anymore in the same form, which is OK. It was several years ago, and wasn’t nearly as sophisticated or user-friendly as some of the ones out there now. It was the Google Pedometer. I just looked it up, and it took me to http://www.mappedometer.com – which I think is the updated version. I’d just Google “online pedometers” and see what comes up! (I planned my original route using Mapquest, then printed off the step-by-step directions so I’d know when to turn!)

  • Kathy Collard Miller

    That is such a cool concept. Did you wave when you walked by our house off the 10 Freeway? 🙂 I’m writing from Seattle. Get to visit Raffi. Yippee! My goal for this week is to spend as much time as possible listening to his little 5 year old heart–as one step toward a wonderful relationship in the future. This “little” step will pay dividends–by faith.

    • Sorry for the delay in responding, Kathy – I’m a little behind in computer stuff!

      Yes, I waved when I walked by your house on the 10 fwy. But you weren’t home – you were at White House/Black Market, and Larry was sitting on a bench outside . . .

      So awesome that you got to invest in your lil’ guy – you’re a good listener already, so I’m sure it’ll stick!

      Thanks –