Frequently Asked Questions from the road

What do your parents say/think?

It’s funny, but men ask me what my dad thinks about me walking across the country alone, and women tend to ask what my mom thinks. Occasionally someone will ask with a generic “parents”

My parents, like most people, probably think I’m nuts. But I’m lucky enough to have parents that support me in whatever I do. Oh sure, they’ll try their hardest to convince me not to do something if they think it’s foolish, but once I’ve made up my mind for reals they pretty much stand behind me 100%. Because my family is full of rock stars like that.

How old are you?

Which is usually paired up with the parents question. Apparently I look like a high schooler? I’ve gotten asked a handful of times if I’m doing this after my HS graduation. I know I don’t look my age, but High School? Really? Okay then.

For those wondering, I am 30. The big three oh. I’m not particularly fond of that age, so it irks me to have to say it so frequently, but there it is. I did accidentally lie twice, saying I was 29, but it was an honest mistake! I often forget how old I am.

Where do you stay/sleep?

This seems to be the most confusing aspect of my lack of planning for people. The loosely planned route and time table are one thing, but not having a plan for where I’m sleeping each night really seems to throw people off.

When I’m in a city, which I try to avoid as much as possible, I find a campground or hotel/motel to stay in. Mostly I try to plan my days so that I’m walking through the cities and sleeping in the country, but it can’t always work out like that.

When I’m in the country, basically I walk until Anna lets me know she’s done. There comes a point in the day where she lets me know a rest isn’t going to cut it and I better find a place to sleep. This is usually a few miles before I’m done for the day, but what can you do?

When Anna gives me the signal I check out the area I’m in and look for a house with a yard. I tend to lean towards houses that have a well maintained garden/yard and house, and also houses with signs of a family. Families are always safer than singles. Really what it comes down to, and I know it sounds silly, but I go with a house that just feels right. I know it when I see it, and my gut instinct hasn’t led me wrong yet.

When I pick a house, I stroll over and park my gear at the edge of the driveway or yard, walk up and knock on the front door. When someone answers I say some variation of, “Hello, my name is Kelly and the dog is Anna, and we’re walking across the country. I was wondering if I could use a spot of your lawn to set up my tent for the night?”

I explain that I’ll just need a bit fo the tent and that I’ll be out and gone by the time the sun is in the sky. Sometimes people say yes and point to a spot on their lawn, and a majority of people invite me in for some lemonade, to use their bathroom, or just to chat. Once in awhile people will offer a spare bedroom for us to crash in, which is above and beyond and all sorts of awesome.

So that’s about it.

What do you do about showers and going to the bathroom?

Showers, while lovely lovely things, are not really a priority at the moment. I’ve been really lucky and a lot of the people who allow me to tent in their yard also invite me in for a shower, but that’s not always the case. And really, a shower is great but there’s no escaping the fact that for most of the days I’m going to be a stinky sweaty dirty mess. That’s what happens when you walk all day in the hot sun and dusty roads.

As for bathroom breaks – I have options. Sometimes there are stores that have public restrooms, sometimes local parks have porta-potties, and sometimes I use the woods. It all depends on where I am.

Those seem to be the most pressing or often asked questions. If you’re curious about something don’t be shy!

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4 thoughts on “Frequently Asked Questions from the road

  1. Excellent post, thanks for answering those. I most enjoy reading about how you trust your instincts; it is hard to explain, but crucial to be able to do so.
    And, yes you do look kinda young! And that’s not a bad thing, unless someone mistakes “youth” for “innocence”….LOL

    • A lot of people seem to be slightly reassured when I tell them my age, so maybe they were thinking I was some innocent 18 year old jumping out into the world with no sense? As opposed to the wise and mature woman of years that I am…..ha, right!

  2. I know the feeling about people mistaking you for younger than you are! I went to the courthouse not too long ago to get a copy of my third son’s birth certificate (none of the kids were with me), and as I was walking out, someone (I’d chatted with on the way in) said, “Have a nice day, young lady!” Gee. Thanks for the compliment, but I’m 26. I don’t think I quite qualify as “young”!

    I have a couple questions, since you said you don’t mind us asking them. 1, How much food do you carry with you, and/or how do you feed yourself and your dog while on the road? Kind of silly, come to think of it, but I guess what I’m going for is more, what sort of diet do you have while on the road? Do you carry things like granola bars and ramen with you, or freeze dried foods, or mostly just buy something to eat as you get hungry and see something that sounds good, or what? All in the name of curiosity, you know 😉

    My second question, and if I’m crossing a line, please don’t feel like you have to answer, is how do you fund your walks, or do you just not worry about money? I’d love to do something like this myself one day, and that’s one of my biggest concerns.

    • I carry about 10-15lbs of dog food at a time, divided up into ziploc bags which are then put in odor-proof bags to protect from weather and critters. Anna’s food is actually a lot trickier than my own, since she’s sensitive to certain ingredients and will only eat grain-free natural stuff. Which means it’s harder to come by randomly along the road.

      As for me, I have a little cooler that has some mixture of : peanut butter, bagels, fruit leather, Clif bars, pop tarts, and other odds and ends. Lots of easily packable foods that don’t need to be heated or prepared much. I usually pick up a few things here and there as I go along. Right now I’m traveling pretty populated roads so I don’t worry too much about food, but I do plan ahead and see when I need to stock up a bit more.

      I’ve been planning this walk for quite a while, and in planning I saved up a chunk of money to finance it. It’s not much, so I’m trying to spend as little as I can along the way. Which is why I try to avoid hotels and campgrounds if possible and more depend on the kindness of strangers and “stealth” camping.

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