Hello my name is Edward Mjelde, I have completed a walk over 5,000 miles, coast-to-coast, across the USA from Delaware to California using the American Discovery Trail as a guide. The walk took me about 13 cumulative months, split into two periods of walking, with a break during the winter of 2013-2014.

Immediately after finishing my walk in October 2014, I took a loan out for a 2014 Ford Escape and started living out of it. I started working on the assembly line for a manufacturing company and was later promoted to a Regional Sales Manager.

I continue to enjoy living out of my vehicle, it simply makes life more meaningful for me. I have no personal storage unit or side apartment. All of my belongings fit and are easily accessible in my trunk. I do not store anything on my passenger seats or in the floor space of my vehicle.

Please refer to the following links to learn more:

Pictures From my Walk- http://imgur.com/a/N9IUW

Life Out of my Vehicle- http://imgur.com/a/1LTyw

My Website- www.walkusa.org

Instagram- @WalkUSA

My Proof: http://i.imgur.com/bSEjm5G.jpg

AMA

Comments: 73 • Responses: 28  • Date: 

_________________--30 karma

Would you walk 5000 more?

WalkUSA23 karma

Absolutely! Just to be the man who walked 10,000 miles...

amykhar9 karma

Do you feel living this way is safer/easier because you are a man?

WalkUSA14 karma

I know a couple of woman who have walked across the country.

In fact, the same day that I started the American Discovery Trail there was a 21 year old woman named Kirsta Weber who I ran into at the trailhead of the ADT at Cape Henlopen, DE. Completely by coincidence, a rare event since the trail is not very popular.

She recently completed the trail and I have kept up with her. During her experience she said it was rare that she was ever harassed and she actually had more stories to tell about the handsome men that helped her out.

I'm not sure if it is safer or easier doing this. I will say though, that during my own travels I experienced the same thing as Kirsta. I was rarely harassed and people were for the most part friendly and hospitable.

You can find Kirsta Weber's trail journal here: http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?trailname=14796

Kevin1983s6 karma

Do you have a girlfriend in this quasi-secret life of yours?

WalkUSA8 karma

I'm currently single, but I am lucky to have a few ladies who enjoy having me around.

Effimero896 karma

  1. Did you use doritios cool ranch as fuel for this trip?

  2. Was there every a time you told yourself that you were going to die?

  3. What was your most dreadful sleeping situation?

WalkUSA9 karma

  1. Occasionally. If I go for Doritios its usually Cool Ranch... but to be honest... "White Cheddar Cheez-Its" is was what did it for me.

  2. Yes, quite a few time actually. See below for a story.

  3. I once got blown away by a storm in the San Rafael Desert, UT and ended up finding an old broken down rusted truck that was unlocked that I got into to avoid the storm. It was dark and I couldn't really see anything. After getting situated, I pulled out my light to look inside. It was the most DISGUSTING place I ever put my body. Full of rotting junk and trash. I slept in there the entire night, covering my mouth and nose with my dirty socks and extra shirt to avoid breathing in air.

You can read more about this story here: http://www.walkusa.org/blog/the-night-i-cried-an-account-of-getting-hit-but-a-monsoon-lighting-storm-in-utah

weech5 karma

Nice work Edward, I love stories like this. Where do you park your car at night? And has anyone ever caught you and asked you to leave?

WalkUSA6 karma

Thank you! I try to park in places that people rarely go to. I will often look at areas using Google Earth and Street View to scope out places before I decided to drive there and park.

I have been caught many times. Often times an officer will ask to see my ID and ask me a couple of questions. Even when I'm parked illegally, many times officers will turn their heads and let me be for the night after hearing my story. I have been asked to move before.

weech2 karma

I'm curious how those conversations go. Is it always cops that question you and ask you to leave, or local residents? Also, so you switch places every week, or are there goto locations that you can camp or in for extended periods of time?

WalkUSA4 karma

I have never been approached by any one asking me to leave other than the police.

I often move around to new places, but I have a few choice spots that I often come back to.

To give an idea of where these spots are... some are behind large retailers, which is nice because some of them have WIFI that I can connect to. Others are usually dead end streets or around hiking trail systems. These are just idea, where I sleep can vary and I often sleep outside.

prestonb4 karma

Wow, this is so cool. Major respect for you, what you've done, and what you're doing now.

If you could replace your feet with anything that would make that trek more exciting/fun, what would you replace them with? Ankle down, legs have gotta stay.

WalkUSA2 karma

I thought a couple of times about how rad long boarding across the country would be.

Lofar7883 karma

What kind of shoes did you wear during your walk? Did you have to deal with blisters?

WalkUSA6 karma

I read that the number one reason that people quit long treks like this is because of foot related problems. Knowing this, I read as much as I could to learn how to take care of my feet.

This book was helpful: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004K6MDZU/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?ie=UTF8&btkr=1

During my adventure I rarely had blisters. I made sure that I kept at least two pairs of socks and that I regularly cleaned and let them dry during the day on my pack. If I felt a hot spot, I stopped immediately and treated the area with moleskin and tape. Keeping good feet is all about being preventive and proactive.

I used Salomon shoes during the whole walk, I wore through 9 pairs.

The XT Wings 3 were my top pick: https://www.rei.com/product/837421/salomon-xt-wings-3-trail-running-shoes-mens

bestCallEver3 karma

What were you doing before you started the walk? Did you quit a job, leave a lover behind, give up on something else important.

I dream of doing something similar but it feels so hard to break away. But it's my only life! Ahhhhcjkk How did you DO it?

WalkUSA8 karma

Before the walk I was working as an Assistant Manager for Denny's. In fact, I just got my promotion a few months earlier. I felt terrible having to tell them that I had to quit after they just spent the time to train me.

I left a lover behind. A really beautiful and nice girl I had been dating for a couple of months. I also had to say goodbye to my friends for an extended period of time.

and, I gave away nearly all my valued possessions...

I will never regret it though. I now work a job that I never could imagine myself having before I left, I continue to find love in my life, and the things I once valued as possessions I realize I don't need.

myonelastchance2 karma

While on your walk were there any hazards or obstacles you had to overcome?

WalkUSA2 karma

Yes. All the time I faced obstacles that I needed to overcome. Luckily, walking is slow and often I would have a lot of time to visualize solutions to the problems I faced.

updownansideways2 karma

What were some of the scariest/most creepy experiences you had?

WalkUSA6 karma

I think some of the most frightening moments of the walk had to deal with weather and scarcity of water.

Lightening storms started really freaking me out after a bolt nearly striked me when I was in Indiana. There were times when I was blasted by storms and had no better option than to continue to walk through it. There were times I would walk as fast I could when I was brutally worn out just keep warm.

When I was out in the desert in Utah and Nevada water was my major concern. I once couldn't find a spring I planned for when I was traveling from Moab to Hanksville. I had a back up plan, but it was rough and required me to walk far out of my way for the next chance of water... I wanted to cry but I couldn't waste the water.

I found the spring I was looking for several hours later. It was a disgusting puddle of water. It was magical, I was so happy to see that putrid water. I gathered 8 3/4 litters of it and drank as much as I could on the spot... using a squeeze filter and chlorine tabs. To me it meant that I wasn't going to die.

westorch2 karma

Thanks for doing an AMA! Where do you usually take a shower or use a bathroom?

WalkUSA1 karma

I use public bathrooms and usually take showers at the gym. Just recently I put a small shower into my SUV which I am excited about!

WhiteHarem2 karma

Do Zen Budhists Dwell Too Much On Emptiness?

WalkUSA3 karma

I actually spent a lot of time thinking about emptiness. I actively meditated when I was walking.

I think there is something to all of it.

During my walk I spent a lot of time thinking about the nature of reality. I turned mostly to science and read book after book about quantum mechanics and particle physics. I also spent time looking into different world religions, like Hinduism.

I was trying to find answers to the synchronicity I was experiencing in life. I often had thoughts that seemed clairvoyant that happened so often that I felt it was beyond coincidence. Were my thoughts and visualizations somehow effecting the reality I was experiencing? Did I have a third eye?

I spent a lot of time thinking about this all... perhaps Zen Budhists have spent a lot of time thinking about it as well.

alliance5012 karma

So what was the craziest, scariest, funniest, and most memorable thing you have seen/do/heard on your walk?

WalkUSA4 karma

One of the things that fascinated me the most was the increase of synchronicity I started to experiance in my life.

I would often visualize or get random thoughts about things that would later become significant.

Like one time I was walking down a road in a snow storm. My hands were behind my back because I had lost my gloves and they were freezing.

I just couldn't stop thinking about my hands being warm...

Then randomly this guy pulls over and the first thing he asks me... not my name, or where I'm going, or what I'm doing... he asks if I need gloves... He has a pair on his passenger seat and he hands them over to me... he says I can have them...he tells me to be safe and then pulls away without saying anything else... I couldn't believe it.

Things like that would happen to me all the time.

At some point I realized that these events were significant and I wanted explanation for them. I started to look into it... My journey lead me to reading a lot about quantum mechanics and partical physics... I looked into world religions like Hinduism... I looked at the most orthodox ideas and the ones on the fringe...

I think there should be something said about being in the right place and time.

Simply being in a place and time where events can more readily happen, opens up the valve of probability on a collection of many different events that could occur. How we interact in these places and times will update the chances of different events occurring.

On my walk, my life was more open to then possibilities than it has ever been.

It's the craziest, scariest, funniest, and most memorable thing to find out that perhaps, this entire time you have been alive, that things are not all what they seemed... and perhaps you have a larger role in the unfolding of reality than you expected.

PangurBanHammer2 karma

What would be your most important advice to someone else who was planning a similar trip across the country? If you did it again, what would you do differently?

What do you think the biggest advantage is when living out of a vehicle? Biggest disadvantage?

WalkUSA3 karma

My advice is to encourage you to go about your adventure with a loving heart and to open yourself up to the possibilities in the moments you are in. Visualize everyday what will make your day special and try and place yourself in those spots of space and time to make it happen. You will have a blast.

One of my favorite advantages is that I don't ever have the feeling that I have to run or get home. I am always home and have everything I need where ever I choose to go. It's wonderful.

The biggest disadvantage...There are disadvantages, but I'm not so sure what would be the greatest... I have come pretty accustomed to this type of life. To an onlooker it may seem I gave up a lot of comfort and luxury to live how I do, but I feel very happy and comfortable.

b42thomas2 karma

On a scale from 0-10 how much would you recommend walking coast-to-coast?

WalkUSA4 karma

10

Walking across the country was probably the best thing I have done in my life, but I don't think it's for everyone.

I think the important thing is to chase what has meaning for you.

fructoseintolerant1 karma

Any cool animal friends you've made along the way?

What's you're favorite United States biome that you've encountered?

WalkUSA2 karma

I found friends with dogs, cats, cows, horses, donkeys, and an occasional love hate relationship with raccoons. In my imgur pictures of my walk you'll find a cool picture of a goose I made friends with in Utah.

I liked all the different variety that I found. Two states that surprised me was Southern Illinois and Ohio, there was a lot of beauty that I wasn't expecting.

KingOfDatShit1 karma

Who is your favourite Scrubs character?

WalkUSA4 karma

Probably Turk with J.D. close behind.

WinWaker1 karma

What did you do for food during your walk?

WalkUSA2 karma

I would pack enough food to get me to the next town and then usually eat out while I was in town... a lot of the times it was fast food or small restaurants in town.

I would take all my food out of the packages when I bought it. I would remove all the foods packaging and store my food in reusable zip lock bags.

I would commonly eat Mac and cheese, instant mash potatos, energy bars, nuts, chocolate, crackers, rice, tuna, and beef jerky. Just to give an idea.

Allysonanonymous111 karma

I hope this isn't too forward, but I'm curious as to what you do with all your money if you live so minimalist.

Also, do you ever think you'll want a child?

WalkUSA3 karma

Even though I have few things, the things I do own are all quality. Backpacking gear is expensive and I don't shy away from the things that I think preform the best.

I like eating out and taking women on dates. I like traveling and spend a ton of money on gas.

I am also paying off debt, I will have my vehicle paid off in 3 years total as well as the loan I used to help finance my walk.

I think I would enjoy raising kids, when that time comes I'll morph my life to allow and be ready for it.

jugcone1 karma

What was the most difficult part of your journey?

WalkUSA1 karma

The West. Colorado, Utah, and Nevada were probably the hardest states to get across.

I had no idea what it would be like climbing 14ers or how it would be in the rockies. I was especially nervous because I was traveling near ultralight with just a tarp and bivy.

Utah and Nevada were difficult because of the huge separation between towns and the lack of water.

Zero21761 karma

What makes walking more meaningful to you?

WalkUSA3 karma

I think I understand why people wake up in the suburbs spiritually depleted working their 9-5. I think they have forgotten how much of a role they play in the own unraveling of their lives because of all the obligations and responsibilities they face.

When I was walking I got to explore a different way of living, one that was much more intuitive than most can experience with all their daily responsibilities.

When I needed to eat, I ate. When I needed to rest, I rested. When I got a gut feeling to take a particular route or go into a particular shop or restaurant, I did. When a stranger came and gave me company, I usually welcomed it.

I think there is something about being part of the chaos, living by your gut, and about being in the right places at the right times that opens up all sorts of possibilities that could be had in a day.

I continued to find that living this way placed me a beautiful inner rhythm, where I would constantly experience synchronistic moments. It happened so much that I would sometimes feel as if I was clairvoyant or maybe that perhaps my thoughts and visualizations somehow effected the reality I was experiencing. I started looking for answers from science, digging into quantum mechanics and partical physics. I looked into world religions. I read ideas that were orthodox and fringe.

I think what made the walk so meaningful for me was that I came to realize that perhaps, this entire time I have been alive, that things were not all what they seemed... and perhaps I had a larger role in the unfolding of reality than I expected.

Xinidaxue1 karma

what shoes did you wear?

WalkUSA2 karma

I used Salomon shoes during the whole walk, I wore through 9 pairs.

The XT Wings 3 were my top pick: https://www.rei.com/product/837421/salomon-xt-wings-3-trail-running-shoes-mens

EMlN3M1 karma

Didn't you just do an ama like 2 weeks ago?

WalkUSA1 karma

Not to long ago I shared the Imgur link about my walk across the country on /r/pics, but I have never done an AMA.

Ive been asked repeatedly to do an AMA. So today, I am here to answer any questions about my walk and also my SUV lifestyle.

goin_nil1 karma

It looks like you have a steady job now and I assume that you are tied to one city, an office/desk - do you enjoy having an "anchor spot" now or is your dream job one that lets you live anywhere you want at any time?

WalkUSA1 karma

Great question. I actually now work as a Regional Sales Manager for a manufacturing company in the swimming pool industry, so now I travel around a lot! I manage 7 states... Northern Cali, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Northern Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.

I enjoy traveling, but honestly I feel like I have been doing this for awhile now and it might be nice to be in one place for awhile... argh, but who knows... If I started to anchor down I'd probably get itchy feet and want to start traveling again.

I'm not sure what I really want...

adarkfable-1 karma

has anybody ever PM'd you threatening to expose your semi-secret lifestyle unless you pay them money on paypal? and if so, how much money did they request per month?

WalkUSA3 karma

I say "quasi-secretly" because anyone who does a little research on me can figure out that I live out of my vehicle. However, to those who don't pry, it would be hard to figure out that I do.

It would be hard to hold it as blackmail against me.

MrHankeyPoo-1 karma

Do you sleep in you vehicle as well or?

Also, what made you choose this way of living?

WalkUSA2 karma

I sleep in my vehicle, it actually transforms into a living space quite nicely, check out the link I provided in the post. I also enjoy sleeping outside a lot of the time.

I choose this way of living because it creates more meaning for me. The things I'm looking for don't often happen behind the white walls of a traditional bedroom.

I'm looking to constently place myself in the places in time and space where the things I want to find occur.

MrHankeyPoo1 karma

And have you never encountered criminals trying to rob you, etc?

WalkUSA5 karma

Yes, actually. One time this guy came by that I thought was trying to break in, but he didn't see me at first.

I arose and scared the crap out of him! You should have seen his face.