I lost everything in a tornado about a year after I got out of the Army, so I began walking between towns in search of a new job. After three months of not having any luck, I realized all of that walking and sleeping under the stars was helping with my PTSD. I then decided to walk across America to see if it would help with my depression and anxiety. While the idea was to walk across America once, it slowly progressed into much more than that. Alone and unsupported, I traveled from Tennessee to Delaware, to California, to Florida, to Alaska, back to Florida, and back to California again. During my travels, I was helping to raise money for Shot At Life, the Wounded Warriors Project, and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. However, none of that money went to me. I did a lot of hunting, trapping, fishing, foraging, and even dumpster diving for food. I also slept outside 97% of the time, so I didn’t have to worry much about money. Every now and then I would find odd jobs so I could purchase new gear or the occasional motel room. Because my efforts were going to a good cause, this gave me a sense of purpose and self-worth that I hadn't felt since I was in the Army, which is why I continued doing it for as long as I did. I was pretty much addicted to it and continued pushing myself until my body finally reached its breaking point after 10,000 miles. I was then diagnosed with a deadly disease and immediately began treatment. Since I was still homeless at the time, I set up my tent in the woods behind the hospital and prepared to settle there for three months, so I wouldn't miss any of my appointments. To help pass the time in my tent, I decided to write a book about my experiences of traveling across the country on foot. By the end of my treatment, I had my book self-published under the title, "Walking America: A 10,000 Mile Journey of Self-Healing." If you'd be interested in checking out my book, you can find it on my website at http://www.jakesansing.com Feel free to ask me anything!

Picture for proof that I am Jake Sansing https://imgur.com/P1TV4ju

Comments: 838 • Responses: 86  • Date: 

will2165545 karma

What was the disease?

JDAroadwarrior655 karma

Liver cancer

will2165362 karma

Rough. Hope the treatment went well or is going well.

JDAroadwarrior957 karma

It was a terrible experience, but I am currently still in remission as far as I know. Writing my book helped me to escape the reality of my situation. By the time I was done writing it, my treatment was over with and it was like I was set free. At least I have been able to get my story out there. I'm fine with whatever happens now. I just didn't want all of that to go to waste. While helping with charities was nice, I wanted my journey to inspire others even long after I'm gone. Publishing my book was assurance that my story could potentially go on forever. It is currently number 100 in PTSD on Amazon. That's pretty amazing.

NoodlesTheKitty27 karma

How long were you having symptoms for and what made you decide to see a doctor? I imagine the thought of medical expenses was very daunting. If you did wait to see a GP, were the fees part of the reason for this?

JDAroadwarrior99 karma

I felt unusually tired and had some pain in my stomach. And since I knew the last person I'd been with had hepatitis c, even though it's rare for a woman to pass it to a man through sex, I decided to get checked anyway. Turned out that I did not have hepatitis c but in fact had cancer. Crazy how everything happens for a reason.

201nj527 karma

Why didn't you use your Gibill or get VA benefits?

JDAroadwarrior539 karma

Not sure why anyone downvoted your question because it's a good question! I actually tried to go to school after I lost everything, but I couldn't handle the stress of it. I then applied for benefits, but I was denied. It was at that point that I started to give up and thought about walking across America. I applied again after my travels but was denied again. I am currently going through the process a third time, although this is the first time I've decided to use the help of a VSO, so I'm feeling hopeful.

FootHillsLawyer393 karma

I know a veteran who’s doctor consented to him doing something like a vision quest. He’s traveling now, alone except for his dog, and loving it. He’s doing treatment through telemedicine.

Two questions:

Will you describe the best thing about your 10,000 miles in reference to how it assisted your mental health?

Opposite question: what could you have done differently for your walk that could have made the experience even more of a positive for your life?

JDAroadwarrior567 karma

That's awesome! I kind of wonder if that doctor has read my book!

I think what helped me the most, besides getting exercise and being outdoors, was probably all of the kind strangers that I met. I was a nervous wreck about meeting people in the beginning but it became something I hoped for as the days went on. It seemed like every day someone would stop to ask if I needed anything or would even invite me into their home so I could eat dinner with them, shower, and get some laundry done.

Knowing what I know now, I would probably try to slow down. It wasn't uncommon for me to walk for two or three days without stopping. Maybe I had more energy then, but I wouldn't do it like that these days. I kind of feel like I needed to be worn out at the time, but I also feel like that's why my knees are so bad now. I always encourage new hikers to walk at a pace they're comfortable with. Slow down to smell the roses. You'll get there when you get there.

PaulBlartFleshMall142 karma

Slow down to smell the roses. You'll get there when you get there.

This is great advice!

My wife and I might hike a bit of the PCT next year and I kept trying to figure out how to train leading up to it so we could get the most miles down. Then I realized how shitty that sounded, lol. We'll still train up a bunch but I'm not trying to do 20+ mi days.

JDAroadwarrior167 karma

Trying to get in shape for it is a smart move but you don't have to go overboard. As long as you are in good enough condition to do it safely, you'll be fine. Take breaks and enjoy yourself. Unless you HAVE to hike 20+ miles to your next water source and you're on E, you shouldn't have to hike that hard. Let's say you're at a water source and you drink until your urine is clear and then you drink another liter before leaving and fill up again. You've already ingested enough water for that day, so what you're carrying is basically reserves. On that note, consider bringing a little salt with you. It helps your body to retain water and prevents cramps.

pdxtraveltips368 karma

Who was the most interesting person you met and why?

JDAroadwarrior2534 karma

I was passing through eastern Texas one winter when an older man pulled over behind me. I turned to see he was struggling to walk in my direction, so I began walking towards him so he wouldn't have to. He noticed me making my way over, so he stopped at the trunk of his car and waited for me. When I reached the man, he placed his hand on my shoulder and asked, "What's your favorite pie?" I gave him a confused look and laughed, "Umm.. Pecan, I guess. Why?" The old man smiled and popped open the trunk. As he pointed inside, I leaned over to see a pecan pie sitting there. I was a bit shocked, so I backed away, laughing. He then reached in to grab the pie and handed it to me. After I took it from him, he put his hand on my shoulder again and said, "God told me you were going to say that. Enjoy this pie, young man. And enjoy the rest of your trip."

For the record, I ate the pie and it was delicious lol

revnhoj836 karma

That is the wildest pie related story I've heard all day

JDAroadwarrior267 karma

Haha!

ThisisJacksburntsoul81 karma

What do you make of it? That encounter?

JDAroadwarrior272 karma

I don't know. I always wonder what would have happened if I had said any other pie. Although I'd be lying if I did.

cantRYAN31 karma

Did you pronounce is pe-cawn or pee-can? Just curious.

JDAroadwarrior99 karma

Peckin lol no.. Check out my audiobook to find out!

RuzzT9 karma

I think, if you had said anything else and been telling the truth, it would have been exactly what your answer was.

JDAroadwarrior37 karma

Or maybe he would have called me a liar and told me to take the pecan pie anyway lol

Cliftonamore269 karma

Did you have any dangerous encounters with local wildlife during your travels?

JDAroadwarrior1035 karma

I ran into a few dangerous animals, such as bears, mountain lions, wild boars, and coyotes. I never felt too threatened except for the grizzly bear encounter I had in Alaska. I was about a three-day hike into Denali National Park and had been staying in higher elevations to avoid the densely forested areas below. On the third day, I hiked down the mountain and made my way for a river to collect some water. Once I made it to the river, I slid down the muddy bank and reached for my canteen. When I pulled the canteen out, the elastic strap that had been holding it in place slapped loudly against my pack. I then heard the sound of water thrashing just around the bend, so I began to hurry out of there. About halfway up the bank, I turned around and saw a grizzly running in my direction. I scrambled faster to the top and immediately pulled out my bear spray. By then, the bear was only a few feet away and coming up the bank. I took the opportunity and sprayed it directly in the face, which made it back off a bit. After shaking its head and rubbing its face on the ground for a few seconds, it turned to come at me again. This happened about seven times or so. Thankfully, just after the last bit fizzled from the can, the bear finally decided it'd had enough and left. Although it was over, I still had a three-day hike back to the nearest road without any self-defense other than a knife, which was not an easy feeling. I was on edge for quite a while after that.

BravesMaedchen1029 karma

Your PTSD was cured to make room for the new PTSD

JDAroadwarrior424 karma

LOL

charliesk9unit101 karma

Wow, only went away after 7 hits? Either the ingredients were not very effective or that was a jacked up bear. Any chance the cubs were around for it to be this defensive?

JDAroadwarrior100 karma

I didn't see any cubs but that's what I was thinking

grANNAml35 karma

I always thought you only got one good spray out of a can. If he sprayed it 7 times maybe he wasn’t spraying enough.. or maybe I’m wrong and my carrying multiple cans with me these last three years living in Alaska was all for not.

JDAroadwarrior57 karma

You don't have to hold it down until it's all gone. Well, not the one I had. You can tap the trigger and let out as little or as much as you want.

bexter33 karma

That's terrifying! I was charged by a grizzly in the Canadian Rockies and your experience sounds even worse. I managed to scare off the bear by standing my ground. Stupidly my besr spray was attached to my pack and not accessible. Will never make that mistake again.

JDAroadwarrior55 karma

I don't think you stood your ground. The bear probably thought there was something wrong with you lol "Nope. Don't wanna eat that." But yeah, grizzlies are well known to make bluff charges. Just means they want you to leave. The grizzly that charged me was not bluffing, which is why I think there were probably cubs nearby. They usually don't care to fight something to eat it but would rather have an easy meal. If they want to fight, it's probably to protect their cubs or food cache.

pizzelle20 karma

My greatest fear is a bear encounter and it hinders my wish to travel and camp anywhere greatly.

JDAroadwarrior73 karma

In all seriousness, I wouldn't worry too much about that. I ran into several bears and most of them either ran off or didn't pay me any mind. I'm pretty sure that grizzly that ran up on me was either protecting its cubs or a food cache. Carry some bear spray if you want some reassurance. And if you want even more reassurance, consider carrying a 10mm. If the bear spray fails, you'll have that as a backup. Also, I wasn't making very much noise as I was making my way down to the water. They make "bear bells" that you can wear while hiking to help alert them that you're there, but I wasn't wearing one at the time.

Here is a picture of a black bear that I walked by and didn't pay me any mind: https://imgur.com/J7XJoxE

rosaliethayer185 karma

Did you ever happen to end up in Washington? Your story sounds so familiar to a man that my family sat and shared lunch with at a tractor pull in my hometown. That couldn’t be you, could it?

He was also writing a book, and I’ve always wondered what happened to him.

JDAroadwarrior158 karma

I've been through Washington but I never had lunch during a tractor pull while I was there.

rosaliethayer101 karma

Darn. He was also walking across the United States. I was so excited when I saw your story, and thought you could be him.

Regardless, wishing you the best, thank you for responding. Your story is beautiful, and your strength is inspiring.

theboy1der29 karma

u/CanuckBacon did a similar thing a few years ago. I came across him in Houston. he has a sub called r/SkylerTravels where he chronicles all of his trips. Maybe it was him?

CanuckBacon48 karma

Thanks for tagging me. Sadly, I have never been to a tractor pull. Sounds fun though!

JDAroadwarrior46 karma

The search for the mysterious "Tractor Pull Traveler" continues..

nazump150 karma

1) How did you plan your routes?
2) Do you have family? If so, how has this affected your relationships with them?
3) What was the most useful piece of gear?
4) Did you use any sort of vehicle at any point?

JDAroadwarrior309 karma

  1. I mostly traveled according to the weather and my next water source. I didn't have any specific routes planned. It was kind of day by day thing.

  2. I don't have a family of my own, as in no wife or kids. My mother was a little worried about it in the beginning, but she eventually came to terms with it. I went back to visit after a year of traveling and she noticed a positive change in me that I'm sure comforted her.

  3. I can't really say any one thing I had was more useful than anything else, but there are a few things I couldn't have gone without. If I had to take a small list of items from my pack that were absolutely necessary, I'd grab my sleeping bag, tarp, ferro rod, canteen, pocket knife, fishing line, 550 cord, and a few strands of steel wire.

  4. I took a train to DC in the beginning. I later took a bus home to see my mom for Mother's Day. I worked on an okra farm for a month to take a plane to Alaska because I couldn't walk through Canada. Other than that, no. I didn't hitchhike if that's what you are asking. That would have defeated the purpose.

photokeith64 karma

a few strands of steel wire.

What do you use these for?

JDAroadwarrior56 karma

Snares. You can use 550 cord, or just about anything you can make into a noose, but steel wire works much better.

Dannei33 karma

On point 4, why couldn't you travel via Canada? Too remote (I doubt it!), no passport, tourist visa restrictions that wouldn't let you travel on foot for so long, or something else?

JDAroadwarrior109 karma

It was kind of a combination of things that led to my decision to fly.

  1. I was already behind schedule. The point was to make it to Alaska and find a place to hunker down before winter.

  2. I didn't have an address in order to get a passport.

  3. I would have had to take time off to find a job in order to pay for a passport.

  4. I still would have had to wait a while to get the passport even after paying for it.

  5. I wasn't sure if they'd even let me through the gate if I had a passport and told them I planned on walking to Alaska.

JDAroadwarrior90 karma

I would like to walk across Canada, though. It sounds like an amazing experience.

gaudog132 karma

How often did you eat? Were you ever worried about finding a meal or going hungry?

JDAroadwarrior235 karma

I tried to eat every day, but there were a few days that I didn't eat anything at all. It's pretty hard to find anything in the desert. Was I ever worried about it? No. I was walking between twenty and fifty miles per day, so I knew I'd find food eventually.

apleasantpeninsula122 karma

that’s some pretty serious mileage! like, that’s a good pace on a BIKE

JDAroadwarrior198 karma

I actually rode a bike for a little bit in the beginning. It wasn't really my idea, but someone asked if I'd be interested in riding a bike across America with him. He ended up going home on the first day and I was kind of stuck with it. But while I had it, I was averaging 100 miles per day.

Zombieaterr33 karma

Why did he go home on the first day?

apleasantpeninsula9 karma

And what made you give up the bike?

JDAroadwarrior82 karma

It just wasn't how I wanted to do things. It was too fast and carrying all the weight for me. I wanted to go slower and feel the struggle. Carrying everything you own on your back is a humble feeling. A bicycle gives you the fake illusion that you're weightless and allows you to effortlessly carry more than you need. If my pack got too heavy then I knew I had too much stuff.

redjonley89 karma

What area that you hadn't ever been to before surprised you the most? Broke expectation in some way, and why?

JDAroadwarrior188 karma

I'd never been to any of the places I traveled to and through. Every day was new to me, but I was overwhelmed by the vastness and isolation of Denali National Park, Alaska. Honestly, I stopped having expectations after about the first month. I just kind of rolled with the punches. Something unexpected always happened and even the simplest of plans would likely have to be worked around.

IndyAJD77 karma

Incredible stories! Any best piece of advice for someone planning to do a thru-hike? (Pacific Crest Trail)

JDAroadwarrior252 karma

Stay aware of the weather and don't underestimate it.

Have more than one backup plan. Think up worst-case scenarios and know what you will do when they happen.

Stay hydrated and complete the miles necessary to get to the next water source, no matter how bad it hurts. If dying of dehydration doesn't motivate you then I don't know what will. I often stayed at a water source and drank until my urine was clear, then I'd drink a couple of liters again before heading out. Don't complain about water weight. Yes, it's heavy, but you need it to live.

Don't litter.

I could write another book on this question lol if you have more specific questions, feels free to continue.

MIGsalund6 karma

Did you use any method to sterilize your water or just drink straight from the source?

JDAroadwarrior26 karma

I always boiled my water unless I got it from a trustworthy source. There were a few times that I created filters before boiling if the water was very questionable. And if that were the case, I would usually ingest some activated charcoal with it just to absorb any remaining bacteria. This is usually enough to get rid of anything except for blue-green algae or poison hemlock, so it is a good idea to look around your water source for things like that first.

vanish00766 karma

I saw that you encountered a few dangerous animals and some kind strangers, but did you ever encounter any dangerous people along your way?

JDAroadwarrior158 karma

Yes, I did. It was pretty rare, though. A lot of people were assholes from the safety of their vehicles, but I did have some run-ins with bad people. I was shot at after accidentally coming across a meth house, got jumped in California from some guys who just had it out for homeless people, some guy tried getting me into his van after threatening me with his gun, and I caught some people in the process of stealing my things, which turned into a pretty bad altercation.

azelda34 karma

How did you get out of the gun situation

JDAroadwarrior168 karma

I have to leave a little mystery for my book lol

SSexpress53 karma

Did you see any unexplained weirdness, like any UFOs or ghosts, or just anything you couldn’t explain?

JDAroadwarrior89 karma

I saw some UFOs in Carson City, Nevada, and near Pescadero, California.

I don't think I ever saw any ghosts, but I did see a bunch of rocks flying around one night while camping under a bridge in California. I'm still scratching my head about that. I thought maybe the bridge was falling apart but it wasn't. Something was definitely throwing rocks at me. They were slamming into the nearby river and hitting my tent. There were hundreds of rocks all around me in the morning. I never heard anyone and was in a very remote area. Weird.

DavidCorzo26 karma

wtf this is freaking me out

how did you react?

JDAroadwarrior46 karma

I covered my head with all of my stuff in case a rock came crashing through my tent

passcork15 karma

Could just have come off the bridge's road duebto cars or a pickup/truck with an unstable load comming by, no?

JDAroadwarrior24 karma

No. I don't think a single vehicle passed that night. The road I was on may have even been a dead end.

friendlydave52 karma

Do you have a prized possession that you picked up during your travels?

JDAroadwarrior188 karma

No. I picked up a really cool rock at one point and turned it into a necklace, but I ended up giving it to some lady who invited me into her house for dinner. I kind of wish I still had it but things are just things.

entropybuddha51 karma

If you don't mind me asking, what was your experience in the Army?

JDAroadwarrior141 karma

I served four years with 5/2 1-17INF and did two tours in Afghanistan. I hated it lol but I'd probably do it again if I did it for the right reason. The only reason I joined was because it seemed like a good way to start a life for my family, but my fiancée cheated on me while I was in basic. So my whole time in the Army seemed kind of pointless. I wish I had joined for myself instead of doing it for someone else. I was just pissed off the whole time, which I guess worked out considering my MOS (11B).

entropybuddha12 karma

Sorry to hear this man, I hope you overcome your PTSD and your experiences!

JDAroadwarrior35 karma

I didn't exactly overcome it, but I have learned how to deal with it better.

BailoutBill43 karma

Did you more or less follow the interstate system, or did you find less traveled, old highways to follow?

JDAroadwarrior70 karma

I mixed it up between highways, back roads, trails, and did some backcountry hiking through BLM.

PennySavior38 karma

Would you ever consider being a guide for others who wanted to do something similar? Like a tour guide of sorts?

JDAroadwarrior98 karma

Maybe not a guide in the hike itself, but I can see myself giving someone the confidence to do it. I grew up spending a lot of time outdoors, was an infantryman for four years, and even picked up more survival skills while I was traveling across the country. I actually started a YouTube channel to share some information, but I've only posted one video on there so far. Maybe if I felt like more people were interested..

pizzelle12 karma

Yes please!

JDAroadwarrior20 karma

If you search for Jake Sansing on YouTube, I should come up. I don't want to post the actual link and have my post removed because of it.

Pacifist_Socialist37 karma

Hey, thanks for sharing, fellow veteran. My question is:

Did you try marijuana or psychedelic mushrooms to help with PTSD?

JDAroadwarrior71 karma

I didn't at the time. I had a few people give me some marijuana while I was walking and I smoked it before I went to sleep, but that was very rare. I started smoking regularly after my travels and found that it helped a lot. It was hard for me to try and get back to society after all of this and smoking helped to ease that anxiety. I haven't tried mushrooms yet, though.

Samsagirlname32 karma

How did you deal with the cold?

JDAroadwarrior131 karma

I almost had a heat stroke a couple of times but never had any problems with the cold. I actually prefer the winter months and tried to go wherever the coldest climates were. I had a zero degree sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, three pairs of wool base layers, a fleece, a balaclava, gloves designed for riding horses in the winter, three pairs of wool socks, waterproof boots, a windproof/waterproof jacket, and windproof/waterproof pants. Actually, I take it back that I never had any problems in the winter. I did soaking wet at one point, which could have been fatal. Other than that, I enjoyed it.

Here is a picture of me camping during a blizzard https://imgur.com/qbxRSNz

rlovepalomar24 karma

Did you pick all this up along your travels or how were all these items retained after the tornado? Seems like after the tornado you just decided to up and leave but after reading more seems like you were a long term backpacker not necessarily just sleeping in the clothes you had on your back when you left. So how thought out was your trip and how far in advance did you start to plan to leave after losing your belongings in the tornado?

JDAroadwarrior103 karma

When I got out of the Army, I purchased a vehicle and drove across the country from Ft. Lewis, Washington to my home state of Tennessee. I immediately opened a recording studio and was living in the back of it. About a year later, the girl I was dating at the time talked me into getting a house with her. I couldn't afford the house and studio at the same time, so I began doing just the mixing and mastering from home. She ended up leaving me after only one month, and I couldn't afford the house by myself because I'd lost nearly all of my customers. I then began living out of my car while I continued looking for work. That's when I was hit by a tornado and my car got smashed, along with nearly everything inside of it. I then sold my car to a junkyard and sold a few other things that didn't get destroyed. That was enough to get me started. Everything else, I just kind of picked up along the way. I didn't start out with everything I wanted but I had what I needed.

drank2much30 karma

What was the average number of miles you would get out of a pair of shoes?

JDAroadwarrior95 karma

Hiking boots, about 3,000 miles. Hiking shoes, about 2,000 miles. Skate shoes, about 100 miles. I started in a pair of skate shoes lol

thatawkwardmoment830 karma

What’s the best part , and most difficult part , about writing a book regarding your journey?

JDAroadwarrior70 karma

It was hard for me because I had to keep charging my laptop outside of the hospital. I'm sure I would have enjoyed it more if I had been in a house and didn't have to worry about electricity. I also wrote it during the summer, so it was really hot and uncomfortable, especially inside of my tent. I enjoy writing, though. It helped me to get through my cancer treatment.

unclescar2128 karma

What weapons did you use to hunt with, and what wild game did you take? What was your favorite to eat?

JDAroadwarrior73 karma

I mostly fished and set up snares, but I'd occasionally use an atlatl. I only took small game, such as rabbits, opossums, squirrels, and birds. My favorite was finding eggs, though. It's pretty easy to find duck eggs and it doesn't require more energy than just walking up to it.

RedditPrat28 karma

You had to have walked in all kinds of weather. What's your most interesting memory, as far as the weather, while you were doing your travels?

JDAroadwarrior61 karma

You're right. I went through it all, including tornados, blizzards, dust storms, and droughts. I think the worst for me was when I was in Tennessee during August. I passed out from heat exhaustion and woke up later that night with blood all over my face. I had a heat stroke in the Army, so my body doesn't handle heat too well. I should have known better.

BravesMaedchen18 karma

What was the blood from??

JDAroadwarrior38 karma

The capillaries bursting in my nose, I'm guessing..

guzzle9 karma

Someone hasn’t fallen on their face before…. Must be nice!

JDAroadwarrior29 karma

Haha! It was actually just so hot that the capillaries ruptured in my nose. I didn't actually fall on my face. I laid down because I was so hot that I felt like I was going to faint. As soon as I laid down, I passed out.

ElGoldenGringo1 karma

Guessing passing out and smashing it...?

BravesMaedchen1 karma

I now realize I'm a dumbass. I was like wtf, did the heat make his face pop???

JDAroadwarrior3 karma

No, you were right. I didn't fall on my face. It was just that hot.

Gamer_Jack_Gameson27 karma

I did the same thing man, sans the Army. I walked across parts of Texas first, then Arizona, then finally California. It was the best thing I ever did. All hint of mental illness died within 3 weeks of walking. I was pure humanity. Every day was special and fun. I had no more anxiety, which I realized came from my environment and social expectations instead of within myself. I realized that the pressures of society were weighing me down and making me think I needed to do things that really weren't that important. I also gained a deep-seated confidence in myself that hasn't been shaken since. It was truly a right of passage for me.

How does that compare to your experience?

JDAroadwarrior13 karma

It sounds similar to what I went through. People and their expectations on us to comfortably rejoin them in society does cause a lot of anxiety. By physically walking away, you are proving to them that their way of doing things just isn't for you. At that point, you gain confidence and they gain respect. Seems like that to me anyway. "Hike your own hike" can be applied to more than just hiking.

Steve_mind22 karma

what are you doing with your life now?

JDAroadwarrior118 karma

After I had my book published, I began walking along the west coast and sold autographed copies to people on the streets. I did that for about a year and was finally able to purchase a vehicle. However, the guy that sold to me ripped me off. It turned out that the transmission was bad in it. I then met up with an old friend from high school and began living with her in Los Angeles. She let me borrow her car to use it for work while she was at work, which I was supposed to be saving the money to buy myself a vehicle but it was all kind of going back to her. I was still able to save a little, though, and was able to put a down payment on my own vehicle about a year later. I am currently living out of that vehicle and trying to pay it off as quickly as possible. After I get this car paid off, which will really help my credit, I plan to buy some remote land in either Washington, Oregon, or Alaska. I've thought about driving around the country to set up book signings, but I feel like I'd be wasting more money on gas and mechanical issues than I'd make from the book sales. So, I'm just doing a little work here and there and trying to promote my book online. It's a slow process and a balancing act, but the thought of having my own land keeps me motivated for now.

droseri22 karma

Did you struggle with feelings of shame or regret during your journey? If so, how did you mentally combat those challenges?

JDAroadwarrior116 karma

I felt shame sometimes when the fact that I was homeless really hit me. I never really felt homeless until I made my way into towns. The people would make me feel that way. This wasn't always the case, but it happened occasionally. For example, I had just finished making it across the country and made my way into Eureka, California. I walked into a gas station and asked the cashier if I could use the restroom. She replied, "Nope. Sorry. It's for customers only." So I reached down and tossed a candy bar onto the counter. She continued, "I'm not selling you that, sir. You just want to buy something so you can use the restroom." I raised an eyebrow and replied, "Well, yeah, you just said the bathroom is for customers." She shook her head and said, "I'm not letting you use the bathroom. I know how you homeless people are. Ya'll go in there and shoot up, making a huge mess. Nope. Not happenin'." I laughed and replied, "Ma'am, I'm not going to go in there and do drugs, nor will I make a mess. I just have to have to use the bathroom. I feel like I'm on the verge of shitting on myself." She shook her head again and replied, "I'm not letting you use the bathroom, sir. Now, leave, before I call the police." At this point, I feel like I'm being targeted just for being homeless, so I shout back, "Well, what the fuck do you want me to do? You want me to go outside and shit in the parking lot?" The lady smirked and replied, "You can shit wherever you want but it ain't goin' to be in our bathroom." I then went outside and found a bush to go behind, but I was barely hidden. I could see people in the store looking over towards me, pointing and laughing. How did I handle it mentally? Well, I hated being treated like that, but I got over it pretty quick and continued on my way. That's just one example, though.

TheOceanBoy16 karma

Have you considered selling the movie rights to your story? Any Redditors who can help with this?

JDAroadwarrior13 karma

That would be awesome! I'd love to see my book turned into a movie!

Y__U__MAD14 karma

Best walking shoes?

JDAroadwarrior24 karma

I'm not really sure what the best is, but I included a list of the gear I used on my website. I definitely recommend some solid boots, though.

-Omegamart-13 karma

What did you do during the Pandemic?

JDAroadwarrior9 karma

This all took place between 2013-2016. I stayed in my vehicle, with my girlfriend, or out on BLM during the pandemic.

Honest_Joseph13 karma

What is your take on Universal Basic Income and what it could do for people experiencing or are close to homelessness?

JDAroadwarrior25 karma

I feel like food is more important. I think it's strange that even homeless people aren't given the right to hunt and fish without paying for a license. Interestingly, the government gives low-income Alaskans the option to choose between fishing and hunting gear or food stamps. Why isn't this a thing everywhere? I feel like everyone should be eligible for food stamps at least. Well, Americans anyway, because they force us to buy food one way or another.

mojojojo3110 karma

What do you think about when you're walking those long distances?

JDAroadwarrior12 karma

I thought all kinds of things and just let my imagination run wild. I talked to myself a lot, came up with ideas for inventions, and just enjoyed the sights. Sometimes I would just clear my head and not think about more than my environment. I also thought a lot about where I was going to sleep that night, what my next meal might be, and where my next water source would come from. As I was walking, I would study all of the plants around me, too. Mostly because I wanted to know what all food was around me, but also just out of curiosity. Long walks alone might sound boring but it's a great way to connect with yourself. It's almost like meditating.

calihillhunter9 karma

Did you bang any milfs along the way?

JDAroadwarrior12 karma

Yep

elucify8 karma

Your story reminds me a bit of Peace Pilgrim.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_Pilgrim

Is your story similar to hers in any way?

JDAroadwarrior9 karma

In some ways my journey was similar. I never really talked much about peace, but I was searching for it myself and tried to lead by example.

detrydis7 karma

Did anyone ever tell you to “walk it off” before you set out on this journey?

JDAroadwarrior10 karma

Yep lol I sure showed them!

comicsnerd7 karma

What was the best state to walk through and what was the worse? And why?

JDAroadwarrior39 karma

I really enjoyed walking through Northern California just because I find the redwood forests so peaceful.

The worst state to walk through would probably be Texas. The people were super friendly but it just seemed to go on forever. It felt like I was stuck in an episode of the twilight zone where every day was the same.

deepsea3337 karma

Why did you give up?

Edit : response from op was correct. Suck it downvoters.

JDAroadwarrior34 karma

The only reason I stopped was because my knees went out. They kept popping out of place and swelling up. It was difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that I couldn't do it forever. I might even do it again if I can get knee surgery.

freudianSLAP7 karma

Yo look up "knees over toes guy" on youtube, you can strengthen and heal your knees.

He has a paid coaching program but you can piece together what to do from his videos as he shares all the details there.

JDAroadwarrior3 karma

Thanks for the tip! I'll check that out!

ElGoldenGringo5 karma

Father had double knee replacement and hip replacement. Hikes 20 mile days for months at a clip regularly.

There is hope. Also good PT goes a long way.

JDAroadwarrior6 karma

I always hear good news from people who had knee replacement. I swear that's going to be my first question once the VA accepts responsibility. Not that my knee problems are entirely their fault lol but all of my walking afterwards kind of is. Just give the man some knees and let em go..

Doomguy46_6 karma

If you could go back in time would you still enlist?

JDAroadwarrior13 karma

Yes. It's a love-hate kind of thing. It sucked, but I'd still like to go back and do it better. Not that I didn't give it my best at the time, but I always think there's room for improvement. I have some regrets that I'd like to clear up. Nothing that I care to mention on here, though.

Jack__Wild6 karma

My wife and I are just starting backcountry camping/hiking.

Aside from the basics you can look up and learn online. Is there anything specifically that you recommend we learn/bring/become skilled at as a beginner?

JDAroadwarrior12 karma

As long you know the basics on survival, everything else is just kind of a bonus. You'll want to know how to start a fire, even during the rain. I recommend keeping a ferro rod and a small tin can with charcloth for emergencies. Charcloth isn't necessary but it ignites very easily and weighs next to nothing.

You'll want to know how to create and correctly apply a tourniquet just in case you have a major bleeding emergency.

Know the signs of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, dehydration, and hypothermia. Learn what to do should you or someone else is experiencing these symptoms.

If you need any daily medications, carry more than you think you'll need. Put the extra ones in a separate, secure location. You may also want to consider carrying a few aspirins, benadryl, needle and thread, ibuprofen, activated charcoal, and antibiotics. That's what I keep in my med kit. I just put a few of each pills in plastic wrap with a small piece of paper that says what's inside. I then put them all into one bottle, which saves space.

Know how to purify your drinking water and how to make activated charcoal in case you get sick. I recommend carrying at least one steel canteen so you can boil water in it. If you lose your canteen, do you know how to make a solar still or some other natural filter?

Learn about the plants in the area you'll be hiking in. It's good to know which ones are edible, poisonous, or can be used medicinally. Know how to dress animals and how to check if they are diseased. Knowing how to preserve them is good too.

I'd recommend knowing how to make a compass using the sun and a couple of sticks. You can lose a compass but the sun will always be there. Well, hopefully it will be. If the sun is gone then you'll need to know how to read the stars. Always try to keep note of which way you're heading.

Even if you don't plan on fishing or trapping, it's a good idea to carry some fishing line and steel wire for setting snares just in case.

Make sure you have at least a tarp with you to keep you out of the elements and a good sleeping bag to keep you warm. Synthetic bags are heavier than down bags, but they will keep you warm even if they get wet. Similar concept goes for clothing. Cotton is good for warm to hot temperatures but you should avoid it once the weather starts to cool off. Wool, synthetic, or even hides are a better option for cool to cold climates because they will still retain heat when wet..

Besides everything else that I've mentioned, I recommend carrying a knife and 550 cord as well. They will make your life a lot easier. Carrying a small knife sharpener and learning several different knots is a good idea.

You'll probably never need to use all of this information, but I recommend learning it anyway. People die every year because they get lost and have little to no survival skills.

anoordle5 karma

very sorry to hear about your illness, and i wish you a fast and seamless recovery. what you're doing sounds amazing. i'd like to know how the walking affected your body and personal image- did you become tougher physically, did you lose weight? do you shave/get haircuts and how?

JDAroadwarrior15 karma

I didn't really have a lot of weight to lose, but I definitely bulked up. Not only was I walking twenty to fifty miles per day with a fifty-pound pack, but I also did push-ups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks three times per day. I had a pair of scissors with me to keep my hair trimmed. Here is a before and after picture https://imgur.com/MNe1gJL

MightyCaseyStruckOut5 karma

This was a scheduled AMA...and it got removed?

JDAroadwarrior3 karma

They lifted the deletion. I'm not really sure what happened, but I'm guessing at least one of the moderators was late to the party. I uploaded a picture with my driver's on top of my book for proof, so I'm guessing they didn't see it.

rustyshackleford38145 karma

How did you get to Alaska walk through Canada or fly? What was the hardest terrain mentally and physically?most/least favorite state? State with the nicest people/ least nice? Would you ever consider homesteading in Alaska based on your experience there? Thanks for your service I hope all works out well for you.

JDAroadwarrior7 karma

I never really had any problems with the terrain, though I did struggle a bit with the heat during the summer months. Mentally, I sometimes had a hard time with going through cities. I tried to avoid them but it was sometimes inevitable.

Favorite state? It's a tossup between Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Wyoming. Least favorite state? Not necessarily the whole state, but I did not enjoy southern California. The people were mostly rude. Too many rules and regulations. No public restrooms. Lots of people walking the streets either drunk or on drugs.

The whole reason I went to Alaska was to homestead but I couldn't make it happen before winter. So I decided to head back down to walk across America for St. Jude. I have plans to pick up where I left off on that dream.

perpetuatinstupidity4 karma

Joins Army

Still camps and rucks

How are your joints doing?

JDAroadwarrior3 karma

Everything's good except for my knees.. And my back occasionally..

AlwaysNeveragain12344 karma

Why was this removed?

JDAroadwarrior3 karma

It has been recovered. They just wanted to verify my identity.