FAQs


Dec 30

In case you are wondering, and you must be if you are reading this, here are some answers to questions we have already been answering again and again. Everyone seems to have similar interests and similar disbeliefs.
 
It’s the end of December, 17 days before departure. The answers will probably change in a few months; but that’s how life works.
 
And now we are in Woodstock and seven months and 3200 miles have past. It is time to review these FAQs and update them to what the road has taught us. I’ll try to mark these changes with Italic.
 

  • Are you seriously going to walk across the United States?
    Yes, we are.
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  • Really?

    Really. That’s our beginning.

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  • Your beginning?

    Yes. We’re taking a boat from the east coast to Portugal and then continuing across southern Europe and the Middle East to Jerusalem.

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  • When are you leaving?

    We’ve already walked nine days to get a feel for walking along US roads. But we make our full start on 16 January 2009.

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  • Why are you leaving in the dead of winter instead of waiting until it’s warmer?

    We have to walk through the Mojave Desert first. Have you ever walked in a desert in the spring, summer, or autumn? I greatly prefer winter. Our window is mid-December to mid-January, any later and we’ll also hit the next winter on the east coast. Actually the weather here in central California is about perfect for walking long at this time of the year–45 to 60 degrees most of the time. You don’t sweat so much in that temperature.

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  • How long is this going to take?

    Nine months or so of walking days in the US and the same on the other side of the Atlantic. But we’ll likely stop here and there wherever it fancies us and enjoy the scenery and people. So it will probably take us around two years or a little more.
     
    As I said above it took seven months to Woodstock. We have around 850 miles left to New York. ETA is early to mid-November making the total ten months across the country.

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  • Why do you want to do this?

    We love the outdoors and we love to walk long. And we’re terribly tired of having to walk in a circle every day when we go for our five mile walk. Every time we have to come back to where we started. We always want to keep going forward instead of returning. Besides, you meet wonderful people walking. For the many other reasons why, look at our main Walking East page on Walking With Awareness.

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  • Sounds like you will not have to come back for a long time. But why so long?

    Petra has walked for more that two months at one time in Europe and both of us have walked longer than a month several times. We want to feel what it is like to walk a very long time. We want to see what this new existence is like. This will surely do that for us. It is changing already after seven months Do you know that every cell in our body will be different by the time we get to Jerusalem?

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  • Have you been working out to get into shape for this?

    No, we haven’t been working out at anything to really get ready unless you want to count the 3.25 miles we have averaged walking per day this past year. We did a little Nautilus exercising thinking they would help us get into initial shape so the pack wouldn’t pain us so much in the beginning. But walking 15 miles with it a month ago showed that that “training” helped nothing. We will just have to endure the first couple weeks while our bodies adjust to the additional weight on our backs.

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  • Do you think you are fit enough to do this walk?

    Yes, we walk it just like you walk to your doorway, one step at a time. We know we can walk to the corner. If we can do that we can walk across the country because we are only walking a step at a time to either destination. It only takes a little longer for the second journey.

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  • Where can we find out about these other walks you have done?

    Check out our Our Pilgrimages page on our sister site, Walking with Awareness. We have walked to Santiago de Compostela from a couple different directions and across the Alps from our home in Germany to Rome.

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  • How are you going to transport all your stuff?

    In backpacks. We figure we can do it carrying 25 to 30 pounds each, except for water in a couple long desert stretches. We still have to figure that part out. Maybe we will use a Granny grocery cart for a few days when we need it. Or we may just get downright lazy and get a stroller or small bike trailer to carry both the backpacks and the water. Some things still aren’t known.
     
    We have had our stuff in carts since Kingman, AZ. Petra found a doll cart to strap her backpack to and I bought a bicycle trailer in Kingman. They add a few miles to our potential range in a day. They allow us to carry considerably more with comfort.

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  • Isn’t water going to be a problem in the desert?

    There are some places where we will have to carry water for two days and one where we might have to carry enough for three days before Needles, California. They (that mysterious “they”) say you need a gallon of water a day in the desert. With two of us that’s six gallons at 8.338 pounds a gallon. We’ll have a load the first day. So that Granny cart may be necessary. In the end we skipped walking that Barstow-Needles desert because we faced eight of ten days in the tent with rain and freezing nights./I>

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  • How long are you going to walk each day?

    Fifteen to twenty miles or until we get tired, whichever comes first. Maybe after we have walked a while we will walk a little longer each day. Average has been 14.2 and the longest a very long 30 miles.

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  • How long will that take you to walk that twenty miles? How fast will you walk?

    We have developed a routine over the years. We walk a couple hours, around five miles, and then lay our mats under a tree and sleep 15 or 20 minutes. We walk the next two hours and rest again. But this time we eat first before resting. We go another two hours and have our 15 miles. If we are going longer we rest again before continuing. With full packs this 2-1/2 miles per hour is our usual average speed. We have learned that we can walk a long way over many days at a time at that rate. This was an accurate guess though the very hot and humid days in Missouri kept us at closer to two miles an hour (3 kph).

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  • Where are you going to stay?

    In our tent, in motels, with a few friends and friends of friends, and hopefully with you if you live along our route and can offer us a couch or a place where we can set up our tent. We’d be mighty appreciative. Several people we met along the road invited us in.

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  • What is your route?

    Basically, now that we have started at the Pacific, we’ll follow old Rt 66 to Santa Fe, the Santa Fe trail to Independence, Missouri, across Missouri on the Katy trail, up the Mississippi to Davenport and across Illinois on the Hennipen and I&M canals to Woodstock, my earlier home town. From there it is to the east coast, to the Atlantic, get a boat to Europe and then walk on to Jerusalem. Our Route planner page tells it in a lot more detail than these few words. Go there and browse through where we are thinking of going (as of today). Our plan is to keep that all updated as we go. The route planner proved to be just that. Our route was considerably different in places. We will now walk to Milwaukee and cross on the ferry to Michigan where we continue to Ontario, Niagara Falls, and New York City.

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  • What do you think you will miss the most?

    Petra says it is her kitchen and the variety of things she has at home to do and wear. I second her on her missing her kitchen because I like what she makes in the kitchen with all the spices and pans she likes to bang around out there. We cannot carry all those pans and spices and veggies with us. I’ll also miss ready access to the Internet. And we both will miss our big, cozy, soft bed. The internet was constantly available to my surprise.

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  • What will you be eating then?

    Food. Probably a lot of spaghetti with oil and garlic for dinners and granola for breakfast in our tent. But we will eat in restaurants too. The problem is that we like to eat our own (ok, Petra’s) cooking and that will be difficult. We miss the European bakeries and little shops every few miles. We have to live without them and adapt to this environment. Some things are harder than others. We’ll find good food in time.

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  • What if you injure yourself or are attacked by a bear or a robber or a psycho or …?

    We’ll deal with it. We have been quite lucky at avoiding serious injury and wild animals.
    As for people, in many years of walking, we have found that the vast, vast majority, almost everyone, are wonderful and supportive. And we have been lucky again to not have encountered the “psychos” and “robbers” if they actually are out there. Enough said.

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  • Are you doing this for charity?

    No. We are doing it for ourselves. The world will be better for us having done it. Yes, there will be a good book or two out of it. We will have had good contact and interaction with hundreds of people. But we are basically doing it because that is what we want to do with these two years of our life. This is how we have chosen to live it.

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  • How are people going to find out about your walk east?

    By knowing us or by searching for “walking east” or “walkingeast”. But you can help us out a lot by telling others about us, by including a link similar to the following code in some prominent place on your web site

    You could also make a bumper sticker with “WalkingEast.com.” Or you could have your pastor put it on the front page of the weekly church bulletin. We give you permission be creative and write “WalkingEast.com” in whatever place you can think up. And let us know (maybe with a picture). We’ll tell others of particularly creative placements.

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  • So you want us to do your advertising? But how have you announced yourself?

    We have been interviewed by the press in several newspapers. Check them out on our We’re in the Press page.

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  • What about national press and magazines like National Geographic?

    My feeling is that once we have a few months under our belt it will be time to begin contacting them. Then we will have a lot more credibility than we have sitting here in Paso before we start even though we have walked 1,200 miles a year for the past six years.

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  • How are you going to fund this?

    With good old American dollars and European Euros, as long as they still have value. And we will accept any and all donations, particularly in the form of that couch to sleep on or place for a tent we mentioned earlier. If we have to, I am a really experienced dish washer and Petra is a wonderful cook. I can even make a web journal (blog) like this for you for a place to rest and something to eat while I get it done. But, seriously, I’m retired and it costs considerably less to do this walking than it costs to maintain a suburban household in California these days. And we don’t have that household to upkeep any more.

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  • Are you going to have some kind of support vehicle?

    Not unless you call the Granny cart a support vehicle. We’re in the process of selling our very trustworthy Honda Fit Sport right now (Dec 30). We are very unhappy to see it go. But it makes no sense to keep it sitting idle for two years at the least. All it will do is eat up dollars. We can sell it and buy a similar one when we stop walking–if we think we need a car. We live without a TV; maybe we could live without a car too. Brother Marty did support us with his RV from Flagstaff, AZ to Albuquerque, NM and a few days in southern Illinois.

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  • Is anyone else walking with you?

    Not yet. But if you want to join us, we’d love to have you walk along with us for a few hours, a few days, or even a few weeks. One walked a day with us along the Katy Trail in Missouri and a few others walked lesser distances. Please consider joining us. Click here to go to our Walk with us page where we have details on how to contact us if you want to walk with us. And don’t be bashful; if you are just driving by and see our flag logo’s–stop and say hello.

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  • How are you and Petra going to be able to put up with each other being together 24 hours a day for such a long time?

    We can do it because we are great friends and love to be together. But you have a point. This will end up being tight at times. We have walked like this before for a month at a time and we have had days when things have gotten edgy. One thing that helps is that we have learned to walk separately as we walk together. Sometimes we are a quarter of a mile apart as we walk, not always because we are having a hard time being together. We respect each other’s needs to walk at our own paces. We need to be alone at times and we give that time to each other. We even stayed in separate hotel rooms a couple different times. But that will be a bit hard with only one tent! In the end we are pretty blessed in that we are able to find a way to get back together fairly quickly when we have to. The really great thing is that these times when we have to be apart are not so many.

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  • Are you accepting corporate sponsorship(s)?

    Yes. We’ll accept any sponsorship that comes along with a pair of shoes or cloak or anything else we can use, for that matter. We’ll add them to our Sponsors page right up there with the books I have written and am selling. In case your company wants to help with something like those six or seven pairs of shoes we’ll likely wear out (I wear 12D and Petra 8-1/2 or so),
    contact us.
    Walk with us

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  • What are you going to do after you get to Jerusalem?

    Who knows? We don’t know now. We’ll discover that as we walk. We have time. The world is big. There are a lot of places to visit. We’ll probably visit Petra, Jordan, since it is Petra’s namesake. We may walk on up the Nile to Abu Simbel or from Axum to Lalibella in Ethiopia. And then if the war is over in Iraq, maybe we’ll walk to India, Thailand, or Japan. Two years down the road is far too far to plan ahead at this junction in our lives. This walk to Jerusalem is only 1/3rd of the way around the world, we’ll still have 2/3rds left before we can satisfy our desire to walk all the way around it.

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  • How many miles do you think you will have to walk to get to Jerusalem?

    I can give you a round number: 8,000 miles. Anything more precise would be nothing beyond a wild guess. This one is only a tiny bit less than a wild guess. When you break this down into the number of steps we’ll be walking one step at a time, that 8,000 comes out a bit more that 16,000,000 steps at 1,333.333 per kilometer.

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  • Are you writing a book?

    One or two. We’ll see.

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    Mike Metras
    30 December 2008

     

    8 Jan 08 addition:

  • What camera and equipment are you taking along?

    I am a minimalist. I carry as little as I can get away with. I will be using a Sony DSC-H7 with 15X(optical)-25X(?digital) zoom and a 4gig memory stick that holds hundreds of pictures. The camera with charger, strap, and a memory stick adaptor for transferring the pictures to the computer together weigh only 1 lb. 2 oz. An old fanny pack to carry it around my waist weights 8 oz. and that could be less if I worked at it. I have been using this camera a year now and really like it. I take pictures at 2592×1944 for maximum clarity and them reduce them for web publication to 1024 or 800 width. I also often sharpen the resulting reduced image with ArchSoft’s PhotoStudeo 5.

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