My Walk Across America by Sundance

Kate asked if I would share my journey with the Blog :–) So here goes:

March 9th, 2019, I set off to walk across America, at the age of eighteen. And late last year, on December 9th, 2019, exactly nine months/275 days after my departure, I finished doing just that. 🙂

In that time, I walked through Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California. I walked through deserts and great plains, over mountains (all three of the major ranges in the continental USA – the Appalachians, the Rockies, and the Sierras), on trails, back roads, and busy highways. I’ve slept under bridges, behind buildings, in bathrooms, churchyards, graveyards, a barn, once, backyards, local parks, public land, motels, campgrounds, and the occasional trail angel’s house. And I had a KICKBUTT (edited to be Blog-appropriate :–P ) time.

Flashback to 2017 – I didn’t know what college or career I wanted to pursue after graduating high school. I had no direction in life, and, because of tension at home, I began to wonder what I would do if my mom kicked me out, and I became homeless. I pictured myself standing on my front porch, the door shut behind me. Knowing I had no friends to take me in, and family that might turn me away. I pictured myself stepping away from the house then – because what else could I do, at first, but walk away? – and never stopping. Walking down the sidewalk, across the street, through town, into the next. And the next. I began to envision myself seeing the country on foot. Dumpster diving for food, and sleeping on the side of the street, but making an adventure out of my misfortune all the same. Maybe, even, walking across the ENTIRE country, from my home in the Carolina’s to California!

(me, Gin -or Sundance as you guys know me by – with my stroller, named Faith, at the beginning of our travels!)

It was all a fantasy in my head (born out of boredom more than anything else, really; I wasn’t TOO genuinely worried about getting kicked out) – but I began to like the thought. Until it went from being this far-fetched idea, an answer to a question that scared me /”What would I do if I were homeless?”/ to an active daydream of myself walking around the country. Across the country. Not because I felt compelled to, as a last resort under dire circumstances, but because … I suddenly, madly WANTED to. (I must ultimately credit the American Discovery Trail for giving me the push I needed to not only walk across the country, but to wholeheartedly fall head-over-heels in love with the dream of doing so. Finding out that there was an official route I could use to walk cross-country helped give me the confidence to start. And learning that other, regular ol’ people have done it, that its an established thing, helped normalize the idea in my head, make it seem less crazy, less insurmountable.) When I started, I weighed 195 pounds, had no long-distance backpacking experience, no one who believed in me, and it was my first time leaving the nest as a 18-year-old kid who thought to pack nothing but ramen noodles and granola bars for food. And who thought that all she needed to do when it stormed was attach her rainfly to her tent. Not stake it down, just attach it. Who genuinely didn’t understand why her tent even CAME with stakes when it was a freestanding tent. 🤣

(me & Faith, at the end of our travels!)

And you know what? It was incredible. An absolutely, positively, phenomenal adventure. It gave me purpose, made me feel so fulfilled, so content. When times were rough, I would always stop & think … this may suck, but there is nowhere else I’d rather be than here, with Faith (the name for my stroller), living through this. And the never-ending, unwavering truth of that statement would bring me a great sense of peace. I am blessed to have had the privilege to live my dream – and to have met so many beautiful souls along the way. You guys were so kind to me. When you didn’t need to be. When it could have been easier not to be. People’s kindness along the way was like a well that I kept expected to run dry one day, but that just kept filling.

(a very fitting sign I saw on my way to the beach, on my very last day)

I am also thankful to have survived. Along the way, I had many close calls with cars. Many times where I couldn’t find a place to sleep and broke down sobbing. Many times where I felt unsafe and scribbled down a goodbye note to my mom in case anything were to happened. Many times where I woke up to a noise in the night and grabbed my pepper spray & knife and prepared for the worst. Before I left, I remember thinking often, when I was alone and my mind would wander, about how this might be my last year on Earth. That I might genuinely die, soon. That I will have to risk my life if I want to live my dream.

Image may contain: 4 people, including Sheryl Robinson Benningfield, people smiling, outdoor

(my family – waiting for me at the Pacific Ocean :–D )

And I decided I wanted to. And I would again. If I had to go back in time, I would make that same decision. Even with there being no guarantees. To know I might die, to have that possibility feel SO REAL, pained me before I left. But once I started walking … I just loved it too much for it NOT to be worth the risk. To let my fear burden me anymore. In Utah, I met a Native American man who told me “you are brave, in a time when so many people are scared to be brave” and that really touched me. In the end, I want to thank everyone I met along the way. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your kindness & generosity was my favorite part of walking across America. Getting to meet all of you was my dream, come true. 

Special shoutout to Faith, my partner in crime, whose company kept me from ever feeling truly alone, and whose sily googly-eyed face always made me smile. Love ya.

And a shoutout to my past self, two summers ago. Who wanted, so desperately, to walk across America but didn’t think she could do it, for a time, and that broke her heart. I want to give her a hug and tell her WE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO 😄🎉😄🎉

Gin & Faith, over and out!

PS here is a link to the video of my finish: https://youtu.be/LVXJJQ3S5Ao

PSS – thank you, BlogClan,  for tuning in to this post about my adventures!! <3 Hope it reminded you that you can ABSOLUTELY accomplish your dreams too, they’re possible – and they’re waiting for you, so go get ’em!!!!!!!!!

  55 Replies to “My Walk Across America by Sundance”

  1. 🌷 Pineblossom 🏵
    February 18, 2020 at 7:56 am

    sunny you are such a heckin inspiration!! this note has got to be short but i love you so much and you are the definition of living life to the fullest, taking the chances to fulfill your dreams and putting your own doubts aside to do so! thank you for existing and coming to this little corner of the internet to share your journey ❤️


    ✧ a rose is a rose is a rose ✧

    3
  2. Willowstep (Wistep)
    February 18, 2020 at 8:08 am

    aaah this is so inspirational! you’re literally one of the bravest people i know and i’m in awe of the fact that you walked across america. like. that is no easy feat and you did it and you had the guts to do it. i’m so glad you’ve told us your story because it is so hecking cool. and… yeah. <333

    3
  3. Puddleshard 2020
    February 18, 2020 at 9:19 am

    That’s amazing Sundance!! I’d never be able to do that. The amount of stamina you had to have to do that, it’s unreal. You are so amazing for being able to accomplish this. It must have been really tough to keep going, I’m sure that more than a few people would have turned back. But you didn’t, you did it all. And it was all worth it in the end! You are an amazing person 😀


    Hope is a good thing.

    2
  4. February 18, 2020 at 10:46 am

    This is so inspiring!!! <3 great job Sunny!!


    Scratch acc: @Sandy_Sandstone

    2
  5. Jaysnow
    February 18, 2020 at 10:54 am

    Holy crap, this is so amazing. By any chance is the final photo at Ocean Shores, Washington? It looks a lot like it. Congrats!

    • Jaysnow
      February 18, 2020 at 11:05 am

      PS- I remember you posting about it before, and frequently I would check back here to make sure you were okay and was starting to get a little worried. Very glad you made it!! Cheers!!

      1
    • Sundance
      February 19, 2020 at 12:26 am

      Ahhhh, thank you, Jaysnow!!!!!! 😀 💖 No, I finished further south, near San Fran at Point Reyes. Though I’m absolutely dying to visit (if not move to) the Pacific Northwest one day. At the top of my bucketlist!! 😛


  6. February 18, 2020 at 12:53 pm

    AHHHHH GO SUNNY! sunny your trip sounded amazing you are so fantastic and brave <3 congratulations! 😀


    hey it's a dragon attack

    2
  7. February 18, 2020 at 1:27 pm

    wow, I dont know what to say! That is so amazing!!


    hey its mee, Bee!!

    2
  8. 🍃 Fluttering Ivy Leaves in the Spring Breeze 🌼
    February 18, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    Oh my gosh, how wonderful, Sunny! 😀


    *...what an awkward situation*

    2
  9. Turtlepaw/ dapple
    February 18, 2020 at 2:23 pm

    Oh wow, this is such a cool story, Sundance!

    2
  10. Snowbreeze
    February 18, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    Sunny Sunny Sunny SUNNY what can I say?? This whole story is incredible, to say the least. I didn’t really know how many close calls you would have had – and I’m very thankful you survived – you did it!! I’m so happy you got to fulfill your dream. What you did and the people you met – and you – it’s all astonishing. Congratulations!!! 😀 <3
    Also – I enjoy Faith's googly eyes very much. 😛 Also also, some of the places you had to sleep in sound hard – in bathrooms? Graveyards? Wow!

    2
    • Sundance
      February 19, 2020 at 12:29 am

      EEEEEP thank you, Snowy!!!! 😀 Honestly, rural graveyards were one of the best places to sleep. 😛 Right after motels, public land, and people’s houses.


      • Snowbreeze
        February 19, 2020 at 2:49 pm

        You’re welcome!!! 😀 Wait – oh, okay, I thought that graveyards were better out of all those things – but then I read it again. 😛 I’m assuming the bathroom was the worst? 😛

  11. Fishpaw is slowly changing her name to Mallowpaw
    February 18, 2020 at 3:36 pm

    *claps hands* I had no idea you walked all over America! I just wanna say that even tho I barley even know you I salute your perseverance, your hard work, and I salute you Sunny for being that ray of sunshine even when you where living off of nothing!! I honestly think it would be supper hard to even have to guts to leave our own home state, and I know I could never do it…..anyways keep on being an amazing blogclanner!


    I a smart kitty

    2
  12. February 18, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY <3 <3

    Good job, Sunny, seriously, good job. <3


    #ThankYouWoojin

    2
  13. Foxtail (Foxie)
    February 18, 2020 at 7:58 pm

    That is so amazing!! And yet I would never do that cause I’m too afraid to leave my home and my family 😂😂 I have a fear of starving and I don’t like being alone. I think I would die of depression and homesickness instead of starvation lol. I love my family and friends too much to just go off into the world 😳

    But great job! That is so neat! If I was on a road trip, that would be fun but I wouldn’t actually WALK haha.


    Almost a dancing queen

    2
    • February 18, 2020 at 9:16 pm

      I would do it, except for the certain lack of showers and flushable toilets and sinks 😛


      #ThankYouWoojin

      2
      • Sundance
        February 19, 2020 at 12:17 am

        The shower-situation does stink 😛 (get it – stink? har har har) I think the longest I went was 2.5 weeks without a shower. With a 5-10 day average. (You reach a point where you don’t smell any more after a certain number of days. 😂 And you go nose blind to it.)


        • February 19, 2020 at 12:37 am

          djgkflojgimndklofijnb vmkfdo I could NEVER.

          I just can’t stand to be sweaty especially since I sweat in the worst places ever ogijkfvjngkfo 😛


          #ThankYouWoojin

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