Tom's Walk Across America


Who Am I?

Hello. My name is Tom Griffen. I am 45 years old, pretty fit, and driven to do cool stuff. I live in Carrboro, North Carolina but I am a native Californian. Though a classroom teacher by trade, I make my living as a freelance writer, retail consultant, and visual artist. I love dogs but don't have one. But if I did it would probably be a husky. 

My Campaign's Back Story
In late 1994 I was fresh out of the Army. One afternoon, while sitting at a barber shop, I picked up a random magazine. It was a National Geographic from April 1977. Inside was a story about a guy who walked across the USA. Since then, I've been wanting to embark on a similar journey of my own. It was always something that "I'll do someday."

Now, more than two decades later, I'm finally going to make my long-time dream happen.  

Adventure has always been a big part of my life and I find myself driven by discovery in everything I do. Whether I am looking for obsidian arrowheads on my Grandma's property, reviewing a book of poems, or helping small business owners work through a bump in the road, I love finding unexpected treasures in the everyday mix. Such moments make me feel most alive.

Why Walk Nearly 4000 Miles?
I can't lie, there's a part of me that's driven to do anything out of the ordinary - bonus if it requires endurance and will-power. Someone once told me I am "more mentally strong than I am physically able." Kind of sums it up.

It was exactly this drive that compelled me to run 25 ultra-marathons, including two 100-milers. It's why I spin a globe to pick where I'll travel next. It's why I've worked so many disparate jobs that my resume looks like I've been on the lam. Fact is, I am inspired to live by living a lot.  

Walking across America is a similar challenge. The idea of covering 25+ miles/day is a total turn-on. Not knowing where I'll sleep for 175ish nights makes me chomp at the bit.

I am also thrilled to know that each day I will interact with strangers (even though most of them will probably look at me like I'm nuts). Herein lies the purpose of this walk...

I firmly believe we'd all benefit from taking the time to better understand our neighbor. Humans crave connection. And the quickest way to this connection is getting to know each others' stories. We're less likely to be afraid of each other if we have a better sense of where we each come from.

As I walk across the USA, I will be seeking others' stories. On my off days or when I have wi-fi access, I'll blog these stories. The goal: a deeper understanding of others and maybe a deeper understanding of myself, too.

The Route
Since there is no proper route to take when walking across the USA, I decided to create 7 semi-equidistant destinations where either family or friends live:
Stage 1: Santa Monica, CA to Phoenix, AZ
Stage 2: Phoenix, AZ to El Paso, TX
Stage 3: El Paso, TX to Austin, TX
Stage 4: Austin, TX to Little Rock, AR
(UPDATED 6/13) Stage 5: Little Rock, AR to Huntsville, AL
Stage 6: Huntsville, AL along Lee Highway to New York City (probably finish here)

My Expenses
As a 45 year old entrepreneur, there's no perfect time to take  6 months off. It's also unreasonable for me to sell everything I own (or break a lease) to make this happen.

That's why I am asking for your help to cover my basic living expenses and my day-to-day walking expenses.

From all of my research, it seems that 6 months worth of food, camp site fees, and miscellaneous walk expenses will run me about $5000. 

My expenses back home are as follows:
Monthly apartment rental: $725 (=$4350 total)
Monthly student loan bill: $450 (=$2700 total)
Monthly car insurance: $75 (=$450 total)

The above total is $12,500, but I'm asking for an extra $2500 to cover travel to California in January and from Maine (date TBD). It should also be enough to cover any unforeseen financial hits I endure along the way.

Total campaign amount: $15,000

To Show My Gratitude
To express my appreciation for your assistance, I'd like to give something back to you, too. If you donate certain amounts, I'd like to send you the following gifts: 
- Anyone donating $20 or more will receive a postcard from me during the walk.
- Anyone donating $150 or more will receive an original painting (to be sent after the walk is complete).
- Anyone donating $250 or more will receive one of my handmade wooden spoons (also sent after the walk). 
- Retailers donating the "grab bag" amount, $1500, will get me FREE for a day of training. I'll cover all expenses.

Thanks so much for your support, financial or energetic! Much love to you all...

Some of my original paintings...
Spoon sample...
Tentative route...
Me after walking across Oregon in 2014 (387 miles in 18 days)...

I'll be blogging before and during the walk here...follow me along my journey.


Tom Griffen 
Carrboro, NC

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