Grains of Pepper in a Shaker of Salt

New York City is the biggest melting pot of culture and ethnic groups. There are people from every corner of the world, culture from every place on earth, and food from every kitchen around the globe. Now that I’m walking through the Midwest with Flix, occasionally we might look out of place. A black guy and an Asian guy walking along the road. I bet a lot of people drive by just wondering “what in the world are these two doing? They sure aren’t from our town.” Two little grains of pepper in a shaker of salt. However, I never felt out of place. On this entire trip, not once did I feel like I was looked at differently because of my race. Ok I lied maybe sometimes but I don’t really care. The way townfolks accept me and welcome me in so heart warming.

 The sense of community out here is incredible. Unlike New York City, where everybody needs to get somewhere this instant and nobody knows or cares about each other, people here lead a much slower life. The residents of Clark County, Illinois, especially Marshall #derricksanders4sheriff, have an incredible sense of community. Everybody knows each other in the community and all care about one another. I am envious of their bond. In NYC, I live in an apartment. Yet I only know one of my neighbors and not even by name. Out here, they know people even if they live on the other side of town. Not only are they friendly and caring to one another, they’re also welcoming to strangers like me. 

I think before I embarked on this trip I had an extremely biased perspective of most of America. I realize now that our country has far more loving people than ignorant racists. They don’t care what color your skin is or where you come from, they’re willing to share this beautiful place with you.

Gave a tent and stove to Flix πŸ˜‚Thank you Clark County!Closest I’ve gotten to being locked upWorld’s BIGGEST Mailbox. Yes it works.Meet Debra 😁
Happy Walking,

Sam Zhang
GoFundMe

https://www.gofundme.com/1000-miles-from-ny

Venmo

@XinXi-Zhang

Plan

As I walk through each town, city, or county, I meet so many wonderful people. Today my new travel buddy Flix and I met so many wonderful people in Marshal, Illinois. We had so much fun talking to the ladies and gentlemen at the Pentecostal church ad we even bumped into Sierra from the news station. So yea we made it onto the news 😁

We finished up today at Martinville and there we also met many amazing people. We’re currently crashing on Dan’s front lawn. And this man Dan is absolutely incredible. We talked for several hours tonight and I really admire his perspective on life and work ethic. He has worked so hard for the success he has achieved today. However he is very humble and he attributes his success in life to God. Dan tells me that God has a plan for everyone in this world. Although we may not always understand the plan He has for us, it’s always good. Throughout this journey I’ve had quite a few people tell me that. For those of you who remember my friend Mary, whom I met back in Hackkettstown, New Jersey, told me the exact same thing. It’s within God’s plan that I meet each and everyone of these amazing people! I feel so blessed and thankful that his plan for me crossed paths with so many kind hearted people and I hope to continue walking and follow God’s plan for me πŸ™

Also, to my new friends in Clark County, Derrick D. Sanders for Sheriff πŸ‘

Mama I made it on the newslost dog we fed and played with in Clark Center

Happy Walking,

Sam Zhang
GoFundMe

https://www.gofundme.com/1000-miles-from-ny

Venmo

@XinXi-Zhang

BEST DAY EVER

I CANT EVEN BEGIN TO TELL YOU GUYS HOW AMAZING TODAY HAS BEEN! As my new friend Flix would call it, it’s “The Wave”.This morning I walked to a restaurant called Cackleberries in Terre Haute, Indiana. I got a sloppy skillet with scrambled eggs, top sirloin with 2 sunny side eggs, pancakes, and toast 😁 Before I started eating I went to the restroom. On my way back I passed this couple sitting at the table behind me and they asked the usual questions like where I was going and stuff so I told them and told them about my blog. Unfortunately I didn’t even get their name. When the delicious food came out, I devoured all of it within minutes of it coming out. The sloppy skillet was piping hot and super cheesy. It smelled absolutely wonderful and I savored every bite. The steak was perfectly cooked to a nice medium rare pink. I got both scrambled eggs on the skillet and 2 sunny side eggs with the steak. The pancakes were so fluffy and filling. All of that food overshadowed the toast but it was still buttery and crunchy. After I finished my huge breakfast, the waitress came and told me the table that was behind me took care of it already. They had been long gone and I couldn’t even thank them 😭 if you beautiful people see this leave me a comment with your contact information I would love to properly thank you. Also @Cackleberries and the waitress who helped me you’re awesome and you need a raise like now.

As I got ready to leave Terre Haute, I saw a Wendy’s right by route 40 and I obviously had to go in and grab a 50cent frosty. I walked in, sat down, and saw a guy with a pack similar to mine. I knew instantly. That guy was walking too. I approached him and introduced myself. Flix is the name. He is from NYC as well and he is also headed to St.Louis! 😱😱😱 We talked for a long time and it feels so good to have someone who understands EXACTLY what I experienced. We decided that we would walk together at least for a while. He is very philosophical and meditative. Flix makes an amazing travel buddy and although he’s super talkative, he is a good guy and some of his strange beliefs are slowly being proven right. Like this thing he calls “The Wave”. He said that the wave is something within us that will leads us to what we desire. And he told me that he was craving MRE(Meals Ready to Eat) and this wave will lead him to it. I guess everyone’s got a little crazy in them. Especially New Yorkers.

Later on, we entered Illinois, which is Central Time Zone. We stopped off at Armstrong Church to cool off around 3pm and the nice people there gave us some cold Capri-Suns, pudding, and a whole box of fruit snacks. As we relaxed in the back of the church, the sheriff deputy pulled up and asked what we were doing and stuff so he took down Flix’s number and told us to stay off the road and out of trouble. Finally around 8pm we stopped at the Pentecostal Church in Marshall and decided to sleep the night there. Suddenly it started thunderstorming and it was getting bad. Although we were under a roof the storm was still getting us completely drenched. Enter the good sheriff deputy. He pulls in and says “hey y’all can’t sleep here but I’ve got a barn at my place with water and electricity you guys can sleep there.” Not only did he allow us to sleep in his barn, he also let us use his bathroom to clean up and shower 😭 Craziest part of all, he gave us packaged breakfasts and 4 MREs. This man is Deputy Sheriff Derrick D Sanders. Officially The Most Incredible Law Enforcement Officer in my book. He went completely above and beyond his duty to help us. As I lay on the baby mattress in his barn with the thunderstorm raging outside, I’m just crazy in awe how generous this man is.

If I had to sum today up in one word: Mindblowing. MINDBLOWING. 


Happy Walking,

Sam Zhang
GoFundMe

https://www.gofundme.com/1000-miles-from-ny

Venmo

@XinXi-Zhang

Health & Fitness

As some of you know, I was pretty into working out and fitness since high school. I usually go to the gym 4-5 times a week and I stay in good shape. Before this walk started, I was afraid of losing a lot of hard earned muscle since I knew I’ll be walking almost a marathon a day. And it is true that I’ve lost quite a bit of weight on this trip. My weight dropped from 195lbs to 175lbs by the time I was in West Virginia and I think I may have lost more weight since then. However I am super toned and my abs are looking more and more like a washboard everyday. PS that’s how I do my laundry. Besides becoming more lean, I also feel very healthy! Sleeping on hard ground, being super cold at night, and eating same old preserved foods everyday, I thought I would not be healthy. It seems to be quite the opposite. I wake up more energized than I do when I’m back home. I breathe a lot better than I used to. I feel more cleansed than ever. Ironically I’m dirty as hell πŸ˜‚ I don’t know if it’s the excessive sweating or better air quality or what that’s making me feel great.

On another note it’s super freaking hot out here. I’ve never had my phone overheat before.

Post grocery shopping feast

Fighter jet in the backyard

Bello 

On a side note I got a call and text from Gary from Wheeling today. Super good to hear from him and it just amazes me how kind and caring people can be.

Also @Stephanie Yeh I tried to find you on social media to say thank you but couldn’t find you 😞 if you see this add me on fb so I can thank you properly 😁

Happy Walking,

Sam Zhang
GoFundMe

https://www.gofundme.com/1000-miles-from-ny

Venmo

@XinXi-Zhang

Daily Needs

What are some of your daily needs? Coffee? Brushing your teeth? Showering? Peeing? Pooping? Eating? Drinking water? Sleeping? Am I missing anything?

APPRECIATE THE EASE WITH WITH WHICH YOU CAN TAKE CARE OF THESE NEEDS.

I admit I don’t shower everyday but I try to wipe myself down with baby wipes each night before I sleep and each wipe turns a nasty dark brown from a mixture of sunblock, dirt, sweat, etc. I try to shower as often as possible and that usually every 2-4 days. That’s honestly pretty uncomfortable because out here on the highway it gets steaming hot and there’s absolutely no shade and the black top just absorbs the sun energy and radiates it right back at you. I didn’t even know it’s possible to sweat from my shoulders or my arms! With that much sweating, not being able to shower is really nasty 😞

Peeing is much easier because I literally go behind a tree. Fortunately I don’t need to pee often because I’m usually dehydrated. I carry with me a gallon of water but there can be times when there is nothing but farmland for the next 20+ miles and I have no idea when you might come across another water source. I try to conserve water and when I know there is a fast food restaurant, gas station, supermarket, or dollar store within the next 10 miles I don’t have to conserve water as much. On hot days like today I go through 2 gallons of water easily. 

Water being as precious it is I sometimes also have to waste some water. In the mornings I brush my teeth with the water from my gallon and I carry my tooth brush and tooth paste with me. After that I eat my normal meal of bread, tuna, peanut butter, and shot of olive oil. 

Sleeping and finding shelter hasn’t been too much of a problem for me. The trick is to find a place where people won’t care that you’re there and land ownership is ambiguous. Hopefully stay out of sight as well. Also I would ask homeowners who might be outside on their yard. Sometimes I sleep way too close to the highway. I can hear each car zoom by loud and clear but that doesn’t even bother me because I’m just that tired.

Finally the topic of pooping! It’s not too interesting since I try to just go at fast food restaurants or gas stations but there were unfortunately two occasions when I had to take care of business in the woods and I hope none of you have to go through that. Don’t worry I have toilet paper but it’s just a real weird feeling and there’s no privacy at all😭 After you’re done just have the courtesy of burying it with some dirt and leaves so it fertilizes the soil πŸ‘

Appreciate your bathroom, drinkable water sources, bed, everything 😁 I’m about 11 days out from finishing and I’m counting down the days til not having to worry about where to sleep at night. I’m about 30miles out from Illinois and if I hurry it up tomorrow I might be able to make it there. Also I talked on the phone with my mom and told her that I’m actually doing this alone and not with a friend. She took it a lot better than I expected most likely because there’s nothing she can do about it 😝

My shoes after ~800 miles πŸ˜‚

Happy Walking,

Sam Zhang
GoFundMe

https://www.gofundme.com/1000-miles-from-ny

Venmo

@XinXi-Zhang

American Dream

Coming from China with my mom when I was 10 was a huge change. I think we came to America to chase the American dream much like every other immigrant did. But what is the modern day American dream really? I think this man here, Mike, lives it. 

American dream to me meant owning a car, or a couple of cars, living out in the country side, having a wonderful family, owning a nice home and yard, and enjoying a carefree life. Being in New York City these past 10 years I began to wonder if that American dream was real anymore. Today this man proved it is and everyone can live it. 

Mike lives out here right by Route 40 National Road a mile or two East of Stilesville. He owns about 3 acres of land and he’s got his house, 2 garages, and a real nice yard with lots of fruit trees. He got 3-4 vehicles and a big ol’ 43ft RV. He’s 74 years old, a retired iron worker and his son is a crane operator and his grand kids are in college at Indiana State. He lives on his property with his wife and their dog. Only a 10-15 min drive away from Plainfield where everything is available from supermarkets to restaurants, etc. At night he would sit on his swing and watch the pack of bucks playing and hiding in the woods across the road. Today we didn’t see them but there was a humming bird and some other animals. Occasionally he has to deal with a coyote eating fruits that fall off his trees but that’s not a huge deal. Mike is a real good man but he’s no push over either. The man was telling me about his troublesome neighbor and he wasn’t afraid to bring the pain. Being 74 years old and alcohol free all these years, he’s in real good shape.

God bless this man Mike😁 Thank you for letting me pitch my tent on your yard and I hope we all achieve our individual versions of the American dream!

Happy Walking,

Sam Zhang
GoFundMe

https://www.gofundme.com/1000-miles-from-ny

Venmo

@XinXi-Zhang

Poor Signal

Out here in Indiana T-Mobile is probably the worst provider you can have. My service out here is really spotty and don’t even mention uploading pictures. Today I reached Indianapolis and continue to walk onto Plainfield where I found the FIRST Chick-Fil-A I’ve seen all trip but unfortunately the line was around the block. Yesterday I met a cool dude name Jaimy Porter. His dad Tracy Porter is crazy cool too. Definitely the most hippie dude I’ve ever met; he told me about all of his psychedelic trips on all types of stuff during his concert going groupie days. Jaime used to follow The Dead around and some of his stories are crazy. His family got 200acres of land out here in the Hoosier state and he’s got a couple of old early 1900’s steam engines just laying around. On his uncle’s farm they’ve got all types of animals. There’s a four horned goat, some sheep, chickens, couple of African Watusi Bulls with big ol’ horns, all types of different cows like Angus and such. I had a grand time hanging out with him and crashed on his couch. The cops didn’t come this time 😁He passed on the book “Walk Across America” to me and I’m only a few chapters in but it’s an incredible book that I can relate to. Whoever wants it can have it after I’m done 😁 monument in Indianapolis Jaime Porter and his dad TPAfrican Watusi Bullsi don’t know what type of crazy sheep this iskid found me a place to crash back in Knightstown, Indianaa couple who’s walking across America

Happy Walking,

Sam Zhang
GoFundMe

https://www.gofundme.com/1000-miles-from-ny

Venmo

@XinXi-Zhang

Indiana 😁

Today I reached Cambridge City,Indiana! The crazy Ohio part is over and Indiana is off to an AMAZING start. After crossing into Indiana I was in a town called Richmond. The first stop I made was Steak ‘n Shake. This was my first time there and their milkshake blew my mind. I got the chocolate fudge milkshake. SOOOOOO FREAKING GOOD!!!! Not to mention their thinly cut fries that are crispy and just perfect. Their burger was just alright though. After that I walked by a Planet Fitness. So first I tried to call and look online for a free trial, but unfortunately there wasn’t one. I ended up just walking in and asking to use their locker room to shower. They were super chill about it and I was finally able to shower since Thursday 🀒 After that I kept walking and stopped by Wendy’s around 3:30pm to grab a nice 50cent frosty. I’m making it a thing to grab a frosty at every Wendy’s I pass by from now on while this deal lasts. 

My walk for the remainder of the day took me to Cambridge City around 7:30pm. There I met a wonderful lady who pulled over and asked if I’d like to have dinner with her and her family. She told me that something in her heart just told her to ask me. At first I nicely refused because it was getting late and I needed to find shelter soon. Eventually she convinced me and I joined her and her WONDERFUL LOVELY SUPER CUTE family for dinner 😁 She made fish, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, eggs, and beans for dinner. I loved their home cooked meal and the BBQ sauce they used was actually made by her husband with honey as a base instead of corn syrup because one of their children is allergic to it. They have 3 boys and 1 little girl. They’re so energetic and cute 😁 Her husband was awesome and also gave me one of those construction worker’s vests to make sure cars can see me. I feel incredibly blessed to have met them and I hope they’ll see this post and we’ll stay in contact.

My view for basically the rest of the trip

What’s with car shaped mailboxes

I forgot to leave my blog😭 I hope they see this

Can you guess the name that my hat covers?

Happy Walking,

Sam Zhang
GoFundMe

https://www.gofundme.com/1000-miles-from-ny

Venmo

@XinXi-Zhang

Updates/Random Rants

This morning I met Brother Dom in Englewood,Ohio. A wonderful man, incredibly faithful and friendly. He was working hard this morning at his part time job at Burger King and through our conversation found out about my journey. He prayed for my safety and hooked me up with some food. I loved talking to him because he had such a warm heart and overall such a sweet guy.

After today’s walk, I am only 12 miles out from Indiana! I’m 2/3 the way done with this walk and am hoping to reach St.Louis by 7/31. I can take it a little easier each day now since I only need to walk an average ~21 miles a day for the next 16 days–quite a bit less than I’ve been walking these past few weeks. My Nikes are breaking down so bad but I want to finish the walk with them just to see how much worse and worn down the bottom looks afterwards πŸ˜‚ My bag’s straps are also giving up on me. The foam inside the straps completely flattened so I have no cushion at all, but I don’t blame it. I got the Jansport Katahdin 70L bag and it’s wonderful but I’ve truly put it to the test. With all that aside, the rest of my walk is literally one straight road to St.Louis.
Random Rants

In NYC it’s illegal to be on your phone while driving. Out here literally everybody drives while talking or texting on their phone. Is texting and driving legal out here? I’ve experienced a countless amount of times where people on their phones almost swerve off the road. And guess who’s walking on the side of the road? Me 😑 Guess who’s gonna die if I don’t dodge in time?? Me 😑😑😑😑😑😑😑 Although I have had several close ones each day, I haven’t gotten hit yet.

You know what else I have to constantly watch out for? Bugs. In NYC we had a lot of cockroaches. Out here? There’s a million different types of bugs everywhere. Some are so bold that they just crawl on the screen of my phone while I text. Some are so obnoxious that they stay on my leg even though I’m walking. Some are so large that when they fly into my face it feels as if I was hit with a pebble. They’re just everywhere and are always flying in my face. Ticks scare me to death because I had no idea what ticks were and ever since I heard about them I always thought I’d definitely get Lyme disease and die. I’ve had 2 ticks on me during this trip and I freaked out more than I should’ve. Sometimes I wonder to myself that maybe I’m invading their space. Other times I wonder the reason why each insect exists in this world. Usually I just accept that they’ll be part of my life forever. Thankfully *knock on wood* I haven’t been bitten once yet this trip.

During this trip I also realize I have to live somewhere that’s within a 15-20minute walk to the supermarket, restaurant, and gym amongst other things. Out here I’m experiencing a serious lack of stores and restaurants. Recently I started having this problem where I carry 1 gallon of water and I’d have to try to go more than 20miles until the next time I reach somewhere I can get more water. No bueno. I love to walk but walking that far to get water or food? I’d rather starve.

By the way I just ran out of LTE while I was trying to upload some pics so you guys won’t be seeing pics much unless I remember to stop by somewhere with Internet and upload 😞

Happy Walking,

Sam Zhang 

SVU

Ever watch the Special Victims Unit show? Ever been woken up by them kicking the door down? Ever crashed on the couch of a child rapist? Unfortunately I have. 

Wednesday night and Thursday I couchsurfed a man’s place in the west parts of Columbus. Nothing happened to me don’t worry. Around 12:30AM Thursday night I was woken up by the SVU kicking the door down. They told the man and I to stay out in the balcony while they searched the apartment. After about an hour of thoroughly searching the apartment and meticulously taking pictures, the detectives told me to repack my bag and they’ll be taking me to the station for some questions. Huge thanks to these detectives for saving my ass. Literally. Apparently I had crashed on the couch of a rapist under investigation for drugging and raping a boy.

Ohio has been one crazy incident after another. After this run in with the police, I don’t think I’ll be couchsurfing anymore. However I do still believe in the good of people and that most people are genuinely nice. After answering some questions the detectives had, a police officer (pictured below) took me to find a discrete spot in the area to set up my tent and get some rest for the night. 

Today I met a man named Howard who is extremely kind and spiritual. Although we had just met, he took me to a restaurant in Springfield and grabbed food with me. We had a very interesting conversation regarding modern technology and how this generation (my generation) almost worship our phone.

For those who were worried, I’ll be sure to be more careful from now on 😞 sorry to worry you guys.


Happy Walking,

Sam Zhang