What’s Next?

Hi everyone this is Sam πŸ™‚ Sorry I haven’t posted in a while since I completed my walking journey. Had a bit of a hiatus from blogging for a little while but I’m itching to write again. It’s very nice to be able to share my experience and say what I want to say and know that people might read it. That’s the power of blogging, hence why people post on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. And just a heads up this will be a long one.

After I reached St.Louis at the end of July, I spent 5 days in St.Louis crashing at my fraternity brother Will’s place. I explored the historical city and tried to take in as much sights as I could. Of course I had to go see the Gateway Arch but unfortunately the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park was under construction 😦 Aside from the Arch, I also visited Forest Park. Forest Park is like the Central Park of NYC but better! It is built on the site of the 1904 World Fair. Within the park there is the Missouri State Museum, SLAM (St.Louis Art Museum), and St.Louis zoo. St.Louis Zoo took me an entire day to get through and there were so many animals. No wonder it is ranked the second best zoo in the nation. SLAM had an amazing collection of a variety of arts. My personal favorite was their Papua New Guinea mask collection. The State Museum was quite underwhelming after the zoo and SLAM. Overall Forest Park was absolutely wonderful. I spent 3 of my 5 days there.

St.Louis also had amazing food. Southern (fried chicken), Pappy’s (barbecue), Bogart’s (barbecue BEST RIBS EVER*), and The Shaved Duck. The nightlife downtown was decent. Definitely different from what I was used to back in NYC but considering that I was in a tank top and sweats it was chill. Late shoutout to my brothers Will, Chris, and even John.

After St.Louis I took Megabus to Chicago where I met up with my bros Paul and Vincent. The deep dish pizza at Giordano’s was still as gooey and moist and delicious as I remember it many years ago. Considering that I ate deep dish every day I think I’ve had enough for a life time though. Aside from the decent food, most of my 5 days in Chicago was spent at Lollapalooza. Lollapalooza was an incredible 4 days festival. I had a blast and there were some amazing artists. My favorite sets were Slushii and Getter’s on the second day when Vince and I spent 8 hours in stuffed like a sardine in the front of the crowd. For those of you who might be into EDM check out Slushii and Getter for sure. Lollapalooza was amazing because it had such a large variety of artists and genres of music. The stages were so far apart and the grounds were huge. I guess what took me by surprise was the fact that it was an all ages festival. At the EDM stage Perry’s there were way too many privileged white highschool kids who are there for the hype not the music.

I flew out of o’Hare on 8/8 and went to San Francisco to see my pledge educator Garrett. He is doing big things. Huge shoutout to my PE for taking me on my first real hike. Morning of 8/9 I took the ferry to Larkspur where he picked me up. We then hiked Stinson Beach, Muir Woods, Land’s End, Golden Gate National Recreational Area, and of course walked the Golden Gate Bridge itself. It was a day full of walking and good food. After sleeping in Green Tortoise Hostel for the first two nights my friends finally flew in and we got a hotel room together and had a good time exploring the rest of San Francisco such as Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, and Ghirardelli Square. Honestly the highlight of my time in San Francisco was the beautiful hikes and 2 specific food spots. El Farolito in the Mission District was absolutely BOMB. Best burrito and quesidilla I’ve ever had. I also completed the Pho Garden 6lb pho challenge and went to puke immediately after. The noodles came out in the shape of my esophogus. But enough of that.

Next stop, Baltimore, Moonrise festival.

I flew back to NYC on Saturday morning and got a ride to Baltimore. There I spent another weekend raging in the muddy rainy weather taking PLUR to the next level. Moonrise festival is another EDM festival but unfortunately first day was mostly rained out and the second day wasn’t the best. My favorite set there was Dillstradamus at the end of the second day. Absolute rager it was INSANE! I had a good time seeing my friends from Florida and all over.

I FINALLY SLEPT IN MY OWN BED ON 8/14 AFTER NEARLY 2 MONTHS AWAY!

Now that I have been back for almost 2 months, I am rapidly getting sucked into the fast paced city life again but I will keep living my life like a rock in the rapids. 4th year of pharmacy school has been tough. Drugs and Diseases is no joke. I have also been working out consistently for the past month and hopefully by the end of the school year make some serious gainz. I guess that is all the updates right now. Sorry I kind of rushed through the later parts because instead of paying attention in my 8am class I am writing this post.

Now, “What’s Next?”

For my next trip I am going to Orlando again for EDC Orlando on 11/10-11/11. In the mean time I really need to focus on school and fitness. I want to take my fitness and lifestyle to the next level. For the remainder of the year, I plan to stay focused and continue working towards my goals and trying out with new things. I will keep you guys updated.


Happy Walking,

Sam Zhang

The Gateway Arch

As I walked across the Eads Bridge that brought me from Illinois to Missouri, I couldn’t stop smiling and screaming to the top of my lungs. A 38 whole days ago, I left the comfort of my home and the embrace of my bed. People doubted me. I doubted myself. 38 days later. Here I am. 1000 miles from NY. 

I’m so thankful to my friends who supported me along this journey. I’m so thankful to my mom, who bred an idiot who doesn’t quit. I’m so thankful to all the people I met along the way. To Barbara of Morristown, Mary and Lou of Hackettstown, Brian of Allentown, Justin of Hamsburg, Glenda of Newburg, Derrick of Blair Mills, Joel of Bakersville, Nikki and Ray of Washington, John and Gary of Wheeling, Roger of Morristown, Kendra of Frazeysburg, Tim, Sam, Rio, Vince, Kris – my Ohio State brothers, Howard of Springfield, Brother Dom of Englewood, Richai and her family of Cambridge City, Josiah of Knightstown, Jaime,Traci,Carissa of Rushville, Mike of Stilesville, Flix of Manhattan, Derrick and countless amazing people of Clark County, Dan, Donna, and Debra of Martinsville, Michael Lewis of Effingham, John of Detroit, Mike Davis of St.Elmo, and so many more whom I never learned the name of. Thank you all so much. You guys made my journey that much more meaningful, and I feel tears coming just thinking about all of you. You guys have allowed me to gain something that I wasn’t even looking for during this trip. 

Over the course of 1000 miles, I’ve received many gifts. Some are physical, like food and water and my crazy tan. Others are spiritual and abstract. The night of my dad’s birthday, I understood more about the significance of family and how lucky I am to have even had him in my life for 10 years. Through meeting all these people and waving at each car that passes me, I learned to appreciate each person I cross paths with. I gained a great deal of love for this country, and even more importantly, the American people. I gained greater appreciation and love for my friends and family. I became more disciplined. I became comfortable dealing with hardship. I feel healthier and more energized. I learned a great deal about animals and farming. Through these, I’ve somewhat matured as a person, gradually getting closer to being the person I want to be.

I’m sitting on the steps between the Mississippi and the Arch as I write this. I feel a river of emotions flooding more violently than the Mississippi River once did. I’m not the best writer and I can’t put the way I feel right now in words. I wish I could put this moment and how I feel into words or a picture that I’ll never forget. This is crazy! 

I want to thank all the people who venmoed or sent me money on GoFundMe. I didn’t actually end up using any of the money you guys sent me so if y’all don’t mind, I’m gonna donate it to a charity. I haven’t thought of which one yet but I’m gonna do some research so I don’t end up donating it to some bogus charity. 

Also, this will be my last post. Or will it? Lemme know if I should continue to blog about my adventures or if y’all had enough of my crappy writing😁

 This is Xin Xi (Sam) Zhang. Do whatever you want and don’t let anyone tell ya otherwise πŸ’ͺ🏾


Happy Walking,

Sam Zhang

The Countdown

I’ve been counting down the days. And the nights. I was gonna take my time and slow my walk but I’m way too damn excited. I’m almost there! As I write this blog I’m laying down on the picnic tables at the Cahokia Mounds. ​A mere 10miles away from the Gateway Arch. I’m feeling a mixture of excitement and sadness. Excited to see a landmark that’ll have a personal meaning for the rest of my life. Excited to complete this thousand mile journey. Excited to not have to worry about where I’ll be sleeping at night. Yet I feel a hint of sadness. I’ve gotten used to this lifestyle. I’m comfortable walking miles and miles everyday and meeting kind strangers whom I’ll never forget. I want to continue this journey further West. I wanna go out there so bad. I remember during the first week when I was sleeping outside a supermarket in Bethlehem, I was texting one of my best bros Corey and he said “dude if you ever decide to do something like this again I’m gonna drive over and kidnap you and not let you go”. At the time I thought I’m never doing something torturous like this again. Now I’m not so sure. It’s just too damn fun! I can’t believe I’m saying this but I loved this walk. I wish I had more time and was better prepared to face the difficult environment out West. I’m not saying that I’m definitely walking from NYC all the way to San Francisco next summer, but if you’re interested in keeping me company let me know 😏

Over the course of this trip I contemplated how hardship and pleasure relate to one another. I contemplated the idea of moderation. Joe Rogan said it best in one of his podcasts “everything in moderation including moderation.” To sum it up, sometimes you gotta do crazy hard stuff and crazy fun stuff. I don’t want to ever live a mediocre life. A life of quiet desperation isn’t for me. I want to endure extreme hardships and also experience extreme pleasure. All the time. One after the other. I’m not good at explaining but I think if I continue to do that not only will I have an incredibly fun life, I’ll also become capable of doing anything. So many things I wanna do 😩
Happy Walking,

Sam Zhang
GoFundMe

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

Venmo

@XinXi-Zhang

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