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

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