Delaware // Week 1 // My first days on the road, and the wounded knee

Day 1 // Lewes, Delaware to Milton, DE // 18 miles // total: 18m                                                                           Day 2 // Milton, DE to Bridgeville, DE // 15 miles // total: 33m                                                                           Day 3 // Bridgeville, DE to Denton, MD // 22 miles // total: 55m                                                                       Day 4 // Denton, MD to Tuckahoe State Park // 11 miles // total: 66m                                                                 Day 5-6 // 0m // God Damned Knee Problems                                                             

Day 7 //  0m // Was picked up by trail angel Serenda, she brought me to her wonderful home so I could rest and heal my knee.

And there we were, New York City, April 13th, 2014, it was time to hit the road, and start might walk across America. The morning we left the apartment was filled with excitement, no one knew what to expect. It was as if we were in a dream. I had been planning this moment in my head for months, years even, my journey, was just beginning.

My partner Alejandro, Burning Daylight co-creator Lorena, good friends Sam, Humberto, Layla, Juliana, Andrianna, Evan, Bryk , Erik, me, and a couple dogs drove down to Delaware in Harvey the RV. Harvey is this big hippy bus,  the only vehicle suitable to send a friend on a walk across America. We did a farewell show at a local favorite bar, Irish eyes, featuring my dear comedy friends Erik Bergstrom, and Alex Grubarb. It was a wonderful show and we all partied the night away. The next morning we played on the beach and then we drove to my first campground of the trip in State Henlopen Park.  It was actually my first campsite I had ever set up. I mean, I have been camping, but the kind where you drive your car up and unload your huge tent and lounge chairs. This was the real deal. I was about to say goodbye to my partner, my dog, my friends, my life as I knew it. I was going to live out of a cart. And I would travel on foot, making my way 3,000 miles to the West Coast.

The R.V. drove away and I was there with my thoughts, and my cart. I built a fire right after they left, not realizing in my excitement it would still be daylight for some hours to come. I sat with my fire, in the daylight, looked at my maps, drank a few beers, and waited, for the reality to sink in.

The weather was chilly and windy, and after further review realized it would be storming most of the following day. Instead of a possible day one walk in the rain, I decided I would wait out the 14th, and start on the morning of the 15th when weather was supposed to clear to blue skys.

I went to bed that night, knowing, I had stayed off the inevitable for a few more hours at least.

The morning of the 14th the weather was damp and cool, the storm was to move in mid-day and I decided to get out and explore the park and nearby surrounding places. I found a small diner to grab breakfast and my meal cost $7, I was in God’s country now, God… was cheeeap.

Walking back to camp the wind started to pick up and a light rainfall fell. I zipped myself in the tent and prepared for a long day in my sleeping bag. I had everything I needed, a few beers, 2 gallons of water, snacks, and maybe a Real Housewives episode I had uploaded to my computer;)

As the day wore on the wind got more and more intense, by night fall, the temperature dropped 30 degrees, the rain turned to snow, snow turned to hale, and my tent and I were holding on for dear life. It wasn't until the next day I realized, it had actually been a really bad storm, locals were shocked I had made it through without an issue. We had made it over our first hurtle, knowing, there would be many more to come.

I started April 15th, 2014 on a beach in Henlopen State Park - Lewes, DE. The first few steps with my cart were.... weird. I had walked, and trained, but nothing prepares you for the moment you take those first steps.

The Delaware beach was the perfect backdrop to start my adventure. From that moment on, my eyes were set west. 18 miles in the first day and it was a breeze. I made it to the farmhouse that was keeping me for the night and the farm hand gave me a ride to the Dogfish Head Brewery. It couldn't have been a better end to a long first day! I had some nice cold brews and also there were two old hippie guys that we started talking to. One of the men had a corporate job but traded it all in for an RV and travels the country. He was in love with what I was doing and ironically had just been at the State Park that morning and thought to himself... "That person must be crazy camping in that storm". Hhaha, that was me!

 

Next up was Mack's place. He is an 80 year old folk musician who gave me moonshine. We stayed up well into the night drinking, telling stories and picking the guitar. Growing up I would pick the guitar with my Papaw and the song we would always sing was "Blue Moon of Kentucky". Mack and I gave it a try.

The morning I left Denton, MD my left knee was hurting. I had walked 55 miles in 3 days and until I started walking I had never really practiced walking while pushing the cart full of equipment, so I figured it was just sore and I decided to push through. After all, the walk from Denton to Tuckahoe was only 11 miles, that would be a breeze compared to my first couple days. I was about half way to my campground when the pain began to get worse and worse. Any time I would bend my knee the pain was excruciating. I had never been in pain like this before and I was beginning to walk with a limp.

I pushed through like a war hero and limped into camp. It was Easter weekend and the campground was almost full. I began to unload my cart and set up my tent when a woman approached. "There is not a baby in there is it? No, I answered. I explained what I was doing, she was thrilled, and invited me over after I settled in.

Beth and Geoff gave me food, booze and friendship after I hobbled into camp. They were Angels!! The next day everyone left camp and I was the only one still camping. I was hoping my knee would magically feel better.... it didn't.

I had met Serinda months before. She lived near the coast in Delaware and a lot of cross country hiker's and biker's would stay with her at the beginning or ends of their trips. She had been keeping up with me and offered I come stay with the family for a few days until I got to feeling better.  Her family was the best and I got to hang out with this Kitten for 3 days while my knee healed!

Washington, DC // Week 2 // Standup shows, and knee woes

Day 8 -Day 14 // Washington, D.C.

Four days after staying off the knee completely with the kittie family and the knee is still a mess. I was unable to walk without a limp. I had shows planed in D.C., so decided to skip ahead and hitched a ride. My dear friend Gus let me stay on his couch for a week and I stayed off the knee as much as I could also did 4 standup shows. Then the miracle, I had the overwhelming desire to get acupuncture, even though I had never had if before. I went, they recommended me to a physical therapist, and literally within a few hours of my appointment my tendonitis had disappeared.

By this time my good friend Kyle from Tennessee had met up with me and we were dying to hit the trail again. Then the weather came, lot’s of rain and flash flooding right on the canal we would be walking. At the time it was a bummer and another setback on the road, but in hind site it was a life saver. What if I had been on the trail when that happened?

So after much rest and better weather, I was ready to get moving again and see how things would go.

The C and O Canal // Week 3 // On the Road Again, and all alone

Day 15 - Washington, D.C. to Cabin John MD // 16 miles // total: 82m                                                               Day 16 - Cabin John to Swainslock // 9 miles // total: 91m                                                                                  Day 17 - Swainslock to Horsepen // 10 miles // total: 101m                                                                                  Day 18 - Rest day                                                                                                                                                   Day 19 - Horsepen to Leesburg VA // 10 miles // total: 111m                                                                                Day 20/21 - stuck in Leesburg w/ food poisoning ;/


It’s just a few weeks in, I feel as though I have been on the road for months now, maybe lifetimes. This trail is beautiful, the weather is near perfect, my knee is recovering, and I feel…. alone. Most the people I pass are on bikes, whizzing passed at a speed to fast to care, who I am, or what I’m doing, or if there is “a baby in there”.

I stopped in Leesburg Virginia to find propane for my stove and had to ride the last privately owned ferry in the country to get there, cost 2 bucks. I stopped at a local burger joint for food and a beer and got food poisoning. My dear friend and producer Jesse got me a motel room for the night to try and get better, I ended up staying 3 nights. It felt weird and wrong and lonely. I was supposed to be walking across America but at this point I had only actually logged just over 100 miles and I was throwing up in a Best Western toilet.

Day 3 I road over the river and got back on the trail. I couldn't find fuel for my stove so I made one of those alcohol stoves from a soda can from watching a youtube video. I was stocked up and ready to walk.



00:31:15.13        Last night we stayed at the [lock tunnels].  Knee’s feeling fine.  Leg’s hurting.                        But...I’m gonna try taping my ankle. This house was pretty cool.  Kyle asked me if I believe in ghosts.  [Yawning] I only believe in ghosts if it’s dark.  I feel like I probably should not walk today.  But we have to get to the next campground ‘cause we can’t stay here another night, and that is approximately... I don’t know.  Five miles away.  I should go figure that out. I’m gonna be on this trail for 200 miles.  I don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into.


Kyle met me. Kyle’s great.  Kyle and I went to high school together.  He’s the one who dances on the Grand Ole Opry that I told you about.  So he dances on the Grand Ole Opry, clogging.  And he met me in DC, and that’s when my knee was hurt.  He took me to the acupuncturist.  And the knee felt so much better after acupuncture. Then we started walking.  He was, he actually only walked with me for, like, one day, because by the time my knee was healed, and we started walking, it was pretty much time for him to go back to Nashville. Um.  But we had a lot of fun hanging out in DC, and we drank too many margaritas one night.  Um, I did some shitty shows.  I did the one good show.   And when we left DC, that was like a new moment.  That was the first moment.  That — ‘cause from Delaware to, to DC, was road walking.  And Delaware’s really nice.  It’s like, a lot of country roads. And when I left through Georgetown was on the C&O canal, and that was it.  Like, “Okay, I’m on this canal now for hundreds of miles.” I think it’s like 200 miles long. Um.  And thinking — I mean, it was kind of the perfect way to start off my trip, because thinking about it now, that was so easy.  I had a place to stay every night ‘cause there were camp, like, hiker-biker campsites along the whole route.I didn’t have to deal with traffic.  You know, I didn’t have to deal with where I was gonna stay.  I didn’t have to deal with, where I’m gonna get water, ‘cause there were water stops all along the way.  But yet, somehow, it was the hardest time for me.  You know, but from the actual act of the walking and the safety element and all those things, it was definitely some of the, the best times. But it was, ‘cause I was alone.  I was really disconnected from anyone else, because, you kn-, when I do road-walking, people stop me.  Or I end up staying with people, you know.  You're around people.  And, um, on the canal, the only people you pass are maybe like a biker or some frigid old lady who’s like walking her dog or something.  And you're just the weirdo with the cart.   So I think that was a moment of reflection, I guess.

West Virginia // Week 4 // Food Poisoning, stolen money, visited my a cross country walker, and dinner date with an 80 year old "tycooon"

Day 22 - stuck in Leesburg // total: 111m                                                                                                           

Day 23 - Leesburg VA to Bald Eagle // 15 miles // total: 126m                                                                         

Day 24 - Bald Eagle to Harper’s Ferry WV // 11 miles // total: 137m                                                                 

Day 25 - Rest day // 0 miles                                                                                                                              

Day 26 - Harper’s Ferry to Shepherdstown // 14 miles // total: 151m                                                               

Day 27 - Loved it so much, had to stay another day // 0 miles                                                                     

Day 28 - Shepherdstown WV to Opequon // 15 miles // total: 166m


The weather was getting warmer and the sun was bright. As I made my way I came across a large group of senior citizens sitting on a long picnic table, I stopped to chat for a moment but I really just wanted to keep pushing forward, no time to waste. Then as soon as I walked away, I thought to myself, what are you doing? You are supposed to be meeting people, you should have stopped to chat.

I walked and passed several different campsites, some were still flooded from all the rains the week before. I came across one perfect campground overlooking the canal, but it was early in the day so I kept walking. Coming to the final campsite before it would become dark I was running out of water. Then I arrived at my site, it was less than desirable. Right by some railroad tracks that seemed to appear from nowhere, down a hill, there was a muddy, buggy, dirty campsite. I knew I didn't have time for other options, so I started to roll my cart down the hill, then the cart flipped, I ran after, stumbled, the cart was fine, my knee was tweaked. Then I went to get water and the well was dry, I pumped and pumped and pumped but nothing would come. So there I was, muddy, hurt, and thirsty. I begrudgingly through up my tent, and climbed inside. I didn’t even make dinner, I just wanted to forget what I was doing.

That night I lay in my tent and thought about quiting. Everything passed though my mind, all the work I had put into the project, what I would tell people, what I would do upon my arrival back to my “real life”. That’s when I counted the miles, 126, one hundred and twenty six, is that all I have in me I thought? No, it wasn’t, I knew I needed to press on, things would work out, they always do.

The next morning I set out to make it to the next town, 4 miles down the trail and get food and water. I started on the trail and the first thing I found, a cold, unopend, bottle of water. It must have fallen off of someones bike, it was my first sign, things were looking up. I made my way to an entrance to a small town, but the town was up a very large hill so I decided I should hide my cart in the bushes. I was hoping no one would notice and then out of nowhere there was a hippy guy with a small backpack and feather neck tattoo.

He introduced himself…. Gary. Gary knew exactly what I was doing. I was on a common trail for cross country walkers and very close to the appellation trail. When he saw my cart, he asked, “you are walking across America aren’t you”. He seemed to know a lot about the area and let me know it wasn’t worth going into this town, I should keep walking to the next town of Harper’s Ferry, it was much larger and easier to navigate and It would only take us about 3 hours to walk there. Initially I really didn’t want to walk with him for 3 hours, but I remembered that this is just the sort of thing I need to say yes to, so, I did.

Gary was a smoker, and the site of his cigarette to me was like freedom. I asked if he could spare one, and then I felt like we weren’t hiking, we were just hanging. Gary and I walked, he told me about himself and how he just kind of trained hopped around. He gave me advice about the upcoming parts of the trail, and finally it seemed like things were looking up.

As we neared Harper’s Ferry Gary warned me about the the long winding stair case that led to the bridge to get you to town, and he wondered how I would get my cart there. Then he had a plan, a friend of his lived in the town, and had a pickup truck, he pulled out his flip phone (should have been my first clue) and gave her call. She was okay with us using her truck, but she needed $20 for gas.

I actually didn’t have any cash left on my at this point except in my super secret hiding place. My super secret hiding place was in small water proof bag sewed to the inside of my cart lining. Inside the bag was a small weathered bible my Memaw had given me, she gave it with several $20’s stuck throughout. So when we approached the beautiful town, I pulled my cart to the side, took $20 from my secret stash, and I waited for Gary to return with his “friends” truck.

Meanwhile, a guy named Dan I had met before the walk, because he to was a comedian who had walked across America lived nearby. When he found I was in Harper’s Ferry he decided to come hang out with me and keep me company. I told him that I was about Gary and it was as if as the words of the story were coming out of my mouth I realized…. Gary wasn’t coming back. I waited for 3 hours, he never returned.

Somehow I was glad for Gary, even though he squeezed me for $20. The 3 hours we walked together went by so fast, and I was actually for the first time in days enjoying myself. I would have given him the $20 if would have asked. And then in hind site, I learned a pretty valuable lesson, don’t put your guard down.

So there I was, like a kid waiting on a shitty parent to show at their baseball game, just waiting, luckily Dan did show up, we packed my cart in his car, and he drove me up to the hiker hostel in town. Dan was great. He had been exactly where I was, trying to walk across America, and it took him three attempts before he completed it. I told him I had fantasied about quitting and he said, not now, not like this. But if you do quit at some point, don’t ever look back, be strong on your decisions. Dan gave me food, clothes, homemade beer, and great company. I felt renewed, and set back on the trail after two nights at the hostel, with clean clothes, and high spirits.



Jessica:     It is Sunday.  Mother’s Day.  And I have officially been gone from New York for a month.  This is one month today that I left, and started my walk.
    I’m in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  When I got here, I was feeling pretty low.  Had that rough night at the campsite.  I met this guy Gary.  He made me feel a lot better.  Then he stole 20 bucks from me.  It’s okay.  I’m not upset about it, Gary.
01:09:59.07    Um, I did not film him, but I’m glad I didn’t, because maybe he would have stolen my camera.  So I think it’s a sign.
    Harpers’ Ferry’s been amazing.  I’ve met a bunch of hikers.  This is where the Appalachian Trail and the American Discovery Trail, which is what I’m on right now, meet.
    So I’ve been hanging out with all of these Appalachian Trail hikers, and they're going through a completely different experience than I’m going through.  
01:10:31.06    But, they’ve given me some steam to carry on.  I’ve only walked 150 miles so far, and that ain’t shit, so… Today, I’m going to Shepherdstown, West Virginia.  I’ve only got, like, 11 miles and I’m gonna do it like that.  [Snaps fingers]
    I’m feeling good.
    Feeling good.  [Gives thumbs up sign]

 

Maryland // Week 5 // The end of one trail, and a taste of home

Day 29 - Opequon to Falling Waters // 15 miles // total: 181m                                                                            

Day 30 - Falling Waters to Hancock // 24 miles // total: 205m                                                                         

Day 31 - Hancock to 15 Mile Creek // 16.5 miles // total: 221.5m                                                                      

Day 32 - 15 Mile Creek to Town Creek // 21.5 miles // total: 243m                                                                

Day 33 - Town Creek to Cumberland MD // 20 miles // total: 263m                                                                

Day 34 - Alejandro and Tiki came to visit!!!                                                                                                         

Day 35 - 0 miles



01:13:35.02            So, I have been on this trail, this one trail from DC, for 163 miles.  I have, like, 20 more miles to go on it.  And then I think I’ve decided I’m going to Pittsburgh. Everyone h-, you know, always has such great things to say about Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. That’s sarcastic.  No one every says anything good about Pittsburgh. Um, the weather’s really beautiful today, and I just, uh, was without cell service for the first time and now I have it back, so I’m listening to some jazz.  On my headphones. And I’m going to a little town called Oldtown.  Perfect name.  I bet it, I bet it’s gonna be fitting.  It’s probably gonna be an old town.01:14:04.11 Guessing they only have one restaurant.  And, uh, it’s called Schoolhouse.  And I called to see if they're open on Sundays, because it’s Sunday, so a lot of places might be closed.  And they are.         And then I just called to see what time they stopped serving breakfast, and they serve it all day.  I’m gonna go have a really big breakfast.  And then tomorrow [Alejandro] comes.01:14:27.18 I’m feeling good.  I’m feeling very hungry right now.  Um, I’ve been to a couple small towns along this trail, but I’ve been doing a lot of camping, and it’s very beautiful, but it’s looked the same for a while.  It just started getting better, actually, so. It always just starts getting better right at the end, you know?  Then it’s over.
This is never gonna end, though.  This is never gonna be over.  ‘Cause I’ve been on the road for over a month, and I’ve only gone, like, 200 miles.So, this could take l-, it’s gonna take, like, 12 years...to complete.  But the last three days, I did, like, 20 miles, so... We’ll see.  I’m probably getting poison ivy right now, s-, I’m sitting in the grass.  I didn’t even look at what I was sitting in.


Well, I have officially finished the C&O canal.  All hundred and 85 miles of it.  [Phones makes noise] Uh, just text from an old friend.  And I’m waiting on Alejandro and Tiki.  They're gonna be here any time now.          It’s been five weeks since I’ve seen him.01:15:58.13 Five weeks today.  Yay!  It’s a perfect day out.


Male Voice: Subject holding dog] So tell us... How do you feel right now?  
Jessica: I feel... S-, normal.
Male Voice: Ah, okay.
Jessica: I feel ready to get on the second leg of my trip.  There’s gonna be 12,000
legs, so... It’s the second one. I’m sad you guys are leaving, but I’m really happy I got to see you.  You gave me a good boost.
Male Voice: What do you think of your country so far?
Jessica: We use a lot of plastic bottles and we throw ‘em in the water.  But so far,
it’s been really beautiful.  I haven’t — I’ve been on the trail, which is, like,
secluded.  I’m ready to be in the world.  Meet people. But I’m about to get on another trail.
Male Voice: Where are you going?
Jessica: I don’t know.  I think I’m gonna go to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and try
and do some comedy there. But, the plan was to go to West Virginia.  The plan has changed.
Male Voice: Why is that?
Jessica: The mountains.  I think if I go to Pennsylvania and then go to, cut over to
Ohio, I’m gonna have to deal with less mountains.
Male Voice: Of course.  You're carrying a cart, so going up and down mountains is not
easy.
Jessica:I talked to a couple different locals, and the consensus was...head north
and then west.
Male Voice: How has it been, your living situation?  Eating, showering...
Jessica: Uh, it’s been —
Male Voice: Sleeping.
Jessica: Pretty good so far.  Oh — [holds up hand to feel rain] I think that cloud has rain.
Male Voice:Yeah, it’s a couple drops.
Jessica: Um... So far it’s been good.
Male Voice: You’ve met a lot of cool people?
Jessica: I’ve met a couple, so far.  Yesterday started week...seven.  
Male Voice: Week seven.
JessicaI think.  [Puts down dog] And tonight I think I’m gonna get to do an open mic.
Male Voice: Right.
Jessica: I feel like I’m pretty depressed ‘cause I haven’t done stand-up in like, like
three weeks.
Male Voice: You're about to change that tonight.
Jessica: Hopefully. Tiki!  What are you eating?  [Camera points toward dog] No!
01:20:57.03
Jessica: So, yeah.  Now the Allegheny Passage.  It’s like 150 miles.
Male Voice: What do you think about that?
Jessica:It should take me, like, a week and a half.


Here we are.  Ah, it’s the start of the Allegheny Passage, which I’m gonna be on for about 150 miles.  Alejandro and Tiki left yesterday.  It was good.  I got a good boost.  And I stayed in this great town last night. I’m skipping West Virginia.  I just think it was too...too many mountains.  Not enough shoulder on the side of the road.  So I’m headed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.01:21:50.14I gotta do some comedy.  I gotta get to some comedy, ‘cause I’m dying on the inside without it.  [Sighs] So I hope that these 150 miles go by pretty fast. Here is, to my comic, comedic adventure. All right.  150 miles.  Here we go.

Pennsylvania // Week 6 // Great Allegheny Passage

Day 36 – Rest day – 0 miles
Day 37 – Cumberland MD to Frostburg MD // 15 miles // total: 278m
Day 38 – Frostburg MD to Meyersdale PA // 16 miles // total: 294
Day 39 – Meyersdale PA to Rockwood PA // 13 miles // total: 307
Day 40 – Rockwood PA to Confluence PA // 24 miles // total: 331
Day 41 – Confluence PA to Ohiopyle PA // 13 miles // total: 344
Day 42 – Ohiopyle PA to Connellsville PA // 20 miles // total: 364

Last night I got a cabin, because it was thunder-storming, lighting really bad, a really bad lightning storm.  And today, it says a flash flood warning, but I can’t afford this cabin for another night.  But for now, I get to pretend like I live in a home. And make my oatmeal in a real bowl, instead of over a camp stove.                  I’m doing laundry right now.  Yay!  Laundry’s the best. I used to hate doing laundry.  Now I love it. So yesterday I got to this town, and I knew that there was this campground here with cabins.  But, my map made it look like it was right in the town, and it was actually three miles away, so after I walked 17 miles, I just had to walk another three, which was really four, to get to this campsite. But hey.  I got coffee out of a pot.  What?  Microwave.  If — I don’t have anything to microwave, but if I did, it’s right there.                        Thing] sizzling.  [Unintelligible] 01:26:29.07                This kitchen is so — there’s, like, things to grill.  I wish I could have grilled

Pittsburgh // Week 7 // Strangers let me house sit

Day 43 Connellsville to West Newton // 23 miles // total: 387

Day 44 West Newton to Pittsburgh // 20 miles // total: 407

Day 45,46,47,48,49 Comedyyyyyyyy in Pittsburgh!!