My name is Benjamin Butler and I’m a recent graduate (well, a little over a year ago) of Auburn University with a degree in marketing. Therefore, like any other post grad, I’ve had to come up with a plan for my life. So, what’s my plan to take the world by a storm while simultaneously making my parents feel very confident and safe with my life choice?
I’m going to:
Do nothing with my degree
Delve into a career that has no guarantees of making money
Buy 2 baby strollers with 3 other guys
AND do a 1,600 mile tour from Maine to Tennessee… On foot!
Yeah. I know what you’re probably thinking. Well… generally at least. All of your thoughts right now probably start with “What about…?” and then end with some type of safety or physical or logistical obstacle. And believe me, I’ve had those thoughts for two years as I’ve been planning this adventure. At times, these questions and doubts caused me to all but throw away this weird, crazy dream of mine. But, at some point, as my mom advised me, I had “to make up my damn mind” about doing it or not. So, once I decided that it was going to happen, three other idiots joined the adventure and here we are over halfway into this thing and I still oftentimes can’t believe that we’re actually doing this.
There are so many things that I could tell about this tour and I could write pages and pages on the stories that we have already. But, for time’s sake, I’ll do a Q&A with myself with questions that we often get.
Why are you walking?
This question has so many answers and differs between each of us. To give context of how this idea was born, it started its conception when I was in middle school. My cousin Drew was in a very adventurous period of his life during this time where he trained sled dogs, lived on a sailboat, and hiked the Appalachian Trail while I was in this stage of life. I looked up to him and decided then that I was going to do something adventurous when I graduated college.
In college, I met another man named Andrew who was walking across the country. I went and walked with him for a few miles and he told me all about the amazing people he met and the adventures he was having on his journey.
So, for me, the reasons I did it were many. I knew I loved adventure and wanted to do something outside of the norm when I graduated college. I also knew that I would be forced into meeting some amazing people whose stories would be fascinating and would potentially change my life (that happens almost daily by the way). I also knew that in he music industry that you have to do things to stand out and allow your music to reach people's ears. I figured this might be crazy enough that a few people would at least lend a listen to my tunes.
Where exactly are we walking?
We started walking in Portland, ME and are going to go all the way south to Atlanta, then back north to finish our tour in Nashville. As far as the roads we are using, route 1 has been our constant friend and enemy for almost the entire tour. Sometimes it's a small two lane back road; other times it's a huge four lane road with speed limits exceeding 60mph.
How are we transporting all of our stuff?
Despite what many have assumed, We don't have a support car. It is only the four of us, a backpack, and 2 baby strollers. Speaking of the strollers, you wouldn't believe how many people ask us if there are babies in our sealed carts that have guitars bungee chorded on top of them.
How far do you walk in a given day?
We typically walk between 15-20 miles every walking day. We have done as little as 2 miles and as much as 25. I don't want to do either of those again, especially the latter. Up north, we usually were walking about the same amount of days that we were resting or playing shows in cities. Now that we have reached the rural south, we're doing many stretches where we will walk 6 or 7 days without a rest day.
Where do y'all stay at night?
This is a fun question. Our default for every night is camping. However, we have used that option way less than I thought we would. We have been out for about 80 days and have camped less than 20 times. Also, the majority of the nights that we don't camp, we stay with people that we had zero connection with before this tour. But, when we do camp, there have been very few times that we have camped in actual camping areas. Most of our camping is urban camping, staying in the middle of civilization just out of the sight of those around us, which is quite an interesting and initially a slightly scary experience.
So there you go! That is the essence of the four month journey that I'm currently on. It has been one amazing journey and it's only halfway over. I hate to be like a Disney movie and end this post with a fairytale ending, but I think the following is the most important takeaway from this tour and that is:
PEOPLE ARE GOOD.
Going into this trip, I knew people would help us some. But I had no idea that they bend over backwards to the degree that they have and as often as they have. Like I said before, we have stayed with so many people that we did not know until we met them on the street, at a show, or at a restaurant. That has become so normal to us, but I've been hit over the last couple of days how crazy that really is. Like what? This many people have decided to let us four men stay in their homes with their families with no way to check out if we are not crooks or criminals. It really does blow my mind. Beyond that, people have bought us so much food and many a beer and other random little things. The amount of money that we saved in these areas because of people's generosity has had to total in the thousands. And keep in mind this has all been done for four strangers that they know essentially nothing about. Many of these people have sincerely invited us to come back and have even said that they are coming down to Nashville for our last show of this tour. They haven't been concerned with our social class, our religion, our race, or anything of that nature. They have just seen a few crazy dreamers and wanted to buy into this adventure with us. And believe me, they have become the biggest part of the trip and have made it what has become.
So here comes the Hollywood ending: Don't buy into the lie that people are inherently evil and want to do you harm or don't care about others. For the most part, I truly believe that that is a total falsehood. Take a chance and trust in your fellow human today and create an interaction with a random person. I bet you'll be surprised about the amazing experience you may have with those right around you that you often pass by without a word.