For 175 days and spanning the life of 13 pairs of shoes, Kent Treptow woke up every morning to do one thing – walk. If you’re like most folks he encountered along the way, right now you’re wondering why he’d do such a thing. Why would anyone embark on a 3000-mile walk from the Atlantic to the Pacific?
If you had a chance to ask Kent this question, odds are he’d turn the table on you. He’d ask what you’re fishing for. What answer might satisfy? Should he claim to be on a vision quest? On a search for life’s deeper meaning? Would it make more sense if he said he was on a devotional journey to find God? If any of these reasons are enough, then you probably don’t get it. Won’t get it. Simply put, Kent wanted an adventure. This was reason enough to discard his life and throw on a pack for six grueling months.
I’ve known Kent for nearly 20 years. We were introduced by a mutual friend and departed on our first Baja trip without having met face-to-face. Though our friendship may have started blind, it’s evolved into a brotherhood. Since that first trip in 1995, we’ve backpacked countless miles in Mexico and Utah, and trekked around Southeast Asia, China and Mongolia. Blank spots on a globe or any place we’ve not yet visited are always worthy destinations.
Kent and I feel most alive when faced with the opportunity to be an outsider. You could say that we’re junkies for that feeling of raw vulnerability. For years we discussed the possibility of hoofing it across the USA. Together? Solo? Who knew? Kent was the first to make it happen, and after a near-death first attempt, no less. As his friend, I couldn’t be more proud of him. As someone who lives for the next fantastic experience, I am truly inspired by his courage and willingness to dive into the unknown – or, to use Kent’s metaphor, to swim as free as a dolphin. It’s got me thinking that 2015 might be my year to give it a shot.
Kent’s book, Home is Where I Lay My Head Down, is the labor of love he wrote long after returning to Southern California. His post-walk reflection turns America on her head and provides a step-by-step insight into the foreignness of his domestic experience. Kent is one of the smartest people I know and his ability to spin a yarn with comic relief is unmatched. He’s humble and honest, though at times, angry and self-depreciating. He’s also extremely opinionated and political. His writing of this book is no exception. His true voice is clear. And thankfully he refrained from insulting the reader with any ridiculous Oprah moments meant to lure them into a false experience. This isn’t your sugar-coated adventure. It’s the real deal.
Kent didn’t have any prophetic dreams along the way, nor did he witness any tears rolling down the face of the Blessed Virgin. His biggest worry each day was where to plop down his tent so he wouldn’t wake up with a shotgun in his face. Kent trudged along every day with sore feet and swollen legs. He had tons of time to think about his life. But fact is, it didn’t matter much. Though he admits a revelatory moment would have been nice, it didn’t happen. But that’s OK because what did happen proves elusive if sought. The kindness of strangers, curious cows, murderous RVs and hospitable police officers. Sometimes all on the same day. Kent just let life happen. Admit it, this is compelling.
Imagine if your sole purpose was to wake up, get your butt out of bed, and walk. Just walk. No email, no cell phone, no social media, none of that distracting stuff that keeps you from truly living. What if all you had to do was just move forward and let your adventure unfold?
Yeah, I thought so. Me too. Buy his book. Be inspired.