American West by Public Transportation – The Journey Begins

Today I embark on a new journey, one that will see me traversing half the United States at a slower pace, by foot, bus, and train, from the bustling streets of Chicago through the dusty forgotten towns of the Southwest, the natural awesomeness of a dozen National Parks, and the coastal riches of the West Coast. By June I will land in Vancouver, BC for the Women’s World Cup, a month-long celebration to end the odyssey begun three months before.

The primary goal of this trip is simple – to see how much of the United States I can visit by public transportation alone – no car, no airplane flights. Just one backpack, my own two feet, and a hodgepodge network of buses, trains, and bike rentals. When I began researching the possibilities a year ago, this goal seemed impossible without heading east. I considered the easy option, the road more traveled, a dense eastern coast tightly woven with train and bus lines. But I am from Oregon and the open road and trails of the West are embedded deep within my bones.

So I will head west, towards the setting sun and my scattered family and the natural wonders of mountain and sea that drew my ancestors before me.

And it begins by lacing up my hiking boots, slinging my pack over my shoulder, and walking the two blocks to my local Appleton, Wisconsin bus stop. I’ll try to post stories, impressions, thoughts, and pitfalls along the way.

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About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
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