Posted by: Linda Proud | January 28, 2011

Walking tour of America

About two weeks ago, a visitor to the dovegreyreader blog joined in a conversation about exercise by saying that she was on a virtual walk across the USA and, after fourteen months, was still in Missouri. Well, this rather appealed to me,  coming as it did just a few days after being told quite forcibly that exercise will not only prevent me becoming a blind amputee but will also stave off Alzheimers. Why is it, then, with such powerful incentives, I could only walk about a mile a time and that only in good weather? You’d think I’d be out there training for a marathon. So I decided to walk across America. I should set myself a target, the diabetic nurse said. So, how about Oregon? Nothing like knowing that there’s a couple of other bloggers doing the same thing to give it all the useful pep of competitiveness.

So, here’s the plan.

The TransAmerican trail

The scheme is the brainchild of Dr Paul T Williams of the Lawrence Berkeley Lab and the aim is to get America fit, but anyone can join in. Go to to register. Once you’ve joined, set a reasonable target. I chose ten miles a week and have exceeded that twice by three miles.

And then off you go, starting at Yorktown, Virginia.

I bought an Omron Walking Style II pedometer because you can clock up quite a few paces round the house towards your target, and even more in the garden as the weather improves. The ideal, they say, is 10,000 paces a day, but I find that a bit high. I haven’t done that on even my most extended walks so far. At 5,000 paces a day you are about on target for the 10 miles a week.

The pedometer tells you not only paces, but kcals burned and the distance in kilometers. To convert kilometers to miles, just put the amount of km in your google search bar and it usually tells you the equivalent in miles (usually but not always).

So on my virtual walk over the past two weeks, I began in Yorktown, went on to Williamsburg, hit Jamestown the day before yesterday and am now on my way to Chickahominy river. Unfortunately all I’ve seen courtesy of Google Earth so far is tarmac with green verges. Either you don’t get to visit towns on this bike route or my mileage puts me just past them each time. It’s a shame – I was looking forward to a good squinny round the Historic Triangle.

But the real walks here in North Oxford have been quite something. It had never occurred to me to walk to Summertown from Wolvercote before. It seemed SO FAR but turns out to be about three and a half miles there and back. I’ve been three times, meeting friends at Joe’s cafe for a cream tea twice (I reckon the walk equals one slice of carrot cake). If I go anywhere by bus, now, I get on late and get off early. I park at the furthest point in the carpark from the supermarket. I’ll do anything to achieve my next itinerary point as soon as I can, and who wouldn’t be impatient to see the Chickahominy river? Meanwhile, here in Oxford, the air is cold but the budding trees and emerging snowdrops are not going to be put off by that. They are on their way.



  1. I’m so glad that I happened upon this. I have trying (and failing) to motivate myself to walk more this year.
    I had completely forgotton that about 6 or 7 years ago I rowed across the Atlantic – at my local gym.
    I live in England so I think walking across America will be fun.
    Thanks for writing about this.

    • Motivation is such a strange thing. You would think that the threat of going blind or losing your feet would do it, but apparently not. This, however, works – or it has so far – so I hope to see you on the road to Oregon! As Englanders, I guess our knowledge of American geography is as poor as we think theirs is of the rest of the world. I feel quite cocky now to know where Kentucky is (next state along).
      Happy walking!

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