Ben Winston

Not your average travel blog

The USA Challenge

Starting in the Spring of 2014, I will begin navigating over 4000 miles, coast to coast across the United States of America.

The challenge is not to walk the whole way – it is that I will (hopefully) complete the trek on just £2000 (approximately $3035 USD) and hit at least the six natural places of interest which I have located on the map (there is a more detailed list here: https://winstonwolfrider.wordpress.com/usa-2014-coast-to-coast-on-6-a-day/ ). That’s a daily budget of just £5.50 a day, over the course of the six months that I am giving myself.

1)     Niagara Falls, NY
2)     Devils Tower, WY
3)     Yellowstone National Park, WY
4)     Grand Teton National Park, WY
5)     Grand Canyon (National Park), AZ
6)     And somewhere on THE COAST! (Hopefully San Francisco)

I aim to document some of the ecosystems which I visit, the nature I see and human pressures on it. Most of what I want to experience is in America’s National Parks and hopefully I will be able to see more than the wilderness areas above.

£2000 sounds like quite an easy budget to get across the USA with, however travelling via specific places stretches the budget and I won’t be able to afford public transport. Essentially, once I have paid national park entrance fees and inevitable camping costs, I will have less than £1k to feed myself, wash and travel with.

A back up vehicle for my 1000 mile section across the Arizona dessert (should I travel that route) was a stretch too far and is another reason why I’m not walking the entire way. The insurers weren’t too keen for me to do it on foot either.

I will be raising money for WORLD LAND TRUST – environmental research, sustainable eco-projects and something which is close to my heart, nature conservation. I chose WLT because I believe they use extremely effective conservation strategies and safeguard vital land that is needed for our wildlife to survive and flourish. We never cease to learn from nature and this is why it’s so important to encourage it.

I have three simple aims:

  1. Develop awareness (some of which will undoubtedly be my own) of nature’s issues.
  2. Fundraise for wildlife conservation
  3. To develop personally. Admittedly, I am also doing this for myself

I’m hoping to call upon the friendliness of the American people. I have a few friends across the pond and despite their poor ability to tolerate a British stiff upper lip, they do astound me with their appreciation for such things as mixing bacon with maple syrup…..it’s just not a thing in Britain and I’m still not quite convinced. I’m well travelled, but I haven’t yet been to the USA.

I would love to meet and stay with locals when I arrive in a new town. Whether it be food, music, the wildlife or your rivalry with neighbouring Americans, I want to get to know the varying cultures and diversity the USA has to offer. I want to write about your local traditions and what you’re proud of. In essence, if you would like to welcome me, share your hospitality and be part of my adventure, both in person and in my literary ramblings, please do contact me. I’m rather a friendly chap and I’m about to do something pretty far off the normality scale.

I’m trying to prepare myself, but I fear I may have underestimated what I’m about to do and I really have no idea what I’m getting myself into.

 

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It sounds like quite an easy budget to navigate across a continent with, however travelling via specific places stretches the budget. Essentially, once I have paid national park entrance and inevitable camping fees, I will have less than £1k to feed myself, wash and travel for however long it takes to reach the west coast (hopefully less than 6 months) – for the mathematicians among you, thats less than £5.50 per day – IF it takes 26 weeks.
A back up vehicle for my 1000 mile section across the Arizona dessert was a stretch too far (another reason why I’m not walking the whole way)…and the insurers weren’t too keen for me to do it on foot.

World Land Trustone of my seaguls

Let’s make one thing clear. I’m not a tree-hugging, anti-meat-eating, alternative-lifestyled, eco-busybody living on the bread line with a negative view of the establishment. I’m all for progression and being at the top of the food chain. I do however believe that with the power we yield, we have responsibility to treat life – all life – with respect. We humans should promote a healthy balance between consumption and regeneration and make sure we live sustainably with every living organism around us. I am certain that it’s a global responsibility, resting on every individual – without exception.

I rarely jump on a soap box and conservatively understand that not everything is black and white. However, irrespective of challenges and modernisation, we all have a part to play whether we like it or not.


Why don’t you just run a Marathon?

The idea of trekking across the USA, as ridiculous as it sounds, came about because I simply would hate to and have stubbornly declined an invite to run the London Marathon. Respectful of all marathon runners and charity fundraisers, it’s just not my thing. I therefore, flippantly decided to throw up a few ideas to replace my lack of enthusiasm, with a different type of personal test. With so much of the world at war and being unable to travel across some other continents quite so easily (At first I fancied the majority of the Mongolian Spice/silk trade route), I noticed less than a hundred people have walked across America. I decided to do it differently. Instead of laying down solely a physical challenge, I have chosen to restrict the ‘throw-away’, consumable nature of which so many of us have become accustomed to, therefore budgeting myself to an amount which hopefully, will get me out of trouble should I need it but won’t allow me to take advantage of luxuries which we often take for granted. Nature doesn’t have many luxuries and I think we would be more understanding, patient and healthier if we remembered this a little more often. In short, we can learn from “the animals”.

I hope I have your support and you enjoy my little stroll…

 

I have only a rough idea of how long it will take.

“The road goes on and on down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the road has gone, and I must follow, if I can, pursuing it with eager feet, until it joins some larger way where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say.” – Tolkien

I can however, find out. Beyond the journey, I have no life plan – other than to avoid returning to the city lifestyle I currently lead.

cropped-wide-open-road_blog13.jpg

NB: Since the end of my journey, I have now stopped taking donations. Here is the World Land Trust website: http://www.worldlandtrust.org

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This entry was posted on April 21, 2013 by in USA on $6 a day.

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Where am I now?

After extensive work and tours through Southern Africa, I’m now mainly in Malawi.
Go Untamed Safaris is now up and running.
Between work days and in the rainy season (December to April); I am planning some expeditions and seek out some experienced individuals keen to be involved.
I will be in the U.K. January to March 2018.

For safari and expedition details:

email: info@gountamed.com

http://www.gountamed.com

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