Sitting in New Martinsville's McDonald's on a cold and rainy Thursday afternoon, Kenyon Eastin shows excitement over the view across state Route 2, to the hillside. "Those trees," he stated. "We don't have trees like this in Utah."
From his packed cart parked right outside the window on the sidewalk, to his bright yellow safety vest, one can correctly assume that Eastin has been traveling the roads by foot. However, one may not realize that, specifically, Eastin is traveling across the country. As of Friday, Eastin was on day 51 of this trek.
Eastin appears to have no specific reason for his journey and no cause he is specifically walking for, though he does remark that he is a supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project. "I'm a Navy veteran," he stated. "I want to see my country."
Kenyon Eastin has his whole trek across the United States mapped out on a laptop, which he accesses at Wifi-supported establishments such as McDonald’s. Here, he also updates his Facebook page.
These thoughts of Eastin's can be found on his Facebook page, appropriately titled "Kenyon's Coast to Coast Walk," which Eastin tries to update whenever he gets Wifi access, usually at a local McDonald's. On a post dated March 4, Eastin wrote: I'm taking my first step on March 12th, from the shore of the Atlantic Ocean at Horseshoe Cove, N.J. I'll be walking west to the Pacific Ocean and ending at Half Moon Bay, Calif. (just south of San Francisco . . . I need to make it across the Sierra Nevada range before deep snow arrives . . ."
He further wrote: "I've wanted to do something like this for years. Last year the idea of walking across America came to me, and I just couldn't shake the thought of it. I've tried to find reasons why I shouldn't go, but I couldn't find any . . . I don't think anyone can really know what is ahead when walking across America until the journey is in progress."
Eastin stated that his daughter thought the idea "was cool," while his son wanted to go along with him. "I don't think think he understood the hardships though," Eastin said, adding "the loneliness." In fact, on his first post, Eastin had written: "I expect to experience a lot of emotions while doing this. Loneliness is one of them that I need to overcome . . ."
Certainly the journey hasn't been easy, as Kenyon accounts the first day: "I loaded up my cart . . . It was way overloaded with too much stuff . . . I was in Sandy Hook, New Jersey, in the winter time . . . . trying to find a place to spread out." Eastin adds that he ended up finding a storage building, containing surf boards, to seek shelter in." "I thought, 'What am I doing? The cart is overloaded with the wrong stuff . . . Outside the shack the wind is blowing . . . This is not what I envisioned.'" Kenyon adds: "I opened a can of fruit cocktail and kept going."
"I've made it this far for 51 days," Eastin remarked on Thursday. "I've been through stuff that's tough, but it's worth it."
Furthermore, "Amazing stuff happens," Eastin said, adding, "The schedule has gone out the window."
For instance, Eastin explains that he was going into Hundred at nighttime, when he eventually camped out in someone's yard. The next day, he stopped by Blue's Diner. "Beverly (Van Scyoc) from Hundred High School asked me to stop by." Eastin stated that he talked to the principal and an assembly was held for the students, in which he answered questions. Furthermore, Eastin stated that he received a Hundred High School sticker for his cart. Of the unique experience, Eastin stated: "How does someone come through and come to Hundred High School?"
"This is what I wanted to see," he said.
"People are very giving," he noted, adding that in Liberty Church of God in Bruceton Mills, W.Va., he was invited in for pizza and stayed for a service.
Eastin described the experiences as "so pure." "There's nothing to clog up the experience," he noted, saying that bad experiences are followed by good experiences.
In fact, one of Eastin's most memorable experiences thus far has been crossing into West Virginia. "It's something I'll remember," he said. "I had been through three states and the weather had been awful."
Eastin recorded the experience on his Facebook page: "Yes! West Virginia! I actually made it! I woke up this morning to the sun rising over the West Virginia mountains. I must be in some sort of twilight zone dream. This is incredible. Another amazing day to be alive! All of you Road Angels and those of you following and liking my page, you just keep lifting me up when I fall down. I would not have made it this far without you. I'm still pushin' west. Hope you're all doing well. Life is good."
Eastin seems to have no shortage of the friendly and giving people he refers to as "Road Angels." He stated that in his cart, he has supplies of only the basics, such as a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, a change of clothes, "things you would take if you were going to go camping." He stated that people have given him food, such as granola bars, McDonald's cheeseburgers. He stated that at New Martinsville's Wal-Mart, "Some lady bought my food."
Eastin further writes about the Road Angels in a post dated April 1: "The questions never get old. I never lose patience with anyone asking me questions about my walk. I feel like they give me energy. I feel like I give them energy in return . . . I think about the people who have given me energy that day. I'm grateful I can see people so much more clearly after having been on my walk just these few short weeks. I'm grateful for all the Road Angels. They are everywhere. Thank you."
Since Eastin's visit to the local McDonald's on Friday, he has walked the Korean War Memorial Bridge over into Ohio, where he camped alongside the river in Hannibal, visited new "Road Angels" in Woodsfield, and then made his way into Caldwell.
And amongst his page full of photos, videos, and tales of new experiences, he always seems to end his posts in the same way: "Life is good."