To say we are behind in the progress of writing our book would be a vast understatement. Kellisa and I need to hike at least one trail in all 50 states and write 90,000 publishable words with supporting pictures, maps, etc. by November 1, 2019. As of May 29th, we pushiked in 8 states and had just over 8,200 words written in a very rough draft.
Most of you know Kellisa and I already pushiked a trail in all 50 states by her 18th birthday and Laurel also accomplished this goal. Our book deal is to write a guidebook with some narrative non-fiction woven in our adventures. I did not view our first tour of the United States through the scope of writing a guidebook. I didn't keep the proper details and documents for a guidebook. Plus, we didn't complete every trail and sometimes we made our own trail. Not very guide worthy, in my opinion. So our second quest to pushike a trail in all 50 states started last October and due to many reasons, we are off to a very slow start.
With summer approaching fast, it was getting close to the point of not having a chance to have the book completed on time when I realized that we had a tight 7 day window between Kellisa getting out of school and Laurel's 10th birthday festivities. We actually had 8 days, but wanted to return with one day to spare just to make sure we would be back in time to celebrate Laurel's birthday. Even though Laurel was very happy to complete the original goal and is very proud of herself, she decided that she didn't want to participate on our new trail adventures.
Our itinerary was extremely ambitious, especially considering Kellisa needs around 12 hours of good sleep every night because lack of sleep is a seizure trigger for her. We were also going through the deep south at the beginning of summer and sun exposure and heat are two more seizure triggers. We needed all 9 planets to align and yes, I'm still counting Pluto.
Everything did not go as planned, starting with a 3 hour expressway closure in Mississippi on our first full day of the trip. This followed by a miscalculation of a trailhead arrival time due to a time zone change on day two pushed us farther behind schedule. We needed a huge day three to get back on track and we delivered with a big day. But, that was followed with Kellisa and I over sleeping on day 4 which cost us most of the time we made up the previous day.
As our trip was nearing the end, I was rationalizing in my head that we would fall one state short of our 10 state goal. It made the most sense to skip Kentucky. However, the more I thought about it, the more disastrous it was to skip Kentucky. Even though Kentucky borders 7 other states, we would have pushiked in all 7 for the book. This would mean adding Kentucky awkwardly to some future trip or making a special trip back just for Kentucky. Neither option was appealing, so I decided we needed a huge final day to the trip, but it was also the only day with rain in the forecast for the areas we planned to pushike. We needed to wake up and get out on time and hope to pushike Virginia and Kentucky in between thunderstorms while finding the trails suitable for pushiking. We still needed everything to fall just right because it would be our highest mileage day of the trip for pushiking at 9.2 miles with a total drive of almost 400 miles.
In the end, Kellisa and I had an epic father-daughter pushiking adventure. We shared 3 flights, over 1,900 miles driving across 10 states while completing 10 book worthy trails with some great photography. In the end, we pushiked 27.8 miles with over 1,800 feet of elevation change. Our days ranged from 1 to 3 trails. Our shortest pushiking day totaled 1.7 miles while our longest day consisted of 9.2 miles. This book isn't about doing crazy or dangerous trails, but more reasonable type trails with minimum risk to hopefully influence others to get out and start pushiking!
We are not out of the woods yet, but we are back on the path of at least having a reasonable chance of completing our book on time!
Lastly, we realize we have some family and many, many friends close to our route of travel, but please understand, we literally had zero time to spare and it was hard to predict when we might arrive at a trailhead. We did meet Kellisa's best friend from Florida to share a trail, but we had to change our meeting time several times before moving it to the next day. And then we were supposed to meet at 8am at the trailhead. Jenny was on time, but we didn't arrive until 9:15am and only because a text from Jenny announcing her arrival woke me up. We wish we could have met more people and apologize, but we also hope you can understand this really was a working trip. We promise to return with more time...maybe on a book tour!