When we first agreed to meet up, I had insisted we pick a very specific time and place to cross paths. We had never met, and I wanted to make sure I wouldn't miss them when the opportunity arose.
When finally arriving to the premeditated rendezvous point, I realized how comical it had been to think I would miss them. It was impossible to miss them. No one else had. Every person in the shopping plaza had abandoned the tasks that brought them there and were hovering around the two individuals... and the two individuals were holding court. I wondered if this is what it is like to be really famous. No, rather, this must be what it is like to walk across the country with an Alpine goat named Miles.
"A man is walking across the country with his goat and he is currently in Pittsburgh" is exactly how the story was initially presented to me. As a travel enthusiast currently in the early (early) planning stages of a cross-country trip, I was enthralled. I wanted to hear every detail of every city and sight. Plus, someone who had seen so much of the country could surly confirm what I know to be true - that Pittsburgh is the greatest city in America.
On May 2nd, 2012, Steve Wescott left Seattle, Washington on foot. Steve had a set destination for his trip - Times Square in New York City. While the blurby "man walks across the country with goat" does cover the concept in basic terms, I quickly learned there was much more to this story than a man and his goat.
Steve had dreamed of walking across the country for a long time before ever taking his first steps. By the time his dream came into fruition, he had a cause... and a companion: a goat named LeeRoy Brown.
Steve walks for the Uzima Outreach, a Christian ministry based in Nairobi, Kenya. The brainchild of Steve and the Uzima Outreach is the Needle2Square Project. Steve is walking from the Space Needle in Seattle to Times Square in New York to raise awareness for the Uzima Outreach and funding for the orphanage the outreach has created in Nairobi.
The 4 years and thousands of miles between Seattle and Pittsburgh are Steve's. While I hoped to learn more about this experience, soon after chatting with Steve I learned I would never fully comprehend what his journey has been like.... and that is completely fine.
The truth of the matter is the difference between what I hoped to learn from meeting Steve and what I actually gained. As someone who is constantly wanting to 'go, go go' and forever fantasizing of beautiful destinations, I am not sure I had ever stopped to think "why".
In some regards, I intentionally ignored this question. I strive to live an organic life that evolves on its own. I try to follow what feels like a "natural progression" of events. This mostly requires jumping hurdles as they come and not getting too upset when things do not go according to plan.
I see this spirit in many other travelers, and I admire it deeply. It has truly allowed me to live my happiest life. Making yourself happy is deeply important. However, if you get too wrapped up in it, it becomes counter productive.
Steve's desire to see the country has a deeper meaning attached to it - and that is also admirable. One of the things I grapple with when I think about my desires to travel and see the world, is the selfishness of it. Chatting with Steve helped me reflect on the idea of doing more with your own dreams.
For Steve, his longtime dream of walking across the country is now completely about the children.
"If someone told me I had to turn around and walk back once I hit Times Square to help those kids, I don't care, I would do it. I would do anything for those kids".
Additionally, although Steve may be nearing his destination, he is nowhere near the end. "After we build a farm, we want a hospital. It doesn't stop here".
As a touring musician Steve had spent much time traveling across the country, but says this trip has given him the opportunity to really "experience" America. "I can tell you where the west coast meets the east coast. I can tell you different geographical features, and different cultures".
Learning about these nuances of America was what initially attracted me to talking to Steve, but I was privileged to leave our conversation with more profound insight. The variable regions of our country? I can go explore those on my own. Hearing about someone helping others through travel? I would be so lucky to experience that as well. New goals, set. Thanks Steve and Miles.
Pleas click here to learn more about Steve Wescott, his goat Miles, and the Uzima outreach!