Nancy Hike
photo credit: The Historic US Route 20 Association, Chester, MA

The very first day in Boston...
February 10, 2011

Our Governor at the time, Deval Patrick, walked with me for the last three miles in Massachusetts.

Central New York is beautiful, with
surprisingly long, high hills and
prosperous dairy farms.
It's a big state... 372 miles along US 20.

Towns in central New York are picturesque and full of history.

In Cleveland, I met the "Singing Angels". Artistic director, Charles Ebersole learned about my Hike from the ladies at the Country Curtains shop in Solon, Ohio. A few months later, I bumped into him at The Red Lion Inn and he suggested Lincoln and I stop by for a rehearsal. This wonderful group of kids sang a few songs just for us!

The outer fringe of Hurricane Sandy roiled up Lake Erie and made my trek through the western suburbs of Cleveland less than joyful.

Indiana's high point was walking through Amish country for several days. Lincoln identified a quiet country road parallel to the highway lined with peaceful farms, fields being plowed by horses, laundry whipping in the wind and surprisingly talkative local folks.

Memorials to road fatalities are scattered everywhere. You rarely notice them from a car, but on foot they add a huge measure of poignancy to walking along the highway. Each one is unique. This one is near Elkhart, Indiana.

Walking through Chicago was intense and seemed endless but this stretch of US 20 along 95th Street on the South side belied its dicey reputation. It was always great to have a sidewalk, and the city was clearly working to make this neighborhood better.

This sign is in the Oak Lawn suburb of Chicago, still on 95th St. From coast to coast, sign-watching is very entertaining. Great ones everywhere...
I could do a whole book on signs!

A HUGE milestone was crossing the Mississippi River into Dubuque, Iowa. Lincoln and my Iowa cousin, Jack Hatch, were waiting on the other side.

Back on US 20
in western Iowa.
Lots of corn!

In Iowa, I followed US30, the oldest cross-country route. Also known as the Lincoln Highway, it was celebrating its 100th birthday that year (2014).

Spring 2014... a lot of hiking ahead in Nebraska... Cedar County in this photo. We don't know yet how much we're going to love this state... all 432 miles!

The Cowboy Trail, along the old rail bed, stretched over 100 miles, mostly parallel to US 20. Great walking through towns of all kinds, from near ghost towns to lively communities.

Randolph, Nebraska main drag. Tiny but as we'll discover, not all that tiny. A fun town. Even some night life.

Thank you to the many yard decorators. You made my days much more interesting! This purple masterpiece is in Ainsworth, NE.

Fields of junk cars and trucks have, over time, become picturesque litter in Newport, Nebraska and many other places along the way.

Every sixth day was devoted to resting my knees, and taking care of off-road stuff! Here I am taking care of business in Moby, the RV.

WYOMING Here we come!

Beautiful Wind River Canyon in central Wyoming.

The gear side of things at the end of a cold, drizzly day in Yellowstone.

Walking up Sylvan Pass in the Absaroka Range, my Rocky Mountain crossing in the eastern part of Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone is endlessly fascinating. Geothermal activity is everywhere... here along Yellowstone Lake.

Castle Rock Overlook, east of Mountain Home, Idaho, the start of last year's walk.

Immigrant Road, along the Oregon Trail. US 20 joins I-84 through here for mighty miserable walking. I hiked this gravel road, following the old wagon route, for several days, almost all the way to Boise.

Lincoln just dropped me off and is headed to the tiny remote outpost of Juntura, Oregon where we will "camp" for a week. There are some truly lonely communities in eastern Oregon and I walked through several.

Oregon, the last state! But a big one... 451 miles, beginning in Nyssa. Behind me is the shuttered Amalgamated Sugar (from beets) plant, closed in 2005.

Friends and family dropped in along the way to walk a few miles with me. Here is Lincoln, on the right with Tim and Sarah Eustis and Henry, 14, and Fred, 10. Sarah is Casey's half sister. Casey joined me each year for a couple of days.

Decorating my hat became a daily activity... it was something to do along the incredibly empty stretches in Malheur County.

The Pacific Ocean brought to you by my feet!

Hike Q & A
Most frequently asked questions about my hike across America:
When I turned 60 it seemed like the arithmetic of life got very dicey. I decided to plan an epic activity to mark my 65th birthday, one that would combine physical activity with a chance to reflect. Taking a long walk seemed like the clear choice.
WHY US 20?
It cuts through Berkshire County where we live in western Massachusetts. I liked the idea of walking almost past my house. It's one of our oldest coast-to-coast highways. The history of our country unfolds along this road, with colonial New England through expansion into upstate New York, the Erie Canal, the Midwest, industrial growth and decline, from farming, ranching and fur-trading to Lewis and Clark and Native American issues, from the Oregon Trail where you can still see wagon ruts, to natural wonders like the Mississippi River and Yellowstone, and so much more. I was very happy with my choice of route.
Lincoln, my husband, producer, scout, coach, driver, and cook dropped me off in the morning at the exact spot where I finished the afternoon before. Ten slow miles a day was my goal... I had to take it easy on my rickety joints. For the first half of the trip, we stayed in motels, with friends or family, rented through VRBO, and even camped. In western Iowa, we bought a used RV, which was a very positive improvement to life on the road. To finance the walk I sold a piece of property that had appreciated nicely.
Lincoln and I both loved Nebraska, all 400+ miles of it. It took us totally by surprise, especially after wonderful Iowa. The people were lovely, open, friendly and welcoming. Route 20 lead me through interesting small towns in a very sparsely populated part of the state. I followed the Cowboy Trail for over 100 miles. The Sand Hills were so pretty. It was April and May, with Spring busting out everywhere. Lincoln kayaked in the Niobrara River and we met some Country Curtains Customers in Valentine.
There were a couple of moments that in hindsight were probably dangerous, one with a bison and one with a rattlesnake but neither gave me any fear at the time. The traffic on the road was an ever-present menace but I was vigilant, wore orange and got used to it. In Ohio (along with Wyoming, the angriest state) in one day, two cars swerved toward me as if to purposely knock me off the road. The police paid most attention to me in Ohio, as well. Otherwise, I felt pretty ignored, except in Iowa and Nebraska when most drivers waved in a friendly way.