Once again, we apologize for the delay in this post. The past couple of weeks have been over-the-top hectic, and we have finally reached a point where things settled down enough to get a blog post written out. We appreciate your patience.
When we last left off, the Storming Jericho crew was getting ready to storm its way into Washington, D.C., which, as you can imagine, is a pretty busy place. Thankfully, a friend of mine (Mike’s) named Courtney had connected us with a former coworker in D.C., so Linds and I had a safe, comfortable place to stay during our time in Washington. The challenge, of course, was getting there.
Our journey into D.C. started the morning after our night in South Riding. One of the folks from Christ Church, Mike, had come to pick us up from the townhouse and bring us back out to the church so we could resume our travels. Mike was awesome, and we were thankful we got a chance to meet him, talk with him, and pray with him before we set off down the highway.
Then things got a little rocky. You would think that a major U.S. highway leading into a major metropolitan city like Washington, D.C., would have either a decent shoulder or a nice bike trail alongside the highway. Nope. Just a whole lot of lanes chock full of vehicles. As a result, Linds and I spent most of our morning struggling to find stretches of sidewalk wherever we could find them, or, worse, pushing our carts through the grass alongside the highway. Needless to say, it was a little exhausting.
After a few hours (and about 8 gallons of sweat) we made our way into the outskirts of D.C., and stopped to grab some lunch. While we were getting situated, we noticed two people walking up to us. That’s not uncommon, because people tend to take an interest in the weirdos wearing highlighter-bright clothes and pushing carts down the highway. What is slightly uncommon is when one of the people walking up to you is someone whose house you stayed at all the way back in Circleville, Utah, several months and several thousand miles ago. But that’s what happened when Scott, who we met back in Utah, walked up and said hello. Scott currently lives in D.C. and he had seen us walking by while he and his friend were driving down the road we were on. Needless to say, our brains almost exploded. It’s amazing how God can make the most random, seemingly-impossible things happen, but to come across Scott again in a major city like D.C. just shows that God always has things lined up long before we can possibly imagine them.
Anyway, we had a good chat with Scott, but we needed to keep making progress if we were going to reach our goal for the day. So onward we pushed, thankful to finally have sidewalks again. We reached a good stopping point, and called Christiana and Caleb, our contacts in D.C. They had gotten in touch with a friend with a truck, so Caleb, Matt, and Suzette, drove out to grab us about 10 miles away from their home and bring us to Caleb and Christiana’s apartment. Once we arrived, we took a deep breath, thankful to have a safe, warm place to stay for the night. Christiana was working late, but she was kind enough to set us up with a delicious meal when we arrived at the apartment, and Lindsie and I did not hesitate to dive into dinner. We enjoyed chatting with Caleb and sipping on some hot apple cider while we prepared for bed. Toward the end of the evening, Christiana arrived home, and we were excited to meet her too. But it was time for bed, and knowing we’d be in D.C. for at least one more night, we decided to get some sleep.
The next morning, Lindsie and I went out to explore the D.C. area. Although walking all around a major city isn’t exactly the best choice for a “rest day,” we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity no matter what. After getting into the city, we made our way toward Capitol Hill. Christiana works for U.S. Congresswoman Kristi Noem (SD), so she was kind enough to set us up with a tour of the Capitol building. An even bigger surprise came for me (Mike) when two people stepped out of Kristi’s office and I recognized one of them as Matt, a fellow Augustana College alum who was at Augie while I was at Augie. After reintroducing ourselves, Matt and his coworker, Shawn, jumped in on our Capitol tour with us, led by Andrew, one of Congresswoman Noem’s interns. I was just pumped because one of my hopes was to randomly come across someone I knew before starting our walk, and Matt helped me check that one off the list!
The Capitol building tour was really cool and it was fun to get such a unique perspective on the history of our nation’s capital. Once the tour was done, we said goodbye to our South Dakota friends and continued exploring D.C. Lindsie wanted to take photos of just about everything she saw, so we walked all over and gathered quite a collection of pictures as we went. By the end of the day, we were just about wiped out, so we were ready to eat dinner. Thankfully, Christiana and Caleb and their friends Jason and Stephanie were meeting us for dinner at a nearby pizza place. After a great night of tasty food and fun conversation, we made our way back to Caleb and Christiana’s. Sleepiness overtook us quickly, and we all called it a night. And because we weren’t able to get a truck for the next morning, Caleb and Christiana were kind enough to invite us to stay an extra night at their place. We accepted, both because we didn’t know how we’d get back out to resume our walk the next morning, and also because we wanted to see a few more things in D.C. before we moved on.
The next morning, I woke up feeling pretty terrible for some reason. It definitely made us thankful that we had a place to stay again for the night. And even though I wasn’t feeling great, I didn’t want to send Lindsie out by herself all day in D.C., so we went and explored more of the sights. After a full day of walking and photos, we got to enjoy a pleasant surprise. Lindsie’s good friend Aaron, a fellow South Dakota State Jackrabbit, lives in D.C. now. So we met up with him for lunch, and we (specifically, I) tried to muster up the energy to make it a fun meal. It was awesome catching up with Aaron, but he eventually had to get back to work and we still had more photos to take. And by the end of the day, we were pretty much wiped out.
Although we had plans to grab dinner with the same group we ate with the night before, we unfortunately had to pass. I don’t understand why, but I felt like my body was ready to shut down on me, so we spent our evening resting and preparing to head out the next morning. Also, we had an opportunity to connect with my friend Bryce, but I honestly feared I might throw up on him if he came over, so we had to pass on that chance. I’ll probably regret it forever though. Sorry Bryce.
Thankfully, after a night of really, really good rest, I felt much better the next morning. And also thankfully, Caleb and Christiana had gotten ahold of another truck, so we were able to drive out to where we had left off three days earlier and pick back up. After saying a sad goodbye and sharing in a goodbye prayer, we set back off toward the beaches of Delaware. But first, we had to go through the rest of D.C. and Maryland.
We walked the rest of the day through Washington, D.C., and we happened to meet some wonderful people as we traveled. One couple we met had Yorkies themselves, and Lindsie noticed a patch on the gentleman, Leonard’s, vest that mentioned being one of the laboring few for Jesus Christ. Lindsie mentioned that she liked the patch, and we realized we were in the company of some very strong Christians. Their kindness and spirit was a boost to our energy level, and we enjoyed praying with them and taking a photo before we moved on.
We were excited to make our way into Maryland as the evening crept toward us. Unfortunately, after contacting every church in the area where we planned to stop, we still didn’t actually have a place to stay that night. And from what we’d heard from people in D.C., where we planned to stop for the night wasn’t exactly an area anyone would recommend camping outdoors, regardless of the weather. So as we desperately tried to line something up, God showed us once again that he still wanted to take care of us.
We posted on Facebook that we were struggling to find a place to stay in our general vicinity, and one of my mom’s closest friends, Amy, mentioned that her sister, Emily, lived near where we hoped to stop for the night. Amy, who lives down in Houston, Texas, called her sister, Emily, who lives in Maryland, and asked her to help us out for the night. Much to our relief, Emily said she’d be happy to help. After a pretty miserable day of trying to walk on the sometimes-shoulderless highway, night finally came on in all of its pitch blackness. But right on time, Emily came to rescue us in her minivan, and we headed back to her house for dinner and a fun night of conversation.
When we got to Emily’s, we met her husband, Mike, and their two sons, John and Patrick. They were delightful, and we had a great time chatting with them. John and Patrick were both very inquisitive, and we enjoyed answering their questions and asking them a few of our own. We then ate a delicious dinner, and before we knew it, it was time for bed again. We said goodnight, excited to get up the next morning and continue on our journey. Another reason we were excited was because John was making us his homemade tea to warm us up and prepare us for our walk the next morning. Appropriately-named John’s Tea, it was a special mix of some tasty ingredients (but we don’t want to reveal the secret recipe), so whenever John goes into the tea-making business, you can purchase John’s Tea with a hearty recommendation from the Storming Jericho crew.
Emily drove us out to where we’d left off and we said goodbye, continuing on our path down Highway 50. Or so we’d thought. Unfortunately, we made it about 3 miles before a state trooper pulled us over to let us know that the stretch of Highway 50 we were walking on is actually considered a “controlled access highway,” meaning pedestrians aren’t allowed on it, even in the shoulders. Obviously this was disappointing news, as we had planned to be on Highway 50 for 40-50 more miles. The officer told us we’d need to take a different route a few miles off of Highway 50, so we trudged back the way we’d came about 2 miles in order to get on the exit ramp that would take us to the new road we had to walk. Once we got there, we started walking again. But due to our detour, our route ended up having 4 extra, unplanned miles on it, which made us a little bit sad inside. On the flip side, we knew that was just Satan’s way of trying to get us down and make us quit, and we weren’t about to let him win that battle. So onward we pushed.
The only other problem is that we didn’t have a place to stay in the next town either. For some reason, we had no luck whatsoever with the churches in that general vicinity of Maryland, and we were starting to grow concerned. Thankfully, John and Amanda from back in Upperville, Virginia, used to live in the Annapolis, Maryland area (where we were heading), and they still had a few connections in the area. They got us in touch with their friend Charlie, and he and his wife, Stephanie, were more than happy to take us in for a night. And even better, their home was right by our route. So after overcoming the obstacles of route changes and added length, we finally made it to Charlie and Stephanie’s. Charlie is a big comic book guy, so he and I had plenty to talk about. But before we got too much into the comic book talk, we realized we needed to get some food. We went out to a fantastic restaurant nearby and got a chance to see some of Annapolis before and after dinner. Then it was bedtime, and we welcomed it with open arms. Or closed eyelids, to be more specific.
The next morning, we set off again. Only we did so without our carts. As a result of the law not allowing pedestrians on the bridge across the Chesapeake Bay, Linds and I had no other option but to get a ride across the bridge. And since Charlie and Stephanie have a truck, Charlie offered to just drive us and our carts over the bridge whenever we reached it. So we set out, walked all the way to the very edge of the Chesapeake Bay, and then rode over the bridge. Once we were out, we said thanks again to Charlie about 400 times for driving our carts across and then said goodbye. We walked to the edge of the shore on the side we had just reached (to walk as much as was physically possible for us), and then set out toward our next stop.
That next stop was Queenstown, Maryland. And since we couldn’t happen to find a church willing to take us in in Queenstown either, we ended up staying at one of the hotels in the area. That ended up being ok though, as Lindsie and I were so tired after our busy day of walking that we wouldn’t have been much fun for anyone we might have met at church anyway.
Denton, Maryland, was the next stop on our route. We finally had a church that wanted to take us in, and we were thankful when Dr. Rich from St. Luke’s United Methodist Church welcomed us in. We had a great time chatting with Dr. Rich, and then we went out to eat at a delicious Italian restaurant where the owner, Sal, took fantastic care of us. Sal couldn’t believe that we had walked all the way to his restaurant from San Francisco, California. Adding to his kindness, Sal made us huge cold cut sandwiches to eat for lunch during our walk the next day, and we didn’t object in the slightest. After filling ourselves on Italian food and wonderful conversation, it was time to head back for bed. We only had two more stops on our route after Denton, and then we would reach the end of our journey.
The next morning we set out for Greenwood, Delaware. Pastor Doug from Greenwood United Methodist Church said we were welcome to stay at his church, and we excitedly took him up on the offer. Even though it was a chilly day, we made great time toward Greenwood (mostly because we wanted to get out of the cold), and Pastor Doug was happy to let us in when we arrived. Pretty soon after our arrival, the youth group began pouring in for the Wednesday night youth service. Before we knew it, we were surrounded by dozens of active and excited kids ranging from elementary school age to high school age. Along with a tasty dinner provided by the church, Linds and I had an opportunity to share our story with some of the youth group kids, and we really enjoyed answering their questions and hearing their thoughts on what we were doing.
After things settled down, Linds and I went to bed. It was getting harder and harder to fall asleep knowing how close we were to the end, but walking 18 miles a day still manages to wear you out, no matter how excited you might be. We set out the next morning for Milton, Delaware, the last place we’d need to spend the night. The Associate Pastor at Grace Church in Milton, Pastor David, said we could stay in the sunroom of the parsonage, which was currently being renovated. We thought that sounded just about perfect, and we started booking our way there. Along our way to Milton, we ran into a woman named Serinda who manages the American Discovery Trail in Delaware. Serinda was excited to meet us, as she tries to meet any on-foot travelers coming through her area. We didn’t have much time to chat when we met her at the gas station on our way to Milton, but we invited her to come hang out when we reached Grace Church, and she accepted our offer.
A little while after we reached the church and got set up, Serinda arrived, excited to talk with us and hear some stories. We were equally excited to hear some of hers. As the evening went on, we had another thing to be excited about—our parents were almost to Delaware! Lindsie’s mom and dad, Tim and Lyn, were driving out with my mom, Paula, to come pick us up on the beach the following day. And the timing was going to work out that they’d actually be able to pick us up in Milton that night and take us to the hotel so we could spend the night with them. So when they pulled up around 8:00 that night, we said some emotional hellos and loaded up most of our gear into the van. We left one cart with a few things still in it in the parsonage so we could get it in the morning and keep on walking from there.
We’d be lying if we said it was easy to fall asleep that night. Our goal…the beach of the Atlantic ocean, was one more day’s walk away from us. It was so close we could taste it. But eventually we got some sleep, and the next morning brought the same jitters of anticipation. We got dropped off with our stuff and set out down the road. We only had 16 miles to go, and we couldn’t wait.
We made great time, thanks to some nice shoulders in Delaware and some nice sidewalks as we got closer to Dewey Beach. Along the way, we ran into two very familiar faces—Lindsie’s mom’s cousin, Nancy, and her daughter, Deanna. You may not remember, but Nancy and Deanna had actually met up with us not once, but TWICE already on this journey (the first time was in Davis, CA, and the second time was in the desert of Nevada), and we were more than happy—though not exactly surprised—to see them again!
As we pushed on, the beach got closer and closer. Along the way, we got to connect with Ron from the local newspaper, the Cape Gazette. Ron was doing a story for the paper on our journey, which we’ll post a link to a little lower in the post. And then, before we knew it, we were only a few miles away. Both of our moms came to join us in our walk for the last mile and a half or so, and eventually the entire crew—me, Lindsie, Jaeda, Tim, Lyn, Paula, Nancy, and Deanna—were walking the final steps onto the beach. The moment had finally arrived.
As we stepped into the water, we were both overcome with emotion. It took nearly 17 total months (11 and ½ of walking time, plus 5 months off for winter) and we pushed our bodies to walk around 3,600 miles on foot, but it was worth every step of the way to see how God provided for us and took care of us as we traveled. Words truly can’t describe how we felt as we hit that water and knew our journey—at least, this part of our journey—was finally over.
We’ll try to have another follow-up post soon that gives a little more detail on that last day, as well as our future plans from here on out, both personally and from a Storming Jericho perspective, but we wanted to finally get you all caught up now that our journey is officially “over.”
Thanks so much for reading, and, like I said, we’ll have another post up soon. We can’t say how thankful we are for everyone’s help as we traveled across this great country. We were blessed in every sense of the word. And like the title of this post suggests, even though we’ve hit the beach and our walk is over, the next journey of our lives is just beginning. And we can’ t wait.
Thanks again, and we’ll be back with more soon!
-Mike, Lindsie, and Jaeda
P.S. – To read Ron’s awesome story in the Cape Gazette, click here!