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rvation, NM

Pueblo of Laguna Indian Rese

Mojave Desert, CA

Holpp’s Lake, Mo

nterey, TN

Ryan Ray with the ladies of VIPSEEN

T

o tell you that Ryan Ray is one of the most inspiring human beings I have ever encountered doesn’t seem to capture how soulfully impactful the story of his current journey across America truly is. Ryan was quick to tell us “anything is possible, if you believe, then you will find a way.”

of snacks ), a woman in a white Suburban turned into the parking lot to ask Ryan if he was “the guy walking across America” and if he would take a picture. Yes and Yes!

HOW WE FIRST LEARNED OF RYAN RAY… The girls and I were on our way home from a much needed work retreat on Daufuskie Island, S.C., when Savanna giggles from the back seat at a post she had just ran across on FACEBOOK. It was a Ryan Ray “selfie” posing thumbs up in front of the Surgoinsville sign with the picture caption reading: “Day 141: How do you even pronounce this name? #walkingacrossamerica #nevergiveup”

One of the first things he was quick to share with Mickey and I on the way to the house was that not once, in over 140 days, had he ever felt anything but love and warmth from the people he had encountered during his journey. Never did he feel threatened or in harm’s way and that experience alone had been an eye opener for him. It made him feel good about Americans and the hospitable nature of our country.

All four of us in the car were immediately intrigued. Thanks to social media, Savanna’s great investigative skills, and the live GPS attached to Ryan, we quickly learned that Ryan’s route would take him to Kingsport, where he would cut through Bloomingdale over to Walnut Hill and then on into Bristol…and he needed a host for the night! Without hesitation Savanna reached out to him about an interview with VIPSEEN and he responded willingly. Contact made. Now what? THE NEXT 24 HOURS… I had already made up my mind that if Ryan still needed a host for the night he was in Bristol, then, Mickey and I were going to volunteer. I had not been home from Daufuskie a solid 12 hours when I dropped the news of our potential houseguest on my husband. Mickey, as always, was supportive. Once it was confirmed Ryan would be staying with us, we were nonstop preparing, inviting others and cooking until it was time to pick Ryan up from his stopping point for the day at 6:30 pm, in Walnut Hill. MEETING RYAN RAY… Mickey and I arrived at Ryan’s designated stopping point a few minutes before he did. I figured he would be tired after walking 23 miles all day in the heat, and he may have been, but his demeanor was quite the opposite. As soon as he was in site, Mickey began firing off pictures and Ryan was waving and smiling. It was apparent at that moment that Ryan Ray didn’t meet strangers, he only met friends in the making. After loading up his 35 to 40 pound backpack filled only with the bare necessities he would need for his journey (three liters of water; a sleeping bag; a few clothes; and about five pounds 54 | VIPSEEN | OCTOBER 2015

This man has a fan club.

QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS AND MORE QUESTIONS… As soon as we had Ryan in our possession, I wanted to bombard him with question after question but I knew two things: 1. I needed to let him wind down, clean up and relax for a bit 2. If I asked him everything I wanted to know at that very moment then he would likely be made to repeat himself later that evening once Lark, Savanna, Angelica and Jennifer arrived at our home for the actual interview. After a couple of hours had passed, and everyone had eaten to their heart’s content, we gathered in the living room of our home and all eyes were on Ryan. We had a lot of questions and he graciously answered each one of them. ARE YOU FOLLOWING ROAD SIGNS TO FIND YOUR WAY OR DO YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC JOURNEY MAPPED OUT? No, I mapped it out before I left home because having the route preplanned allows me to be focused on other things verses trying to follow road signs to see where I am going. So I Googled walking directions from LA to New York and dropped a marker every 23 miles and those markers are my stopping points. The route pretty much was LA to New York walking directions with the exception of three points: Mom’s house in Oklahoma; Dad’s house in Arkansas and the White House. And additionally I had to make adjustments to the route especially in the Southwest to make sure I had access to gas stations or grocery stores every few days. I can only carry food and water for three days.

VIPSEEN October 2015  

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