Gastonia Native Travels Cross-Country... By Foot
Many people dream of taking a road trip across the country, but few have dared to make the trek on foot. At 69, Gastonia native Jeff Rudisill decided to give it a try. "Many years ago in the 1970s, I read a story in the National Geographic about a guy that did it, and I just thought it would be a cool thing to do," Rudisill stated. Rudisill has 90 miles left on his roughly 2,800 mile trip that began in Southern California nearly five months ago. His final destination is Emerald Isle. Along the way, he's kept classes at Woodhill and Tryon Elementaries in Gaston County up to date on his adventures. Kids have been following him on his blog. Rudisill mostly traveled backroads and secondary highways through the Soutwestern United States up to the Carolinas. Some nights, he spent in motels. But many people also opened up their homes. "You know, if we watch a lot of media or read a lot of newspapers or whatever, we kind of get the idea that there is a lot of bad people out here," Rudisill said. "The truth is there is a lot of good people and only a few bad." Rudisill says the Mojave Desert was the toughest part of his trip, especially when temperatures reached 115 degrees. New Mexico's Rocky Mountains also posed a challenge. However, he says daily close calls with distracted drivers were the most worrisome part of the trip. Rudisill now lives in the Roanoke, Virginia, area. He hopes to return to Gaston County classrooms to tell kids about his journey. He also plans to retrace his steps with his wife. But he'll drive a car for that road trip.