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America walker having the time of his life


Bruce Maynard, who at 78, has walked across America, stopped over in Grand Coulee last week for an overnight stay before returning to the Peace Arch in Blaine to complete his trip. He plans to either walk to Alaska next or from Lisbon to Beijing. — Roger S. Lucas photo

It all started for Bruce Maynard at the Peace Arch in Blaine. Where it will end is anybody’s guess.

Will he be walking to Alaska, or from Lisbon to Beijing, China?

Maynard was weaving his way back across to Blaine when we caught up with him here in Grand Coulee.

Near 78 years old, Maynard, like Forsest Gump, just started walking one day -- from the Peace Arch to Key West, Florida. It was March 20, 2010, when he took off, contrary to the wishes of his four sons and daughter, who thought then, and still do, that he should end it here and now.

He’s walked through most states, after traveling the world during a variety of jobs, and claims to be healthier now than most 35-year-old men.

He walked to La Push, Wash., took the coastal highway to California, then over to Bakersfield, across the Mohave through New Mexico to El Paso, and along the Gulf Highway to Key West. It took eight months.

“I try to average about 32 miles a day,” Maynard said. “Some days it’s more, some less.”

After losing his wife, due to an illness, Maynard said he got “restless.” That’s when he made the big decision to walk across America.

There was no axe to grind, no compelling reason, no place that drew him -- he just decided to walk.

“See the corner in the road?” Maynard said, pointing to the bend across from The Star newspaper. “Around that corner there may be something interesting. That’s what motivates me.”

After Key West, Maynard made his way to the Carolinas, where he assisted in hurricane relief, and then March 20, started his way back. Coming back, he’s driving a motor home, and was scheduled to be back in Blaine June 25.

That’s when he will decide whether the next walk is along the Alcan Highway to Alaska — one of the few states he hasn’t been in — or from Lisbon, Portugal to Beijing.

“I have never been away from home,” Maynard contended. He looks upon where ever he is as home.

He started out as a stenographer in the Air Force and was involved with the peace talks between the two Koreas, after the “police action” there. He has worked at Cape Kennedy and with Lockheed as a crane operator, and been in and around the space program.

When’s he going to hang up the “tenny-runners?” Not anytime soon, he says.

Born in Seattle and a graduate from high school in the Tri Cities area, it seems like he has been on the run ever since.

“I had a heart attack in 1995,” he said. “That’s when I decided I needed to change my life. No one wants to give up the status quo, or the comfortable side of life. It took awhile, but here I am having the time of my life.”

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