Anna Harrington is seeing the country and telling a story.
Her walk across America – Astoria, Oregon, to Boston in about seven months – brought her through Eastern Jackson County for a couple of days.
And Missouri so far?
“I love all the trees,” she said Monday after walking down Interstate 70 from Independence to Bates City.
She is walking to raise awareness about Shriners Hospitals. Nine years ago, her nephew developed scoliosis, a muskuloskeletal disorder; that was compounded by his paraplegia.
The local hospital could not provide the needed surgery, but the Shriners Hospital for Children in Sacramento, California, did.
“He got the treatment he needed,” Harrington said.
She was deeply struck by the depth and variety of treatment and care the hospital provided.
And she had an inspiration. Since she was a girl, she had wanted to walk across the country. She decided it was time.
“My walk is to show my gratitude,” she said.
There were no big shakedown hikes to gauge whether this was something she really wanted to, or could, do.
“I’ve never done anything like this before,” she said.
She started in March at the mouth of the Columbia River in Astoria – the same place Lewis and Clark got to in 1805 before heading back this way – and headed east. The Rockies were gorgeous, she said, and Kansas ¬– where by law she had to steer clear of I-70 – was beautiful.
There are advantages to walking and looking around.
“You don’t miss a lot at that speed,” she said.
She spent three nights at the Courtyard by Marriott in Blue Springs. She would walk her daily 20 miles – she got to Independence on Sunday – and then get a ride to the hotel. Shriners have gotten word and have jumped in to help, including Blue Springs City Council Member Jeff Quibell and his company, CPros, which picked up some costs. The hotel discounted the price.
At 20 miles a day, it’ll take close to two weeks to cross the state.
“Everything is going great,” Harrington said. At the moment, she’s on her third pair of walking shoes.
After St. Louis, it’s north to Chicago, then back south and, by mid-October, Boston.
“I don’t know how I came to have such wonderful weather,” she said. “But I’m not complaining.”