Cross country walker stops in Marshalltown

Some people celebrate their birthday with a party or cake. A woman visiting Marshalltown decided to celebrate her birthday by walking across the country.

Nancy Fitzpatrick, an owner of a historic hotel in Stockbridge, Mass., spent her last five days in Marshalltown, one of the many cities she stopped in, on her journey across America.

“I wanted to mark my 65th birthday with an epic adventure,” she said.

Fitzpatrick has been walking since February 2011, starting at the Boston Waterfront. She has walked more than 1,200 miles.

She plans to finish in Newport, Ore., but she is not entirely sure when.

“I’m not even halfway there yet,” Fitzpatrick said. “When I get into Nebraska I’ll be just about halfway, but I probably won’t finish until 2015.”

Fitzpatrick said she enjoys walking, but it will take awhile to finish.

“This is not something I’m doing to torture myself,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m doing it to see things, experience things and have a chance to think, it’s going to take awhile.”

Fitzpatrick brought her car, but barely uses it.

She walks about 10 miles a day and walks alone. She said her day starts early – the latest time she wakes up is 7 a.m., she then fills her pack with snacks, sunscreen and rain gear, then hits the road.

“Right now I’m doing the whole thing by myself, don’t ask me how,” Fitzpatrick said. “Normally my husband drops me off in the morning and then picks me up at the end of the day’s walk.”

Fitzpatrick said her husband does a lot of scouting to find out what’s ahead and what the best road will be for her to take.

She said he is in France right now.

“He gets kind of cranky after about two weeks on the road,” Fitzpatrick said. “I had to find out if I could do it by myself, so that if he has to take a break he has a chance to take a break.”

She spent the last month in Iowa and she has another two weeks to go in the state.

She spent the last week walking from Cedar Rapids to Tama.

“It’s one straight road,” Fitzpatrick said. “There’s not even a convenience store. It’s just 50 miles with nothing, no motel, no restaurant, no nothing, not even a Casey’s and I slept two nights on someone’s couch, I camped one night and I slept in an abandon funeral home another night.”

She said she enjoys Iowa. She said she has met interesting people in Iowa and she said she loves the small towns.

“I have to honestly say that I am really impressed with Iowa,” Fitzpatrick said. “Some of the most interesting people I’ve met have been in this part of Iowa.”

Fitzpatrick said she has faced some challenges while on the road. She said the heat and road food were some obstacles, among survival.

“I have to make connections with strangers in order to move forward,” Fitzpatrick said. “But that has been a good obstacle because I have met some really interesting, fun, people that my normal life would never connect me with.”

Fitzpatrick takes photos of her journey and writes in her journal every day.

“There is nothing that is more wonderful than sitting in a patch of shade on a soft lawn and writing in my journal or posting a picture on Instagram, or just spacing out,” Fitzpatrick said.

She keeps a blog,, a Facebook page and is on Instagram. She tries to post as often as she can, but favors her Instagram account, NancyTakesAHike.

“I try to religiously post one picture a day, I enjoy that,” Fitzpatrick said. “I try to find one image that I think represents that day. I found that really enjoyable.”

Fitzpatrick said her next stop is in State Center, then she will go to Colo and Ames.

“I am looking forward to Ames and the university,” Fitzpatrick said. “Pretty soon I’ll be in western Iowa and that will be fun too.”

She said she will continue to enjoy her walk across the country.

“This is a lifestyle. I’m not racing,” Fitzpatrick said. “This is about slow travel. It’s not about walking as fast as I can to get some place.”