Walking America: A journey of hope and connection

Published 12:08 pm Friday, December 22, 2023

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In a world often dominated by negativity, Torin and Paige Rouse have embarked on an extraordinary journey, walking through the lower 48 states to spread a message of happiness and positivity.

“We’re trying to be the example that you can be happy under any circumstance if you know how to shape your thoughts properly,” Torin said. “We’re trying to spotlight the goodness that we encounter along the way…because I think that the goodness that’s out there is not something that people have a lot of exposure to.”

Starting their adventure in Missouri, the couple is now in Alabama, marking their 15th state in a journey that began in May 2022 and has spanned an impressive 440 days. Their unique approach involves strategically walking through states in loops based on the seasons, ensuring they navigate efficiently without facing extreme weather conditions.

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“We try to make sure we always have a legal campsite lined up,” Torin explains. 

Utilizing social media, they connect with hosts, reaching out to village halls, churches, restaurants and fire departments. Over time they’ve built a trail of trust with past hosts, creating a supportive network that follows their inspiring expedition.

Funded solely by donations from an appreciative American audience, the couple remains steadfast in their commitment to maintaining the purity of their message. 

“We’re not taking any sponsorships or anything like that,” Torin said. “We don’t want the message that we’re creating to be altered in any way by certain interests.We want it to remain pure.”

Paige explained how they have financially supported themselves on this journey. 

“We started out with very little money, and people have been very supportive,” Paige added. “We saved enough to buy all the gear we needed to survive.”

This gear includes solar power for phones, wool blankets for sleeping, a camp stove and cookware, a few sets of warm weather clothes as well as a few sets of cold weather clothes.

Their faithful companion, a 15-year-old dog named Jak, rides on a cart most of the time, given his age. The trio’s current heading is southeast, aiming to reach Maine by the peak of summer. However, their route remains flexible, decided based on conversations with locals as they traverse different towns and roads.

As they passed through Selma, the couple experienced the generosity of Jennifer and Brandon Melton, who hosted them. Jennifer had been following their journey on social media and felt compelled to offer them a place to stay. Despite initial apprehension, Jennifer trusted her instincts and mirrored the couple’s trust in the kindness of strangers.

“I saw the Facebook post and I just kept going back,” Jennifer said. “God was heavy on my heart to offer them a place to stay.”

Torin and Paige’s dream extends beyond their incredible journey. They envision settling down, building a rudimentary cabin, growing their own food and living entirely off the grid.

“We’re tired and sore a lot but never enough to want to give up,” Paige said. “It’s exhausting but rewarding.”

Their journey is not just physical but a testament to the enduring spirit of hope and the kindness that exists in unexpected places.