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$60.00 pledged of $1,000 goal
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$60.00 pledged of $1,000 goal
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About this project

Is it possible to travel all the way across the United States, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, using only mass transit?

It is. Maybe it wasn't five years ago, but it is today. I created a map and an itinerary. As a long-form journalism piece, I intend to prove this, reporting on local characters, local heroes, the current state and potential for mass transit and any breaking news that crosses my path along the way. So on the morning of October 19, 2015, I'll get on the NICE N32 bus in West Hempstead, New York, and get off the BART #21 bus at Golden Gate Park 68 days later (Turns out to be Christmas Day -- nothing I planned.) I'll be posting videos here to illustrate all this in more detail but here are the highlights:

THE RULES

1. Whenever possible, use ferries, cable cars,trams, or some other unique, local feature. 2. Use subway/metro/el trains if available. 3. Use local bus routes as a standard mode. 4. If there is a coverage gap getting from one metropolitan area to the next use the following choices, in descending order of preference: Something that’s going to make a good story, like a mule, an open-cockpit plane, a carnival caravan, a Mexican smuggling rig or a boxcar full of hobos; public ride-share or vanpool services; privately offered ride; hike. 5. This isn’t a race. I’ll be happy to find out if it’s even possible. 6. I will travel no more than two hours on any one day -- although I would have to allow for the possibility of traveling as much as three under extraordinary circumstances -- and I will stay the weekend wherever I happened to be.

 THE ROUTE

1. I don't have to have all the details worked out to start (although as of this writing I'm well on my way). 2. I will remain open to advice from local residents, friends, supporters, transit experts and anyone else who has better information than I do. 3. I should always know my route and timetable a week in advance.

WHAT TO PACK, WHAT TO WEAR

1. I’m not a character out of Steinbeck. I’m more like a character out of Seinfeld. I’ll wear cargo pants, polo shirts, seasonal jacket and hikers most the time. 2. I will travel light: a backpack and a computer bag. 3. It is my intention to spend as many nights as possible indoors. I will rely on travel web sites or local referrals to secure accommodations. Still, I will bring a sleeping bag, mat, pup tent, backpacking stove, gloves, wool socks and synthetic underlayers. I hope I never need any of it. 4. Sneakers and shorts are a must. So are a couple paperback books, a deck of cards, ear buds, and a smartphone to plug them into. I also anticipate the need for a button-down shirt and nice linen blazer. 5. This MacBook Air is also making the trip.

PAYING FOR IT

1. I will continue my freelance journalism, and aggressively query editors to expand that business. I have almost always done this work from remote locations, so there will be no logistical issues. In addition to technology and business/finance beats, I will now be able to tout my expertise in public transit to assignment editors. 2. I will endeavor to convert this adventure into a book deal that will pay an advance. This is a long shot but worth taking. 3. By planning at least a week ahead, I will be able give media outlets advance warning of my visits to their towns. I will do what I can to convert that into writing assignments or speaker's fees. 4. I will continue working on my course in JavaScript and develop a beginner’s portfolio. Just like writing, coding is work I can do remotely. 5. I’m not above manual labor. I’ll be totally fine with getting a night’s room and board for a day’s work. 6. I will stay in private homes whenever feasible. 7. That brings us to fundraising online. All this is a gamble. I need money in the bank. The actual cost of this journey is actually fairly low. But I still need to pay bills at home. Notice that the one thing not on the above list is "holding down a day job." I lost my last steady job more than two years ago. Earlier this week, I got notified by a company that I'd gone through eight interviews with that they weren't going to hire me after all. This is the fourth time that's happened. I give up. I need some help starting over.

CONTENT

1. There will be photos, videos, interviews, tweets, blog posts and, I expect, published articles. These will be published to a blog, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel and Twitter. 2. The success of this enterprise depends on observation and interpretation. I will be observing and interpreting: oddball characters, genuine heroes, mass transit issues, mass transit options, "Only in America" pieces, things that only happen to me or only I notice, self revelations and whatever news breaks in front of me. I might end up a witness to history by sheer happenstance.

Risks and challenges

This is inherently risky. I'm going to be on city and county buses for two-and-a-half months, sleeping on strangers' couches. I'm a 52-year-old man who'll be taking 20-mile hikes through the desert. And I'm relying on over a hundred different drivers to be on or close to schedule or else I get stranded.

Stuff will go wrong. Best I can do is craft a workable schedule with a bit of lag time baked in and try to keep running ahead of it.

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    ZONE 1:
    Postcard from a Cross-Country Local stop
    Acknowledgement in streaming media
    AND
    Recognition on social media

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    EXPRESS:
    30-min. video chat/conference from the road OR a William Freedman novel in ebook format
    AND
    Postcard from a Cross-Country Local stop
    Acknowledgement in streaming media
    AND
    Recognition on social media

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    LIGHT RAIL:
    Cross-Country Local logo T-shirt OR paperback signed by William Freedman
    AND
    30-min. video chat/conference from the road OR a William Freedman novel in ebook format
    AND
    Postcard from a Cross-Country Local stop
    Acknowledgement in streaming media
    AND
    Recognition on social media

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    MAGLEV MONORAIL:
    Cross-Country Local logo hoodie
    AND
    Cross-Country Local logo T-shirt OR paperback signed by William Freedman
    AND
    30-min. video chat/conference from the road OR a William Freedman novel in ebook format
    AND
    Postcard from a Cross-Country Local stop
    Acknowledgement in streaming media
    AND
    Recognition on social media

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    Ships to Only United States
    0 backers
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Funding period

- (30 days)