Musician Jefrey Taylor plans to stop in Chanute this weekend during the first week of his walk across the United States.
Taylor is a professional musician, educated at Berklee College of Music in Boston, who was recently in Chanute for the launch of friend Rudy Waldner’s book. He was also in Chanute in 2013 to perform with 176 Keys Dueling Pianos.
While performing in Spain about 10 years ago, Taylor caught the bug for walking long distances when he completed the 600-mile Camino de Santiago, or Way of St. James. This is a medieval pilgrimage route from the French border in northeastern Spain to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, northwestern Spain. That cathedral is the traditional resting place of the apostle St. James the Great.
Taylor wanted to come back and walk across America, but his daughter was 12 at the time, so he decided to wait until she was “grown and on her own.”
He started on Monday from a friend’s doorstep in Lenexa. His original plan was to walk from coast to coast, but due to the time of year he decided to start in the Midwest.
“One of my best friends lives right in Lenexa, so I say ‘hey, I’m going to start right on his doorstep and head south,’” Taylor said.
Taylor’s route thus far has taken him to Gardner, then along back roads to Paola. He planned to stop in Greeley Wednesday night and expects to be in Chanute sometime Saturday. When the Tribune contacted him Wednesday, he was leaving Osawatomie where residents called the police because they thought a homeless man was pushing a baby stroller around town.
Taylor said he has driven all over the Midwest playing shows for the last six years, but walking is different. He can spend more than a day in a town and meet more people along the road.
“Spain is quite beautiful when you’re on a bus going 70 miles an hour, but she’s even more beautiful when you walk her,” he said. “You really get the feel of the land and the country around you.”
Taylor carries his guitar on his back and several necessities in a dog stroller: electronics in watertight bags, a couple changes of clothes, a tent and sleeping bag, a flashlight, toiletries, food and at least five gallons of water at all times.
Taylor said he doesn’t have a specific route in mind or a timetable for when he will finish his walk, though he does plan to end it in Monument Valley in Colorado to recreate the famous “I’m pretty tired… I think I’ll go home now,” scene from Forrest Gump.
“I don’t have a deadline,” he said. “I’m going to see where my feet take me.”
His general plans include stops in Tulsa and Oklahoma City for shows he has booked September 21 and 28 and staying in Florida for the winter.