Legends in the Making

May 7, 2014 8:34 PM by Bill Halter

Legends in the Making: Bill Fairbanks

Bill Fairbanks is back on the road and set to complete his five year journey to walk across the country. The 77 year old Los Osos man started at his house and has made it to Albany, New York with a series of breaks to rest at home along the way. Fairbanks taught cultural anthropology at Cuesta College for 41 years, his doctor predicted he'd fail retirement because he wouldn't be able to handle so much down time. "When I retired I figured I needed a challenge and walking across the United States would be the challenge" said Fairbanks who now gets an "A" in retirement from his doctor.

Bill's wife Carole has been with him on his journey every step of the way. "I take him out in the morning to where he left off the day before and then I pick him up at night at a time we've designated and during the day I quilt" said Carole who has found plenty of things to fill her time on the road after intially worrying she might get bored.

The couple, married for 55 years, started their treck across the country in July of 2009. They travel for about five months and then drive back home, they then pick up where they left off. This week Bill resumed his walk where he finished last November, just south of Albany, New York. He'll walk into Vermont and down through New Hampshire before finishing in Boston. "There's a Fairbanks family house in Boston, theoretically all people with the last name Fairbanks can trace their ancestry back there. At first I thought I might end in Washington DC but then I realized that's too common" said Bill.

Along the way he's been studying the country. Fairbanks has gone to local city council and school board meetings, he sat in on a session of the US Senate while in the nations capital. The most he's walked in a single day is the 23 miles from Cayucos to Templeton. Fairbanks hasn't tracked the total number of miles he's walked, he's more interested in counting the relationships he's made. "Many of them even in some of the really depressed areas say they see my walk as an act of faith. They're comment and I've heard it many times is that the nation is gripped in fear and that I'm ignoring it."

Through bad weather and high elevations, on backroads and highways, Fairbanks has made it from coast to coast. He says the walking has given him a lot of time to think and it has helped him stay in shape. "I'm always in better health when I finish then when I start."

Fairbanks expects to reach the finish line in Boston sometime in August. "I think there will be a feeling of exhileration, I'll say wow, I've accomplished this" said Bill. "It's been really interesting, we've met all sorts of really nice people" said Carole.

Bill says he might try and write a book about his journey after he finishes.

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