Air Force Veteran Jake Eyre and dog Bella journey coast to coast
Starting in January 2020, Jake Eyre and his furry companion Bella began their journey in Miami, Florida, on foot to eventually make it to the West Coast.
Now, 12 months later, Eyre and Bella have made it to Morro Bay’s end destination and are reuniting with their family, just in time for the Holidays.
“It’s kind of a bittersweet thing. This has been a great chapter of my life. This past year has been full of so many great experiences, but I’m also really excited for the next chapter,” Eyre shared.
While in the Air Force, Jake met people who had completed their walk across America. From there, the idea stuck with him.
“Something just rose up inside and said okay, if this is something you want to do within the year of getting out of the air force, do it-I just made it happen,” Eyre explained.
After serving four years in the Air Force, Eyre and Bella drove down to Miami, Florida, sold his car, and prepared for their exciting adventure.
At first, Eyre’s family was a little skeptical about his plan, but after watching him go through with what he wanted to do, they were all on board, “I am extremely blessed to have the family that I do. They are so supportive.”
As Eyre and Bella continued their journey, the pandemic was hitting hard in the U.S. At a point, he decided not to go through Virginia because he had heard they had strict stay-at-home orders and did not want to run into any potential roadblocks.
As he ventured on, he explained that COVID-19 did not affect him or his journey much. Eyre said his roadmap included states that were less restrictive and was welcomed with open arms.
Instead of taking a straight shot to the West Coast, Eyre went up the East Coast, eventually making his way along the American Discovery Trail. At a certain point, he decided to make his own trail.
“I hit some roads that were just in the middle of nowhere, just rural roads in the country that hardly anyone ever sees and just got to see a lot of raw beauty out there,” Eyre said.
Utah easily sticks out as his favorite state because of its beautiful terrain and kind people.
Eyre’s walk started just like that, a walk. His own adventure with Bella. Early on in Eyre’s trek, people wanted to donate money to him. They asked why he was doing this walk? Did he have a cause he was sending a message for?
After doing some research, Eyre asked people to donate to the “Back on My Feet” Organization.
“I realized how much people wanted to give. I was set-I had everything I needed-I’m happy that Back on my Feed could play a part in the whole thing,” said Eyre.
Back on My Feet operates in 14 major cities, coast to coast “using running and community to motivate and support individuals every step of the way from homelessness to independence” per their website backonmyfeet.org.
So far, Eyre has raised over $5,000 for the organization!
Now that Eyre’s journey has come to an end, he plans to move to Arkansas, where he has family and attend massage therapy school.
Throughout Eyre’s travels, he has met a lot of people. He said, “My perspective on humanity has changed. There’s no shortage of people who care. If I had to tell someone what I learned from this is that people are pretty amazing.”
And Bella, the husky cross, has enjoyed every step of their journey too.
“She’s a high energy dog, and she loves to walk. She’s as happy as can be. My only worry is when we stop; I’ll have to figure something else out, start running with her or something. But she’s doing great. She’s my buddy,” said Eyre.
It’s not surprising that this chapter in Eyre’s life has impacted him.
“It’s definitely something that’s empowered me a lot. If there’s something you want to do, you owe it to yourself to make it happen. That’s how I want to live the rest of my life-your the one in control of your whole life.”
What started as a walk for fun has turned into more than Eyre and his family could have ever imagined. And yes, he has heard all the Forest Gump jokes.
To see more of Eyre’s Walk Across America, visit his Facebook page @jakeswalkacrossamerica