In 2012, after four decades toiling in the music-business capitals of LA, and Nashville, Rand Bishop returned to his home state of Oregon to assist his aging parents. Divorced, children grown, Rand was content to keep a low profile, not flaunting his impressive career resume — Grammy nominee, more than 300 songwriting credits, platinum music producer, hit song publisher, author of four books, award-winning screenwriter, playwright, and magazine columnist. Life for Rand was relatively stress free. Except for one thing... he was finding it more and more difficult to sleep. The growing hyper-partisan animosity had not only created alarming dissonance, our nation found itself in legislative gridlock. Although serious, urgent issues pervaded, nothing was getting done.
Rand was already fretting about what kind of world he would leave behind for his grandchildren. Then, the 2016 presidential election came along and America really started turning mean. No longer able to sit by while the U.S.A. transformed into something he no longer recognized, Rand, a lifelong activist for peace, justice, and equality, felt compelled to do something. Finding a role model in a woman known as Peace Pilgrim, Rand's decided course of action was a source of great concern for friends and family. Still, at 67, with sore knees, arthritic feet, limited camping experience, and no knowledge about long-distance hiking, Rand remained undeterred. He began planning and preparing to walk for 90 consecutive days, from Southern California, back home to the Central Oregon Coast, hoping to encourage folks along the way to come out of their echo chambers, abandon the blame game, and engage in more civil, constructive dialogue.
On May 1, 2017, Rand returned a rented car in Thousand Oaks, CA, hooked his dog's leash to his belly bag, and began what was destined to become an adventure of a lifetime. Pushing a 90-pound cart christened "the Pilgrimmobile," Rand conquered seemingly insurmountable grades, crossed precarious bridges, was confronted by wild animals, angry motorists, and alienation from the persistent assumption that a cart-pushing pedestrian must be homeless. The author's aging body, his fortitude, and his courage were put to their ultimate test. Those factors alone provide this tale with plenty of adventure and drama. But, the true heart of the story beats evocatively in its eclectic cast of characters, the fellow humans serendipity introduced to the pilgrim along the way.
Rand describes meeting immigrants, homeless folks, cyclists, fellow hikers, shop keepers, camp hosts, farmers, and anonymous Good Samaritans. People of every age, gender, race, ethnicity, religious faith, political affiliation, vocation, and socio-economic status populate TREK's pages. Although the pilgrim comes face to face with a random bigot or two, gets taunted, threatened, and even spat upon, negative encounters were rare. The vast majority of the people Rand recalls are kind, compassionate, and giving — even if quite a few of them teeter precariously close to the edge of sanity.
Ultimately, the author survives his trek, and the emotional crash of its sore-footed aftermath to sum up his experience this way...
"Connecting with 1,000 decent Americans rekindled my faith, not in the power and glory of some invisible God, but in the innate goodness of humankind. The nice, kind, sometimes exceedingly generous people I met along my path replenished the hope I'd lost and so desperately needed to find and feel again. And, without that hope, I don't know if I would still be capable of rising and shining every morning."