25-year-old Nick Kleckner gave up his comfortable lifestyle and embarked on a 178-day journey from Florida to California, in which he relied solely on the goodness of strangers for food and a place to sleep.
Although a lot of people compare his amazing experience to that of Forrest Gump, our real-life protagonist actually got the nickname “Hobo Nick”. He left Atlantic Beach, on April 5 this year, with no food, no water and no money, but he somehow managed to make it all the way to Huntington Beach, California after an epic 2,500-mile walk across the North American continent during which he went through 5 pairs of shoes. Kleckner says he grew up in an “awesome family” never having to worry about money, and that’s apparently what prompted him to go on this journey of discovery. “I had an urge to do this about a year ago when life was repetitive and I felt like I didn’t appreciate it,” Kleckner wrote on his blog. “Since I have been homeless I have lived more in the moment and have really learned to be thankful.” Throughout the 178 days of walking, the self-made hobo documented his experience by sending his mother updates via his iPod. She in turn posted them on his blog.
Photo: Nick Kleckner
Perhaps the most difficult thing Hobo Nick had to do was leave Atlantic Beach. “Everything just seemed so relaxed about the beach there. I knew it was gonna be hard to leave and hit the street from here on.Stepping away from the beach was a little sad. It is just so pretty and one of the things I have grown to appreciate in the past year of slowing my grind of life down”, he wrote at the start of his trip. He left only with the clothes on his back, a sleeping bag, his backpack and a few thing in it, determined to survive only on the goodness of the people he met on the road. He depended on them for the most basic needs, like food, water and a place to sleep, and whenever he got money and gift cards he didn’t actually need to survive, he just gave them away to the homeless. He said the point was always to give away more than he took, and added that the biggest takeaway from this epic experience is to have realized that “mankind is better than I ever dreamed.”
He left his job, his family and friends, walked through miles of desert and endured stormy nights, but Nick Kleckner says this selfless lifestyle has been more rewarding than he could have ever imagined. It has taught him to share and help others as much as possible and in doing that he feels he will never be stranded. Hobo Nick ended his walking journey on September 29, when more than a hundred family members, friends and people he met along the way waited for him on the sand of Huntington Beach, in California.