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A lifetime of ADVENTURE

2021

One Step at a Time

2017

Oct 10

Feb 28

June 23

Nov 28

Oct 7

June 20

June 22

June 17

April 4

March 14

Aug 10

June 26

June 10

One Step at a Time

With no more than a few hundred dollars to my name, I bid adieu to my job as a waiter in L.A. and jetted off to France on a one-way ticket. Starting at an organic farm near the Mediterranean, I made my way west on foot, bound for the Atlantic Coast of Spain. Rain or shine, I would dedicate every moment to the repetitive task of putting one foot in front of the other. My constant prayer to the Universe was simple: show me my path.

Although the journey required almost no skill, I was completely stressed out. My diminishing bank balance and the confining quarters of my tiny one-man tent were a continual source of uncomfortable situations. The strain reached its peak on a soggy day ten when my impermeable hiking boots started to leak, leaving my feet a blistered mess. Unable to walk without searing pain, I collapsed into a tearful fit under a nearby oak tree. I had lost all hope and was truly ready to give up. But with no money and no way home, the only choice I had was to keep marching onward and pray for a miracle.

 

Through yet another series of unbelievable coincidences, I managed to complete the 1,000-mile trek, writing a book, forging a dozen genuine friendships, and learning even more life lessons along the way. 

My return home to Los Angeles was bittersweet. Although I felt immense pride for the feat I had accomplished, there were many changes I had to make to get my life in order. First, I had to clean up my relationships, saying farewell to inauthentic friends and superficial acquaintances. Next, I made the firm decision to only accept work that was nurturing to my soul, which required a complete overhaul of my priorities and my identity.

With my days now filled with more peace and joy than ever before, happy memories from the Camino flooded my consciousness and continued to tempt my adventurous spirit. Before I knew it, I was deep into planning my next thru-hiking challenge: Walking Across America. A journey three times as long as my last and spanning three seasons, timing was critical. My main goal was to connect with the communities I passed through and to inspire everybody along the way to dream big and to reach for their dreams, one step at a time.

With my route fully mapped out and my backpack stocked with just the basics, I took my first steps from Santa Monica Beach in California toward New York City. 

For the first two months, the trek was mostly lonely and  extremely demanding. After just two weeks, my phone's charging cable broke, leaving me to navigate through the Mojave Desert by memory where I ran out of water—twice. Although I walked an average of 22 miles each day, most of my meals were little more than a handful of snacks from a nearby gas station. I spent most nights alongside the road with little-to-no visual cover. I endured freezing temperatures in the mountains near Flagstaff, rode out dangerous midnight thunderstorm in my tent in rural New Mexico, and tiptoed my way through a field of snakes near Albuquerque, stepping within inches of an agitated rattler ready to strike.

Before leaving home, I had imagined being hosted by locals along the way. Although for weeks, I had pleaded with my 1,000 Facebook followers to share the news of my journey, nothing seemed to be working. What's more, skipping showers and sleeping outside was also taking a toll, chipping away at my self-confidence. As I neared the Texas border, the impact of my travels was beginning to wear me down. 

That's when I noticed a shift in my internal dialog. With each passing car, I began hearing subtle messages play in my head like, "she thinks you're homeless," or, "that man thinks you should get a job." Immediately, I caught my self-sabotaging behavior and began to rewrite these imagined monologues in my head. After all, since I couldn't hear these passing motorists' thoughts, why not create something that was more supportive? One by one, I replaced the negative messages with more positive ones, like, "he thinks you're brave," and "she wonders where you're going."

In less than 48 hours, my mindset had completely transformed. That's when a photo I posted on social media started being shared by locals in Hereford, Texas. From that point onward, everything began to open up. TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and blogs picked up the story of my walk. Motorists waved or stopped for a selfie with, "that guy walking across America." Others found me using my live GPS tracker and dropped off water, snacks, or a complete lunch. And nearly everyone left with one of my famous "sweaty hugs." Instead of a passing vagrant, I was a celebrated adventurer, bravely traveling from one community to the next.

Before long, my Facebook page had grown to over 35,000 engaged fans and many of my posts and videos were reaching around the world. Aside from walking, my greatest challenges had become choosing the right host from the deluge of offers I received each evening and managing the non-stop flow of communications.

 

In many of the communities through which I passed, a unique honor was bestowed upon me by the mayor, the chief of police, or another local. I threw in the first pitch for the Amarillo Thunderheads; stayed with a champion Professional Bull Rider in rural Texas; lit the fuse on the annual 4th of July celebration in Weatherford, OK; celebrated my birthday with the town of Doniphan, MO; accepted the Key to the City for Cookeville, TN;  and felt the thrill of a joyride in a Stearman Model 75 Biplane over Pennsylvania.

With only about two weeks left to walk, just when I thought my adventure couldn't get any better, a friend from the west coast invited me to a local drag show in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the near-completion of my journey. Struggling to see the stage over the crowd in front of me, I glanced to the side where a strikingly gorgeous man was smiling back at me. "Would you like to stand in front of me?" he asked. Although I didn't want to jump to any conclusions, my spirit told me there was something special about this man.

On the final leg of my 177-day journey, I entered Time's Square in New York City with a handful of supporters by my side, including my mom and several of my closest friends from L.A. who had all flown in to celebrate with me. To my delight, that same handsome man I had met in Washington, D.C. also showed up, who, today, I very proudly call my husband.

Both Raya, the psychic, and Sonia Choquette had gotten it right. Somehow, despite my lack of money and my humble roots, I had managed to travel the world. Despite my broken home, my esoteric beliefs, and my rejection of societal norms, I had managed to find my life partner and soulmate.

 

Through my adventures—and often, trial by fire—I have learned to listen to my intuition, that dreams matter, and that thoughts create things. I have learned that what we place our attention on is far more important than our bank balance, our appearance, or our job—no matter how wonderful or depressing they may be. Nothing in life is random, everything has meaning order and purpose, and there absolutely is a solution to every problem.

Are You Ready to Explore?

Creating an inspired, joy-filled life requires effort. It requires being open, listening, and being willing to change. In exchange, its rewards are immeasurable. 

 

If you're ready to make a commitment to yourself to learn, to grow, and to transform, I would be honored to help guide you on your journey.

Ryan Ray with Patricia and Mattias on the Farm in Aspiran, France
Ryan Ray Celebrating his 32nd Birthday at the end of the Camino de Santiago in Finisterre, Spain
Ryan Ray with his Walking Stick on the Camino de Santiago in Southern France
Ryan Ray at Santa Monica Beach at the Start of his Walk across America
Ryan Ray Posing in the California Mojave with Beautiful Strangers who Gave him Water in the Desert
Ryan Ray Pointing at a Grain Elevator in Eastern New Mexico
Ryan Ray Pointing at the Welcome Sign for Hereford, Texas
Ryan Ray Resting while Walking across America
Ryan Ray Posing with a Stearman Model 75 Biplane in Pennsylvania on his Walk across America
Ryan Ray Entering the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona on his Walk across America

June 26

Ryan Ray being Interviewed on ABC 7 in Amarillo, Texas on his Walk across America
Ryan Ray Posing with Supporters near Hereford, Texas while Walking across America

July 17

Ryan Ray Walking across America with Supporters near Henryetta, Oklahoma while  being Recorded by a Cameraman
Ryan Ray in Harrison, New Jersey on the Final Day of his Walk across America
Ryan Ray with Elmer in the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, California

2012

2015

2016

Ryan Ray with Elmer in Hong Kong
Ryan Ray with Elmer at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy
Elmer Ray giving Ryan Ray Flowers against a Graffitied Backdrop of Hearts in Washington, DC
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