Crossing the country on a motorcycle, Woodrow Landfair has seen it all: Friendly strangers who offered him a meal. Strung out drug abusers looking for a fix. Millionaires. Homeless families. Supporters. Antagonists.
“It’s been an education,” he said.
This month, the 24-year-old writer and traveler will end his yearlong, 48 state trek in Maine. On Friday, he’ll talk about his cross-country journey at the Cafe Bon-Bon in Lewiston.
“The whole trip has really been done on an odd whim, picked out of a hat,” he said. “It’s been amazing.”
Landfair decided to spend a year traveling the U.S. in 2006, around the time he graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in creative writing. He got rid of his apartment, pawned his belongings, sold his car. He bought a 1995 Suzuki Intruder and, with $3,000 in his pocket, set out to see the country.
“I wanted to go on an odyssey, a big adventure, to gobble up everything I could,” he said.
On his way, Landfair wrote. Short stories. A novel about two buddies on a cross-country trip. A travelogue and online journal about his trip.
Along the way, his money ran out and he began working odd jobs, from demolition in New Orleans to restaurant food runner in New York City. When the jobs were too few and far between, Landfair camped outside and stayed in homeless shelters.
“There was a long time in the wintertime I didn’t know if I’d make it,” he said.
But with help, Landfair did. Strangers often offered to buy him a meal or give him a job or take him in for the night. Along the way, small venues invited him to speak about his travels.
“There’s been more good than bad,” he said. “It’s like 90 percent good stuff.”
Although he started the trek hoping to find answers about race relations, politics and money in America, he came away with only one big realization: “How little I know about this country.”
Landfair will finish his trek this month. At the end, he said, he’ll give away his motorcycle to anyone who wants it. In exchange, he’ll accept a meal and a bus ticket to … somewhere.
“I got rid of everything and I have no one waiting for me. There is nowhere to return to,” he said.
At the end of the month, he’ll also wrap up the Dollar and a Dream Contest he started online. Landfair, the starving artist who slept outside and built fences to earn money to eat, will give away $3,000.
He pursued his dream with $3,000, he said, and he wants to give someone else the opportunity to do the same. To enter, contestants write to him with a funny, unique or inspiring dream. The contest ends on July 31 and Landfair will choose a winner this fall.
Now wrapping up his own dream, Landfair doesn’t have that $3,000 yet. But he’ll work for it by fall, he said.
And then, perhaps, another trip.
“Maybe Alaska,” he said.