Kelly Wells wanted an adventure.

She’d read about adventures in books, seen quests on TV. She’d played the intrepid explorer often enough in video games. But in real life she was 30 years old, living in Monmouth, working a seasonal job at L.L. Bean.

So last May, Wells packed up some camping gear, grabbed her dog, Anna, and started walking. Her goal: Cross the country.

“I decided that I was tired of being an observer,” she said in an email.

In a few weeks, she’ll meet her goal. 

On Nov. 12, Wells and Anna are expected to step onto the Ocean Beach Dog Beach in San Diego, Calif., and splash in the Pacific Ocean. It will be the culmination of a six-month trek that’s taken the pair through 13 states, lots of makeshift campsites and one big adventure.

“I have learned so much,” she said. “I’ve discovered a strength in myself and a faith in strangers. I’ve learned that this country is full of amazing people.”

Wells began thinking about a cross-country trek four years ago. She was playing Guild Wars, a multi-player online game that allows players to become a character and journey through a fantasy world, and she realized she longed for such a life for real. 

Wells wrote about her decision in her blog:

“(I was) running around in Ascalon helping pig farmers round up their pigs and little girls find their flutes, and I thought ‘Man, I wish I could live here. Just running around, seeing the land, helping people in need and having adventures.’ Then came the epiphany: Why the heck not?”

Although Wells could have driven across country or ridden a bike, she opted to try walking. 

“Driving poses no challenge, or at least not the type of challenge I was looking for, and with biking that’s just a whole area of equipment I have no knowledge of. Walking, that’s something I know how to do,” she said. “I also liked the idea of having to slow down and really appreciate distance and the challenge of crossing such a large country as America.”

She bought Anna, an Alaskan husky bred from sled dogs, and the two of them began training for an extended trek. In 2010 they walked the Erie Canal from Albany to Buffalo, N.Y., a total of 450 miles. It gave Wells a sense of what she’d need (a solar charger and phone with GPS capability), what she wouldn’t need (a lot of spare clothes) and what a grand adventure might feel like (amazing).

She learned from others who had made their own cross-country journeys and chronicled them online. Using their experiences as a guide, she bought a used baby stroller to tote her 50-pound pack, jugs of water and other belongings, allowing her to move faster and easier. She bought a smartphone and a Netbook, and set up a Facebook page, blog and Twitter account so people could follow her virtually. 

Family members weren’t so enthusiastic about her plans.

“I think they all think I’m crazy, but they’re all supportive,” she said. “Most of my (online) followers are family members. My parents are the type that will try their best to dissuade me from doing something they think is a bad idea, but once I make the decision and am on my way they’re supportive and behind me.”

At the end of May, Wells and Anna set out. 

The pair started in Maryland, opting for the ease of the American Discovery Trail in the beginning. In Pennsylvania they left the trail and began following roads. Over the months, Wells walked by day and set up camp at night. Sometimes she and Anna slipped into the woods on the side of the road to camp. Other times Wells sought out a friendly looking family home and asked the owners if she could set up her tent in the yard.

Talking to strangers — something she’d been warned about since childhood — proved daunting, but also rewarding. In Maryland, a couple invited her to their campsite and gave her breakfast. In Pennsylvania, an elderly husband and wife insisted she and Anna stay with them during a day of severe heat and thunderstorms. In Ohio, Wells struck up a conversation with a woman outside a bike shop and ended up not only staying the night with the woman’s family but also walking with her for four days.

“So many people have helped me along this adventure,” she said. “Pretty much across the entire Midwest I was depending on strangers. People invited me into their homes, gave me rides out of bad weather, and were just generally friendly and welcoming.”

But Wells has also gotten a few odd looks.

“A lot of people stop me thinking that I have an actual baby in the stroller,” she said. “They’re all very friendly but very concerned.”

For months, Wells and Anna spent their days walking alone. Wells talked to Anna or listened to music, but walking was lonely. Somewhere around Ohio she started entertaining herself with stories of an evil wizard intent on putting an end to her adventure. She could blame him early on for the thunderstorms, closed roads and loose dogs. Later, he could be the scapegoat for her cracked tooth and Anna’s road-worn paws.

Wells ignored her tooth. She got special dog boots and ointment to help with Anna’s paws, as well as car support so Anna didn’t have to walk whole days through the desert of Utah.

“Paws are not something you can just ignore,” she said.

In Colorado, Wells joined up with Tyler Coulson, one of the bloggers she’d discovered online. He was making his own cross-country journey with his dog, Mabel. Wells has trekked the last few states with them. 

Last week they passed through Las Vegas. Wells expects to hit California soon.

She’s already emailed friends, family and people she’s met along the way to invite them to meet her in San Diego on Nov. 12, just days after she turns 31.

Wells isn’t sure what she will do after she reaches the Pacific Ocean. She sapped her savings for the adventure and has no job to return to. She’s toyed with the idea of renting a car and driving back to Maine, stopping along the way to thank all the people who helped her during her trek.

Wells recently talked about those people in a new blog entry titled, “The world is not as scary as They tell you.”

“Adventure awaits, you just have to go after it,” she wrote.

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