Holly “Cargo” Harrison sits on one of two beds in the road-weary home on wheels parked in Quesnel’s Walmart.
He’s strapping his feet with moleskin, a product designed to allow athletes, and in this case walkers, to carry on despite blisters and other foot ailments.
Across from him is his brother-in-law Ian Smith, who recently joined Cargo on his 15,000-mile walking journey from the farthest point of South America, Ushuaia, Argentina to the northernmost tip of Alaska, Prudhoe Bay.
After 11,000 miles alone, Cargo suffered a heart attack on Dec. 17, 2017, near Reno, Nevada, and spent four days recovering before hitting the road again, but not before Ian took on the task of wing-man.
Ian says he plans to remain with Cargo until he reaches his goal.
“That was one of the most scary points in my journey,” Cargo says.
“I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to continue, which was what the doctors were advising, but after giving it a go for a couple of days I knew I was OK.”
After his heart attack, Cargo chose to jump ahead a bit to spend Christmas with his daughter in Oregon, and this is where Ian joined him with the camper truck.
Cargo travels during daylight hours, about 30 miles a day and other than logging trucks and British Columbia’s ice and snow, he hasn’t had much to complain about on this leg of the journey.
“I don’t mind walking, regardless of the weather, as long as I have a decent [road] shoulder to walk on.”
However, he talks about a very worrisome part of his walk through Central America.
“There are no roads, especially in Panama, and the local officials aren’t very friendly with travellers or Americans [Cargo is from North Carolina].
“You have to find a guide to take you through the jungle and they can be just as dangerous as the drug lords and paramilitary. There are a lot of illegal immigrants trying to get through there.”
Cargo says he was a bit of an anomaly for the Panamanian officials. He didn’t fit any of the normal detainees they usually see. His passport was not only confiscated, but the officials refused to stamp it, rendering normal travel impossible.
It took him several tries a few white lies, but he finally left Panama and continued on his journey, he explains.
From the beginning, Cargo has walked with two homemade walking poles that he designed from recycled plastic bottles and fibreglass. The poles, along with a small backpack, carry everything he needs.
Although he can’t explain it, these poles seemed to provoke stray dogs to attack, especially in the South and Central American countries, where dogs run loose. His walking sticks are considerably heavier due to all the repairs he’s had to make to keep them intact.
Because he was travelling light, for the first year he ate what he could buy on the road and for the most part slept on the side of the road, often in culverts under the roadway.
He wonders if the poor diet contributed to his heart attack.
At that point in the arduous walk, Cargo was spending less than $10 a day on food.
Cargo says he has doubled that amount since entering North America, but he is also eating healthier foods and is feeling good.
He adds his inspiration for the walk came after he read about a British man who completed the walk in six-and-a-half years.
“I decided I could do a continuous walk and finish in a year-and-a-half.”
Cargo says he also learned enough Spanish to get by in South and Central America, but proudly admitted his Spanish improved greatly during his travels.
A former United States Army Ranger with a Special Forces unit stationed in Savannah, Georgia, Cargo spent most of his career working in recreation as a camp director for youth. He says he has always been an avid hiker and biker and loves to travel.
Recently, just outside Williams Lake, Cargo incurred another injury – a pulled hamstring, which laid him up for about a week.
“I find it hard to believe my heart attack slowed me down for less time that the pulled hamstring.”
Cargo says he knew he had to let this injury heal because he still has a long way to go.
During the day, Cargo stops for breakfast, which Ian prepares, and this is probably the biggest stop for the entire day.
At the end of the day, Ian and his bed are waiting for him.
They really enjoy parking overnight in a Walmart lot whenever possible. It has Wifi for free internet and they can even watch a movie on Ian’s laptop.
Cargo admits the warm bathrooms and ability to get fresh food are also attractions.
Cargo believes he’s on track to meet his target of arriving in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska by June, despite his two unexpected medical delays.
With the days getting longer and the weather steadily improving, he expects to make good time, although 30 miles a day is a pretty good limit, allowing him to rejuvenate overnight.
After the walk is completed, he may write a book, but in the meantime he is really enjoy himself.
His Facebook page has many followers and support for his adventure is coming from all over the world.
“I’ve met so many nice people along the way who have helped me reach my goal and that’s a big deal for me.”
With files from Monica Lamb-Yorski