Saturday, December 13
BENNINGTON — William Buchanan has a long walk ahead of him, but an even longer one behind.

Buchanan reached the Vermont border Wednesday after beginning a cross-country walk that started in Oregon last April. He and his wife Brooke, who travels ahead of him in an RV, are going to New Hampshire to live and educate people about freedom and keeping government small.

Buchanan said he is walking to promote the Free State Project, a movement which aims to reduce the size of government. He said the movement's organizers wanted those involved to move to one state in the Union, preferably the one with the most freedom and the smallest and most accessible government, with the goal of keeping the state free.

"I think it's the freest state in the Union," Buchanan said, citing New Hampshire's current lack of seat belt laws and track record on gun rights.

He said he averages about 20 miles per day, and Brooke meets him for rest stops and at night to sleep. He said he uses a GPS device to mark where he stopped walking should he need to ride somewhere in the RV, and always starts walking from where he last stopped.

William Buchanan's brother, John, followed them as far as Chicago, but they picked up another passenger in South Dakota, an Australian shepherd named Jake.

Buchanan said he walks with a video recorder and tries to upload something about his journey to YouTube every night if he can.


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He said he and his wife have passed through 15 states (16 once through Vermont) and haven't had too much trouble navigating without the use of highways.

He said people for the most part like the idea of what he is doing. He has had only had a few disagreements with people and run-ins with the law. He said police in Indiana had threatened to arrest him unless he deleted footage of a refinery from his camera, and some police in Seneca Falls, N.Y., had received complaints about him filming while walking down the sidewalk.

Brooke Buchanan said Jake had come in handy as a guard dog when their RV broke down in Schenectady, N.Y. She said someone had approached the RV while her husband was away getting the vehicle's battery charged and was seemingly interested in the tools they had lying out near the RV with its hood up. The dog barked and scared the person off.

Since RV parks across the county closed in October, Brooke Buchanan said finding places to park and plug their portable heaters in has become slightly more challenging, but apart from a misunderstanding at a Sunoco station where the night shift hadn't gotten word from the day shift that they had been given permission to plug in, things have been smooth.

The Buchanans said they're not sure where in New Hampshire they're going to live yet, but William said he had little interest in running for office once there.

"I prefer the civil disobedience route," he said, adding he might help with a campaign but his primary goal is to create more educational media on how people can solve problems without government. He said he and his wife don't care for either the Democratic or Republican parties, saying they are both creations of "big government."

The Buchanans said they are displeased with the "nanny state" they say is created when government makes things like seat belts laws (which they said they wear) and bans things like trans fat from foods.

William Buchanan is a computer programmer, while Brooke is a special education teacher. William said their expenses on the trip weren't great, but they also weren't making any money aside from small donations along the way.

William Buchanan said he knew about the Free State Project back in 2003 and had wanted to move to New Hampshire anyway, having been there before. He said the decision to walk and promote the movement was his wife's idea.

"A lot of our ideas on how we thought it was going to be were way off," he said.

Before setting out, the plan was for Brooke to drive behind her husband in the RV. "We nixed that pretty early on," he said, as he is only able to walk roughly three miles per hour.

He said they have only taken a wrong turn once, going down a dead end in Oregon. As for the effects on his body, William Buchanan said he was skinny to begin with, but may have lost a few pounds. The pains in his shin and in his feet started about a third of the way into the trip, but have gone away.

Brook Buchanan said even though she wasn't walking, she had developed an appreciation for the pioneers who traveled west to settle the plains in the 1800s. "I can't even imagine doing it in a wagon," she said.

Contact Keith Whitcomb at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com.