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Former Crown Heights resident Aubrey Benmark to set out on cross-country schlep

From Brooklyn to LA — the old-fashioned way

The Brooklyn Paper
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She has spent eight months talking the talk and now it is time to walk the walk.

A former film industry professional has given up her apartment and her stuff to walk 2,800 miles from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. She is counting on the kindness of strangers to get her through.

“It is difficult for people to embrace the idea of trusting your neighbor and believing in the kindness and compassion of people,” said former Crown Heights resident Aubrey Benmark. “I want people to be inspired and feel good about the journey I am having.”

Benmark, a Brooklyn resident of 15 years, quit her job as a production assistant last May and decided she did want not to return to the soul-sucking grind. She spontaneously began giving away her stuff — including a few pairs of barely worn designer shoes and bags of clothes — in preparation for the cross-country trek that some of her friends deemed insane.

“At first I had to confront my own reality — like, am I crazy?” she said. “But I did not want to shove the creative energy back down into myself and get another job so I could just scrape by and pay my rent.”

After researching her journey, Benmark finally took the dive and gave up her Crown Heights digs. She moved into a friend’s apartment on Staten Island, where she does odd-jobs, and launched a Kickstarter campaign to solicit donations for gear such as bear spray and a buggy-sized trailer. So far, she has raised about $800.

Benmark does not have an exact route mapped out, but she plans to stay near highways to be close to food stores and people who she can show what it looks like to give up materialism. She knows she might face some naysayers, but insists it is all good.

“They would be afraid to do what I am doing,” she said.

Benmark plans to set out from the Brooklyn Bridge on March 17 and end up in Hollywood four to six months later. She will stay on the West Coast for a while, but will return to Brooklyn before too long, she says.

“New York City is always going to be where I hang my hat,” she said. “But I need to experience something else for a while.”

Benmark has also started penning a book about her journey called “The Highest Road.”

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at mriesz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Michael from Bay Ridge says:
Hollywood is certainly the correct place to find "people who she can show what it looks like to give up materialism" indeed!

I'm not sure if it's possible to avoid the rocky mountains or huge stretches of dessert in the west. Also, I think the midwest is full of roads where there is nothing for miles. Will probably be very lonely and difficult.
Feb. 12, 2014, 3:39 am
Oliver from Sunset Park says:
I rode my bike from San Francisco to Yorktown Virginia, and, while I can't speak to walking across the desert, it's certainly possible to cross the Rockies on foot.

I will say this about the desert, it's doable, as long as you have enough water, and everyone out there keeps tons of water bottles in their car. In my experience, many people are incredibly kind if given the chance.
Feb. 12, 2014, 12:53 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Pardon me, but wouldn't it be a lot quicker and more easy to use the $800 dollars on a plane ticket? You all know I hate to interrupt like this.
Feb. 12, 2014, 2:42 pm
NYPD from NY says:
That's a female? Looks more like a young Buddy Hackett or swampyankee.
LOL
Feb. 13, 2014, 12:04 pm
Natalie J. from NYC & PA says:
@ NYPD - I am ashamed that you represent NYPD (if you even do). Stop judging people, and applaud people for their efforts, or just don't say anything at all. This world seriously is disgusting at times. We need more love and acceptance of others. Outward appearances mean nothing compared to how ugly people can be inside. Beauty: a reflection of how you act, and you NYPD are not very attractive. Best of luck to you Aubrey!
March 3, 2014, 12:35 pm
MP from NY says:
What the article fails to say is that she is also a Veteran of the Armed Forces and defender of this nation and your freedom to talk trash "NYPD". Smh
March 3, 2014, 2:46 pm
Mr. MTA from BX. New York says:
I know this young lady and may I say "my prayers go out for her safety." Because I've been in LA and trust me there is nothing out there. Especially if you have no money. Use your military skills and stay alert and stay alive let everybody know you made it there safely ok. Sgt.benmark
March 3, 2014, 2:55 pm
Lizzy J from BX says:
Go Aubz Go! You are amazing in every way possible. You're right, people would be scared to do what you're doing. Fight the good fight and keep in touch along the way!
March 4, 2014, 10:41 pm
Jason S from Jackson, Ohio says:
Saw her today on interstate 32 she was going stay at the days inn to stay out of the rain. Without a thought i gave this woman some money to help b/c what shes doing is a great idea and i believe will touch peoples lives.
April 14, 2014, 4:53 pm

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