Image: Man finishes cross-country walk
Adam Rountree  /  AP
Steve Vaught takes a short rest in New Jersey on Tuesday before completing his 2,900-mile walk from San Diego to New York by traversing the George Washington Bridge.
updated 5/10/2006 6:18:56 PM ET 2006-05-10T22:18:56

Steve Vaught didn't count each mile he walked or weigh himself every day along the way. And as he completed the final leg of his trek across America, he said making it to New York City from California on foot was only part of his story.

"I'm glad that I'm here, but for me it's never been about the destination," he said as he crossed the George Washington Bridge from New Jersey to Manhattan more than a year after he began the trip to lose weight and find happiness. "It's been about the journey."

Vaught, 40, began the roughly 3,000-mile trek from his Oceanside, Calif., home to Manhattan on April 10, 2005, when he was 410 pounds and suffering from severe depression after he accidentally killed two elderly pedestrians while driving 15 years ago.

He ended the journey Tuesday about 100 pounds lighter.

Along the way, Vaught slept in tents and motels and went through 15 pairs of shoes, more than 30 pairs of socks and six backpacks. But he didn't travel with a pedometer or measure the food he ate, and he said he aimed to change his behavior — not just his weight.

"This is not about obsessing about numbers, or times, or dates, or miles," he said. "It's just about going on a walk and sort of having time to get things straight."

Vaught chronicled his progress on a Web site,, which lists the names of dozens of supporters in 26 states. His trip attracted the attention of documentary filmmakers and national television, and he plans to write a book about his experiences.

Kudos for ‘the walking dude’
As Vaught began walking the span from New Jersey to Manhattan on Tuesday evening with a flock of cameras and reporters, a passing bicyclist yelled, "Hey, that's the walking dude! Congratulations! Good job!"

Nicoline Biggio, who went to see him complete his journey, said her husband has been following Vaught's progress but was missing the finale because he was out of town.

"I think it's great that he's finished his goal," Biggio said. "So few of us actually keep them."

Vaught posed for photographs on the bridge with the New York City skyline in the background and standing in front of the "Welcome to New York, the Empire State" sign. Once he reached the other side — his final destination — he spoke to reporters for a few minutes on the street before being picked up by a black sedan that was to take him to a hotel.

His first plan, he said, was to "put on some new socks."

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