Tyler’s Touching Story: He Visited 50 States With a Pic of His BF to Pay Tribute to Their Friendship
In November 2015, Tyler lost his best friend Nathan, who passed away from brain cancer at the young age of 21. In honor of his childhood neighbor and the most devoted friend he could ever have, Tyler decided to travel through all the 50 US states with a picture of Nathan. This big journey ended up being full of new experiences and adventures.
The first years of Nathan and Tyler’s friendship
Nathan (he is on the left in both childhood photos) moved next door to Tyler when they were around 7 years old. That is how the story of their friendship began. “We were playing soccer in the backyard when his dad introduced himself and Nathan. Nathan came over, and we kicked the soccer ball around for a bit,” Tyler said. Weeks went by and the boys hung out more and more. The friends spent time together at birthday parties, family events, baseball games, and soccer games, playing Pokémon on the GameBoy and other games on the GameCube.
“Nathan was a patient person who would never strike down your opinion on things — he kept an open mind. He loved adventures, we went hiking as much as we could. We spent time exploring abandoned houses, finding caves to explore, and mines. He always enjoyed the history of those places, and I always searched for this information prior. We kept close all through high school. Nathan was one of the smartest kids in school,” Tyler shared.
After graduation, Tyler and Nathan parted ways but stayed in touch, telling each other about their college days. On his 20th birthday, Nathan woke up with a headache and went to the hospital. The doctors found a tumor. Later, he was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer, glioblastoma.
“He had told me he wanted to make it to his next birthday and passed away a few weeks after he turned 21. We kept him busy while he was sick. We brought him food, took him out on the days he felt well, or watched movies and TV shows together with him. No matter what, Nathan was always positive. He enjoyed the little things in life at that point. Nothing seemed too big of an issue for him,” Tyler shared.
The idea to honor a long-lasting friendship
The idea of visiting all 50 states came up spontaneously. Tyler didn’t plan it. He took Nathan’s prayer card with him on vacation a few months after he passed away. “It was only a few months after he passed away. I snapped a photo of him on the coast. I stood there for a moment just reflecting. The girl I was dating came up to me and said she was so sad Nathan couldn’t be there. She said that everyone missed him so much. Later that day, the first idea of doing trips in his memory came up. Why not all 50 states, then? I had no set time on how long I’d take to do it, but I knew I was going to do it. Even if it took 50 years,” Tyler shared.
“The reason why I decided to do 50 states was that I knew if he was around, he’d want to join in on the adventure. I knew he would have enjoyed every minute of it, all the views, hikes, the great food. For him, who lived an adventurous life, I couldn’t have thought of anything more perfect than doing this,” he said.
Journey without a best friend but with the memory of him
Tyler’s big journey was one big adventure — never the same day twice. He always tried something new — visiting each state brought him a unique experience and special memories. Tyler went on camping trips where he slept in a tent and spent time near a campfire, stayed in hotels, and traveled alone or took his loved ones with him. Each new day was different from the previous one. “I loved Montana! I visited it during the fall. I went to Glacier National Park, and it was amazing. The views, the weather, the majestic mountains. Montana will be one of my all-time favorites,” Tyler said, sharing his impression of the place he liked most.
Another place that Tyler mentioned as one of the most impressive was a little store with Sasquatch burgers on the road to Silver Falls in Oregon. “So we stopped and ate at it, and the food was amazing! The owners showed us a journal with entries of big foot sightings from the past 50 years. They were all written by strangers who had visited that store. I thought it was a unique place and experience,” he said.
Do you have a friend with whom you are ready to share all of your joys and sorrows? Tell us about them in the comments!