Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Tim “Izzy” Israel a former music industry roadman who is currently making his way across America by foot to raise awareness for United States term limits.
Leahy: Our guests are Jeff Tillman from U.S. Term Limits. And Tim “Izzy” Israel, long-time expert and roadie in the music industry. He has been there since the 1990s is now is promoting U.S. Term Limits and doing it by walking across the United States. We got the story that you decided this summer that you were going to walk across the United States. You decided to start at Key West. Now you’ve got kids. Your youngest is 19, and you live in Hartsville. When you told your wife you’re thinking of walking across the United States, what did your wife say?
Israel: My wife is one of a kind. So she shot me the I don’t know, her particular glance, knowing that (Laughter) yeah, he’s probably gonna do that.
Leahy: When you say your wife shoots you a particular glance, is that a glance that says you’re a crazy man? Or is it a glance that said, well, you’re a very determined man, or is it something of a mix?
Israel: It’s a mix. (Leahy laughs) Definitely.
Leahy: But did she say don’t do that or did she say yes, that’s a great idea, Izzy?
Israel: No, I don’t really think she wanted me to do it because she thinks about how many months she’s been dealing with things on her own. But also, I’ve only been out now, probably for a record length of time away from home. There are some tours that I did back in the day that neck and neck with the amount of time that I’ve not come home were great or being on the water on a submarine. So she’s tough.
Leahy: So you’re a military veteran?
Israel: She’s the toughest chick that I know.
Leahy: Okay, well, that’s good. Hats off to Mrs. Israel this morning for supporting this cause. On what date did you firmly decide you were going to do this?
Israel: Deciding would be somewhere in November when it was coming together.
Leahy: In November. And your friend who is going to walk with you and then decided, no, you can do that by yourself, did provide some equipment and material. What do you travel with?
Israel: Well, originally, not knowing the details we were laughing when he got down there with me. We were in the hotel, and I couldn’t pick up the backpack very well. And his joke was and he started looking up 10 signs your backpack is too heavy. And one of the ones was a Sherpa looks over and calls to you hey, brother.
Leahy: So you’ve got a backpack that’s too heavy?
Leahy: So you’re in the hotel in Key West, Florida, and you’ve got a backpack with a bunch of stuff in it. Do you have a camera also?
Leahy: Now, when you’re in that hotel in November?
Israel: It’s December.
Leahy: Is it your thought that your friend is going to be walking with you the next morning?
Israel: No no.
Leahy: He made it clear. You’re on your own, buddy.
Israel: Early in when we started with the idea, it was about a week of talking that he said that he wasn’t. And I just told him, let me take two days to wrap my head around that, and I think I’m going to do it anyway.
Leahy: So do you go to the far southern tip of Key West?
Israel: Yes. The buoy.
Leahy: You go to the buoy. That’s the most southernmost point in the United States. Is that right?
Leahy: Okay, so paint the picture. What time is it? You start walking there. What day is it and what time is it? And what does your friend say?
Israel: It’s December 22. Neither one of us has never been. It’s very small and quaint, with a lot of tourists, crowded. It’s COVID, so we couldn’t get to the buoy. I thought the buoy was in the water from looking at a picture, but it’s actually on the street.
Leahy: You couldn’t make it to the buoy?
Israel: Not in a car. So he dropped me off, actually.
Leahy: So you had to walk south until you could walk north.
Leahy: So how far did you have to walk to get to the buoy?
Israel: It was just about 30 minutes away. He dropped me off at a restaurant.
Leahy: What time of day is this?
Israel: It was sundown. It was a very beautiful sundown.
Leahy: Okay, so you watch sundown with half an hour to the buoy, the southernmost tip on December 22. So what happens then? You stand in line on the street because everybody’s socially distanced and you get to the buoy.
Israel: There was a lady there that offered to take a picture of me, which I thought was nice with the buoy like a lot of people were doing for each other. I pushed the hand dolly. We went to an Ace Hardware and get a handle for the backpack. That’s how I did the Keys with a Costco hand dolly from Ace Hardware.
Leahy: Do you have that picture?
Israel: There are pictures.
Leahy: Good. Okay, so it’s about 6:oo p.m. on December 22. You’re there, get the picture taken, head out. And then you start walking North.
Israel: Google will not let you walk from Key West out. So it always tells you that you have to take the Fort Walton Ferry. So I just shot for a landmark that I had seen coming on the island because I knew just looking at things. When we drove in, I took odometer readings between islands and kind of knew what I was getting into, but I just wanted to get off the island the first night.
Leahy: So how long do you walk to get off the island?
Israel: Two and a half hours, probably.
Leahy: Where do you stay that night?
Israel: In the mangroves with a homeless guy named Willie Sanders.
Leahy: Did you all have a nice conversation?
Israel: We did.
Leahy: What did you talk about?
Israel: I gave him my phone. He called his brother in Dallas. He was shaky and obviously had problems. I saw the V.A. facility on Key West. I told him if he wanted me to go back with him or if there was anything I could do, I would pause and go back. He said he was happy. He showed me his fish the next morning. He never ripped me off. He made me coffee in a Campbell soup can. He woke up saying good morning.
Leahy: So he was a veteran with problems?
Leahy: So you guys could as fellow veterans, you certainly had some empathy for him there.
Israel: I’m never going to forget him. This is my first night. I didn’t know where I was going to sleep. And he was like, hey, man, I got a place in the mangroves. I mean, what would you think from a total stranger.
Leahy: So then the next morning, you get up and how far do you watch the next day?
Israel: The next day, probably close to 20 miles.
Leahy: And is there a bridge you have to go over?
Israel: Plenty of them.
Leahy: Is it weird walking on the bridge?
Israel: No, it’s beautiful.
Israel: I’ve always thought of bridges as one of man’s things that are amazing.
Leahy: So you enjoyed walking on the bridges?
Israel: I did. It’s a little spooky on a seven-mile bridge because there’s no turning back.
Leahy: Well, I was going to say no turning back, right? Where do you end up? Do you end up at the border of Alabama and Florida?
Israel: I had a little media in Tallahassee, and that’s how I met U.S. Term Limits.
Leahy: Oh, they didn’t know about you? You were just walking. And they don’t know that you’re walking because your goal is to promote term limits. So tell us, how long does it take for you to get from Key West to Tallahassee?
Israel: Oh, probably somewhere in March. You can’t carry too much more than you can so just getting out of Miami is a trip because you start to think about hitting the Everglades and you think I might need to go back into the city limits to get more food.
Leahy: You got to plan that?
Israel: So everything takes longer. There are actually more miles that I know that I’ve put on than the trip takes.
Leahy: Not as a crow flies. How do you get food? What kind of food do you use?
Israel: Dollar General Tuna Creations in a tortilla shell.
Leahy: That’s your favorite?
Israel: That’s flat.
Leahy: And you can take it.
Israel: You can take it.
Leahy: And how are you making money during this period of time?
Israel: I had a small group of friends that donated and then other people that I worked with. And, of course, my target was people that got put out of work. So I was always grateful for the people that I work with.
Leahy: Were you ever about to run out of money often?
Leahy: What did you do when there was no money?
Israel: I didn’t do anything because I know after what I’ve seen out there, I hate to sound supernatural, but things manifest.
Leahy: Tell us a time that you’re out of money and something happened.
Israel: I was six days with no shower and a rainstorm coming in and an old bus driver of mine calls me up and says, I want to get you a hotel room. And then a girl that I went to junior high with in Alaska started following me on social media. And three members of her family in Florida put me up to shower and do laundry and I was able to charge my generator three times.
Leahy: You are taking a generator with you?
Israel: It’s a little generator that had a solar panel that was on my backpack.
Leahy: What did you use that for? To keep your phone charged always? Did you talk to your wife every day?
Israel: No, she doesn’t need that anymore. We’ve been married too long. (Laughter)
Listen to the full first hour here:
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