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‘A great way to get to know Virginia and Virginians better’: Kaine publishes first book

Courtesy of Office of Tim Kaine.

Husband, father, lawyer, politician, friend, neighbor, Spanish speaker, welder and now also author.

Sen. Tim Kaine‘s resume acquired a new, and unexpected, bullet point in early April with the publishing of his first book: “Walk, Ride, Paddle: A Life Outside.”

Kaine’s presidential running mate in 2016, Hillary Rodham Clinton, calls the book his “love letter to the Commonwealth he has served for over 25 years.”

“It’s been a long time coming,” Kaine said of the process of conceiving of, writing and having the book published in six years. “I wanted to mark my 60th birthday and 25 years in politics.”

Dedicated to his family and friends, some of whom joined him for certain parts of the journey, Kaine could have kept the experiences he had hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT), cycling and paddling a canoe across Virginia to himself. The purpose of the trip was to recharge in between Senate sessions. When he began to write the book, he did not have a publisher or an agent.

“But, when I finished it, I really think it’s more than a Virginia nature journey,” Kaine said.

The book became about his individual journey to cope with national events at the time, which were not usual events, including the riots on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trials and coming to an understanding of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“There was a lot that I had to think about, but the time in nature gave me time to think,” Kaine said.

During his second term in the U.S. Senate in 2018, Kaine said he had realized that he could travel within Virginia and get to know his constituents more.

His journeys in the book also brought him in contact with many individuals he was not expecting to meet, including a Syrian-American dentist who had reached out to Kaine to help his mother travel to the U.S. after a Muslim travel ban. Kaine surreptitiously ran into him literally on the Appalachian Trail early in his journey.

“I’m learning from everybody I run into,” Kaine said.

The day before running into the dentist on the trail, Kaine’s team had succeeded in making it possible for his mother to come to the U.S.

“What are the odds that, less than 24 hours later after he gets the good news, he meets me — unshaven and soaked — on the AT and gets to say thanks in person?” Kaine wrote in his book.

The journey described in “Walk, Ride, Paddle” inspired Kaine to change his daily exercise routine afterward. He no longer goes to the gym at the U.S. Senate. He learned that he gets better exercise outdoors.

“I’ve basically shifted my whole physical exercise outdoors,” he said.

He was also inspired to now plan one big trip every year. In 2022, he backpacked with his children. Last year, he hiked with neighbors. This year he has to skip a big trip while he campaigns for his next term in the U.S Senate. He kicked off his “Standing Up for Virginia” tour in Staunton and Roanoke in early April just before the book was released.

His 2025 trip will be canoeing in Minnesota with his son.

Photo by Rebecca J. Barnabi.

“I view it as a love letter to Virginia,” Kaine said of what he hopes readers will learn about him when they read the book.

He also hopes it inspires them to walk, ride or paddle at least a portion of what he walked, rode and paddled.

While the trip was a means to think about real-life events that were polarized political events in American history, Kaine said the found harmony in nature. And he is comforted knowing that we all appreciate the beauty of Virginia.

He is already writing his second book, another nonfiction book which is approximately 1/4 of the way done. In the paddle section of “Walk, Ride, Paddle,” Kaine briefly mentions the story of Elizabeth Key Grinstead, one of the first slaves in the Thirteen Colonies to sue for and win her freedom. Kaine learned of her story while canoeing in Jamestown. Key was born in Warwick County, which is today Newport News, in 1630.

“It’s truly an amazing story,” Kaine said.

A story which he will share just as he shared the story of his own journey traveling Virginia.

“It was a great way to get to know Virginia and Virginians better,” Kaine said of writing his first book.

Election 2024: Sen. Kaine begins race with ‘Standing Up for Virginia’ tour in Staunton – Augusta Free Press

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.