Oliver Tic and his dog, Carlitos, at the U.S. 281 bridge in Marble Falls. Tic, from Slovenia, and Carlitos were walking to Alaska on a 15,000-mile trek that started in Argentina. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
Oliver “Oli” Tic and his dog, Carlitos, were just 4,300 miles away from finishing a 15,000-mile walk from the southern tip of Argentina to the northern tip of Alaska when the Slovenian paid a visit to Debbie and Bob Bewley of Spicewood. During his two-day stay in the Highland Lakes, Tic visited the Marble Falls Fire Rescue station, ate breakfast at Blue Bonnet Cafe, and took in the sights of Central Texas.
“Every day is different,” he said. “I worked 10 years in a sports store. It’s a nice life, but it was average. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone.”
The 38-year-old’s No. 1 rule on his multiple journeys is to not take any rides.
“I want to walk it,” he said. “I was always thankful for things, but when I’m walking, I’m even more thankful.”
His positive attitude and endless gratitude most impressed his Spicewood hosts, who bonded with the man and his dog during the walking duo’s short stay. Friends of the Bewleys in Missouri introduced them to Tic after meeting him on his first walking trip across America.
“He was so positive,” Bob Bewley said. “He talked about the American people and how nice they are to him. He was so thankful of all the people he has run across on his trips, especially in the U.S.”
Tic adopted Carlitos in Peru, and together they’ve walked through the great urban areas of South and Central America: Lima, Peru; Quito, Ecuador; and Panama City, Panama.
But those are not the places he most cherishes.
“If you want to get to know a country, to experience so many things, go to small towns,” he said. “Everybody takes the time to talk to you.”
The man and his dog have faced major challenges on their journey, which began for Tic in Argentina on Oct. 6, 2018. A robbery in Cali, Colombia, in 2019 forced him to return to his hometown of Slovenske Konjice, Slovenia, in Eastern Europe. It took 18 months to save enough money and obtain another passport.
“I came back to Columbia and walked three days, and COVID started,” he said. “I waited two weeks to see what would happen. Borders were starting to close, so I went back for a one-year break. Carlitos stayed in Columbia for a year in a dog hotel.”
He restarted his journey on April 21, 2021, sometimes walking as much as 36 miles a day, although he does not have a daily mileage goal. He does have a daily budget of $10, which means mostly cooking his own meals. He prepares pasta and soups on a small stove he keeps in a blue pushcart along with Carlitos’ dog food, their two sleeping bags, and a tent.
Tic eats oatmeal and toast for breakfast and usually skips lunch. People they meet along the way give snacks to Carlitos.
“There’s nothing hard to prepare,” the world traveler said. “She has her dog food. I believe there’s more food for her than for me. When I get to a gas station, if I need water, I can take it from the faucet.”
The two curl up in separate sleeping bags in a tent at night, choosing public spaces that allow camping and where Tic can recharge his electronics and enjoy a movie. He finds laundromats when he needs to wash his clothes.
His shoes last about 2,000 miles. He’s gone through 10 pairs so far, one of his biggest expenses.
Along the way, he documents the kindness of strangers, the different cultures, and nature.
“This is what makes me happy,” he said. “When I’m on the road, that’s my way of living. I’m not in a relationship. A long-distance relationship (for me) doesn’t work. My plan is to stay healthy and finish my trip.”
Tic is no stranger to long walks. He trekked from one end of Slovenia to the other in 10 days in 2016. That same year, he walked from the U.S. West Coast to West Virginia.
From Marble Falls, Tic headed north, where his path led through Oklahoma, Nebraska, and both Dakotas before finding the best route through Canada and on to Alaska.
“When you do a long trip like this, the main goal is to get the best weather in Alaska,” he said. He hopes to arrive by the end of August. “In the U.S., it’s easy to walk. It’s not hard. I’m enjoying it.”
When Tic left, Bob Bewley gave him a copy of The Picayune Magazine to take with him to Alaska.
“He’s going to send us a picture of him, Carlitos, and the magazine from the Arctic Circle,” Bewley said, adding that he recently received a copy of a story about Tic and his stay in the Highland Lakes that ran Jan. 19 in a Slovenian newspaper.
Bob and Debbie were on the front page pictured with their yellow 1931 Ford Model T.
“I so admire him for pulling up stakes and doing this,” Bewley said. “He had a good job. He managed a sporting goods store for 10 years. He just decided he didn’t want to get to age 60 and say I really wished I would have done this”
Tic has no plans to stop walking anytime soon.
“My long-term plan is to walk all the continents,” he told The Picayune.
Hey! Don’t forget to take your copy of the magazine!