In the days that followed that initial conversation with Gayle, I floated my trial balloon of an idea past a handful of people. The reactions ranged from fear for my life to the same patronizing disbelief you’d extend to a 5-year-old who tells you he’s going to jump over the moon.

After all, at the time Iran was most famous in the American media for imprisoning three young American men who had strayed across the border while hiking in Iraq.

But I was midway through a book written by a Scottish Member of Parliament who had walked across Afghanistan after having walked across Iran and Pakistan.

And I knew of an Australian who had walked across Iran in 2010. And for years I had had friends in Istanbul who did business in Iran and flew there regularly.

The needle could be threaded, maybe it would just have to be threaded carefully.

Walking across Iran, especially for an American, is not something you want to screw up. It is not something you want to abort halfway through because of technical difficulties, and it’s not something you want to get arrested doing. Starting, but not completing, the journey would completely defeat the purpose. If you’re going to stick your hand in a cookie jar, you’d better come out of it with a cookie.

So I figured I should work out the kinks first. That’s how I came around to the idea of walking across Turkey. Why not practice on a country you’re familiar with and already know your way around?