9 June 2019 - Linn, Missouri
People who through-hike the major trails in our country - the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, among others - are blessed at different times by “Trail Angels.” They are the folks who give hikers rides to and from the trail, who stash special treats and drinks in containers along the trail, or perhaps offer a hiker a bed, a shower, and a meal or two in their home when someone needs a break. As I walk across the United States, I have definitely been experiencing the blessing of “Road Angels.”
Now 14 weeks into my walk (98 days), I have only camped in my tent on two nights! Here is some of what I have experienced:
• People hosting me in their homes for one or more nights. The vast majority of these people I had not met before I began the walk.
• Individuals and churches paying for me to have a night in a motel.
• Restaurant patrons paying for my meal - it happened yesterday at breakfast - or restaurant owners giving me a free drink or a free meal.
• People shuttling me back and forth to my route for two or more days, which gives me the added benefits of stability (up to a week staying in one home) and walking with a much lighter pack.
• People offering me rides on numerous occasions. Because I am walking across the country, I almost always turn these down, but I have accepted a few short rides for safety concerns (mainly to get across narrow bridges with no pedestrian access). And even with all the rides that I turn down, it is wonderful that people are offering to help.
• Two days ago, a man stopped and asked what I was doing, and then drove into the nearby town and told his friend at a local newspaper that they might want to interview me. Within two hours, I was being interviewed!
• I have been given water and Gatorade and candy, and served amazing breakfasts and dinners by my hosts, and also been given what I need to pack a lunch, or driven to the grocery story to stock up on food and other items that I need.
• Most drivers, if there is no traffic coming in the opposite direction, will cross the middle line and give me more room to walk on the edge of the road.
• Many people - family, friends, and newly-made friends - have reached out to churches and individuals and found me places to stay and places to speak… further along my route.
• Along with making donations to help children at 6millionstepsforkids.org, people have sometimes written me a check or given me a few bucks to help cover my expenses.
• People share my posts on social media and add their own comments, helping to spread the word about my project.
• People have walked with me for a day or a part of a day, providing me with great companionship.
• Friends from Colorado who were on a trip to the Midwest found me and bought me dinner and new socks.
• One woman, a nurse, removed a tick from me and then gently massaged my feet.
• Friends in Colorado have invited my wife, Julia, to dinner, or phoned her from places far away to see how she is doing. In addition to caring for Julia, this adds to my peace of mind, too.
• My family and friends and new friends text and call me regularly to see how I am doing and to encourage me. This reaching out has a way of happening at exactly the time when I most need a boost.
• Total strangers find out what I am doing and then offer encouragement, thank me for what I am doing, or take the time to say a prayer for me.
To me, every single one of these people is a road angel, a person sent from God with a message. That message is one of love, encouragement, and support. And I can assure you, these road angels lift my spirit and do so much to keep me moving. Without them, I would not have had the great sleep that I’ve had, I would not have eaten nearly so well on this trek, I would have been lonelier, I would have been way more tired - physically and emotionally. Without them, I would not have walked successfully from South Carolina to Missouri!
THANK YOU, ROAD ANGELS! I am deeply grateful for you, and deeply grateful to God for working and loving through you.