Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hot and Muggy on Day 53

Day to day:
I recently entered Iowa.  I am at around 1,300 miles walked and nearing 3 million footsteps.  It has been very hot and humid these past few days.  Luckily I have had a few storms roll through to cool me down during the day.  Even at night it has been staying pretty warm and humid.  Last night I was just laying in the tent and sweating.  So I have been getting up around 3am to try and beat the heat.   This allows for a little cooler weather and the chance to get a few more miles in.  I have come to love mornings, they are peaceful and exhilarating at the same time.  It is a pretty amazing experience to walk through a town in the morning while everyone is sleeping and the town is quiet.  It is nice to see the sun rise and God's beautiful painting along with it.  As the world comes to life you tend get a second wind. 

I have to say that this heat has certainly been getting to me.  It has been getting harder to get up each morning.  Even at 3am it seems to be that I start sweating around 4 or 5am!  I am definitely dreaming of one of the luxaries of our century that is air-conditioning!

A little story:
So I was walking down the road from the town Holstein to Ida Grove, IA and I guy by the name of John stopped and asked about the journey so I gave him the regular spiel about the trip.  About a half hour later he pulled up again and invited me to dinner with his parents.  I was lucky enough to join them!  It was a big steak dinner!  It was a feast to say the least!   I have to say that it was seriously one of the best steaks I have ever had. 

Maps etc:

Also, here is the latest SPOT tracking beacon link of my location:

Some Pictures and Videos:

This is the video that Dann and Nina took as they came down from MN to surprise me (from their perspective.  I had no idea who it was as they came upon me.  Sorry for the sideways footage but I wasn't able to rotate the format.

Myself, Dann, and his wife Nina who came to visit me (and who fed me a great birthday meal too!)

Dann hitting the road with me for a 20 mile jaunt a few days back.

 My friend Joe dropped in on me too, along with my brother-in-law Todd!  I am so near MN that it has been a great blessing to see some friendly faces!  Thank you for the surprise Joe and Todd!  What a great blessing...  more than you know.  It keeps me strong!

"How good and how pleasant it is,
when brothers dwell together as one!"
-Psalms 133:1

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Two Million Step Challenge

Welcome back to the journey, Everyone!  I have passed the halfway mark (over 2 million footsteps) as I now enter into Sioux City, IA.  I plan to pack this post so I hope you enjoy all of it from some new pictures, videos (and some captions with the videos), new maps of my location, and a 'Challenge' that I am going to issue to all of you too!

One thing that I would ask if it's not too much trouble is to 'Share' this blog by clicking 'Share' when you come to this site, or by simply sharing the link with family and friends through email etc.  Thank you in advance.  The more people that see this journey, the more that we can hope to inspire to "Take their Faith to the next level" with us on our life-journeys.

The Two Million Step Challenge
There are things that I struggled with before embarking on this journey.  I am hoping that through this trip, and by the power of prayer and God's grace, to grow in these weaknesses or shortcomings.  I don't mean to preach but rather to challenge you too on some of these things.  And so I am challenging you to consider the following observation that I have seen on this trip (this is something that God has made crystal clear as an area that I can grow in):

In the first two million steps of this trip I have met people from all walks of life, and have come to find that sometimes I get caught in what I call my "Christian comfort zone".  What I mean by this is that I would tend to only praise God's name when I was comfortable talking with someone of similar beliefs, but am I really doing what Christ calls me to do?  This verse comes to mind:

Mathew 6:46-47:  For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?  Do not the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that?  Do not the pagans do the same?  

Throughout this trip many people have come out of their own "Christian comfort zones" to help me.  I am sure it is not easy to walk up to a guy that smells from about 30 feet away and looks dirty from head to toe...  But their taking action to come out of their "Christian comfort zone" has had such an affect on me!  Just like the song that I posted earlier, we do not know what our actions can do.  So, I challenge you to grow in this area along with me.  Maybe not always in speaking, but in our actions as well.  So lets get out of our "Christian comfort zone", and truly start striving to act as Christ did!

Some Pictures

 I met some fellow Americans who were also crossing the country.  One couple was going West to East, and as I was talking to them it just so happened that another biker going 
from East to West across the country stopped and talked to us!

 A very intense storm in the heart of 'Tornado Alley'.  "The voice of the Lord is power;
the voice of the Lord is splendor." -Psalm 29:4

Morning planning with a nice and hot cup of joe.

Now Some Videos

Meeting the fellow 'country-crossers'

When I came into a small town I went to a small bar to get directions.  Four nice guys bought me a cold drink and soon after one of them offered his farm as a place I could rest up/shower etc.  Thank you so much for your Nebraska generosity!  God bless you guys and gal!

Quite the storm!


Sounds of God's might (trying to weather a storm in my tent which nearly came apart...  I had to pack it up so not to lose my tent for good).

After singing 'Amazing Graze' I caused the cattle to stampede.  It works every time (it goes to show you what the quality of my singing voice is...)

Surprise appearance from some friends from MN!  Thank you Dann and Nina!  

Dann would be too humble to tell you himself, but he serves our country in the military.  God bless Dann for his selfless vocation of serving our country.  The fact that he would come to visit me and walk 20 miles by my side on one of his days off goes to show you what kind of great men we have protecting our Nation.

Some Maps etc.

Also, here is the latest SPOT tracking beacon link of my location:

Some Things to Reflect on From Mass Today

Sunday (June 23):  "Who do you say that I am?"
Scripture:  Luke 9:18-24

18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone the disciples were with him; and he asked them, "Who do the people say that I am?" 19 And they answered, "John the Baptist; but others say, Eli'jah; and others, that one of the old prophets has risen." 20 And he said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered, "The Christ of God." 21 But he charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, "The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third  day be raised." 23 And he said to all, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.

Meditation: Who is Jesus for you – and what difference does he make in your life? Many in Israel recognized Jesus as a mighty man of God, even comparing him with the greatest of the prophets. Peter, always quick to respond whenever Jesus spoke, professed that Jesus was truly the "Christ of God". No mortal being could have revealed this to Peter, but only God. Through the "eyes of faith" Peter discovered who Jesus truly was. Peter recognized that Jesus was much more than a great teacher, prophet, and miracle worker. Peter was the first apostle to publicly declare that Jesus was the Anointed One consecrated by the Father and sent into the world to redeem a fallen human race enslaved to sin and cut off from eternal life with God (Luke 9:20, Acts 2:14-36). The word for "Christ" in Greek is a translation of the Hebrew word for "Messiah" – both words literally mean the Anointed One.

Why did Jesus command his disciples to be silent about his identity as the anointed Son of God? They were, afterall, appointed to proclaim the good news to everyone. Jesus knew that they did not yet fully understand his mission and how he would accomplish it. Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD), an early chuch father, explains the reason for this silence:  

There were things yet unfulfilled which must also be included in their preaching about him. They must also proclaim the cross, the passion, and the death in the flesh. They must preach the resurrection of the dead, that great and truly glorious sign by which testimony is borne him that the Emmanuel is truly God and by nature the Son of God the Father. He utterly abolished death and wiped out destruction. He robbed hell, and overthrew the tyranny of the enemy. He took away the sin of the world, opened the gates above to the dwellers upon earth, and united earth to heaven. These things proved him to be, as I said, in truth God. He commanded them, therefore, to guard the mystery by a seasonable silence until the whole plan of the dispensation should arrive at a suitable conclusion. (Commentary on Luke, Homily 49) 

Jesus told his disciples that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and die in order that God's work of redemption might be accomplished. How startled the disciples were when they heard this word. How different are God's thoughts and ways from our thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8). Through humiliation, suffering, and death on the cross Jesus broke the powers of sin and death and won for us eternal life and freedom from the slavery of sin and from the oppression of our enemy, Satan, the father of lies and the deceiver of humankind.

If we want to share in the victory of the Lord Jesus, then we must also take up our cross and follow where he leads us. What is the "cross" that you and I must take up each day? When my will crosses with God's will, then his will must be done. To know Jesus Christ is to know the power of his victory on the cross where he defeated sin and conquered death through his resurrection. The Holy Spirit gives each of us the gifts and strenth we need to live as sons and daughters of God. The Holy Spirit gives us faith to know the Lord Jesus personally as our Redeemer, and the power to live the gospel faithfully, and the courage to witness to others the joy, truth, and freedom of the gospel. Who do you say that Jesus is?

"Lord Jesus, I believe and I profess that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Take my life, my will, and all that I have, that I may be wholly yours now and forever."

Psalm 63:1-8

1 O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where no water is.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
5 My soul is feasted as with marrow and fat, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips,
6 when I think of you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

God bless you all,

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Random Thoughts on Day 46

So I have recently hit day 46 and am nearing the halfway point to this pilgrimage.  If I eliminate rest days I am averaging about 28-29 miles a day.  In the morning the miles seem to fly by up until about mile 15.  After that they can tend to drag on and on. 

I just hit the town of Atkinson, Nebraska.  Towns are starting to come more frequently now.  I take this as a blessing!  After so many miles of not seeing anything but road, you start to look forward to a town.  It makes time go so much faster!  Your mind is able to keep busy with sounds, people watching, just noticing small details of the town, etc.  I seem to get really excited when I see lower speed limit signs (meaning a nearby town).  This also means water and FOOD!  It still amazes me how much I am able to eat.  I recently ate a 1 lb. burger with all the fixings and fries and I literally was NOT full.  Near the end of the day I am usually day dreaming of food, especially a homecooked meal by my mother and sister. 

It is really starting to heat up now and getting more humid.  It is hard to find a fine line of drinking enough water to avoid dehydration headaches and having to use the restroom too often.  I plan to get rid of my sleeping bag and buy a sleeping bag liner so that I can stay cooler at night.  I recently bought a cotton shirt!!! I have been dreaming about wearing cotton at night verses synthetic material.  When you only wear one pair of clothes for 46 days (all synthetic) you dream of a comfortable cotton shirt.  Synthetic clothing, no matter what, always feels damp when you put it on in the morning.  I also upgraded and bought a larger towel that is about two by three feet.  My last one was about six by ten inches.  This will be a blessing when showering. 

Since I started this journey I have eliminated the following items due to weight or lack of use:  Two pairs of socks, top and bottom synthetic base layer, two bandanas, pen and marker, knife sharpener, small mirror, compass, parachute cord, hand soap (I only use hand sanitizer), sunscreen, aloe, needle and thread, sauce pan, dish soap, and I'm sure a few other small items.  Soon to leave is the sleeping bag and water purifier.  It's amazing what is REALLY essential and what is just a luxury item. 

In between praying, talking to myself, and singing,  I have lots of time to think.  Some usual thoughts include family and friends back home (I have laughed out loud thinking about funny stories, and I am sure people driving by think I am crazy!), food, movie scenes and quotes, what I am going to do when I get home, my past and how I have arrived at this point in my life, and of course all the deep thoughts about death, life after death, etc. 

Many people have been asking me about the dedtailed aspects of daily life on this trek so hopefully this helps some.  Once again please continue to pray for me. 

Thank you and God bless.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Chain of Love

It's day 43 and I have just hit mile marker 1,082.1 and 2,337,144 steps.  After walking this far I have come to realize how much the "small things" mean to me.  Whether it is someone sharing in conversation with me, buying a cup of coffee, a meal, refilling my water, or a smile...  it means so much!  People do not realize the effect that they can have.  There are times that I have left a diner/cafĂ©, side of the road (having a vehicle stop to chat or share a gift), that I have literally just smiled for miles due to their kindness.  Their action had more of an effect on me than I am sure they would have thought originally. I only hope and pray that any of my actions will have the same effect on others that I meet along this journey.  Here is a simple country song that I would like to share that I have been thinking a lot about throughout these past miles.  I hope you find how moving these lyrics can be.

The Chain of Love
By Clay Walker

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Good Life

Welcome back to CrossAmerica!  I have entered into the state of Nebraska where their state slogan is "The Good Life".  I think that slogan is so fitting as life is a great gift that we can and should give thanks and praise for!

In this post you can take a look at my recent progress on the Google Map and SPOT tracking beacon link and some Bible verses to reflect on down towards the bottom (of this post).  Also, I have a couple new videos and a little write-up that I wrote several days ago when I was in Wyoming still.  Here it is:

As I neared the town of Lusk, WY (near Wyoming/Nebraska border), I had been in contact with a woman by the name of Pat from a parish that I planned to visit.  Nearing mile 31 for the day I came up over a hill before entering the town.  I had recently been praying for the blessing of more joy.  As I hit the crest of the hill a thunderstorm moved in soaked everything.  I could do nothing but smile.  I was literally filled with joy for the last 2 miles of the stretch.  I had multiple ride offers during this storm but had to refuse so to enjoy the moment.  The storm was invigorating.  

I was blessed with a meal from Pat, John, and Barb.  They also offered a bed to sleep on and a shower.  The shower was incredible as it had been hot recently and was 90 degrees that day.  

The following afternoon during my rest day I was able to join Fr. Andrew, Bruce, and Pat to the Wyoming Department of Corrections-Women's Center to celebrate Mass.  I have never experienced anything like this before.  As I walked in I was a little nervous.  Fr. Andrew asked me to share my testimony with the women.  When starting this trip I had no idea what God had planned for me, but as I spoke I thought to myself how I'd rather be hearing their testimonies and life-stories.  After speaking with a few of them, and one woman in particular, I was so inspired!  Some of these women had a better grasp of my faith that I do.  I left feeling inspired to "up my game".  I just wanna thank all who were involved, and the women at the facility, for letting me join them that day.

Here are a couple new videos:

And the latest SPOT tracking beacon location and Google Earth map:

I will leave you with some good verses to reflect on:

Psalm 16:11
John 6:53-58, 66-67
Colossians 1:24
Psalm 126:3
Isaiah 40:31

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Oasis in the Desert

Welcome back and thank you for checking in.  I am going to write a little summary of some of the latest happenings, but if you haven't had a chance to look at some of the previous posts, please do.  One that I feel especially strong about is the one titled 'Unity'.

Now for a little update, some pictures and videos, and the latest SPOT tracking beacon location and Google Earth map (I am cramming a lot into this one post but it's been a few days so it's due):

This past Saturday was day 35 since starting this journey way back in Seaside, OR.  I have walked about 880 miles and 2,000,000 footsteps at this point.  It rained the previous night, and as I packed up in the morning my gear was getting soaked.  As I walked out of this hidden oasis (where I was camped) at the Ayres Natural Bridge Park in Wyoming (this was located about a mile South of the Oregon Trail and was often visited by emigrants traveling West (In 1843, a pioneer described it as "a natural bridge of solid rock, over a rapid torrent, the arch being regular as tho' shaped by art.")), I was blessed with sunshine to dry everything out.

Thereafter, I walked into the town of Douglas, WY.  After 35 days of walking you really look forward to hitting a town.  It makes time go so much faster!  You are able to keep the brain busy with looking at your surroundings, listening to different noises, people watching, different smells, etc.  After running a few errands I decided to stop at an ice cream parlor to get some dairy and much needed calories.  A nice woman by the name of Nina paid for my ice cream without me knowing.  What a blessing this was!  There are so many nice people in this world.  I sat and slowly ate the ice cream, smiling after each bite and trying to savor every taste.

That afternoon I was lucky enough to get to confession and Saturday evening Mass.  Afterwards I was invited to enjoy dinner with Fr. Steve, Fr. Andrew (from Poland), and Dr. Kathy.  I was also able to get a shower for the first time in 11 days...  let's just say it was needed.  I was also able to wash my clothes for first time in close to 2 weeks.  The clothes could almost stand on there own with all the sweat and dirt (it's easy to take a washing machine for granted).

As I sat and enjoyed a 5 course European-style meal, I was forced to slow down my eating and check my manners.  I am used to shoveling the food in because I am so hungry on this trip.  I was also able to join in and listen to some good intellectual conversation (these friends were well studied).  This was somehow very relaxing after having talked to myself for past few days to pass the time.  I can also say it was interesting to hear my friends share bits of conversation in Italian and Polish.  This was a different scene than what I am used to of late.

When I awoke the following morning I put on my shirt and smelled the 'clean' of my clothes.  I simply smiled and tried to remember the short-lived smell.  I was able to attend Sunday morning Mass before hitting the road and they had music!  I got to listen to the choir warm up for about an hour prior to Mass.  As I sat in the back, the first song they sang was Amazing Grace, a song I had been trying to remember for the past few days on the road (a nice little gift).  I could have listened to them for hours giving glory and honor to our Lord.    

Some pictures:

I guess I am getting my Vitamin D out here...

Luke 10:19 comes to mind I suppose...

And some videos:

And the latest SPOT tracking beacon location and Google Earth map:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will. (Luke 2:14)
We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory, (Rev 7:12)
Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father (Rev 19:6)
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son, (2 John 3)Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us; (John 1:29)
you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. (Rom 8:34)
For you alone are the Holy One, (Luke 4:34)
you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, (Luke 1:32)
with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father, Amen (John 14:26)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Prayers for the Journey

I just thought I would share two prayers that I have been saying in the early morning hours when I first wake.  Through them our Lord gives me strength to start the day:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
-Thomas Merton

And the second:

May the Almighty and merciful Lord direct us on the road of peace and prosperity, and may the Angel Raphael be our companion on our journey; so that we may return to our home and loved ones with peace, refreshment, and all joy. Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us. Let us pray: O God, Who led the children of Israel safely through the Red Sea, and guided the Wise Men by a star to the Saviour; grant us, we beseech Thee, safe journey and favorable weather; so that, under the guidance of Thy Holy Angels, we may safely reach our destination and, in due time, the gate of eternal salvation. Through the same Christ Our Lord.

St. Christopher, patron of travelers, pray for us.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Entering Wyoming: Videos, Pictures, and a few words...

I recently hit day 30 and have traveled roughly 746 miles and have taken about 1,605,517 footsteps.  

I just want to thank all who have been following the journey so far.  Thank you for all the prayers, hospitality, and generousity!  I know that everyone is inspired by different things, and I do hope and pray that this trip will challenge and inspire peoples' lives to change for the better, but I have to say that I have been inspired by the many people that I have met along the way!  Their lives are the true inspiration!

Also, I can honestly say that I could not do this journey by myself...  period!  I would have gone home by now.  Recently I trekked from Dubois, WY to Riverton, WY.  This 42 mile stretch was very desolate and was the hardest leg yet.  It was very challenging spiritually most of all.  I may be redundant, but I genuinely want to thank you for all the prayers and support,  for without them this journey would be long over.  Please keep praying, as the power of prayer has been truly evident everyday.

Here are some videos that I hope tell the tale a little bit.  Enjoy:

A Comfy Culvert


A Real Treat and Blessing!

Better Than a Hotel

Some Good Music

 You Know You're in Wyoming When...

Mountain Air

Here is the latest SPOT tracking beacon location if you're following:

Some pictures to see the progress!

Monday, June 3, 2013


One thing that I have been thinking and praying about a lot is unity/ecumenism amongst all Christians.  By now, most of you know that I am Catholic but I want to truly welcome any non-Catholic who has been following this journey with me.  We share common ground in Christ so to me that makes all of us close-knit friends/family.

Pope John Paul II talked often about unity amongst all Christians.  In one of those instances (January 25, 2004) he said:  Therefore, let us never lessen our commitment to pray for unity and to seek it incessantly! Obstacles, difficulties, and even misunderstandings and failures, cannot and must not discourage us, as "confidence in reaching, also in history, the full and visible communion of all Christians" rests not on our human capacities, but on the prayer of our common Lord.

I think that as Christians we have a gift of each other all around, in our towns, schools, places of work, and in every corner of our life.  Like in this pilgrimage, we Christians are all striving for Christ who is Truth.  So let's journey together and without skirmish.

In John 14:6: Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.

Once again, thank you for all the prayers and I will keep praying for all of you.

Here is the latest SPOT tracking beacon locations:

Here are the latest images of my progress.  Looking at it from different perspectives is pretty interesting.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Road to Emmaus

The miles have been getting somewhat easier as I go.  I have now entered into Wyoming.  I am in the high country of Grand Teton National Park which is amazing as you can imagine.  My average miles per day have been getting higher.  A usual day consists of about 20-40 miles.  Some days the miles fly by and others I hit a wall after just 5 (miles).  I can honestly say that without prayer there is no way I could complete this walk.  The first three weeks of the trip I was blessed with incredible weather.  The last few days have been rainy on and off which make me really appreciate the dry days.  My feet are definitely getting tougher.  My friend Reid would call them "Hobbit" feet now.  As much joy as God has given me throughout this journey, I must say that I will enjoy it when I near the East coast.  I miss family and friends, but it is all part of the sacrifice.

Like Jim from Forest Lake, MN replied in one of my posts, our lives are like the road to Emmaus (Luke 24: 13-35).  Seek Christ on our road to Emmaus.

Here is a classic view of the path above, and below is a view looking due West from the Eastern edge of Wyoming toward the Pacific (I thought it was a cool perspective).

Also, here are a couple pictures of videos to help illustrate the journey better than I can write.  I met some great people along the way to share this experience with:

And some videos:

The occasional hot breakfast of calorie loading!

The middle of Idaho...

Craters of the Moon National Monument park

Craters of the Moon National Monument park