Wednesday, July 31, 2013

West Virginia!



It's day 87 and I have covered about 2,200 miles walking and am nearing 5 million footsteps.  I am currently in the mountains of West Virginia.  I have just reached Rainelle along Highway 60, or Midland Trail, which is a National Scenic Byway that used to be an old buffalo trail.  Getting into this beautiful scenery has been awesome!  Also the weather has been cooler and drier.  Since Charleston the road has been paralleling the river with mountains rising quickly on either side of it (the river) with small towns scattered here and there.  This has made the miles more visually captivating.  Your mind is always excited to see what is around the next bend.  People have been great out here!  I had a woman give me a bag filled with a packed lunch (which was amazing),  a guy buy a pizza dinner for me, and a woman named Cheryl let me camp at her campground on the river for free where I was able to enjoy a much needed rest day after a long week of 259 miles since last rest day!  

In the past I have always enjoyed my weekends off from work and the day of rest (Sunday), but have come to truly understand the meaning of the day of rest now.  I do not just look forward to 'not walking', but rather, I NEED it.  By the time the body gets to rest the feet have started to blister, the muscles are fatigued and are ready to relax.  Thanks to Cheryl at the New River Campground in Gauley Bridge, I was able to truly rest.  I sat on the picnic table last night and watched the sunset and the water go by.  It was so peaceful!  I could have sat there all night.  Seems to me that most people can experience God in nature and I would even say it hard not to.  I think we need to help more people experience this gift we have of God's great outdoors.  

I have been counting down the days now.  The Atlantic Ocean is nearing so quickly, but I am fighting, still, to live in the moment and savor every step that remains as well.  Every moment is a precious gift from God.

"Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself."
-Matthew 6:34

"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad."
-Psalm 118:24 

Below are some new maps, pictures, and videos to check out too.  Enjoy and thanks for checking in!  Check out how beautiful West Virginia is!!!








And now some videos...






Also, here is the latest Google Earth maps and SPOT tracking beacon link of my location:  http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0RqaCWQXIjE7D4bXX0MBtk3Xsm7XdnCAL








Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day 80's Reflection

On day 80 I found myself walking in the rain all day long.  It was a nice change from the week prior that was so hot and humid.  Most of my gear was drenched and when walking into the town of Greenfield, OH,  I was not sure where I would spend the night.  I was planning on walking through the night but decided to get a meal beforehand.  I went into a local pizza joint and got to talking with a guy named Pete, and his mother, Beverly.   Before I knew it she had made a few calls and I was going to stay in a bed and breakfast!  I believe it was paid for by her parish.  Thank you!  Thank you! Thank you! What a blessing!  I have never stayed in one of these before and was not sure what to expect.  I ended up having the house to myself.  I was able to clean up and dry out some gear.  In the morning the innkeeper, Brenda, made me breakfast.  We had a good conversation, and I left smiling after enjoying such luxuries.  What a great example of Christian charity on their part!

I recently passed the 2,000 mile marker!  It feels good to have gotten over that hump.  Once I get over the Appalachians it will truly be all down hill from there.  The terrain is slowly starting to change from the crop land that I have seen over the past few states.  The change of scenery is fresh and new and is greatly welcomed!

Something I was reflecting on in light of being happy for this change of scenery is how some days aren't necessarily extraordinary, but rather just a normal, long, strenuous day of walking.  What comes to mind is how this can mirror all of our lives.  Sometimes life is just a day of trying to get by, whether it's going to your job day after day after day.  It can be a grind sometimes.  Sometimes we aren't going to have a promotion, a vacation, an emotional high, a party,  or entertainment...  sometimes life can just be a grind.  But in the midst of these day-to-day trials we must have hope because Christ gave us that (hope).  It is very easy to love God and be thankful when everything is perfect, but when the cornfields grow dull and the feet sore, that is when we must truly hope and be thankful.  And then God brings forth a change of scenery like the Appalachian Mountains.  We must have faith and hope and our Lord will provide.

Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
-Luke 9:23

---

Also, here is the latest SPOT tracking beacon link of my location:  http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0RqaCWQXIjE7D4bXX0MBtk3Xsm7XdnCAL






Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 79: A few pictures and videos

 
This picture is from way back in Nebraska (if I recall correctly).  These two nice women were kind enough to pick up my breakfast that morning!

I met this gal and another on the side of the road.  They are part of group of 15 biking across the country to raise money for refugees in Southeast Asia. 

Ashley and Peggy, her mom, drove by on a hot day as I was headed into Lebanon, Ohio.  They were kind enough to go buy lunch and come back and drop it off!

Riding the wave...  the heat wave, that is!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Day 77

Welcome back, Everyone.

Here are some random ponderings of the day and an updated map of the progress.

This heat wave appears to be nearing its end in western Ohio (at least per the weather reports), where I am currently.  Today I am headed for Lebanon, OH.

I have recently started to look back at all that has happened during this journey.  It's easy to forget everything that has happened behind you and only think about the next town, the next meal, the next campsite, etc.  Everything that has happened begins to blend together.  As I started to ponder all the individual stories I found myself laughing out loud for many of them.  I have been blessed to have met so many amazing people! There are so many stories of kindness, generosity, and fellowship.  This still amazes me everyday. 

I cannot count how many times I have pondered buying a bike at a garage sale and just riding for a day or two!  Ha!  That would cover some serious miles...  even if it was red tricycle.  Also the thought of wearing jeans and a clean cotton shirt sounds so good that I cannot wait!  I plan to throw away these dirty, worn out clothes when I hit the Atlantic and get some new ones. 

Even after all these miles and days, I have found that I still struggle with having true genuine faith some days, especially near the end of the day.  Or when walking into a city as the sun is going down it is sometimes hard to think how God is going to provide, but He always does and it always amazes me how He does.  At this point I am still hoping to finish around the 100 day mark, but this is just an estimate.  I am literally counting down every day and every mile now, as the trip is becoming strenuous.  Keep me in your thoughts and prayers and I will for you in mine.  Don't forget to share/email this web site to anyone you think would find it interesting.  Below is the latest SPOT tracking beacon location and some Google Maps to illustrate the progress.

God bless,
Dan

Also, here is the latest SPOT tracking beacon link of my location:  http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0RqaCWQXIjE7D4bXX0MBtk3Xsm7XdnCAL






Wednesday, July 17, 2013

4 Million Step Challenge


Hello All,

As I have recently mentioned I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel...  and it is GREAT!!!  I have just passed over the 4 million footstep mark and about 1,900 miles walked!

I have been issuing little challenges along the way for every million steps walked to anyone who is up to them (the challenge, that is).  These are challenges that I have had during this pilgrimage and encourage others to work in these areas if they also struggle with similar things.  If you have not already read the past ones I encourage you to do so.  Looking back on the trip I have met many amazing people (I would estimate it has been in the thousands) that have gone out of there way to help me out, people being generous with their time, money, and energy.  Each day I am suprised by their kindness.  I have also met many people that have a bad taste in their mouth for Christianity.  Whether it is someone in their family or just an acquaintance.  This really saddens me because they have not had the priveledge to meet a true practicing Christian.  Meeting someone who is truly practicing their faith will change your life in one way or another.  I know because my family and friends were part of the reason I was moved to truly start practicing my Catholic faith.

Anyhow, looking back I think of the way I used to live and how people viewed me as being a Christian.  I would imagine that it did not inspire any of them to want to learn more about Christianity.  In fact, I probably pushed people away from it.  When talking to people that do not see Christ within these Christians, it makes me wonder if people see Christ in me?  Am I bringing people to Christ or farther away from Him.  There are even times in this trip that I wish I could go back and be a better example of what it means to be a Christian.

My simple challenge to you is to think of the way people view your life and how it makes them view Christianity.  Are your a Christ-like light to the world?

You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.  Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.
-Matthew 5:14-16

God bless.

Here are a couple little videos to keep you up to date:

Indiana Heat

 Indiana Humidity

Indiana Fruit

Monday, July 15, 2013

Day 72


So this past weekend I decided to take my rest day on Saturday.  I woke up from Kickapoo State Park which is West of Danville, IL (where I was headed to).  I try to keep my rest days under 10 miles of walking, but on this rest day I needed to make it to town and run a few errands.  As I left the park I accidentally took a wrong turn (my state highway map that I was using to navigate doesn't have a lot of detail).  I haven't taken many wrong turns on this trip, but this wasn't looking like it would be the much needed day of rest that I was anticipating.

Well, as you may have seen in previous stories, God provided once again.  I met a nice couple who was on a daily walk who were generous enough to give me a ride to a cafe near town, so I only had to walk 4 miles and not 8!

In Danville I ran a few errands and met some really kind people along the way.  There were no campgrounds near Danville unless I backtracked so I planned to walk through the night after attending Saturday night Mass.  After Mass I was offered a dinner with a bunch of parishioners and even a place to stay!  Let me tell you how much of a treat it was to sleep on a bed and in air-conditioning as the summer heat wave has been persistant.  This is just one example of what most days are like:  I describe it as "the stars aligning".  Well, with faith in the Lord, the stars simply will align.  Trust.

Some rely on chariots, others on horses, but we on the name of the LORD our God. 
-Psalm 20:8




Also, here is the latest SPOT tracking beacon link of my location:  http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0RqaCWQXIjE7D4bXX0MBtk3Xsm7XdnCAL

So it's day 72 today and I am around 1,800 miles walked and nearing 4 million footsteps.  I am estimating that I should reach the East coast around day 100.  I have been traveling North of Indianapolis in Indiana and am settling down in Lebanon tonight.  It has been super hot and humid lately.  It is the humidity that really gets to you and seems to slow down my miles traveled.  I tend to really drag during these days, and find it really hard to wake up and get going when it is already 80 degrees and humid at 3am.  At this point in the trip really I look forward to getting to the destination so much I tend to only take 2-3 sit down breaks during 30 mile stretches.  I really enjoy the semis driving by and delivering a big gust of wind that I tend to hardly step off the shoulder just to receive a little of the unnatural breeze.

Some other observations:  I am starting to miss the Nebraska friendliness of waves from passersby.  It seemed like 90 percent of the cars driving by would offer a wave and I would almost got sick of it but now I am missing that gesture as I find it diminishing the further East I get.  There are different kinds of waves out there too...  Who would have thought it...  Ha!  Lately I have been amused by the "family wave" which would be a car or van full of people and when you wave, everyone in the vehicle simultaneously lifts their hands and wave.  You cannot help but smile or laugh.  Another one is when someone seems to be overly excited to provide a wave.  I call this the Jeremiah Johnson wave.  If you have ever seen the last scene in this movie you can see Jeremiah grin as he offers a wave of peace.

I am at the point in the trip where I have started to count down the days, miles, and states.  I cannot wait to get back home.  That reoccurring thought of jumping in the Atlantic sounds amazing.  Whenever thoughts creep into my mind of self-pity for how hard this journey has been and will be, I just try to think how good I have it in comparison to other people around the world and even in our own country.  If I have a safe place to camp, even if it is boiling hot and humid, is not that bad.  How blessed we are!  Praise the Lord.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Welcome

I just wanted to say welcome to any new visitors to this site.  I have been on my journey since the beginning of May and have been updating this blog every two or three days.  I want to invite you to read through the many posts.  I recommend especially the posts entitled "A Short Story of Faith", "Portland", and "Unity".

A very kind woman I met at Mass in Peoria, IL.  She even bought me lunch and enjoyed some nice conversation with her.

 
Brothers in faith.

Also, here is the latest SPOT tracking beacon link of my location:  http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0RqaCWQXIjE7D4bXX0MBtk3Xsm7XdnCAL


Slowly but surely closing in on the East Coast!


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day 65

Hello All!

I just walked through the city of Peoria in Illinois and am approaching the 1,700 mile mark and within a week or two should hit 4 million footsteps.

Walking down the highway nearing Winfield, IA, I was flagged over by a family grilling out on their deck.  I walked over, feeling like my feet were dragging as I went.  It was hot that day and I was dreaming about some shade.  They invited me up on the porch for a cold mountain dew and some shade from the afternoon sun.  Before long I was enjoying a home cooked meal with the great family of Jeff, Diana, and Anna.  After eating, the sun was going down and Jeff offered to drive me up the road to the campsite.  We discovered the campsite was closed due to maintenance.  He was kind enough to invite me to camp in their yard!  It just felt like it was meant to be.  It was the Wednesday before the 4th of July and I was able to join them for a bonfire on their driveway and watch fireworks in the distance.

As I lay in my tent slowly falling asleep,  I thought how Christian that was of them to be so hospitable to me! Would I have done the same in their position?  I know prior to this trip I most likely would not have....  hopefully now I would.  This is just a clear example of people getting out of their "Christian comfort zone" and truly practicing their faith.  During these past few days, I have seen how generous and nice people can be.  I had a couple drop off some snacks like Gatorade, water, beef jerky, and candy.  Also, a woman stopped and gave me a spray bottle of vanilla for the gnats.  They had been bouncing off my head, flying into my eyes and into my mouth.  As soon as I sprayed that on my hat they were gone! What a blessing after dealing with those gnats for days.

After asking God for the gift of humility the day prior,  I woke up with a sore ankle.  I ended up limping the last 8 miles of the day.  It was made clear once again that I could not do this trip alone, and how much of a blessing it is to have good health!  That night I could barely bend my ankle.  The next morning...  Nothing!  No pain! It was pretty amazing in my eyes.  This whole trip has been nothing short of miraculous.  There have been very few rainy days, no bad experiences, and great people!

Saturday July 5th, I was looking forward to my cousins coming down for a visit.  It is always weird to see people you actually know.  I was able to join them for a night of camping which consisted of a sweet campground, swimming in a lake, fishing, conversation around a bonfire, and a breakfast and lunch the following day! Thank you Paul and Kathleen and cousins Bridgette, Gregory, and Alex!  This was very generous of you with your time, money, and kindness!

The past few days have been brutally hot and muggy.  I seem to sweat most of the day and don't get much sleep.  Even waking up at 3am, I find myself sweating within minutes of walking.  During these hot days there have been a few stretches that I would not have made without extra water.  Once again it was always provided! I have had multiple people drop off water bottles and snacks.  It still amazes me how kind people can be.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his mercy endures forever.
-Psalm 118:1

Visited by my Uncle Paul, Aunt Kathleen, and cousins Bridgette, Gregory, and Alex!

The Wayland, IA parade.

Eating dinner with Jeff, Diana, and Anna!

Brushing my teeth on the side of the road...

Enjoying lunch with my cousins...  What a blessing!

Either I have aged a few years from this walk or it rained a lot today!

Also, here is the latest SPOT tracking beacon link of my location:  http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0RqaCWQXIjE7D4bXX0MBtk3Xsm7XdnCAL




Friday, July 5, 2013

God's Country

Happy 4th of July Weekend, Everyone.  This 4th of July certainly had a special impact on me this year having been able to see the country so thoroughly through the sights of beautiful landscapes and friendly people from Seaside, OR all the way through to Winfield, IA.  The mere fact that I should have the freedom in this country to even do a trip like the one I'm doing is something that I am so thankful for.  I know this freedom wasn't free and many sacrifices were made to secure it for us all.

A thought that comes to mind is how the United States and it's freedom mirrors the free will that God gives us as humans (He loves us so much that we can chose right or wrong...  He will not force us to do so).  Maybe this is why the template of freedom has worked so well as a model for a country to follow.  

"I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him." 
-Deuteronomy 30:19-20

God bless the U.S.A. and thanksgiving for our freedoms that we have!  

Below is a sequence of images to put into perspective the scale of our country on this 4th of July.  The first image is where I spent my 4th of July:  The classic all-American town of Winfield, IA.

Looking East on the town of Winfield, IA where I spent my 4th of July.

Looking East on the town of Windfield, IA where I spend my 4th of July.

Looking East over the state of Iowa.

Looking East over the state of Iowa with the Mississippi river valley coming into view (top of the picture near Burlington, IA).

Looking Easterly over the states of Iowa and Illinois.

Looking more North-easterly into the state of Illinois with Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota sneaking into view.

Looking at the Midwest with the Great Lakes coming into view (the view is West in the bottom-left corner, and East in the top-right corner of the image).

And a view of the path taken thus far.

And finally a view of God's country on this 4th of July.  

Also, here is the latest SPOT tracking beacon link of my location:  http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0RqaCWQXIjE7D4bXX0MBtk3Xsm7XdnCAL


Monday, July 1, 2013

3 Million Step Challenge

This is a big post but hopefully you all find it interesting.  Enjoy.

My Plan vs. His Plan

It is day 58 and the weather has cooled down a bit and that is a GREAT blessing.  Right now I have walked 1,440 miles and 3,104,897 steps.  I just hit the town of Pleasantville, IA.

When starting this trip I really had no idea what to expect but I originally planned to walk every, or close to every step, of every mile.  That was "my plan".  God had another plan of his own.  Even early on throughout the trip I would get offered rides at "interesting" times.  I hitchhiked a few times the first week or two due to lack of faith, but since then I have only excepted rides when offered and most often I turn them down.  There would be a certain sense of pride that would have come along with being able to say "I walked every mile from coast to coast".  There was a lady a while back that offered me a ride and I accepted so I could make it a little closer to the campsite that I had in mind.  I only wanted to go 5 miles, and had my mind set on walking a specific distance that day.  After a 20 mile ride and a great conversation, it was very clear that that ride was meant to be and that I, and hopefully her too, would be inspired to grow closer to God.  As we parted ways, it was like a got punched in the head...  God was saying "this is not just about YOUR plan for the day".  This was made crystal clear to me.  Throughout this trip I am trying to learn how to go along with God's plan and not mine.  I try to wake up each day and have minimal plans, and just see where God takes me.  It is those days that are so fascinating to see how I have been blessed, along all the stories that come along with that day.  This is something that I still struggle with and would be blessed if you could say some prayers for me in this area:  That is, to go along with God's plan and try to be an instrument for Him.  I also challenge you to just contemplate what your plan is for today, this week, your life...  and then contemplate and pray for what God's plan is for you.

Jeremiah 29:11-13: "For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD..."

God bless all of you,
Dan

P.S.  Here are a few pictures (and captions), videos, and maps to help keep everyone updated.  Enjoy:


Maps etc:



Also, here is the latest SPOT tracking beacon link of my location:  http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0RqaCWQXIjE7D4bXX0MBtk3Xsm7XdnCAL


Some videos:



My Mom and Dad came down to surprise me (they live in Minnesota so as I passed through Iowa it was as close as I'd get to home).  They spent the day walking by my side!


Some pictures:


A rare night on an actual mattress!

My friend, Joe, also surprised me (since I was so near my home state).  Apparently he has a bit of a 'poet' in him because here is what he wrote about his trip down to visit me:  

"On the trail, on course, and in good spirits!  Chowing down on a beef stick with the back to a windy corn field in Moville, Iowa. Tractors rolling through town from the surrounding area and even out-state, backing up small town traffic on asphalt patched roads. Tan lines from boots, skin having a tint of orange. Spending the night on the fair grounds, sounded like he was able to save a few bucks on this site tonight (0$). Stocking up on supplies and groceries I'd say Danny looks a good 20 lbs. lighter then when he left but still keeping shape.! About half way their."

 

As Grandpa Fink would say "That's a beautiful thing to behold"
 My parents surprised me with a new pair of hiking boots, which I was in dire need of (compare the old sole (bottom shoe) to the new sole (top shoe)!  I guess that's what 3 million steps looks like on a hiking boot...  Thanks again, Mom and Dad!  That was unexpected!

 My parents and myself at a campground for the night.

Meeting friendly people along the way.

Hello, this is Daniel's eldest brother, Robert.  I wanted to add these (Daniel would be too humble to put these on the blog)...  but as a proud older brother I wanted to get these onto his blog:  He has now made it into two newspapers.  I thought they did a very good job portraying Daniel and his pilgrimage.  What stood out to me was Daniel's radiant joy.  Have a look:  

Newspaper Articles:



Responses to some questions I've received (about weather and day to day living):


So lately I have been getting the sense that I need a good beard trimming and clean up.  I have heard comments like (as I walked into a bar/grill to get some food), "We have a shower downstairs if you need it",  and (walking into a gas station I asked if I could use their restroom), the response was "As long as you don't shower"...  These are nothing compared to peoples facial expressions as I walk into a library, restraunt, grocery store, etc.  I usually just smile and kind of find it amusing.  I have also been entertained lately by peoples different waves and by the look on their faces as they pass by on the road.  Also, as I walk through towns, people will not even look at you.  

Today as I walked into the town of Carroll, I started to feel a little different.  Soon I was feeling a headache and nausea coming on.  I was near a Church and went in to cool off to what I took as heat exhaustion.  It took about an hour to cool down and feel a little better.  I have had a few questions lately like "what do you do when it rains?"  With this warmer weather, even if it is a downpour, I do not put on the raincoat, but rather just enjoy the cool rain!  It is simply a blessing.  Also "where do you stay at night?"  I would have to say that 75% of the nights are sleeping in the tent.  The most common places consist of RV parks, Campgrounds, city parks, and the random persons yard when invited to.  I try to get a hotel about once a week to clean up and get a good nights rest.  And I have been lucky enough to stay with a few parishioners at parishes along the way. 

Well, this was a huge post so hopefully it didn't put you to sleep.  Have a good one,

Over and out,
Dan