Thursday, June 21, 2012

Generous giving...

Day 49

I am currently 7 miles outside of Madras, camping atop another bluff my favorite spot so far. Around me I can see 7 snow covered mountain peeks and I have to admit its pretty amazing. To the east is high desert plain lands with a cell tower blinking in the distance. I'm starting to hear coyotes howling and its making me nervous for the night ahead. I'm posted up right along highway 26, which doesn't look as busy as I thought it would be.

Last Saturday I got a ride from Madras to Redmond where I got to stay with my old Youth Pastor (Brad) and his family. They had just moved the week before from Iowa to take on a local Pastoring position. It was so good to see him again, 15+ years later. We didn't get to sit and chit chat the whole time, we had a very busy weekend. I got to share at their church on Sunday (which went well until LeeRoy pooped on stage). I was well received at both services however felt like I articulated my thoughts better second service. After church I had another interview with the local news and then headed out to Brad's new house that they were moving into later that week. The previous owners left it in disarray so I helped by cleaning the fridge and other things around the house.

Monday I got a chance to hang out by myself a little bit while LeeRoy relaxed at a barn owned by one of the church members. I decided to go see a movie ( Men in Black 3), hung out at Starbucks and just had a normal day. It was so weird to not be walking or have a goat with me, to just be another face in the crowd. No one was coming up to me or asking questions, it felt like an ordinary day... which was kind of nice. Tuesday was moving day and we spent most of the day unloading the uhaul into the house. That night I got picked up by a lady named Lynn whom had spotted me on the side of the road a few days earlier. She invited me over for dinner and to hear of my journey. She happened to work for the local Boys and Girls club and invited some of them over as well. It was instant chaos as soon as I got there! Everyone was so excited and enthusiastic, firing tons of questions at me. We had a great time talking and goofing off the rest of the night.

Wednesday I spoke at Brad's brother in law (Dave's)  youth group. We arranged to have LeeRoy and I come out and speak to the group earlier that week. One thing I've learned is you have to take a different angle when sharing with the youth. What I try to do is be extremely funny and then hit them up with the Gospel, that way you keep their attention. The talk was interview style with Dave on stage with me. I had a good 40 minutes of sharing, being open and honest about my life, the walk and what God is doing in Uzima. This wasn't about raising funds or taking money from the kids, it was about inspiring them and showing them that God can redeem anyone and use anything for His Will and purpose... including a goat.

I was so struck by the response of these young people and their generous sacrafice. I know this sounds ridiculous but several Senior students were handing me hundred dollar bills in support of Needle2Square. A girl who must have been in the 6th or 7th grade handed me a white envelope with all of her savings in it, wanting to give everything she had for these kids in Africa she didn't even know. I was so touched by everyone's giving but especially this girl who gave all she had. Seeing them has inspired me to go further and push harder, to give more. I can tell you that when this walk is over and I have a job, I want to give and have a life marked by generosity because of what I've seen and the financial sacrifices others have made. If I end this walk and live a life not marked by giving then I have learned nothing and lost an opportunity of growth on a personal level.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

crying in public...

I don't know anyone who likes crying in public. I know when I cry, I feel vulnerable and I don't want anyone to see me as weak or foolish. Let me set the stage, I'm sitting in front of a gas station in Warm Springs  (an Indian Reservation) in Oregon. It was the first time in a few days that I could surf the web on my phone and check my facebook. For the past few days I've been getting text messages from friends, asking if I've seen the video Steve Turner posted on my facebook page. I was so eager to see it, not knowing what it was really about. Waiting for it to load on my cell phone was a struggle in itself, given I'm not very patient. When it finally loaded and I saw ST marching with the kids, hearing them say my name, saying I could make it... I absolutely lost it! 30 seconds in I had to pause the video, holding my face in my hands, weeping,  totally humbled to be a part of what God's doing in changing the lives of these kids. Feeling like nothing in my life has ever mattered as much as this... nothing is as important as helping them. I watched the next 30 seconds, hearing them quote scripture. I was a complete mess. I stood up raising my hands to God then realizing I'm in front of a Shell station and sat back down, not knowing what to do or how to act. It was overwhelming! For the rest of the day I had a hard time keeping it together emotionally. Every time I thought about the video, I pictured those kids and would well up with tears.

I don't think I articulate enough that this walk across America is not about me but about what God is doing in the lives of the children in Nairobi. Up till now I've never really explained how much money I'm trying to raise or really put any emphasis on the financial side of this walk. In the beginning when I was asked how much money are you trying to raise, I would reluctantly say $100000, thinking $100000 was generous... that it would be more then enough to build something in a 3rd world country. The crazy thing is that it actually takes $200,000 to build the orphanage... double what I thought so God has to do this. Only He by His Holy Spirit can use a guy walking across America to raise that much money and build this orphanage. So that in the end when the money is raised and the building is built, people don't say look at what Steve Turner did or look what Steve Wescott did but LOOK AT WHAT GOD HAS DONE! At times I doubt that its even possible to raise that amount of money and my fear is that somehow I will try to do it in my own strength.

Here's a thought that has been rolling around in the back of my head.  If I'm truly daily walking with the Lord then I should be able to stop walking if He asks...Not finish. What if I get to New Jersey and I feel the Lord say... your done, stop walking and go home. I want to say I would give up anything, I would do whatever He asks... but what if He asks me to give up this walk. Would I? Would I stop, being so close to the finish line? Its not about the walk.. God can raise the money without me.. He doesn't need me to walk... its His party... I've just been invited ... that is all.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

300 miles, for His glory...

I'm 7 miles outside of Madres and have officially hit 300 miles into this journey. I hiked out of Warm Springs to the top of a bluff, where I can look back and see several mountains with an amazing sunset of orange, red, blue, purple... just breath taking... something I've never seen before!  A perfect way to commemorate my 300 miles... picture perfect.

There's a lot that has happened the last 75 miles so lets rewind to last Friday. I woke up early that morning and headed towards Rhododendron in another day of nasty rain. I stopped every few miles for people wanting to take pictures and later met Jamie close to Dairy Queen in town. She offered to have LeeRoy and I stay at her house for the night with her family. Even thought I didn't put as many miles in that day as I wanted, I gladly excepted! After dinner, the kids went to bed and we spent some time trading life stories. She has had such an interesting life! She backpacked half way across Canada, worked on a cruise ship for a while, hitch-hicked to Mexico and a bunch of other amazing trips.

Its odd that I keep running into people that have had big adventures like the one I'm on. I'm not talking about a road trip with some friends, I'm talking about adventure seeking, mountain climbing crazy stories. Something that took long lasting physical endurance with little to no comfort at all. There seems to be this mutual respect that I've found within the backpacking/adventurer community.

The next morning I got up and had a late start getting back on the road. I only had 10 more miles to make it to Government Camp, which is the top of the pass (aka Mt. Hood). My friends Irene and Natalia drove out from Portland to see me. We loaded LeeRoy up in the back of her Lexus (the goat always rides in style) and headed to Government Camp for lunch. When we got there, it was really cold and there was clearly snow on the ground... that did not get me excited. I kept thinking the entire time we ate, "where am I going to camp, am I going to stay warm through the night?"

After lunch I was dropped off at the spot I was picked up from and headed back up the hill. Just before reaching Government Camp, a couple stopped me to take some pictures on the side of the road. While we were taking pictures, another car pulled up with a lady dressed in slacks and a button up shirt. She was the general manager at the Best Western Hotel in Government camp. Coming out of her car, she approached me with the biggest grin... excited she had found me. She said that the guests at the hotel have been talking about a man with a goat while checking in numerous times. The entire hotel was booked except for one room with a king suite that needed a sink fixed. She offered me the room for the night and said that it was "goat friendly". LET ME TELL YOU WHAT, That put some pep into my step. All I could think about was the jacuzzi in the suite waiting for me!

 I got to the hotel around 5 or 6pm and the employees were telling me that the entire hotel is booked by a group of hikers called Hight Pointers. What they do is go to every single state and climb to the top of the highest point. These are people from all over the world! Needless to say, a lot of pictures were taken and hours of conversation was had with LeeRoy being in the center of it all.

Let me paint you a picture... LeeRoy and I are sitting in the lobby, next to the fireplace (crackle crackle) making smores (mmmmm) and chatting with people from all over the world about Needle2Square and Uzima. It was pretty serial even to me! Later that night I jumped into the jucuzzi, turned on some basket ball and ate as much junk food from the candy machine that I could possibly eat. I can't tell you how amazing it was to sleep in a bed again and be in a room knowing I'm safe, instead of sleeping in a tent outside in the cold and snow.

I think so often times we as Christians sit in church saying, God I want to see you... I want to see something like the Old Testament Prophets or Disciples saw... the miracles....and question God, why won't You let me see those kinds of things. Yet if you look at all of those stories, these people weren't warming the church pews but out in the streets doing the work, needing God to show up in circumstances only He could show up in so that He gets the glory. I've never understood God's provision or experienced it as much as I have on this trip. My story is nothing like the Disciples or Old Testament Prophets, but I have a deep and tremendous sense that God is daily providing for me on this journey. I look back to the stories in the beginning of this blog, and I truly feel like only God could get the glory for all of this. These are not things that I did by my own power, or plan ... not even my cleaverness... just the Lord.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I made it over the mountain...

I made it over the mountain, from lush green trees to dry hot desert. I've experienced all kinds of weather from gloomy rain showers for four days straight walking all the way up the mountain to government camp, then blue skies and sun but still very cold. It was awesome to finally see the mountain for the first time. It was so cold that every time I took a breath, it felt like the air just seemed to freeze my lungs. The way down the other side of the mountain was a lot faster then going up. Four days to get up and one day to go down with the sun shinning the whole way.

I estimate that I have walked 260 miles from the Space Needle to my current location, its hard to calculate every single mile. Leaving Gresham I ran into a friends' fiance on the side of the road. We made plans to meet up in Sandy that evening for dinner. It was really good to talk with Taylor again after a couple of years since I last saw him.  We chatted about school, theology, church.... it was nice to fellowship. He invited me to stay at his house for the night and after a long day of walking I just crashed on his floor.

The next morning I woke up to an incredible rain storm! We hit the road and soon after stopped for some breakfast and a cup of coffee to warm me up. Not to far from there was a barber shop and I decided to get myself cleaned up a bit. I posted LeeRoy out front and went in for a haircut and a shave. While I was getting my hair cut, people were stopping in asking who's goat it was out front, taking pictures and asking if I was on the news or in the paper. I told them I wasn't here locally and before I knew it they were making phone calls to the local paper, leaving a message for the field reporter to come out and talk to me. I  finished up at the shop and headed on my way. After half a days walk, the reporter found me in the pouring rain and we did an interview in her car for at least an hour. She was really excited about my story and asked a lot of really good questions.

After the interview, I got back on the road and later did another interview but over the phone with a radio show. It was the first time I had to walk off the road and sit under a tree, soaking wet, cold and hungry while doing a phone interview. I have to admit it was hard to stay excited or upbeat in those conditions. I was getting to the point that I was just done for the day, tired and ready to post up. I thought I saw a campground on a map in the area a few days before but when I got there it was actually a skateboard training camp (not recreational camping) which would have got me really excited a few years back. I stopped by a gas station to ask if anyone knew of a campground close by and got to talking with a guy that worked there. I told him what I was doing and he said that he had some property a few miles down that I could camp on if I wanted. I actually ended up staying in a shop on his property where LeeRoy and I could finally get out of the rain and try to dry off for the night. To be totally honest...It was kind of scary staying in the shop. It was old and dusty... had no power or lights but it was dry so I couldn't complain.

At some point between Sandy and Brightwood I met a Police Officer who was waiting for me at an intersection off the freeway. The first thing he said to me as I walked up was that he's been getting phone calls about me for the past few days. People telling him that there's a guy walking with a deer on the freeway. As we were chatting, he told me that he road a unicycle from Seaside, OR to Verona Beach, Florida to raise money for the Shriners Hospital back in 1996. Crazy right! I got a lot of advice from him and he informed me of a few laws that will help me on my trip if I ever get hussled by the Police. I was very grateful to him for all his help. Later on down the road, he stopped again and gave me his cell number incase I needed anything and even offered to charge my cell phone as he patrolled all day and would later find me to bring it back.

I am continually amazed at the generosity of the numerous people I have come across since day one of this journey. Grateful beyond words....

Friday, June 8, 2012

480 to Boise...

Of the entire walk thus far, I am officially entering "survival territory".... well survival for me. Walking down I5, I hit a town every 10 miles (it felt like) this is not so when you cross through mid Oregon. Its forest, Mountain and high desert... oh my! Cities are scares to say the least, so now I really have to plan my food and water. Won't be walking by a coffee shop as often as I'd like. This is the route I am planning to take to get to Boise Idaho. If I walk 14 miles a day with 4 break days, It will take me 34 days to get to Boise. This includes my Birthday (the 23) and the 4th of July (which happens to be my favorite holiday). I will be bummed if I'm out in the middle of nowhere then. Hopefully there will be a firework stand somewhere... LeeRoy and I just might have to celebrate on our own!

*I may not be able to post as often as I'd like the next month or so due to service.*

 This might be a strange thing to bring up in a post like this and I'm not sure how personal I want to get but there is a lot more going on within me aside from the adventure side of this. As I walk, I have a lot of time to think... and a lot of things from my past keep coming up. I have already had to have a few difficult conversations to clear the air and make things right. I can tell that I am slowly changing as a person. I did not realize what a great gift it is to think... like to have time to meditate on things of the past and the kind of person I want to be in the future. With that said, these posts might get more personal as I believe the Lord is changing and redeeming me, I think it is important to be transparent. Makes me think of this verse,  Phillipians 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. The time that I spend on the road is time that I continually work out my salvation, making me more like Jesus. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

my route in a nut shell....

I've been asked many times to post a map of the route I have taken and where I'm headed. I would like to take this time to get deep into the details of a plan that has... no details.

One of the questions I've been asked many times is "Why are you heading south instead of east?"
The reason that I'm going south is because heading east would lead me to the Cascade mountains that are currently covered in snow. Being aware of my lack of outdoor experience, I saw the snow being a major issue to walk/camp in. Also if you look at a map of the U.S. New York is south of Seattle, not parallel. Either way I would have to head south.

Another question I get asked often is "Do you have a route you're following and how long will it take you?"
Originally, I planned on walking south till I hit the American Discover Trail, then follow that east to New York. My goal was to do this in 9 months. However over the last month of walking I have decided to throw out all plans... timeline and route. This walk will take me as long as it takes me and I will break down the route in chunks. Example, Seattle to Portland, Portland to Boise, Boise to ... maybe Salt Lake City. I've found that the journey is just as important as the destination. This is a once in a life time experience and I don't want to squander any opportunities that come my way. I didn't realize how much time it takes to talk to every person that comes up to us and wants to know about what we're doing. When it comes down to it, talking to people is a huge part of my daily routine if not as important as the walking.

* Below is a map of the route I have taken thus far*

I had mixed emotions about walking into Oregon State. I was excited to be one state down, but kept on thinking about the finish line... how it would feel if right now I was walking into New York. One of the things I wanted to do while walking into Oregon was to listen to a really cool song... something that you just groove to when you walk. However my ipad was on random and I didn't want to stop and get it out to change the song. Out of no where a worship song that I co-wrote with some friends from back in the day came on and I have to say... it was perfect! It totally took my focus off of what I've accomplished or thought that I was doing something special and on what God is doing. It was an awesome reminder of what is really going on here. More then ever I was reminded that this is God's work... and I just get to be a part of it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Barn Potato < Athlete Goat

 I continually monitor LeeRoy's health and I've felt like he's doing fine. I work with two goat experts
1) a pack goat specialist and 2) an all around goat expert. However because of other people' negative comments/ emails I started to doubt my training and ability to asses my own goat. Its funny because I imagine this is what parents feel like when other people try to tell them how to take care of their kids.

On Sunday afternoon I took LeeRoy to a vet out in Woodburn for a check up. I searched all over Oregon for a Veterinarian that deals specifically with goats so I could get the most conclusive assessment of LeeRoy's health and ability to do this walk. Through a series of phone calls and referrals, I found who I was looking for, Dr. Laurie.  Not only does she work as a goat vet but she also raises dairy goats and show goats that travel all over the United States.

I have to say, I was blown away by her wealth of knowledge in the pack goat arena. She came out to look at him, ran fecal tests, checked his heart, coat, eyes, teeth and even went over his stride. I asked her to check for any flaws or possible future problems I could face having LeeRoy. We went over each leg/ hoof individually paying close attention to anything that could hinder his walking. After the checkup she said that he is not perfect but well built and is able to finish this walk, no problem and live a healthy life.

My biggest concern about LeeRoy was his fluctuating weight over the last month. It seems to be the biggest thing other people question me on as well. She explained it to me this way.... there are barn goats and there are working goats. Barn goats have big bellies because they eat and sleep with little activity where as working goat are lean/ thin goats resemble deer in the wild. If LeeRoy had a big belly like a barn goat, he wouldn't be healthy enough to do this walk. He looks more athletic, like a cross country runner not like a sumo wrestler. Hearing this took a huge weight off my shoulders and gave me confidence about my care of LeeRoy thus far. The tests she ran came back negative for parasites, a clean bill of health.

With that said, there are people that are contacting me with their opinions/concerns who have limited understanding of pack goats and LeeRoy specifically. I would like to address them for the last time, that I am fully aware of all of LeeRoy's limitations and will continue to monitor his health through the entire length of our journey. Your emails are more of a hindrance then help and I will no longer be responding to them.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


I can't say enough in this post about Andrew and the people at Next Adventure! They have taken me from recreational walker to full on/ full scale through hiker. I meet Andrew about 2 months before I left on the walk while I was down in Portland. He gave me some great advice, not trying to sell me a particular product but seeing what works best for me to succeed.

Once on the road, I felt like my pack was just too heavy and I needed to find a way to get rid of the weight but keeping what I needed. I knew Andrew was the guy for the job! I headed to Next Adventure, where Andrew works, to get the "ShakeDown".  It was so exciting to see him again and tell him about the last 180 miles. I brought in my pack and we analyzed every single thing from the sleeping bag to the floss. The one thing he said that stuck with me the most is "don't pack your fears". Example, I got a 0 degree sleeping bag because I was afraid I would get too cold at times. It weights 4 pounds. That doesn't sound like a lot of weight but if I can get away with caring a 2 pound 20 degree bag instead that will last me 3 seasons but weight less, why not?

This was the process for everything I had. I got rid of extra clothes, miscellaneous items and decided to switch to a lighter pack.... as they say, "every ounce counts" and I'm learning that to be true.

Not only did Andrew take 2 hours of his work day to help me while assisting other customers, but he also helped me find ways to save on the cost of my gear.

Thank you Andrew for your invaluable information and for going above and beyond!

Friday, June 1, 2012

We got on the news...

Friday evening I received a phone call from Sarah at katu 2 news, saying she received a tip about my story (thank you La Center Moms for the tip call). We had an hour long conversation about the story of Needle2Square/ Uzima and scheduled to meet in downtown Portland at Pioneer Square at noon that Sunday. We arrived in Portland early that morning hoping it would be less busy, boy was I wrong...It got chaotic quick!I was having a hard time addressing the people's questions and making sure both them and LeeRoy were safe. Everyone wanted to pet him, thinking he's like a goat from the petting zoo.

At noon, Pam from Katu 2 meet with us to do the interview and we had such a difficult time! As I was trying to answer her questions for the story, random people interrupted us asking questions, wanting to take pictures, and touch the goat. *What you didn't see on the news* While I was getting interviewed a dad and his kid came up to us from behind and got down to LeeRoy's level to take pictures and pet him (without asking me). By the time I turned around, it was too late. I looked down and saw LeeRoy horn the poor kid right in the cheek. I immediately pulled him away, trying to make sure everything was ok, apologizing for what happened but the dad and his kid ran off without saying anything. TALK ABOUT STRESSFUL!!! I turned back around to finish the interview and the news camera was right there, capturing the whole incident. I felt SOOO bad! I had a hard time focusing on the rest of the questions that were being asked from that point on. All I could think about was the kid and if he was ok.

We finished the interview and headed back to where we were staying. The story was aired multiple times over the next few days in the Portland/Vancouver/Metro area. Now everywhere I go people ask, "are you the guy that was on the news the other day?" Thank you Pam and Katu 2 for the awesome interview! Since then, other stations in other cities have picked up the story and aired it as well.

Word is S P R E A D I N G!!!!

Check out the interview at