So, Tom and I have been in Iowa for a few days now. Today and tomorrow we are not walking. We need to give our feet a break. So far, we’ve walked across Wisconsin and crossed into Iowa– we’re in Manchester, IA now resting comfortably. We had a great week for miles including a 27 mile day which is a personal best for both of us. People have asked how we can walk so many miles. When your body is in motion, you just keep momentum going forward. It also doesn’t hurt to have your feet go numb. The pain tends to subside for a while at that point. When we’re done for the day, our feet hum and throb. It could be worse–they could be humming and throbbing in Iraq.
We left Dyersville yesterday morning and walked to Manchester covering 22 miles along the way. Thanks to Reicher Shoes in Dyersville for carrying big shoe sizes and getting me a pair of great replacements in a pinch. There are so many people to thank for making this trip possible. Yes, we’re walking. You’re making that possible. All those people who have declined to accept that need to understand that we really couldn’t do this like we are without you.
When we entered Manchester, we were greeted by a wonderful church community that prepared a small welcome for us with music, sloppy joes and hotdogs, water, and cookies. The members made us feel very welcome and even got us a hotel room for a night along with a police escort from our hotel to their church. I asked the officer to announce us entering by firing a few rounds off into the air. He declined. Ha. The only thing that is unfortunate about being here is that we’re out of Packer country. We had to watch Bears vs Vikings. It was a festival of schadenfreude compared to the excellence of the Packers, but trekkers can’t be choosers. Of course #12 has a career day and we can’t watch.
We’ve seen some interesting and beautiful things on our walk: Beautiful sunsets in SW Wisconsin and Eastern Iowa, deer and buffalo (they were on a farm), awesome Veteran memorials and monuments, a pastor who double as Abe Lincoln, a 3 legged dog chasing Tom, shoes exploding into 100s of pieces, Hardee’s that serve Mexican food, the list goes on. Thankfully, temperatures have been far more cooperative the last few days making for more comfortable trekking and a greater appreciation for the journey.
We have finished about 10% of our journey by miles. Despite the soreness in our feet, we are enjoying ourselves and feel fortunate to have met so many wonderful people. We have far to go, but we are as motivated today as we were when we left. Each community we’ve stayed in had been enthusiastic and supportive of our mission. We’ve met some cool Veterans who have shared their stories with us and shared how important our walk is to them. For me, the importance of what we’re doing hasn’t sunk in. I know we’re doing a good thing and helping Dryhootch and Veterans, but what it means to people, emotionally, is still not something that my mind can wrap around. I’m kind of slow on the uptake when it comes to emotional stuff or people explaining what is important to them. Ask my wife.
I miss home. I miss my wife and daughter. I miss my dog. But, this journey, beyond the help it is providing others, is helping me work through the issues that I want to focus on for me. I feel that the time I’ve spent walking and visiting with others has provided some new perspectives and allowed me the time concentrate on what is important to me along with how I can initiate some positive changes in my life. The next 4 months promise to help even more. And that is a wonderful thing.
To those who have donated to our mission, both Tom and I want to sincerely thank you for your contribution. To those who have hosted and fed us on our trip, we wish to thank you, as well, for your kindness and generosity.
Tuesday we take back off and head West. See you on the trail.