February, page 2
Journal entry, 2-17-06
Today I had to back track a few miles because I missed the road I was supposed to take. If I did not double back I
would have had to take the Interstate. I took Illinois Hwy 50 east to O'fallon, Illinois. My wife called me and told me I
was on CNN. I don't know how that happened, as they never interviewed me. It was a short story with a short video
clip that they must have taken from one of the television interviews that I did on my departure day. I am happy they
decided to put me on because it brings even more attention to Obesity.
I made a stop in Fairview Hts to recharge my cell phone and refill my water bottles. I met a very nice family that lived
in Red Bud, Illinois. Their names are Bruce & Terri Parrott and their son Scott. We talked for almost an hour and
Bruce invited me to stay in touch with him so I added him and his family to my new friends list.
When I continued on I ended up in O'fallon, Illinois. It was getting dark and I was worried about finding a place to
pitch my tent. Finally as I was about to leave O'fallon I noticed a small field across from Steak and Shake. So I
pitched my tent there in the dark. By this time it was very cold and I was very glad to get my tent up before I froze. It
was about 7pm and it took me no time to drift off to sleep in my sleeping bag. At about 1:30am I awoke and realized I
was freezing. The temperature dropped to the single digits and by 2:30 I realized my sleeping bag was not going to
keep me from freezing to death. I got up and decided to walk to the Steak and Shake which stays open 24 hours. It
never felt so good to get into a warm place. I ordered hot coffee, (I never drink coffee) and a bowl of hot soup. It
took awhile to warm up. I met some wonderful people there and they posed for a picture with me.
They were a very friendly group of folks and they kept my coffee cup full until I left at about 4:30am. I went back to
my tent and got back into my sleeping bag. I dozed off and was awaken at 5:45 am by Channel 4 news. They
wanted to do a live update so at 6:15am I went live on their news report via cell phone while still inside my sleeping
bag. That was kinda weird giving them updates under this extreme weather condition. I can say that Channel 4 in
St. Louis really is doing a great job updating my progress. I do not mind doing these updates. If it contributes
bringing attention to My theme, "Obesity in America," then I am happy to do it.
I have been walking mostly between 10am to 5pm. I have only covered about 27 miles in my first 3 days of walking.
This is due to the new arch supports I have. My feet will eventually get used to them and I will pick up mileage.
Just in case you wondering, My sister Kathy is helping me with my website while I am on the road. That is the only
way I can do this because I have no computer access while on the road. I send pictures via my cell phone and she
downloads them and I brief her on my events. Take care everyone, and I will keep on keeping you updated. Gary,
"Keep on Walking, one foot in front of the other."
Journal entry, 2-18-06
Today I realized I have freeze burns on my face and I didn't think I could make it through another night in the single
digit temperatures. I decided to hold up while I replace some equipment. I am strong and can handle the walk no
problem, but I can not walk in such extreme cold. The temperature will rise in a day or so and I can continue on. I
will keep everyone updated.
Journal entry, 2-20-06
Today the weather is supposed to get up to 38 degrees with a low of 22. So I will be leaving O'Fallon, Illinois today.
It looks like it should get warmer through the week. I updated my equipment a little to help me through this cold
The day for me started at 5:45 am when Dave and Chuck called me from the "Clear Radio Station" in Farmington
Hills, Michigan. These guys really do a great interview and I like talking with them. This is about the 2nd follow up
they did with me and they are great.
At 9:15, Dave and Chuck called from 93.7 FM out of St. Louis to do a live interview. These guys are great also and
they sent me a picture so I am posting it. They really are interested in my walk across America and want to check in
with me once in a while. My thanks to them for such a great interview.
My equipment is very basic. I have a backpack, 4 man tent that weighs about 10 lbs, a bag of tent poles, sleeping
bag that is open at the top (not made for temperatures below 30 degrees), 1 extra shirt, 1 extra pair of pants, 3 pair
of socks, 3 pair of underwear, poncho, jacket, 1 extra pair of shoes, 4 bottles of water, baby wipes, paper towels,
Bible, toothbrush, toothpaste, camping knife, sock cap, 2 lbs of health bars, flashlight, extra pair of arch supports,
small transistor radio, my cell phone charger plug, map, large bottle of gold bond power (to protect again chaffing)
and a small blanket. This all weighs around 40 lbs. Right now I can fill my water bottles regularly and that is why I
am only carrying 4 bottles. At times I will carry up to 20 lbs of water.
Before I left I tried to get sponsored for good light weight equipment, but had no luck. I could not afford it at this time
so I had to piece together what I have from friends. I am not complaining, I did with less at times in the Army.
I will post more on todays events later. Until then, Gary, "Keep on Walking, one foot in front of the other."
Journal entry, 2-21-06
Today I started walking early at 7:30am and walked a total of 10.5 miles to Lebanon, Illinois. About 30 minutes into
my walk Tony Smith, from E. St Louis, Illinois stopped and invited me for coffee. I declined and thanked him for his
offer. We talked for a few minutes and he said he had to go to work. Tony wished me well and I thanked him. He
seemed to be a great guy. To my surprise he then handed me a five and said have coffee later. I want to thank
Tony for his kindness. Folks like him make the world a better place. I took his picture but by accident I deleted it
before I had a chance to get it on. Sorry Tony about the picture.
After about one hour of walking I came upon the 1st Baptist Church just past O'fallon. I noticed several cars in the
drive way and decided to go in and ask if they would donate a Bible. I had left mine at home by accident. I met with
Stacey Palmer, Toni Edwards and Pastor Doug Munton. They were eager to give me a Bible. Pastor Doug knew all
about my trek because he had seen a news story about it and was following my Website. He had also mentioned me
in the Sunday Service. I took a picture of the three of them and like Tony's, I deleted their picture by accident as
well. I am so sorry guys. If you want to email me a picture, I will be sure and get it added here. After about 15
minutes, I was on my way. Thanks bunches for the Bible guys.
After about 2.5 hours into my walk I sit down to drink some water and rest for about 30 minutes. I was at the cross
roads Hwy 50 and Rte 22. While I was there a girl named Shaquandra McTillman from O'fallon stopped and joined
me. She asked many questions as to why I was doing my walk. Come to find out she went to the same church I was
just at and she remembered Pastor Doug talking about me. She Invited me to the eat at the cafe where she worked.
Once again I declined as I don't want to vary away from my diet. It was so nice of her though. She gave me a small
bag like a duffel bag and I was able to carry my extra thing in it. Thank you so much for your kindness Shaquandra.
Here is her picture, didn't come out so great because of the sun.
After about 30 minutes I continued walking and about half way to Lebonan I had to cross a very narrow long bridge. I
was worried that I might not make it across, But traffic slowed down and allowed me to cross. I can say, I think they
were touched by a very fat man trying to get across the bridge.
Right after the bridge I met Jon Edles from Bellville. He wanted to do a story for his school paper. I told him that
would be great. We talked for about 5 minutes then I was on my way. Good luck Jon with your report. This is a
picture of him. Thanks Jon for stopping.
As I was coming into Lebanon I met Lynn Woodcock and John Mould. They wished me well and I enjoyed talking with
them for about 5 minutes. Here they are. Thanks for stopping guys.
At around 2:30 I came into the Town of Lebanon. I stopped at McDonalds and had a Chicken salad. It was very
good. After about 5 minutes Kenneth and Cynthia Barner of Lebanon recognised me and we talked for a while.
They were really nice people. Here they are. You guys are great.
I want to thank everyone that takes the time to come see and talk with me and wish me a great journey. It sure
makes my day and takes the edge off of being lonely.
Now about me. I ate my salad and went into a field behind McDonalds and pitched my tent. I slept for 2 hours and
walked back to McDonalds and sit in the warm and wrote this journal. After the journal, I went to the station next door
and recharged my cell phone. While I was waiting there a police officer named David Heine recognized me and we
talked for a while. He was very excited for me to lose my weight. He offered me any assistance I might need and
said he would watch over my tent that night. He said call him if I got cold or anything. I really appreciate that offer for
assistance David. Thanks. Here is his picture with the store manager. Sorry guys, it came out kinda fuzzy.
Shortly I will be back inside my sleeping bag, thinking about life, listening to my radio and dreaming of being skinny
again. So, until my next entry, Good night all. Gary, "Keep on Walking, one foot in front of the other."
Journal entry, 2-22-06
Last night was a very crazy night. I woke up at 1:30 am this morning because of an owl landing on the top of my tent.
I thought the owl was going to tear my tent down. He sat on my tent for nearly an hour hooting ever 30 seconds or
so. I have no Idea why he did that, but he eventually went away. I dozed on and off until 6:30 this morning.
I received a call from a lady that made a phone call to REI, Recreation Equipment, Inc, (which is a sporting and
outdoors equipment supply) and asked them to sponsor me for new equipment. Danny O'neal the manager of the
Brentwood store called my wife and said come get our new equipment. I made arrangements for my wife to come
and pick me up this morning and take me to the store so I could fit the sleeping bag. I now have a new backpack,
new tent, new self inflating air mat and new mummy type sleeping bag that is rated to 15 degrees. I am so happy
that I now have great gear at only half the weight I was carrying. You can see a picture of Dan and me wearing my
new gear on my February pictures page. Here is one of Dan in his store.
I won't be getting as cold as I did before. Thank you Dan and the lady that made the call. She does not want her
name published and wants her privacy respected.
As I was waiting for my wife to pick me up I met a few others at McDonalds.
I met Antonio Buffo at McDonnads and he offered to help me in any way he can. He said he would come and get me
If I got stranded. Thank you Antonio for your offer.
Kristen, the second from left has a
two year old son named Brian that
has asthma and She would appreciate
any prayers that his condition will
Very nice girl. Thanks
for your kindness.
& John Mould
Kenneth & Cynthia Barner
Danny O'neal, Manager
Brentwood REI Store
David Heine (on left)
Store manager(on right)