Journal entry, 3-1-06
Today I started walking at 8 am.  I only had 10 miles to go to Salem.  Terri Marcum set me up with a motel room at the
Salem Inn.  (I would like to thank Salem Inn for donating me a room and making me feel welcome).  When she called
me and said it was set up, I was double anxious to get there to take a hot shower.  3 miles into my walk I came to a
town called Odin.  It had a store so I stopped to buy a few things and charge my cell phone. The  manager initially
refused to allow me to charge it.  Another customer told her what I was doing and reluctantly she allowed me to charge
it but insisted I don't take too long.  I charged it for 15 minutes which only gave me one bar.  I would like to mention I
had spent almost $5.00 there and wasn't trying to get a freebie.  I'm only mentioning this to let you know how hard it is
sometimes to just charge my phone.  Most people have no problem with it though.  A special thanks goes out to them.

When I got a mile out of Odin, a man named Royce Bringwald stopped to talk.  He offered to put me up for the night. It
was great talking with him.  He is Vice President of Twisted Stick Inc.  They manufacture hunting garments. There
website is:  He had also walked across state before.  He gave me his phone # and asked me to
give him a call when I get to Salem.

I got to Salem about 2:30PM.  Salem seemed to be a nice town. I found my motel right away. I was so happy to get
inside my room. I fell sideways on the bed with my pack still on. I laid that way for about 30 minutes.

I remember when I was young I would lay in the grass and look up at the clouds. Sometimes you could pretend you see
things in the clouds, or you can watch them move ever so slowly. As I grew older I stopped doing things like that, mainly
because of ants, snakes and other critters that live in the grass. But now, once again I lay in the grass to rest. I get so
tired and there is no where else to rest. I am learning that getting out of my comfort zone is not so bad. I guess over
the years I put up a lot of defensive shields to protect myself. But now I think I have to tear a few shields down just to
allow myself to lose this weight. I am also finding out that it is OK to tear a few shields down. I am beginning to realize I
am not only losing weight. I just might be tearing down some walls that have been keeping me fat.

I used to feel that people with backpacks were jobless and would rather live off others. Now that I am walking with a
backpack I feel the mistrust and how cold some people can be. I went into one store after walking all day and ask the
store owner if there was a restaurant in town. He looked me up and down and said there was no restaurant that would
allow me in. I made eye contact with him for a few moments and knew he thought I was a homeless Bum. I thanked him
and simply walked out. As I got outside I felt tears well up inside my eyes. I fought to hold them back but like a dam that
burst my tears flowed. I wasn't sobbing because of the way he treated me, but because I saw myself in him. I ask God
to forgive me for judging others and trust now I will be a better man for it.

I finally took off my backpack and jumped into the hot shower. At about 7:45PM I went to Denny's to meet Terri so we
could discuss friday's walk. Soon after that I was back in my room. No TV, only the enjoyment of a nice soft bed. In only
moments I was sound a sleep. Gary, "Keep on Walking, One Foot in Front of the Other."

Journal entry, 3-2-06
Today I Weighed!!!  Up until now I was guessing how much I weighed.  I knew the last part of last year I weighed
380lbs.  Now after walking a total of 3 months I weigh 352 lbs.  If you figure the clothes I was wearing I am probably
right at 350.  Now I know for sure how much I weigh.  

Terri picked me up this morning and took me to her gym class.  I met some of the folks that work out in her morning
class.  I talked to them for about 10 minutes and we began to exercise.  I worked out with everyone and it felt great.  
Terri was the instructor and she held no punches as she put her class through a great workout.   I was so impressed
with everyone there.  I listened to everyone tell about their own battle to lose weight.  To me they are all heroes
because they are able to lose weight the conventional way, a way which I failed in.   After that we went to Austins
Restaurant in Salem.  They sponsored my lunch there and I had a nice salad and a nice roasted chicken dinner.  I
would like to say thank you to those nice folks at Austins Resturant.

We then went to the WJBD Radio Station 100.1 Fm to do an Interview.  Here is a picture of the Crew at their radio

After that we went to weigh in.  Terri found a feed store that had a set of scales that went up to a thousand lbs.  After I
weighed Terri and Bradley (her son) invited me over to their house.   There I was able to get on her computer and
read and answer some emails.  After that we went to her afternoon gym class and I got to meet some more of her
students.   My wife Cheryl came down to do the walk with us on Friday.  That afternoon we went to Apple bees to have
dinner.  Terri had arranged for me to receive a sponsored breakfast and dinner for both days I was there.  We had a
great dinner and Cheryl and I returned to our motel room for the evening.   Take care all, Gary, "Keep on Walking, one
foot in front of the other."

Journal entry, 3-3-06
This morning we were to meet at the "The Little Tulsa Cafe for breakfast.  Once we were there we had a warm welcome
from everyone that was already there. We met the Mayor and his wife Leonard and Carol Ferguson along with some of
our new friends from the gym.  

We met Rita Walker (She sponsored our breakfast), the owner of the Little Tulsa Cafe and the waitress, Renee Lamb.  
Everyone there presented me with a shirt to wear during our walk.  It said fat man walking thru Salem Illinois.  It was
donated by Mike Bolton, owner of the Minor League Sporting Goods.  Everyone signed it and I plan to donate it to the
Little Tulsa Cafe.  They said they would hang it on the wall.  After Breakfast we all walked across the street to the Court
House.  There the Mayor presented me with a Salem T Shirt that said on the front, "Haven't you heard" and on the
back it said "Salem is a great place to live."  He also gave me an Illinois State emblem to wear on my hat.

We walked 7.1 nonstop miles.  It was great.  I can verify these ladies are very fit when it comes to walking.  They did a
great job.  It took 2hours and 45 minutes for everyone to complete the walk.  After the walk, Cheryl and I started
heading back to our motel room.  

On the way we heard a noise coming from the motor.  We went to find a garage to get it looked at and we stopped at
Martins Service Center just before closing time.  I met Buddy Mulvaney who checked out my truck and found it was the
Alternator.  He was barely able to get another one from the part store before they closed.  After putting the new one
on, we got less then 5 minutes away and the voltage meter jumped up to 20 volts.  I went back and Buddy told me the
parts store sold me a bad alternator.  Another guy was there from O'Reilly's part store and made a call all the way to
Mt. Vernon.  He had someone from there bring me a brand new alternator.  About an hour later the alternator came
and Buddy stayed open to put it on.  I would say total time he spent was 2 hours after closing time.  I want to thank
Buddy Mulvaney and Clint Hunter from O'Reilly's part store.  You guys sure went above and beyond to help me and my
wife Cheryl out.  Here is their picture.

After getting the truck fixed we met Terri, her son Bradley and Her daughter Milissa Marcum for dinner.  Milissa is a die
hard fan and is totally in love with Dr. Travis Stork from Nashville, Tn.  He was the star that played the Bachelor in
Paris.  Milissa is currently being interviewed for the next episode of The Bachelor.  Good luck Milissa.

After dinner, we went back to the Motel.  It was a truly wonderful day.  The town of Salem is truly a wonderful place to
live.  If I ever move to Illinois, it would be impossible to determine where to live.  My heart would be torn between Salem
and Breese.  Anyway, Good night all.  Gary, "Keep on Walking, one foot in front of the other."
Royce Bringwald
Salem, Illnois
Here are some of the
morning students I
worked out with.
From left, Gayla Ferguson,  
Ramonda Wilson, Janet Pratt,
Terri Marcum, Carol Ferguson,
And Mayor Leonard Ferguson
Pictures furnished by Janet Pratt
From left, Todd Dekalb,
Terri Marcum, Scott
Zak and Kim Beard
Here is everyone as
we were about to walk.
Some of the walkers
Everyone at the finish.
Me and Cheryl with the Mayor and
his wife, Gayle Ferguson, Terri
Marcum, on the Court House steps
Milissa Marcum,
Salem, Illinois
Sandy, because of her
work schedule, she only
could walk half way.
On left, Clint Hunter with
O'Reilly auto parts, and
Clint Mulvaney with
Martins Service Center.
Click here to go to March Journal page 2
Front: Janet Pratt,
Sandy Anderson
Back: Ramonda
Wilson, Carol
Ferguson, Salem
Mayor Leonard
Cheryl Long, Gary
Long, Gayle
Ferguson, Tina
Finkbone, Terri
Lisa Perry & Pat