From May 2014 to March 2015, I road-tripped the continent in my Mitsubishi Galant. I called the trip #RunningTo, and it was the time of my life.
You can relive my entire trek with the map above: a clickable collage of blogs, photographs, and videos.
Here’s how it all started from Fullerton, California:
I’ve since written a book about my journey! It’s my second book, Running To: In Search of Home on the Road. Click here for more info, and watch the official book trailer below!
I assembled a Spotify playlist of songs enjoyed and suffered on the road. May you enjoy and suffer along with me:
You can read my entire Running To blog archive below, including weekly photographic recaps and stories that didn’t quite make the cut for my book.
08 march 2015 | #RunningTo Weeks 39-40 in Review: Watkinsville & Athens, GA
The final two weeks of my road trip took me home to my parents and a smattering of old friends in the Watkinsville/Athens, Georgia area. It was a fitting end for a nine-month journey that took me coast to coast. A chance to recharge and refuel and reunite with some of the dearest people in my life. Enjoy these final images from the wandering year that was, and stay tuned for the next chapter yet to be! ( Read more . . . )
04 march 2015 | My Road Trip Finally Ends This Weekend and I’m Terrified
Nine months. Nine months and a week, actually. 40 weeks: that will be the ultimate span of this#RunningTo road trip.
Before I left southern California last May, I had no clue how long the road would wind. Your guess would have been as good as mine. Two months? Seven? Seventy times seven?
The longer I ventured and the more I saw, the more my mouth fell agape; the longer I ventured and the more people I met, the more amazed I grew by humanity’s collective beauty.
The longer I ventured, the less I wanted this trip to end. I still don’t want to see that finish line, if I’m being honest. I’ve made it back to my parents’ house in Georgia, my old home of yesterlife, and more than anything right now I don’t want #RunningTo to run out.
My road trip finally ends this weekend, and I’m terrified. ( Read more . . . )
It was a tale of two mountains in Week 38 of #RunningTo. First, Signal Mountain in Tennessee; then, Stone Mountain in Georgia. I blogged about the former adventure of a Valentine’s Day hike with my brother. I posted many pictures in that post, including the mile-long romantic/tragic trail of rock-graffiti.
All in all a very lovely Valentine’s Day, indeed.
Stone Mountain is a place I’ve visited many times as a kid, so I wasn’t necessarily eager to return. But then I considered hiking up the mountain rather than riding the monorail like every other time. I semi-spontaneously opted for the wintery hike, and I’m so glad I did. The winter wonderland I found along the way and atop the summit were spectacular sights to behold. ( Read more . . . )
18 february 2015 | I Don’t Entirely Know Who I Am Anymore
Last week was a great week. I reunited with my parents, brother, sister, and brother-to-be. Parties and meals and heart-to-heart conversations all affirming how blessed I am.
On Valentine’s Day I spontaneously trekked to Signal Mountain in southern Tennessee with my brother and his roommate. The hilarity of three dudes doing dude-things in the mountains on a day devoted to romantic bliss combined with Mother Nature’s sweet allure made it a good day. A glad day.
But my Valentine’s Day was a glad day that was also a sad day. It was a glad day that was a sad day reminding me my year-long, cross-continent quest is fast concluding. ( Read more . . . )
14 february 2015 | #RunningTo Week 37 in Review: Back to Alabama & Tennessee
I’M BACK. Back for another #RunningTo Week in Review, and back to some familiar paths once wandered.
Last week, I conquered my quest for the Lower 48; this week, I decided to retrace some steps taken a few months ago. I surprised my sister at her engagement party in Alabama, and I finished recording my Struggle Central audiobook in Tennessee.
From family to friends to Couchsurfers of yestermonth, the past week featured some fun reunions. It was one of those weeks that reminded me this trip has always been about the people; the places have been entirely secondary. ( Read more . . . )
10 february 2015 | The First Time I Leapt for the Unknown
A friend recently told me my life is crazy. You know, this whole “driving around the continent and staying with strangers for nearly a year on end” deal. Ten years ago, he said he wouldn’t have believed I’d ever do something like this. I agreed with him; I wouldn’t have believed me either.
I’ve taken a lot of crazy leaps these last few years, this #RunningTo road trip included. But the craziness had to start somewhere.
Before this road trip, there were the youth camps — summer excursions to Milwaukee, then Ridgecrest. Leaps into the geographical and emotional unknown alike.
Before the youth camps, there was my cross-country move — a 2,300-mile do-over deep into the wild, wild west. A leap into the unknown of rent checks, community, and adulthood.
But before all of those unknown leaps, there was the first unknown leap. ( Read more . . . )
06 february 2015 | #RunningTo Week 36 in Review: Savannah, Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Brewton-Parker College
ONWARD. My road trip may be nearing the end, but I still found some places in the Southeast worth wandering. Week 36 rounded out my quest for the Contiguous 48.
First up, Savannah. I can’t believe I’d never explored this city until now. The spooky/ethereal Spanish Moss trees make for some of the sweetest streets and city squares I’ve ever seen. LOVE Savannah.
Next, I ventured further south to the Sunshine State, my first appearance here since #FlyingTo took me to West Palm Beach way back in August. This time I didn’t trek quite as south, though I did make some stops in Jacksonville and St. Augustine, two more cities I’d never before seen. St. Augustine especially fascinated me. How has this city existed since 1565?! Insane.
Finally, I turned north and returned to some familiar South Georgian farmland, visiting old college friends and even reuniting with my old collegiate home of yesteryear: Brewton-Parker College. ( Read more . . . )
02 february 2015 | #RunningTo VLOG: Hunting Island Lighthouse
I’M SORRY, GUYS. I haven’t posted nearly as many video blogs as I envisioned doing prior to #RunningTo. Lately I’ve been posting some 10-second video clips on Instagram, but it’s not the same as epic explorations sprinkled with word vomit.
I promise this wandering vlog isn’t as gross as I just described it. It comes from DAY 243 of this long journey as I scale the Hunting Island lighthouse on the southeastern shores of South Carolina! Hunting Island was such a unique experience — where tropical jungle meets sandy beach.
Wander with me 136 feet into the heavens as I talk about the insanity of oceans and Kickstarters and the ultimate endgame of this trek! ( Read more . . . )
31 january 2015 | #RunningTo Week 35 in Review: Columbia, Charleston, Hunting Island
Hey there, my wanderers! It’s time for another installment of my photographic review from the wandering week that was.
My week started in Columbia, by far one of my favorite stops of this whole trip for the people alone. I had a strong connection to this obscure city from a friend in California, and it was awesome to connect those dots these many months later. I’ll miss everyone in South Carolina’s esteemed capital!
From Columbia it was off to Charleston, a picturesque coastal city I’d never before explored. It was actually my SECOND Charleston of this trip, thanks to West Virginia’s capital city. I had a couple days to explore the city and its gorgeous surroundings, and it was worth every second.
I continued down the coast to Hunting Island and found many gems along the way. ( Read more . . . )
24 january 2015 | #RunningTo Week 34 in Review: Charlotte, Greenville, Columbia
Sweet Carolina. From North to South, I can’t escape. And I’m loving it.
Week 34 of #RunningTo took me from the Queen City of Charlotte to a couple cities in that other Carolina to the south. Charlotte gave me some great views and, shall we say, eclectic restaurants. Greenville provided quite the artsy park. And then there was Columbia, the capital city with rivers and oversized fire hydrants.
It’s been another wonderful week on the road. Check out my favorite moments from the wandering week that was! ( Read more . . . )
21 january 2015 | North Carolina Never Disappoints
North Carolina has always been good to me. Well, I mean, there was that whole Ridgecrest debacle — but that only lasted a couple weeks. The rest of that 2012 summer quite literally changed the rest of my life.
Then there was another North Carolinian summer in 2007 — that time me and my siblings took our first solo road trip to the Outer Banks, sans parents. It was new, it was invigorating, and it was terrifying as we nearly ran out of gas at 2am. Ah, we were so young and naive.
But we survived. In fact, that drive with Mitsy down the Cape Hatteras sliver of a seashore was perhaps the first time the road ever called out to me. Whispered my curious name.
North Carolina has long had this particular affinity for inspiring me. Beckoning me toward growth. And so, should I have expected anything less than spectacular as #RunningTo took me on yet another jaunt through this story-filled Carolina? ( Read more . . . )
Now that the holidays have come and gone, it’s time for me to reassume some familiar routines: namely, recapping the wandering week that was! Here’s what went down this past week — my 33rd on the road.
I exchanged my family in eastern Pennsylvania for Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and it was gorgeous. The Chesapeake Bay has a thing for quaintness and crabs, and I wish I’d had more time to wander there. I reckon Eastern Shore springs and summers must be fantastic existences.
I then ventured southward across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, a mammoth 17-mile connector from one piece of Virginia to another. From a rainy Norfolk I embarked across North Carolina, stopping in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill — “The Triangle,” as they call it here in the Tar Heel State.
From the places to the people, North Carolina has quickly ascended my list of favorite states. ( Read more . . . )
13 january 2015 | Don’t Ever Celebrate New Year’s in New York
I could’ve played it safe. Playing it safe is comfortable and easy and it’s what everyone else expects of you.
Instead, I rang in the new year at Times Square. You might’ve heard. It was a semi-impromptu decision between me and a good friend.
I’m glad I did it — glad we did it. I imagine celebrating New Year’s at Times Square is something 90% of the population has on their bucket list but 90% never do.
I mean, it takes a ton of effort to do New Year’s in New York.
First, you have to get there — by train or plane or some other miscellaneous vehicular transport. You have to get there, and you have to get there 10 hours early in order to get a good enough spot where you can actually see the famed Ball drop.
And then when you actually get there, you have to stand around waiting for 10 hours. Maybe you’ll luck out with some decent weather, but since it’s New York at wintertime it will probably be some degree of cold to frigid — especially when the sun goes down. But at least you’ll have several thousand total strangers cuddling warmly beside you as the NYPD herd you into barricaded street pens like cattle.
So, to recap: you stand and wait and freeze and, oh, you can’t ever go to the bathroom lest you forever lose your sacred spot amid the other lunatic cattle. There’s little glitz, there’s no glamour, and it’ll just about kill you.
Good gosh, take it from me: don’t ever celebrate New Year’s in New York. ( Read more . . . )
10 january 2015 | #RunningTo Weeks 30-32 in Review: New York City & Langhorne, PA
Hello, my wanderers! And a very happy new year to you all. Wow, 2015. Can you believe it? The long foreseen year of perpetual hoverboard references is finally upon us. One of my friends said she loves odd-numbered years, and while I found her comment odd, I do think it’s gonna be an awesome year ahead.
I took a break from my weekly #RunningTo recaps since much of my holiday was spent relaxing stationary at my Eden of long ago: Langhorne, PA. I enjoyed a lovely holiday season with my family, and I hope you did as well.
Once much of my family departed for home, though, I decided on a semi-impromptu adventure! Because why not ring in the new year at Times Square? If not now on this road trip, then when? ( Read more . . . )
23 december 2014 | And This Christmas Tolls with Treacherous Hope
It hurts to hope. I suppose I have always known this, but it is a lesson more thoroughly learned after six long months on the road. A hardened realization that has hit me with the thrust of a 75 mile-per-hour collision.
It hurts to hope for work in wintry seasons of joblessness. Hurts to hope in plates and people spread round an otherwise bare table.
It hurts to hope in purpose and meaning. Hurts to trust the invisible void that we’re not just here by chance and happenstance.
It hurts to hope in any season of the year, but the hurt seems especially biting now. We are hurting, we are waiting, and we are looking up, hoping for the Christmas bells to toll. ( Read more . . . )
19 december 2014 | #RunningTo Week 29 in Review: Cleveland and All Over Pennsylvania
It’s time for my last #RunningTo Week in Review of 2014! I’ll be settling into eastern Pennsylvania for a two-week holiday hiatus. Knowing my family, I’m sure there will be a motley of photographic moments to post in the new year to come.
IN ANY CASE, this past week of #RunningTo took me from Cleveland to all over Pennsylvania. Cleveland: known for its despondent sports teams and OH MY GOSH THE ‘A CHRISTMAS STORY’ HOUSE. It was a grand old time in Ohio.
Then, I learned my former homeland is a deceptively huge state. Diverse and beautiful, too. It was awesome taking my time traversing the Keystone State with stops in Erie, Punxsutawney (home of Groundhog Day!), State College (home of Penn State!), Harrisburg (where I spent DAY 200 of my road trip!), Reading (where I rock climbed for the first time!), and Valley Forge (where something important happened a long time ago!).
I learned I love Pennsylvania. A lot. Check out my favorite moments from the wandering week that was! ( Read more . . . )
13 december 2014 | #RunningTo Week 28 in Review: Pittsburgh, Berne, Detroit
Hello my wanderers! The journey continues . . . westward? I’m taking these couple weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas to work my way westward — though not that far west before returning east for Christmas. From Pittsburgh to Berne (Indiana, not Switzerland) to Detroit, it’s been a fun little loop seeing new cities and, more gratefully, meeting genuine people.
09 december 2014 | I’m Afraid to Stop Running
I don’t necessarily doubt that 100% of the funds will be there come Christmas Day. I think they will be. I figure God has massively provided the financial and emotional support alike after six-plus months on the road. What’s to hinder Him amid these final legs of my journey?
But therein lies my biggest point of contention of late: this matter of stopping. This whole unnerving notion of#RunningTo becoming no more. ( Read more . . . )
06 december 2014 | #RunningTo Week 27 in Review: Baltimore & Washington DC
On the heels of Thanksgiving with my family in eastern Pennsylvania, I hit the road once more. I ventured southward into Maryland and the District of Columbia, and it was a nice dose of the charming and historical.
Check out some of my favorite moments from the wandering week that was! ( Read more . . . )
03 december 2014 | I Just Launched My First Kickstarter
There’s a nasty little rumor swirling that I’ve run out of money and am desperate for funds as I complete my continental road trip and attempt self-publishing a book full of the stories I’ve found along the way.
Oh, right. That nasty little rumor is actually true.
Some time ago I realized that if I wanted to complete this #RunningTo road trip the “right” way, I would need to collect more funds. Eventually. By some miracle, I made it 6 months and 18,000 miles without accumulating any debt.
I’d like to keep that positive fiscal trend going. But I need some help.
29 november 2014 | #RunningTo Weeks 25 & 26 in Review: Niagara Falls, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Acadia National Park, Boston
So. I apologize. In racing across eastern Canada and New England to make it back to Eden in time for Thanksgiving, I missed blogging last week. THERE WAS NO TIME.
To rectify the situation, I’ve combined this week’s usual “week in review” into a double-dose of weekly review goodness. It all started with my first visit to Niagara Falls — the “Grand Canyon of the East,” as I like to call it. Gorgeous.
Despite the -5 degree frigidity (Celsius, thank goodness), Canada treated me just as handsomely as the previous two times. From Toronto to Ottawa to Montreal, the sights were special; the people, even more so.
Acadia National Park in eastern Maine was a definite highlight of this trip. It was awesome to be there in the off-season when it’s free, hardly anyone else is there, and did I mention it was totally FREE? I’d never before ventured to those uppermost regions of New England, so it was a refreshing collection of moments.
And then BAHSTON to wrap it all up. ( Read more . . . )
20 november 2014 | #RunningTo FAQ: Part 2
Five long months ago, I posted one of my favorite #RunningTo posts. It was a collection of frequently asked questions, and even though I thoroughly answered the seven most frequently asked of them all, everyone still asked them again anyway.
WHATEVER. I don’t mind repeating myself. But after all these months and thousands of accumulated miles, some more frequently asked questions have arisen.
I figured I’d take this opportunity to clear the air once more and answer this second crop of questions before you inevitably ask me any/all of these same ones tomorrow. ( Read more . . . )
17 november 2014 | #RunningTo Week 24 in Review: Langhorne, PA (EDEN) & Rochester, NY
I’m currently in Canada where it’s cold and snowy and I have to catch up on a million things, including this photographic recap of the past week. Let’s get it going!
I returned to Langhorne, Pennsylvania — Eden, as I like to call it. My cousin got married, and much fun and photographic opportunities were had by all. I love my family.
I then trekked northward to Rochester, New York and reunited with a Californian roommate of yesteryear. He lives there with a couple families in a gigantic homestead with chickens and turkey, and his location by the Finger Lakes and Lake Ontario provided lots of picturesque moments.
We also papier-mâché’d, baked bread, and cut hair, so it was an artsy few days! ( Read more . . . )
12 november 2014 | Tipping Point
Once again, November presents another tipping point for my life. Not a “bad” one, not a “good” one, just a … a regular old tipping point.
From January 1 to May 31, I was a resident of the state of California. I paid rent for an apartment, worked multiple part-time jobs, and experienced some semblance of a stable existence for five months.
And then I turned the tables on 2014. ( Read more . . . )
Week 23 of #RunningTo took me through some gorgeous country just west of the Appalachians. I reunited with a long lost friend in Kentucky, and I also got to meet a fellow blogger and friend for the very first time!
From the Bluegrass State I ventured north and east to West Virginia’s capital city — the other Charleston. But just for a day; poor West Virginia. I felt bad rushing through like everyone does, because it really does look like a beautiful state.
Alas, I had a wedding in Philly to get to — more on that next week, though. After West Virginia came western Maryland and a long-awaited return to my Pennsylvanian homeland. It was my first trip to Gettysburg, and I fell in love with the place right away.
And then Amish Country. One of my favorite places anywhere. ( Read more . . . )
05 november 2014 | Road to Ridgecrest
Before hitting the road, I knew I’d be adding some vibrant new colors to my traveling palette. The Grand Canyon. Mount Rushmore. Vancouver.
Before hitting the road, I knew I’d also be reuniting with some old familiar colors. Sweet Seattle. Old Milwaukee. A Pennsylvanian Eden.
Among all the colorful locales on my #RunningTo itinerary, however, there probably wasn’t one as vibrant or as volatile as the one I revisited last week. A picturesque slice of paradise and strife all the same.
An old familiar altogether devastating place called Camp Ridgecrest. ( Read more . . . )
01 november 2014 | #RunningTo Week 22 in Review: Chattanooga & Camp Ridgecrest
Week 22 will forever stand as one of my trip’s more special weeks. I mean, each week of #RunningTo has been special in its own right. But when you combine reunions with siblings and a camp that changed your life, it’s hard to lump such a week with all the others.
First, Chattanooga. I got to stay with my awesome brother, and my incredible sister even drove up for a day of Zuniga shenanigans (“Zunigananigans,” if you will). I love Chattanooga. A true gem of a city where rock and river collide.
And then, Camp Ridgecrest. Truthfully, I wondered if I’d ever go back. Under what circumstances would I glance up at that sign again, walk back underneath and through that gate? Well, I can wonder no longer. I went back, and with this whole autumn thing happening, I couldn’t have picked a more picturesque time to return. ( Read more . . . )
28 october 2014 | Why You Should Run Away
I’ve been driving around the continent for five months now. I packed up my Mitsubishi Galant and abandoned Orange County in June. And now that the leaves are turning orange in Tennessee, it’s hitting me just how long I’ve been on the road.
Everywhere I go, people ask what inspired such a trek. Adventure, I tell them with the arch of my eyebrows. Inspiration. A fresh start.
But I haven’t been entirely truthful. This nomadic life isn’t all peaches and dreams. Somewhere at the start of my journey was a kernel of fear – fear that remains 15,000 miles later.
Among a myriad of admirable reasons, I’m driving across North America because I’m running away from the life I used to have. ( Read more . . . )
Hello friends! This week’s pictures are coming a little later than usual, but that’s only because I’ve been too busy seeing all kinds of awesome stuff on the road.
And meeting awesome people, too. Some “normal” people…and some semi-famous folk, too.
From the Alabaman cities of Birmingham and Huntsville to the Tennessean towns of Franklin and Nashville, it was a memorable week that included not one but two “famous people” encounters. The best part? Both of those meetups were totally unplanned. They just happened as I went about my business, and both were beyond awesome.
There’s a lesson in that. You never know what — or who — you’ll find until you actually step out. ( Read more . . . )
22 october 2014 | Just Keep Walking Inland
I was never a big Jars of Clay fan; I’m a horrible Christian kid of the 90’s, I know. Give me Steven Curtis Chapman or give me death.
Lately, though, Jars of Clay’s stuff has resonated. Especially their more recent creations meshed with my current season of life.
Enter my latest struggles. Enter five months of this #RunningTo life on the road.
Enter Inland. ( Read more . . . )
18 october 2014 | #RunningTo Week 20 in Review: Houston, New Orleans, Jackson
It’s hard to believe this edition of my #RunningTo Week in Review marks my 20th. Twenty weeks on the road, stretching from the Southwest to the Southeast. What a wild, crazy, long trip it’s been, and continues to be.
This week featured a definitive shift from Midwest to South. I started in Houston and meandered eastward to New Orleans. It was my first time visiting the Big Easy; such a unique place. From there I trekked northward to Jackson, Mississippi, and if there were any doubts about being in the South before that, those went away quickly. ( Read more . . . )
15 october 2014 | #RunningTo VLOG: Chasing Trains in Texas
Hello my wanderers! It’s been a while since I last posted a nifty video blog. Perhaps I subconsciously declared it impossible to top my prairie dog-feeding escapades of South Dakota.
But really. How do you top that?
Nearly 50 days removed from my last vlog, I figured I’d do something a little different this time. It’s some sweet train-chasing footage from behind the wheel while I keep it real.
I hope you enjoy this new perspective, and please do keep me in your prayers as I trek further eastward. ( Read more . . . )
11 october 2014 | #RunningTo Week 19 in Review: All Over Texas
Hello friends! This week of #RunningTo has been a distinct one, indeed. Lots of cowboy hats and flannel shirts and snakeskin boots. I’m in New York, naturally.
JUST KIDDING. I’m in Texas. From Fort Worth to Waco to Houston, it’s been a YEEHAW time filled with longhorns, giant rocking chairs, and some pretty sweet reunions, too.
Check out my favorite moments from the wandering week that was, and stay tuned Gulf States! You’re just beyond my windshield . . . ( Read more . . . )
08 october 2014 | When We Go to Uruguay
DAY 122: Couchsurfing is a beautiful thing. I’ve relied on the website for about a quarter of my#RunningTo stops across North America, and I’ve yet to have a negative or even remotely unpleasant experience.
Most of my surfing stops have featured myself with a single host or married hosts or hosting roommates, but sometimes I’m not the only one surfing. Sometimes these benevolent beings called Couchsurfing hosts allow more than one set of surfers into their homes.
It’s happened a few times on this trip. I’ve slept on one couch while some other wandering soul from another corner of the galaxy sleeps on another.
This was the case in Little Rock: the capital city of an innocuous state somewhere between the Southeast and Don’t Mess With Texas. It was there that my journey merged with three others’.
It was there that my eyes were opened to what true wandering and true faith looks like. ( Read more . . . )
What a week! I’ve recently been zig-zagging down (and left and right) through the Midwest, and there’s been something exciting and picturesque at every turn. Last week’s photographic recap ended with St. Louis, and this week’s recap starts with my final days there. St. Louis is such a stellar city, and I’m glad a last-minute detour took me there.
From St. Louis I wandered down the Mississippi River to Memphis, then westward to Little Rock and Oklahoma City! It’s been interesting zig-zagging across America like this, but I’m so glad I’m seeing all these beautiful places — especially the wonderful people inhabiting them. ( Read more . . . )
01 october 2014 | I Visited Westboro Baptist Church
DAY 114: For years they have intrigued me. I’ve watched their interviews and demonstrations on TV and YouTube. They travel the world, hailing from the innocuous center of Kansas and America. They call themselves Baptists — supposed believers of the same Jesus I follow.
As I park my car in a Topekan residential area, I approach 12th Street with a distinct shudder.
NO TRESPASSING signs adorn their fences.
GOD HATES AMERICA drapes down from their wall.
FAG MARRIAGE DOOMS NATIONS, another sign reads.
27 september 2014 | #RunningTo Week 17 in Review: Omaha, Kansas City, St. Louis
Hello friends! I’ve been wandering around the Midwest the last couple weeks, and somehow I’ve escaped the endless corn fields and found a place with WiFi. Phew.
While it can take a little longer to appreciate the beauty of Iowa’s open road compared to, say, rugged Utah’s, it’s all part of the lovely process. I’m still enjoying my #RunningTo life on the road, and I’m excited to explore more of this mysterious Midwest I’ve not seen much of. ( Read more . . . )
22 september 2014 | WHEATON
DAY 110: It was just another day. I woke up in Chicago and figured I’d take a slight detour en route to Iowa. It’s something I told myself I’d do before #RunningTo started: take the detours. Wander the winding ways around Points A to B. Don’t rush. Explore.
And so I drove an hour west to Wheaton, Illinois, parking in the shadow of a building named after Billy Graham. An academic building on the beautiful campus of Wheaton College.
It is a campus where once upon a time I attended a five-day conference for same-sex attracted Christians. A campus where so much of my story was born. The very campus where the Holy Spirit first implanted the vision for a book that would chronicle my deepest darkest secrets.
20 september 2014 | #RunningTo Week 16 in Review: Milwaukee, Chicago, Davenport
Oh man. The good times just keep rolling. From Minneapolis to Milwaukee to Chicago, I’m pretty sure it was the most epic 1-2-3 punch of this #RunningTo road trip. Three absolutely gorgeous Midwest cities in a row. I’m not sure what those cities are like during wintertime, but gosh this late summer looksie was phenomenal.
After spending a solid week in Milwaukee, it was fun to return to Chicago and explore that city in greater depth. From Wrigley Field (!) to the epic lakefront, I had a fantastic time in Chi Town. ( Read more . . . )
16 september 2014 | Why Am I Still Wandering?
When you wander the continent for three months, you start to wonder some things. Why is the sky blue? Why do we insist on block intersections when roundabouts are so much cooler and more efficient? What’s the deal with Scotland? Aren’t they already a country?
Among myriad other questions, I’m pondering one in particular after 100-plus days on the road.
Why am I still wandering? ( Read more . . . )
13 september 2014 | #RunningTo Week 15 in Review: Minneapolis & Milwaukee
HEY Y’ALL. I’m really excited, in case the CAPS startled you.
Week 15 of my cross-continent road trip has been such a memorable one. I mean, all of them are quite memorable. But this one in particular stands out among the rest. Great cities, amazing people, and some spectacular photos. I can’t wait to share some of my favorite moments with y’all!
SO I WILL.
Check out my journey to the Twin Cities (featuring some artsy opportunities at Minneapolis’s Sculpture Garden) and then my nostalgic road back to Milwaukee where I worked for YouthWorks three summers ago. I’ll be in Milwaukee until early next week, so I’m sure there will be more sweet Milwaukee moments to come. ( Read more . . . )
10 september 2014 | MILWAUKEE, Take 3
Three years ago, I first ventured to this Midwestern city. Called it home for an entire summer as I learned what it meant to receive love in community while simultaneously ministering to one.
06 september 2014 | #RunningTo Week 14 in Review: Watertown, SD
Sometimes I visit five or six cities in a single week. My eager, restless heart likes to keep moving and exploring on this trip.
But other times, other weeks, I like to stay still. Week 14 of #RunningTo was one of those stationary weeks. I still had a blast.
This week I trekked to the booming metropolis of Watertown, South Dakota and reunited with an old high school friend and his beautiful family. We ate awesome meals together, washed my poor Mitsy, and even caught frogs! It was a solid week of recharging and reminiscing. ( Read more . . . )
04 september 2014 | I Might Have Joined a Cult for 24 Hours
DAY 90. I did a quick Google search before heading to their Winnipeg property. I wanted some sense of what I was getting myself into. Some words sizzled on their Wikipedia page.
Antisemitic. Child abuse. Cult.
Plenty of negative accusations scattered throughout. I was somewhat intimidated; a tad weary and wanting to race back across the border to home.
But I couldn’t just run away from a great story. It’s been the motto of my road trip, and it’s one I hope to carry forward. If something would make for a great story, why would I not engage it? ( Read more . . . )
02 september 2014 | #RunningTo VLOG: Feeding Prairie Dogs in South Dakota
There are some moments that transcend all others in human history. Christ’s birth. The invention of the printing press. The American Revolution and the revelation that Hello Kitty isn’t a kitty.
Or take this road trip, for instance. There was that initiating campout at the Grand Canyon. Waking up to a glowing Mount Rainier. And let us never forget the blessed Gopher Hole Museum.
Well, DAY 82 of #RunningTo presented me with another such definable moment. I really can’t write too much about my indescribable experience. You’ll just have to watch and see and get yourselves to South Dakota STAT. ( Read more . . . )
31 august 2014 | #RunningTo Week 13 in Review: Brandon & Winnipeg
Hello my wanderers! This past week was Lucky 13 as I returned to the Frozen Tundra, the Great White North. My first trek through Canada was nothing short of amazing, and the second was just as memorable.
Check out my favorite moments from the wandering week that was, including stops in Brandon and Winnipeg. As you’ll soon see, food was a critical component of this particular leg. It’s #RunningTo / #Canada2, eh! ( Read more . . . )
28 august 2014 | Basking in the Badlands for Billions of Years
The Lakota Indians called it mako sica. French trappers labeled the landscape les mauvaises terres à traverse. Deemed and doomed a literal “bad land,” this devastating terrain made farming and traversing — even existing — a difficult if not impossible feat.
And so the Badlands were born; millenia later, the Badlands remain. ( Read more . . . )
26 august 2014 | 10,000 Miles of #RunningTo
When I first set out across North America in June, I envisioned an ultimate journey of maybe 10,000 miles. A nice round number. And nice big number.
I had no idea I’d be hitting that nice big number just north of North Dakota with an entire eastern seaboard still awaiting my arrival. Spectacular.
Check out my grand transition to the fifth digit! Which is actually only one digit. But you’ll see. ( Read more . . . )
23 august 2014 | #RunningTo Week 12 in Review: West Palm Beach, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, The Badlands
So, this last week of wandering was one of the most random and diverse yet. I flew to south Florida for my uncle’s wedding, then returned to my poor lonely car in Denver and resumed my road trip eastward.
I saw Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, the astounding Native American rock sculpture that’s been in progress since 1948 (and still going!). I also camped in the famed Badlands just east of Rushmore.
Oh, and along the way I also did that #ALSIceBucketChallenge in middle-of-nowhere Wyoming. It was quite the week for wandering, let me tell you! Here are some of my favorite #RunningTo Week 12 moments from coast-to-coast. ( Read more . . . )
20 august 2014 | On Weddings and Wanderings for 80 Days
I just returned from a week-long trek to south Florida. No, I didn’t drive there from Denver; I flew.
Two weddings in a seven-day stretch: one in the shadow of the Rockies and the other amid the sweltering monsoons of West Palm. Each celebration inunudated with love unparalleled. ( Read more . . . )
16 august 2014 | #RunningTo Week 11 in Review: Colorado Springs & Denver
Hello my wanderers! I’ve lost track of which time zone I’m in with all my gallivanting of late, but I’ll get to that in a moment. First, it’s time to recap the wandering week that was — Week 11 of #RunningTo, featuring stops in Colorado Springs and Denver.
Colorado is such a gorgeous state. I mean, the western part of it is. The eastern part is basically Nebraska. But it can’t get much better than the Rockies! I experienced those blessed peaks in Montana and western Canada, and it’s been awesome catching them in their native Colorado. ( Read more . . . )
13 august 2014 | #RunningTo VLOG: Crater Lake National Park
Hello my wanderers! It’s time for another video-blog — or “vlog,” as the hippity hoppity youth they call it.
This one’s a quickie but (in my opinion) a goodie. It comes from my DAY 55 trek to Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon. I’m sure I must have “heard of” Crater Lake prior to this #RunningTo road trip, but I couldn’t have told you what Crater Lake was or even where Crater Lake resided on a map.
A week or so prior, one of my hosts recommended my stopping there en route to California. A few days later I mentioned the existence of “some big lake” to another one of my Oregonian hosts, to which she promptly responded: “Uh, you mean Crater Lake? Yes. You definitely need to stop there. What’s wrong with you?” ( Read more . . . )
11 august 2014 | My 5 Favorite Podcasts While #RunningTo
When you embark on a massive road trip like #RunningTo, you need a solid arsenal of listening material. Music can only take you so far. Sorry, One Direction; even you can only go so far.
I’ve been devouring lots of podcasts on my long journey, both silly and serious ones alike. If you’re curious what I’m listening to after ten weeks on the road, here are my five favorite podcasts! ( Read more . . . )
08 august 2014 | #RunningTo Week 10 in Review: La Jolla, Phoenix
It’s the end of Week 10 of #RunningTo, and gosh it doesn’t get old. From the cliff-laden shores of La Jolla (just outside San Diego) to the desert mystique of Phoenix, Week 10 was just gorgeous.
Check out some of my favorite moments from the wandering week that was! ( Read more . . . )
05 august 2014 | Fullerton to Fullerton: Back to the Beginning Again
#RunningTo DAY 65: It’s amazing how something that was once so commonplace, so routine, so otherwise ordinary can become quite the opposite. Tonight, I’m sitting at an old familiar window seat. Tonight, I’m writing at The Night Owl. After sixty-five long days and nights on the road, I’m temporarily returning to a familiar though quite opposite life. Two months ago, I set sail across North America. From the onset I always said “North America” or “the continent,” knowing full-well I’d be including Canada in my journeys. And yet people were nonetheless surprised to hear of my passage into the Great White Beyond. They were even more surprised when they saw my trek winding back to Lady Pacific and the West Coast I was supposedly fleeing. ( Read more . . . )
02 august 2014 | #RunningTo Week 9 in Review: Return to California!
Last week’s #RunningTo Week in Review was an Oregonian Extravaganza. This week, it’s my long awaited return to the Sunshine State. Wait, is California the Sunshine State or is that Florida? If California isn’t officially the Sunshine State, it needs to be. I’m certainly not in the mild/cloudy Pacific Northwest anymore! I’ve already experienced multiple 100-degree days in this last week of my Californian reunion. I missed you too, California, but could you let up just a tad? San Francisco, Monterey, driving along Big Sur, and ultimately a return to LA. Enjoy these favorite Californian images from the wandering week that was, and stay tuned for more momentous moments as my mammoth journey continues! ( Read more . . . )
29 july 2014 | #RunningTo VLOG: Mt. Rainier, WA
Hello all! I’m so excited for today’s #RunningTo vlog. It’s from my DAY 41 hike to Mount Rainier in Washington, and it features a lovable little guy I like to call WORMIE. Actually, I’m not exactly the one who came up with that stellar name. My good friend Jana McAdams did, and guess what? She actually creates Wormies. Before #RunningTo began, she actually made me my own personal WORMIE. He’s been riding in the back window of my car for thousands of miles now! And that includes a hike at glorious Mount Rainier. It was a beautiful hike, and as you’ll see in the video below, a unique one at that! ( Read more . . . )
26 july 2014 | #RunningTo Week 8 in Review: Oregonian Extravaganza!
It’s an OREGONIAN EXTRAVAGANZA this week! Week 8 of #RunningTo took me to all corners of the Beaver State, from Donald Miller infused Portland to capital city Salem to University of Oregon headquarters Eugene to One of the Best Small Towns in America Bend to the OH MY GOSH BREATHTAKING Crater Lake. Let’s just get right to it, shall we? This was my wandering week that was, Oregon style: ( Read more . . . )
23 july 2014 | Seattle Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be
DAY 38: I’d just reentered America after two weeks in the Great White North. I cruised southward down the 5 with a sizzling anticipation unlike any other #RunningTo stop to this point. In many ways, my first month on the road had been leading up to this. The Space Needle emerged, Seattle’s distinct skyline unfurling like a blanket in the heavens. The Emerald City captured my gaze for the first time in two years. I didn’t miss a beat. Cranked some Owl City, just like last time. ( Read more . . . )
18 july 2014 | #RunningTo Week 7 in Review: Seattle, Olympia, Portland
Okay. Deep breath. I will try to refrain from posting another gopher picture this time. But no promises. Week 7 of #RunningTo rocked with a triad of phenomenal Pacific Northwest cities: Seattle, Olympia, and Portland. That last one is still a city-in-progress, so be looking forward to more Portlandia next time! It figures to be an amazing weekend here. Check out some of my favorite moments from the wandering week that was! ( Read more . . . )
17 july 2014 | I’m Not at Camp This Summer
It didn’t fully hit me until two nights ago: I’m not at camp this summer. I remember feeling the weight of this strange reality early into last summer’s decision not to return to Camp Ridgecrest. Later in the summer, however, I remedied the restlessness of the situation by working and volunteering at not one, but two local camps. This summer is different. As I came home to my hosts in Olympia after a day of #RunningTo wandering, I saw Major League Baseball’s All Star Game playing on television — a jarring sight I’d not seen in four summers. I was still a boyish resident of Georgia the last time I’d witnessed an All Star Game. ( Read more . . . )
14 july 2014 | #RunningTo VLOG: Yellowstone National Park
A couple weeks ago, I trekked to a true wonderland of a national park. This place was massive. I had no concept of just how huge Yellowstone was until I found myself being driven the 100+ mile loop around the entire thing. And not a single fence in sight. The buffalo and bears and turkeys run rampant as tourists from every state stop at every other curve to capture an image of nature unhinged. Yellowstone was definitely a highlight of my #RunningTo road trip. My friend and I started the day with a drive high above Montana and Wyoming where we encountered banks upon banks of cold white snow. Did I mention it was the first day of summer? ( Read more . . . )
There’s no time. NO TIME. I just have to show you guys this: Oh, sorry, I’m past the Gopher Hole Museum now. It’s such a pity, but I’m glad y’all enjoyed my recounting of that adventure! Last week’s pictographical recap was my most viewed #RunningTo Week in Review to date, so I’ll be sure to visit another dead / anthropomorphically dressed rodent museum some time! I hear Portland’s got a killer squirrel thing going. But onto #RunningTo Week 6, which was just as momentous and incredible as all the others. I rounded out my first Canadian venture with a literal walk through Storybrooke! I’m a huge Once Upon a Time fan, so to walk down the “Main Street” of British Columbia’s Steveston where they film — life-changing. ( Read more . . . )
9 july 2014 | #RunningTo FAQ
Throughout my crazy #RunningTo road trip, I’ve been connecting with so many incredible people. The reaction and reception, both online and off, have been fueling me forward. I’m honestly thrilled that so many of y’all are thrilled. After living on the road for over a month now, a few commonly asked questions have arisen. So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to address some of your concerns for future reference. Yes, there’s a question about my beard. Among several others. ( Read more . . . )
7 july 2014 | #RunningTo VLOG: Biking Vancouver
On July 4th, I celebrated my independence by renting a bicycle and roaming free across vibrant Vancouver. Favorite bike ride of all-time. Such a highlight of my #RunningTo journey thus far. I’d recommend a bike ride through Vancouver or most any city. Gives you a revitalizing perspective on the place. Check out this brief snippet of my journey across the lovely alliterative Burrard Bridge, and stay tuned for more #RunningTo wanderings! ( Read more . . . )
There’s no time. NO TIME. I just have to show you guys this. And this. And this and this and this. The Gopher Hole Museum basically altered the very course of my life. I might ditch every dream I’ve ever dreamt just to volunteer in the same vicinity of a couple dozen dead/dressed gophers. I mean WOULDN’T YOU? But guys, the Gopher Hole Museum was only the beginning of a truly momentous week. Check out some of my favorite moments from Alberta and then across the stunning Canadian Rockies to British Columbia! ( Read more . . . )
2 july 2014 | #RunningTo VLOG: Great Salt Lake
A couple weeks ago I posted a video blog featuring my descent into the Grand Canyon. I got a lot of great feedback, so it inspired me to create another vlog! I hope y’all enjoy this one, too. On Day 15 of my massive continental trek, I hit the unique wonderland of Salt Lake City. From the surrounding mountains to the Mormon culture to the ginormous lake of SALT, I grew quickly enamored with this city. Check out my second official #RunningTo video blog as I venture out onto a giant salt flat in a mission to touch the Great Salt Lake with my own hands. ( Read more . . . )
Hello my wanderers! It’s that time again. A chance to reflect on the wandering week that was via the magical wonders of photography. For #RunningTo Week 4, I ventured to Big Sky Country in Montana, including a good old Montanan hike and a day trip to Yellowstone National Park. Ugh, this world is beautiful. Then, I ventured to ANOTHER COUNTRY by crossing into Canadian Saskatchewan. Take a gander! ( Read more . . . )
23 june 2014 | Utahn Glory: The Point of Everything
There’s something about Utah, I thought two years ago while driving through its southeastern corner. The canyons, the chasms, the reds and oranges and browns all colliding into some of the most magnificent painting-esque scenes. While planning #RunningTo, I made it a point to spend as much time in Utah as possible.
I got my money’s worth. ( Read more . . . )
21 june 2014 | #RunningTo Week 3 in Review: Provo, Salt Lake City, Idaho
It’s time once again for my #RunningTo Week in Review! For Week 3, I ventured northward from southern Utah to Provo, Salt Lake City, and Rexburg in Idaho. Check out some of my favorite Utahn/Idahoan moments from this week of #RunningTo! ( Read more . . . )
16 june 2014 | Las Vegas Bums Me Out
Two years ago, I first ventured to Las Vegas. I’m not big into gambling or … everything else Vegas is notoriously known for, but I was stoked nonetheless to add another notch to my traveling belt. I mean, it’s Vegas. A magical city where you can walk the streets of Paris, New York, and Venice within a single hour. Incredible shows and shops and food. Sure, Vegas has its moments. It has an allure, for sure. But what I mostly found in my first visit to Vegas was a sweltering desert city that shouldn’t really exist, filled with warped faces trapped behind slot machines. A weighty despair that shouldn’t exist all the more. ( Read more . . . )
It’s time for my new weekend tradition: my #RunningTo Week in Review! Week 2 was a special one, venturing from the desert of Las Vegas to…well, the desert of southern Utah. So hot, but oh so beautiful. The longer I venture throughout Utah, the more convinced I become that it’s in my top-5 favorite US states. Check out some of my favorite moments from #RunningTo Week 2! After my brief stay in Vegas, I ventured northward to Utah — no, wait. I actually had to reenter Arizona for 20 minutes before I could ELEVATE MY LIFE. ( Read more . . . )
11 june 2014 | #RunningTo Vlog: My Grand Canyon Hike!
Over a week ago, I kicked off my #RunningTo road trip with a hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. You can read all about my adventure, or you could LIVE it by watching my trip’s first video blog below! I mean, ideally, you will do both. Read it and live it. But I understand if you only choose one or the other. Enjoy the 16-mile journey from the comfort of your air-conditioned room! Don’t worry; I did all the dirty sweaty blistery stuff for you. ( Read more . . . )
09 june 2014 | The Grand Canyon is Upside Down
It didn’t seem like I was approaching the world’s most illustrious crater. I suppose I was expecting many mini-craters leading up to it. You would think that a gigantic hole in the ground would be preceded by lots of littler ones, right? Instead, what I saw for sixty miles leading up to the Grand Canyon were a litany of trees and flat desert.
I raced through the entrance gate pushing 5am after driving eight hours through the night. A twenty-minute power nap and 24-ounce coffee from AM/PM helped me catch that Grand Canyon sunrise.
Caught it with five whole minutes to spare. #RunningTo was officially off the ground.
Following the signs, I hustled toward the long fence where I first caught sight of a mammoth fortress of rock. The closer I got, the inexplicably deeper this jagged wall descended. Dozens of onlookers stood along a rocky jut, cameras pointed toward the canyon’s opposing northern rim.
An eerie gray enveloped the ins and outs of the canyon as the sun perched up from Utah. Her bright yellow light pierced the sky and gradually filled the canyon. Shed her sacred light on all of us. ( Read more . . . )
Now that I’m week-deep into a massive trip across North America, I’m going to temporarily retire my compilation tradition of The Weekend WOW. It’s time for a new weekend tradition.
It’s called my #RunningTo Week in Review. Each weekend, I’ll be posting my favorite pictures from the wandering week that was.
21 april 2014 | Running To: Leaving California and Hitting the Road
Last week, my beloved wanderers were let into a secret. They were among the first to learn of my dramatic future-to-be. Today, I thought I’d clue the rest of humanity into my momentous decision.
I’ve been hinting at the news for a while. It’s been a hard decision six long months in the making. A decision I finally confirmed last weekend.
I’m leaving southern California this summer. Soon, I’ll be packing up my Mitsy and hitting the road like so many times before. Only this time, I have no idea if I’ll be coming back — or where I’m even going. ( Read more . . . )