It was late summer of 1976 and my girlfriend of two years had just broken off our relationship. We had been together for a couple of years and had talked about marriage after college. I did not realize that her influential parents had different ideas for their daughter, a beautiful strawberry blond with more freckles than I could count.
I was heart-broken and felt very alone. I knew that I would not find peace about this breakup until I felt fully connected with God.
Growing up in an orphanage, I had no family to turn to for emotional support, so I decided the best way to reestablish the foundation of my faith was to fully place myself in His hands. I decided I needed to take a break from college and go on a spiritual journey which could also lead me to finding myself again.
I purchased a small backpack, a yellow poster board that I could fold into three sections, a package of eight-inch stencils for lettering my "destination signs" and started hitch-hiking across America.
I had two hundred and fifty dollars in my pocket and was armed with a wobbly faith that the Lord would provide any and all of my needs for food and lodging along the way. I also realized that this could be a dangerous journey but felt somewhat reassured that God would be there, keeping me safe.
After using the stencils I had purchased to make my destination signs indicating each major city I was heading towards, I began walking to the interstate somewhere in central Florida. When I arrived at the top of the entrance ramp I held up my sign while keeping my weight evenly distributed on both feet and smiled without grimacing from the sun shining in my face.
I had seen many hitch-hikers over the years and most of them slouched, held up a thumb, and did not appear like the type of person I would want to pick up so I maintained the image of a clean-cut, nicely dressed college student with a neatly printed bright yellow sign that motorists could read from nearly a quarter of a mile away.
A business man, who was traveling to a business meeting, stopped and gave me a ride. He said, "Nice sign. I could see you long before I got to where you were standing. Since you looked like a nice person, I did not mind picking you up to help me drive."
So, this is how I started my ten-thousand mile, six-months long trek across America, stopping in cities only for a few days to make money for food, and then onto the interstate again to my next destination.
Each ride I received I always thanked the person for stopping. Most were families, or business people that wanted someone to help them drive, or to converse with to pass the time. Some were truck drivers who were impressed that someone would go to all the trouble to make such a neatly printed sign.
It was impressive how nice the people were. The "scary or creepy people" would just look at me and keep on going. When this happened, I would utter under my smile, "Thank you Lord for encouraging that person to keep going".
In each U.S. city, my excursion to Mexico, and the long trek from British Columbia all the way to Quebec and then back through Ontario, Canada, I could feel God's presence. I knew that He placed me in other people's path for them to help me in my journey of self-discovery and spiritual healing.
He provided resources for me to have work in Denver, Colorado where I was able to visit such beautiful places as Boulder, and Estes Park, a little tourist town built into the side of the mountain like a Swiss village in the Alps.
I found work in Los Angeles movie watcher's guide I lived in a garage of a church that Debbie Boone attended and the church group helped me find employment delivering Indian rugs around the city. While there, I had the opportunity to collect autographs from a number of movie stars such as Cybil Shepard, Clu Gulager, and Tommy Smothers.
I experience miracles, large and small, on this trip.
While working in Denver, painting houses, I took a trip up to Golden, Colorado. It was still very dark and I was sitting on a mountain road side high above the Denver skyline enjoying the distant city lights. I stood up, and just as I was about to take another step, a car passed by and illuminated the place where I was about to place my foot. What I saw was approximately a 500 foot drop to the rocks below. I gave thanks to God and for the angel He sent to make me hesitate in taking that step.
Before going down into Tijuana, Mexico I was warned by the church group to be careful about young Mexican children who would try to pick your pocket and, if you grabbed them, you would be arrested until you posted bail. Supposedly, this was another way to separate the Gringo from his money.
God was again watching over me and I did not have any trouble while in Tijuana, but I was cautious and did not stay long.
Throughout my trip across Canada, it was forty degrees below zero.
I had purchased a goose-down nylon covered jacket with a hood along with heavy gloves and boots. It seemed like the time period between rides took much longer in Canada and I could often see forty-feet high snow drifts as I awaited my next 'guardian angel' to pick me up.
Suddenly it occurred to me that, if God had not been watching over me, I could have frozen to death.
After six months, and ten thousand miles of traveling, I finally found my way back down to Florida, relieved that I did not need that goose-down jacket any longer.
In the beginning of my journey I felt lost but, as I continued my travels, my faith and sense of connection with God continued to grow. So much did I feel this that, when I returned to college, I was full of enthusiasm and hope for the future knowing, if the Lord could place so many wonderful people in my path to help me in my trip around the U.S., Canada, and Mexico that I could accomplish just about anything