LIMA — James Smith’s journey to walk to San Francisco, California, began July 9 in Manchester, Pennsylvania.
He left with only $6 in his pocket.
The 50 year old was in the Lima area, heading westward, stopping for an interview at the downtown Kewpee location on Friday.
He’s calling his trip the Point the Thumb Journey.
“A lot of people thinks it means Thumbs Up or hiking. Point the Thumb at yourself, not the finger at someone else,” said Smith.
It should take him 150 days to reach the west coast.
“I’ve been through a lot of tragedy in my life. I was always an upbeat person and the last five years of my life, I’ve gotten involved in a few personal and professional issues. It just sucked the life out of me. You give and give and people take. I changed who I became as a person and it didn’t dawn on me how much I changed until I picked my daughter up off the school bus one day in February, she’s 11, and I saw the look on her face and I said what’s the matter? She said, ‘You’re right, people do suck,’” said Smith.
He said he felt like he failed as a parent in letting his negativity influence his daughter.
He saw this movie “Into the Wild” about a young man who lived off the grid in Alaska named Devin Supertramp and was inspired.
“I left my job, I got my kids with their mom and said I’m going to walk 20 miles a day across the country,” he said.
Along his trek, he’s found people who are generous and people who were not so nice.
He’s had people feed him and put him up for the night. He’s had people ignore him when he asked for directions.
“When I walk against traffic, I wave to people. It took 12 people to wave back to me. Eight more people, nobody waved. So I went on my website and said I’m not judging anybody, but what is it about people that five percent of my fellow humans can’t think enough to just raise their hand? You can’t miss me. I’m 6’ 4” with a big yellow shirt, walking right at you and you can’t raise your hand and wave to me? I can guarantee you if I gave them the finger, 19 of those 20 would have responded,” he said.
The people of Lima responded positively as he made his way to the Kewpee downtown restaurant.
“The folks here, just in the last four or five blocks, I took three or four pictures (with people), very encouraging, very supportive, so it’s been great so far,” he said.
A group sitting toward the front of Kewpee even bought him a drink and as he was leaving, Smith placed some change in the Salvation Army kettle in front of the restaurant.
He’ll be heading towards Delphos and then hopes to arrive in Van Wert Sunday and is looking for help in food and accommodations along the way.
You can follow Smith’s progress on his website at www.pttjourney.com.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.