LAKE VIEW, Iowa | Sitting in the shade near the Lake View Public Library Wednesday, Daniel Reinke pulls out a pedometer and does a little math.
"I'm nearing three million steps," he says. "My trip will take between five and six million steps, I think."
Reinke, 25, is walking across the United States. A walk that began May 5 at Seaside, Ore., has him passing through Northwest Iowa this week. He camps at the Woodbury County Fairgrounds in Moville on Monday night; dozes off at Cobb Memorial Park in Ida Grove, Iowa, on Tuesday. He finds the shores of Black Hawk Lake in Lake view to his liking on Wednesday.
Each day he walks east, covering 28 to 29 miles.
"I plan out roughly 100 miles in advance," Reinke says. "I've walked over 1,300 miles and have gotten a few rides from people who pull up and offer. I suppose I've ridden a couple of hundred miles."
Reinke hopes to conclude this tough trek later this summer at Virginia Beach, Va. He'll celebrate with a plate of fresh crabs and a cold beer, maybe two. It's what you do when a 100-day walk reaches the finish.
"I've read where some of our earliest settlers planted crosses at Virgina Beach," Reinke says. "Seeing the crosses would make a good picture. That end would fit this walk."
Reinke says he was raised Catholic, a member of a devout family in Forest Lake, Minn. He admits "leaving the faith" for a few years while traveling roads not necessarily on the "straight and narrow."
"I drank too much, I got into fights," he says. "Seeing what my family had through their faith in God pulled me back. My last two years have been joy-filled and amazing."
To celebrate, or to contemplate, Reinke planned his own "Cross America" walk. He could satisfy a sense of adventure while seeing the country and meeting all walks of life along the way. Age 25 and single, now seemed like the optimum time. With the moral support of his family. Reinke quit his construction job, flew to Portland, Ore., and took a bus to the Pacific Ocean at Seaside, Ore.
And then, he simply began walking east, more than 60,000 steps per day.
"I walked the first couple of weeks and really contemplated as I walked," Reinke says. "I was asking myself, 'Is this really something I want to do?'"
The answer came in a sign, while still in Oregon.
"I have a daily prayer card that I do and I had just finished one morning," Reinke says. "I finish with a prayer to St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers. I did the prayer to St. Christopher and looked down on the side of the road and there was a little St. Christopher medal laying there."
The medal looked up at Reinke. He bent down, picked it up and read the back. "Protect us," it says.
"I'm still wearing it," Reinke says, grabbing it from the silver chain around his neck. "Every day, it seems, the stars align like that in some way. I really feel I'm being called to do this."
Reinke isn't seeking financial support, though he has accepted a few monetary gifts from passers-by. There are motorists who've also bought him breakfast or a cup of coffee. A young man Reinke knows only as John treated him to a steak supper in Holstein, Iowa, this week.
Reinke walks east, several feet off the west-bound lane. He'll take a few steps more to the left if he sees an approaching driver who is texting. His only close calls with drivers have come when someone is east-bound and passing.
Reinke camps in his tent about 75 percent of the time. Once each 7 to 10 days, he checks into a motel and sleeps in a bed, enjoying a long, hot shower. He doesn't walk on Sunday, his day of rest. He believes he's lost 15 pounds and can eat nearly everything in sight.
"The worst weather has been the heat and humidity (in Iowa)," says Reinke, who hauls about 40 pounds of gear. "Storms naturally exhilarate me. I smile and sing through the rain, which has a cooling effect."
In 53 days thus far, he's endured only a half-dozen rainy days.
"I'm lucky with the weather and other things," he says, stroking a new beard. "I've done all these miles and I've had no injuries, no bad encounters with people, no tales of bears and snakes. It's been incredible.
"I'd be home now were it not for the power of prayer behind me," he adds.
Beyond his St. Christopher experience, there's one night that really stands out. Again, it happened in this adventure's infancy. Reinke wasn't yet out of Oregon.
"I pushed myself farther than I should have one day and ended up in an industrial area of a city in Oregon," he says. "It was 9 o'clock at night and I was scared and shaking, my blood sugar level was probably low."
Two women in a van saw this somewhat disheveled walker on the side of the road. They offered dates, apples, chocolates and almonds.
"I remember every food they gave me," he says with a smile. "Those food items carry all the nutritional substances you need. They were my two angels in a van."
Good Samaritans like that have been the norm, not the exception, he says. He has shared the tale since that time in a few church settings and even while speaking at a women's correctional facility.
"I've got a beard and I probably smell from 60 feet away," he says. "And yet people get out of their Christian comfort zone. I've seen it. There's nothing but genuine down-to-earth nice people out here."