Cross-country walker Jonathon Stalls has dodged semi-trucks on narrow highway shoulders, crossed flat Midwestern cornfields and scorching western deserts.
On Monday, the 28-year-old Denver, Colo. resident left Petaluma on the home stretch of a 235-day journey that started on March 1 on the Delaware coast and will end Saturday, Nov. 13 in San Francisco.
Stalls stayed with a Petaluma couple Sunday night and dined at Sugo Trattoria before resuming his walk on Monday morning.
The 3,000-mile trek is to promote the efforts of Kiva, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that partners with micro-lenders worldwide to alleviate poverty and help small business entrepreneurs who ordinarily would not qualify for traditional loans. His goal is to raise $400,000 for the cause.
Kiva has links citizen lenders with entrepreneurs around the world who are seeking loans that are small by U.S. standards.
Stalls, who said he's always wanted to make a difference in the world said his trip has been difficult sometimes, but ultimately very rewarding.
"It's been challenging at times when I've been on really tight shoulders of a road with intense, loud traffic," he said. One time, two semi-trucks were passing him and one came dangerously close.
"But 99 percent of the trip has been rewarding and positive. I've made some wonderful connections with people across the country," he said.
"The curiosity about what I'm doing translated into staying with more than 150 families. To be invited into that many homes, and stay with so many families across the United States has been such a reward."
Stalls said he was accompanied by his dog for the first two-thirds of his journey, but left him at his home in Denver along the way, because he thought it would be too difficult for the dog to cross the hot deserts.
"He'll come and rejoin me the last couple of days of the walk," he said.
Stalls said he has arranged to stay with many of the families along the way — including the couple in Petaluma — through the website www.couchsurfing.com.
For more information about Stalls and his cross-country walk, visit www.kivawalk.com. For more about Kiva, visit www.kiva.org.
— Chris Samson, Petaluma Argus-Courier