Man and goat traverse the nation on foot to raise money to build African orphanage
'All right, baby boy!' Steve Wescott calls to LeeRoy Brown. 'Let's move.'
The traveling duo has spent this rainy Thursday afternoon inching their way up Mount Hood - on foot.
Earlier they garnered a flock of curious onlookers and photosnappers as they stopped in Sandy for a haircut at The Buzz at Bakers Barber.
Now Scott Lustig and his children, Zach, 14, and Emma, 15, have veered off Highway 26 a few miles shy of Brightwood, recognizing Wescott and LeeRoy from a recent news clip.
'It's pretty awesome,' Emma says. 'It's crazy he's (Wescott) walking with a goat.'
Indeed, LeeRoy Brown the goat is Wescott's 'Plan B' travel companion he picked up through New Moon Goat Rescue in Arlington, Wash., after his Rottweiler, Louie, was injured. The two are making their way across the country together, one step at a time.
Scott Lustig offers Wescott a handful of Nature Valley granola bars and asks if there's anything else he needs for the next leg of the journey, as Emma and Zach pet LeeRoy Brown.
This is the same sort of kindness Wescott and LeeRoy Brown have been met with since they embarked on Needle2Square, their walk across America to raise funds to build an orphanage with Uzima Outreach and Intervention in Nairobi, Kenya.
'I sold everything I had except my guitar gear,' says Wescott, a Washington native. 'I didn't train at all besides training my mind. I'm not a camper. I never had a barn animal. The learning curve is steep, and I've made every mistake I could make, but it's opened the world to me.'
Strangers will refill his Starbucks card. A community leader will buy him a hotel room. An old friend will stock him with snacks for the road.
'A guy walking with a dog isn't very special,' Wescott says. 'A guy walking with a goat and a mission is another story.'
The idea came to Wescott to walk across the country in December 2010 as he was touring across the country with his band. Within a couple months, he left the band to research what it would take to walk 3,500 miles from the Space Needle in Seattle to Times Square in New York City.
But Wescott didn't want to just walk across the country; he wanted a cause.
Enter his best friend Stephen Turner, who was serving as a missionary in Nairobi, Kenya. When Turner returned home for a visit and told Wescott about his work with Uzima Outreach and Intervention, Wescott knew he'd found the right match for his walk.
'We're going to do this,' he remembers thinking. 'We're going to do something crazy.'
Wescott and LeeRoy Brown embarked on the adventure May 2 at the Space Needle, making their way to Portland and then Mount Hood.
Now Wescott walks about 16 miles a day, depending on how many people he stops to chat with. He mostly camps along the side of the road with LeeRoy Brown and totes a backpack that weighs anywhere from 25-30 pounds.
Though the goal was originally to make it in nine months, Wescott says it's more important to get the message out there and tell his story. Now he may extend the trip to a year or longer.
With LeeRoy Brown socialized practically like a dog, it makes traveling easier.
'Certain animals herd with people,' Wescott says. 'LeeRoy bonded with me, and we are like home boys. He goes everywhere I go - laundry, hotels, malls.'
His ultimate goal is to raise the $200,000 needed to build an orphanage with Uzima Outreach and Intervention. What he'll do after the walk, Wescott is not sure. But he's confident his experience with Needle2Square will lead to the next adventure.
Thus far, Wescott and LeeRoy Brown have traveled from Seattle to Portland. Now they're en route to Boise, and from there it's anyone's bet.
'I'm not a planner; I'm a city kid,' Wescott says. 'We vibe it out. If these were my kids, my family, I would give everything. I'd walk around the world to make sure they were safe. If I have to walk from New York to Florida, I will.'
FOLLOW THE TREK
Over the weekend, Steve Wescott and LeeRoy Brown completed the Mount Hood leg of their cross-country adventure, stopping in Sandy and along Highway 26 as they crossed over the mountain.
The traveling duo is walking across America to raise funds to build an orphanage with Uzima Outreach and Intervention in Nairobi, Kenya.
To follow and support Wescott and LeeRoy Brown, visit needle2square.com. Wescott blogs regularly, posting fun video and social media updates.