Brown found the death of the “love of his life” very difficult. Walking and running had been important to them as a couple. A friend recommended he see “My Run,” a movie about a man who completed 75 marathons in 75 days. So when the first scene revealed a man, Terry Hitchcock, struggling with the death of his wife due to breast cancer, Brown was inspired.
“If he can run 75 marathons in a row, I can walk across the country,” he said.
Brown decided it was time in 2011 during the holiday season when his company was planning for the coming year. It was then, Brown realized he didn't want to be at work anymore. He gave his employer six months' notice and started training by walking, biking and working out daily.
Brown chose highways U.S. 40 and U.S. 50 because, as a native Ohioan, he has spent much of his life driving and jogging on the routes. In the 1980s, Joan gave him a book titled “U.S. 40 Today,” which chronicled a couple's 1983 drive from Atlantic City to San Francisco. The two took the same path and photos as a college professor who, in 1953, explored the westbound road.
Brown is excited to follow those same paths 30 and 60 years later, respectively, and has seen first-hand the changes those regions have experienced. Although some photos, he said, are barely different from previous decades.
Brown will miss some photo opportunities when he deviates from U.S. 40 after St. Louis because the road has been “beat up” since 1983. At that point, he plans to take U.S. 50 westward from Missouri.
In the more than two months since he began the journey, the 61-year-old has been overwhelmed by the generosity of fellow Americans.
Because of the generosity, Brown has only spent about $132 on hotel rooms, with strangers and some lodgers, offering him a place to rest his feet.