MISHAWAKA—As a kid, James DiGiovanni recalls looking at a map of the United States and wondering: Is it possible to walk from New York to L.A.?
The question stuck in his mind, so much so that, two months ago, after graduating from Georgia State University with a master's in philosophy, he decided to find out.
On May 12, the Queens native, who turned 24 Wednesday, set out from Brooklyn to San Diego on foot, a distance of more than 2,800 miles. (To follow him, visit www.jamesiswalking.com.)
He arrived in Mishawaka and checked into a hotel on Tuesday, having covered 700 miles in 54 days, across parts of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and, now, Indiana.
He plans to stick around until Friday, and then trek another 600 miles west to Lincoln, Neb., followed by Denver, Las Vegas and, finally, San Diego.
His parents and younger brother arrived in town from Queens on Tuesday to help him pass the time. A trip to the University of Notre Dame is planned.
"It's been really incredible," DiGiovanni said, noting, in particular, the generosity of strangers.
"The one thing is, at the end of the night, I knock on someone's door and ask if I can pitch a tent in their yard ... but so often they offer me dinner or breakfast or a guest bedroom or a shower.
"I didn't expect people to go that far."
People have also stopped to offer him food and water, he said, even a lift.
"I won't accept rides," he said. "I've had a lot of people offer me rides, and then I have to explain to them why I can't."
DiGiovanni's belongings fit into two small bins, which he pushes around in a converted jogging stroller.
To pass the time, he listens to music and lectures on his iPhone, he said. The device gets its power from the sun, via a solar charger.
Asked why he decided to walk across the country now, he said it just seemed like the opportune time. He's not married, he said, and he doesn't have a mortgage or student debt.
Is it strange at all, not having a place to call home?
"It's a little bit strange," he said. "One woman asked me if I was homeless, and I didn't know how to answer her ... 'Technically yes, but
He may soon have a home in San Diego. He is considering staying there once he arrives. He said he might teach, or maybe go to law school.
"More than anything," he said, given the recent heat, "I'm looking forward to jumping into the Pacific Ocean."
Staff writer Erin Blasko: