For three weeks, rain or shine, Tom Francine has been walking. Born and raised in New Jersey, Francine says he has always loved traveling. And after hitchhiking more than 26,000 miles, the 26-year-old says he is slowing down and touring the country, one foot after the other.
"You really get to know an area when you're walking through," Francine said. "A lot of people try to rush through places, sometimes they don't even get to talk to people who live in the area, they might just stay in a hotel. I like a different kind of traveling."
Starting in Portland, Maine, Francine will walk 3,200 miles to the sunny beaches of San Diego. At a 3 mph pace, he estimates he averages 17-27 miles every day.
"I'm thinking more and more about that as I go, actually," he said with a laugh, "more than I did in the beginning. It's very, very exhausting, but it's also very rewarding."
But Francine says rain or pain won't slow him down because he is walking with a purpose. Throughout all his travels, he says he has yet to have a bad experience, and attributes that to the goodness in humanity. And that is what he wants to highlight through his journey.
"It's just amazing how many of those little things I experience every day, of people trying to help me or just being friendly. How many times I am friendly to other people as I go, and they are friendly back. It's just-- people are good. And that is what I am trying to get out there," he said.
By day he walks with his trusty stroller, carrying water, food and various supplies. Francine says half the time he camps in his tent, and the other half in homes of people who offered him shelter. And whether it is a long day or a sleepless night, Francine says there is always a bright future ahead on the road.
"The one thing that I've learned though my travels is that from every down point, it's not that far ahead in time that a great thing will happen," Francine said.
And he plans to share his story with people he meets along the way, hoping to spread the goodwill that he has found one foot at a time.
Francine says he worked for several years to raise money to fund the trip. He figures he will reach San Diego sometime in December.