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Two Harbors man begins 2,000-mile walk for local humane society

A Two Harbors man, inspired by his own pet cat, embarked earlier this month on a cross-country walking trip to raise money for the Lake County Humane Society.

David Glenn, 50, took a shuttle from Duluth to Minneapolis and a taxi to Eagan where he began his walk.

"I wanted to get to a point of no return," he said of the decision to begin the walk 200 miles from home. He plans to end up somewhere along the coast of California in February.

Glenn said he's always been an animal lover, training squirrels and deer to eat out of his hand and forging a strong bond with his adopted cat Isabelle. When he left on his walk, he had to give Isabelle up and had a tough time finding a loving home for her. Though he eventually found a family to take her in, the hurdles he experienced inspired him to dedicate his walk to the humane society, raising money and awareness for abandoned animals.

"All of his life, he's been a nurturing type person for animals. He's had innumerable dogs and cats and whatnot," said Glenn's dad Jim.

Glenn, walking at a pace of 15 to 20 miles per day, crossed into Iowa last Monday, his birthday. He said, he hopes people will pledge a penny to the humane society for each mile he walks. His entire walk should be about 2,500 miles, but he said he hasn't calculated the exact distance, as he's worried the number would just be discouraging. He said any donations to the humane society he inspires will make it worth it.

"I wanted to put myself out there to show that I'm for real," he said. "If I'm willing to do this at my age, maybe (people can) break loose of five bucks or ten bucks."

It's no small task, but his dad has no doubt that he can finish the walk.

"He's always been the type of person when he puts his mind to something, he does it," Jim Glenn said.

This isn't the first journey Glenn has taken. He was born in Two Harbors but he and his younger sister grew up as Air Force brats, moving to a new town every two years or so with their parents. He spent much of his young adult life in the south and has held an impressively diverse number of jobs -- from a sword fisherman in South Carolina to the head of technical support for an automotive parts company in Springfield, Mo.

He returned to his Minnesota birthplace in 1998, landing a job at IBM in Rochester. After being laid off in 2002, he moved to Two Harbors to help his aunt take care of his ailing uncle. He's been here ever since, working as a chef in a series of restaurants in the area and studying for a time at Lake Superior College.

After 11 years, Glenn said he felt like he needed a change.

"I got to a point in my life where I was a man out of time. I don't have any kids, I'm not married, I don't quite fit in with my peers," he said.

For a man who has spent his life moving, stagnation was disconcerting, so he set out on the road.

His first goal is to make it to his dad's place in Springfield by November, where he will take a week or two off. Then he will set off across the southwest toward the Pacific Coast. He's sticking to smaller towns and camping each night.

"I'm trying to do a Charles Kuralt thing," he said, referring to the host of "On the Road," a popular CBS segment in the 1970s and '80s that highlighted small towns across the country. "Other than Rochester, I've been trying to avoid the bigger cities. I just need a place about once a week to take a shower and rest my legs."

He spent two nights in Rochester with a host he found on, a website that connects travelers with hosts across the country who are willing to offer a place to sleep free of charge. His next extended rest stop will be a night or two in a hotel in Waterloo, Iowa.

Most of his time is spent just walking and pushing his stroller full of more than 100 pounds of gear, including 25 pounds of dehydrated food which he cooks when he makes camp for the night. He's using his chef skills to spice up the rations and said he plans to write a cookbook when the journey is over on how to eat gourmet when camping or travelling. He'll include recipes like the Thai red curry he recently made - just instant rice, beef jerky and red curry powder.

He hinted at another writing goal in the more distant future, too - an autobiography covering his walk across America and his winding journey through life before that.

"One of these days I'll write a book ... when I find out when the statute of limitations is up," Glenn said.

Update on Oct. 31: Glenn has since given up on his walk. According to a Facebook post on his personal page on Oct. 23, he said "I don't think I can continue this quest ... I am not sorry that I attempted this. I learned a lot on the way."

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
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