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Bruce Maynard pictured in South Heart on Friday.

77-year-old U.S. trekker stops in South Heart

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SOUTH HEART -- Two years ago, Bruce Maynard, 77, a father of five from Washington, lost his wife to breast cancer, watched his 32-year-old packaging business go sour and lost his home.

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With little to lose, Maynard set out to see the nation, from the U.S.-Canadian border down to Key West, Fla., and doing it alone on foot with overnight stays in a camper, which was parked across the street Friday from I Don't Know Bar in South Heart.

"The decision to do this walk would be the hardest part for most people," Maynard said, while devouring a free meal of steak and potatoes. "They would have to leave behind everything they have and it would be expensive, but I don't have anything to lose and am devoted 100 percent to this. Most people don't believe anyone my age could do this. I'm proving people wrong."

Maynard kicked up his feet and threw back a beer on Thursday with patrons at Sit-N-Bull Bar in Taylor, after the completion of a 35-mile trek.

He delighted Sit-N-Bulls owners Theresa and Bob Metz with pictures and stories about his travels.

"He has five pairs of Brooks-brand shoes with him, but so far he's only worn out three of them," Theresa Metz said. "He told us about losing his wife to breast cancer and said he believes his longevity will be based on eating well and walking like he does. I was impressed by him and think what he's doing is fantastic. He has a great outlook on life. I think he wants to live to be 120 and I hope he does. I'm glad he stopped by."

Even though Maynard's camper was headed west on Highway 10 by early Friday morning, his tales and the pictures of barns and animals he captured on film continued to captivate Theresa Metz.

"Listening to him, looking at all of his pictures and his blog, made me wish I could do something like that but I don't think I could," she said. "I would be too scared of the animals I might encounter or the scary people I would meet along the way. Bruce told us that he really isn't scared of those things though."

Not everyone is lucky enough to meet Maynard, but anyone can follow him at http://seniorswalkingacrossamerica.blogspot.com, where he recaps each day's journey.

Along the way, Maynard wears a reflective vest, sunglasses and a hat with earflaps.

He packs the pockets of his reflective vest with a bottle of water, mace, crackers, a cell phone and a camera, but the most important thing he carries with him may be his No. 1 rule: Staying alive is all that matters,.

"Sometimes it gets tough out here and wears on the body, even though I prepared six months beforehand," he said. "But I have to admit, this is the most fabulous thing I've done in my life and it isn't something most people half my age could do."

When Maynard told Mike Sticka, owner of I Don't Know Bar in South Heart, where Maynard stopped to relax Friday night, that he was 77 years old, there was a moment of disbelief for Sticka.

"He says he's in his seventies, but he looks like he's about 50," Sticka said. "When he first came in, he said he walked from Taylor and planned to continue his walk to Belfield. I asked him why he just didn't drive. Then, he told me his story and I couldn't stop listening."

That's the reaction Maynard hopes people have when they hear his story.

"I'm demonstrating for everyone that old people have abilities and can do things and be beneficial to society," he said. "When I lost everything, I didn't end it all, even though I could have. I found a way to show people that everyone has purpose, no matter their age."

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