'Oh sure, I get the 'Oh, you're like Forrest Gump,' " said Sun City Hilton Head resident Michael Boggs. "But I always say, 'Forrest ran, I walk.' "
Indeed he does.
For the past 26 years Boggs, 69, has walked, while on vacation or when he was living in North Carolina, about 10,000 miles around, up and down the United States. His starting point was Concord, N.C., where he was a high school librarian for Stanley County before moving to Sun City in 2005.
His various walking trails across the country encompass North Carolina south to Florida, then west from the Florida Panhandle to southern California. Boggs has walked from Portland, Maine, south and west to Michigan (his hometown is Lansing), and then westward to Minnesota. His trails are marked on a large map of the United States in a thick application of red nail polish.
Boggs undertakes his walks in several guises. Sometime he just takes off walking. Other times he and his wife Kathleen go together. She books a hotel room for a month at the final destination, and then they head out. Michael walks and Kathleen drives either ahead or behind and picks him up at the end of each day. Sometimes Michael will drive cross country while Kathleen takes a plane and then they meet up at their destination.
This summer, the Boggs' spent a month on the West Coast, using Eureka, Calif., as their base camp.
"Each day, (Kathleen) would take me out and I'd walk 10, or 11 or 12 miles," Michael Boggs said. In all, he walked 434 miles on the trip.
Over the years, he has kept a log of his travels and he now has three and half fat notebooks filled with his observations and recordings of his walks.
On one walk from Texas to California, it took him three springs and three falls to make the trip. In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina wrecked parts of coastal Louisiana, Boggs found himself stranded because a bridge had been knocked out.
"I don't plan ahead, I just walk," he said, which also includes not checking long-range weather reports. "Once, in North Carolina, I was on the top of a mountain, and an electrical storm hit. While I was waiting for my wife to pick me up, I just got down as low to the ground as I could and hoped for the best."
Boggs has seen many creatures along the way. He's come across jack rabbits and road runners ("I'd never seen one of them before," he said), coyote and elk.
"The only creatures I would say I have encountered that I had to worry about was people's dogs," he said. Boggs and his wife choose walking locations for their vacation, so they are most often in attractive places. Past destinations have included San Francisco, the northern coast of California, the southern coast of Oregon, Seattle and Phoenix.
"I haven't done the Great Plains states yet. My goal is not to do all the states. First, I want to do around the country," Boggs said, who is a member of the Silver Striders and bicycle clubs in Sun City. "People ask me what cause I am walking for, and I say, 'Cause I enjoy it; it's my hobby."