By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS
Traveling man Chuck Johnson said it sometimes may feel as if he has the weight of the world on his shoulders – and with good reason. This chap has been walking back and forth across America for the last six years – carrying a giant homemade cross.
“Every time I have to make a new one it gets a little lighter,” said Johnson, who said his latest cross is made of plastic and weighs 20 pounds while his first one was oak and weighed 86 pounds. Known by the moniker “Cross Carrier Chuck,” Johnson’s latest cross is even equipped with a wheel so he can lean it on his shoulder and roll it down the street.
The 6-foot cross in question came wheeling down Tucumcari’s South First Street on Nov. 8, after Johnson, in his 40s and originally from California, had nabbed a voucher for the previous night’s stay in a local motel.
“I’ll press on up towards the highway from here,” he said, slowly heading south towards Highway 219 and eventually out of sight.
But there’ll be no doubt he’ll be spotted, he said, for he said it’s sort of hard to miss a bearded man in a Jesus baseball cap trudging down the highway with a huge white cross.
“People used to stop all the time,” Johnson said, referring back to his first non-stop journey in 1986 after he received an underwater baptism at a California church at age 24.
“Now I can walk 23 miles without anyone saying hello.”
That particular stretch, according to the Kentucky newspaper
The News-Enterprise, happened in their state. “Kentucky is the hardest state I’ve carried the cross in,” Johnson said.
The greatest difficulty about New Mexico and the southwest, he added, has been journeying through the wind-swept deserts.
Johnson said his latest, shall we say, personal exodus, began in Mexico in 1999 and has thus far taken him across the United States six times. He said an average cross-country trek takes him about five months.
“I left Tijuana with $55 and it took me $53 and change to build the cross,” Johnson said. “He knows exactly what I need.”
The “He” to whom Johnson refers, of course, is the same name blazoned on his baseball cap and the reason he started his journey with the cross in the first place.
“I want to remind people (of) the need for Jesus,” said Johnson, adding he himself has been generously offered rides, food and donations on his journeys. For the rides the drivers tie the cross upon the car roof as it will not fit inside.
“Whatever I get, I rely on people,” he said, adding he always gets enough to survive.
“Yes, I get lonely. I get bored,” he said, adding the message he carries outweighs the boredom. And he said he intends to keep on crossing the nation with a cross as long as he is able.
“I’ve been to the west coast 10 times, to the east coast at least five times, and in every state except Alaska and Hawaii,” he said.
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