Freezing temperatures and the common cold aren't stopping Allen Mullins from pushing on with his goal to hit the Lower 48 state capitals in four years or less.
And it is all by foot.
Wearing a Captain America costume with an American flag sticking out of his backpack, Mullins has been capturing the attention of passers-by for 22 months straight as he has zigzagged across the country.
Saturday, he stopped in Kennewick on his way to Olympia -- his 39th capital.
He never has served in the military, yet the 29-year-old from Dalton, Ga., took it upon himself to spread word about the plight of homeless veterans. His walk is dedicated to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and he encourages people to volunteer time, donate money or whatever else they can to the nonprofit service organization.
"I'm just doing what I feel that citizens should do, is to put a little effort into showing that you can do more than just talking about the problems and issues that the soldiers are going through," Mullins said. "They need a lot more than just verbal support, and I figure if you're going to talk it you might walk it as well."
Mullins was framing houses for a private contractor when he realized he wanted to do his part. His boss and fellow workers were all veterans, so Mullins asked the contractor to auction off his home and two acres of land and donate the proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Then, at 26, he set out on his first challenge -- 5,000 miles in less than a year. He started Jan. 5, 2009, and finished by Nov. 15, moving from Louisiana throughout the south up to Manhattan.
He took a breather, and hit the road again Jan. 15, 2010, for his capital walk. His first stop was Nashville, Tenn.
A quick Google search for "Allen Mullins Captain America" and "Allen Mullins Superman" returns dozens of hits to media stories and YouTube videos.
Mullins sees his superhero costume as a great conversation starter, and thinks if a person is willing to pull over and talk to him, then they must have a sense of humor and be curious. He has sold sports cards and other collector's items from his youth for extra cash, and set ground rules for his walks.
"I can't ask people for nothing," Mullins said. Someone first must offer a ride, food, lodging or even the use of a telephone for him to accept.
"I want to encourage people to open their boundaries to offer me that ride, to put that judgmental part of them aside," he added. "That's the whole point is to reach out here to people."
Mullins has walked about 18,000 miles of the 22,000 he has logged since January 2009.
His left foot was run over by a truck in Texas, he has walked through blizzards and over mountains, and now he is coming down with a cold as he sets out on Highway 12 to Washington's capital. But he won't quit.
"Everything bad that's happened to me, I just think about what (soldiers) over there are doing," he said. "If they can suffer for me, I can suffer for them."
On Saturday, Mullins met an off-duty police officer who gave Mullins a movie ticket and his business card, offering a ride over White Pass when he gets in the Yakima area.
He hopes to finish by next summer and take two weeks off. Then everyone Mullins knows with an email address will be asked to vote on his third challenge -- walking to all veterans memorials and monuments in the United States or walking the outline of every state.
His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.