Their beards now sufficiently extend down their necks and the hair on their heads is looking quite floppy. Meals of canned chicken for breakfast and tuna for lunch grew old hundreds of miles ago.

However, the steak nachos in front of the two Iowa men at The Ale House on Friday night seemed to go down easy.

Longtime friends Matt Andersen and Trevor Stephens, both 24, are from Council Bluffs and are in this for the long haul. Rather, the long walk.

Andersen, a recent college graduate, and Stephens, who wrapped up four years of service in the U.S. Marines in January, began their walk across the U.S. on March 1 in Delaware. Their intention is to raise funds for veterans.

They stepped into Grand Junction earlier this week, but their journey nearly went unnoticed if not for a friend, Shawn Montgomery, who shared a Facebook post of the men's adventure.

Montgomery, a spokesman with Grand Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center, reached out to the walkers.

"They looked like they needed a little rest," said Montgomery, peering at the guys over a table at the restaurant.

Once folks learned of the men's mission, locals rolled out the welcome mat.

For starters, The Ale House donated 20 percent of its dinnertime profits Friday night to the men's cause. The men are raising money for the Purple Heart Foundation, a group that aims to help veterans and their families.

Local residents helped pay for four nights at the Doubletree Hotel. One man bought Stephens a pair of high-quality walking boots.

The Lands End Fire Department Auxiliary pitched in a couple hundred dollars so the men could buy some supplies, such as camping pillows and a cart they'll use to haul water in their slog across arid Utah and Nevada.

Montgomery signed Stephens up for the veteran's benefits he qualified for. He'll also try to stage shipments of supplies to the walkers to tide them over in the rural stretches along their route.

While the men have been met with kindness in other locales thus far during their walk, they were a bit surprised by the outpouring of support found here.

"We've definitely gained some weight," Stephens said with a grin.

They travel about 20 to 30 miles a day, once logging a record 38 miles. The pair plans to take off from Grand Junction this morning and bed down somewhere around Mack tonight.

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