Monday, December 5, 2016

Good Day!

I write to you from the Madison Public Library in Florida. I made it about 35 miles today before it got too dangerous to be on the road. I had planned on staying in Monticello another night, due to the forecasted thunderstorms, but saw that the weather was going to have a break for a few hours. I decided that 30ish miles was better than no-miles.

I spent most of the morning in Burger King! Oh how they entice me with their free coffee refills and wifi... I ended up just reading for most of the morning anyway. I'm about 60 pages shy of finishing the book I started at the beginning of the trip-Dune.

So, I think I'll use my power as "Blog-Master" to let you know what I think of the book. Here goes:

I started out a little hesitant to get into this book. My fellow Gannett Glacier comrades nudged me into it however, with their constant old-english accents and phrases. I knew I needed a book to bring with me on the trip. What I didn't know, is that my down-time didn't really occur as often as I thought it would. This resulted in two-months worth of cliff hangers. I would often have to reread previous chapters just to catch back up with where I left off.

Ok, ok, so back to the actual review of the book. Let me first say, I'm a little biased by my interest in Science fiction. I read the glossary and some of the appendixes first. This was the first novel I ever read that required me to actually research the terms and gain insight on the characters and environments. I think this helped keep my attention. Exploring this "World" that Frank Herbert (Author) created, was like swimming in a pool of some medium created outside the box, with just enough touches of home and reality to give me somewhat of an anchor point to start from.

About three chapters in, I realized that I was reading a book about a desert planet, Arrakis, while I was actually in a desert in California. This is when things started to get weird. Try pedaling out into the desert (completely different from the environment you came from) by yourself, and then reading a book about the dangerous life in a similar landscape. Every cacti took the form of some weirdly beast, and every grain of sand falling down a dune was the signal of fate to me. The cold nights and bright stars brought me to another world. I was on my own Arrakis.

The depth of character stories, coupled with the intrinsic description of emotions that were attached to those characters, was gripping. "A feint within a feint, within a feint." I'm glad I never watched the film ( from what I've heard, was done in the 80's and a horrible flop). Starting the book with child Paul, the protagonist, and following him on his path, has been a wild ride so far.

I will admit, the book does jump around a bit. The past, present, and future all start to blend together, and you begin to sense the same struggle that "Maud-Dib" faces. There were a few times when I didn't know what was a dream and what was reality. I kind of like that sort of thing though. The Philosophical side of me is drawn to it.

Would I read this book again? Yes, definitely. I'll be buying the second book in the series when I get home. I have heard that the first book is the best, but isn't that how it always is? I mean, with books and movies alike? But you still go to the theater and watch the movie. I will still go to amazon and buy the second book. So I guess you could say, I'm hooked on Dune.

Ok the library is closing now, so I need to go. Hope this short little "Review" has influenced you in one way or another.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Keep Pedaling

Hello folks,

I write you tonight while sitting by the ocean. It rages behind my back, crackling now and again to remind me of its power. Luckily, I have a giant concrete wall behind me, as well as one to my immediate right. I’m on the lower level of the oceanfront Baptist Church in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

I rode 68 miles today (5 were on a ferry).  I started in Grand Bay, and rode to Dauphine Island, got on the ferry, and traveled to Fort Morgan. From there, I rode the coast until I hit Gulf Shores. My goal was to camp at Gulf State Park. With the sun setting and thunderstorms headed my way, I searched for shelter. The wind along the coastline can be brutal, especially when you’re in a tent. After finding there was no type of shelter at the park, I decided to take my chances and pedal on. The fact that the park charges $26.00 a night for a primitive site for me to lay on the ground has nothing to do with this, but I just want to take a moment to say “Come on guys, seriously?”

The wind was intensifying at this point, and the skies were growing darker, foggier. I deployed my night gear. I was ready to ride another 8 miles to find a possible spot to camp. 

It’s kind of funny how covert you become when you start touring. When the sun starts going down, your eyes begin to scan for possible low-key spots. Your brain begins to utilize all your experience on the road to come up with a statistic for getting hassled in the middle of the night. And I don’t mean by just the cops, I’m talking ANYTHING. Maybe it’s the “park for egress” attitude that comes from my jobs? I don’t know.  Here are some things that roll through my head when I’m looking for a spot:

Dogs- is there poop around? Will someone be walking his or her dog here in the morning? Is that dog down the street barking at me, or a deer, and if so, will it bark all damn night?

Lighting- security lights coming on after dark? Shadows are good. Is there a bright light that’s going to keep me up all night? What angle are the cars turning? Are their headlights going to shine on my tent, revealing my location?

Ants- well that’s a no brainer right?

Bike storage--Is there somewhere to prop up my bike? It’s easier to get in and out of the bags when it’s upright. Covered storage trumps all.

Shelter—if the rain REALLY comes down tonight, is this thing going to hold up? Trust me- I learned this the hard way.

Access to amenities- Can I get water near by? Is there an outlet to charge my stuff? These are only on-site maybe 50% of the time, but it’s really nice to have charged-up stuff.


Safety—Am I going to get knifed in the belly during the middle of the night here? If you keep your eyes open, you’ll find out what the level of threat is as you ride through. Remember, just because you don’t see a crack head at 6pm, doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be out at 3am. Finding a location that is secluded is only valuable if your confident nobody is going to have a reason to wander into your spot. If you have no choice but to rest your head in a questionable area, sleep with one eye open, and keep your knife at your side.

Ok, so these are things that pass through my head as I scan, but really the best thing to do is to find a warm showers host and call it good.  You’ll meet some amazing people, share some great stories, and make tons of new friends.

Rather than just preaching to folks about my  “stealth camping system,” I should talk about something far more important. The past two weeks have been crazy. I don’t even know where to begin. I think it’s been much longer than that since I’ve written an entry. I know I’ve really been slacking on the media aspect of my trip, but somewhere along the way, I realized that it was stressing me out.

I’m so glad to be involved with the charity aspect of the trip. I’m also super stoked that people have been enjoying my posts, blogs, and youtube videos. Putting in 40-80 miles a day, planning my routes, and experiencing the sights  leaves me little time to edit video. It takes me approximately 8 hours to upload and edit an episode for the blog. If I want to make that happen, I must commit my one rest day to doing it. This pressure has left me a little tired. This is why I’ve decided to postpone any new episode production until I get home.

I have about ten days left out here on the road. I believe it’s important to experience these next days with clearest conscience possible. One of my favorite quotes comes from Henry David Thoreau:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

This quote represents my beliefs in so many ways. I enjoy taking the hard road, if it means a better understanding myself and others. Sometimes I get tired of being dirty. That aroma of sweat and two days worth of sunscreen gets to be atrocious! But when I really boil it down, I always come back to the same train of thought- Nothing is forever or for certain.

Living on the road like a gypsy, vagabond, traveller, or whatever you want to call it, keeps me real. It humbles me. It reminds me that I have it made in my world. It helps me better understand our human condition. I’m not talking about race either. I’m talking about the core values that every good person on this earth equally understands, no matter where they’re from.

When you throw in the physical aspect of the trip, it gets even more complicated. In Thoreau’s quote, he speaks of driving life into a corner and reducing it to its lowest terms. I’ve learned about my body's needs more than a 13 year-old kid hitting puberty. It’s absolutely insane what you can do if you just don’t give up. YOU WILL GET STRONGER. YOU WILL GET FASTER. Just give it time. Focusing on what your body is asking from you is important. You can’t just bust out a century on your first day.

Maybe your knee has a weird feeling like mine did this morning. A yellow flag went up immediately, but I didn’t stop. Yes, I was trying to make some miles, but what’s it worth if you knee blows out? I down shifted and pedaled easy for 30 minutes. When I felt the pain was gone, I slowly increased my speed, monitoring any subtle inconsistencies or pops. Sure, I go beast-mode sometimes, but I do it with some calculation.

The biggest challenge is the mental game. I daydream for hours sometimes. I get focused on a subject or idea, and think about it until some external stimuli snaps me back to reality. I did this once for about four hours. When I looked down, I had ridden almost 50 miles!

Negativity will become your worst enemy, and most formidable form of resistance if you let it. This is where the mental agility really comes into play. There are a handful of things I do to keep the negative thoughts from creeping in.

Hammer down—Grit your teeth, shake your head a few times, and literally tell yourself, “Give me your best!” and get into super-bikeninja-focus.

Put on some tunes—Change it up. Try and find something that suits both your mood and your scenery. For example: Yesterday, I was riding along the beach on the coastal pathway. I put on “ Reggae Infusion.” Today I was riding through more of a Bayou of Alabama, so I put on some Lynard Skynard. If you want to crank miles, put on some EDM.

Take a quick break—Sometimes you just need to get some calories in your body and re-focus.

Stop and do something—Get off the bike and reset you brain. Do something stimulating like walking through an estuary, hitting up a museum, or getting a beer ( be careful with this one!)

All in all, I think the only true motivator that can get you from point A to point B, no matter if it’s ocean to ocean, or just to the supermarket down the street, is your desire to make it happen. Making a choice, and sticking with it is important in all aspects of life. Don’t make excuses. Figure out what you want to do, make a plan, and execute. You don’t have to get elaborate, but make contingency plans too, because things are going to get in your way. That IS one thing that is for certain. I guess it’s like that old saying, “ Expect the worst, hope for the best.”

Damn it feels good to get philosophical and wordy tonight. I hope ya’ll aren’t laying with your head on the keyboard in a puddle of drool right now. This isn’t because I care if you like what I’ve written, but because nobody likes to wake up with a screen that just says:

Kd;;;jjklffgjjjjjjdldlfpdfokpdofdfpdofkdpfokfkdffjiwfof984r2h20f20e9f2fu09urf0ij3ifj4jrvrgorvjerpom3pofm4o3jfvmvnvn dfnririomrnrimoeii.

I have to get some sleep!

Till next time,


Monday, October 31, 2016

Be the change


I've had a hankerin' for bloggin' lately. Thats the inner Texan in me. That's where I sit, Texas. Van Horn, to be specific. I think I left off somewhere in Silver City. Ah yes, I now recall,  it was in the living room of the Bike Haus.
I'm now in a truck stop, sitting in a booth next to the only two functional electronic slot machines, among four others. Luckily, the trucker pulling the levers has left Steve and I to ourselves for now.

I'll begin with the ride from Silver City to my introduction to Texas. Excuse me if the timeline gets funky. Sometimes I feel like I'm in an episode of the "Twilight Zone," as the days and towns are starting to run together. Thoughts come and go so freely when you're on the bike, it's easy to pedal away from reality.

So, back to Texas. We had a long ride, 70+ miles, to get to the outskirts of the city of El Paso, which is right across the Rio Grande. We took an alternative route to get us there, as we decided it was in both our interests to make better time after our Gila detour. The route took us along the Mexican border for most of the way. The only problem with coming into a city at the end of your ride is everything. Fatigue, frustration, navigation,and anxiety about where you might rest your head that night.

We hit the bridge that would take us over the river and into Texas, and it was under construction. This was only the beginning of our direction changing setbacks and detours. See, the problem with navigating a city on a bike is this: If you go the wrong way, you can't just hit the pedal and turn around. Wait, yes, you can, but with a lot more effort. Making a mistake can cause you a lot of stress in getting across multiple lanes of traffic, miles, minutes, or hours of back-tracking.

We both had errands to attend to in the city, so Steve and I split up. I had to pick up fuel for my stove, and he had a package at a post office. Both fatigued with the whole day of riding, we braved the traffic and the hills of El Paso, which are not part of route. Towards the end of the day, it was getting dark, and we were miles apart. It was at this point when I realized we weren't getting out of the city. I was closer to the end of town, but still far from peace and safety. Steve was at the North end. I found myself at a city park-- Ascata, I think? I was riding around, looking for a guerrilla site to camp at without getting knifed by a meth addict.

I've learned, never take one persons advice to heart and believe it truth. Talk to multiple people and formulate your own opinion. So, as I was riding around, I saw a guy in an sandy colored, mid 90's ford pickup with a bike in the back. Another thing I've come to realize, is that people on bikes are usually friendly, and share some sort of personal investment in their recreational choice. So I pulled up and started some conversation.

I asked how familiar he was with the area, and if he thought it was safe out there. Before long, we had introduced ourselves, and I was sharing my story. Moses, was a kind-hearted guy from the start. He offered me a place to stay at his house 8 miles away, and a ride there. I immediately accepted the offer, not knowing exactly how special that decision would be. I felt a little guilty though, not knowing if Steve was going to find shelter that night.

When we arrived at Moses' place, he had to go in and pitch my story to his family, Carolynne his wife, and Lilly his daughter. They greeted me with open arms and asked if I liked zucchini. After getting settled, Moses gave me a tour of his paintings. He's an amazing painter. With a style like that of Ashcan, but softer, much like his demeanor and voice, he conveys messages of "People doing what they do."

We then were eating the delicious feast Carolynne and Lilly had prepared, I got a txt from Steve, who was finished with his Post Office-tour. He knocked at the door a few minutes later and reunited with a look of amazement in our lucky fate. After some more food and some beers, some poetry reading, and some excellent conversation, we hit the sack. The next morning consisted of much the same. Food and conversation. We didn't want to leave. Their hospitality was flattering. Before this experience, El Paso was to me, only a brand of salsa.

We then set out for the edge of town, and made it. We set up camp in a Pecan grove. Boy, was that a mistake. During the day, the railroad tracks we followed were empty. I guess they run the night trains in Texas. The peaceful grove, symmetrical and constant with it's cool shade and abundant pecans, became a train lovers dream. Every 15 minutes, we would later find out from a Dollar General employee, a train would vibrate by, wailing its cries from miles down the tracks. Needless to say, neither of us got much sleep. We pressed on.

We are now about 250 miles from Del Rio. The next big place of interest on our list is the McDonald Observatory, which we will hit tomorrow night. As Jamie from the Bike Haus explained to me, "You have to break Texas down into Counties and points of interest." After visiting the Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, I've become fascinated with astronomy. It's at 6200 feet, so let's hope the climb won't hurt us too bad. After Gila, I think I'll make it.

As far as the Go Fund Me is concerned, It's still going. I had some big donations since the last update. The news coverage is steady, but I'm stepping it up a notch. I contacted Mark Smith from Bikes for Goodness Sake. I've set up an event for when I get into Austin. They have selected a child to help me build a bike in their shop. After helping me build it, I'm going to donate it. I want to get all this on film and post it to my page for the people who have already invested. I think this will also show people how much of a change they are making by contributing. The smile on that kid's face will be so real and tangible, and I can't wait.

Physically, I'm getting strong, aside from my butt hurting. Mentally, I'm feeling the fatigue of the daily grind. Yes, this is fun; I love doing it. I love seeing the gradual change in the plant life, the rock formations, the people. I enjoy the challenge the trip brings into my life. I learn a little bit more about myself every day. This trip is bringing me so many more ideas and creative themes. It's introducing me to all kinds of art, and the artists that make it. People, themselves have made this journey worth while. Stepping into someone's home and learning who they are randomly, and understanding their views, desires, and reasons, has been invigorating.

I think most of all, I've learned to make the best of what you've got in this world. Be happy with your life, and if your not, do whatever it takes to change it to make it better. You're in charge of your world. As my friend Steve, the guy I'm riding with always says (quoting Ghandi), "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Well, it's getting dark, and I want to put some more miles in.

Till next time,


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Come what may

Hey all,

I'm sitting at a table in the "Bike Haus" in Silver City NM. It's crazy what can happen when you're open to change and willing to put a little faith in humanity. I was headed to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, about 50 miles north of my intended route, when I met Steve. Well, I met a lot of people that day, including a guy named Kim who was cycling the Continental Divide trail. Hardcore! It just so happened that when I returned from the monument, Steve and another guy named Bo were chatting on the front porch of the only small store in the area.

We all got along well. I really wanted to check out the hot springs I had heard about in Gila, and Bo was a local. He showed Steve and I the location of the hot springs, which was next door to his place. After taking a soak and setting up camp, Bo picked us up at the end of his driveway in his 4x4 campervan. He invited us in for a Santa Fe pale ale, football, and conversation.

The next morning Bo had us over for Breakfast. 5 star! He then gave us a tour of his place, which was beautifully tucked into the woods of the Gila wilderness. Bo shared stories of his involvement in the bike races that are conducted in Gila, and showed us pictures of him manning the motorcycle beside Lance Armstrong. I have to emphasize, Bo is a cyclist and motorcyclist because of an event that I'll talk about a little later.

After leaving Bo's, Steve and I set out to ride the 42 miles out of the valley. There was about 8-9 miles of climbing. It was about 4,000 vertical feet of elevation gain. It was nice having some company from Steve for the push up those hills. He also, being a long time cyclist, helped me out with some pointers relative to biking. It's really fun to zip down the big hills, but you end up missing a lot of the scenery. When you're going 2-4 mph, you can actually catch the views as you go. In our case, the Gila Wilderness and Sappio Valley were exquisite.

About 4:30, and 4 miles away from Pinos Altos, I hear Steve say, "Car Back!," and I heard a motorcycle approaching. The bike passed us, but this wasn't a normal pass. As the red MotoGussi zoomed by, we noticed the driver was standing up on the pegs, hands in the air. A delicate and calculated dance commenced to ensue as the by sped away, progressing to a "feet on the seat, but shaking" move. Watch out Red-Bull athletes.

Steve and I looked at each other and just started laughing in amazement and both thought, "That's gotta be Bo." Sure enough, about 300 feet later, we find Bo with his helmet off, leaning against his precious Italian motorcycle. After some conversation, Bo said, " I'll save us a table at the Buckhorn."

The Buckhorn Saloon, in the town of Pinos Altos, was super cool. There's hardly anything in this town except for a few extremely old buildings. The saloon on the outside was just what you would expect from the early settling days. Stone with white mortar made up the walls, with rough cut, hand hewn lumber making up the deck, hitching post/ handrail, and second story support logs sticking out. Beside the Saloon is the old Opera House.

When you walk in to the Saloon, it's dimly lit. You immediately get an old, burlesque-style, outlaw vibe as your shoes cobble across the worn oiled oak floors. The first thing we looked at was a plaque that was on the wall, between a risque nude painting and a mounted elk, just above the fireplace. It said something along the lines of " for my father, you good for nothin' son of a bitch." I'm not really sure what that was all about, but the petina in the plaques finish told me that this grudge remained from a time long ago.

After some great food and conversation we headed back to Silver City in the dark, lights flashing. We made it the 7.5 miles in record time; 20 minutes. After finding that Steve's warm shower host wasn't home, I rode back another 2 miles to town and approached a small house in town that had bicycles strewn among the yard and fence. It looked a little run down in the dark, but I had heard good things from everyone I talked to about this place, so I muscled up the courage to knock on the door. When I entered, an odd fellow greeted me with a pink trucker hat with a feather sticking straight up on both sides, like that of a great horned owl. He also sported gold-glittered suspenders and continued playing solitaire on the computer with glazed eyes as he welcomed me in.

I was given the tour of the place and shown my simple room. The house has a definite hostel-type vibe. Upstairs, I was shown the puppets. Yes, puppets. Huge ones. Jamie, a resident of the house works with local theater and makes them himself. Interesting. I got to stash my gear in their greenhouse/ bike garage in the back.

I slept great. After having coffee and chillaxing in the morning sunshine, I'm about to go get a shower and get prepped to meet Steve at the local bike Co-op. I think we'll leave for El Paso around noon. Ok I need to get off here and make it happen. Hope you enjoyed reading about my  adventures!


Friday, October 21, 2016

My Life :) Southern Tier Blog--Ep.3

Setting in for the Long Haul

Hey Guys,

I know it’s been a while since my last entry. It’s hard to keep up with all this stuff when you’re putting in the miles. Right now, I bet you can’t guess where I am…Yep, McDonalds! Oh, what a monster I’m becoming. I hate investing in such a monopoly, but hey, what can I say, It’s open 24/7 and it’s got free Wi-Fi.

I actually spent almost all day at the Starbucks in Safeway editing the latest episode of the Vlog. I took a short, one-hour, break to  be interviewed by a guy named David from the Safford newspaper. It went well I think. I stayed sedentary for pretty much the whole day, eating everything in the store. I needed the time to get my mind right anyways.

It’s now about 8:30 and the town is bustling with Friday night commotion. I’m out on the sidewalk. This McDonalds doesn’t believe in providing outlets, or allowing people to access the patio from outside… I came here because the Safeway Wi-Fi wasn’t working. I have about a week before I can commit to downloading the blog, so I figured I’d just get it done.

I don’t’ really like the idea of riding at night, but I’ll do it if it’s necessary. Fortunately, this town is pretty small outside the main drag; so finding a spot to pitch my tent shouldn’t be too hard. It’s past my bedtime. I’m usually asleep by now. I can hear all the old high school fight songs that the band is playing down the street. There must be a football game in progress. It makes me wonder where those high school days went! It seems like just yesterday I, myself, was rolling up to McDonalds with my posse after a game, being cool.

We were at “Steak and Shake” once, and a kid from our rival school flipped us off from inside, and we parried his sign with our own tough-guy motions. One thing led to another, and before we knew it, he was coming outside to finish the job. Luckily, I was already in full motion in my Honda Accord. As he proceeded to exit the building puffed up like a rooster, I screeched around the corner with my friend hanging out of the window, slingshot in hand.  This was surely an attempted drive-by shooting from the prospective of said puffed-up rooster. He tripped and scurried and crawled for his life. I will never forget that night.

As I sit here against the wall of McDonalds, appearing to be a bum in the eyes of many that pass me by, I think about all the different routes my life could taken.  I’ve always been a dreamer. I’ve always admired original ideas and romanticized a simpler life.

The older I get, the more the question seems to get brought up, both from others and myself: “Are you ever going to settle down?” That’s a tough question. But the more it gets asked, the more I tend to question my motives and goals. Would I like to have a family one-day? Yes. Do I think I need to quit reaching for my goals to have that? No. My path is one that yearns for new experiences, challenges. I can’t help it. If I’m not in the middle of an adventure, I’m scheming up a new one. It’s just the way I am.

I interviewed my grandpa some years back, not long before he passed away. There’s always been this one thing that he said that’s never left me. He said, “If I hadn’t made a commitment to you grandma, I would have stayed in Germany,  just to experience it.” I feel it more and more, now that I’m older; that idea that if something feels right, go for it. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and give something a shot. Don’t let societal norms persuade you to conform. Do your thing, be genuine, and finish your whole plate of food before you decide you don’t like something.

I’ve been on the road now for three weeks. It’s been a crazy journey so far. I can’t believe that I still have so much longer to go.  I’ve carried my bike into the Pacific ocean, tumbled down sand dunes in the desert, climbed upon the eroded mesas of the arid Arizona mountains, and been humbled by tens of thousands of gigantic semi trucks flying by at 80 miles an hour. 

I’ll be in New Mexico soon, and from there, Texas. As I continue this long haul, I continue to think about the kids I’ll be helping. I’ve seen poverty in the reservations I’ve traveled through. It’s sad to think that most of those kids don’t have a whole lot of chances or privileges. It’s nice to think that I might be able to make a positive change in at least a few kids’ lives. I’m excited.

Well, the blog is almost done uploading. I’m going to wrap this up. I’m headed to Solomon, AZ tomorrow, then on to Silver City NM. It’s about 100 miles way. After I hit Silver City, I’ll have about 100 miles to El Paso. Texas is going to be on LONG HAUL. Bring it on…

Till next time,