Monday, August 31, 2009

Selected Field Notes & Random Ride Ramblings – Vol.1

This series will likely spread similar to that of the liquid life source searching sage brush root systems – everywhere, and in all directions. But unlike the desert scrub, there's little lacking in terms of “nourishment” along this journey. No, this is a matter of flourishment, and flourishment in exceedingly greater rates and proportions. Things could, and will likely change (everything has its winter), but when the day nears its end, and reflection of its events are revisited one after another, swiftly, shifting, seemingly coinciding with each slow sigh or easy pre-sleep breathing, then the realization and amazement at the depth of a day's experiences settles quite heavily upon the soul. Thoughts of Proust, and his efforts and anxieties over remembrances of things past are truly felt, and closely approach understanding.

So this is an attempt, to offer a flashing glimpse at some of each days' meaningful, or at least, memorable moments. How grotesquely brief can one be when trying to tangibly recount endless, streaming amounts of jewels along the journey? A rather painful question, but one that I have had to come to terms with. Because when evening exhaustion prevents fingers from pushing a pen further, sometimes you have to accept that “it” may have been yours for that one moment in time, soon to be forgotten, despite knowing how important it is to record some fledgling notion of fleeting bliss that was felt only hours before when that nice old lady gave me a fresh peach atop that crispy hot lava rock Cascade Crest. Glory of God Almighty was found in the sweet juice and cool flesh of that peach that I gnarled to the pit, all while baking in the quintessential ring of fire region that the devil himself would unbearably shun. Lichen struggles to live here. NASA tested the first moon rover here. I managed to pedal my bike up and over this here 5325ft; pushing nearly two gallons of water through the body to cool the engine as it fired away, burning six or seven thousand calories in a successful crossing of McKenzie Pass.

Experiences, and states of existence born from moments such as this will be selected as best recolected, and shared along the way. Some delayed, others delivered with immediacy whether or not there is logical reasoning. But with daylight waning, and before closing out this posting, it would be impossible not to mention the kindness, hospitality, and warmth of several Oregonians that I have been blessed to meet over this past week. Families opening up their homes, sharing their time, energy, food, stories, advice with me – someone they had never met before, but shook hands, shared a hug, and trusted. Never have I lost faith in humanity (certainly questioned it at certain times), but if you are someone that struggles in that department, then maybe you need to spend some time in the woods out here, on the road out here, maybe meeting some new people out here. As I'm only halfway through the state, I'll reserve further comments for now, but to all the good hearts and souls I've recently met, I thank you. What a great place you call home.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Where are the Americans?

Or, why visit Europe when Europe visits you? Nearly a week into the tour, and these were some of the questions I was beginning to ask. The first night, it was a lone Scotsman that occupied the neighboring camp site. Two nights later, three Germans joined my picnic table at Cape Disappointment. As we shared the same objective for the following day, we rode together into Oregon across the Astoria bridge, only to meet more German cyclists on the other side!

In my preparations for the journey, I had read about adventure cycling and its popularity throughout certain countries of Europe - Germany being one of them. And then the new tires I purchased....and panniers....all German made. Needless to say, Germans are avid cyclists, but also, very warm, humorous, and possessing a witty intelligence that made for an excellent evening around the camp fire. A fire that happened to be started by a British couple! An interesting mix indeed that was made all the better once I taught our international crew the fine art (and purely American camping cornerstone) of smores. From widdling sticks to licking marshmallow covered finger tips - it wasn't long before everyone was in love with the messy great taste and the entire ritual itself. With their smores skills instilled, I granted all five full American citizenship.

Two more days pass, and still, no American cyclists. But finally, on the day I parted with Team Europe, the Americans arrived - and they arrived in a big way. Three separate groups, but it was Steve and Carl who had each landed at the Oregon coast as their final cross country destination. Carl actually began his 6000-mile zig-zag route in Wilmington, NC - my planned destination. Both weathered from life on the road, but still bolstering with energy.

Regardless of where you are from, cyclists along the pacific coast seem to be an excited, seasoned, and happy lot of humans - willing to help, share, and encourage others in their pursuits or adventures. Such amazing diversity for so little time along the roads of the American northwest.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


...can save you from heat stroke. On a lengthy, up and down heavily forested stretch of 101, lots of on-off back-up traffic rough road construction zones, and afternoon temperatures sizzling in the mid 90s (likely hotter on the black top). With water, and blood sugar running low, I worked my way to the front of a 135-car single file highway parking lot, until I met the flagger controlling flow. She said, "you might as well find some shade cause I'm not lett'em go for another ten minutes. The boys are taking their time laying that fiber." Couldn't have asked for better timing. Parked the bike, sat on the dirt, and leaned my back up against her minivan's front tire (while she 'relieved' herself on the opposite), and after cursing myself for not hauling more water, I look across the side road, and there it is - black gold!...surely heat exhaustion mirage mentality, but after refocusing my eyes, sure enough, there were dangling blackberries, sagging with weight from their thorny thicket brambles. So sweet and perfect, I pulled out a zip-lock and proceeded to gather. I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again, there are few things that I enjoy more than picking fruit - especially wild fruit. Something about plucking wild fruit directly from source that excites an instinctive, primitive success pleasure. They were better than kool-aid and helped me reach the next town less weary. Blackberries in the shade...

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Route

Until I get the map squared away, here is a route overview:

From Seattle, across the Puget Sound via ferry into Bremerton, pedaling west across the southern Olympic Penninsula to Shelton, WA > join 101 heading south to Cape Disappointment, WA and the official start along the Pacific > across into Oregon > down the coast reaching Florence, OR > then departing from the Pacific heading east > Eugene > Bend > Smith Rock > Baker City > and then down thu southern Idaho along the Snake River > Twin Falls, ID > Castle Rocks > turning south into Utah > Salt Lake City > down to Zion > into Arizona and the Grand Canyon's north rim > around and down south to Tempe > then turning east across southern New Mexico > El Paso, TX > Del Rio > Austin > leaving Texas > New Orleans and Baton Rouge > across southern Mississippi > beginning a northeasterly trek thru Alabama and into Georgia > Atlanta > racing across South Carolina until reaching Cape Fear in a finish line North Carolina....

Sunday, August 16, 2009

An Introduction

Hello there! You have successfully reached a blog that I have started and plan to keep updated throughout my bike ride across America. The opinions expressed herein are solely personal, and thus not representative of the views of other entities, organizations, etc, unless explicitly stated.

At its core, this is a journey to explore a contemporary American spectrum - the colors of which will be filled, mixed, faded, and created along the route I have devised. From Cape Disappointment, Washington to Cape Fear, North Carolina, I plan to pedal throughout the human and natural landscapes that mesh to make America; individuals, families, communities that rise each new day to observe, discern, and engage current realities until the evening's darkness encourages rest for preparation of what lies next. We are good people who have accomplished great things, and I've shed a joyous tear over our Declaration of Independence. So with admiration and great appreciation of our fundamental rights, beliefs, values, and basic life pursuits, it seems that my time has come to review, and tip the hat to these common threads that connect us as a people. Having the complete freedom to do so is, in itself, truly a beautiful thing.

Throughout the journey, I will be raising awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project ( It is likely that you have already received information from me regarding this effort, whether by email or traditional mail. If for some reason you have not, I encourage you to visit their website, and if possible, support the cause. 100% of donations go directly to the organization, which then efficiently directs 83 cents of every dollar towards programs that benefit severely wounded soldiers and / or their families. Secure online donations can be made at my fundraiser web page within the Wounded Warrior Project website.

I extend special thanks to my Aunt Jonnie for her encouragement with the Wounded Warrior Project and to all of my family, friends, and teachers. This would not have been possible without you.