When I was at Tracker School in New Jersey back in May, Tom Brown, Jr. sent all of us on a few "missions". He would tell us to get a clear idea of what we "wanted" that the natural environment could provide - a track, a straight shaft for an arrow, etc. and then to tune into "Spirit" to let it guide us, asking "Is it this way?"..."Is it that way?"..."Is it 20 feet away?"..."Is it 10 ft away?", etc., etc. and to "listen" carefully and respond to the direction of "Spirit".
For me, the exercise was not very useful at the time, because there really wasn't anything (like what he was suggesting) that I Really Wanted. I was not in "collecting" mode at Tracker School because I was already in the process of Getting Rid of my "stuff" as preparation for going on this trip. I still wandered into the woods to see what was out there, but there was no real "intent" behind my wanderings. Furthermore, there was nothing I felt I needed to "prove" to Tom Brown, Jr. or anyone else about my own abilities to follow "Spirit" or what I would call my "internal compass."
However, there WAS something that I wanted. Something pretty simple really. I just wanted an opportunity to shake Tom Brown's hand, let him know how much reading "The Tracker" impacted me when I was but a young pre-teen girl.
After the last session where Tom spoke, I watched him walk away. Took note of whether or not he was stopping to talk to other students, etc., which he didn't. Instead, he went straight to his vehicle, got in, and left. I was a little disappointed, but I accepted that that was just the way it was going to be.
* * * * *
I was actually pretty sick for a good part of my two weeks at Tracker school, and so that last day, I did not have enough energy to get my debris hut "re-distributed" back into the landscape, nor was I able to get all of my gear dried out and packed up in time to catch one of the staff vehicles, or anyone else's vehicles driving into town to take us back to where we had left our cars. I asked one of the staff members if it was okay for me to stay one more night. I told her that I had food enough to eat and that I could take care of myself. She agreed, and so I went back to my tent and slept - from about 6:00 that evening until the next day. I was really wiped out.
However, by morning of the next day I was ready to pack everything up for the last time, and after stowing my gear under the overhang of one of the storage buildings, I sat down with some of the other campers, those staying for the upcoming classes, and chatted for a while around the fire. I remember becoming hoarse eventually, as my voice had been going that way from a few days before.
Finally, I was able to arrange a ride to the parking lot. My car started up fine and I started to head out of town, and then I realized I missed a critical turn. I spotted a Sunaco gas station and decided to turn around there and stop for gas as well.
While I was parked there a big travel home pulled up along side me. I wasn't really paying that close of attention, but when I looked up and I saw Tom Brown's wife Celeste coming out of the convenience store it hit me: It was actually Tom Brown's travel home that had pulled up beside me.
I called out to Celeste and she came over and talked with me. She said she figured I must be a student given all the camping gear packed into my car. I told her that I had just come from two weeks of classes and was headed home. I also told her that my bigger plan was to be on my bike soon, traveling across the country. I told her about this blog, and gave her one of my business cards.
The next thing I know, I saw Tom there, finishing filling the travel home with gas, and as he looked my way and Celeste explained that I was a student - I got my opportunity to shake his hand, and to thank him for "The Tracker" story and for everything else he had done since.
I watched as they both got back in the travel home as we said our good-bye's and then they drove away...or at least I thought they had driven away, until they'd pulled back up along side my bug and Celeste called to me from the window. She said she had told Tom what I was doing and that she wanted me to have their personal e-mail address, so if I ever got stranded on my trip, I could contact them directly and they could probably put me in touch with other tracker students for help.
I thanked both of them again, and then they drove away again, this time for real.
* * * * *
I pulled my car away from the gas pump and parked it next to the store. I just wanted to re-group a little, make sure everything was in order, and make a phone-call to a friend in Maryland to let them know I was on my way back.
And then it hit me: My one "wish" almost from the whole Tracker School experience had been fulfilled. I got my opportunity to shake Tom Brown, Jr.'s hand and to personally thank him for all he had done. There had been many "course corrections" along the way; i.e. my deciding to stay one more night, my "missing" that turn and having to turn-a-round at the gas station where I also decided to stop and get gas before leaving. Even though I did not even know that I was still "on course" to realize my intention, apparently "The Universe" (or "Spirit" as Tom Called it) was still responding to my intention.
* * * * *
I have continued to make the same kinds of "course corrections" throughout my preparations for my journey across the U.S. by bicycle. Most recently I came across a site that let me get a better idea of how to calculate the effort I will have to expend to carry all the equipment I'm trying to carry on my bicycle (http://bikesatwork.com/). It has made me realize that trying to get through mountain ranges, like the Appalachians or the Rockies is probably out of the question at least for the early stages of my journey. Furthermore, as I have tried to plot my way across the country, I have run into some "gaps" where people and/or other facilities are not as plentiful as I might want or hope for, again, especially during these initial stages.
Consequently, I am starting to consider a different option from a more straight across approach, East to West. I'm thinking given the changing seasons (and in spite of Irene currently bearing down on the East Coast), I may decide to hug the coast lines, traveling South to Florida and then across the Gulf Coast into Texas, etc., etc. There will be higher concentrations of people in these areas, but that also means more options for couch surfing. And, it will all be much more "level" ground, which will make it easier for me to haul all of the stuff I will be hauling.
Also, if I make it to the West Coast this way, I will be in much better shape to start traveling through more "high country" and/or I will have decided more clearly what I should be taking with me, and what I can leave behind. Who knows? I may decide to just keep riding around the "edges" of this country, if that is even possible?
Either way, I know as long as I keep listening to my "internal compass" I will find the right path to my "destination". : ) (And, by the way, there is one underlying "goal" I have in mind right now, but I won't be sharing that until I get to "realize it" just as I did in shaking Tom Brown, Jr's hand. : ))
Pedaling for Peace
On April 15, 2012 I started riding my bicycle cross-country from Jacksonville, Florida in voluntary support of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) and the work of author and Peace Leadership Director for the NAPF, Paul K. Chappell. By July 4th, I had covered over 1300 miles to just west of Luling, Texas where a major mechanical failure brought this first stage of my cross-country journey to an end. After storing my bicycle and trailer with my aunt and uncle in Weatherford, Texas, I flew from Dallas to Santa Barbara, California to attend the NAPF First Annual Peace Leadership Summer Workshop. I then lived and worked in Santa Barbara for several more months before I returned to Jacksonville and sold off the rest of my possessions that I could to help fund a continuation of my journey. Starting June 8, 2013 and ending August 9, 2013, I rode from Weatherford, through 400 miles of the central Texas hill country, including Austin, Texas, back to Luling. It was at this point that a friend of mine invited me to work for a brief period in Pennsylvania before flying me back to Santa Barbara where I continued volunteering for the NAPF as well as for the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition. As of August 9th, 2014 I began"Stage III" of my cross-country adventure, this time heading south from Santa Barbara to San Diego and then east to El Paso, TX. It was there that illness, winter weather, and diminishing resources brought that leg of my journey to an end. After staying with another friend in Columbus, GA for several months, I moved "back home" to Kentucky to stay with my dad for a while and build a better "resource base" for future endeavors including review and further tracking and primitive survival skills training at Tom Brown, Jr's Tracker School , and a possible longer tour of the east coast, northern tier, and north west coast back down to Santa Barbara, CA.