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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Food Basics Part III - "Finger Salads"

This blog is the third in my "Food Basics" series, including Food Basics Part I where I write about my history with understanding "Enzyme Nutrition" and the value of including lots of Raw Foods in the diet, and Food Basics Part II, where I focus on my "break-fast" foods of choice: "Green Smoothies", and either soaked almonds, or raw cashews and Brazil nuts.

To continue my "Lunch Bag Specials" I will share here my basic "Finger Salad" preparation. I call them "Finger Salads" because...everything can be eaten with your fingers...(!). If you really want to have something to dip these vegetables into, that's fine. Try to make sure it doesn't have any high fructose corn syrup or monosodium glutamate in it. I have come to prefer these vegetables plain myself, so that is the way I eat them. Besides, including dip means making room for it in what will already be a Very Full lunch bag by the time I'm finished!

To start you'll need some plastic containers. At home or on the road I usually plan to pack around five or six at a time (however, I will only be showing three in these pictures).

I line the bottoms of the containers with light-weight, washable, cotton cloths (instead of disposable paper towels) that I have dampened with water. These I made and hemmed with my serger.

After getting the containers ready, it is time to add the Romaine lettuce. I am in the habit of chopping ends off of vegetables in multiple cuts so that the pieces are already small enough to go into the compost.

Once you have your lettuce trimmed, washed, and drained you can fit it into the plastic storage containers, breaking off more of the ends as necessary and "snacking" on those while you're at it. (This will ultimately provide you with your sixth finger salad for your prep day. : ))

Whatever lettuce is left over, I like to store it in a damp cotton bag first and then put that into another plastic bag, preferably the kind that does NOT "breath" as much, because they tend to dry-out the cotton bag, and therefore the lettuce, much more quickly. If the bag is too wet, i.e. dripping, I just take it outside for a little spin...and that takes care of that. : )

Otherwise, I have learned, again, from years of experience, that having that damp cotton bag in between the lettuce and the plastic bag allows the air around the lettuce to remain humid but Not wet. Wet lettuce against plastic = rotten lettuce. Simple as that. I used to get whole cases of romaine lettuce a long time ago and I would prep all the heads this way prior to storing them and I would have lettuce in good condition for a month or longer. (And, by the way, if you can't find these cotton bags or don't want to go to the trouble of making them yourself, let me know, because I have some home-made ones for sale...surprise, surprise. : ))

After lining the containers with lettuce, it is time for the other vegetables. I really love the Trader Joe's Persian Cucumbers, partly because they are just the right size to fit one per container and, because you don't have to slice them, they stay fresher longer. However, taking a larger conventional cucumber and slicing it into spears will also work, or cutting a hot house cucumber in pieces as well. All the cucumbers should be thoroughly washed. I like to use Dr. Bronner's Peppermint soap myself. And, as with the lettuce, anything that is "left-over" or doesn't fit into the containers can be "snack food" for your prep day.

The main thing with using sliced cucumbers is the more you slice, the faster they will start to decay. I'm sure fresh cucumbers out of the garden will last better, but with conventional, store-bought cucumbers, you'll really need to be finishing them within a week, and you may even want to cut them and add them as part of your morning lunch prep.

So now we have our lettuce and cucumbers. Next up is tomatoes.

I usually use grape or cherry tomatoes. Again, I rinse them and then...I...count them, so I know how many I have to go into each container, guessed it...any odd ones are snacks while I'm prepping.

So the last thing I will include in my finger salads is celery.

Basically the same prep as lettuce, chopping the ends, removing the leaves, and rinsing the stalks before cutting them into short enough pieces to fit into the containers. Little bits of celery heart, any sticks that won't fit into the containers...snack food.

There! Aren't they Beautiful?! : )

Lids on, containers go into the refrigerator, and you have a really healthy compliment of vegetables ready to go for the next week of lunches.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Balancing Act - On and Off the Bike

I just got finished meditating and now I'm getting ready to do yoga, after that, I will take a shower and dress in something other than pajamas! : )

However, in my head the wheels are turning, and my mind is Pulling me to figure out a new route from Jax Beach to Orange Park because the one I attempted to drive yesterday was not acceptable (Google Bike directions >:p ). I also want to complete a very precise quantity/budget analysis for food and toiletries I'll be "consuming" during my trip. I'm also thinking about how much more I can lighten the load, and if I'm going to be able to raise enough money for the new trailer ($100.00 more), and other immediate expenses. I want to continue the "Food Basics" series I started here a while back with another entry on what I'll be taking with me on this trip and why. And then there are other sorting and sewing projects...the list just goes on and on.

My point here is that there is a certain necessary discipline in still meditating, doing my yoga, taking a shower, etc. and it is a challenge to not let these other concerns prevent me from maintaining those "sharpening the saw" types of routines. Furthermore, this has been one of the more important challenges for me in terms of keeping everything in balance during the whole time that I have been planning and preparing for this trip.

I am very grateful, especially now, as my actual "launch date" draws closer, to be living in a space that is allowing me to meditate and do yoga comfortably. It is something that I have really appreciated about being here in Orange Park ever since I arrived. Of course, if someone has never tried to incorporate meditation and yoga into their lives on a regular basis, then they would not understand that such "suitable spaces" are not always easy to come by. For instance, finding a place to do yoga regularly while I was on the aircraft carrier USS George Washington was virtually impossible! If you don't have a bare floor space of at least six feet square (more if you are taller), then the "Leg Over" exercise becomes very difficult to do!

So, again, I am grateful for the "space and time" I have had here to continue to prepare myself for this journey both mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and practically, keeping everything in balance!


Friday, February 24, 2012

Fundraising for New Trailer

Here is the video of my "Maiden Voyage" on my bicycle with it as fully loaded as I could get it:

What you can't see here is that the trailer was really, really, wobbly. When I had it outside the neighborhood on the main, two-lane, road it was actually scary because it was fish-tailing so badly. I've never been that scared riding my bicycle before.

Consequently, on the advice of good friends who care about me and even the manufacturer of the Wheele trailer himself, I am going to try to upgrade from the one-wheeled model to the two- wheeled model.

This is my current rig.

And this is the one I need to replace it.

The total cost of the "upgrade" is going to be $270.00.

I'll keep it simple at this point: If you would like to help me in raising the money for this very important piece of equipment, please feel free to donate via PayPal:

(And if you have any trouble using this "Donate" button, please feel free to let me know by leaving a comment below.)

This is all I need for now. I will be posting more info here soon.

Thank You for Your Support!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Who's Writing This Script Anyway??? : )

It has come to my attention that the more I continue to pursue my goal of riding my bicycle across the country, the more that goal takes on the character of trying to write a good story!

Not that I've had that much practice writing stories. Most of my work has been in college, writing research papers. And, sorry to say, I seldom ever used outlines or wrote rough drafts. I would do research on a topic up to the day it was due, start in the morning and write until it was done. For my mostly online classes, that meant writing up to about 11:56 PM hoping that I didn't run into any computer glitches between then and the time I posted my paper before the 12:00 midnight deadline. I figured any outlining or rough drafts prior to the final write-up were just a waste of my "writing energy" which I preferred to "save up" until that final due day. I continued this habit pretty much my entire five years of taking on-line classes to finish my BS in Social Science. (Why, you might ask? Because...I kept getting A's or B's, mostly A's on all of my papers!)

At the same time, none of those grades were a matter of life and death. Leaving my job, up-rooting myself from where I once lived (again), ultimately, riding my bicycle across the country...quite a bit more risk involved with all of that, even, real life and death risk given the possibility of having a bad encounter with a vehicle or something while I am on the road.

Nevertheless, in all of this, I am trying to change the course of my "life story". Or, maybe this uprooting myself on a regular basis is part of the overall pattern of my life and this is just another chapter. For whatever reasons, I have moved fairly freely from one chapter to the next so far: 1) Life with Mom, 2) Life in the Carnival, 3) Life in Montana, 4) England, 5) Kauai-Finding My Guru, 6) Colorado, 7) The Navy-Government, 8) Transition 9) Riding my Bicycle Cross Country.

I guess that a means we're in Chapter 9 now. : ) And when I first started thinking this chapter needed to start, I wasn't all that clear on the theme, the thesis, or the mission statement. I just new it was Time to Move On. Yes, I was looking to live my life based on the principle of Non-Aggression and the Law of Love, but the details of exactly how the rest would unfold have been far less clear.

Just as in writing a story, I have considered various plot-line variations: 1) I ride from Virginia Beach, VA, Summer 2011, ostensibly to promote self-sufficiency, non-aggression, simple and sustainable diet, community building, primitive skills, bicycle blenders, high filtration water bottles, etc., etc. (i.e. no Clear Focus). But then I got held up by the TEDxGWU talk in October in DC., so I stayed longer with my female friend in Williamsburg, VA then I originally thought I would. And then, Weird Al did a show in Orlando, FL which left the door open for plot-line 2) Spend time with another (male) friend in Florida and "see what happens". (Lots of things have happened, but nothing to take my mind off my "main theme", i.e. riding my bicycle across the country.) My current sitution evolved possible plot-line number 3) Stick around for a year or so and write an actual book BEFORE riding my bicycle across the country. In this case, delaying my ride also included the possible sub-plot of riding with another female friend from St. Augustine instead of alone.

But then, another plot-line started to emerge: 4) Ride my bicycle across country, this year, in order to attend the Peace Leadership Workshop in Santa Barbara, CA. being conducted by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and author and Peace Leadership Director, Paul K. Chappell.

At first, I was thinking, "Hmmm, I just don't think I can get my writing/riding act together, let alone the money, in time to make the trip this year. Maybe I could make it by next year." Then, due to some other things (related to plot line 2) becoming much more clear, and the fact that Paul Chappell sent me a signed copy of his book to read, and that reading it was Truly Inspiring, plot-line 4) has moved to center stage.

Given the ambiguity of my original intentions for making this trip (and/or writing this particular "chapter" of my "life story"), I am glad to finally have a much clearer "theme", or "thesis" or "mission statement" for my writing/riding. Furthermore, the timing is forcing me to accelerate and actually complete the work of clearing out my remaining possessions in storage, something I have been planning to do for decades now.

More than that though, it has already challenged me to complete my first "rough draft"; i.e. a test ride of my fully loaded bicycle AHEAD of the actual "due date"! As a consequence, I am now having to reconsider, "edit" and "rewrite", several of the "ideas" I had about all the clothes, food, and accessories I would be taking with me. Where I usually have plenty of space and time to write (here for instance), for this trip I will have to pack my bicycle much more sparingly, and I am going to be on a much tighter schedule with very specific deadlines to move me along.

In other words, there is more "pressure" now, but it is the good kind. It is the kind that I know will help me to grow, and will, ultimately, help me to accomplish the goal of riding my bicycle across the country, a goal that has always been in my heart from the beginning - even going back further to when I was a full-time bicycle commuter in my late teens and into my mid 20's.

The fact that I have been sharing my "process" here, pretty much from the very beginning, has felt a little intimidating at times. I'm pretty certain many people have been wondering, "Is she really going to do this, or is it just a bunch of talk?" For anyone who has never edeavored to take on a challenge as truly complicated and even as risky as this one, then it would be hard to understand that, you know, things seldom ever turn out exactly the way you imagined From the Beginning!

In the end, you have to leave room for Life to "have Its Way with you", which is what I have been trying to do, with as much self-awareness and sensitivity to All of the Forces at Work here as I possibly can.

And I know for certain, even though I am the one writing this right now, it is not "all about me". It is, however, about a process and maybe by sharing this story from the beginning and following through with all of the twists and turns, it will help anyone reading this appreciate that often times, This is Exactly the Way Life Is. You need to be Open, you need to be Listening, and you need to be Ready and Willing to take action as necessary, at the same time, you can't anticipate everything and you can't control everything.

In other words, you have to be willing to Play Your Part to the best of your ability, while knowing all along you are the actor, writer, and director of your own script. In addition, Life Will Help you with the "creative process", if you will Let It!

P.S. A little quote to summarize this post: "Some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life's about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity..." - Gilda Radner

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sorting Through Stuff - Of Objects and People

Yesterday, I numbered all of my file boxes and containers in my storage unit, taking inventory, to figure out how many I need to sort through per day over the next month (or so), in order to get all of this work done before I go on my bike trip. I noticed that once I did this, once these boxes and containers became "merely numbers" to me, my emotional attachment immediately started to shift, as in dissipate.

Don't know why, but my mind went immediately to the "numbering" of the Jews in the Nazi concentration camps, and the dehumanization/objectification of people wherever they are identified with numbers. I also couldn't help but recognize that I tend to have a lot of "emotional attachment" to "things". That is partly why I have hung on to so many of my "things" for so long. In contrast, I've had to learn to "let go of" people, over and over again in my life.

Clearly, it is not as easy to hold on to people. They do not simply sit on shelves like things do. They have their own will, their own volition, and their own life-spans, and these may not always coincide with "me" and "my desires." I learned this lesson fairly early in my life. The reason why my "turtle" is "blue" is because of Sting's Dream of the Blue Turtles album, and, specifically, the song "If You Love Someone, Set Them Free." Now I'm wondering if I I should learn to relate the same way to my "things" - i.e. if I "love someThing" I should also "set it free". Gonna have to think about that a little more. : )

Although, another scene comes to mind from the movie "Harold and Maude" with Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort. They are sitting next to a body of water and Harold gives Maude a coin he has mechanically impressed at a carnival with the words "Harold Loves Maude". She receives the coin graciously saying it is "One of the nicest gifts [she's ever been given]" (or something like that : )). And then, she tosses it into the water, much to Harold's surprise. She turns to him and says: "That way, I'll always know where it is."

I don't think I'm quite there yet, but ever since I first saw this movie, I have admired the spirit of the "Old Crone" embodied in the character of "Maude", and hope that, as I continue to grow older myself, I will become more like her..."in my own, individual way."

In the end - as in - when we die - we have to be ready to "let go of Everything" anyway. I can see it as a wise discipline to "practice" that "letting go" throughout our lives so when that day comes, we'll be more ready for it.

And who knows? Maybe those "connections" we share with people through-out our lives do persist, on some level, beyond our physical lives and awareness, whereas, our connections with "things"...not so much. So why invest so much love and energy into "things", when we really should be making those investments with the people/souls with whom we may be sharing multiple lifetimes?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Just Gonna Go For It!

Finished reading Paul K. Chappell's newest book yesterday: "Peaceful Revolution: How We Can Create the Future Needed for Humanity's Survival" (

I'll put it simply: This man is leading and I want to follow.

So, regardless of whether or not there will be a place for me at the Peace Leadership Workshop in Santa Barbara, CA in July 2012, I'm going to challenge myself and my own commitment to peace by riding the 2650 miles to get there Anyway. And I'm going to do it sooner rather than later. Maybe starting as early as the end of March, this year (2012), depending on how my final "sell-off" goes.

It has been great to take a break here in Florida, but I'm definitely feeling it is time to move on. My writing can still continue with the riding, but the idea of doing a more concentrated "sorting carefully through all of my old stuff" may not be relevant or "necessary" at this point in terms of The Big Picture.

I know I am already at Peace in my own heart. Now it is time to help make that a reality for others, both "inside" and "outside".

Carpe Diem!