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.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Jumping in from the Middle of the Story - of Necessity!

For all my Blog Followers and especially those of you who may not be seeing my posts on Facebook:

I am alive and well in Pensacola, FL! : ))

I think I'm over the 400 mile mark now from Jacksonville Beach, FL having traveled through Baldwin, Live Oak, Madison, Monticello, and Tallahassee on HWY 90. From Tallahassee I took the Tallahassee - St. Mark's Historic Rail Trail south to Crawfordville. There I stayed with Couch Surfing hosts, Lesa and Mike. Mike's farmer father lived next door and once they had a chance to look at my trailer and wheels, Mike's father gladly volunteered to weld them together for me since they had come off no less than four times during my travels to that point, with the last time being while I was pushing my bike up Mike's gravel driveway. Thus far, there have been no more problems of that nature, and I am deeply grateful for their timely assistance. In addition, I got some "tweaking/realignment" of the frame from Juda, who knew how to handle a crow-bar, at Big Daddy's Bike Shop in Santa Rosa Beach, so just want to say, "Thanks!" again to the folks there.

From Crawfordville, I continued around the lower peninsula of northwestern Florida with stops in Carrabelle, Apalachicola, Port St. Joe, Panama City, Seacrest, Fort Walton Beach, Navarre, and now Pensacola. So, in other words, I am waaaay behind on this blog! ... And I apologize for that!

I have come to the hard earned understanding that this trip is taking more time in many ways than I could have anticipated. The riding itself, I kind of expected. However, the time involved in unpacking and repacking has taken A Lot longer. Trying to find computers to upload pictures to this blog, also a bigger challenge than I thought it would be. And then there is necessary computer time for planning my trip as well as continuing to contact others to fundraise so I can keep going.

So, at least for now, I've decided to go "photo free" for a while. (My apologies to the more "visual" types among you, I promise I will ADD pictures as soon as I can.) I just feel it is more important that I keep up with my story a little more in sync with the unfolding of it, if for no other reason I've been hearing rumors that people start to worry about me if they don't see posts here for a while. I certainly do not want anyone to worry about me (although, granted, I don't have control over others that way, but if I can minimize their feeling the need to do that by posting more regularly, than that's what I want to do. : )) For the record though, (and actually for safety reasons, since this is a "public" blog) I will still be writing more about where I have been rather than where I am going.

To Catch-Up: Overall, the trip has been going really well. There seems to be a persistent statistic of at least one guy, per town, in the passenger seat of a van who feels compelled to yell "Get on the sidewalk!" as they pass me even when there are (Bicycle) "Share the Road" signs everywhere, and maybe one or two people per town, who feel they have to honk before they pass, even though every other car that goes by me manages to do so withOut honking. All of which, from a social scientist's perspective, I actually find quite amusing! : ) Otherwise, everyone seems to be getting around me just fine, and with all the gear I'm carrying, the trucks don't even move me much!

What has been Really Great though are the "chance encounters" with the many "strangers" I have met along the way. For instance...

...The t-shirt artist at the River Front Festival in Carrabelle with whom I conversed for quite some time.

... While at Harry A's listening to my Carrabelle host's girlfriend play music, I met two other curious musicians and a group of "good ol' boys" from my home state of Kentucky, one of whom gave me a generous donation.

...Then there were the hotel clerks in Port St. Joe who were very accommodating and the young firefighters standing watch who let me cool off and get some water in the middle of a particulary long hot day, on my way to Panama City.

...As mentioned earlier, I got some more help with my trailer, a free smoothie, and great conversation with one of the mechanics when I stopped for chain lubricant at Big Daddy's in Santa Rosa Beach.

...When I stopped in Destin for a bite to eat at Panera's, I met other interested and generous people (and realized that my "signage" on my bicycle was working to draw their attention : )).

...A few miles later, there was a young man sitting outside the Wal-Mart, waiting for a taxi, and he gladly watched my rig for me while I went in to buy a camp shower. When I came back out he was full of questions about what I was doing and why, and I was glad to answer all of them (although his taxi driver got a bit annoyed while waiting for him), and he gave me a warm and enthusiastic hug before we parted.

...I stopped for bite to eat at the Tom Thumb gas station on the eastern side of Navarre, and ended up talking with another store patron for maybe an hour or so about the NAPF, Paul's Peace Leadership work, and my personal mission. She shared her concerns for her own children and for the young people in her town with few job options but to join the military and how ill prepared they were, emotionally, for the challenges of almost inevitable deployments to the Middle East.

...When I stopped at a McDonald's to use the bathroom on my way to Pensacola, I met and talked with another man looking for a new mission for his own life after the recent, tragic death of his girlfriend.

...Finally arriving in Pensacola, and trying to figure out the last streets to follow to my hosts for the evening, I talked with a woman sitting outside the Shell station taking a break from her inventory work.

And then there have been the more extended discussions I have been able to have with my hosts, and sometimes with their friends and family members as well. I am very grateful for their openness and for what they also have shared of their lives, their fears, and their own hopes for a better future for themselves and for their children and others they care about (especially those who have people they know considering military service, retired from military service, or actively serving).

What I have come to recognize and appreciate is that, for the most part, people in this country Are Open to new ways of "doing business", both at home and abroad. People are "Waking Up" to the much brighter possibilities of change that are available to us, even when the propagandists of our times might lead us to believe otherwise.

Consequently, in my quest to inspire hope and better understanding, I am also being inspired and coming to a better, very personal and direct understanding of the people I am meeting. I am learning first hand that it really is true: Most human beings are compassionate, generous, curious, and hopeful about what lies ahead for All of Us on this Amazing Journey!

And, even more than that, many of them are also looking for ways that They Can Be Involved in making the world a better place for All Beings. I am more than happy to offer them one way to channel their energy for change; i.e. to give their support to the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and to learn more, especially from Paul K. Chappell, about how to Wage Peace!

The positive feedback I have been receiving is the Human Fuel that keeps me going. And so - I will Ride On - also looking forward to what lies ahead! : )

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