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.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Final Update from Dallas, TX

After a month now in North Dallas it looks like I am finally going to be heading to Weatherford this coming Monday, June 3rd! I will be there just long enough to do a little maintenance on my bicycle and pack whatever I can before getting on the road.

I will have to admit, I'm probably feeling a little more intimidated about this half of my journey more so than the first half for several reasons: A) It is already June in Texas and I know it will only be getting hotter over the next three months or so, including going through New Mexico, Arizona, and Southern California. B) The long stretch through southern Texas feels really intimidating right now, more so than any of the territory I have previously covered. My general plan is to do as much riding in the early morning and late afternoon-evening hours, and figure out a way to take shelter during the hottest part of the day. C) I kind of do know better now what I am getting myself into with the ongoing logistical, fundraising, practical, and physical challenges. When I started the trip last summer, I was a bit more naive about all of it, and sometimes, ignorance Is bliss! Nevertheless, I feel I have to give it my best shot, one way or another, no matter how anxious or intimidated I might feel right now.

I will say this though, there have been a few positive changes in the last year that might make things ever so slightly easier: A) I'm a little more comfortable with this blog platform now, uploading pictures, etc., so I should be able to post updates more regularly. B) There have been a few changes to the Couch Surfing and Warm Showers websites/platforms that might make them a little easier to use as well. C) I've also gotten some new apps for plotting my path so we'll see how that works out for me. And D) I do have all of that prior experience under my belt and hopefully I will continue to improve on some of the "standard operating procedures" I have already developed.

Finally, I know I have So Much To Look Forward To - both with all of the people I will get to meet during my journey and with the new friends I have waiting for me back in Santa Barbara, CA. I know my dopamine levels will be well sustained anticipating those rewards.

I want to say Thanks! again to everyone who has been supporting me and those who have been patient with me as I have been patient with my own evolving circumstances. looks like this "transition time" is coming to a close, and I will soon be on the road once again!

Until my Next Update...Peace Be With You All!

Friday, May 10, 2013

This Just In...

I now have contacts/hosts lined up for the first few stops of my trek south from Weatherford. Yeah!

I'll be staying in Granbury, Glen Rose, and Meridian, Texas. These first, fairly short distance (under 30 mile) stops are critical for the "breaking in" period as I get used to being on my bike again. Furthermore, as I get closer to I-35 the populations get more dense, thus increasing the chances of my finding suitable shelter.

In addition, with the money I earned recently at the estate sale, I am going to be able to cover all of the "last minute" items that I needed. In fact, I even found a new "corrugated" foam sleeping pad (at the estate sale) that I suspect is going to work much better with my tent floor/sleeping pad both when in use and when it is stored on the trailer.

With my most recent (Meridian) host making contact, I am beginning to appreciate the idea that, in time, everything really does work itself out, and part of the challenge for me is to remain calm, and patient, and still focused and persevering for my own part. Not to say I'm looking forward to traveling through Texas and/or New Mexico and/or Arizona during July and August, but...who knows? Maybe those miles through the desert will go quicker than my "noodling" along the gulf coast. I certainly suspect the roads will be better than some of the ones I encountered during the first half of my journey!

I've got some new updates to my "Please and Thank You" page as well. So please be sure and check it out!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Update from Dallas, TX

I had a wonderful time working an estate sale with these folks this past weekend. From left to right that's me (of course), then Cody, Dorothy, Barbara (the original "Madame Packrat"), Al (Dorothy's husband), and Priscilla, and in front, my friend Sherri who helped network me into this opportunity to work for Barbara in the first place.

A great deal of the set-up and pricing was completed before I arrived, but I was able to check prices on a big stack of vintage Topps 1955 Football cards including a couple of "Jim Thorpe's", and "Bowman" cards from the same era. I thought it might be a good idea to enclose them in individual plastic bags with individual prices based on my research. With multiple buyers over the course of the weekend, the whole lot sold for around $320, where Cody had originally planned to price the stack for ten times less! In effect, I paid for my wages with that little bit of extra effort.

And, I've nearly spent all of those wages as well, so nothing to get too excited about! But, for the most part, it is going for food, and those last items I was having trouble getting my hands on, like the DZ Nuts Bliss and a bulk bag of Dulse. Also, I have an outstanding load of "stuff" that I still need to get my friend Randy to ship me from Louisiana where I left it on the first leg of my journey.

However, the work is not quite over here yet, as I have some painting and organizing left to do to help Chas with his mother-in-law (from his previous marriage) as she will be returning soon from a rather long stay in the hospital battling leukemia.

Consequently, it looks like my departure for Weatherford will not take place until the week of May 20th, meaning I will probably not be on the road until the end of that week. I am comfortable though with being in a position to help my friends who are also helping me, and this is part of what this journey is all about for me as well, being of service to others whenever and wherever I can. And, as I have already understood from my own efforts, lots of people can use help Dealing with Their "Stuff"... and I seem to be getting more and more experience in that area as time goes by!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Jacksonville, FL to Terrell, TX by Bus

My journey from Jacksonville, FL to Terrell, TX started out a little rough. I was up literally all night Sunday night transferring the remaining boxes I had from my 5x10 storage unit into a 5x5. I managed to get the medium sized U-Haul boxes - Fully Loaded - stacked seven high, and similarly heavy boxes of files (yep, still got plenty of those left) stacked on a five shelf chrome wire rack, again, all the way to the ceiling.

I don't know for sure what the weight limit is on those racks, but I'm sure I'm pushing it! By 4:45 am, I was finally done, and laid out my blue mat, my sleeping bag, and my buck wheat pillow so I could take a rest in the now empty 5x10 unit to await pick-up from Alisa. I almost dozed for a minute or two and then decided my time might be better spent doing some yoga as my body was feeling quite strained from all the efforts of the last few days.

Prior to getting on the bus, I was confronted by the fact that transporting my bags was going to cost me much more than I'd expected. Although I had looked pretty hard to find baggage limits, fees, etc., on the Greyhound website, I wasn't able to find anything, and there was no additional information on the tickets that Alisa and I printed at her house. So, my first checked bag was free. I was pushing it with two good-sized carry-ons, i.e. one carry-on and a big bag/purse with my back-pack and lunch bag in it - Thanks to Alisa for always having re-usable (and stylish) grocery bags in the car! But that left another larger duffle, medium duffle, and my uncle's suitcase I had been borrowing since I left Weatherford, TX.

Total at the bus depot, was an additional $55.00. And that left my bulk-food bag for Alisa to ship as soon as she can. Although I had hoped to leave enough money in her account to cover my storage rent for the next three months (July, August, September), I'm afraid the baggage fees put a big dent in that plan. Hoping the Chrome Racks I have on Craig's List will sell sometime soon, but, if you'd like to help out at this point, please feel free to use the "Donate" button in the right-hand column of this blog page. Thanks!

When Alisa and I were waiting at the station in Jacksonville, we spied a couple of guys carrying bright yellow and black panniers - fellow cross-country cyclists. One of them ended up sitting next to me on the bus so I got the scoop on their trip. They're names were Dylan and Vincent and they'd just finished a seven week trek of their own from Phoenix, AZ to Jacksonville (mostly) on the Southern Tier Adventure Cycling route. Having already shipped their bicycles from Jacksonville, like me they were taking the bus, three days for them all the way back to Seattle. As Vincent was telling me, he's wondering how he will make the adjustment to being "off the bike" and once again clocking miles in terms of minutes by car rather than hours! (As I no longer have a car to drive myself, I guess I'm generally still on "bicycle time".)

(It was raining as the bus traveled through Tallahassee, and I remembered it was also raining when I was riding through there roughly the same time last year. I also saw a few familiar spots earlier, in Lake City for instance, before the bus moved off of HWY 90 and on to I-10.)

It was a rough bus trip though. My legs and arms are bruised and strained from shifting and hoisting all of the boxes around. As with my computer skills, I freely admit my limitations when it comes to planning ahead and keeping things running smoothly, but, at the end of the day, (or, in this case, the end of the night), everything was done that needed to be done. (Once again speaking to the fact that sheer determination and will-power can sometimes overcome deficits in other areas!) I know that I am getting back on the road having done the best "I" could to make this second half of my cross-country journey a success. And even though the bag fees were a blow, the money was there, and even though I feel even "tighter" this trip than the last, something tells me, things will continue to work out along the way. Honestly, I am still grateful for the experience of Living On Cash as it does have a way of keeping you in the moment more so than credit!

I want to offer a special thanks to recent contributors, either through direct donations, signing up to be members of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, or buying items I had for sale. So thanks Ron, Glenn, Sandy and Carl, and of course, Mike K. It was also great to meet and talk with fellow SCA'ers, Bob and Leilani at the VFW on Friday night. And thanks to Tim as he bought my bright purple and teal back-pack for his daughter Faith recently. I hope she enjoys many Happy Adventures of her own. And thanks to Mike and Janet for signing up to be new members of the NAPF.

And, once again, Big Thanks to my friend Alisa for giving up her room for me over the last two months. I was joking with her on the way to the bus station about how much more open it looks now that it doesn't have all of my stuff scattered everywhere! (Still some "stuff" left in the garage, but hopefully, that will all sell eventually!)

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P.S. Remembebering the "Rumble Strips" of Alabababamamama

While on the bus, I was shaken from my resting state by loud noise and vibration, only to look at the road we we're traveling on to see "Rumble Strips" on the shoulder. When I was traveling these Alabama roads last summer, I recalled how hard it was to avoid them as the shoulders were too narrow to accommodate my trailer fully right of the rumble strips, which meant I was more often forced to ride to the left of them on the roadway. Not sure if these "sleeper bumps" as I like to call them have caused a significant positive impact on sleep related car accidents, but I know from personal experience, they sure make it harder and less safe for cyclists, at least ones like me with trailers! It does highlight the idea of State Sovereignty though, as I have noted these significant differences in road conditions state to state along my route.