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, June 21, 2013

June 11-18 - In South Granbury and Glen Rose, Texas

Tuesday morning, June 11, I said "Good-Bye" to Whiskers the cat...

And The Busy Woodpecker...

And the wonderful home of Susan and Terry.

From there I headed to my second Granbury stop, on the south end of town.

It was to be a somewhat shorter trip this day, by about 10 miles, compared to the leg from Weatherford to my first stop in the more northern part of Granbury. Starting at about 7:30 am (a great start for me), by 9:30 am I found this shady spot to pull off into by the Lakeside Baptist Church. I paused there for a bit of breakfast, and a good water dousing of my head, before I got back out on the sunny, hilly, road.

My hosts Karissa and O.J. were very excited about my arrival as I was to be their very first CouchSurfing guest! Although Faolan settled down a bit more when Karissa returned from work, she was clearly concerned about my being there and vocalized those concerns persistently until O.J. "sent her to the bedroom" for some doggy time-out.

As I was preparing for a bit of a nap, their kitten Sashimi, daughter of Sushi, found my Keen shoes to be of particular interest, probably because they were a little smelly and had springy elastic bands.

When Karissa returned from work, the three of us spent the remainder of the evening talking about all kinds of things. I answered questions about my experiences and shared lots of the ideas from Paul Chappell's books. As an avid reader, O.J. drew my attention frequently to the books of philosophy and military history on his own shelf and promised to get a copy of The Art of Waging Peace as soon as it was available.

Karissa was off to work early the next morning, so after posing for a photo, we hugged and said our good-byes, although, it would turn out not to be the last time we would see each other.

I continued on my journey to my first stop in Glen Rose, Texas to the home of WarmShowers hosts Frank and Pat.

As my Map My Ride chart predicted, there were more hills, and an especially steep one approaching the turn-off to their house. There were two lanes for the ascending side of the road, which meant basically no shoulder for me to walk/push in so I crossed over to the opposite side feeling safer walking/pushing against traffic.

It took me a while to get up the CAT 5 hill, which plateaued ever so slightly about three-quarters of the way up and then continued rising with a bit of a curve at the end.

I was grateful when I finally spotted the "CR 2021" sign marking my turn-off, although, it was at the very peak of the hill. When I finally did make the turn I found myself facing an even steeper descent and another equally steep ascent just opposite. I remember thinking, "Please let their house be on this side of the hill rather than the other!" Thankfully, it was!

I turned into a well-paved driveway that led to a very nice house. I pedaled my bicycle around to the back and found a shady area of low trees filled with bird feeders and bird houses. I got off the bike, propped it with the kick-stand and secured the trailer wheel. I rested for a moment, catching my breath, and drinking some more water, before making my way to the front of the house where I rang the door-bell.

When no one responded, I texted my hosts to let them know I was there, and then laid down on one of my nylon tarps in the shade under the trees to relax for a least until the ants started to find me! (Luckily, they were not particularly aggressive ones!)

As I waited for my hosts to return home, I was thinking to myself, "I really hope they have a truck." I was going to have another very short ride, a back-track actually to my second stop in Glen Rose the next day, and I thought I would have to go back up one of the hills I had already come over to get where I was. The return route was along a curve with no shoulder and I knew I would have to be pushing during the busy evening (after work) hours, making it even less safe. Nevertheless, I soon heard and then saw my hosts come around the drive, and much to my hope and relief, they were in a big grey truck! When I shared my concerns, Frank explained that there was actually a road prior to the hill that would circle back to my destination, although it was also a bit curvy, and narrow, with little shoulder. Either way, he was more than happy to help me with a little "support" transportation.

In the mean time, though, I enjoyed another "Warm Shower" while Pat prepared a carb re-building meal of spaghetti. The next day Frank and I drove back into town, where he drew my attention to the sculpture of the "Barnards of the Brazos", by Robert Summers outside the historic Somerville County Courthouse.

After that we headed to the garden of friends of theirs who were in Turkey at the time, and did not want any of the produce to go to waste in their absence. So we poked around the squash, cucumber, and tomato plants to find whatever was ready to harvest. Once we returned, Pat made homemade squash soup for lunch and, as I had done the night before, I offered some sprouts and seaweed to go with it.

With regards to my trying to maintain a "geographically continuous route under my own power", I figured the help Frank provided with transportation was fair in that I had already covered the distance once before, passing by on my way to Frank and Pat's house. It was good to have another day of rest and with the distance being so short, under three miles, it seemed like a lot of work to get all decked-out in my gear, and all sweaty, etc., for maybe only a one hour ride!

Amanda was not home yet when Frank dropped me off, but I was good with just hanging out for a bit, so we said our good-byes and I settled down to wait for my next host. It wasn't but maybe 15 or 20 minutes altogether until she arrived and we actually remained outside for a little while talking for a bit before going on into the house.

I got settled in with my bags and as Amanda and I continued to talk, she mentioned that her father and step-mother were in the area and that she had been planning to meet them for dinner. Although we were running a little late, I encouraged her to follow-through on her plans, and that if she was okay with it, I was happy to tag along. As I have been explaining to everyone, I'm trying to meet as many people as possible on this trip, so, the more the merrier!

We headed back down the road from whence I'd come and then into some side-roads where I would have been totally lost on my own, until we came to the Silver Dollar Steakhouse located at the Hide-a-Way Ranch and Retreat. Amanda's dad, Rusty was generous enough to cover our tab for the salads we ordered. After meeting and talking with the other members of the dinner party, most of whom were already finished with their meals, Amanda, her parents, and I wandered around the property a bit. Rusty and Connie posed for a portrait in front of the "remains" of the infamous "Peg Leg Pete"...

... while Amanda took a few minutes to pet the goats.

We headed back home after a brief visit at her parents house, and then it was time to call it a day. Amanda would be off to New Braunfels to join her husband Steve for an EMT training/re-certification class over the weekend, so I gladly accepted the opportunity for some alone-time at the house. Since I had not been able to make the connection I had originally hoped for in Clifton on June 17th, my schedule opened up to stay a little longer with Amanda and Steve.

Remembering how disappointed my former host, Karissa, had been when we did not have time to go see her horses, I gave her a call to let her know I'd be open to doing that, especially since Amanda and Steve were going to be away for a few days.

As it turned out, the next day, Friday, was the day to head up to High Hope Ranch as Karissa and O.J. were also going on their own mini-work-vacation over the weekend, and, besides, Karissa was only working a short distance away at the hospital in Glen Rose. She gave O.J. a call and he met us at Amanda's where we all piled into Karissa's car for the ride up to the ranch.

Upon our arrival, the first stop on our agenda was to visit Karissa's friends, Morada, a Blue Roan, Valentine, a pure-bred Arabian, and Shimmie, a BLM rescued Mustang.

As Karissa explained, she had become friends with Shimmie by applying more Natural training techniques. In fact, it was a CouchSurfing contact she had stayed with in the area that introduced her to this new approach to interacting with horses without the use of metal bits, whips, etc. She later showed me the Indian Bosal style bridle that she used with Shimmie.

After visiting with the horses for a while we headed on over to the house of the ranch manager Chandler McLay. Chandler has a hike of the El Camino in Spain to her credit and she frequently hosts, as she put it, "Spiritual, Triple Bottom Line Retreats, and Reunions" at the ranch.

I'd say we had a very pleasant and mutually inspiring visit as I shared more from my own experiences "Pedaling for Peace", and she shared from her own wisdom of being a life-long adventurer herself. As we were leaving, she offered me a generous cash donation in support of my efforts. Thanks, Chandler!

When they returned Sunday evening, Amanda went to right to work doing maintenance on her bee hive, while Steve did some work in the garden area.

I took a closer look at the bamboo fence they were in the process of constructing around one side of the yard. As the neighbor next door to Peggy's house in North Dallas also had a rather large stand of bamboo he was trying to keep under control, I was thinking this particular design (by Amanda) might be something he could put to good use. (Are you seeing this Vincent?)

The next evening, I once again prepared my Special Egg-Fried Rice and finger-salads for my hosts, and, as it turned out, Steve's daughter Sam and her boyfriend Luke as well. I had a rather engaging conversation with them, especially given the fact that Luke was thinking about joining the military. We talked a lot about the possibility of World Peace as I shared many of Paul's ideas on all of that, as well as how the military could still be beneficial if used for peace work; i.e. responding in the case of natural disasters or for actual Peace Keeping in areas of the world still prone to conflict. Steve mentioned later that all of that might have looked good as part of a documentary. For now though, I feel more like I may be "practicing" for something like that in the future, as I have yet to gain the same proficiency with speaking about all of this as Paul has. But, since I'm giving mini-talks every few days now, I have a feeling by the end of my journey, who knows what the possibilities might be?

During my last day of rest on Tuesday, I finally made a host connection in Clifton, Texas, which then made it more feasible to also make it to another WarmShowers host in the Woodway area near Waco.

(For those of you who might wonder how "one person can make a difference", my Clifton host helped to cut what would have been a 43 mile trip down to two trips of 12 miles and 31 miles, which, at this still early "training period" works much better for me. In fact, it is making something "possible" that might not otherwise have been in terms of my being able to continue my trek as I have been thus far.)

And so I prepared to say "Good-bye" to my wonderful hosts Amanda and Steve...

Although the path south and east was made clearer with the connection in Clifton, I still had another daunting 27 mile ride ahead to Meridian...

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